Let It Burn
Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow, where I take a legendary creature with a drawback and try to turn it into a strength. Today I’m playing with fire to build aroundin EDH.
is one of the first meme commanders I ever heard about. All you need for a functioning deck, I was told, is Ashling and 99 s. And this isn’t far from the truth, either. Ashling is the sort of commander that does everything you need. Play her, activate her ability to stack +1/+1 counters, and she can keep the board clear and take chunks out of everyone’s life totals.
The downside is that to do so, Ashling must die. The third time her ability resolves, she loses all the +1/+1 counters you spent so much mana making, and then deals that much damage to each creature and each player. That includes Ashling herself, who is now a 1/1, guaranteeing her demise. You’ll have to invest more time, and more mana, into growing your commander into a respectable threat all over again. Even if Ashling does stick around, thanks toperhaps, you’ll still have to take the time and mana to build her power back up.
If you look at EDHREC page, you can see how most players attempt to get around this problem. Damage multipliers make Ashling’s ability much more impactful. They cut down the number of counters you need for the initial burst of damage, and make it much easier to rebuild your commander into a serious threat.’s
I’m not a huge fan of damage multipliers withthough. They also double the damage being dealt to you, by Ashling and by your opponents. It isn’t difficult for your opponents to drop your life total low enough that you can’t let Ashling go off without dying yourself, effectively locking yourself out of the game.
I’d much rather play creatures that want to take damage. When I was looking through Ashling the Pilgrim’s EDHREC page, I was surprised thatonly appears in 16% of decks. Ashling already encourages you to play a lot of lands, so the Cavalier can deal a lot of damage to each opponent when it dies. It also synergizes with one of mono-Rred’s most popular Themes: Wheels.
and not only dig through our deck to find , they also let us discard as many lands as possible. and further smooth out our draws, and only gets better the more lands you play. I plan on playing roughly 50 lands, to ensure I hit land drops and to be discarding lands to these draw spells as often as possible.
Feeding the Flames
With wheels providing forward velocity through your deck, you don’t have to play as many redundant pieces, but a few backups are still worth including.is very strong with , as is . Toralf is surprisingly flexible, able to point excess damage at your opponents themselves, or at creatures that would otherwise survive Ashling’s explosions.
Finally, you can offset the damage Ashling deals to you by giving her lifelink. Ifhas lifelink when her ability resolves, we will gain at least three times as much life as we lose. is especially great because it means Ashling needs fewer counters to kill big creatures, ensuring we can clear the board exactly when we need to. It also combos nicely with , ensuring you get to reflect the maximum amount of damage to your opponent’s faces.
In order to do that more than once though, you’ll need to keepalive. is perfect for this. Not having to equip it the first time we cast it means we have more mana for counters, or other interaction. and also protect your vital creatures by preventing the damage that Ashling would deal to them.
Stoking the Embers
Of course, the goal is always to get as many +1/+1 counters ontoas possible. Her EDHREC page includes and to do that. Those are great options for a deck focused on equipment, but this is really a wheel deck. Plus, your commander can already gain counters through her own ability. You just need as much mana as possible to use that ability. This is where comes in. With enough mana rocks, is basically a colorless , giving us access to extra mana on each opponent’s turn.
The idea, of course, is to use that mana to put +1/+1 counters on, but it also opens up the potential to play for card advantage rather than damage. is a staple in mono-colored decks, but we can add and beside it. deserves another shoutout here too. With a total land count near fifty, you will usually have a spare land or two to cycle.
Once you have an engine set up, you will want to be able to protect it. Ashling presents a clear and visible threat, so she’s likely to draw at least some removal.is a solid counter spell in mono-red, and will put a stop to most board wipes. Recently, however, single target removal seems to be more popular than board wipes, and red has the perfect answer to those. Why bother stopping a removal spell when you can simply redirect it, protecting your stuff while destroying someone else’s best card. is great here, and should just be in more decks.
In terms of removal, I want to be sure to include a couple of cheap burn spells. Wheel decks are fairly popular, based on the data on EDHREC, so chances are you’ll run into aor eventually. Being able to remove them at instant speed is vital for stopping an opponent from hijacking our own game plan.
Add in plenty of ramp and this is what the deck looks like.
Ashling the Pilgrim EDH
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is a very flexible commander, which makes putting your own personal spin on her a great chance to explore what you like about Magic. I always appreciate a deck that uses lands in different ways, which led me to focus around and wheels. How would you approach this particular commander? Let me know what cards you think work best with Ashling in the comments, and thanks for reading.
In case you missed it, don’t miss Ben’s first article for Commander’s Herald, a and brew.