I love the smell of mana in the morning. Smells like... victory.

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Ashaya, Soul of the Wild and… I’d settle for a lot of things, really. Peak answers, Kamahl, Heart of Krosa for creatures, Nissa, Worldwaker for theme.

October 22, 2021 12:17 a.m.

Love the commander: very nice fit with all the colorless cost reduction!

30ish copies, for me: I had 33-34 Relentless Rats in my old Marrow-Gnawer deck. 1 in 3 was good enough odds to make it semi-reliable, but still leave it interesting. I’d accept 3/10 odds if pressed for space, but it depends on how much other stuff you plan on shoehorning into the 99. I wasn’t exactly running MG to spice my games with variety.

Looking at the chart breakdown, 33-34 straddles 70% likelihood if you somehow manage to ripple turn 2? Not bad.

Looking at the decklist, you have a lot of internal synergy. Have you tried playing a few games of goldfish to see if any cards seem overly redundant? Maybe switch out cards of duplicate function that don’t meet the standard you want. You might drop some wheel effects or one of the cost-reducing cards if you’re feeling a lack of removal.

I’d say 7-10 instances of removal tend to be enough if the deck’s efficient, which this certainly looks to be. Too many and I’ve personally felr I’m not actually playing, just taking potshots at other people’s fun. At least, that’s my excuse when removal is chromatically scarce.

October 21, 2021 11:59 p.m.

I had full mana and Alchemist's Refuge up when an opponent turning his entire superfreinds board into dragons with Sarkhan the Masterless. Wasn’t even swinging at me, but I took the shot anyway. Years later, I can still ruin his day with only four words: Curse of the Swine.

October 21, 2021 11:08 p.m.

Every dual color up until now has been some sort of aggressive, negative experience for other players, and Selesnya certainly has the potential to be no different. Combining Green’s predilection for quality with White’s penchant for quantity (AND stacking board buffs) makes for a lethal pairing in the combat phase. Rhys the Redeemed, Captain Sisay, and Gaddock Teeg are just a few commanders with justifiable appeal for power gamers. And don’t forget the enchantments: Aura Shards, Mirari's Wake, and Hunting Grounds all have singularly disruptive board presence, and that’s just a few on a stellar list.

And yet, undeniable potency aside, this is an almost grandmotherly pairing: you don’t so much play Selesnya to ruin someone else’s day as to ensure you have the best one. A properly built deck in these colors should wrap around its pilot like a blanket fresh out of the dryer, basting you in a pervasive feeling of shelter, growth, and self-promotion. Another good analogy might be a garden tended by someone with an emerald thumb, game-breaking fertilizer, and the patience of Saint Francis. In summary, players running these are very much there to do their own thing without interruption: the problem is, once they’ve done their own thing, opponents find out that the “game-breaking fertilizer” is typically their own mulched remains.

It’s also oddly human-centric.

Ok, enough poetry. Now to the really fun bit: we’re here to talk thematic commanders, so let’s dive into that roster. Today, we’re discussing the Selesnya themes of Lifegains, Counterplay, and “Don’t Look at Me!”. As always, please bear in mind that our focus here is not necessarily competitive but rather on thematic, archetypical commanders. Just don’t judge me harshly for including a lot of beasts.

Lifegains

I spelled with an "s" for a reason. Yes, as covered in a past article, Black has a more intimate relationship with the life total. Yes, Black both drains life and spends life. BUT… there is a profound difference between eating cookies and baking them. Black is the undisputed cookie monster (and a bit of a baker, to be fair), but Selesnya could, to continue the analogy, take any bake off by storm. Prize money, people: Selesnya’s about not only baking that cookie, but getting prize money for it. In other words, crossbreeding these colors gets you a thematic trend toward gaining life AND triggering something whenever you do. Think combotastic crap like the Accomplished Alchemist and Rhox Faithmender, or Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Spike Feeder. The possibilities are… well, a little scary.

Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn

The Oprah of lifegain. Who needs general damage when you can drown your opponent in creatures the approximate size of your life hack? Smack them with the Angel of Destiny, or… wow, there are a lot of relevant angels. Gather it. Just bring your lifelink and enjoy.

Trelasarra, Moondancer Direct, though the scry is a nice touch. This is a commander made for some sort of evasion, the Soul Warden cycle, and a pile of tokens. Like, maybe March of the Multitudes. Hehehehe…

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice … Sheesh. I mean, I’ve had this built on and off, but… still, sheesh. If you’ve never heard of the Phyrexian Processor, enjoy the pearl I just gave you. Green-White is token central: hell, their own private keyword about it is right on this commander. This is a definite instance of the Green penchant for chunks being over-synergized with the white predilection to breed like rabbits. Or, in this case, Phyrexian Minions.

Counterplay

I’ve covered stax twice by this point, once in White and once in Azorius. I don’t deny that the potential for oppression is there: one of my favorite cards in Selesnya is Glare of Subdual. However, I can’t help feeling that it’s coming from a different direction in this slice of the pie. While Blue and White are geared toward inflicting stagnancy, Selesnya’s stax are angled toward preventing thematically negative effects, kind of a mercy mission for your opponent’s resources. I think Quakers would like it here.

Trostani Discordant Mind control pervasive in the local meta? Not anymore! Second Trostani is actually a rather inoffensive commander for everyone who’s not a thief, offering both board support and considerable political clout. Other players may even go out of their way to keep her up and you in the game, just to screw over that one guy.

Gaddock Teeg Ah, the man himself. I never found him especially oppressive, leaning more toward creatures by disposition. Not everyone will feel the same way. He cuts most conventional boardwipes out of the mix, and God help super-friends. You can almost picture the little hobbit raising his hands and saying “Let’s have a nice, simple game, shall we?” Which isn’t something you expect in a typical game of Commander, now that I think about it.

Yasharn, Implacable Earth Land fixing is nice, but this is where things are downright hostile. Those may look like tusks, but those are really two giant middle fingers pointed at black decks.

“Don’t Look at Me!”

When we were little, my brother would build cereal box walls between us as we ate breakfast, then stare at me over them. Whenever I eyed him like the nutcase he was, he’d scream “DON’T LOOK AT ME!!!”

I don’t think I need to explain the point.

Dragonlord Dromoka

I always liked the aesthetic of Dosan the Falling Leaf, but not enough to make him a commander. Dromoka, meaty beast of two colors that she is, has a bit more appeal. All but guaranteeing an uninterrupted turn, combo players could do worse.

Sigarda, Host of Herons A 5/5 with flying for five would be nice. Hexproof on a general is competitive. Putting a kibosh on all offensive-sacrifice decks ever tagging you? Downright savage. I like this card a lot.

Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist So… commander damage is a tried, true plan. Lots of people try it. Lots of people won’t be particularly offended by Mirri’s soft push for it. All the token-fiends out there, though, are going to flip their collective gourds when they find out the Silent Arbiter got legendary and started playing favorites. Word of advice: NEVER give her vigilance.

And, for a personal favorite: Karametra, god of the harvest

As readers know, I like ramp. However, even I think this is broken. I genuinely feel guilty whenever I think of building it again. While she doesn’t approach the misery of Zur the Enchanter or Purphoros, God of the Forge, the power dynamic here is shattering. One turn with a Whitemane Lion or anything similar will secure you a lead. One turn with whitemane lion and a Lotus Cobra? Amulet of Vigor? Tireless Provisioner? God have pity on your tiny, shriveled soul, because your opponents won’t. At least, if they ever manage to catch up under what I assume will be a deluge of ETB and blink effects. There are so many degenerate, savage combos encouraged by this reaping wench that I couldn’t list them all and reasonably expect anyone to finish the article. Let me just close this by saying she turns any card with landfall into a gamechanger, and there are a LOT of good landfall cards.

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

Prior Articles:

Gruul

Rakdos

Dimir

Azorius

Green, with links to the other mono-colors

October 16, 2021 12:31 p.m.

In the last article, I referenced the opinion that Heath Ledger’s Joker is a Rakdos player. Here, I further submit that Godzilla is a Gruul player, or would be if you could find cards big enough. Big, stompy, and gloriously unsubtle, if you like mind games then maybe this isn’t for you. The rest of us will have a grand old time stampeding over you in the true Rhythm of the Wild.

Parsing out themes within Gruul commanders was a little more challenging than the past color pairings. While there are obvious trends like ramp and damage, I’d prefer to discuss things that are more in line with both colors rather than one or the other. To that end, we’re discussing X, Power, and Unsubtlety. As always, please bear in mind that the point isn’t a discussion of the competitive but rather a celebration of the thematic.

X

Bear with me. There are only six legal Red-Green spells with X in the cost, and not all of them are playable. However, there are currently eighty red X spells in print, sixty-eight in green. The other colors all have less. Of those 148 cards, 71 do some sort of damage. My point is this: In the Green corner, we have the undisputed champion of ramp, while in the Red corner we see, by inference, the most willing color to serve as a mana dump. Klauth's Will is probably the only Gruul X spell I’d play, but there are lots, and I mean LOTS, of mono-colored choices for channeling your inner flamethrower.

Rosheen Meanderer

A 4/4 for four? Not bad. That taps for four? Woot! Heck, I run every Gilded Lotus I own, and that’s only good for three mana! If you like X spells, Rosheen is a nice, reliable bet that probably won’t draw much hate.

Tovolar, Dire Overlord

This guy? Unlike Rosheen, he might draw hate, and in spades. Doesn’t look relevant to X at first glance, does he? All that draw is magnificent, and an excuse to finally go tribal werewolves is well and good. Come nightfall, though, and he suddenly turns into a Kessig Wolf Run. Crack enough mana and you can kill everyone with one wolf token each. Good times.

Ulasht, the Hate Seed

This card was made for Goblin Bombardment and all it’s disgusting relatives. Sweet mercy, what a load of combo this is. Crack infinite, Make a pile of tokens, play it, empty it, play it again.

Power

Green’s fatties tend to be just that: well-rounded. Most of them have equal power and toughness, or near to it. In Red, however, you see things like Spark Elemental frequently: potent attackers made to die quickly, loudly, and messily. Both colors, though, have a passion for dominating in the combat phase. From Runes of the Deus to Fires of Yavimaya, there’s a fine sweep of support for storming enemy lines, and there are a number of Gruul commanders who do the same.

Zilortha, Strength Incarnate

Whoa nelly, let them fight is right! Suddenly all those glass cannons Red gave you are made mighty, mighty thick by offense being, after all this time, the best defense. Flowstone Slide is suddenly tempting to play, frighteningly so. I don’t know what other chicaneries you might get into, but this is something I’d love to see played.

 Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient

Omnath, Locus of Mana had a flying, hasty baby. I’m just going to leave this here and remark that any other commentary I would have made is being drowned out by maniacal laughter.

Xenagos, God of Revels

You like command damage, right? Of course you do. Well, that’s not the point here. However, playing big toys is strongly endorsed, especially when paired with Unnatural Growth and all those delightful parallels to the Pathbreaker Ibex. Get tall, go wide.

Unsubtlety

One could argue for the elegance of simplicity, but there’s nothing elegant about clubbing your opponents with chonks or hosing them down with napalm. Black, now, black’s plenty elegant. Blue is stupid elegant. Green and Red, though, lean towards an extremely direct approach. Here, we’re talking commanders that reward simplicity, encouraging unorthodox deck construction in order to reap some sort of reward.

Nikya of the Old Ways

Lands and critters, critters and land. And SUCH land! I always loved Heartbeat of Spring, but most similar effects double everyone’s stuff, or a particular kind of stuff. Not Nikya. Nikya gives only to you, provided you want to spend it on creatures. Props if you start pulling crazy tricks with Ashaya, Soul of the Wild.

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

Always swing? Ok. Reach and Vigilance? With two heads, I’m not surprised. 6 damage to anyone not playing a proper spell? Gloriously unsubtle, and less prohibitive than Nikya. Faced with the prospect of self-immolation in seven spells, Blue is going to be very, very cross with you, to say nothing of artifact decks.

Borborygmos Enraged

The big guy puts me in mind of a line from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. “I'm coming for blood; no law, no code of conduct. You put me in the right direction, you get the hell out of my way.” This looks hard to pull off, but lordy the work it’ll do when you manage! I know from experience that green has all the kit necessary to fill a hand with land: give ol’ Borbor a deck excessively stocked with lands, a few choice options to shuffle your graveyard back in, stick him with Basilisk Collar and get to work.

And, for my personal favorite...

Omnath, Locus of Rage

We HAD to discuss him at some point. Nobody is going to look at this guy piloting your deck and wonder what’s going to happen. You are going to spam land drops like nobody’s business until you can afford to plunk his expensive ass on the field, and then you are going to start making an EFFORT. You are going to throw thiccness at absolutely everyone. And, above all, there will be a delightedly murderous glint in your eye whenever someone suggests boardwiping. I know because this is an old, old deck of mine; there’s a bare-bones toolkit, then 40-odd lands and a massive pile of land-rush and “whenever you play a creature.” Think Warstorm Surge, Animist's Awakening, and an excessive collection of the actual token.

That's it for this round. Thoughts and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed it, and will come back next week for a real favorite of mine, Selesnya!

Prior Articles:

Rakdos

Dimir

Azorius

Green, with links to the other mono-colors

October 9, 2021 4:04 p.m.

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