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Reyhan&Ishai | Where Unstoppable Meets Immovable!

Commander / EDH Aristocrats Battlecruiser Counters GWUB Multiplayer Primer

AkaAkuma

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This deck is an endless Work In Progress! Feedback, suggestions and upvotes are always appreciated.

Reyhan, Last of the Abzan, a gifted Dragonscale General, took a short lived lead to the remnants of Abzan after Daghatar surrendered to the Dragonlord Dromoka. She rallied her clan to a last resistance, with a strength not from numbers but individuals.

While in the midst of a meeting between Khans, Reyhan had her final act in rescuing her fellow Khan from the Dragonlords Ojutai and Sulimgar. Here Reyhan created a diversion to stall Silumgar but only to be intercepted by Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker, the personal attendant of Ojutai and former Jeskai Windscout.

Cornered & outnumbered each Khan surrendered to the dragons resulting to an end of the Khan period.

But here, in a parallel universe where Ishai sided with Reyhan rather than Ojutai, a duo rose no Dragonlord nor Khan stood a chance to!

As this is where the unstoppable force meets the immovable object!

Reference: No end and no beginning, Khanfall and The great teacher's student


Introduction

"To suffer a defeat and yet lose none of your strength." That's what Abzan stands for. This piece of flavor translates beautifully into Reyhan's ability to keep your power on board even if creatures fall!

Now have you ever heard of rule 704.K, the infamous legend rule?

legend rule Show

Well of-course you did, otherwise we'd only run clones in EDH. But have you ever considered using the rule to your benefits? Because Reyhan is a good example of one. As of yes! She and her "clones" their ability all trigger simultaneously if one dies.

So here you have it. I've build an Aristocrats themed deck resolving around Counters. And a great aspect to this strategy is to clone Reyhan for creating allot of counters.

Aristocrats Show

But as far as Golgari or even Abzan goes with +1 counters, this strategy begs for blue to be in her color identity also. Which is where Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker comes in. While looking like an underwhelming Managorger Hydra that can commander-damage and fly, Ishai provides us blue for that simic synergy while also letting us splash white for cards like Eerie Ultimatum, Gift of Immortality and the all fittingly Together Forever.

But why Reyhan, Last of the Abzan with Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker instead of let’s say an Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, Kresh the Bloodbraided, Ghave, Guru of Spores or any other partner?

  • Reyhan or Ishai are almost always a guaranteed turn 3 drop since we only need 2 out of 4 colors to play them!
  • Is your magic group limited to no infinite's? Can't you play your Ghave to your fullest because of said rule? Ever made 90 counters with just your general and one other card? Well make way Ghave, because Reyhan can!
  • The cost penalty upon commander-zoning a general is not shared between partners.
  • Even though commander-damage is not shared between partners, we will most likely be able to shift any power from one general to another may one of the two leave play. Suck on that, Kresh!
  • Reyhan is very good one vs. one while Ishai is very good in multiplayer making this deck good to play in any edh format.
  • "Partner" EDH decks start a game with "nine" instead of eight cards. We also care less about having a hand with no creatures, I mean we already start with 2!
  • A Reyhan or Ishai on the field does not look as scary as casting a Atraxa, so they won't be removed as quickly. That until it's too late of course.
  • And by all means I think Ravos, Soultender and Tana, the Bloodsower hold great synergies with Reyhan on different views. Thrasios, Triton Hero has proved himself as tier 1 general and if I could choose I kind of wished I had red over white in this deck's color identity (but except for the sub-par card draw even a potato has more synergy with Reyhan than Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist or Kraum, Ludevic's Opus). Now what makes Ishai so great is the fact that she's a flyer that holds true to that counter synergy. And personally I think Reyhan really needs that blue for cards like Rite of Replication, Prime Speaker Zegana and Deepglow Skate.

This deck of course does not come without cons.:

Following the command zone's guideline for power levels on edh decks, this deck would be graded an 8/10.

This deck lacks the turn 4 win options to be fully competitive and reyhan or ishai can't obtain infinite resources with just one another card.

However Reyhan, and this deck alike will constantly apply pressure to the board. A boardstate is quickly made and can be very difficult to remove. It has allot of toolbox options and different winning conditions.

Power levels explained Show

The Strategy

Here I will show you the charm on which is Reyhan. Most people will build Reyhan solely on her counter aspect, but as said before, it is the Aristocrat path I walked down.

My strategy on deckbuilding with Reyhan and Ishai is derived in four pieces.

Now the issue to this deck is not the amount of mana we need to get it rolling, but the four mana to get our maximum potential. I suggest starting a game with 3-4 land, as we start with 2 creatures in the command-zone anyway. Because of this, the ramp cards included are meant to give as much profit after Reyhan is placed.

Tempt with Discovery should be used wisely. Most people cannot resist ramping a free land which leaves you with a potential 4 lands for 4 mana! However, because cards like Maze of Ith or Gaea's Cradle can also be searched by opponents i suggest holding a Strip Mine or Ghost Quarter behind in case people searches these up. My strategy is to always search up something innocent like mosswort bridge before playing big guns like Field of the Dead or earlier mentions.

Krosan Verge can fetch a Breeding Pool, Godless Shrine, Hallowed Fountain Irrigated Farmland, Indatha Triome, Murmuring Bosk, Overgrown Tomb, Sunken Hollow or a Zagoth Triome.

Ordeal of Nylea should've been called Ordeal of Reyhan, this and Hadana's Climb   are designed to perfectly match Reyhan. Easy ramp with a counter.

Actually I can fork this section into 3 new categories as there are Counter Suppliers (e.g. Verdurous Gearhulk), Counter Heralds (e.g. Herald of Secret Streams) and Counter Modifiers (e.g. Corpsejack Menace). Each should be considered carefully when building a counter deck.

Counter suppliers are very self-explanatory. They bring counters to the table. Reyhan and Ishai do this both. Kalonian Hydra and Managorger Hydra do this, but also Master Biomancer belongs to this list.

Counter Heralds brings benefits to your board state whenever a creature has a counter. There are a ton of these cards in the form of evolve Fathom Mage, in the form of outlast and adapt Abzan Battle Priest/Skatewing Spy or persist Cauldron of Souls. And to some extent even ferocious See the Unwritten or raw power Prime Speaker Zegana.

But now to the interesting category!

Counter modifiers not add but double counters. Corpsejack Menace, Doubling Season and Solidarity of Heroes are strong contestants. But not half as strong as Mirror Mockery, Rite of Replication, Phantasmal Image or card:sword of selves in combination with Reyhan. Whenever a second Reyhan enters the battlefield, one will be sacrificed and this causes both of the Reyhan to trigger their abilities simultaneously.

Now the Aristocrats strategy works so well in this deck because Counter modifiers exist in Magic. While midst in our attack we can shift power from blocked to unblocked creatures and sacrificing creatures usually comes with benefits to our aristocrats.

Our aristocrats:

Yahenni, Undying Partisan is actually our only true aristocrat. Not only can he infinitely sacrifice to our hearts desire, but he also shares that greedy undertone in the sacrifice ability. This is great as with boardwipes he even protects our counters!

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Greater Good, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim and to some extend Ghoulcaller Gisa each fulfill different roles while doing the same thing. Over 2500 sources create or are of the Human creature type, so a free swing with Yawgmoth is also not unlikely to happen.

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, if there is power on your board then you've won. This card is usually a 7 to 10 mana win and that can make Jarad very boring in the long run. Boring but incredibly stong.

But if we would only sacrifice, there would eventually be no creature left on the board right? Well good observation Timmy! But that is why we also recur. Together Forever, Eerie Ultimatum and Journey to Eternity   play the part here. And funnily they can in turn also recur Eternal Witness so any other card can be brought back also!

It's a never ending cycle!

There is actually allot of interesting options here. Allot of protective cards still bring our creatures in a short "dead" state (e.g. Gift of Immortality or Cauldron of Souls). This in turn triggers Reyhan's ability! So killing our boardstate can actually punish opponents.

Living Death, Necromantic Selection or Phyrexian Rebirth are boardwipes that protects our counters also. In case you need a educative reminder:

The Stack: Show

Also Bestow like Nighthowler are good ideas for protecting counters. Would there be a boardwipe with Nighthowler enchanting something, Reyhan can legally target Nighthowler to copy your boardstates counters onto.

Achieving Victory

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Let's talk Shenanigans, what's wins us games?

I love 3 v 1 "archenemy" games. Be that Nicol Bolas player where at some point three opponents have to team up and stop me! A turn 3 player annihilation does not fit this picture, but this deck has a turn 5 win possible and apart from the correct land we only need a Sol Ring + Blade of Selves in our opening hand to set it in play! Easy huh?

Turn one:

Turn two:

Turn three:

  • Equip Reyhan with blade of selves, attack and place 6 x 3 counters on Reyhan. When the two Reyhan copies enters the battlefield, two will be sacrificed and this causes all three of the Reyhan to trigger their abilities simultaneously.

From here we can shift power to ishai or win someway else hopefully.

This deck can become a mathematical mess and whenever you make more Reyhan tokens, the more difficult the equation about placing counters becomes. But even if you're bad in math and don't know the way the stack works, then don't worry! I made a small cheat sheet.

How weird this might be Mirror Mockery, Blade of Selves and Rite of Replication are this decks base mass +1/+1 counter spells as tokens play the important aspect. The fist rule on placing counters with these cards are "Amount of Reyhan's (R) x Amount of Reyhan Token's (T) x amount of counters each dying creature has (C)". Let's start off easy:

Reyhan + Mirror mockery combo:

  • Enchanted on Reyhan and attacking, Reyhan creates one copy of herself that dies instantly and both the copy as the original Reyhan their ability trigger. The amount of counters we can place are (2 x 1) x 3 = 6 +1/+1 counters.

Reyhan + Blade of Selves combo:

  • Equiped on Reyhan and attacking Reyhan creates two copies (4man game) of herself that die instantly and both copies plus the original Reyhan their ability trigger over both copies. The amount of counters we can place are (3 x 2) x 3 = 18 +1/+1 counters.

Reyhan + Rite of Replication combo:

  • Targeting Reyhan, she gets up to five copies of herself that die instantly and all the copies plus the original Reyhan their ability trigger over each copy! The amount of counters we can place are (6 x 5) x 3 = 90 +1/+1 counters.

Note that with Rite of Replication we place 18 x 3 counters! And not necessarily we need to place all 90 counters on one specific target creature. Now let's go over three piece combo's:

Bramblewood Paragon: This triggers on any copy it's enter the battlefield. Our fist rule will now be R x T x (C+1).

  • Reyhan + Mirror mockery combo: 2 x 4 (8) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Blade of Selves combo: 6 x 4 (24) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Rite of Replication combo: 30 x 4 (120) +1/+1 counters

Hardened Scales: This triggers on any copy it's enter the battlefield and every time a ability places counters. Our fist rule will now be R x T x (C+2).

  • Reyhan + Mirror mockery combo: 2 x 5 (10) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Blade of Selves combo: 6 x 5 (30) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Rite of Replication combo: 30 x 5 (150) +1/+1 counters

Master Biomancer: Our fist rule will now be R x T x (C + MB's power), C will be 3 + the power of Master Biomancer.

  • Reyhan + Mirror mockery combo: 2 x C (10+) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Blade of Selves combo: 6 x C (30+) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Rite of Replication combo: 30 x C (150+) +1/+1 counters

Cathars' Crusade: Our fist rule will now be R x T x (C + T), don't forget to place a counter on all other non-Reyhan Token's for each copy also!

  • Reyhan + Mirror mockery combo: 2 x 4 (8) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Blade of Selves combo: 6 x 5 (30) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Rite of Replication combo: 30 x 8 (240) +1/+1 counters

Corpsejack Menace: Double counters on any copy it's enter the battlefield and every time a ability places counters. Our fist rule will now be R x T x ((C x 2) x 2).

  • Reyhan + Mirror mockery combo: 2 x 12 (24) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Blade of Selves combo: 6 x 12 (72) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Rite of Replication combo: 30 x 12 (360) +1/+1 counters

Doubling Season: Like corpsejack menace but also on tokens! Our fist rule will now be R x (T x 2) x ((C x 2) x 2).

  • Reyhan + Mirror mockery combo: 6 x 12 (72) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Blade of Selves combo: 20 x 12 (240) +1/+1 counters
  • Reyhan + Rite of Replication combo: 110 x 12 (1320) +1/+1 counters

Footnote and special thanks:

Thank you for your interest in my take on Reyhan and Ishai! I hope it inspired you in your own commander brews. Lastly I'd like to include a special thanks for the following people who helped building the deck:

Suggestions

Updates Add

2020 would sound the year of commander! Well, it sucked. I haven't touched my cards in the first half year and only started playing some kitchen-table magic in the last few.

But at least I build some new toys in Korvold, Fae-Cursed King with a land sacrificing sub-theme. Arahbo, Roar of the World and tinkered allot on Gishath, Sun's Avatar, which all ended up with more consistency and better land bases than Reyhan & Ishai. So now Commander Legends came out, let's revisit on what i still consider my favorite commander deck.

Acceleration:

  • Tempt with Discovery, I started to love the card. It's cheaper than Traverse the Outlands and searches for the nasty utility lands. And so far this offer has tempt nearly everyone! So it fetches 3-4 non basic lands for 4 mana! Not many people will say no while other players are digging through their library already. The card is risky however so reserve a Strip Mine or Ghost Quarter and use it as following: You first seek something innocent like a Mosswort Bridge, and now when opponents start searching, take account of what should be removed and fetch a strip mine or play your bigger lands in response.
  • For now I will only include Emergence Zone and Strip Mine as utility lands to remove fetches like Gaea's Cradle or Maze of Ith, but i might add a Field of the Dead if this strategy remains successful.
  • Traverse the Ulvenwald, try this! Worst case it's a basic land, but late-game it will fetch you your winning condition. Ridiculous and very affordable.
  • anything on the new enemy coloured bond lands, triome lands and Murmuring Bosk? Yes.

+1 counters:

Sacrifice & recurrence: I want people dis-encouraged when talking creature removal, so i included more recurrence, especially when creatures die.

  • Basri's Lieutenant & Abzan Ascendancy will make people think twice about board-wiping.
  • Tendershoot Dryad, while a bit off-theme will widen the board each turn.
  • Eerie Ultimatum, looking forward to blow peoples minds in a flash with this and Emergence Zone some day.
  • Ghoulcaller Gisa will be re-introduced as another sacrifice slot. I never liked that i can't use her right away but time tell how she operates in this new setup.
  • Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is insane. Far better than Varolz, the Scar-Striped and comes with a potent evasion.
  • Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest was in my original setup back in 2017 and did not shine there, but i think these changes will redeem that. I recently accidentally discovered that she creates infinite power on the board with Basri's lieutenant and a sac outlet.

Removal:

  • Tragic Arrogance, this got to be the strongest removal in magic. Once in a while i come back to this card and think "ahh yea tragic arrogance! But the card says destroy like Divine Reckoning or Duneblast right?" No, it's sacrifice and also it's non-land permanents! "But doesn't it work the same way like Fortunate Few or Cataclysmic Gearhulk?" No, without targeting I can choose all targets myself! So yea, it finds itself a solid spot on the team and so should you.
  • Retribution of the Ancients, this fellow KibaAlpha has great idea's sometimes, this card was one.
  • Find / Finality, I used it in Korvald for a while and love it. If not for removal it's good recurrence

Lastly I conclude that I will remain reyhan paired with Ishai. I love all the new partners. Alharu, Solemn Ritualist could be very interesting with Reyhan and I actually have thought of some very cool interactions between Reyhan and Akiri, Line-Slinger or Sakashima of a Thousand Faces I would like to see work, but I simply love that this duo comes from Tarkir together while being everything but red.

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Revision 21 See all

1 month ago)

+1 Basri's Lieutenant main
+1 Blade of Selves main
+1 Branching Evolution main
-1 Cazur, Ruthless Stalker  Flip acquire
+1 Cultivate main
-1 Deepglow Skate maybe
+1 Emergence Zone main
-1 Farseek main
+1 Find / Finality main
-1 Forest main
+1 Ghoulcaller Gisa main
+1 Hagra Constrictor main
-1 Hydra's Growth acquire
-1 Indatha Triome acquire
-1 Island main
-1 Luminous Broodmoth acquire
+1 Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest main
-1 Muldrotha, the Gravetide maybe
+1 Murmuring Bosk main
-1 Opulent Palace maybe
and 47 other change(s)