PokeDecks: Tuya, the Ledian

Unsummoned Skull • January 5, 2024

Sockin' it Tuya with Power-up Punch!

The traditional archetypes in 60-card Magic are Aggro, Combo, and Control, with Midrange and Tempo as additions. In Commander, however, Aggro kind of gets the short end of the stick. 40 life per player is a lot to deal; games typically go beyond the cards in the opening hand, and there are diminishing returns for running aggressively costed spells. Lightning Bolt and Goblin Guide tend not to scale well with threats like Gray Merchant of Asphodel. With this in mind, how can an aggro deck pressure early, pressure often, and not run out of gas in the mid-late game?

One of the keys to playing Aggro politically is to attack multiple opponents each combat, preferably all three, dealing "tenderizing" damage: damage that reduces life totals to more manageable levels, bit by bit, enabling big swings to finish players off later. But what kind of commander enables us to swing at multiple players, and how can we get an aggressive commander to scale with the development of the board?

Tuya Bearclaw

Tuya is a commander that's as ferocious as the name implies. While a three-mana 2/2 might not SEEM aggressive, Tuya gains power and toughness equal to the power of the strongest creature we control that's attacking. Because it doesn't specify who the other creature is attacking, splitting attacks is a viable and helpful political strategy. Later on, the two creatures can attack in concert together, smashing for huge damage!

One of the more intriguing aspects of the deck is that there are a lot of creatures that do not have limits to them. Initially, the deck used creatures that had power and toughness equal to the number of lands we control. As we add more and more lands to the board with Rampant Growth and Explosive Vegetation effects, the creatures scale in power and make Tuya huge. That version was successful for a while, but felt a bit disjointed. The deck really came together when those creatures were swapped with prowess creatures. Now, the Rampant Growths act as rituals, the draw spells act as fuel, and the creatures effectively have storm. For a combo player like me, putting aggro in combo terms is a beautiful thing.

So... we have small creatures growing as we take game actions and advance towards a winning position, all the while getting in chip damage and prepping for bigger and bigger swings. But how does it relate to Pokemon? Turns out, there is a Pokemon with multiple fists that gets stronger and stronger the more times it connects. It's also unfortunately weak statistically for its amazing design. That Pokemon is Ledian, the bug Pokemon that floats like a Butterfree and stings like a Beedrill! The best part of the alter, though, is the focal point: a big, gloved fist, front and center, with action lines and bold colors. Whether you prefer Rocky, Creed, or Hajime no Ippo, this deck is every bit a fighter in the ring!

Tuya's Abilities

Tuya is a hands-on combat leader: she wants to put her hands on the opponents' faces. And then pummel them. But she needs help. Just as Ledian has multiple fists to enable the pummeling, Tuya needs some teammates to bring the pain. Those creatures, in order to work with the noncreature spell ramp and draw, need to have prowess, or something similar. Thankfully, there are quite a few decent options in Gruul, especially in red.

Goblin Wizardry is, by some strange stroke of fate, the best card in the deck. It might not seem like it, but Wizardry makes prowess creatures, triggers prowess, and then goes to the graveyard for Regrowth effects.

Abbot of Keral Keep is another source of both prowess and card advantage. Its impulse draw effect can help keep big beating turns going, while it provides a sizeable body and a solid rebuild after a wipe.

Krark, the Thumbless seems like a strange inclusion, as it doesn't have prowess, but it does synergize well with it. Prowess triggers on cast, not on resolution, so losing the toss means that the spell can be cast again. As the Unsummoned Skull, I certainly appreciate the power of bouncing, and bouncing off of the stack is right up my alley!

Ledian's Moves

Ledian learns Power-up Punch by Technical Machine in Generation 6, which translates well into how much effort this deck takes to put together, even though the pieces fit well and the deck functions fluidly. Tuya doesn't scream Gruul Prowess, and Power-up Punch isn't on Ledian's moveset. Still, Power-up Punch, an attack which increases the attack stat with each subsequent usage, fits well with the layers of boosts that prowess provides. But how does this translate into Magic? How about with spells that not only trigger prowess but also return spells to trigger it again?

Regrowth is the poster child for effects that return cards from the graveyard to the hand, and these effects chain on instants and sorceries that don't self-exile. Come to think of it, that's probably why so many modern designs do.

Wildest Dreams is one of those modern designs, returning cards and then exiling itself. Unlike the poster child, it returns multiple cards. This enables the deck to chain spells into long sequences, providing layer after layer of prowess boosts.

Recoup functions similarly to Regrowth, in that it enables spells to be cast from the grave, including itself. When it can be chained with other Regrowth effects or card draw, it can lead to some incredibly powered up turns. Even if it's just adding flashback to a ramp spell, it's still a solid enabler.

So, with so many card slots committed to drawing cards, recovering cards, and ramping, how do we avoid just being chump-blocked? And where do we fit those cards?

The Perfect Fusion

How do we weave removal into a deck with such tightly defined roles and so many forward-moving parts? While Ledian is a bit of a glass cannon, modal spells help provide spells that do multiple jobs. Some spells, like the Abbot, combine bodies and card draw. Others provide removal in sneaky ways...

Collective Defiance is a modal spell with escalate, meaning that it starts as either a removal spell, a burn spell, or a card draw spell, but it can mix and match those effects the more mana is spent. Since we are packing a lot of green ramp, it's not difficult to incorporate all modes. And, if we need to use it earlier, we can always Regrow it later!

Incendiary Command also has burn and draw modes, but it has additional modes that act as targeted land destruction or as mass removal for small creatures, which can help prevent decks like token and typal decks from sitting back behind a growing army of small creatures and chump-blocking our large ones.

Cathartic Pyre only has two options, and we can only use one at a time. As a result, it's a lot better with Regrowths, but somewhat underwhelming on its own. Still, since it has both card draw and removal modes, it helps glue the deck together and keep it from getting bogged down behind chump blockers.

Tuya, Use Power-Up Punch!

Here is the most recent iteration of the deck, which is still one of my favorites.

How do you feel about aggressive decks in commander? And how do you build them?

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Teacher, judge, DM, & Twitch Affiliate. Lover of all things Unsummon. Streams EDH, Oathbreaker, D & D, & Pokemon. Even made it to a Pro Tour!