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JMCraig was pretty thorough with his suggestions, so I probably don't have much to add.

Just to clarify, judging by the banned list your shop goes by I'm assuming that you play 1v1 duel commander, not 4 person pod games, right? Which format you are playing in is an important bit of info because there are significantly different meta considerations to make between the two formats.

As baseline suggestions for right now, I agree with JMCraig's suggestions that you need to include all of the 1 mana dork elves because they are important for increasing your chances of getting Animar out turn 2, but they are also one of the signature advantages that green has in Duel Commander. In a format where the best artifact ramp has been taken away from other colors, green's natural ability to ramp itself is one of its best assets.

I also agree that if you are running Kiki, you should also include Pestermite to increase the combo's consistency. With the inclusion of the mana elves and Pestermite it may be worth looking at running Priest of Titania as well.

In regards to Bond Beetle , I'm going to copy and paste a comment that I wrote elsewhere:

"In general, the way I find Animar usually plays out is that you want to ramp turn 1, cast Animar turn two, spend turn 3 casting two or three creatures to get counters on Animar but you run out of mana, then on turn 4 you are set up to potentially combo off. The power of Bond Beetle is that if you cast it as your first creature on turn 3 and have both a 3 CMC tutor creature, along with something else you can cast for free like Cloud of Faeries or Phyrexian Revoker, that should leave you with 2 available mana and 4 counters on Animar, which is potentially enough to win on turn 3 instead of turn 4 if you are lucky."

Honestly though, I'm not very knowledgeable about the current state of the duel commander meta. I remember that Red became a lot more viable when the life total was dropped to 20, but since your shop uses 30 life I'm not sure how much Red shows up. Red's burn spells and cheap board sweepers are a real problem for Animar since it gets around Animar's protection from White and Black, which normally keeps it safe from most spot removal in the usual cEDH format. If Red is an issue at your store, it may require some alternative design decisions to help you get the best out of Animar.

June 19, 2019 5:51 p.m.

Said on Ancestral Animar...

#2

Is Force of Negation even worth it if you can't use the alternative cost on your turn? Animar wants to be able to use it's free counterspells to help protect its combos when it tried to go off. Free counterspells that can't do that strike me as much lower-priority inclusions.

June 18, 2019 8:08 a.m.

Said on Ancestral Animar...

#3

I think that the wide disparity between how often I combo off with Neoform VS Weird Harvest comes from mostly from a mana cost perspective when I'm looking to combo off. There are more lines of play on turn 4 where Neoform is viable at 2CMC but Weird Harvest would require me to wait one more turn. Keep in mind that these stats come from me mostly just goldfishing, not actual games, so I'm always going for the fastest route to victory instead of having to work around board states. I also run Trinket Mage in my deck so Neoform has even more to work with, since either Trinket Mage + Neoform or Imperial Recruiter + Neoform tutors both Walking Ballista and Ancestral Statue to hand, so having Neoform in hand has that slightly higher chance of leading to a win. I've honestly been a lot happier with Trinket Mage in the deck since Neoform came around. I play it over the Loyal Drake that a lot of people like to run.

I'm also stubbornly holding on to the Kiki package in my deck for the time being. In the games that I do get to play the deck against other people I often get targeted down because people know that killing Animar often means they've reduced the chance of one of their opponents comboing off for at least a couple of turns for the cost of just one removal spell. Having the Kiki combo as an option in the deck gives me a way of potentially comboing off out of nowhere when my opponents are expecting me to have to take at least one turn to recast Animar and get some counters on him. Neoform has also helped make Kiki a little more viable as well since I generally get Kiki out using either Eldritch Evolution or Neoform to get it from my deck instead of having to cast it.

June 14, 2019 3:16 p.m.

Said on Ancestral Animar...

#4

As an experiment I've been running an Animar list that includes the Neoform line, the Kiri-Onna line, Weird Harvest , and the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo just to see which line pulled its weight the most. Despite the excess bloat in the deck list I think that it is a testament to how strong the core of an Animar deck is that the deck can still goldfish turn 4 kills at least 70% of the time. The Neoform line has simply proven to be the most accessible line for me a majority of the time, allowing me to combo off for about 80% of my potential kills in testing. Kiki and Weird Harvest each contributed about 10% to the times where I comboed off. Kiri never really proved to be a relevant play due to all the other lines being easier to assemble.

So yeah, the Neoform line is more susceptible to a wider range of counterspells than Animar's combos have normally had to contend with in previous versions of the deck, but the line is such a boon to the deck's consistency that it is worth the cost of running Phyrexian Metamorph as part of the 99 to accommodate it. You would want to play Neoform as part of the 99 anyway since it is such a good tutor. I've always had the Metamorph as part of my list because I like the options it offers, so for me even that isn't an issue.

June 14, 2019 3:12 a.m.

Said on Ancestral Animar...

#5

Doesn't Collector Ouphe stop our own Walking Ballista from being able to shoot our opponents? The Ouphe is useful for interrupting a number of other decks, but is that benefit worth having to find a way to remove the Ouphe from the board before being able to combo off?

June 13, 2019 5:23 p.m.

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