CUT! Commander’s Herald Authors Face Off

Travis Stanley • May 17, 2021

Eureka Moment by Anna Steinbauer

Welcome to CUT!, the article where we take deck builders, not unlike yourself, and put them through multiple deck building challenges to test their brewing capabilities and stretch their tinkering skills. If you are new here, catch up here, if not, continue on!

Third time’s the charm, as they always say. Let’s take another crack on a list that may (or may not) be led by Riku of Two Reflections. Last time, I was pondering on what direction to take a potential token deck in. In my article, I said that Riku was too “cookie cutter” of a commander, and let me clarify that, I think he is too general of a general. He is good in whatever kind of deck you put him in. Don’t get me wrong, I love Riku, I had him as the Commander of my Temur Energy deck for the longest time, and half the reason it was able to take off was because of Riku. However, I feel he takes the challenge of deckbuilding out of the equation because he’s so generic. For now, I came up with a Esix, Fractal Bloom deck to satiate my appetite for a fun token strategy. Speaking of fun strategies, lets see how our deck builders did this week with their challenges!

Before getting to this week’s builders, we have to crown and announce the winner from the last CUT challenge…drum roll please…

Congratulations Cody! Cody presented us with his Maja, Bretagard Protector and Thelon of Havenwood decks during this round. He showed us how to fully utilize the lands we walk on with either an army of soldiers, or a basket full of fungi. Here at CUT we like to celebrate the person who came in second as well as who came in first, so thank you Mikhail! Your Narfi, Betrayer King and Slimefoot, the Stowaway decks took us on some really wonderful journeys.

Thanks to all three deck builders from the last CUT challenge, and I hope to see them all again in the future.

Now to get to this week’s entries! Here is a refresher on the challenges our deck builders had to work with:

  • Commanders from Strixhaven (Standard Set)

  • 15 or more Instant/Sorceries

  • Cards must be Historic-Legal

First up, we have Hamilton!



We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do!

I decided to go a little off the reservation and use a commander that doesn’t actually incentivize me to run a bunch of spells like a lot of the Strixhaven legends do (I actually BARELY met the 15 spell requirement on the technicality of Flamescroll Celebrant‘s back side). Hofri Ghostforge is intriguing because he gives you resiliency in traditionally very aggressive colors that usually fold to board wipes, another triumph of the breath of fresh air that is Lorehold. Add to that the very good creature quality of Historic, and the freshly added Mystical Archive spells, which nicely rounds out our strategy and you have some very dangerous boards you can build.

Haunting Advantages

Hofri allows us to have our creatures recur themselves when they die, allowing us to give resiliency to powerful threats. Our opponents will be very reticent to target our Goldspan Dragon with removal in the first place, let alone when it just comes right back even stronger. This also allows us to play, dare I say it, some stax-y creatures (don’t worry, there aren’t a TON in Historic in the first place). Archon of Emeria slows the game enough for us to try to deploy threat after threat each turn, and cards like Catalyst Elemental and Wily Goblin can give us a mana advantage.

Blink and You’ll Miss It

Hofri creates token copies that can give us rebuys on the ETB effects of our creatures. Token-producers like Siege-Gang Commander and Angel of Invention increase our aggressive presence, while Combustible Gearhulk and Fanatic of Mogis can deal large amounts of damage to our opponents twice over, as can any creature paired with Mace of the Valiant. Skyclave Apparition and Meteor Golem even act as removal. We can afford to be very aggressive with these creatures because of the rebuy we get on them; our opponents blocking and killing them is actively good for us. And speaking of our creatures dying being actively good…

I Bounce Back Fast

We are playing 5 board wipes in this deck, even though we are very aggressively slanted. With a Hofri in play, a wipe will immediately resurrect any non-token creature we kill as a more powerful spirit. Single Combat even lets us keep Hofri in play when we do it! Cards like Selfless Savior and Dauntless Bodyguard can also protect our Hofri, and immediately come back as a Spirit to protect something else. Obviously, you need to be judicious about deploying your wipes; don’t drop them if your board is largely spirit copies or there’s a good chance your Hofri is removed in response. Alternatively you can deploy cards like Teferi’s Protection to leave a token-cluttered board intact.

Open Up a Sac of Spirits

Aristocrats is a tried and true strategy in Commander, and even if we’re not dipping into black for that stupid cat, there is a surprising number of sacrifice outlets in Lorehold colors. Barrage of Expendables and Weaponize the Monsters let us do our best Goblin Bombardment impression, while Dark-Dweller Oracle gives us some much-needed card advantage. Mask of Immolation is another one that can be passed around our creatures. These, leveraged with our board wipes, will allow us to trigger Hofri consistently.

Forging a Victory

Landing cards like Anointed Procession or Helm of the Host will allow us to quickly escalate our strategy and flood the board out. Be sure to drop your board wipe when they’re the most advantageous, using the other spells we have here to keep our opponent from disrupting us or killing our commander. Combat Celebrant, Cavalier of Flame, and Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded will let us explode out to hit your opponents with trampling spirits, as will Quintorius, Field Historian. Terror of the Peaks especially will allow us to TRULY weaponize our creatures entering the battlefield and blow through enemy life totals. We also have card advantage in the form of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Karn, Scion of Urza to help get there, powerful planeswalkers that can be easily protected by our resilient board. Between them and our removal options we aim to keep our opponents on their toes!

– Hamilton

Hamilton has his work cut out for him this week, going up against him we have two writers from Commander’s Herald! Lets see what they brought to the table! First up is Mike, writer of the “Am I The Bolas?” series!

Historic Dina EDH

Commander (1)
Lands (35)
Creatures (25)
Enchantments (5)
Artifacts (9)
Sorceries (12)
Planeswalkers (1)
Instants (12)


I love an aristocrats deck. Sue me!

I think the strategy is fun. I used to scoff at black cards requiring a sacrifice when I first started playing in like ‘99 or whatever. I used to think, “Who would ever want to do that?” I didn’t know that sacrificing your stuff could be so beneficial to you.

Luckily the historic pool goes back far enough to reach out to some all stars like Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Pitiless Plunderer, while the current set offers up plenty to sacrifice with Beledros Witherbloom and Sedgemoor Witch.

I initially designed this deck with Valentin, Dean of the Vein // Lisette, Dean of the Root at the helm, but found myself appreciating Dina, Soul Steeper in the command zone more. The amount of life gain and drain in the deck means Dina’s always sipping at the tears of my opponents.

Instants and sorceries in the deck carry a lot of ramp and removal, but also bring in my favorite new card Plumb the Forbidden. Village Rites is in the Mystical Archive lookin tasty!

I also wanted to build a few decision points into the deck. If it’s just straight forward, where’s the fun in that? Bolas’s Citadel, Arguel’s Blood Fast, Command the Dreadhorde, and frequent Mike-deckbuilding all star Phyrexian Reclamation, makes use of your life in big swings, while gaining life little by little, means getting on that tightrope and making the right calls. Not to mention when it’s okay to get greedy with Beledros Witherbloom’s untap ability. In a similar vein, Cosmos Elixir introduces an interesting play pattern. If I’m above 40 life, I get to draw a card. However, if I pay 2 life to get a creature back from the graveyard (with say, Phyrexian Reclamation) to bring me under 40, not only am I getting that life back, I’m choosing a card I know I’ll make use of. At the same time, maybe even hitting someone for 2 with Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose or pressuring the table’s life totals by one with Dina out.

I love love love aristocrats. My Thalisse, Reverent Medium and Lyzolda, the Blood Witch decks say hello! If I’m brewing a list, you know I’m working with aristocrats or mill at least part of the way.

– Mike

That deck seems steeped in value! Next up may I introduce Michael, writer of the “How They Brew it” series!

What’s the first thing you think when you hear the phrase “mono-white commander”? Yup, that’s right, it’s “I’d better not.” But I’m nothing if not impractical, so I’m here to spread that the bird’s the word: Mavinda’s in da house.

Mavinda, Student’s Advocate is a 2/3 flying Bird Advisor for two generic and one white mana. She’s also got an activated ability; for the relatively cheap price of absolutely free, Mavinda gives an instant or sorcery card in your graveyard flashback. Unfortunately, it comes with the caveat that the spell costs eight more to cast if it doesn’t end up targeting a creature you control. Paying eight mana for the privilege of paying even more mana to cast a spell we’ve already played with sounds like a Secret Lair sales tactic, so we’re going to be focusing exclusively on tricks we want to slap on our own permanents. A quick look through the catalog of Historic-legal white instant and sorceries separates those spells into two categories: combat tricks and blink spells. Of course, the ceiling on combat tricks is so low it makes my teetotaller dad look high as a kite, so go to your medicine cabinet and get those eye drops ready.

Our blink spells are efficient, effective, and insanely annoying to play against. You’ll dodge incoming targeted removal like a drunken master and effortlessly fizzle enemy auras. Plus, if you’ve got one in the graveyard, your opponents are basically children on the side of a six-lane highway: afraid to cross you and liable to get hit by a car if they try.

Once your opponents waste their removal, unleash your army with a bevy of zone-change effects. Visionary Augmenter and Angel of Invention are each packaged with two bonus Servo tokens, and Myriad Construct builds myriad constructs. Leverage your devotion to white and summon Reverent Hoplite to flood the battlefield with soldiers, then use Harmonious Archon’s ability to make each fight fair. That’s just scratching the surface.

Your suite of enchantments duplicates your tokens and turns them all into angels in addition to buffing them up. Artifacts like Mace of the Valiant slowly turns Mavinda herself into more and more of a threat, and Panharmonicon boosts your already-doubled blink spells to twice as effective. Basic math tells us that this makes your deck four hundred thousand times more threatening.


Once you’ve readied your army, leverage your protective instants and sorceries one final time to boost your creatures’ power and toughness for a lethal lunge. Hero of the Pride and Hero of the Winds are certainly quite heroic and daring. Leonin Lightscribe reminds me of the defunct DVD-label technology from 2004, but that doesn’t stop him from burning a hole in your opponent’s hopes and dreams.

Mavinda’s an effective commander if you’re looking to play white at instant speed. You certainly won’t flicker out of existence with her at your side – unless that’s exactly what you’re intending to do.

– Michael

Mono-white? Well I hope it was the mono-right deck choice for Michael! With two Mike’s and a Hamilton I thought I was seeing double there for a second! Remember to scroll down and vote for your favorite deck, or your favorite Mike, I don’t judge. Until next time everyone, remember if you don’t love it, CUT! It!

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