PokeDecks: Rosheen, the Larvesta
Welcome back to PokeDecks! For the second entry, we look at a commander that was my White Whale for a while (if I may cross over into yet ANOTHER IP). I previously wrote about this commander a little over a year ago, for EDHREC, where I finally figured out a fun direction to take it: Hydras. The deck has gone through a few iterations since then, including receiving the PokeDeck treatment!
What is a PokeDeck? A PokeDeck is a collaboration between brewer and alterist that results in a uniquely flavored Commander deck. The commander of the deck is altered with the visage of a Pokemon, and the deck, in turn, represents the moves of that Pokemon. The fusion of these elements takes commanders in distinctly new directions and creates a cohesive experience that both brewer and alterist can be proud of every time the commander hits the table.
Unlike Kalain last week, Rosheen is a commander I had my eye on for a long time, and the build was made long in advance of reaching out to Foxnoctom. In fact, it took some time and reflection to figure out which Pokemon would do the commander justice and what the framing would look like. Rosheen is a ramp commander, which means it needs to be building up power for big spells. It's green and red, so it needs to be either grass and fire or bug and fire, or in some way show those colors. There weren't a lot of Pokemon fitting that criteria, though, especially because this was before Capaskid was made in Scarlet and Violet.
Eventually, I settled on Larvesta. While Volcarona would be a much more beautiful and majestic card, Larvesta was more reflective of the role of the commander in the deck: a necessary setup piece, which every big spell would funnel through. Larvesta is a bug and fire type, so it fits the green and red colors, and knows Flame Charge, a fire-type move that increases speed, just like how Rosheen speeds the deck up. But how would the art reflect the Hydras lurking in the deck?
The secret was to use the frills Larvesta has, which frame its head. The frills almost look like tendrils, and, in an anime image I provided for Fox, they glow when Larvesta uses a fire-type move. Fox added a white glowing border to the tendrils, as well as shading the tendrils almost like blood spatter. He also worked spindles into the green background, as well as various shades of green, alluding to the tentacled terrors buried deep in the forests my deck would use to cast them!
Once the pairing was cemented, the deck went through a bit of a remodel, both because I was a bit unhappy with the deck as a mish-mosh of Hydras and generic X-spells and because it didn't feel like Rosheen was the "star". Rosheen is present in different aspects of Hydras, both in casting them as well as activating abilities of them, as Hydras tend to have Xs in their costs, which Rosheen specializes in super-powering.
Stumpsquall Hydra is a particularly fun Hydra to play, as it comes in with X counters and puts X counters, divided as I choose, on any number of commander creatures, which aren't limited to mine. This can be a fun political card, or it can turn Rosheen itself into a pretty big threat, especially with Wildwood Scourge growing with each counter placed on a non-Hydra creature, and Kessig Wolf Run looming in the manabase! Polukranos, World Eater, known to my friends as "Lord Poultra", after the villain from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, is a Hydra that doesn't have an X in the cost, but does in the ability. Its Monstrify ability puts counters on it and fights creatures, allowing it to act as a board wipe. Another threat in the manabase, like Kessig, is Lair of the Hydra, which can be activated with Rosheen or can be used as a post-board-wipe threat.
The next challenge is to figure out how to cross the IP from Pokemon to Magic. Larvesta has a decent moveset, but the move that inspired the list was Flame Charge, so it needed to be featured prominently. Flame Charge is a move that increases the Pokemon's speed, so adding cards that increase the speed at which Hydras can be deployed seem fitting.
Goblin Anarchomancer was a big reason why this deck was able to be successful. Making the commander and setup spells cheaper enabled the deck to rip through land pockets and the lack of card advantage nonblue decks tend to suffer from, especially decks that have so many slots devoted to creatures of a particular type. Players tend to overlook the Familiars, but they are extremely potent in allied color pair decks that are looking to double-spell. Because they only have the color words, not color pips, Thornscape can be used to lower the cost of red spells, and Thunderscape can be used to lower the cost of green spells, with the references to white and black superfluous. The cost lowering can enable a big Animist's Awakening, followed up by Hydras. Even nastier, however, is when they enable an early Mana Geyser, which can be backbreaking in a deck like this, with plenty of mana outlets and a commander castable entirely off of red mana!
The Perfect Fusion
Arguably, the most difficult job is to fuse together the commander and the Pokemon. Flame Charge increases the Pokemon's speed, and Rosheen specializes in X spells, which cost a lot of mana and are usually used as exhaust after buildup. These actually fit together pretty well, as Rosheen and the ramping speed from Flame Charge help to make the Hydras quickly. There is another issue to fuse, though. As a deck themed around Hydras, how do we make this a deck that also honors the creature type?
The answer is in the regeneration ability that Hydras have, as seen in Disney's Hercules. In the movie, heads that were chopped off could regrow themselves, and, unless the body is dead, the parts would not only grow back, but they'd grow back with interest. Regrowth is kind of on-the-nose, as it can bring back a Hydra, or any other big spell, like Mana Geyser. Weird Harvest is a fun, chaotic group hug card that allows each player to search for X creature cards. It's a dangerous card, as combo decks can find their pieces, other big creature decks can find their top end, but, in a deck like this, it can set up several huge turns without needing too much for the X! If the X is big, however, it can fuel Sunbird's Invocation to dig for other big spells. The difficulty comes with the volume of X spells a Rosheen deck needs, but there should be something to hit off of it most of the time.
Here is the most recent iteration of the deck, with some Fireball effects for reach. Also, this deck has not been changed significantly since its inception, despite newer cards for it being printed.
Rosheen Flame Charge
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Which PokeDeck will we cover next time?
Gotta Deck 'em All!