How They Brew It - Blast From Your Past

Michael Celani • November 29, 2022

Passionate Archaeologist | Illustrated by Nino Is

I know. I know. It's another Baldur's Gate commander. I promise the next one won't be a Baldur's Gate commander. People keep voting for options that are Baldur's Gate commanders. Don't look at me like it's my fault because I only put options up that result in Baldur's Gate commanders getting votes. Stop Baldur's Gatekeeping, okay?!

A Brief History

Good afternoon, everybody. I'm The Right Honorable Sir Sire Dr. Prof. Vice-Chancellor Lord Dame Michael Celani, Esq, PhP, and welcome to collegiate-level world history. My goal here is to open your eyes to different ways of thinking; to introduce you to a new understanding of the human condition; and to convince you that you are not the main character of the world, Napoleon Bonaparte is. Pay attention, class, because those who don't study history are doomed to repeat freshman year.

Unfortunately, discussing human culture and civilizations from ages past is, according to department-level budgetary statistics, only the 12th most important thing we can do. The true value of history, of course, is pinpointing the most likely places where ancient loot is buried. We all have a little bit of that Passionate Archaeologist's spark in us, and we need to get paid. Ellyn Harbreeze, Busybody is here from administration to determine whether or not all the Treasure we uncover is worth additional investment. But if we can look good for the top brass, and fund our ventures properly, we'll be able to make discoveries that rock our opponents' understanding of the world and also their life total.

That Belongs in a Museum

To be clear, we're archaeologists, not the British Empire; we're not "settling" other lands to Guns, Germs, and Steal away all their gold.1 But when one conquistador closes, another opens, and what's wrong with getting paid a fair amount -- say, a half of one percent -- when you find a national treasure?2 To get the most out of our Background, we're going to be casting a lot of expensive spells from exile, so let's start saving.

  • The quintessential example of our strategy is also our goal: to Strike It Rich. Though it may not be mana-positive in the long term to cast these spells, just having the Treasure for later means you'll be able to dome our opponents with eight-, nine-, ten-, or even seven-drops once we exile them.
  • Seize the Spoils, Pirate's Pillage, Big Score, and Unexpected Windfall are all very similar cards, which means I'll have to see them after class for plagiarism. However, that's not a bad thing; they each let you replace the expensive cards you drew with fresh ones while making Treasure for later.
  • Inspired Tinkering both creates Treasures and exiles cards for us to play, meaning it pulls double duty in our deck.
  • Brass's Bounty gets stronger the more lands you've played, and since we'll be filtering through lot of cards over the course of the game, it's very likely we're hitting our drops every turn despite running fewer than normal.
  • Reckless Endeavor combines board wipe and Treasure generation all into one card, meaning you're likely to be the first to recover afterwards. Good luck on your rolls!
  • Of course, Xorn is here to reward you with extra credit on all our Treasure-generating spells, and he's a great partner to Academy Manufactor, who keeps you well fed and in the know.
  • We have a ton of instant and sorcery spells in this deck, so Storm-Kiln Artist is essentially a free discount to all of them. It's best to bank the Treasures for later, though; you'll benefit from having a ton of them at once.
  • Inspiring Statuary turns all our Treasure tokens into inverse-Powerstone tokens, which is a hilarious statement when you think about it.
  • And finally Ellyn Harbreeze, Busybody herself benefits the most from making Treasures consistently. Even just one Treasure is equivalent to an Idol of Oblivion activation, and more make it easier to dodge the high-cost spells that we really would prefer to be left in the deck.

Exile Expedition

Once we have our funding, it's time to explore. No, not like that; we're going to dig down, deep into our decks, to see if there's anything expensive to pull from eternity into exile. Casting big spells is the most effective way to use Passionate Archaeologist, so here's a bunch of cards that let us do just that:

  • Cards like Light Up the Stage, Ignite the Future, and Creative Technique are like the Rome 'n' Han of our deck: powerful, famous, and they do the same thing with enough differences that it's worth examining each in a bit more detail.
    • Light Up the Stage is the cheapest basic exiler in the deck, clocking in at only one mana. If you're casting it for three, something's gone wrong.
    • Ignite the Future's Flashback is quite a prize, since it has the chance to let you cast ten-drops for zero. It's first go around isn't bad, either; it's cheap enough that you'll be able to hit your land drop and then play something worthwhile next turn.
    • Creative Technique is incredibly feast or famine, but it's worth it even if you end up only hitting another exiler. You'll probably want to shop around the Demonstration for political points, but don't ever give it to someone whose deck cares about mana values.
  • Conspiracy Theorist and Containment Construct turn our Treasure-generating discard and draw spells into exile and draw spells, which is a huge boon if we find ourselves with an overpriced hand.
    • Magmatic Channeler combos well here, since it would let you discard a card into exile and then pick another one to play. He's perfect for helping you hit your land drops, too.
    • Similarly, Birgi, God of Storytelling is usually played on its front face, but we're more interested in tooting our own horn here. It's another discard outlet that digs deeper into your deck as a reward.
  • Breya's Apprentice lets you turn excess Treasure into card advantage if you find yourself flooding.
  • Jeska's Will needs no explanation.
  • Mizzix's Mastery may not seem like it belongs in this deck at first glance; isn't it just interacting with the graveyard? Luckily, you cast copies of the cards instead of the cards directly, and since those cards are copied while in exile, the copies are legally cast from there.
  • March of Reckless Joy and Commune with Lava are both instants that are great to hold up until the end step just before yours. Remove a permanent with your Generous Gift when you need to, and dump all your mana into these when you don't.
  • While Soul Partition is mostly removal, don't be afraid to use it as an expensive blink to get over the finish line.
  • And Uba Mask, while likely to draw removal, is great for you personally, as it replaces each of your draws. It's perfect with a Big Score!

Affinity for Avarice

That just leaves one last question: which spells are we hoping to discover? While it's true that there's a lot of high cost junk we could get away with casting, the truth is we want to spend as little mana as possible for the best return on our investment. With that in mind, our goal is to find high cost spells that heavily discount themselves. And hey, we already have all these creatures, and all this Treasure, too!

  • Myr Enforcer, Slag Strider, Sojourner's Companion, Furnace Dragon, and Mycosynth Golem each have Affinity for Artifacts, meaning the more Treasure we create, the less Treasure we need to pay. Not that our Background cares; it still looks at the full price when doing damage!
  • Barricade Breaker doesn't quite get Affinity, but Improvise is a close second, as our Treasures won't need to be sacrificed to pay for it.
  • Marut is even more specific, since it refunds any Treasure we use to cast it. However, the way this card is worded means that Ellyn Harbreeze, Busybody will get another opportunity to dig through your deck, even if this is the only spell you end up casting that turn.
  • Metalwork Colossus cares more about the quality of our artifacts instead of their quantity, meaning that Treasures are a no-go here. However, you're likely to have at least one big artifact in play when this guy shows up, and his sacrifice trigger means you can have a pretty damaging loop if Containment Construct and a discard outlet are in play.
  • Vanquish the Horde, Blasphemous Act, and Organic Extinction are all powerful, expensive board wipes with relatively simple ways to discount their cost. You benefit heavily from a clear board, since the plan is to burn out your opponents directly, so don't wait for an enemy to overextend when these show up.
    • Delayed Blast Fireball is also a board wipe, but it's got a low mana value. However, it's here because you don't necessarily have to Foretell it to cast it from exile, and five damage to each of your opponents and all their creatures while leaving yours untouched is a great way to claw back a game.
  • Though Chandra's Incinerator won't do the most damage when it comes down, its static ability makes it possible to keep control of enemy creatures as you fight through life totals.
  • Crackle with Power, Explosive Singularity and Volcanic Salvo are just huge burn spells...
  • ...and the mother of all exile spells, Soulfire Eruption, is likely to close out the game one way or another the moment it's cast. You're either going to untap and murder everyone immediately, or become history yourself.

And You Get There In a Car

We've done it! We're rich beyond our wildest dreams. I can finally afford a brand new car, and my own private chauffeur!

Yes, I've hired Captain Rex Nebula on retainer. This might seem strange to you; after all, it's not like any of our big creatures are better off as Vehicles, and attempting to Crew a Treasure token causes it to, well, die (chew on that, Vorthoses). But there's one party we can crash into:

That's right, Passionate Archaeologist says that commander creatures you own deal damage when you cast a spell from exile. Let's turn our own history into a living reenactment: one that loads real bullets into its performance rifle. Once you crew your own Background (chew on that, Vorthoses), it legally becomes a commander creature you own, and will start doubling up on your exile triggers. Combine this with Angrath's Marauders or Fiery Emancipation, and you'll soon be closing the book on this battle.

One Last Word of Wisdom

Isn't history amazing? I hope you've all learned something; our history won't be preserved without people like us tirelessly working to preserve it. As the Wii told us, everything not saved will be lost. Are there any questions before the end of class?

Yes, Johnny?

No, Johnny, size did not matter during the Battle of the Bulge.

If you enjoyed this, please check out the Discord and my other projects at my website. You can vote on what article you want to see next, or just check out the other cool stuff I do, and don't forget to check out the rest of the articles by our talented writers here on Commander's Herald! See you next time on How They Brew It!

Blast From Your Past (Passionate Archaeologist EDH)

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Commander (2)
Creatures (21)
Sorceries (22)
Instants (11)
Artifacts (6)
Enchantments (3)
Lands (35)

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  1. Like, one percent of you will get this joke.
  2.  And like, a half of one percent of you will get this one.

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 and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.