CUT #24 - Maelstrom Wanderer vs Yennett vs Akiri

Travis Stanley • August 11, 2023

Welcome to CUT #24! In this edition, the challenges will be themed around Commander Masters. There are a ton of great reprints in the set, and I'm looking forward to seeing what our new deck builders come up with.

Before we move on from last time, we have to see who won CUT #24!

Congratulations, Christian, you pulled out a victory! Looks like you are a force to be reckoned with. I'm glad you got that victory that you missed out on last time. A big thank you to Alejandro for participating as well, and hope you can win next time! A big, big thank you again to all three of the deckbuilders from CUT #23, I hope to see all of you again.

Now on to this week's challenges!

  • Commander must be from Commander Masters (excluding the precon decks)

  • All nonbasic land cards in the 99 must have their original printing from a Commander deck

  • 10 noncreature spells must be legendary (these don't have to come from Commander sets)

First up, we have Nick! You may remember Nick most recently from CUT #21! In case you forgot, he's a writer over on EDHREC, so after you've finished reading and voting on this article, hop over to EDHREC to check out his series, Myth Realized. How did he tackle these challenges?

CUT: So a Maelstrom Wanders Into A Bar

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Commander (1)
Creatures (22)
Lands (37)
Artifacts (12)
Sorceries (15)
Instants (5)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (1)

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CUT 24: So a Maelstrom Wanders into a bar.

Something old, something new, something stolen from the opponent, and something in our command zone is undoubtedly blue. I have two words for everyone reading this: Cascade, Cascade. One of the most random and exciting mechanics in Magic happens to be stapled to one of the coolest commanders. Maelstrom Wanderer the RUG, I mean the Temur, I mean the: Hot Simic, Wet Gruul, no wait, Grassy Izzet leader of this deck, is here, and they brought along a deck. What is this deck trying to do? I honestly have no idea, but I know it can do some incredible things. Our mana base is here to support three colors off mostly basics, and our mana curve sits in the range of three to five mana. How are we going to counter these tiny issues? Randomness mixed with a healthy dose of some of the most busted Commander cards ever.

Maelstrom Wanderer might not come down early, but at eight mana, the double cascade can hit some juicy targets to make up for this. On the bigger end of the mana cost scale, we get things like Hornet Queen, to flood the board, and Pathbreaker Ibex, to take that board and make it huge. We get large spells, such as In Bolas's Clutches to take the best permanent we do not own on the board for ourselves. Karn's Temporal Sundering to (legendary creature permitting) take another turn if we need it to finish off our opponents. On the low end but surprisingly more potent than anything I've named, we get EDH Boogiemen, Dockside Extortionist and Thrasios, Triton Hero. Did I mention that these creatures also get haste thanks to good old Maelstrom W.

The heart of this deck is casting spells from exile and hoping that the one or two times we can reliably cast Maelstrom Wanderer hit us enough crazy stuff to close out a game. Cascade has some downsides, but we hope to keep cards like Fierce Guardianship, Deflecting Swat, and Mystic Confluence in our hands to deploy at the right moment. Temur, as a color combination, can do a wide variety of things, and combining that with the CUT restrictions made for one surprisingly cool deck. Plus, when all else fails, our deck is playing green cards, so there's nothing we cannot do.

Next up is Cooper! This is Cooper's first time on CUT; he also runs Brandeis University's community newspaper, The Brandeis Hoot. Let's see what Cooper brought to the table!

CUT Yennett Odd

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Commander (1)
Creatures (22)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (5)
Artifacts (10)
Enchantments (15)
Planeswalkers (6)
Lands (35)

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I saw this deckbuilding challenge, and decided that I wanted to raise the difficulty level and set myself another challenge: only cards with odd converted mana costs. With Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign at the helm, I decided to literally cut the amount of cards available to myself in half: each nonland card in this deck has an odd converted mana cost, so it's much more difficult to have a Yennett trigger whiff.

Yennett decks often run a very high concentration of odd-costed cards to trigger her ability, but the one fatal flaw that those decks have is that, occasionally, they whiff. They hit a card like Arcane Signet or Lightning Greaves and end up just drawing a card instead of casting it for free. This is a problem, because that's not fun. Casting spells for free is fun, though, so I decided to increase my chances of doing that as much as possible.

On to the meat and potatoes of the deck: ramp, removal, and card draw. I'm a simple man, so I generally put about 10 cards that fit cleanly into each of those three key categories into my decks, but this time I decided to include more removal, with a slight twist. There are six Auras in the deck that force my opponents' creatures to attack anyone but me, then give me benefits when they do so. This can range from even more topdeck manipulation (Psychic Impetus) to lifegain (Parasitic Impetus) to evasion for those creatures so they deal damage more often (Vow of Malice). Given that this deck is relatively low on creatures, I figured I needed a bit of a pillow fort to protect my life total. To that end, I also included Orzhov Advokist, Nils, Discipline Enforcer, and Portal Mage.

Then, for card draw, my options got a lot better. I found ways to include more incentives for my opponents to attack each other instead of me (Curse of Verbosity), ways to consistently draw cards just by triggering Yennet's ability (Aerial Extortionist), and expensive draw spells I can cheat out with my commander (Lord of Change). This was definitely the easiest part of the deck to fill out, even with the odd-CMC-only restriction I placed upon myself.

Lastly, there's ramp. Even though Yennett gives me access to white, I found it difficult to fill up the 10 ramp slots I wanted. I had to settle for some inefficient mana rocks, like Manascape Refractor, but also found some standouts, like Archaeomancer's Map. This is definitely the shakiest section of the deck, with objectively bad cards like Unstable Obelisk lumped in with pretty good ones like Monologue Tax.

Now that I've talked about the core of the deck, I can talk about the interesting parts. One of the most important ways that Yennett can take over a game is through topdeck manipulation. There weren't a ton of options available given the rules of this challenge, but there were some great cards. Isolated Watchtower can both optimize Yennet's triggers and even put me up a land if I'm lucky enough. Jace, Mirror Mage, Aminatou, the Fateshifter, Liliana Vess, and Elminster all provide repeatable ways to change what's on top of my library, which will carry the deck into the late game with a powerful board state. Verge Rangers can help me clear unwanted lands from my library, too. There are a few other ways to manipulate the top card of my library here, but for the most part I'm just relying on luck and the fact that every single nonland card can be cast for free with Yennett.

I included a few Voltron pieces, like Kaldra Compleat and Octopus Umbra, largely because they're incredibly efficient ways to win a game if you can straight-up ignore their mana cost with Yennett. Also, given Yennett's built-in evasion, it makes sense to try to end the game with a big 'ol Sphinx. And, given that my commander cheats out big threats, I decided to include some powerful ETB effects, like Monstrosity of the Lake and Angel of the Ruins.

This deck may not be the most powerful one I could have built within the constraints, but I think it's a lot of fun. I'm more likely than not to cast a free spell each turn once I get my commander out, which is really all a Yennett player can ask for.

Unfortunately, our third deckbuilder had to pull out at the last minute due to some technical difficulties, but that's okay: I whipped something up so that you'll still have three decks to read and vote on!

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Originally I wanted to go with Nahiri, the Lithomancer, since I am going to be building a Nahiri deck soon, and I thought I would just get a head start on that. I immediately realized that there isn't enough mono-white Equipment support with the limitations I had put on this challenge.

Like a man who just got struck by a Lightning Bolt, I got struck by a Lightning Bolt and saw that Akiri, Fearless Voyager was printed at uncommon in this set! Now I can throw in some powerful red Equipment like The Reaver Cleaver, and Fiendlash. Not only that, but thanks to the decks from Kamigawa I get to throw in Komainu Battle Armor and Kami of Celebration. The Equipment category took up most of my allotted 10 noncreature legendary spells. All-stars, like Sword of the Animist (and its Phyrexian twin, Bitterthorn, Nissa's Animus), Shadowspear, and Helm of the Host are among those that are present. Also, I put in a secret second goal for the deck to get all the pieces of Kaldra out, so we will see how that goes.

Rounding out the deck, I wanted as much removal as the challenges would let me pack. The classics Darksteel Mutation and Chaos Warp were the first removal pieces I jumped to. The brand new (I guess it's not really brand new now, but I digress) Excise the Imperfect finds a home here. Deflecting Swat could technically count as removal, as it will be predominantly used to bounce back removal spells to other targets. Angel of the Ruins having exile removal staple on its enter-the-battlefield ability comes in handy too many times to not be in here. You know what they say, though: the best creature/enchantment/artifact/planeswalker removal is player removal, and I definitely packed some cards to do such a thing. Duelist's Heritage, Uncivil Unrest, and Bloodthirster let me either double up on damage or attack phase, both of which are very good at getting rid of pesky opponents. There are some value cards in here, like Smuggler's Share and Monologue Tax, to make sure you don't fall too far behind.

At the end of the day, this is a tried and true Boros strategy: suit up your creatures and turn them sideways. Thanks for reading, and hopefully this deck will inspire you to build a Boros/Lorehold Equipment deck!

There you have all of the decks for CUT #24, same process as always, make sure you vote for your favorite in the poll down below! I love all of the decks that everyone made this time around (yes, I also love mine), and I couldn't possibly pick a top two, that's why I rely on you all to choose the two that will make it to the next round. Until next time, see you next time and remember, if you don't love it, CUT it!

If you or a friend would like to participate in a future CUT please email, or feel free to reach out to me on social media, @chipman007 most places!