Destroy target permanent.
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|Commander / EDH||Legal|
|Commander: Rule 0||Legal|
Latest Decks as Commander
Desert Twister Discussion
4 weeks 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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…
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!
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!
3 months ago
Quite a large update. The printing of Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth called for some re-evaluations. I could include more utility lands in the deck and minimal cost due to its effect. Also due to all lands able to be forests, it allows for more mono green hyper mana shenanagins.
5 months ago
Hi, first of all welcome to the game of magic, its pretty amezing. There are a couple of problems with your deck in my opinion.
- Some cards are not modern legal. I don't know what the format is at you LGS but if its modern you have to change the cards that aren't legal to use.
- You are forcing yourself to play blue-green just to able to use Desert Twister which isn't modern legal, and quite frankly, not good. I would take it out so that you can play mono-blue.
- In terms of counterspells, Counterspell is about to get legal in modern in a couple of days so I would buy four copies and take out Broken Concentration , Cancel , Memory Lapse (also not legal in modern) and Negate .
- You use some bounce-effect cards that have effects you don't benefit from. Absorb Identity is only useful if you have shapeshifters, and you don't. Compelling Deterrence is only useful if you have zombies, you don't. Winds of Rebuke is only useful if you can utilize the cards that you put in your graveyard, you can't. Exchange these four card with Unsummon which is cheaper and thus more efficient in your deck. If you want to go a little bit more expensive exchange them for Brazen Borrower .
- As a final remark, you use to many lands. In your deck I would use between 20 and 24 lands.
If you have any more questions be sure to let me know!
11 months ago
I love tribal decks and you seem to have a solid base for your elves here but there are a few recommendations I have that may prove helpful.
Your commander will be a VERY high target so I would run some protective measures to keep him around like Yavimaya Hollow and Asceticism as it adds some regeneration protection to your commander although some of the options are pricey.
Removal is always useful and a good option is Song of the Dryads being a cheaper option then Desert Twister that as a plus empowers Elvish Champion, forestwalk... no one ever seems to notice that or care about it until your elves get +6/+6.
I personally love Nissa Revane and Nissa's Chosen for the life gain effects and blocker alone, the ultimate is just a bonus. Another fun choice is Immaculate Magistrate, this card is great for making players hesitant to block or attack you and will often eat a removal spell that would have been better aimed at your commander. Funny uses include politicking with this card since the target does not have to be YOUR creatures, you have not lived untill you have seen a 10/11 Birds of Paradise terrorizing the enemy.
Bring doom to your foes by empowering your commander or unblocked attackers with elves like Wirewood Channeler, or any others that can add more then three mana, paired with Umbral Mantle or Sword of the Paruns. One thing worth mentioning is that Umbral Mantle is almost a backup commander empowering mana producers before the attack, most people unfamiliar with the card wont see this coming.
1 year ago
EleshNornsFs, I disagree with that, because I think that color pie breaks should never happen, or else there is no point in this game having different colors. However, I shall still maintain my opinion that Red Elemental Blast and Guttural Response are not color pie breaks because of how narrow their effects are.
1 year ago
MagicMarc he said creatures, not permanents. slight difference. also, just because a color has a few cards that do a certain thing, doesn't mean that thing isn't still a color pie break. thats what makes it a color pie break in the first place, the fact that the color is doing something it doesn't usually do. reprints are also negligible, since its still the same card and you are limited in the amount of copies you can run.
as a matter of fact, i've found an article on the color pie that specifically mentions Desert Twister as a color break for green.
1 year ago
Green destroying stuff is not a color pie break. It has been unconditionally destroying any permanent since at least revised. Desert Twister kills anything and has been reprinted many times.