Riku of Many Paths - Commander Deck Tech

Unsummoned Skull • April 21, 2024

Riku of Many Paths by Denys Tsiperko

Travelling Omenpaths With Riku

Overwhelm your opponents with complex decision trees, carefully selecting the right modes of flexible modal spells with Riku of Many Paths adding value! This deck tech focuses on Riku's charming and commanding presence, as Charms and Commands are examples of spells that provide multiple intriguing modes.

The paths of this deck may diverge as we ponder our decisions, but the beauty is that there will always be a path less traveled, and that will make all the difference from game to game. Get ready to indulge in a deck with endless possibilities, able to adjust to any gamestate and find a path to victory!

Core Engine

With a commander like Riku, there are going to be lots of decisions to make, which can cause games to go long. As such, we need to approach this build with a mind toward the primary modes we want to use, with the other modes being more secondary or situational. The key to building a deck full of modal spells is to find modes that do similar things and use those similarities to create synergy.

While Riku leads us down many paths, the most certain route to victory is to use the flying token-generation mode to create a board, making this a veritable Temur tokens deck. As such, we want to use cards that put out multiple bodies that will be joined by Riku's Birds in a diverse army. We don't need a lot of these cards, as we have one in the command zone that makes at least one Bird per spell we cast.

Win Conditions

While grinding towards victory with card advantage, flexibility, and evasive token-creation is an excellent core, it's a slow way to win the game. It's also at risk of getting locked on board by decks capable of going bigger or wider. As a result, our win conditions are cards with modes that enable us to push through damage on locked boards.

Perplexing Test can be used to bounce all nontoken permanents, leaving our board intact, while Cryptic Command has been enabling small flyers to beat in for damage since its inception with the Faeries of Lorwyn. These, and others, enable alpha strikes while also triggering Riku.

Creating openings is a way to win with tokens, but so is bashing down walls. Savage Beating giving double strike, extra combat, or both is absolutely nasty, and it even qualifies as a modal spell with the ability to choose multiple options! In general, entwine is an amazing ability to use with Riku. Spree, entwine's baby cousin, also brings an extra combat spell. The big beats give the deck the ability to pull out ahead or close the game out after building a presence with solid tempo plays.

Mana Spells

As a three-color deck, we need our mana to be as tight as possible. The amount of colored pips in the deck is a real limiting factor to its success; we need all three colors to cast our commander and as much as three blue to cast Cryptic Command, one of our win conditions. In order to cast our spells on time, we need to be able to fix our mana, not necessarily to ramp it. Despite the number of choices the deck represents, we actually have a relatively low average mana cost.

Quite a lot of our mana spells search for lands and put them into our hand. This makes sure we hit our lands drops and find our colors, which is necessary for us to cast spells. It does not, however, put us ahead on mana. This is risky, as opponents will often ramp to skip into bigger, more impactful spells while we're relying on synergy and flexibility to make up for a lack of power. Jeska's Will is an incredibly powerful ramp spell, however, and it's a massive beating with our commander out, as we get both modes and two triggers.

The beauty of having modal spells in the manabase is that our mana spells are never dead. Unlike a regular deck drawing Sol Ring or Llanowar Elves late in the game, Dance of the Tumbleweeds is useful long after our mana is fixed, making a large token and a Bird friend if our commander is out. Evolution Charm can even give our commander flying, giving us the option of using Riku's pump ability to commander damage someone. Flying? In green? In this economy? Outrageous!

Some of the mana-fixing spells are really cute with our strategy. Open the Omenpaths is an example of a spell that can either fix our mana or act as a surprise combat trick. It's not often that a spell can do both, but such is the flexibility of modal spells! The Adventures in the Forgotten Realms expansions were a boon for modal spell strategies, as there are a bevy of cards that represent the decisions a party would make over the course of a game. Ironically, You've Been Caught Stealing is a steal of a card, enabling our Bird army to generate tokens post-combat and enable a big turn.

As Explore hints in the previous grouping, we do need a few non-modal spells in the deck, and we want those to be as synergistic as possible. We have several cards that enable the playing of additional lands, which works nicely with the mana spells that search up lands and put them in our hand. In particular, Ghirapur Orrery and Song of Creation make a potent combination, as the Song causes us to discard our hand each turn, while the Orrery draws us cards if our hand is empty. We can also use Riku's impulse draw to dig farther without adding to our hand.


In the Magic Twitter community, "play more removal" is a rallying cry for well-meaning critics and dismissive trolls alike. On the one hand, removal is needed to have the ability to answer threats and make sure opponents don't run away with the game. We are at risk of getting run over by individually powerful plays like Craterhoof Behemoth or Blightsteel Colossus or even a giant Fireball to the face.

On the other hand, decks that have too much removal can slow games down to a crawl. Playing too much removal slows games down, has negative political ramifications, and doesn't advance the board/game state. A deck built around modal spells can get away with playing about twice the number of removal spells I'd recommend because they aren't dead cards and they are forward-moving pieces with the commander out.

The major need for a deck like this is for the removal to serve multiple purposes; that way, we don't have to feel the need to remove everything. Because the removal provides advantage and feeds our game-ending engine, we have an incentive to cast these spells to end the game. Rather than burn the removal unnecessarily, our removal has modes other than removal, which functions as card draw. As a result, seemingly potent spells, like Abrade and Primal Command, are less helpful than similar cards, like Cathartic Pyre or Mystic Confluence.

One of the beautiful aspects of a modal spells matter deck is the ability to use Commands. Commands are a subset of instants and sorceries, mostly location-dependent, that have four modes and allow us to pick two. That amount of flexibility is incredibly potent, as is the fact that we get multiple triggers of Riku off of them. Incendiary Command wheels, Quandrix Command shuffles cards from the grave to find later, and Mishra's Command does even more impulse drawing. All of them have multiple removal modes, as well as ways to stay relevant without destabilizing the game.

Escalate, like entwine and spree, is a potent ability on modal spells that allows us to choose multiple modes. Collective Defiance allows us to rummage deeper into the deck, burn faces, or burn creatures. Inscription of Insight has kicker, which is yet ANOTHER similar ability (although, some would argue, all abilities are kicker), and it draws cards, bounces permanents, or makes a large token, which is yet another bit of synergy with our win cons. Pieces like these add a tremendous amount of potency to the deck while bolstering the mid- and late-game.

This is a deck where everything leads back to the concept of choice. Really, it's the illusion of choice, because most spells in the deck are there for a reason and have a primary mode. Still, there's no way we're memorizing all of the play patterns and classifications. While a primer could help with that, the beauty of a deck like this is to see each card as a set of several divergent paths. Try sleeving it up, letting go of the impulse to control, and just... enjoy the paths fate sets out in front of you.

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