CUT #13 - Roll for CUT!

Travis Stanley • June 17, 2022

Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion | Illustrated by John Stanko

After a tiresome journey, you and your party find yourselves in the local tavern, weary and needing a drink. You all saddle up to the bar and the bartender turns around to greet you. He is a tall man, a wide thick dark mustache adorning his similarly large face. "What will it be folks?" he asks politely. You all order, and one by one he slides the beverages down the bar. As you sit there, drinking and reflecting on the day you all have had, you take the time to look around this establishment. Almost missing it, you spot an individual clad in a brown leather cloak sitting alone at a table staring at your group. Curious, you start to walk over and see why this person is staring at you so intently....


Let's venture back into the dungeon and explore what decks our deck builders made this time in this Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate edition of CUT!

Before we get to that though, we have to check in on our Street of New Capenna finals; who's left standing after the dust and smoke has cleared?

Congratulations, Jack! You proved your worth by toughing it out through two rounds and came up victorious! I tried to put up a good fight, but sometimes it's just not meant to be. A big "thank you" to all of the participants of the last round, and I truly do hope we see them again!


Back to the adventure at hand. Here are the challenges our dungeoneering deckbuilders had to work with:

  • Must use a commander from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate
  • Can only use cards released in Commander Legends or CLB
  • You must include a Background, at least 5 legendary creatures (other than your commander(s)), and 5 Equipment cards

Leading the party is Alec!


Sarevok, Raised by Giants

 

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Hello, and welcome to my deck write-up for Sarevok, Deathbringer + Raised by Giants! I am the host of The Faerie Conclave podcast, which is a show dedicated to highlighting how incredible the MtG community is by talking to members of it. As an avid consumer of Commander decklists, I have been a long-time fan of Travis's CUT articles. I am beyond excited to be included in this one, so let's get into it!

Battle for Baldur's Gate has introduced an enormous number of new commander options for our format, and the Backgrounds are a spicy new iteration on the Partner mechanic. It is super flavorful, and I love the idea that you can choose the backstory for your commander. It feels like building your own character, which is always the best part of a D&D campaign! That made it difficult to decide on a new commander, until I read the effect on the uncommon legend Sarevok: "At the beginning of each player's end step, if no permanents left the battlefield this turn, that player loses X life, where X is Sarevok's power." WOW! That is a sweet ability. It's giving group slug vibes, similar to Mogis, God of Slaughter, but with the potential to deal much more damage based on how big you can get Sarevok to be. It also adds a unique kind of political aspect to the game: a player who needs to get rid of a permanent in order to avoid Sarevok's damage might try to swing into an opponent when they otherwise wouldn't, or ask the table to remove something as part of a deal. It adds a lot of interesting decisions to the game!

Now, as for the backstory of this Sarevok character we are building, there are a ton of sweet Backgrounds to choose from, but two in particular stick out to me: Cloakwood Hermit and Raised by Giants. Cloakwood Hermit gives us a ton of squirrels that we can use as sacrifice fodder to avoid taking damage from Sarevok, but we aren't here to just avoid taking damage! We're here to deal extra damage to our opponents! That's why I decided to choose Raised by Giants, which makes Sarevok a 10/10. Losing 10 life is going to be a huge concern for our opponents and I am here for it.

The overall goal of the deck is pretty straightforward: boost up Sarevok's power and avoid taking damage from it. Luckily, both Commander Legends sets included a ton of ways for us to get creatures, sacrifice them, then reanimate them! If all goes well, we will have an engine running where we can safely remove a permanent on each of our turns while our opponents are powerless to stop the life loss. Some exciting new cards that fit perfectly into this strategy are Altar of Bhaal, Astarion's Thirst, and Blood Money. These help advance our gameplan while still filling in the necessary card draw and removal pieces that we need.

The restrictions for this article imply that Sarevok won't be going into battle alone, but will bring some friends with weapons! There are more than enough black or green legends to choose from to help with Sarevok's strategy, so we will take the following legends into battle with us:

Baba Lysaga, Night Witch Viconia, Drow Apostate Kagha, Shadow Archdruid Shadowheart, Dark Justiciar Sivriss, Nightmare Speaker Tormod, the Desecrator Nadier, Agent of the Duskenel

And they will be wielding the following weapons:

Blackblade Reforged Blade of Selves Hero's Blade Mask of Avacyn Mask of Memory Swiftfoot Boots Grafted Wargear Loxodon Warhammer Saddle of the Cavalier Sword of Vengeance

These cards all fit wonderfully into our deck's strategy, especially the ones that help protect Sarevok. Our opponents will definitely be sending removal spells our way because of Sarevok's ability!

This commander/Background pairing is an exciting combination and I can't wait to try it out! Hopefully you're inspired to create a new commander character of your own as well. See you next time!


Thanks, Alec, that was fantastic, may Sarevok be a win-bringer for you! Make sure you check out the Faerie Conclave Podcast here,  you can also check out their twitter and instagram @TFC_MTG!

Next in the party train is Kenneth!


Aristocratic Jaheira

Commander (2)
Creatures (38)
Sorceries (3)
Instants (5)
Lands (36)
Artifacts (10)
Enchantments (6)

 

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The restrictions for this deck were definitely something that piqued my interest in the deck building process. Being able only to use cards from Commander Legends sets made this an interesting build design. The first thing I did was to take a look at the different archetypes available in the selected card pool. This brought my attention to elves, which were a large part of the original Commander Legends set. With elves in mind I chose Jaheira, Friend of the Forest to be my commander. This left me with deciding on what Background to accompany her in the Command Zone. As an elf deck I went into it knowing that I wanted to make it a green/black deck as a lot of the good elves are in the Golgari colours. This left me with the choice of either Haunted One if I was going all in on elves, or Agent of the Iron Throne if I felt more like an elvish aristocrat's deck. With the last second preview of Zulaport Cutthroat and Skullclamp in the CLB Precon Commander decks, I made the decision to go the aristocrat route.

For the restrictions, I was given the task of building a deck using only cards from the Commander Legends products, and to include both a minimum of five legendary creatures and five Equipment. For the Equipment, I ended up going with the Skullclamp and Grafted Wargear to aid the aristocrats strategy, and Swiftfoot Boots, Commander's Plate, and Blade of Selves for their respective abilities. The legendary restriction wasn't much of a restriction as a lot of the Elves themselves were legendary. Some of those that I'm more hyped about include Shadowheart, Dark Justiciar for their ability to draw extra cards and Viconia, Drow Apostate for the recursion after a wrath effect.

I've included Maskwood Nexus to make all of my creatures Elves as well as for its ability to make tokens. Sandwurm Convergence has similar utilization by making tokens every turn but it also protects me from fliers by preventing them from attacking me at all. I've included Blood Money and Ezuri's Predation for their ability to wipe the board while still giving me tokens to tap with my commander, and In Garruk's Wake allows me to clear the board and alpha strike for the kill.

The initial wincon for the deck will be a go wide strategy, making many smaller creatures and pumping them up with cards like End-Raze Forerunners and Kamahl, Heart of Krosa. Woe Strider, Viscera Seer, and Skullclamp help with the aristocrat side of the deck by allowing me to sacrifice my own creatures during a board stall to dig for answers. Pontiff of Blight is another creature that allows me to survive board stalls fairly consistently. For my token generation, I have the usual elvish suspects, like Nadier, Agent of the Duskenel and Imperious Perfect, with the new inclusion of the reprinted Bramble Sovereign to give me duplicates of my creatures


Thanks so much Kenneth! Hopefully your elvish value army can get you to the finals! Finally, rounding out the party we have Andrew!


Shadowhearts Elven Cuisine

Commander (2)
Lands (33)
Instants (10)
Creatures (30)
Enchantments (4)
Sorceries (10)
Artifacts (11)

 

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For this challenge I had originally wanted to do a Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy / Scion of Halaster spellslinger deck, but it really wanted a bunch of low-cost instant and sorceries, self mill, and recursion that this challenge's card pool just did not have access to. Instead I decided to try the other commander that tickled my fancy: Shadowheart, Dark Justiciar. Let me tell you, I'm glad I did.

Shadowheart (SDJ for short) is a pretty nuts card advantage engine in the command zone, and after a quick browse I landed on Master Chef for her Background. It's a simple effect, but it adds just enough oomph to our creatures to really turn on SDJ's draws (and lets me use food puns).

I initially wanted to run cheap creatures with big toughness in order to draw through my deck quickly, but this challenge's card pool did not incorporate much there and had exactly 0 payoffs for drawing cards. There was one notable exception, however: Abomination of Llanowar. It's only three mana, has potentially huge power, and the only stipulation is that we're running Elf tribal. This is where the fun begins!

I ended up using most of the available Elves from both sets, only leaving out the absolute worst. Luckily for me, most aren't terrible, and there are plenty of Elf legends to satisfy the five legendary creatures requirement. Plus, all of their flavors pair nicely! Miara, Thorn of the Glade gives extra draws for each Elf we put under SDJ's knife, Abomination of Llanowar gets very large very easily for combat or draws, Viconia, Drow Apostate allows us to get back whatever we sacrifice, and Nadier, Agent of the Duskenel easily gets out of hand if you can pump or recur him.

The real shining stars of the creature base are Immaculate Magistrate, Ancient Brass Dragon, and Reyhan, Last of the Abzan. Magistrate essentially reads "Tap: Draw cards equal to the number of Elves you control" when paired with SDJ, or can be used to pump an attacker as a finisher! Ancient Brass Dragon lets us reuse any creatures we have snacked on throughout the game as well as any others in our opponents' graveyards. Reyhan is exceptionally good because she redistributes counters from the deceased, giving us more cards and a consistently large board!

It's hard to eat all this Elven Cuisine (and satisfy the challenge) without some Equipment! Commander's Plate and Swiftfoot Boots are the A5 Wagyu protection for our commander. Ghost Lantern is recursion, and it and Pact Weapon give our morsels a nice power boost! Blackblade Reforged efficiently pumps our legends and pairs nicely with Nadier! The best of the bunch is Grafted Wargear, which provides a FREE +3 power boost to whichever creature is next on the menu. Ancestral Recall who? Lastly, Blade of Selves is a personal favorite of mine, it's just gravy for any deck with creatures.

If you're still hungry after eating all that Elf, this deck is equipped with a recursion package so we can dig in for seconds! Besides Ancient Brass Dragon and Viconia, Drow Apostate, Eternal Witness, Victimize, Corpse Churn, Split the Spoils, and Altar of Bhaal all allow us to get back our dearly departed so we can dearly depart them all over again!

SDJ wants to ensure her restaurant is operating even if she is not around to supervise, so some value has been snuck in to do just that. Hunter's Insight gives us card draw we don't have to kill for, and Vampiric Tutor finds us the right tool for the job at hand. Armorcraft Judge turns all of Master Chef's incidental counters into even more card advantage. Ivy Lane Denizen and Lifecrafter's Gift pump our board even more, turning the humble elfball into a game-winning machine!

Lastly, the deck needs miscellaneous value to keep the wheels spinning and customers happy. Haunted One is a backup for Master Chef if it's been removed or in our opener. Cloakwood Hermit and Vrock both let us benefit from our sacrifices, Court of Bounty is ramp every turn and can even let us cheat out big Dragons, Bramble Sovereign lets us double up our dishes, and Viscera Seer lets us get death triggers if we lose Shadowheart.

That should cover most of the deck. There are a bunch of cards I would add if it were not for the tight card pool, but overall I am very pleased with the outcome and really enjoyed the challenge!


Great job Andrew! Boy am I full after reading all of it, it was a delicious decklist!


You pull up a seat across from this robed stranger. He holds out a withered hand clutching a piece of rolled parchment. His fingers creak as he releases it to the floor. His sunken eyes stare back at you expectantly. With a gulp, you grab the paper and unfurl it and start reading, hoping that this isn't a trick. As you start to parse the words that are written in front of you, you read, "Please, my throat is very dry, could you buy me a drink? I have been sitting here for 4 hours and no one has come over". With a small chuckle, you place the paper back on the table and with a smirk go buy this person the thing they desire most: company and a nice beverage.


What a fantastic showing of deckbuilding prowess and senses of adventure! Honestly, I was not expecting all three decks to be Golgari! The coolest thing about it is that they all had different commanders AND different Backgrounds, which just shows the flexibility of the Choose a Background commanders along with the Backgrounds themselves. There are so many new cards and new legends to build around in Battle for Baldur's Gate. I know I'm thinking of fun things to do with the Choose a Background mechanic and how it would change the shape of an otherwise mono-colored deck. Enough about me, you know what to do at this point, vote down below on which deck you think scored a critical hit, and the top two will duke it out next time to see who conquered this quest! Thanks for reading and remember if you don't love it, CUT it!

If you or a friend would like to participate in a future CUT article, feel free to email the.only.travis.stanley@gmail.com or @ me on twitter @chipman007!

Poll Closes: June 22/2022