Uncommanders - Latent Strength

New Year, New M-M-Magic: The Gathering Addiction

How is everyone's new year going? Have you managed to stick with your resolutions? If not, that's okay, it's never too late to get back on track. For instance, I meant to have this article done last weekend. Always try to be on time, of course, but better late than never. It's all about improvement, and no one starts perfect. If you're on track with your resolutions by the end of the year, then I would call that a success, so let's hit our goals together. You work out, get your raise, or talk to your crush, and I'll get back on schedule with these articles. 

The Feline Figurehead

For this article, I'm building a deck around a banger commander from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, Kutzil, Malamet Exemplar. This guy is basically a Grand Abolisher stapled to Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Obviously, he's a lot more restricted than Edric, but the goal is basically the same. We want to be hitting as many players as possible to max out Kutzil at three cards a turn, and while three cards doesn't quite compare to the half your library that Edric gets you, it's more than enough card advantage to put you ahead in the game. 

Workout Session

Of course you'll notice that Kutzil doesn't just require you to hit your opponents with creatures. Those creatures must have greater power than their base power, an easy accomplishment. Any modification will do, like an Anthem, or just +1/+1 counters.

Right from the start, I can see this deck going in two directions. Either we start with evasive creatures and boost their power, or we have creatures that enter boosted, and give them evasion from there. Each direction is probably going to have a limiting factor. For design number one, it's the Anthem effect. There are effects that will do it, for sure, but most of them are unplayable. If we're paying five mana to turn on our commander for a turn, we're already losing. Okay, to be fair, Charge is a much cheaper version of the effect, but even with Kutzil, we don't have enough card advantage to cast one of those every single turn, and, unfortunately, cards like Now for Wrath, Now for Ruin!, are few and far between. 

That's okay though, because plan B is much easier to build. Creatures that enter with +1/+1 counters on them are plentiful, and a bit of evasion isn't hard to find among the loads of Pauper Equipment and Auras. Starting with +1/+1 counter creatures, we can turn to the Servant of the Scale-style decks and pack all the 0/0s that come in with a counter. These creatures resemble the modular creatures of Mirrodin, and they make anything short of a board wipe insufficient to deal with us. I kind of already built this deck with Arcbound Shikari at the helm, but Kutzil also wants these creatures, and I think he can utilize them much more effectively.

As always, cards that do more than one thing are fantastic, which is why I'm happy to be running Duskshell Crawler and Pridemalkin. Both are creatures that can trigger Kutzil, and both provide evasion for the whole team. We're also glad to have creatures that can donate their counters to the creatures that aren't immediately modified, like Pollenbright Druid, and, of course, our commander. 

Oh, speaking of Pollenbright Druid, proliferation is a fantastic mechanic here. Yeah, we only need one counter for Kutzil to trigger, but when it comes to ending the game, the bigger the better. Ivy Lane Denizen, Unbounded Potential, and Now for Wrath, Now for Ruin! are all here to enlarge our creatures further. In addition, they allow cards like Fertilid and Shinewend to activate more than the intended number of times. Kutzil's value in addition to the incidental damage that we'll be dealing throughout the game should put us in a position to close the game with a few proliferations. 

Winged Warriors

But to get Kutzil's full value, we're going to have to find a way around our opponents' creatures. Unfortunately, the best Pauper evasion enchantment, Goblin War Drums (play that card more!), is in red, so we'll have to use a bunch of Equipment instead. I'd prefer to give the entire team evasion at once, but there's not much of that in Pauper. To max Kutzil out, however, we only need three evasive creatures, so ten cards that grant flying suits us just fine. In addition, some of these, like Nimbus Wings, check off Kutzil's restriction, making them a two-for-one. 

The Rest

The interaction and ramp section of the deck is pretty typical, but there are a few special cards I'd like to highlight. Smell Fear is a two-for-one in our deck, and it's very strong in almost every +1/+1 counter deck. If you have a big enough creature, it's basically mono-green Murder. That costs two mana. And also pumps your team. And costs 35 cents. You see why this is a good card? Fertilid is kind of a goofy card that I think everyone's played with at one point. I know, I know, five mana for a Rampant Growth looks bad at first, but in a deck that can add counters to it, it can be a Rampant Growth every turn for the rest of the game. Plus, have you ever had a game where another player could deal with a threat, but either doesn't have enough mana or doesn't have the right colors? That happens frequently to me in EDH, and Fertilid solves that problem by allowing a target player to search. 


Okay, so it turns out that I only put cards that grant flying into the deck, and if we run into a Dragon deck, or literally a single flier, we lose out on one-third of our card draw. The best evasion keyword is deathtouch, so in goes Hunter's Blowgun. Also, it turns out there's a whole slew of white commons that let you choose a single color for your creature to gain protection from. With a table of three, Benevolent Blessing will almost always have one opponent to screw over. Other evasive abilities include forestwalk, which comes quite cheap with Dryad's Favor.

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Alright, that's the deck wrapped up. Out of curiosity, what type of deck tech do you prefer? One where I review a recent commander you might have pulled, like Kutzil, or one where I unearth decrepit, forgotten gems, like Mirrorwood Treefolk? Either way, I hope y'all have a great start to your year and a good time playing Magic: The Gathering

Alejandro Fuentes's a nerd from Austin Texas who likes building the most unreasonable decks possible, then optimizing them till they're actually good. In his free time, he's either trying to fit complex time signatures into death metal epics, or writing fantasy novels.