Conditions Allow - Jenson Carthalion EDH
(Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile | Art by Livia Prima)
Paint With All The Colors
Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow. In this series I take a legendary creature with a drawback and build a commander deck to turn it into a strength.
The past several weeks have seen quite a few new sets release, but I'm still processing all the new legends from Dominaria United. Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile in particular doesn't seem to have found its niche quiet yet, so let's see what this five-color commander brings to the table.
Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile is a two-mana commander with access to all five colors. Whenever you cast a multicolored spell, you scry one. If that spell is all five colors, you get a 4/4 Angel with flying and vigilance as well. That's a lot of work for a 4/4 Angel, and even a lot of work just to scry. Jace's Sanctum gives you a scry with any instant or sorcery. Even Jenson's closest analog, Ramos, Dragon Engine, still does something when you cast mono-colored spells.
Despite that, I would expect most Jenson decks to look a lot like a Ramos, Dragon Engine Charms deck. Sultai Charm and Brokers Charm are flexible removal and draw spells that form the backbone of a strong spellslinger deck. This isn't what Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile's EDHREC page looks like, however, which I suspect is because Jenson only starts winning the game when you're casting five-color spells. By contrast, Ramos grows dangerously fast as you cast any of your charms.
Finding a Prism
Unfortunately, most five-color spells are pretty awkward. There are various Sliver legends, Cromat, and Karona, False God, plus a couple new options from the Painbow precon. The First Sliver is a decent spell to cast multiple times, but at that point you may as well just swap it into the command zone. Instead, I want to focus on three five-color spells that are much easier to cast.
Each of these three creatures counts as a five-color spell without requiring all five colors to cast. Fallaji Wayfarer even makes all your other multicolored spells easier to cast, but the real focus here is on the other two. By stacking effects that reduce the cost of artifacts, it's possible to make them either free or very cheap. You can then recycle them with the Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Extus, Oriq Overlord to make a steady stream of Angels to beat all opposition into dust. Honorable mentions do go to Two-Headed Hellkite and Unite the Coalition. Two-Headed Hellkite could be the centerpiece of this deck, but I think Transguild Courier is the better choice for making a lot of Angels.
In order to get there, we're going to need to assemble a lot of moving parts. First up, a way or two to discount those five-color artifact creatures.
A major advantage of Transguild Courier and Sphinx of the Guildpact is that they can be cast for free. This lets you leave your lands untapped to cast draw and removal spells, ensuring you stay alive long enough to let your Angels do their work. Animar, Soul of Elements is the best way to reduce their cost far enough, but smaller cost reductions help as well. Enthusiastic Mechanaut is even a multicolored spell itself. Just keep in mind that most of the spells in the deck aren't artifacts, so these are only useful if you have the Courier or the Sphinx.
Once you start casting Transguild Courier, you're going to need a way to keep casting it. In this case, I'm opting to get it back from the graveyard. Emry, Lurker of the Loch revives it directly, while Extus, Oriq Overlord puts it back in your hand naturally as you cast your other spells. To help get the Courier into the graveyard, I'm adding Ashnod's Altar and Fanatical Devotion. Either of these can go infinite with Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Intruder Alarm, and a cost-reducer. This isn't a primary plan of the deck, but it is a nice option to have if a game goes long enough.
Putting It All Together
It may sound great, but putting all that together is a lot to ask. There's a lot of moving parts, so it's a good thing that Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile also helps you dig through your deck very quickly.
Almost every multi-colored instant or sorcery in the deck can draw at least one card. Adding a scry to the front of each of them lets you see a ton of cards, filtering ones you don't need to the bottom of your library. The Charms are also particularly valuable here, since they can be draw spells or removal spells. Additionally, creatures like Baleful Strix can be recurred with Extus, Oriq Overlord to continuously draw cards and defend your life total.
To complement the spells, I'm also including powerful Whirlwind of Thought to keep the cards flowing. Rashmi, Eternities Crafter has the additional upside of casting spells for free, especially from more expensive instants, like Unite the Coalition. And, of course, it wouldn't be a true Charms deck without a copy of Ramos, Dragon Engine. Ramos will make sure you always have plenty of mana, and is a solid backup win condition.
The primary plan, of course, is to win with Angel tokens. Jenson gives you an impressive ability to dig through your deck to find the cards you need, with Kess, Dissident Mage and Extus, Oriq Overlord ensuring you never run out of fuel. But if 4/4 fliers won't be good enough, this deck can also lean into Mana Cannons to burn through life totals. Tacking a Shock or Lightning Bolt onto every spell you cast will get the job done surprisingly quickly.
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Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile has a simple effect, but he really makes you work for the big payoff. Taking advantage of Transguild Courier and Fallaji Wayfarer is the best way to get as many Angels as possible. I also chose to lean into a spell-based support package, but you could also take a more creature-focused approach. Muldrotha, the Gravetide and Karador, Ghost Chieftain both let you cast creatures from your graveyard, potentially setting up the cycle with your five-color creatures faster. The goal of using charms is to also take advantage of Jenson's scry ability quickly and consistently throughout the game.
But how would you approach Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile? Are there any synergies I overlooked? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!