Conditions Allow - Dorothea, Vengeful Victim

Ben Doolittle • November 30, 2021

(Dorothea, Vengeful Victim | Art by Marta Nael)

Righteous Retribution

Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow, the series where I take a Magic card with a downside and build a deck to turn it into a strength.

Innistrad: Crimson Vow has been out for a couple weeks now, and I've been taking some time to experiment with the new potential commanders from the set. There's a lot of fun new legendary creatures to play with, and one of my favorites is Dorothea, Vengeful Victim.

Dorothea, Vengeful Victim is an extremely cheap, aggressive commander. A 4/4 with flying is very strong, so it's no wonder that Dorothea won't stick around for long. Whenever she attacks or blocks, you'll have to sacrifice her at the end of combat. Then, you get to cast her again as an Aura for her Disturb cost, enchanting another creature you control so it will make an attacking 4/4 Spirit token whenever it attacks. Once again, however, there is a downside. If Dorothea's Retribution would be destroyed, it is exiled instead of going anywhere else, meaning you can't simply cast and recast this powerful Aura from your graveyard whenever the creature it's attached to dies.

Of course, you can simply put Dorothea, Vengeful Victim back in the command zone when that happens. But having to recast Dorothea and wait a turn to attack and sacrifice her is a huge loss of tempo that can take you out of the game. Instead, I want to skip going back to the command zone and build this deck around Pull from Eternity to put Dorothea back in the graveyard so you can recast her immediately. With a suite of evasive creatures, plenty of protection, and a few ways to re-use Pull from Eternity, you'll never stumble, allowing you to exact your vengeance on your enemies.

Carrying on Her Mission

Any deck built around an Aura needs creatures to enchant, and because Dorothea's Retribution creates evasive attackers, I'm going to focus on low-cost evasive creatures to enchant.

The ideal play pattern for this deck is to play a turn-one unblockable creature, cast Dorothea, Vengeful Victim on turn two, and then sacrifice her on turn three so you can enchant your Gudul Lurker and start attacking with 4/4 Spirits. The only problem is that Triton Shorestalker doesn't add much to the damage race, so while Gingerbrute rounds out the lineup, the real all-stars are Signal Pest, Pteramander, and Cloudfin Raptor. Cloudfin Raptor grows up to a 4/5 flier as it attacks and Dorothea's Spirits enter the battlefield. Pteramander rewards you for casting spells to protect it, eventually Evolving for just one or two mana. Signal Pest rewards you for casting your other unblockable creatures. You can also stack the Battle Cry trigger under Dorothea's Retribution so the attacking Spirit will get the +1/+0 buff.

If you really want to turn up the damage, turn to Crescendo of War and Call for Unity. Crescendo of War isn't a card you see very often, but it becomes a real threat very quickly. It gets an additional strike counter on every upkeep, not just yours, so it doesn't take long for each attacking creature to get upwards of +4/+0. Just be careful since your opponents' creatures will be getting the same buff. Call for Unity is slower, but much less likely to kill you. Every time you create a Spirit with Dorothea's Retribution, Call for Unity will get another unity counter, buffing your team more and more each turn. Each of these enchantments also follows right after Dorothea's Retribution on your mana curve, so you can grow your creatures as quickly as possible.

I'm also going to include some creatures that are solid targets for Dorothea's Retribution later in the game. Thalia's Geistcaller synergizes nicely with casting spells from the graveyard. The tokens it creates can be used to protect itself and help you pressure enemy life totals. To build on those graveyard synergies, Ghostly Pilferer helps you fill your graveyard and draw cards, all while being an unobtrusive unblockable creature. Finally, Mother of Runes and Giver of Runes both help protect your important creatures. Remember that protection can make your creatures harder to block in addition to helping them dodge removal.

Protection from Beyond the Grave

While Mother of Runes is undoubtedly powerful, it sits on the wrong part of the curve for this deck: because you want to deploy your threats in the first three turns of the game, counterspells and removal should generally cost more. This lets you play more powerful cards, like Sublime Epiphany, and easily hold up multiple answers for your opponents' spells. For this particular list, I've included efficient removal (Swords to Plowshares and Resculpt), but opted for more flexible counterspells, like Mystic Confluence. In addition, board wipes like Dusk // Dawn and Austere Command can be one-sided, since most of the creatures in this deck have low power.

To get as much mileage out of these spells as possible, I'm including Lier, Disciple of the Drowned. The real goal of this deck is to get extra value from cards in exile, thanks to Pull from Eternity. This deck does play some cards with flashback and Disturb, but Lier lets us reuse any instant or sorcery in the deck, potentially as many times as we need. In a similar vein, Back from the Brink essentially lets you cast your creatures from the graveyard with flashback as well. Plus, with all the extra cards being cast from the graveyard, Vega, the Watcher and Secrets of the Dead become potent card draw engines. Just remember that Back from the Brink doesn't actually cast creatures from the graveyard, so it won't let you draw cards.

To Eternity and Beyond

So far, I've talked about a lot of ways to exile cards from your graveyard and not enough about how to get them out of exile. If you've been playing Commander for a while, though, you've probably already guessed. Pull from Eternity is a one-mana instant that puts a face-up card in exile back into your graveyard, making it the perfect candidate for pairing with Isochron Scepter.

The main challenge for the deck is getting both Pull from Eternity and Isochron Scepter into your hand. Mystical Tutor has grown in price, but Solve the Equation is still a relatively budget tutor option. Tribute Mage helps to find Isochron Scepter and Sundial of the Infinite so you can keep the 4/4 Spirits made by Dorothea's Retribution. Isochron Scepter also opens up plenty of opportunity for shenanigans with your other spells as well. Transforming your Spirits into Elementals with Resculpt is one way around their "sacrifice at end of combat" clause. You could also hit them with Path to Exile if you need a little bit of ramp instead.

Still, there's no way to avoid the fact that you won't always manage to line up Isochron Scepter and Pull from Eternity, so I'm also including cards to mimic and increase the power of Dorothea, Vengeful Victim. Dorothea's Retribution is functionally identical to Invocation of Saint Traft, so including it as a backup copy of Dorothea herself seems fairly straightforward. Anointed Procession is also a natural fit. Just keep in mind that the additional tokens will also enter play attacking and will also be sacrificed at the end of combat. As an added bonus, you'll also get to copy the tokens created by Back from the Brink. If Anointed Procession is out of budget for you, though, consider adding Mirrormade instead. It can enter as a copy of either Dorothea's Retribution or Invocation of Saint Traft, performing essentially the same job as the procession. In the worst case, you can always copy Crescendo of War to end the game in a real hurry.

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This deck was a ton of fun to put together. It feels like a combination of an Azorius fliers deck and a token deck. If you're looking for a blue/white deck that's playing aggro rather than control, or if you're looking to play around with the exile zone, definitely give it a try. And if you've built around Dorothea, Vengeful Victim, tell me about it in the comments. Did I overlook any powerful synergies? Is there a card I overlooked? Let me know, 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.