How They Brew It - Anger Management

Michael Celani • June 9, 2022

Halana, Kessig Ranger | Illustrated by Zoltan Boros

Picture this: you're driving in the city with the top down. The sun is setting, a breeze gently blows past you, and you're late to dinner with the most wonderful person you've ever met. It was only yesterday when you introduced yourself by swing dancing at a local playground. You've never been pushed higher than that night. It must be fate that your paths crossed, but your dreams are abruptly shattered when a giant Hummer swerves in front of you. Its radio blares the most obnoxious song you've ever heard, there's a bumper sticker that reads "I support the Third Amendment," and beneath that hang four separate pairs of truck nuts. Do you get angry? Do you get furious at this insult to your dignity?

If not, then anger management classes might be for you! Road rage is one of the many skills you'll learn on your journey to becoming a more assertive person. Get your degree in a variety of fields, such as: passive-aggressiveness, revenge-seeking, vandalism, owning a knife, veiled threats, flipping people off, different types of batteries, screaming in public, arson, botany, and clogging toilets on purpose. Just call 1-800-ANG-RYYY today!


Don't Get Glad, Get Mad

Good evening, class. My name is Michael Celani, and I'm mad as hell. Has someone ever done something mean, callous, or just plain unfair to you, and you decided to turn the other cheek? Wrong! That just gets you struck twice. To get what you want, you've gotta be like a perfect game of bowling: strike first, and also multiple times after that. Let me show you what I mean:

Bruse and Halana are great Partners to head up a deck that's all about Enrage. Halana, Kessig Ranger lets you pay mana to make creatures punch each other, making it a snap to trigger Enrage abilities when your sluggers enter the battlefield. Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder turns those monsters into fearsome attacking threats that your opponents will have to block. With this pair of provocative people in your command zone, you'll always have a way to deal damage, whether it be to friend or foe!

Enrage Against The Machine

Rule number one: when someone hurts you, get back at them. They haven't hurt you yet? They will. Get back at them. You don't even know them, because you just met them when sitting down to play Commander at your local game store? If they really liked you, they would have known you already. Get back at them! These are all the Enrage and Enrage-type cards we're putting in the deck:

  • What doesn't kill Hungering Hydra and Siegehorn Ceratops makes them stronger. They're among the best candidates to take multiple hits in a row because their toughness grows with damage as well as their power.
    • Jared Carthalion, True Heir is similar, but be careful! His effect only works as long as you're currently the monarch.
    • Bellowing Aegisaur affects the rest of the board instead, so if you have a particularly fragile creature, try pumping them up so they can take more punishment each turn.
  • If you need extra mana, Ranging Raptors and Cacophodon have you covered. Try searching out your basics and untapping them on the same turn!
  • Alternatively, keep your hand stocked by shooting a Ripjaw Raptor a few times.
  • Sporeweb Weaver is a decent, though clunky, way to sink some of that mana you've generated. Halana can make each Saproling punch the Weaver again, so you can generate as many Saprolings as it has health.
    • If you're cheeky, slot in an Ashnod's Altar and a way to make the Weaver indestructible. You'll gain infinite life and death triggers!
  • A single point of damage, and Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients's Dragon Spirit will obliterate the vast majority of creatures on the other side of the field. You will have to sacrifice the Spirit once its done its damage, though.
  • Other pesky permanents got you down? Trapjaw Tyrant and Silverclad Ferocidons help keep your the board clear of threats except for your own.
  • Though red has no shortage of effects that rebound damage onto your opponents, Brash Taunter is by far the best one. Not only is it indestructible, it also can fight any creature, even ones you control, for more triggers.
  • Want to really turn the tide? Cast Martyrdom targeting Polyraptor for a do-it-yourself Apex Altisaur that leaves behind a ton of tokens!

Getting Heated

Step two: always have a backup plan for when your anger gets you into trouble. Sure, you might be able to turn creatures into burn, but what if Halana is indisposed? You'll need other ways to keep the board clear and your minions mad. Luckily, there's plenty of other ways to deal direct damage:

  • Warstorm Surge is a backup Halana, but you don't have to pay to get the effect. If your creatures can't survive more hits, point it at an enemy's face.
  • Ulvenwald Tracker's activated ability pushed a creature you control into a fight, and it doesn't even have to be with an opponent. Try untapping the Tracker again and again by having Cacophodon take part!
  • Soltari Guerrillas is a strange creature with an ability that redirects its opponent-destined combat damage to a creature instead. It also has Shadow, rendering it practically unblockable, so it's safe to swing out and bolt something each turn.
  • Rip Apart is a flexible and cheap sorcery that is either a bolt or a Disenchant. Abrade is a bit quicker, but can't deal with enchantments, and Cathartic Pyre drops the effect completely for a Faithless Looting-type cycle instead.
  • Klauth's Will for one usually seems like a dud, but in this deck it safely pings all your Enrage creatures while knocking out a problem artifact or enchantment. You can always play it as an actual board wipe if you need to.
    • Pyrohemia fills a similar niche, but having it around to ping every turn makes all the difference.
  • Road // Ruin replaces Cultivate here, because its Aftermath ability can deal a ton of damage. Don't worry too much about overdamaging your own creatures: there's a solution for that coming up.

En-Kor Performance

Point C: anyone can get upset, or feisty, or goaded. But simply hitting your own creatures for Enrage effects? What's the point? Why not simply go all in on Pyrohemia effects? This deck is so straight and narrow, you think, I'm surprised it's allowed during the month of June. Well, it's time to blow your mind.

Let's go manage our anger:

With the suite of en-Kor creatures from Stronghold and Time Spiral, you can spread the damage from Halana, Kessig Ranger's triggered ability around. Got three damage coming in from Bellowing Aegisaur? Point it at Nomads en-Kor and activate its ability three times to ping the Aegisaur, your Ranging Raptors, and your Cacophodon. Got a Rip Apart in hand, but really need a card? Send some of that damage towards Ripjaw Raptor and the rest towards Sporeweb Weaver. They can even point their own Warstorm Surge damage at themselves to trigger a bunch of effects at once when they enter the battlefield!

Shaman en-Kor is notable in that it can redirect damage to any creature, from any source, onto itself, meaning you can even take the damage from a combat that doesn't even involve you and twist it to your advantage.

But the synergies don't stop there.

The en-Kors are especially adept at carrying Quietus Spike. Since they're basically immune to combat damage, as they can redirect it all away, your opponents will scramble to throw creatures under the bus while you're left without a scratch. Speaking of combat damage, they also make great blockers when Defensive Formation is in play: you can block a big first-striking trampling Voltron commander with your Shaman en-Kor, assign all the damage (even the damage that would trample through) to it, and then push it onto your tapped Brash Taunter.

Crackdown Construct is an obvious choice as well, considering all of their abilities have the elusive . You can easily kill someone this way with Kazuul's Fury or put yourself out of reach by casting Swords to Plowshares.

(It's worth noting that Crackdown Construct also combos with Soltari Guerrillas, even though it doesn't look that way at all in its only paper printing. Read the Oracle text out loud to players when you play the Guerrillas so that you don't have to manage their anger, too.)

For an incredibly spicy way to close out a game, cast a Burning-Tree Shaman and enchant an en-Kor with Pariah. Now, you have an infinitely repeatable way to ping any of your creatures. When you activate the first ability, you'll take one damage, but the next time you would take one damage it's redirected somewhere else instead. If your Enrage creatures are indestructible, that's infinite rage right there!

(Pariah and its sister effects in Gideon's Sacrifice and Martyrdom are also great on Jared Carthalion, True Heir.)

Finally, for one last burst of value, consider swinging an en-Kor if Grothama, All-Devouring is on the field. Not only does Grothama represent a 10-damage spike to an enemy creature, when an en-Kor fights Grothama, you can simply redirect all of Grothama's damage back to it. It'll take ten damage plus however much the en-Kor dealt, meaning you're often drawing twelve cards or more for five mana. Move over, Harmonize!

Calming Down

What a wonderful first lesson in anger management! Remember everything I've taught you today, and don't forget to do this week's homework! I want to see at least one burning building by 9 AM next Thursday, where we'll learn our next lesson: how to lob bricks at lawyers. Class dismissed!


Anger Management (Bruse Tarl & Halana EDH)

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at https://discord.gg/xWWqD2G8Fj and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.