Branching Evolution

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Legality

Format Legality
1v1 Commander Legal
Archenemy Legal
Arena Legal
Canadian Highlander Legal
Casual Legal
Commander / EDH Legal
Commander: Rule 0 Legal
Custom Legal
Duel Commander Legal
Gladiator Legal
Highlander Legal
Historic Legal
Legacy Legal
Leviathan Legal
Limited Legal
Oathbreaker Legal
Planechase Legal
Quest Magic Legal
Tiny Leaders Legal
Vanguard Legal
Vintage Legal

Branching Evolution

Enchantment

If one or more +1/+1 counters would be put a on a creature you control, twice that many +1/+1 counters are put on that creature instead.

rckclimber777 on Build a Deck with me …

1 week ago

Welcome back to another episode of Build a Deck with Me. In the first two episodes I focused on a couple decks that want to go infinite and combo out. I realize that playing infinite combos is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but one of the things I enjoy is finding cool interactions/ways to break cards. So today instead of finding ways to break cards, I’m simply going to start with a card that is already broken and build a deck around it. That card is Voja, Jaws of the Conclave. Ok, so maybe it isn’t broken, but you have to admit, you see this good boy on the field and you need to find a response quickly.

Research

In the last episode, I had some comments that suggested I talk about some of the general research that goes into deck-building. One thing to keep in mind is that when you’re building a deck there are general archetypes that exist and are fairly well known. These can often serve as models when thinking about what cards to use, although relying too heavily on them long term can diminish creativity. If you’re just starting out though, by all means run over to EDHRec and find what cards usually go into a counters deck or a tribal deck (spoiler alert that is what we’re building here). One of the things that I do that helps my deckbuilding is watching youtube channels that play commander. This includes: The Command Zone, Tolarian Community College, Commander at Home, and Elder Dragon Hijinks. There are many others out there, but these are the ones that I’ve watched more than a couple episodes of. As I’m watching an episode, I find myself thinking, “Wow I want to build something like that” or “I really liked the interactions with that”. For instance, there was a Commander at Home game where I got to see the interaction between Dihada, Binder of Wills and Odric, Lunarch Marshal and now they’re sitting on my desk, waiting to be built. Today’s episode is the result of one such instance. I watched The Command Zone episode that covered Murders at Karlov Manor. In that game, the Voja deck was a beast. It was fast, it made huge creatures, it drew tons of cards, and it just couldn’t be stopped, oh and the commander was a big puppy dog (wolf, puppy same thing).

To start building, I went into Gatherer and just began looking for a few things like Wolves, Elves, and Changelings. I started to realize that there are very few changelings and the wolves out there really aren’t that great outside of a few like Hollowhenge Overlord. So I turned back to the Command Zone for some help. They post their decklists on the videos and I began scrolling through it and much to my surprise, the list was similar to the ones that I had found, but wasn’t sure about like Ferocious Pup and Universal Automaton. These aren’t good cards unless you have something that really wants creatures on the field. And that’s when things started to click. The support for Voja didn’t necessarily need to be super strong in their own right, it just needed to enable him to do more.

Changelings

First of all, Voja is an interesting card because it wants both Elves and Wolves on the field. Most tribal decks want just one tribe so it almost feels like you have to make a choice between one or the other here. Well I don’t like choosing between two good options. It’s like deciding between chicken nuggets or a chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A. I say both! (I also might need to reconsider some life choices, but oh well)

Changelings are great because they have all creature types which means any tribal deck can use them. Some are extremely powerful, while others just have an interesting creature type. In this deck, however, we want to focus on low cost creatures. If they do something cool, bonus!

Realmwalker is awesome because it is every creature type but it can also cast creatures from the top of your library which instantly gives you card advantage, we will likely choose elf as our creature type when it comes in because they generally are going to be our lower cost creatures, our mana dorks, and likely the more prominent tribal type in our deck.

Remember any changeling on the field will trigger both aspects of Voja’s triggered ability so a Universal Automaton becomes a 1 drop enabler for both adding counters and drawing cards. Irregular Cohort provides two 2/2 bodies both of whom are changelings and give us more counters and cards.

Of course there are two cards here that are just amazing. Maskwood Nexus which makes all your creatures all creature types, and Shields of Velis Vel which does the same thing in instant form. Both are game changers with voja.

Elves

When it comes to elves, we generally want to have mana dorks. This is going to ramp us out quickly, but also allow us to have bodies out there to add counters to. A couple standouts besides the normal ones like Llanowar Elves are:

Gyre Sage who is going to get huge thanks to Voja.

Beast Whisperer will draw you lots of cards because we are going to be a creature heavy deck.

Yeva, Nature's Herald is also helpful in being able to get your cards out on your opponent’s turns.

All the versions of Tolsimir are great because they often come with a wolf token in tow.

Finally there is Shalai and Hallar… When you’re adding counters to every creature on your board equal to the number of elves you control, this card can take out an opponent.

Wolves

There are a few wolves out there, but its surprisingly fewer than you would think. Hollowhenge Overlord is really good, and so is Ferocious Pup. You play it and suddenly you have two wolves which means two more cards when Voja attacks. Another great wolf is Roaming Throne. I know what you’re thinking, “it’s a golem.” In this deck, it’s a wolf… trust me. Roaming throne will double all of Voja’s triggered abilities and now you’re thinking “Voja only has one triggered ability.“ Actually, Ward is a triggered ability. Which means now in order to target him, your opponents need to spend 6 mana!! So you swing with Voja, let’s be conservative and say that you have just llanowar elves, Voja, and roaming throne, you add 2 +1/+1 counters to everything and you draw 4 cards. Speaking of doubling that trigger: Annie Joins Up. A super underrated card so far and triggers on Voja, Shalai, and Tolsimir.

Other fun stuff

There are a couple other things that help support Voja as well. Counter multipliers and additional combat steps are all good things for this deck. You don’t want to put too many of those in though because when push comes to shove you’re likely going to just want a creature to play instead of another counter multiplier. I have Kami of Whispered Hopes in the deck, because it adds counters, but it also produces a crazy amount of mana which I can use to empty my hand of creature cards. Hardened Scales is fine and even Branching Evolution feels worthwhile, but I chose not to add any others.

For additional combats I added only two cards, one was Relentless Assault and the other is Great Train Heist. The latter is great because it has more versatility, is an instant, and costs the same as relentless assault for its first ability. Both of these cards can win the game pretty easily.

There are also wolf producers like Howling Moon which I’ve played in Arena with great results. (also pairs well with Tocasia's Welcome). Sword of Body and Mind produces wolves, gives protection, and mills your opponent. Arlinn, the Pack's Hope  Flip is another powerful card since it produces wolves, but can also give you flash on your creatures.

Finally, there is a card that I’m proud to say I noticed before it became super popular. Silver Shroud Costume. I remember playing it in the dogmeat deck and thought, this is good, I’m going to put a copy into voja. At that time it was $5. It has since surged to $20 and there is a reason. It can flash out and attach to Voja, who is now hexproof, (in case ward 3 wasn’t enough) and unblockable gg.

Card Draw, ramp, interaction

Don’t forget your interaction. Just because Voja has ward 3 and is hard to spot remove, doesn’t mean he doesn’t need to be protected. Flawless Maneuver, Heroic Intervention, Teferi's Protection etc. will help keep him and the rest of your creatures safe.

As far as ramp goes, Voja wants creatures which means a lot of ramp is going to be in the form of mana dorks not mana rocks or traditional green ramp spells. I still added a few green ramp spells, but its definitely fewer than some of my other green decks.

Card draw is also a little different here. We’ve got Beast Whisperer and Tocasia's Welcome already and they work really well with the deck since the Beast whisperer is also an elf and tocasia’s welcome triggers with all of our mana dorks which we can flash out on other turns as well. Voja of course is the main card draw engine (seriously a commander who draws cards is just waiting to be abused). Other good cards here are Inspiring Call and Rishkar's Expertise.

About Card Draw

One quick note on card draw that has recently changed the way I think about it. I used to separate card draw into two different categories. Card draw engines which are ongoing effects that will give me cards as long as they remain on the field. The other is simply cards that draw more cards. Previously, I assumed that the former were excellent cards and the latter were well… not great. But as I was listening to The Command Zone they started talking about cards and the amount of triggers you can expect to get in a single game. This changed the way I thought about it. A card like Rhystic Study is great because you are likely going to get some cards from it, but your opponents can pay the 1 or they can remove it. The idea is to think about your card draw engines in terms of the average cards you get from it. This helped me starting think about the usefulness in a card like Inspiring Call which is likely to give me 4-5 cards when I play it, at least. Rishkar's Expertise similarly will net me upwards of 7-10 cards and play a spell from my hand. Meanwhile, rhystic study, which is a great card, will likely get me 5-6 cards before being dealt with, sometimes only a couple. It helped me shift my thinking and made me consider other cards that I had previously dismissed.

Lands

Not a lot of utility lands are needed in this deck, I did like Rogue's Passage, because a lot of times Voja is swinging for lethal commander damage. Making him unblockable is great.

Here is the final form: Voja, the good boy

And by final form, I mean the form I’m currently playing, but likely will change because decks are always being updated and changed. As always, hope you enjoyed the article and if you have any commanders or interactions that you want to see built, let me know in the comments.

legendofa on Dances with Bears

8 months ago

Thanks for the link!

This deck looks solid--have you used it in live play yet? What sort of Horde do you use?

I have to ask about Forced Adaptation, since it only affects one creature. May I suggest something like Fight Rigging, Ivy Lane Denizen, or maybe Dormant Grove  Flip? These all have higher mana costs, but you need something to stick the Adaptation onto anyway, and these options means you're not putting all eggs in one basket. If you have some on hand or are willing to put a little more money into this, Rancor would work as well, using Ayula, Queen Among Bears to fuel Branching Evolution.

plakjekaas on Counters!

9 months ago

Renata and Master Chef modify how the creature enters the battlefield, those counters are placed on it at the same time, getting an additional one from Hardened Scales, so that's 3 so far. Then the triggers for the Unicorn and the Henge go on the stack, each adding 1 + 1 (Hardened scales) counter on the Squire. So that's 4 more. Making your Squire an 8/7 in the end.

Branching Evolution added in would double the counters, making it a 8/6->12/11->16/15. It's in the wording, this one says "Twice as many" where Hardened Scales says "plus an additional counter".

So all "creature enters with X counters" effects happen simultaneously, modified by just +1 from Hardened Scales, because "one or more counters" were put on it as it enters the battlefield. Then every trigger from "whenever a creature enters the battlefield" happens separately, and is modified by Scales accordingly for each instance.

MrHighscore on Dehydrated Hydras

9 months ago

It's been a couple of years, and the Hydra horde have matured!

Thanks for all your great suggestions while I've been away. I can see that the deck could need an overhaul with all the wonderful new cards

The following are now under consideration

New Hydras to make room for:

Headers13 on Counting on Life

10 months ago

SufferFromEDHD, thanks for the suggestions.

I like the rings but not sure what I'd potentially drop to fit them in yet, still heavily play testing the deck. Whilst the regular counter addition is good the existing equipment is either to prevent against removal of S&H (and/or one of the heavy hitters this deck develops) or to give things lifelink which then more consistently enables some of the infinite combo's in the deck.

Sword of Truth and Justice is beyond my budget so would have to pass on that.

Not sure Phantom Nantuko is strong enough to displace any of the current creatures in the deck but can see it would be nice to declare it as a blocker, tap it which then replaces the counter it would lose as it prevents the damage to itself.

I think Renegade Krasis didn't make the cut as I didn't think it would be a good return on investment as it wouldn't reliably evolve enough times with the other creatures in the deck. This deck also went from a go-wide style deck which Krasis would be better in I think to a voltron style-deck where I've only got 2 or 3 heavy hitters out there which only get bigger after being played, hence Krasis would only add a couple of counters in a limited number of situations.

Afiya Grove falls prey to my dislike of old art cards unfortunately, lol. It's also quite situational as you wouldn't want to play it early game if you don't have a creature out pre-turn 3 and also needs 'additional' counter effects to be on the board to be effective.

Branching Evolution also falls foul of my budgetary limits but Hardened Scales should really be on my maybe board with some play testing in the near future.

Tribute to the World Tree is a good shout, I just need to figure out where to fit it in (and just scrapes under my budget cap :-))

I don't think Ordeal of Nylea is a upgrade to a sorcery speed ramp spell due to all the caveats that it comes with, not only would I need a creature out to play it on but then depending on fast I can get counters on that creature might be 3 turns, provided I can attack without the creature dying, until I see the lands. Think I'd rather stick with plain ramp spells with less situational restrictions for the sake of consistency.

Hope that covers the thinking behind adding some of these to the maybe board and leaving some out. Happy to be corrected if I've missed some really powerful combo some of these cards might enable.

SufferFromEDHD on Counting on Life

10 months ago

Ring of Kalonia and/or Ring of Valkas nothing crazy but serious potential.

Sword of Truth and Justice all gas. Pure power.

Phantom Nantuko a jank rare turns into an efficient engine piece.

Renegade Krasis serious engine. Was surprised it wasn't in your solid list of creatures.

Afiya Grove this janky reserved list rare might be worth a spot.

Branching Evolution and Hardened Scales not janky and both are worthy a spot.

Tribute to the World Tree card draw or counters. Seems good.

Ordeal of Nylea an upgrade to one of your sorcery speed ramp spells.

Monomanamaniac on Kyler, Sigardian Emissary

10 months ago

Personally I'd suggest cutting the angels and the Gideon. As far as additions Branching Evolution Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion Realmwalker Eternal Witness are a few things that come to mind

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