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Not Your Average Bears: A Story Lost to the Ages

Commander / EDH* Four Color Midrange Multiplayer Primer RGWU Tokens


Welcome to Meletis: A Kynaios and Tiro Primer

Prepare for the HOUR OF DEVASTATION!
Midrange Landfall
YIKES it's been a while Update: 08-02-2018

In keeping with my inner Vorthos, my partner and I built this deck together. Aside from being fun, building the deck together has given it much more meaning to me. Hope yall enjoy!

We are very excited for another representation of the LGBT community alongside Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Here's hoping we'll also get Halana and Alena in the near future.

This is a strong midrange deck that focuses on the combat step and strong landfall synergies. It is designed to create consistent, resilient threats that wear opponents down. In that way, it won’t be as competitive as some of the lists you may find out there. Hopefully this primer helps you decide how you want to build your own version of Kynaios and Tiro. Let’s get started!
My partner and I originally came up with several ways we thought the deck would excel. Mana ramp and card draw are arguably the most important effects in EDH and Kynaios and Tiro provide both to us. Access to 4 colors gives you an overwhelming number of options but I'll take you through the thought process that we had when we created the deck. Kynaios and Tiro are in the colors for obviously a great hug deck starring both Zedruu the Greathearted and Phelddagrif. There is an amazing blink deck incorporating the best of the likes of Roon of the Hidden Realm and Animar, Soul of Elements. There's also easily a control/stax with spellslinging elements deck here with cards like Hokori, Dust Drinker, Seedborn Muse, Citadel of Pain, and Kismet while also utilizing Metallurgic Summonings, Mizzix of the Izmagnus, and Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper. These archetypes, should you wish to build them, are discussed further below in the “Building your own Empire” section of this primer.

Sifting through the multiple win conditions available to us, the final iteration that we ended up going with was a mix of recurring landfall triggers and taking advantage of the almighty combat step. The goal is to ramp into our commander, then ramp into large threats until we can lock up a game with large tokens. Avenger of Zendikar + Cathars' Crusade + Temur Ascendancy seal up the game for the most part though they’re definitely not the only ways to win.
Naya with powerful, often tramply creatures makes for a very dangerous combat step. Recursion from white allows us to bring back threats from the grave and blue draw power allows us to bring in more threats from our hand.
Kynaios and Tiro don’t like being removed regularly. Stranglehold and Aven Mindcensor aren’t too common in my playgroups but they’re definitely things to be aware of. Merciless Eviction and other mass exile effects also typically cause problems. Cyclonic Rift is also not phenomenal for us. And Crawlspace does a great job of hosing decks that rely on the combat step. Large flyers, and large quantities of flyers.

Card Selection Criteria

This deck is built to synergize heavily with Kynaios and Tiro to guarantee their ability benefits us most. As a deck that focuses on the combat step, there is special emphasis on ensuring our creatures are resistant to board wipes and exile.

In order to be included in this deck, a card must:

  • Function Well Individually:
    If a card can't stand on its own and requires other cards in order to be useful, I generally won’t be happy to have drawn it. Azusa, Lost but Seeking is an amazing card. But by herself, she only lets you drop an additional 2 cards from your hand. This allows for an explosive following turn, but if you can’t draw enough cards to play multiple lands a turn, she just ends up sitting on the battlefield. I won’t deny her effect is good, but I haven’t had much success playing her. Mina and Denn, Wildborn and Oracle of Mul Daya have additional effects aside from allowing us to play additional lands each turn that make them much more flexible late-game draws.

  • Synergize:
    Ideally, none of the cards in this deck are entirely irrelevant to the rest of the deck. For example, with the inclusion of Drogskol Reaver, I could also theoretically include Horizon Chimera and Laboratory Maniac. With all 3 cards on the field, a single draw will win you the game. However, I dislike Laboratory Maniac as a win condition because it interacts with none of my other cards and provides almost no board presence. And Horizon Chimera is nice with flash but gaining an average of 2-3 life a turn on a 3/2 body is not really what I’m looking for in the precious 4 mana slot. Reaver works well with multiple landfall life gain triggers in the deck as well as with Assault Formation.

  • Contribute to the Deck Plan:
    A card needs to advance my board position in order to be included. I don’t need hyper-optimization, but I do need my deck to consistently push for my win condition. For example, while a card like Grove of the Burnwillows is nice for fixing colors and as a political bargaining chip, residual life gain is not something I want to give to my opponents when my end goal is to red zone them.

  • Be Fun:
    This is perhaps the most important part for me personally, of card selection. I play magic to have fun. Fun is subjective so my and my playgroup’s idea of what is fun may wildly diverge from your playgroup’s idea of fun. I personally like interactive games. I want an opponent to have more options to stop me before I get to a non-interactive board state. In this way, I have chosen Stonehoof Chieftain over Craterhoof Behemoth. Don’t get me wrong, Behemoth is a card I absolutely love, but I’m already using it in a different deck where it functions as one of several win conditions. For the sake of my playgroup and myself, I like my decks to do different things, so friends don’t get tired of playing against the same win condition under a different name.

These are cards that have surpassed all expectations and really excel in the deck:

  • Tireless Tracker must be so secretly tired from all the play she’s seeing. This card does so much work. Fetchlands and mana ramp flood clues onto the board at an alarming rate. By turn 5 it’s very easily possible to swing in with a 5/4 tracker and generate another 2-3 clues.

  • I tested the deck for a while without Crucible of Worlds and unfortunately the card makes a huge difference. If you are building a budget version of this deck and are looking to upgrade the quality of the cards, the first I would suggest is a Crucible. The price-tag on this one is definitely steep and if I didn’t have one, I’d definitely try a combination of Tilling Treefolk, Splendid Reclamation, and Life from the Loam in addition to Titania, Protector of Argoth. Being able to play lands from the grave is amazing. Reutilizing fetches and other sac-lands for the low price of 3 mana is so solid. It’s just gravy that it can be recurred by Sun Titan.

  • Residual life gain is very powerful. Shattered Angel and Lifegift provide landfall triggers for us not only when we drop lands, but also whenever any opponent takes advantage of Kynaios and Tiro’s ability. The more players there are, the better these cards become. In a typical 4-player game, Shattered Angel nets us 18-24 life a turn. Without access to black, we miss out on some of the best cards that allow us to use our life total in place of mana, but with the amount of residual life gain in this deck we can easily afford to keep all 3 cards with Sylvan Library.

  • Rubblehulk is amazing here. For 3 mana, you can assist one of your attackers or one of your opponents attackers for 14-17 damage in the mid to late game. Add to that, that Rubblehulk is recurrable to hand with an Emeria Shepherd landfall trigger, and it just leads to some truly disgusting attack steps.

Some of my favorite lands in the deck:

  • Horizon Canopy fixes mana and draws you cards. What’s not to like? I had a copy from back when Hatebears was a thing in modern. Now the card has gone the way of Liliana of the Veil and are unfortunately extremely expensive. Brushland the Green/White Painland is a suitable replacement on a budget. Another budget version of this card is being run in the deck: Excavation is wonderful.

  • Strip Mine turns into repeatable land destruction with Sun Titan, Titania, Protector of Argoth and Crucible of Worlds.Tarnished Citadel and the other lands that cause pain for mana are easy includes in the deck with the amount of residual life gain mentioned above.

  • For a more in-depth idea on how to build mana bases, the Professor over at TCC has a great video for 5-Color EDH decks that is easily repurposed for a 4-Color deck if you’re inexperienced with building a mana base. I 100% do not own this video.

  • They've also actually created a more recent 4-Color EDH mana base tutorial. For purposes of clarification between their video and the mana base I have, Kynaios and Tiro really enjoy recycling land drops so the lairs become much more useful. I am also currently testing Oboro, Palace in the Clouds and Magosi, the Waterveil. Glacial Chasm might also make the cut.

Crazy forest people and snakes:

  • Mina and Denn, Wildborn/Oracle of Mul Daya: The 4 mana drop slot in the deck almost always goes to Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis so any other 4 drops need to be incredibly impactful. Mina and Denn, Wildborn do a wonderful job of providing additional land-drops when there are no lands left in you graveyard or hand or if you whiff with Kynaios and Tiro. Oracle gives you another zone to play lands from.

  • Khalni Heart Expedition/Ior Ruin Expedition: These are phenomenal. Sun Titan brings both back. Their requirement of 3 land drops is easily accomplished in 1-2 turns.

  • Lotus Cobra: IS AMAZING. In my opinion, it is the most efficient mana dork for this deck. I am usually opposed to running dorks of any kind due to their lack of board presence and how easily removed they can be but Lotus Cobra is so deserving of a spot. He interacts well with fetchlands, effectively reduces the mana cost of ramp spells, and the little guy even funnels end of turn land drops into tireless tracker’s clues and Seer's Sundial!


  • Horn of Greed and Burgeoning, I’m going to talk about first since I’m noticing that these are very popular inclusions in other decklists. They DO NOT interact with Kynaios and Tiro. Their triggered abilities happen when a player “plays a land.” This is NOT the same as Kynaios and Tiro’s “put a land card onto the battlefield from your hand.” You will neither be able to draw cards or drop lands equal to the number of people who dropped a land off your commander’s ability.

  • Craterhoof Behemoth: The adorable beastie that loves token decks. Why isn’t it here? I’m already using it in a different deck where it functions as one of several win conditions. If you’d like to plop him in, he fits nicely as a replacement for Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. People have mixed feelings about the card though, so again be aware of your meta and the cards people enjoy playing against. Craterhoof provides a very, very limited window of interaction.

  • Tooth and Nail is interesting. In most decks, it is a card that can say “if you don’t answer this, I win the game.” It has an adjustable power level. If you’re playing with a casual meta you could just tutor for two cards that put you into an advantageous board position. I’m not a fan of making suboptimal plays nor dragging on a game when I could win and start a new game.

  • Heartbeat of Spring and Howling Mine effects: This is not a group hug deck and even if it was, I’m generally not a fan of letting people reap the benefits of your cards before you do. If you’d like a more in-depth description of a hug variation, see the “Different Archetypes to Consider” section.

  • Edric, Spymaster of Trest again is a global hug effect. While I do like that he encourages attacking, because all too often, players just build their board states and there we are 10 turns in, with everyone at 40 life and the board gummed up with too many creatures to make good attacks. The reason why we’re not running Edric is because 9 times out of 10 our opponents are going to attack us. Why? With the absurd residual life gain we have, only dedicated life gain decks will be above us in life total. And the go-to excuse for attacking a player seems to always be “but look at all that life you have.”

Building Your Own Empire

The cards I’ve listed above in the “Card Criteria” section of this list really sum up what I think are the most valuable cards to this version of the deck.
If you’re not made of money or you don’t want to spend your hard earned cashes on cardboard (totally understandable), these are some suggestions for cheaper cards that have similar effects to those already mentioned. Thankfully, since I’ve been playing for about 5 years now, which is still quite young in comparison to many here in the magic community, I already owned most of these cards.

As mentioned earlier, there are many different ways to build Kynaios and Tiro and definitely no one right way to do it. Here's some more options you could be looking at:

Knowing Your Meta

The main gripe I hear about Kynaios and Tiro is that their group hug effect is global. They do allow your opponents to ramp early game and draw cards late game; some would say this enables the most finely tuned or the most expensive deck to win. To me, this sounds like a problem that can be remedied with good threat assessment and a solid knowledge of the local meta. Put simply, if you don't think you can benefit more from Kynaios and Tiro's ability than your opponents, it's probably best not to cast them. Sundial of the Infinite and maybe a Time Stop are options if you want to have more control over how huggy you want to be.

Not a comprehensive list as not all of our decks are loaded up onto tapped out but this should be an adequate sample of what my meta is like. More decklists to come as friends upload their decks.

Olivia Voldaren - EDH
Sygg, River Guide - EDH
Jenara, Asura of War - EDH
My pet cards and Ephara cuz Brago is mean
Merieke Ri Berit EDH
Borborygmos EDH

If you have suggestions, I would definitely recommend reading the card criteria section of this primer first. Otherwise, I'd love to hear any stories, comments or ratings of the deck and about cards that have worked well for you in your play history.

If you're looking to build Kynaios and Tiro, I hope you found this primer helpful! There are so many options in these color combinations and there definitely is no one right way to build the deck. Heck, I’m still playtesting, and swapping cards in and out. I’ll be keeping the deck up to date as I test, make more revisions, and as new cards come out.

Thanks for checking it out!


Updates Add

YIKES it's been almost a year since I've made a formal update for the boyos! This is going to be more of a compilation of changes between Hour of Devastation and Core Set 2019 / Commander 2018 (There aren't very many. The deck's not perfect but I'm very happy with where it is.)

+ Nesting Dragon
+ Reality Scramble
+ Admonition Angel

- Veteran Explorer
- Hoofprints of the Stag
- Khenra Charioteer

Nesting Dragon feels amazing and I'm always ready for another landfall payoff card. Veteran Explorer is the one hug card in the deck and if you've read my primer, you know how I feel about symmetrical hug. I thought it would be fine because I had more landfall payoffs, but no. Just no. I have very little control over when it dies and it is a little too much acceleration for the table if it comes down early, while doing nothing in the late-game. And Hoofprints ends up being still too slow.

Several things to note:
1. I feel consistently low on interaction. The gameplan a lot of the time involved ignoring what my opponents are doing in favor of advancing my own gameplan. I don't like that.
2. Crucible of Worlds has dropped about $70 in price to $20 and I understand that's still too much for some for pretty cardboard, but if you were considering picking one up before, now is the time.

Cards I'm still thinking about:
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer
Grow from the Ashes

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