(Daarken)| Art by
Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities
Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow, the series where I take a card with a drawback and build a Commander deck to turn it into a strength. This week, I finally sat down and resolved to make work in EDH, thanks in no small part to the fantastic piece by Daarken you can see just above.
In 1v1 formats, there's a lot to love about. Flying creatures are much less common, and five a turn is a significant clock. Standard decks during original Kamigawa block that played included it as their primary win condition.
For Commander, however,is much less advantageous. Many decks include ways to reduce your life total without attacking, and five damage a turn just isn't enough to keep up with what other decks are doing with seven mana, which isn't to say that five "free" damage a turn isn't impactful, and there are several ways to turn up the pressure. Damage multipliers are obviously powerful, but so are cards that generate additional upkeep steps, and if isn't around in the end step, then your life total will remain unaffected.
Weaving Between the Dragons
My first thought for this deck was to useto bring into play just before your turn. Even though sets your life total to five during each end step, it only triggers at the beginning of the end step. Bringing it back during the end step avoids that ability. Then, it'll be in play to throw five damage during your upkeep, and Ghen can sacrifice it to bring back another impactful enchantment. My first pick would be , to take advantage of the expensive enchantments you'd be playing.
This plan requires using Ghen's effect twice each turn cycle, so untapping them is a necessity. There are plenty of instants that can do the job, butand are steady engines to let you activate as many times as you want. Ghen can even protect these creatures with Auras like , or bring them back from death with a little .
Mardu has also gotten a lot of new toys since's original printing. Sagas are particularly effective, since they put themselves back in the graveyard. Or you can wait until their second stage and then sacrifice them to bring back another. and are most useful for their first tale, while you'll usually want to wait for 's third step. Thanks to Read Ahead, though, you can jump straight there, or to the second effect to dump big spells into your graveyard and refill your hand.
Embracing the Full Spectrum
Puttingin the command zone does stop you from playing certain cards, however. While you can multiply 's damage with and , you need access to blue mana for and . In this case, I prefer having additional triggers rather than just more damage too. Being able to destroy multiple troublesome creatures plays to the strengths of .
Many of the biggest creatures you commonly see, and most token swarms, don't have flying. Lettingsit in play and prevent them from attacking could be the best decision fairly often. In that case, you'll want to be able to pick off any fliers that do sneak through. Luckily, there's another commander with a similar effect to with access to a few more colors.
Nearly alldecks are going to be Shrine decks, but I'm most interested in their activated ability. Bringing back from the graveyard is exactly what I want to be doing. Go-Shintai can also bring back , to stop fliers from attacking you too, or to make sure opposing creatures can't fly in the first place. It can also keep around, giving you an extra instance of five damage every turn.
The real prize for branching out of Mardu, however, is. Having a whole extra beginning phase not only gives you an extra upkeep, but it lets you untap all your permanents, so you can activate 's ability multiple times a turn. also interacts interestingly if you can somehow gain additional main phases after combat. Each of them will count as a post-combat main phase, so you'll also get an additional untap and upkeep. Other than extra turns, the best source of additional main phases are cards that give you additional combat phases.
Many effects that grant extra combat steps also give you an extra main phase afterwards.is a particularly potent example because of its potential to create infinite combat steps with . But in order to do this, you'll need to do more than activate . When multiple extra steps are added, they resolve in order from most recently created backwards, similar to the stack, so if you enter your normal post-combat main phase, Sphinx will trigger and give you an additional beginning phase at the end of that main phase.
Then you activate, adding another combat step and main phase. You'll move through those in reverse order, additional combat phase followed by third main phase. At the start of that main phase, Sphinx creates another untap, upkeep, and draw, which will be followed by the beginning phase created during your normal post-combat main phase, and then all of that is followed by your normal end step.
This all changes, however, if you activatedtwice during your second main phase. Doing so adds an extra beginning phase between the two main phases created by . You can then untap your lands and activate the enchantment twice more, continuing the loop until you run out of cards. Normally, you'd be attacking with during all those extra combats, but I'm here to win with . That also comes with the added bonus of not needing haste on the Sphinx, and winning with infinite combats without ever attacking.
A Tale Worth Telling
Branching out into other colors also gives you access to a few more Sagas to complement this graveyard-focused enchantment deck.makes a big body to block or attack with, and she helps keep the scariest opponent under control by tapping all their creatures. To play more into the graveyard theme of the deck, can recycle any creatures that get stuck in your graveyard. Meanwhile, reanimating an early can give you significant advantage by dropping , , or early.
I'm also rounding out the creature package for the deck here. Two is slightly fewer than I'd like, but this isn't really a reanimator deck. I just happen to be including a few enchantments that can bring back creatures.is actually reasonable to cast, though, and synergizes nicely with the many high-mana-value enchantments in the deck. Most of the time, you'll be milling those cards, which still works nicely with .
is much more explosive, and he can sometimes disincentivize players from attacking you. Additionally, if your life total is set to a lower value, that counts as loss of life, so if sets your life total to five with Vilis in play, you'll get to draw a lot of cards at once.
Round all that out with some ramp and draw spells, and this is what I ended up with.
Form of the DragonView on Archidekt
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I never expected to build adeck, but reanimating enchantments from the graveyard is a powerful ability that works with more than just Shrines. Especially as more high-impact Sagas get printed, Go-Shintai can be a powerful toolbox deck from the graveyard. I didn't make space for cards like , but expanding on the Saga subtheme would be an interesting direction to take this commander.
The focus today, however, was on. I think this deck plays enough defense to be able to win without relying on the combo, but I do enjoy using it in a deck that doesn't attack. I've also left in the deck to shuffle enchantments into and out of the graveyard. You could include other ways to sacrifice enchantments and mimic Ghen's effect with , but I prefer to lean into the downside and work with it.
What do you think though? Let me know how you'd build aroundin the comments, and thanks for reading!