(| Art by Billy Christian)
Eleventy-One Years is Far Too Short a Time
Welcome back to Conditions Allow, where I take a legendary creature with a drawback and turn it into a strength. Continuing on with commanders from Tales of Middle-earth today, I'm tackling a truly venerable hobbit, although you may not know it to look at him,.
wants to help you stay alive as long as possible, gaining life up to the ripe old age of 111. Once you do, he'll disappear and let you put all of the creatures in your deck into play. Hobbits like to give gifts on their birthdays after all, and Bilbo is spoiling all of us with a . In order to get it, however, you have to get to 111 life points first.
To Go Infinite, Or Not?
Getting over a hundred life may sound like a challenge, but there are a variety of ways to gain infinite life. Generally these aren't considered very useful because they don't actually win the game, but when your commander lets you put every creature in your deck into play afterwards, it becomes an easy win condition.
Most of the time, however, you only need one more card to win the game once you have infinite life. That really reduces the impact of searching your deck for every creature, so I'm not going to include any infinite life combos in this deck. This raises the question: how am I supposed to get up to 111 life in less than ten turns?
My plan is to do what Abzan does best and put a lot of creatures into play. In 1v1 Magic,can be very annoying, and that only scales up in a four-player Commander pod. Every creature entering play gets you closer and closer to that 111 threshold. even doubles that lifegain to two per creature.
This really takes off once you have multiple-esque creatures in play, so this deck is playing as many as possible. Most of these don't function in quite the same way, though. triggers for every creature that hits play, while and most others only notices creatures you control. is the only other creature that notices every creature entering play.
Send in Everyone
Once you have a fews in play, the next step is to keep playing creatures. doubles the impact of every creature you cast, while makes its tokens much larger, so they can hopefully block more. is also a great inclusion for this deck, since it both makes tokens and gains life from those tokens all at once. I'm also a huge fan of and . They both get very large very quickly, and they help you to push through damage if you can't gain enough life.
is going to put a target on your back as soon as you start gaining life. All the tokens you make should help, but just to be sure I'm also including and . Not only do they both prevent combat damage for a turn, they also put a bunch of tokens into play, triggering your s and making sure you can defend yourself next turn too. also fits into this category, since it gives your creatures lifelink.
Once you do get to 111 life, though, you'll need some high-impact creatures to put into play. Most of the life gain creatures in the deck are white, soand both make a ton of tokens. can also flood the board at the right moment, gaining you a bunch of life at once. Along with , all of these make creatures when they enter play, making them perfect for once you activate and try to win the game.
Turning Gain Into Pain
Of course, just gaining a bunch of life doesn't win you the game. That's whereand come in. Once you hit 111 life and activate , you'll go get the rest of your s, all your token-makers, and these two creatures. Every will see every other one enter play, along with the token-makers and their tokens, and gain you life for each. turns that into life loss you can aim at each of your opponents.
If that isn't enough to win the game, then you can also useand to sacrifice your creatures, pinging each opponent with . and are noncreature additions that help make sure you have enough damage when you're ready to activate .
Taking Care of Problems
To help make all this happen, I'm making as much of the card draw and interaction in the deck as possible happen on creatures.and both work great in tokens decks, although I've opted to include over as a mana sink. These all go alongside and , so you hopefully won't have to set yourself too far back with .
Likewise,and both fit into the removal suite, alongside classics and . Abzan gets to play very flexible removal, as , , and can all hit any permanent type (other than lands). For the most part, this deck doesn't worry too much about creatures, though, so you'll want to pay special attention to any artifacts and enchantments that could slow you down. I've also been enjoying as a surprise fog and graveyard hate in my green decks.
Put this all together and here's the final result.
Birthday BilboView on Archidekt
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View this decklist on Archidekt
was one of the cards that immediately caught my attention from Tales of Middle-earth for how well it transformed the flavor of Lord of the Rings to mechanics in Magic. It's also a powerful payoff that's worth the effort you have to put into achieving.
How would you build around? Are there any cards or synergies I've overlooked? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!