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Samut - an Exploration of Naya Aikido

Commander / EDH* Aikido Casual Pillow Fort Primer RGW (Naya)

Philoctetes


Samut - an Exploration of Naya Aikido!

Last Updated 1/14/2019 for Creation of List

Hello Dear Reader! Welcome to my latest update on a deck slot in my collection that I dedicate fondly to the Aikido Archetype! For most of the deck’s existence, it has been primarily a Queen Marchesa deck, briefly delving into Zurgo Helmsmasher because it seemed fun. That list can be found here The Spirit of Self-Sacrifice. This deck was always modeled after Queen Marchesa: Politics, Aikido, and Control of so much Aikido and TappedOut fame.

At some point, the deck started to feel stale to me. Part of it is that I really prefer to delve my own path, and what originally inspired me was TappedOut lists for the Marchesa build. I began feeling constrained to other tuned lists, and so the process of brewing and playing the deck felt well worn. I like to feel like a unique and special snowflake as much as the next person, so I started brewing around with other commanders within the Mardu identity. While that led me to Zurgo , nothing felt satisfying. I decided to unchain myself from the existing color structure.

This whole thought process led me down the path of truly considering - what is the best R/W/X pairing for an Aikido deck? Red/White typifies the Aikido experience, summed up best by the card Deflecting Palm , so it really came down to Mardu, Naya, or Jeskai for me. The specific commander matters a ton too. To a large degree, playing an Aikido deck needs to Feel like you are directing and re-directing the aggression of the table. This experience is a political one as much as anything.

The big issue for me with Naya commanders is that they so often boil down to “Big Mana Battlecruiser Magic” or “Big Token Battlecruiser Magic”. Nothing wrong with those playstyles, but I was going for something more nuanced. Green in an Aikido deck needs to be a supporting color, offering us some very powerful Aikido/Pillow Fort effects like Constant Mists , Moment's Peace , Provoke , or Elephant Grass but not requiring us to introduce a token based win condition into the equation and change the essence of the deck. Green also offers us some interesting options for damage based Aikido, which to me is best typified by Storm Seeker and Treacherous Terrain , an asymmetrical Acidic Soil . Finally, Green let’s us play Green things, like real Ramp and awesome Card Draw .

TL;DR - We’re still winning with jank like Heartless Hidetsugu , Storm Seeker , and Comeuppance , we’re just doing it with a new set of colors

As I began describing above, Samut offers quite a bit for an Aikido archetype, beyond just her color identity. for starters, as opposed to every other Naya commander out there she is not required to play the “Tokens or Big Dudes” strategy, though she could. My runner-up was Gahiji, Honored One , but I kept feeling too pushed into army-in-a-can cards for win conditions.

The synergies that Samut brings are awesome for an Aikido list. First on the list is the ability to play her at instant speed. Aikido lists really want to play Draw-Go magic, and Samut let’s us do that and remain unpredictable. Unpredictability is the key to political playmaking, allowing us to always maintain the threat of violence. Samut takes that one step further, and when we do choose to take action and swing a haymaker like a Hellkite Tyrant or Heartless Hidetsugu we get to do so at_Haste_ speed. Compound that with Samut’s activated ability to represent untap for blocks, double activate something like Mother of Runes , or other various utility plays and we’re in business.

I truly feel like Samut’s two dominant color identities are Red and White, which tracks with the Aikido philosophy. the Green is all gravy, and very tasty gravy at that. The final awesome point of switching to Samut and a Green tertiary identity is the land tutoring to further enable Dark Depths , not to mention Aikido favorites Glacial Chasm and Maze of Ith (with Crop Rotation to boot!) and new toy Kessig Wolf Run . Lots to love here!

The following accordion is a list of the cards that I am currently running. I plan to flesh this out over the next few months with explanations like my other lists, for now is just a categorized list!

To note – many of these cards appear in multiple sections.

As a heuristic I try to include 10 Card Draw spells in all my decks. This deck is no exception to that rule. As a side note, this deck 100% operates as a “75%” deck, in that I am not trying to tune the crap out of this list. This is a fun list to play in casual to casual-competitive pods.

In general, I like to include about ten ramp spells, and this deck fits that mold. A portion of the ramp is dedicated to utility land fetching, aka Hour of Promise and Pir's Whim . Additionally, where possible I’ve tried to integrate Aikido effects into the ramp slots, with effects like Curse of Opulence and Smothering Tithe pulling double duty.

Every good Aikido deck needs some pillow fort as a baseline deterrence. Green offers us some cool versions of the effect, but functionally it’s a similar core to most Aikido lists, with a few spicy inclusions that I’ve come across. I go lighter on Pillow Fort than a lot of lists because I don’t find the more obvious deterrence strategies as satisfying as the psychological type of draw-go play. A small amount goes a long way.

This is a pretty broad grouping of cards. In my mind, Aikido is anything that redirects the flow of aggression away from us. I think many often define it also as cards that re-direct an opponent’s aggression from you directly back to them. I think the more accurate term for that effect or style is actually Judo, but honestly I just prefer to lump it all in as Aikido because it gets unnecessarily confusing otherwise.

These effects differ from the above in that they are perhaps based in some way on an opponent’s resources or board state, but they are not re-directing so much as overtly punishing them in some way for overplaying their resources. Or, in some cases just dealing damage for the sake of it. In other words, these are my win conditions.

Gotta have removal to compete in EDH. People don't like to play by your rules. Removal can be meta-dependent, and also preference dependant, so take this with a grain of salt. For this deck, I try to remain light on board wipes as my intent is to use my opponent’s threats against themselves or others, not remove them.

I tried to keep my tutor count very low for this deck. I couldn’t help myself with Eladamri's Call - I rarely ever play G/W, so I had one lying around and wanted to slot it in. The remainder are mostly land tutoring.

I hope you enjoyed my deck! Leave a comment if you want to discuss, I think my latest take on Aikido is bound to be a fun one!

One rule I try to consider whenever I evaluate a potential inclusion for any of my decks is "Commander Quadrant Theory". Anyone who listens to the Limited Resources podcast knows about Quadrant Theory from Marshall Sutcliffe - the idea that a full evaluation of a card requires you to consider it's value During the early game, From behind, At parity, and While ahead. Typically this means I prioritize more stable and reliable effects that can help me even when things aren't going so well. I also highly prioritize a strong early game plan, and most of my decks have a curve heavy on 2's and 3's to reflect that. This being a ramp deck means that the curve is slightly higher than normal. Also under this scheme, cards I consider win-more will never receive much attention. I prefer effects good While behind and At parity the most.

I strongly believe that Cantrips are an underplayed card type in commander. The casual format is slow enough that paying an extra mana to cycle a card for a medium effect is quite powerful. A reasonable list of cantrips you should be considering:

Card draw and ramp: the two most critical elements for any commander deck Easy rule of thumb – play 10 of each. But don’t let that limit your imagination. Often, it is best to play more, and in some rare cases less, usually of ramp. Card draw is NOT something to be skipped out on.

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57% Casual

43% Competitive

Top Ranked
  • Achieved #30 position overall 6 months ago
Date added 7 months
Last updated 7 months
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.39
Tokens Gold, None Treasure, Clue, 20/20 Avatar, 2/2 Zombie, 1/1 Spirit, 1/2 Spider, 3/3 Beast
Folders Uncategorized, Primers
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