Conditions Allow - Jasmine Boreal of the Seven EDH
(Jasmine Boreal of the Seven | Art by Bastien L. Deharme)
Simple is Best
Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow, where I take a legendary creature with a drawback and build a commander deck that turns it into a strength. Sometimes, this is a direct drawback, such as not being able to draw cards, but it can also be a deckbuilding restriction. For today's commander, you'll need to play a lot of creatures without any abilities: Jasmine Boreal of the Seven.
Jasmine Boreal of the Seven likes to keep things simple, preventing any creatures with abilities from blocking your creatures that have none. Many vanilla creatures have more power than similarly costed creatures with abilities, and you don't have to worry about the low toughness of Savannah Lions and Devilthorn Fox if they usually can't be blocked.
There is a reason, however, that most Commander decks don't include vanilla creatures: it's better to play synergistic creatures with effects than rely on raw power.
Additionally, vanilla creatures don't actually get that large. Leatherback Baloth and Gigantosaurus are easily outclassed by Questing Beast and Ghalta, Primal Hunger. They also die to Doom Blade without generating the value of Elder Gargaroth or Sun Titan, and while you can augment them with some cards, staples, like True Conviction, give your creatures abilities, so they no longer work with Jasmine Boreal.
It will be cards like True Conviction, however, that lead this deck to victory, so before getting to the monsters themselves, let's take a look at the support structure to let them keep up against modern Magic cards.
Vigilance is a heavily undervalued mechanic in Commander. Not having to tap when you attack may seem largely incidental, but with three other players at the table, you want to keep up your defenses. Unfortunately, Jasmine Boreal of the Seven prevents you from playing Always Watching or Intangible Virtue, so you're going to have to get clever.
Drumbellower, for instance, untaps your creatures during each untap step, while Reveille Squad does so whenever you're attacked. These keep you light on your feet so you can attack freely without having to worry about retribution from your opponents.
I'm also including a few instants that provide some extra utility. Join Shields not only untaps your creatures, but it gives them indestructible and hexproof, too. This deck is very vulnerable to board wipes, so you want as many ways to avoid them as possible. Also, being able to block a big attack without losing any creatures makes Join Shields worth the extra mana compared to something like Heroic Intervention.
Then there's To Arms!, which untaps your creatures and draws you a card. A large chunk of this deck doesn't do anything other than attack, so having enough incidental card draw to find all the support you need is vital.
Drawing a Blank
Green and white are not known for their ability to draw cards, but both have gotten a lot of new tools in recent sets. Rumor Gatherer and Elemental Bond both reward you for putting a lot of creatures into play, while Toski, Bearer of Secrets is excellent alongside unblockable creatures. Greater Good and Skullclamp are great at digging for answers in the face of removal, while Shamanic Revelation and Return of the Wildspeaker keep you ahead.
We've also got plenty of steady card advantage as well. Mangara, the Diplomat, Smuggler's Share, and Esper Sentinel help you to keep up with players casting lots of spells, which is important, as you're likely to be playing one or two spells a turn at most. Mangara and Esper Sentinel ensure you can find the right kind of removal to stop your opponents from running away with the game before you can assemble lethal damage.
Please Don't Wipe my Board
A major component of keeping up with this deck is making sure that your creatures stick around. Jasmine Boreal of the Seven prevents you from giving your creatures haste, since they could then be blocked, so avoiding removal is even more important for this deck than normal. However, I also want these protection spells to do more than simply prevent your creatures from dying.
Flawless Maneuver is free most of the time, so you don't have to hold off on deploying your next threat. Unbreakable Formation and Make a Stand can help you push a little extra damage, while Your Temple Is Under Attack is a draw spell in a pinch.
These spells also take the place of board wipes in this deck. Selesnya is very good at putting a lot of creatures into play, and Jasmine Boreal wants them to stay there. Because most of those creatures can't be blocked, we don't need to worry about getting rid of creatures across the table. As a result, Phyrexian Rebirth is the only board wipe in the deck because it leaves behind a big token with no abilities, perfect for keeping up the aggression with Jasmine Boreal of the Seven.
Big Dumb Idiots
Speaking of aggression, let's finally talk about the creatures that you'll actually be attacking with. There's a lot of ways to approach this. You could build with mostly small creatures, like Watchwolf and Kalonian Tusker, taking advantage of white's ability to return small creatures to play to launch a relentless assault. Many tokens also count as vanilla creatures, letting you go wide with anthems for additional punch. Finally, you can ramp into old classics Whiptail Wurm and Vorstclaw to live the Timmy/Tammy dream.
I struggled to decide which approach to take, but ultimately decided on a mix of tokens and big beaters. It wouldn't feel right to play a commander that cares about vanilla creatures and not include any. Axebane Stag and Primordial Wurm also make sure Rishkar's Expertise and Return of the Wildspeaker draw you plenty of cards. Supplementing these creatures with Rampaging Baloths and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar also allows you can keep up with more synergistic decks.
Even if you want to include more true vanilla creatures, I'd still recommend keeping a few token-creating spells in the deck. Along with vigilance, haste is a valuable mechanic for aggressive decks that Jasmine Boreal of the Seven doesn't really let you take advantage of. Being able to create an army of tokens at instant speed is one of your best options to get around this. Call the Coppercoats in particular has the potential to create a huge amount of tokens, although Curious Herd might be even better given how popular Treasure tokens have become.
Tie all this together with plenty of ramp, and this is what the final product looks like.
Vanilla is My Favorite
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Vanilla creatures are some of the most evocative cards in all of Magic. They are a major part of what pulled me into the game as a kid, so it's awesome to finally have a place for them in Commander. Jasmine Boreal of the Seven offers a surprising amount of flexibility in how you approach her as well. I didn't even touch on the possibility of staying small with Elite Vanguards and Dromoka Warriors. With the ever-growing set of cards that bring back small creatures, that could be a formidable and resilient deck as well.
How would you build around Jasmine Boreal of the Seven? Are there are cards or interactions I overlooked? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!