How They Brew It - Sovereign Okinec Ahau: Party of One

Michael Celani • February 28, 2024

Sovereign Okinec Ahau | Illustrated by Victor Adame Minguez

I thought about starting this article out by dedicating it to my partner, but then rapidly decided that that was not a good idea.

The Singularity

Sigh... hey everyone, it's Michael Celani. I'm sorry, guys, I'm just not in the mood for a super energetic intro about felonies or capitalism this time around, because I recently got dumped by all twenty-three of my girlfriends. At once. Apparently, once you hit that number, the odds that a pair of them share an anniversary are fifty percent, so when both of them came to yell at me for forgetting, they met at the door. I'm so heartbroken; I genuinely don't know if I'll be able to love ever again. Anyway, I'm a sensitive, caring, and vulnerable 5'7" 6'1" 6'12" goofball who likes long walks on the beach, tacos, and going on adventures. If you wanna get to know me, I'm an open book, but if you're into The Office, speak fluent sarcasm, and can handle me at my best, then you definitely deserve me at my worst. Catfishes be warned, though: if you don't look like your pictures, I will steal your dog. Good vibes only!

Now, while I wait for those right swipes to pour in, I've decided to pass the time by building a Commander deck that's just as solo as I am. That's why my new Sovereign Okinec Ahau list runs only one creature: Sovereign Okinec Ahau. When you attack, he puts a number of +1/+1 counters on himself equal to the difference between his current power and his base power. In other words, if he's got five power, then you'd add another two counters on him; if he's got ten power, another seven; and if he's got power equal to the Rotten Tomatoes score of the 2007 comedy film Daddy Day Camp starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., you'd add zero, because Sovereign Okinec Ahau only triggers if the attacking creature is stronger than its baseline. Our plan is to pump him up to twenty-one power as fast as possible to start taking out our competition, because that's how you win at dating. Let's get started!

A Pretty Cool Cat

Thanks to the fact that I always insist on signing a prenup before the first date, I'm already way ahead of the curve on this whole breakup thing. I've lawyered up, deleted Facebook, and all twenty-three of my exes have already moved out, so I'm feeling great! Now all that's left to do is hit the gym, and since Sovereign Okinec Ahau's my commander, those gains will snowball onto themselves. Of course, the hardest part of working out is actually going, so we've gotta kick-start Okinec's growth by giving him something, anything, that increases his power. As skill would have it, practically every card in the deck does that; it's just a matter of how they brew do it. Let's go through each category one by one.

Gym Equipment

Cards in this category exist for the primary purpose of giving Sovereign Okinec Ahau's dump truck thighs so that he can start attacking profitably. We're prioritizing cheap casting costs first and foremost so that we can curve efficiently into our commander; ideally, we want them to cost three or less. From there, we'll go for the highest power boosts we can get to make the most out of each inclusion. Finally, if it's an Equipment, we'll try to reduce the amount of mana you have to spend to actually attach it to Okinec so that we can put them to use as soon as possible. Strength-Testing Hammer is a perfect example: it costs very little, provides an average power boost of +3.5, and will most likely draw you a card each time you attack. Empyrial Plate and Hand of Vecna both buff its user by the number of cards you have in your hand, and as a large portion of this deck is reactive to dodge instant-speed removal, you'll often have a grip of three or four by the time you attack. If you're not using its ability to remove enemy chump blockers, Umezawa's Jitte is +4/+4 each turn after it gets its first set of charge counters, and it provides life gain when additional counters no longer matter. Grafted Wargear is free to equip, making it a perfect turn-three play if you didn't find any ramp on turn two. The Skullspore Nexus taps to double Okinec's power and also leaves you with a consolation prize in the case that your commander is ever removed by leaving behind a giant vanilla beater. Finally, the only instant in this category, Invigorate, is almost always free, and it guarantees that Sovereign Okinec Ahau attacks as an 11/11 minimum the turn you play it.

Evasive Maneuvers

My communication problem stems from the fact that it's difficult for me to get through to other people, but don't worry: I've made an effort to improve on that front by adding a bunch of things that make it easy for my imaginary cat friend to smack people in a fantasy tabletop game. These cards give Okinec evasion, but we're not content with something like a Cloak of the Bat here; if we can, we're always opting for a piece of gear with a significant power boost. O-Naginata, Shadowspear, Hero's Heirloom, and Rancor all solve for the trample side of the equation, which sidesteps its usual downsides in this list thanks to the fact that Sovereign Okinec Ahau becomes massive very quickly. If that's not enough, Indomitable Might ensures that all your damage gets through even when you do get blocked. Maul of the Skyclaves provides a decent power boost, auto-equips to your commander when you cast it, and gives both flying and first strike, making you all but uncontestable in the air; it's amazing how often at least one person answers no to "got any flyers?" in a game. Key to the City, Psychic Paper, Trailblazer's Boots, and Saddle of the Cavalier each make Okinec truly unblockable, and Rogue's Passage is also a decent option in the land slot, since once a few Equipment have hit the battlefield you'll be capable of holding up a ton of mana. You might think it doesn't get any better than pure unblockable, but you'd be wrong: protection from creatures, like you'd find on Spirit Mantle, Unquestioned Authority, and Holy Mantle, not only lets you dodge all blockers, but also no-sells creature-based removal, such as Ravenous Chupacabra and Skyclave Apparition, which is especially relevant if you're facing some sort of blink deck.

Far Removed

It's not even just the Voltron pieces that advance your gameplan, though; even easy things, like removal and draw spells, can toughen up Sovereign Okinec Ahau in a pinch. A lot of fight spells, such as Primal Might, Archdruid's Charm, or Inscription of Abundance, have some method of making a creature stronger, and Ruinous Intrusion takes the mana value of an exiled artifact or enchantment and puts it right onto your commander. Finally, since there's no other real place to put this, Return of the Wildspeaker can either refill your hand or provide just enough of a boost to get you over the edge when trampling through a huge array of blockers. Don't be afraid to use that second mode if it can secure you a win.

Safety First

I listened to *NSYNC in the nineties and only then and definitely not right now still, and if there's one thing I've learned from all that it's that it's natural to feel a bit apprehensive after a breakup. That's why I'm massively overcompensating by stuffing this deck full of ways to make sure I don't lose Sovereign Okinec Ahau, too. Unlike music from thirty years ago, however, this isn't just catchy beats masking creepy, possessive undertones, because holding onto Okinec actually makes logical sense. It really sucks to lose your lone creature, especially after you spent so much time and effort training him to murder innocents like cats are wont to do, and if that happens one too many times you'll find yourself with no way to progress in the game. Come to think of it, won't having one creature make it really hard for us to block attacks coming our way, too? Let's solve all these problems and more in this section.

Never Gonna Give You Up

Hexproof and indestructible make Okinec more than just a Flagbearer in disguise. Without them, you'll always have to worry about being blown out by something like a Generous Gift as you go for a kill, so finding a way to back up your attack is paramount. Starting with hexproof, Swiftfoot Boots and Champion's Helm grant it to Okinec as part of the Equipment itself. When you go to equip it, you're almost always opening yourself up to a two-for-one by having an opponent respond with removal, so make sure you've got a plan to guarantee it goes through. Protection like Blossoming Defense, Snakeskin Veil, and Tyvar's Stand are great for this, as well as Assure // Assemble, which has a backup mode of creating actual blockers for you. You can also flash in Mithril Coat if you're dealing with a destroy effect, and it'll stick around to prevent any damage from most board wipes, too. Veilstone Amulet is a more proactive piece, but it turns every spell you have into protection. Hammer of Nazahn and Shield of the Oversoul are both spectacular defensive options that also advance your gameplan by making Okinec bigger and more evasive; pound for pound, Shield of the Oversoul is the best all-around Aura in the deck. Flowering of the White Tree doesn't even have to be equipped, yet it still grants +2/+1 and a small ward ability. Finally, if all else fails and you're facing down something like a Farewell, phase out your commander via Galadriel's Dismissal. Everything attached to Okinec will phase out indirectly, saving all your attached Auras and Equipment, and you can even use it aggressively to remove an opponent's blockers for a turn via its kicker ability.

Mano a Mano

The whole point of this deck is for it to be over in a flash, but some people don't have that problem... I mean, I've certainly never had that problem. No, they have a different one, which is that the game ends up taking too long and they run the risk of their glass cannon shattering into a thousand pieces. Include a few pillow fort effects to stop that in its tracks: Crawlspace and Dueling Grounds make it very difficult for go wide decks to strike with any sort of verve, and when you face a single threat, Maze of Ith can remove those lone attacking creatures from combat. Maze of Ith is also quite good at resetting Okinec after combat, giving him psuedo-vigilance in the same way a properly used Reconnaissance can. After a turn or two, only creatures with deathtouch will be able to reasonably challenge your massive commander in combat, and even then, protection can get around that. Noble Heritage acts as one last buff; it efficiently guarantees a couple of counters a turn for you and sweetens the deal by stopping greedy opponents from interacting with you.

Lone Digging Some Graves

But maybe I'm rushing things, because it turns out dating is hard. Really hard. I went out for a night meeting new people and ended up arrested for possession of drugs! Turns out speed dating means something different. Something very, very different. So, screw it; I'm gonna focus on myself for a while, and that's just fine. While I'm at it, let's have everyone else focus on themselves for a while, too. Everyone's gonna be playing Voltron today!

We've got just one creature, so let's use that to our advantage. Spells like Promise of Loyalty, Divine Reckoning, and Single Combat are completely free for us; they take out all enemy creatures without us having to sacrifice anything of our own. This is especially good if your opponents left behind a single untapped chump blocker; they'll be forced to sacrifice their good creatures to ensure you don't immediately kill them.

There's a couple of more devious ways to use our single creature, though. Equipoise, like the board wipes we looked at earlier, removes all but one of your opponents' creatures, but the difference is that you are the one in control. If an opponent wants to leave blockers up against you, then they have to swing with nothing at all, since you'll just phase out everything that's untapped. You can also use Equipoise to really hurt the person to your right; those permanents not only will stay phased out for your turn, but also the turns of your next two opponents, leaving them wide open to attack. Portcullis is even worse. Drop it once your commander is down, and as long as one other creature is on the battlefield, everything else that would enter is exiled immediately, giving you free reign to whittle down blockers and enemies until the game is over.

But these last two board wipes are the real kicker. Tragic Arrogance lets you choose which of your opponents permanents to keep and which to sacrifice. This is effectively a Farewell, but since your gigantic commander is still alive, it's often going to lead to you taking out the most threatening player at the table. And while Cataclysm doesn't let you choose, it has one crucial difference over Tragic Arrogance: it hits lands, meaning your other enemies will be powerless to interact as you take them out, one by one!

All's Fair in Love and War

Thank you for going on this journey with me. I think I can finally rest easy knowing that I have won romance. If only this article happened around Valentine's Day, then it would have been much funnier, but I'll settle for end of February.

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 and check out the other stuff I do, like hosting Am I the Bolcast? with my friends Mike and Morgan. Until next time!

Party of One (Sovereign Okinec Ahau EDH)

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Commander (1)
Artifacts (28)
Sorceries (10)
Instants (15)
Enchantments (11)
Lands (35)

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