How They Brew It - Preston's Mirage Menagerie

Michael Celani • January 16, 2023

It's a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining, the grass is green, and the people you know and love may have been surreptitiously replaced with exact duplicates and there would be no way for you to tell.

When the hustle and bustle of daily life means you're falling behind on keeping up appearances, you need the Illustrious Illusionists! Have something that needs doing, that only you can do, but you don't want to do it? Want to appear like a hard-working member of society when secretly we both know you're lazier than a modern Madden entry? Don't worry, we won't tell! With our Cold Illusion Reactor (pat. pend.), you can be in multiple places at once -- for some definition of "you"! Make illusory copies of yourself that vanish when you want them to. They won't even know they're not the real you! Call today for a free consultation!


Trick of the Light

Ah, another customer. Let me guess: need someone to take an exam for you? No? Do you need to fake your own death to avoid taxes? Ahhh, of course: you must bring your pet deer to the vet, but you don't know if you'll be able to reassure poor Dough that he's going to be okay, and to just hold on, the doctor is only trying to help. Don't worry, not all of us can manage such a heart to hart. That's why you've come to us: Celani & Preston, the Illustrious Illusionists!

Life can be hard, and sometimes you just need you to do your dirty work for you. As long as your creatures aren't cast, Preston's ability will create a second copy of them. Our blink-powered Illusion Reactor is all you need to create an army that can solve any problem you have!

Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde

Of course, to use our services, Celani & Preston requires that we have a strictly confidential, limited-liability, all-sales-final, no-taksies-backsies contract with all our buyers. Note that this means if an Illusionary version of you does anything untoward, like commit identity theft, make your spouse cheat on you, or speak its mind, Celani & Preston is not legally responsible for any wrongdoing. Please ingest the liability wafer. In the meantime, let's show you a little of the behind-the-scenes, where these spells do the actual blinking that Preston needs to work his magic:

Capgras Syndrome

You may wonder how we make our Illusions do the stuff you don't want to do despite the fact that they are also you and therefore also wouldn't want to do the stuff you don't want to do. The answer is we point a gun at them. The next most commonly asked question is how we dematerialize the Illusion after they're done doing their assigned job. The answer is, again, we point a gun at them. What if you're not interested in making a duplicate of yourself? Gun! And you'd better-- Oh, my illusory associate Michael says we now have a line of prefabs that can really make a difference in your school, work, or sex life. Check out these miraculous mirages you'd love to see on the battlefield:

  • Just one Soul Warden will be enough to put you comfortably out of range of most midrange decks, but getting a second skyrockets you into "everyone will attack you each turn because you have the highest life total" mode. Not that you'll mind; when each blinked creature is gaining you four or even six life, you don't have to worry about pesky things like survival anymore.
  • Gold Myr, Ornithopter of Paradise, and Palladium Myr are all great mana dorks that don't require any white mana to play. These replace most of our mana rocks in the deck, since you can always blink them out in a pinch if your hand is looking a little too expensive.
  • I love how Commander is a singleton format, causing strategies to be less consistent and making each game truly unique, which is why I run Spirited Companion, Wall of Omens, Priest of Ancient Lore, Inspiring Overseer, Skyscannerand Combat Thresher. I don't even need Form of the Mulldrifter.
  • Speaking of card draw, Welcoming Vampire, Mentor of the Meek, and Rumor Gatherer may seem fine on their own, but really consider getting at least one Illusion. The entering Illusion will be seen by the original, and you'll have that additional buffer for a long while.
  • Recruiter of the Guard is a tutor recruitor! Use your computer to find suitors with a two or fewer tooter, then make them commuters through this freebooter uprooter looter who will accouture you and turn your battlefield into a persecutor of your opponents.
  • One Windborn Muse is an annoying effect all on its own, but make your prison a little more ghostly by adding some Illusion copies of it. People are already wary paying two per attacker, so why not make it four?
  • Thalia's Lancers can find any legendary permanent, not just creatures. Keep that in mind, because you can use it to find something like Oketra's Monument or even Nyx Lotus.
    • Speaking of Nyx Lotus, Illusion copies keep the mana costs of their original selves, so that counts for Devotion. Score!
  • Skyclave Apparition is great, but don't neglect Constricting Sliver. Each additional copy makes the others stronger. The first time an Illusion is created, they both exile two creatures. The next time, they both exile three!
  • And though the copy isn't long for this world, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite still represents a -4/-4 board wipe for a brief moment in time, which should be more than enough to handle any wide board.

A City of Illusions

With Preston, you can blink creatures, you can reanimate creatures, and you can even put creatures into play directly with an effect like Quicksilver Amulet. Truly, there's no other way we can get cheat our huge monsters onto the battlefield, unless we played them as our land drop for the turn.

With our exciting old stolen from a not-particularly-good How They Brew It article which this one is a stealth remake of new technology, Celani & Preston has invented a way to make a whole illusory world for our illusory people. Yes, it turns out that if we can make our lands enter the battlefield as creatures, they will be duplicated by Preston all the same, because playing a land is not casting a spell, it's a special action. Not only does the Kormus Bell and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth combo render all of our opponents' territory susceptible to a well-timed Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, it also doubles our land drops, and, by extension, our Landfall triggers.

Emeria Angel, Retreat to Emeria, and Felidar Retreat all create token creatures when our lands enter the battlefield, and Felidar Retreat can turn our army of 1/1 Swamp creatures into an army of 3/3s once those +1/+1 counters get placed on all of them. You can blink out a land with Ruin Ghost to get some extra oomph, as well. But you know what's even better than a 2/2 Cat Beast from Felidar Retreat?

A 2/2 Zombie from Field of the Dead, which will, of course, enter as a land creature, creating an additional Field of the Dead. For some reason, it's not legendary and has a colorless color identity, so feel free to target it with your Teleportation Circle to create an ever-expanding cursed burial ground.

Tutoring out these combo pieces is a snap. Not only do you have Weathered Wayfarer and Expedition Map to find Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth directly, anything that can search for legendary cards, such as Search for Glory and Thalia's Lancers, can find it too. Getting Kormus Bell is actually the trickier part, but you shouldn't have much trouble pulling out Inventors' Fair or even Oswald Fiddlebender, where you'll be just a Skyscanner away from ringing the bell.

Here's a few more tricks to use with your land creatures:

  • Scared of your lands being taken out thanks to something like In Garruk's Wake, or you being taken out by being rushed down by a player who has more than you? No problem. Simply shut off your Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth by making it a Mountain until end of turn. [/el]Unstable Frontier[/el] also removes all abilities from its target land in the same way Blood Moon does, so you can respond to any chicanery as long as you can activate that ability.
  • Equinox is also a suspiciously specific way to protect your lands. Tap the enchanted land to counter any spell that would destroy one of your lands, leaving them much less vulnerable than you'd expect.
  • But maybe you want them to be vulnerable. Sacred Ground turns any enemy Ponza effect into a land-doubler for you. It doesn't stop everything -- Blasphemous Act will still work, for example -- but direct destroy effects, like Wrath of God, won't be able to touch your land creatures.
  • But even if your opponents do get through your protection, Second Sunrise, Cosmic Intervention, and Gerrard's Hourglass Pendant can reverse all their hard work, and they combo really well with Zuran Orb. You can sacrifice all of your lands to gain a bunch of life, then return them to the battlefield in what's effectively the Dreamworks version of a Scapeshift.
  • Eerie Interlude, Lae'zel's Acrobatics, and Semester's End also affect your land creatures as much as any other creature you control, and if Preston is around when they come back, your tracts will leave your opponents' position untractable.
  • Even though it's legendary, Flagstones of Trokair is a great candidate for the Magic equivalent of gerrymandering. The duplicate Illusion can be put into the graveyard thanks to the legend rule, triggering its ability and fetching you an additional Plains from your library. It doesn't even have to be a basic Plains; go find your Mistveil Plains and get two of those, too.
  • To finish off the game, either attack with buffed-up land creatures, destroy all of your opponents' lands, or go for some style points with Starlight Spectacular. Now that you're counting all your lands, your dorks like Skyscanner can suddenly become 10/10s in the air, which should have any opponent seeing stars.

The Rabbit Hole Goes Deeper

Thanks for patronizing Celani & Preston, Illustrious Illusionists! Of course, since your Illusions are you, they also happen to know all your bank account passwords. Luckily, we don't need them anymore! A wonderful organization has invested in our new technology, and they're talking about how they could integrate it into their universe simulation program. The blink's still drying on that deal, but feel free to come back anytime!

If you enjoy How They Brew It, 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. Also, check out the rest of the articles by our talented writers here on Commander's Herald. See you around next time, where God finally punishes me for my hubris!


Preston's Mirage Menagerie (Preston, the Vanisher EDH)

Commander (1)
Creatures (30)
Sorceries (5)
Instants (9)
Artifacts (15)
Enchantments (6)
Lands (34)

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