Financial Divergence - Atraxa's Saga

MD Alvis • April 26, 2022

(Atraxa, Praetors' Voice | Art by Tom Roberts)

Hell's Angel...but Literally

Hello everyone, and welcome to Financial Divergence, where we look at strategic decisions in deckbuilding through the lens of budgetary restrictions. In this series we're looking at popular commanders and seeing how budget can impact strategic divergences when choosing a primary strategy. Today we're looking the devil straight in the face - a commander that is so menacing and, generally speaking, so brutal that it is deemed "kill on sight" at most tables I have ever heard of, and rightly so.

Today we're talking about Atraxa, Praetors' Voice!

A Tale of Two: Atraxa, Praetors' Voice

Atraxa is a potent combination of powerful keywords and the consistent value that Proliferating each and every turn can generate. It's easy to assume that deckbuilding around this horrific commander might want to play with counters... and you would be correct! At the top end of the budget boundaries, Atraxa plays pretty well with loyalty counters and wants to maximize our ability to grind opponents to a fine dust with planeswalker ultimates.

However, plane-trotting heroes with a million branching decision trees isn't the whole story. The lower end of the budget spectrum is still playing with counters (more on that in a moment), but there are some interesting deckbuilding ideas tucked away down there:

What do These Two Decks Have in Common?

First off, it's worth saying that these decks don't overlap a whole lot. There are ton of different counters you can play with now, including the new shield counters hot off the presses from Streets of New Capenna, so it'd make sense that the card pool is large enough that you wouldn't see a ton of overlap. However, one thing that both ends of the spectrum have in common is counters matter support cards.

Cards that either Proliferate your counters in addition to the once-per-turn boost you get from Atraxa are killer in any deck that this commander helms, so top-priority cards, like Evolution Sage, Flux Channeler, and staple-level land Karn's Bastion, do a lot of heavy lifting to intensify the clock, regardless of what counters you're messing with. Deepglow Skate as a one-shot Doubling Season is no joke, and with its most-recent reprint, it can actually fit into most budget Atraxa decks.

Another thing these two kinds of Atraxa decks have in common are some of the powerful finishers you have access to with the Infect mechanic:

What's the best way to ensure you win the game? Kill your opponents dead, just like Jean-Claude Van Damme killed that snake: in one punch.

Infect might have a bit of a bad rap, but it honestly does what it promises really well. The trouble is that, at a lot of tables, Infect players get hated out because they're so threatening. However, Atraxa overcomes some of the weaknesses of Infect by maximizing the benefit of "just one punch" to each opponents' face. Then, thanks to our Proliferate shenanigans, it's just a matter of time before the poison takes effect, all while not having to devote an immense amount of resources to killing just one opponent at a time.

Where Do the Decks Diverge?

The first and most important place they diverge is in card type distribution. While at the higher end of the budget we saw a lot of planeswalkers and creatures that enable or protect them, at the bottom end of the budget it's enchantments that take center stage, particularly Sagas.

These powerful enchantments are balanced by their iterative nature: you only get one effect each turn. However, by using spells and abilities that multiply the number of counters possible each turn, even cards like Medomai's Prophecy begin to really shine, and the power level scales upward from here. You can really start upping the ante with more powerful Sagas, like The Bears of Littjara and Kiora Bests the Sea God, to amp up some value and go over the top of whatever the table might be up to.

This route gives you a ton of support options for your enchantments, many of which might feel similar to a Go-Shintai deck that we talked about several weeks ago. Here, though, we get to play with Satsuki and Weaver of Harmony together as a way to assemble an engine to multiply the bad day our opponents are probably having.

Strategic Take-Aways

  1. Budget doesn't have to equate to fun in EDH. In the same way, budget doesn't necessarily equate to power, either. Is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon more powerful than Jugan? Certainly... in a vacuum, but context is everything.
  2. Closing power is relative. I'm a big fan of players knowing when to close the door on a game, but it really depends on what the one-two punch is, right? Whether you're playing Atraxa superfriends or Saga-chantress, the turns will be long if you don't play quickly because the strategy is pretty intricate.

For my money, I would build a budget enchantress Atraxa deck in order to play with a bunch of super sweet cards while not having to contend with analysis paralysis every turn. Here's my list:

Financial Divergence: Atraxa Saga-chantress

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Enchantments (26)
Artifacts (12)
Lands (37)
Instants (5)
Creatures (10)
Sorceries (9)

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Budget Gems

While I was doing this research, I came across several inexpensive and overlooked cards that seem worth taking a look at either in this archetype or in other spots as well. Disclaimer: any prices below are as of the writing of this article.

This is a wacky card, and while I generally like to stay away from extra turn effects, Magistrate's Scepter is about as far away from busted as you can get. However, in this deck it is possible to get 2-3 counters per turn, meaning that there is a really world where you can take a very large number of turns in a row, which should be sufficiently gross enough to end the game. It's only in 790 (8.27%) of all Atraxa decks on EDHREC and is sitting pretty at 36 cents!

I have played this card for years... enough years to know that six mana for this effect on a relevant body doesn't get the respect it deserves.

Greenwarden of Murasa is effectively a double Eternal Witness and in a fraction of the number of decks it could be in. Even at six mana, you're pounding someone in the face and drawing 1-2 relevant cards, which is a tremendous amount of value. Greenwarden of Murasa is also only 86 cents. If you haven't played with it, I highly recommend you try it out for yourself.

This card reads busted when you're looking for bullets, but it's actually really great as a mana-fixer in 3+ color, base green decks. Grabbing a bunch of trilands or gates can smooth out your mana by a lot, and you can sneakily get some real spells by tutoring for triomes and cycling lands. Finally, flyers will kill you. I've died to an army of Drakes I don't know how many times. Sweeping up flyers with the other mode on Nylea's Intervention is the real deal. It's well under a dollar everywhere, and I know for sure I want a copy for my Commander collection.

Wrapping Up

This was a bit of a wild one - what are your thoughts? How would you build Atraxa if you could? What do you think of the new Secret Lair Atraxa art? Have you ever navigated a mountain of value with sagas? Let us know in the comments!

MD might Force of Will your Cultivate because he's been hurt before. Spike at heart. When he isn't trying to jank out the table with Garruk Relentless and Clever Impersonator, you can find him hanging with his family, playing games with friends, or working as a coach and spiritual director in SW Missouri.