Stella Lee, Wild Card Commander Deck Tech

Ciel Collins • March 27, 2024

You come to the table for a quick pick-up, hoping to scam and run before the marks get wise to the real game being played. The woman at the table looks nonchalant, but that doesn't fool you. She drops a card from one hand and snatches it with the other, and you almost miss it: her free hand had a card sliding out of the sleeve.

Your eyes meet hers, and she winks.

Try a different table, partner, and hope that it's not got one of those pirate types like the tables at the last place.

...Even they would be a better tablemate than her.

Stella Lee, Wild Card, one of the face commanders of the MTGOTC preconstructed decks.
Stella Lee, Wild Card, one of the face commanders of the MTGOTC preconstructed decks.

Quick breakdown of this lady with the fancy gunwork! On your second spell, Stella Lee bottles the top card of your library until your next turn ends. This is okay card draw, but ultimately only comparable to Jori En, Ruin Diver (and she's not really putting up numbers). The real juice is in the tap ability: copy an instant or sorcery, but only if you've cast three or more spells.

She's got card flow and a splashy effect, provided you jump through the hoop. It's important to note that she only asks for spells to be cast, not specifically instants and sorceries (though she can only copy those). Also, she specifies "each turn." These both help with deckbuilding constraints, as we'll talk about shortly.

Let's get to it!

Your Stella Lee Quick Shots

Our commander in question wants two things: cast three spells in a turn and cast, preferably, a big instant or sorcery (look, copying an Opt is value, but you're not exactly winning the game off the back of it). This merits a mix of low mana value and high mana value.

One mana cantrips are perfect. You know 'em, you love 'em - Brainstorm and Serum Visions are especially beloved for setting up the top card afterwards for the bottling effect. See the Truth might be "too cute" in more optimized builds, but I'm game! It'll play really great if you lean into the possible "cast from exile" subtheme by including more impulse draw effects. I didn't, but I could see a strong argument for it.

Cheap disruption is always welcome, but my particular suite is going to minimize counterspells; I think there's an instant-heavier build that goes more in on those. We want to be able to easily chain spells on our turn, so cards like Reality Shift and Lightning Bolt help boost the storm count while acting as emergency switches when needed.

My build is running 15 instants and sorceries under three mana, which feels like enough to make sure we can trigger things the "fair" way, if we need to.

The Posse

Thunder Junction is all about outlaws, and those rootin' tootin' sons of guns never seem to be the loner-types they claim to be. 

Here are the three kinds of friends Stella Lee likes to keep around. You have your Goblin Electromancers, who reduce the costs of our instants and sorceries. You have your Young Pyromancers, who build us a little board of tokens with all the spells slung about. Then there's the Archmage Emeritus types, who generate non-board value thanks to those spells.

This is a major diverging point. I've had Spellslinger decks in the past which focused more on Young Pyromancer styles of using spells to crank out a lot of tokens, so I pulled back on that here, using only four in total. I imagine Stella Lee to be more focused on generating one or two major turns with a copied big spell, so the token plan is out for me; the amount we have is mostly to ensure we generate a few extra chump blockers while working towards that turn.

By contrast, I do have eight cost-reducers of various flavors:

  1. Goblin Electromancer
  2. Baral, Chief of Compliance
  3. Case of the Ransacked Lab
  4. Rowan, Scholar of Sparks
  5. Jace's Sanctum
  6. Wizards of Thay
  7. Font of Magic
  8. Mindsplice Apparatus

Notably, there just aren't a lot below four mana, but I included what I reasonably could. The four-mana ones can be clunky, but they do allow for additional upsides beyond just the single pip reduction. Seeing as Stella Lee really wants to ensure a big turn, this feels like the right call for the first draft. Maybe I'll end up cutting some of these... or maybe I'll reach out and snag that Curious Homunculus to throw in also. Not sure yet!

The Mana Situation

Money's tight in this desert, but mana flows surprisingly well; even in Izzet, as it turns out. We don't have consistent ways to find lands, but the cantrip-based card flow should keep us from missing land drops. 

Most of our mana acceleration is going to come from mana rocks, like the usual suspects: Sol Ring, Izzet Signet, Talisman of Creativity, and Arcane Signet. Most decks want rocks that provide colored mana, enter untapped, and are low mana value; that's nothing new, but those features are especially important here. If we draw a mana rock in the late game, it can still be used to count to three, but we need to maximize its usefulness there. Thought Vessel and Mind Stone are still worth trying for this reason, even if they're awkward with how many one-mana spells we have.

A major source of mana throughout the game will be the previously discussed cost-reducing permanents, but those are slow sources of value. If we want to really strike out and get our big turns in, sometimes we need a huge, temporary burst. That's where mana rituals come in! Seething Song, Jeska's Will, and a few others join the deck to up the count and occasionally help cast Comet Storm for 53. 

There are two quirky sources of mana that I really want to talk about. They're not big or splashy or exciting, but they have a unique spot here. Environmental Sciences can make a risky two-land hand keepable in the early game, or be cast for free in the late game, and Sorcerer Class is card selection early on before turning all of our creatures into mana dorks for spells! 

Lands are up to you, but focus heavily on untapped lands. Basics are really fine here! 

The Cheats

Outlaws are gonna outlaw, and that means stacking the deck or throwing in a fifth Ace. In our case, that means finding ways to get more than one spell cast per card. 

Baral and Kari Zev let us cheat on mana once per turn, which can just smooth things out over time. Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy doesn't cheat on mana but acts as virtual card advantage by letting you recast spells from the graveyard. Lastly, Spelltwine is a way to hit the three-spell goal in one fell swoop while also being a spell worth copying. 

Spells with cascade or rebound are very good for this purpose; Wild-Magic Sorcerer giving our bottled spells cascade is sweet here, while flashback and its variants are serviceable for ratcheting up the Storm count in a pinch. (Faithless Looting is just a good card.)

My personal favorites in this category:

  1. Baral and Kari Zev
  2. Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy
  3. Wild-Magic Sorcerer
  4. Mizzix's Mastery
  5. Creative Technique
  6. Throes of Chaos
  7. Spelltwine
  8. Mnemonic Deluge

No Kill Like Overkill

Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes things go very, very right. In either case, there's nothing like a six-mana enchantment to either turn the corner or finish crushing everyone into a fine paste.

Arcane Bombardment says the magic word: cast. Lay it down, cast Opt, and you'll immediately cast a third spell for your commander to copy. After untapping, you can use this to cast 10 free spells in a single turn cycle.

Storm of Saruman fits into the multiple-spells archetype but does something special in copying permanents (while voiding the legendary clause). We're definitely more interested in copying instants and sorceries, but a second copy of Stella Lee can make things go wonky, fast. Or Talrand, Sky Summoner. Hmmm...

Thousand-Year Storm needs no explanation. Giving pseudo-storm to all your instants and sorceries is delicious.

It's not all six-mana enchantments, though! I do want to give a shout-out to Twinning Staff, a cool little artifact which copies our copies. We have five ways to copy spells in our main deck, plus the commander. Getting an extra bite can make a turn go from good to great real fast. I could see either pushing for more ways to copy spells in the main deck or cutting it. Let me know what you think! 

How to Close the Game with Stella Lee

Games need to end, and we have several winning options to do it. After a long game of generating value with copied spells, we can crack down in a couple of different ways, but some of the spiciest are definitely:

Mnemonic Deluge will take the absolute best instant or sorcery in anyone's graveyard and shoot it out three times. Stella can make that four for supreme overkill. This is the best for an "out of nowhere" pivot to clutch the game.

I dream of casting Storm King's Thunder for X = 20 and then following it up with Lightning Bolt. I'll do it one day, just you wait.

Ral, Storm Conduit and Sorcerer Class's third level both allow us to turn spell-casting into burn. Ral can "see" copies, so if you want to insert a few Reverberate effects as an emergency "go infinite and win the game," go nuts! 

The Decklist for Stella Lee

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Wild Card!

I took Stella Lee, Wild Card down a winding path, I reckon. My main priority was setting up those big, fancy turns, and I suppose that'll work out pretty nice. Along the way, though, I could see very clear, specific directions she could take. There are tried and true Spellslinger archetypes out there, and I'm curious where you all take her!

You could go the burn route and include the bevy of Guttersnipe effects. Talrand, Sky Summoner could bring more buddies and they could all gather a big token swarm for parties ending with a big Surge to Victory. There's a big argument to be made for Twinning Staff getting a bigger focus; pump up the number of ways to copy spells and maybe even add in cards like Errant, Street Artist to really go nuts. There's even the cast-from-exile route that could be spicy, with cards like Mizzix, Replica Rider and Nalfeshnee out there.

Listen, I could have easily made four deck techs just for this one commander. It was hard to pare down what she wanted to be, but I arrived at focusing on building up to the big turns and trying to "cheat" to count to three. Not sure if it'll work, but I'm excited to try it out!

Be careful out there, partner!

Ciel got into Magic as a way to flirt with a girl in college and into Commander at their bachelor party. They’re a Vorthos and Timmy who is still waiting for an official Theros Beyond Death story release. In the meantime, Ciel obsesses over Commander precons, deck biomes, and deckbuilding practices. Naya forever.