Ayara, First of Locthwain

Ayara, First of Locthwain

Legendary Creature — Elf Noble

Whenever Ayara, First of Locthwain or another black creature enters the battlefield under your control, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

, Sacrifice another black creature: Draw a card.

Ayara, First of Locthwain Discussion

Mana_Mythic_Legendary on Pursuing Perfection, Part 12: Orzhov …

2 months ago

I have built five different orzhov commander decks in my time playing magic. Whenever dipping into standard, I generally find myself running this pairing. There are a number of reasons for that. Orzhov ties the White life total surplus with the Black propensity to use life as a resource, essentially minting your own money. Adding White widens Black’s tight focus on creature removal to cover almost everything. It gives you access to creature tokens that you can either use with White or abuse with Black. Perhaps most importantly, it offers a profound level of synergy between all three relationships. There is a lot on offer here, and the commanders illustrate that.

I may well be discussing more powerhouse commanders here than in any article to date. Orzhov has delightful themes to it, and almost too obvious. There are ten commanders in this pairing that create or boost creature tokens in some way, nearly twenty that have lifelink or an interaction with life. This, out of only 33 valid Orzhov commanders: believe me, there's a fantastic roster that didn't make the article. However, I’ll not be discussing these themes directly: they’re so intrinsic to the pairing that discussing them is nigh redundant. Instead, let’s get a little more granular and talk about interactions that are specific to these pairings, which I’ve fondly titled Death, Taxes, and Vindication. As always, please bear in mind that our focus here is not necessarily competitive but rather on thematic, archetypical commanders.

Death

For those of you who don’t follow the lore, Orzhov is also called the Guild of Deals: essentially, a bank specializing in the harvest of souls as collateral for their predatory lending practices. Two of the keywords on Orzhov cards reflect that: Afterlife gives you souls after death, and Haunt, well, lives up to its name. Thematically, every time something dies the Orzhov player should be getting their cut, and these generals are experts at seeing you make bank.

Athreos, shroud-veiled

Starting this theme with a bang, Second Athreos is a favorite of mine. Yes, you can steal your opponent’s critters, but there are so many fun things you can bring to the party yourself. Consider the consequences of repeatedly sacrificing your own Kokusho, the Evening Star, Sun Titan, or Ashen Rider. The counter ability goes on the stack, so it pairs beautifully with things like the Whip of Erebos. Dig up some ways to cheaply recur your guys for a turn, only to have Athreos cheat the deal? That’s making the system work for you!

Elenda, the Dusk Rose

For those of you inclined toward commander damage but still keen on killing stuff, I submit to you Elenda. There is a fair collection of cards like Divine Reckoning in White that will turbocharge the lady while leaving her intact, and once you reach that point killing her becomes a frightening prospect for your opponents. Don’t believe me? Consider the cost of killing her, only to see the pilot drop a Sanctum Seeker.

Teysa Karlov

We can’t discuss this theme without talking about at least one version of Teysa, and it's a doozy. All the death triggers you can pack into an Orzhov deck, and there are a lot of them, get turbocharged when Teysa is out. Grave Pact effects, Blood Artist and that entire collection of pain, Bishop of Wings and all the accompanying angelic bullshitery. This is TERRIBLE. I love it.

Taxes

There are a lot of ways to death-by-a-thousand-cuts someone. Goblin Bombardment, Ayara, First of Locthwain, Walking Ballista. White doesn’t have the option of itself, but does lead in forcing opponents to pay extra to play the game. In a word, Staxs. Black has the unique attribute of stealing life from opponents. Combining these is where things get both hilarious and hateful, by which I mean that you force opponents to pay life for the pleasure of playing with you. Whether your favorite approach to the game is predatory capitalism, you’re on a quest to micromanage the table’s life total, or seek to win via “stop hitting yourself,” Orzhov is the safe bet.

Athreos, God of Passage

Shame on you. Fie, and shame (I don’t really mean it: I love the tactics here). I don’t think I need to go into detail in making this work: the bastard all but sings of forcing opponents to make bad, bad choices. The worst part is wording on the final line: target opponent. Screw you in particular, chosen target.

Kambal, consul of allocation

Both less and far more direct than Athreos. Creature-heavy decks won’t mind so much, but Blue players are going to weep tears of blood if they can’t get this guy off the board. The lifegain is a very nice touch, giving players who lean toward lifegames more material to work with.

Liesa, Shroud of Dusk

Ok, real talk. When I read the lore behind Liesa, the already smoldering dislike I had for Avacyn went up like a bonfire: I had to wait years for this luminous beast to hit the roster just because the archangel of Innistrad doesn’t approve of getting one’s hands dirty, the hypocritical vampire barbie. Paying life instead of commander tax would be a joke to either color in the right context. With both, it’s beneath notice, as is dealing with Liesa’s triggered effect. Other decks, though, will not be happy at all.

I’m going to be quiet now, because I adore this card and you don’t need to hear about it.

Vindication

The oldest card with the text “Destroy target permanent” isn’t Vindicate, it’s actually Desert Twister (if my five minutes of research is correct). There are only twenty-two legal cards with those exact words, and they are all more convoluted, expensive, or both. Vindicate, though, has served as a paragon of cheap, efficient removal for twenty years. Three mana to knock absolutely anything off the board is a great deal, and even knock-off, caveated parallels like Beast Within or Anguished Unmaking are staples in the game. Orzhov has stood by its trendsetter and even set up a few commanders with parallel effects on a stick, though even the meanest justifiably added the condition “non-land.”

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim

Here’s another example of the intrinsic relationship between Orzhov, creature tokens, and lifegain. Spam tokens and token embiggeners like Ghoulcaller Gisa, Coat of Arms, and Cathars' Crusade. If you don’t slaughter the board by going wide with your piebald weenies, exile the board instead. And, at two mana for a 2/3 deathtouch creature, Ayli’s wonderfully accessible.

Karlov of the Ghost council

Karl is a little too mean and repetitive for my taste. I built him, but I didn’t like it. To be just, compared to other decks I put through that process he had a frightening winning streak. The profusion of recuring tiny lifegains in Orzhov can quickly turn Karl into a monster, and a sprinkling of evasion ends games right quick. The removal is almost unnecessary. Almost. Like Ayli, he only costs two mana, but unlike Ayli nobody will see Karl hit the field and handle it with anything like grace.

Vona, Butcher of Magan

This guy’s a little calmer, costing more than twice the others and requiring a tap AND seven life to blow up something. However, he’s also immediately usable, lack of haste notwithstanding, and paying life won’t hurt an Orzhov player nearly so much as their opponents keeping lynchpin cards. Also, you don’t have to pay mana, so if you can take repeated use on the chin you can absolutely wreck house with the Thornbite Staff, some tokens, and an aristocrat of some sort.

And, for my personal favorite…

Triad of Fates This is a departure from my usual favorites: I love the mythology behind the card but disdain the card itself. I want this to work, but have trouble seeing a way forward that would satisfy me as a player: you can only say “thornbite staff” so many times before it starts getting stale. Crunchwise, the tap attached to all three abilities is ruinous. Maybe if the first ability was a boardwide ETB effect, or triggered boardwide at the beginning of your upkeep? They measure the fates of ALL THINGS, and keeping the second two tap effects would keep it reasonable, right? Maybe parallel Zacama, Primal Calamity/Shattergang Brothers and raise the costs of the second abilities, or go hard into flavor and make the first triple partner legends: one to spin, one to measure, and one to cut, just like the myths. I like that idea! could even make some sort of assembly line, like the station cycle!

Station

But with old, warty women... Eh, I’m no designer, but I can comfortably say they didn’t do the fates justice here.

Whinging about rules text aside, building this solely for flavor’s sake would be a fantastic bit of fun and, as I’ve said, I’ve always enjoyed the multicultural mythos behind three women knitting humanity’s fate into being.

That's it for this round. Thoughts and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed it, and will come back soon for Izzet!

Simic

Selesnya

Gruul

Rakdos

Dimir

Azorius

Green, with links to the other mono-colors

dadezio on Tormod and Ravos Raise Again

3 months ago

Combos These are just a few of the combos that I Can see with this deck.

filiusromanus357 on

4 months ago

Nah, seems perfect as is! Keep it just like that.

...Kidding, kidding. I think Storrev, Devkarin Lich, Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, and Ayara, First of Locthwain seem like safe cuts. Storrev's a little slow, Vorinclex is cool but I'm sure there's mana-doublers that fit better and you've got no shortage of big beatsticks in Elves, and Ayara's a bit mana-intensive for an effect that's not super-strong and only gonna proc off maybe half your deck.

ghostfire86 on Atheros God of Wifi

5 months ago

Ayara, First of Locthwain and Zulaport Cutthroat literally counter Carnival of Souls negative effects and it you run Bontu's Monument things get even better. You don’t drop it turn one, just when your ready to make your move or have stabilized.

Cloudstone Curio works amazingly here. Ive ran it since my original build and never have questioned its usefulness. You should reconsider and do some testing.

DanMcSharp on Monoblack Pest Sac

7 months ago

Did you consider Ayara, First of Locthwain ? Since you're playing monoblack, I feel like she would fit nicely even if just as a 1-off to supplement the Bastion of Remembrance as well as being another sac outlet for drawing cards. Would also improve the triggers from Sedgemoor Witch .

SUkMyHen on Jund Sac

8 months ago

ChrisHansonBiomancin thanks for the help! I think maybe you’re right about having too many sac outlets and not enough stuff to sac. With that said, do you have any ideas as to something in black the consistently creates tokens? Ideally if there was something that created black tokens this gives me more fodder for Ayara, First of Locthwain and Bastion of Remembrance . When reading your comment I initially thought of Scute Swarm but I’m not sure there’s enough payoff with it to make it make sense.

razelfark on First Brawl Deck - Arena

8 months ago

Your deck looks like it has some untapped potential with Onyx as your brawl commander for not making use of the adventure creatures in black. 3 of the adventure creatures that seem like they would be a good fit would be Foulmire Knight , Order of Midnight , and Murderous Rider .

Foulmire Knight - Solid defender with its death touch and will trigger Onyx when used for the draw. It also serves as a decent recursion target to be brought back to hand for the previously stated reasons.

Order of Midnight - More useful version of Raise Dead as you can use it as an early flier if you want to be aggressive, or it can just be used as a spell to bring a target back from your grave.

Murderous Rider - Solid removal spell and the lifelink body you can play afterwards can be relevant.

Sedgemoor Witch will be strong for taking advantage of our spell heavy you are. The tokens will give some good fodder for blocking and sustaining to get to your end game, or even swinging wide if you manage to generate enough.

Ayara, First of Locthwain would be a decent add to combo with the witch as it would give you life drain effects for the tokens and a sac out let for some extra draw power.

Some spell ideas to help the deck:

Blood on the Snow is a powerful sweeper of creatures or planeswalkers and will give you another reanimation effect if you switch to snow swamps (these will still count as regular swamps for other cards).

Feed the Serpent is a decent instant speed removal option that exiles a threat. Slightly better then using the Necrotic Fumes you are currently using.

Hope these help.

abby315 on Pest Abuse

9 months ago

Ayara, First of Locthwain would look good with pests!

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