Conditions Allow - Amalia Benavides Aguirre EDH

Ben Doolittle • November 27, 2023

(Amalia Benavides Aguirre | Art by Alix Branwyn)

The Thrill of Discovery

Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow. In this article series I take a legendary creature with a drawback and try to turn it into a strength. One of my personal favorite legendary creatures in Magic is Marit Lage, which unfortunately cannot be your commander, but if you, like me, appreciate 20/20s with extra steps that are hard to get rid of, then you might also be interested in Amalia Benavides Aguirre.

Amalia Benavides Aguirre is a legendary Vampire that explores every time you gain life. Then, if her power is exactly twenty, she destroys each other creature. It'll take a while to get up to twenty power, but a ward cost of three life helps Amalia stick around to unleash her wrath. Perhaps even more importantly, however, it means she can explore as much as possible. 

Get A Life

Explore doesn't exactly provide card advantage, but it's a great way to fill your graveyard and ensure you hit land drops. Amalia also only costs two mana, so she can start exploring almost immediately. To take the most advantage of this, let's include a few one-mana creatures with lifelink to get the ball rolling. Healer's Hawk may not be the most impactful creature, but smoothing out early land drops or starting to fill the graveyard, and grow your commander, is powerful.

Gaining life in combat is slow, however. Combat damage happens all at once, so Amalia will only explore once. Or twice, if you have double strike. To really dig through our deck with explore triggers, we're going to rely more on Soul Warden and Blood Artist effects. These two cards in particular are great because they don't care if you control the creatures entering or leaving play. As your opponents play the game, you'll be gaining life, filling your graveyard, and moving ever closer to wiping the board with a huge creature left over. And there's a lot you can do to make the process even faster.

What is Dead Cannot Die

To make the most of Soul Warden and Blood Artist, we need creatures to enter play, and we need creatures to leave play. Small, recursive creatures are a hallmark of aristocrats strategies. Amalia Benavides Aguirre even puts them right into our graveyard, so we don't have to worry about drawing them as the game goes on. This means we can include as many as possible, to maximize both the number of life gain triggers we get and the value of exploring as much as possible.

Pay special attention to anything that can come back for just two mana. In conjunction with Pitiless Plunderer and Sifter of Skulls or Pawn of Ulamog, these creatures can come back any number of times per turn. That's a combo with any Blood Artist effect, but it also gives you the option to immediately wipe the board if we've only got Soul Warden in play. Just explore until you find a nonland card on top of your library and then leave it there until Amalia Benavides Aguirre gets eighteen +1/+1 counters. 

Of course, none of that works without sacrifice outlets. These are fairly standard, but there are a few worth mentioning. It's worth splurging for Phyrexian Altar over Ashnod's Altar here because having black mana is important for pulling off our combos. Additionally, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician has a little extra utility with Amalia Benavides Aguirre thanks to his ability to proliferate. Exploring multiple times a turn will leave you with plenty of extra lands, and being able to discard them to grow your commander stops them from going to waste.

Life is More Than Combo

This deck can do more than just combo off, though. We've gotten several great payoffs for gaining life that interact with the graveyard, which are perfect for utilizing the cards we explore away. Smothering Abomination and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician can't bring themselves back, but you can confidently throw them into the graveyard with Rodolf Duskbringer around to bring them back. Rodolf also has the advantage of gaining indestructible when you gain life, so he'll survive Amalia Benavides Aguirre's explosion.

We can also try to go wide with tokens. Blight Mound is great for making Pest tokens, but it also turns them into surprisingly effective attackers. Even just five or six 2/1s with menace is a lot, and this deck will usually be able to make more tokens than that. Alternately, Tivash, Gloom Summoner creates slightly beefier tokens. Tivash plays better alongside Celestine, the Living Saint, giving you the ability to play a longer game. If you've got multiple Blood Artists and Soul Wardens in play, you can gain a lot of life in a turn, but you're also draining your opponents. It's often better in that situation to focus on winning quickly instead of giving the Demon tokens time to attack.

It's also worth remembering that Amalia Benavides Aguirre gets really big. We can win with commander damage well before she actually hits twenty power. Rogue's Passage is a great utility land, and Witch's Clinic helps trigger an extra explore here and there (as well as making very big Demons with Tivash, Gloom Summoner). Key to the City is also great here, easily fueled by extra lands you draw while exploring. 

Amalia Benavides Aguirre

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Commander (1)
Creatures (39)
Artifacts (3)
Enchantments (3)
Instants (10)
Sorceries (4)
Lands (40)

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There are a surprising number of ways to approach Amalia Benavides Aguirre. You could focus on getting her to twenty power with Equipment or Auras, or include bigger creatures to reanimate for more impact. This list is definitely aristocrats, but it provides a sample of some of those other strategies. Having that flexibility makes every game a little different, and it makes sure you have the tools to tackle any situation.

But how would you build Amalia Benavides Aguirre? Are there any cards or synergies I overlooked? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.