Sift Through Sands - Ludevic/Sidar Kondo and Marisi

Wes Stuckey • August 9, 2022

Reduce to Memory | Art by Campbell White

A Token of My Appreciation

Hello, dear readers. Please, if it's not much to ask, have a Survivor token. It's on the house.

Now that you've met each other, have any plans with that token? How about attacking the combo player? Ah, they also have a Survivor. Hm. You know what, how about I cast Disrupt Decorum and turn this game into a real party?

In this week's Sift Through Sands, we're going to look at two decks that offer creature tokens to our opponents, encouraging them to duke it out with their new friends. This style of deck has gotten easier and easier to build, as the proliferation of goad effects makes forced combat a common occurrence. We're going to look at an underdog partner combination, Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist and Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa, and a popular goad commander, Marisi, Breaker of the Coil.

Our Picks

It's starting to feel like the summer of Sidar Kondo. Ludevic and Kondo both were printed in the Commander 2016 Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis group hug precon deck, and partnering the mad Wizard and warclan leader reveals their symmetrical roots. Ludevic and Kondo's abilities are universal, which is easy to overlook. Together, they create a game where opponents are encouraged to swing at each other with (mostly) unblockable little creatures to net cards. Marisi is far more aggressive, taking away our opponents' agency, but in a way that we are able to control by deciding who to attack. Both of this week's decks revolve around giving away creature tokens. We'll start with Ludevic and Kondo's list.

Don't Look a Gift Token in the Mouth

Commander (2)
Artifact (8)
Creature (24)
Enchantment (6)
Instant (10)
Sorcery (15)
Land (35)

Playing Ludevic/Kondo

Our four-color friends are a low-key combination, one that our opponents can easily underestimate. The deck works to incrementally give our opponents resources and can suddenly take off to become a major threat. As we begin play, getting our commanders in play is a crucial starting point. Our beneficial political and group hug cards, like Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Rites of Flourishing, and Master of Ceremonies, all can help make friends at the table. If we can't dissuade suspicious players, defensive cards, like Pramikon, Sky Rampart and Reverence, help us out, especially as we begin giving tokens away.

Token generation is the centerpiece of the deck. Combat Calligrapher, Hunted Phantasm, Questing Phelddagrif, and Varchild's War-Riders are notable creature sources of tokens. Our noncreature spells, such as Seed the Land, Kamahl's Summons, and Sylvan Offering, do work for us as well. Most of the removal in the deck replaces permanents we don't want to see with tokens that we do, with Transmogrifying Wand, Curse of the Swine, and Ravenform being prime examples.

Late game, we take advantage of amassing many creatures. Ink-Treader Nephilim causes explosive card draw with Shelter or easily ends the game when we target it with Might of the Masses. Rith, the Awakener and Xyris, the Writhing Storm let us generate large numbers of tokens for ourselves, and Theoretical Duplication even lets us benefit from giving them away. If our tokens aren't enough, Nature's Revolt gives us more creatures and modifies the reach of board wipes, while Dovescape keeps control decks in check, and Mystic Decree and Baeloth Barrityl, Entertainer ensure that Sidar Kondo makes damage unavoidable.

As Ludevic and Kondo give away resources politically, Marisi does so with far less subtlety. This Cat makes sure that our opponents are swinging, and getting a few goad triggers from him will wrap games up quickly. Here's our list.

Throwing a Chair

Commander (1)
Artifact (4)
Creature (34)
Enchantment (5)
Instant (13)
Sorcery (7)
Planeswalker (1)
Land (35)

Playing Marisi

Like playing more than one game of Magic? Marisi will make sure that your group gets multiple. Speeding games along by forcing combat, our deck wants to get evasive creatures in play quickly as we begin. Soltari Foot Soldier, Ohran Viper, and Kari Zev, Skyship Raider all have their uses with Marisi in play. Gahiji, Honored One, Beckoning Will-o'-Wisp, and Jolene, the Plunder Queen all encourage our opponents to attack one another, with or without goading.

Marisi's first line protects our combat tricks, an important aspect of the game since combat will happen most turns. Making cards like Fight to the Death, Deflecting Palm, or even Dictate of the Twin Gods unable to be countered makes them dangerous surprises. Even without Vivien, Champion of the Wilds granting our creatures flash, we have tricks up our sleeve, with Masako the Humorless and Akroma, Angel of Fury being particularly nasty when unexpected.

Much of our card advantage comes from the Monarch mechanic. Jared Carthalion, True Heir provokes our opponents into attacking one another, and Court of Bounty lets us cheat our big drops into play. Etali, Primal Storm, Duke Ulder Ravengard, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, and Heartless Hidetsugu are all game-ending threats. After one or two rounds of every creature attacking, the game will wrap up swiftly. Controlling when everyone attacks is a powerful gameplan, which is why Marisi is so popular.

We're Gonna Start a Fight

Giving away tokens and encouraging combat is a sound strategy that's getting more support with each set. The potential disruption to our opponents' plans is not something to take for granted, and how we encourage it without being teamed up on depends on offering resources and enhancing the game rather than taking agency away. These cards are in both decks:

This package of cards works to ensure everyone has creatures swinging at each other, and ideally not at us. Combat Calligrapher, Goblin Spymaster, and Life of the Party all work to both ends. Our boardwipes, March of Souls and Rampage of the Clans, both give tokens as replacement, which takes away the sting of a well-timed wrath as well as providing bodies for combat. These cards work well in many combat-centric decks, and as goading becomes more popular, timing how to grant or replace resources with tokens helps keep the table cool in the long run.

I hope this week's Sift Through Sands was to your liking! The first decklist was so much fun to build, and Marisi is such a powerful commander that building him is bound to be rewarding. But I want to hear about your experiences! Do you run a more pleasant group hug deck along the lines of Ludevic and Kondo? Do you like goad? Are you a fan of Baeloth Barrityl, Entertainer? Are you a fan of political decks, or not?

Still want to read? Check out the exciting content coming down here at Commander's Herald, like learning how to make game spaces inclusive, our Magic retrospective as the game approaches 30, or the excellent deckbuilding in Conditions Allow. See you next time.

The untenable Wes Stuckey is the jankiest Magic player to roam the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (their first brewed deck was Blind Seer "old cards"). By day, they work in circulation at one of the city's many great libraries. By night, you can find them slinging spells, running campaigns, and listening to music with friends and the cat.