Sift Through Sands - Sophina/Wernog and Akiri/Reyhan

Wes Stuckey • July 12, 2022

Nettlecyst | Art by Vincent Proce

Four Commanders For Artifacts

While you've been busy learning where the best spots are during CommandFest 2022, exploring the fish format, or getting a migraine as you keep track of 50 different kinds of counters, I've been busy diving deep into the world of obscure commander pairings. Sophina, Spearsage Deserter and Wernog, Rider's Chaplain are both running under the radar as artifact commanders, as are Akiri, Line-Slinger and Reyhan, Last of the Abzan.

Artifact decks are like a good garlic sauce: when it's well-crafted, such a sauce has flexibility in infinite recipes, each of which emphasize different ingredient combinations. Come to think of it, that might be a good way of describing a lot of Magic archetypes. The issue with having just a good garlic sauce on its own, though, is that you have to figure out what to match it with. When you encounter an artifact deck in the wild, it can be the same thing you've seen a million times, or it can be a savory mix of cards that stands out from the crowd. For this reason, artifacts in Commander are easy to brew and easy to break, making them a standout among archetypes.

Our Picks

Today, the two EDH lists we're looking at today are aggressive creature-based artifact decks. Neither of them are running blue, forgoing support and combo cards like Master Transmuter and Time Sieve. However, with the utility of Mardu aristocrats and the wide array of +1/+1 counter synergy available, both decks work hard. Sophina and Wernog allow us to Investigate often, gathering many Clue tokens to profit from. Akiri and Reyhan want lots of artifacts in play and for creatures with +1/+1 counters to die. Hmm, I wonder what archetype that fits? Anyone like Mirrodin?

We'll begin by looking at best friends Sophina and Wernog.

Blueless Clues

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Commander (2)
Artifact (15)
Creature (33)
Enchantment (4)
Instant (6)
Sorcery (5)
Land (35)

Playing Sophina/Wernog

Sophina and Wernog are an unassuming pair. Sophina's attack trigger isn't game-breaking, and Wernog often turns into Thraben Inspector. However, together they net us a lot of Clues, and having multiple artifact tokens around is a sound strategy. The deck wants us to have lots of artifacts sitting around, to either count towards large payoffs or to sacrifice for incremental benefit. The deck can snowball quickly once it gets a good payoff out.

Early game, we want to see some key support pieces. Wernog will often be our first play, and getting other artifact token producers out will help our game. Breya's Apprentice is an absolute powerhouse, Captain Lannery Storm starts getting us filthy rich, and Agent of the Iron Throne works nicely with our easy-to-play commanders. Oni-Cult Anvil keeps us from eating all of our artifacts, and Reckless Fireweaver easily turns into a win condition. The praises of Academy Manufactor have been sung many times, and our little Assembly-worker kicks the deck into high gear.

Getting Sophina in play allows us to take off even further. Amassing multiple Clue tokens lets our sacrifice outlets take off, with Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter and God-Eternal Bontu being the highlights. Our big creature threats Megatog, Hellkite Tyrant, and Yawgmoth Demon close the game out with plenty of tokens in play. Ideally, our support is in place enough by the time Sophina hits the battlefield that she only needs to attack a few times before the game is solidly in our favor. Ankle Shanker finds a happy home here as well.

The deck has the ability to go tall or wide, depending on what pieces we draw. Ideally, we can recuperate sacrificed Clues fast enough that Disciple of the Vault and Darksteel Juggernaut both can shine. Our utility cards let us keep a hold on the game, with canny opponents realizing how powerful Search the Premises is, while Crackling Doom and Mythos of Snapdax keep us in control of the board.

Sophina and Wernog want lots of artifacts and have multiple payoffs to sacrificing and acquiring them. Our Akiri/Reyhan list narrows in the sacrifice theme with a classic artifact strategy: Modular. In all honesty, I just wanted to partner Glissa, the Traitor and Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp.

Here's our list:

Arcbound to Succeed

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Commander (2)
Artifact (7)
Creature (40)
Enchantment (5)
Instant (3)
Sorcery (6)
Planeswalker (1)
Land (36)

Playing Akiri/Reyhan

This deck goes all in for Modular. Reyhan's ability doubles counters when combined with it, making Arcbound Ravager ever the threat. With the number of colorless creatures we're running, fixing the deck often doesn't matter much. Akiri hits the ground running, and often our commanders alone can win the game for us. Early on, it's key to assemble Modular creatures, with Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp being a great draw. Gathering +1/+1 counter and death trigger synergy is also important, with Forgotten Ancient building threats and Scrap Trawler letting us recur. In particular, Goblin Engineer lets us hunt for Arcbound Ravager early on.

The strategy here is straightforward aggro. As we get our Modular creatures in play, we find creative ways to sacrifice them and move their counters to others. Hardened Scales, Corpsejack Menace, and Arcbound Shikari help amass those counters in large numbers, allowing Felisa, Fang of Silverquill, Ivorytusk Fortress, and Etched Oracle to shine, among others. Mayael's Aria becomes a surprising win condition in this odd deck with ease.

With Soulscour, Duneblast, and Organic Extinction, we can wipe the board in advantageous ways to swing to victory. If we lose Arcbound Ravager, Extruder can pick up the slack, equipped with Fractal Harness to create a huge threat. The deck plays surprisingly quickly and simply, making for an entertaining aggro game unlike many combo-based artifact decks.

Artifact Package

These decks both contain payoffs that care about the number of artifacts we play. As of fairly recently, Magic received the boon of more artifact lands, all of which help the decks work well. With this attention on lands, here's our package of cards present in both decks.

Many of these cards provide basic utility while letting us reap the benefits of having artifacts. Swiftfoot Boots goes anywhere, but it also boosts Akiri, Line-Slinger. Armix, Filigree Thrasher is particularly powerful in these decks as a powerful removal piece, and Rite of Oblivion can be played in any deck that remotely cares about sacrifice. The astounding number of artifact lands we see here creates a core that adds power to our decks. New commanders like Tivit, Seller of Secrets and Kotori, Pilot Prodigy can benefit from structuring their lists around basic artifact synergy.

Well, that's all for now! I hope you enjoyed checking out these fun lists, they were really fun to build and experiment with. Tell me about your artifact decks! I want to know if you lean into mechanics like Modular as hard as I did here. Do you run a Lonis, Cryptozoologist Investigate deck? Do you have any experience with the insanity that running multiple artifact lands can lead to? Reminiscing for Mirrodin block standard? Let me know in the comments and I'll 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"). You can find them slinging spells, running campaigns, and listening to music with friends and the cat.