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A Rose By Any Other Name

Hello Rivals of Ixalan fans! I hope you are having a great day today! So, last week my PC went down for a few days with a corrupted Windows after the latest security patch, and my article I had intended and written for today, (the updates to my various decks and projects) was not able to be secured and sent. I had to write this article pretty quickly as a result.

I knew I wanted to build a Commander deck from Rivals. But whom should be my leader? I didn’t want to build a simple Tribal deck and call it, I still wanted to give you the full deck you deserved. Tribal decks tend to be the easiest to build. So who . . . 

Then I saw Elenda, the Dusk Rose again . . . 

Elenda, the Dusk Rose

One of the keys for me is that this is not going to be a Vampire Theme Deck. Sure, I’m using an on-color legendary creature to lead from a clear Tribal block. But Elenda is not tribal herself, she’s not pumping Vampires or anything. She doesn’t require any to be around.

So Elenda is on!

Let’s unpack her ability. Note that she gets bigger when token creatures die as well. Unlike some other triggers, you can use tokens and fodder she makes to benefit herself. There’s a lot of room under the Rose of Dusk.

Also note that, like all death triggers, it only works if she is put into the graveyard, not the Command Zone, when she leaves. If you want to rack up those sweet Vampire tokens, this is the best way to do so. Let her die. However, a dying Commander that can’t get replayed is obviously going to have issues coming back to the battlefield for more and more triggers.

Here are the three ways I intend to win with Elenda:

  1. Make a giant Elenda and win with Commander damage quickly. I have Rogue's Passage and Whispersilk Cloak to help with that. Neither is necessary when you are a giant lifelinking dork though.
  2. Make a ton of Vampire (and other) tokens and go wide with the team. I have many cards in here designed to make tokens, including Elenda.
  3. Establish death with dying triggers of your tokens and other stuff with Zulaport Cutthroat, Blood Artist, and Pious Evangel.

By having three separate methods of winning, it creates three different ways that you attack a given board state that will let you find the best way to win. You aren’t going wide against Propaganda, you aren’t smashing hard with a big Elenda against a Maze of Ith and such, and your triggers do nothing against a Platinum Emperion. But there is always something that’ll work.

With those three win-cons as my route to victory, everything else was support, so let’s take a look at the deck, and then we’ll unpack some of the cards and archetypes used below.

Rose of the Dusk ? Commander | Abe Sargent

And that’s a deck!

So, let’s look at the support structures in place. Before I went anywhere else, I wanted to have sacrifice engines. I wanted to sacrifice tokens and other cards to make Elenda bigger and stronger. And it’s not a risk like it normally would be, because if Elenda dies, I can just send an army-worth of dorks out to replace her. So you won’t see many of my anti-removal tricks for a deck that goes wide like mass indestructible . It’s all right. In response to Wrath of God, sacrifice your team, load up on Elenda, and then let her die and your board is a lot better than it was. Elenda is innately anti-mass removal.

What sacrifice engines did I include?

Ashnod's Altar
Phyrexian Altar

Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
Viscera Seer
Carnage Altar

Phyrexian Tower
Bontu the Glorified

These are just some examples of sacrifice engines in the deck, you’ll see more in a moment. All of these are solid options that can help you or hurt your foes. The best are the no-mana mass repeatable ones like Viscera Seer and the Altar of Ashnod’s Mercy. And I have everything from ETB Sacrifice abilities like Disciple of Bolas to High Market and Miren, the Moaning Well here as well. Even Fleshbag Marauder.

These are keys to making the deck work. You can turn all of the tokens your leader is making into a ton of scrys, mana, cards, and more. And these various deaths will continue to grow your Elenda and cause death triggers to mount, giving you a valuable set of tools.

The next place I looked to for support was token making.

Westvale Abbey
Ormendahl, Profane Prince
Teysa, Orzhov Scion

Decree of Justice
Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder

Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Legion's Landing
Adanto, The First Fort

These are just a few token-making cards I tossed into the deck. There are many more if you dig around. But they give you a good idea of just where and how we are trying to take this deck. Making token critters is great so you can smash around a defense, recover from a board wipe, and add some powerful long game to your Elenda deck.

Now I wanted to have a few ways of bringing back a dead Elenda. This next card is the key to making a lot of it sing.

Enduring Renewal

Ah yes, Enduring Renewal. This card is awesome here, because it’ll let you go off with Elenda. Here are a couple of ways to do that in this deck:

Phyrexian Altar, Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder — Cast Elenda. Make four Thrulls. Sacrifice them to the Altar to make 4 mana. Sacrifice Elenda to the Altar to make a mana and another creature (as a 1/1 she’ll give you an extra dork each death beyond her +1/+1 counters). Bring it back with your Renewal. Result: infinite mana and token creatures.

Phyrexian Altar, Enough other Creatures — Suppose you control ten tokens and Elenda. Sacrifice for 10 mana loading up on Elenda, and then sacrifice Elenda herself for the 11th mana and you get 11 1/1s. Cast Elenda again. You have seven mana left, and 12 creatures. Sacrifice for 12 mana, now you have 12 1/1s, etc. So Elenda grows each iteration by a bunch of mana and one creature. Now, it’s important to note that, other than the four creatures, you don’t have to sacrifice everything to the Altar. You could sacrifice to Viscera Seer, or to pump up Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter or so forth. And you could sacrifice for more mana to trigger a Carnage Altar from a later sacrifice and draw your deck. It’s all yours! (You’ll need just three other creatures to start the chain. Start the chain with a 4/4, sacrifice, have 4 mana and recast Elenda on a board with five 1/1s, etc.)

You’ll find lots more where that comes from.

That makes Enduring Renewal a key card for a I have a few tutor effects in here to grab it, such as Sidisi, Undead Vizier, Liliana Vess, and Demonic Tutor proper.

Athreos, God of Passage

Note that Athreos only forces target opponent to choose, so if you go for the one with the least life, then it’s more likely they’ll let you keep that awesome card that just died.

I generally wanted removal that destroyed a creature, not exiled it, so it could work with Elenda. I did run a few exiling removal options as last resorts, but I’d prefer Attrition, Vindicate and Mortify in this build. I am also running Arcane Lighthouse to let you destroy stuff that you might not otherwise want to target.

What other Rivals cards am I running? Great question!

Profane Procession
Tomb of the Dusk Rose

Again, I wanted a few exiling options here as emergency situations. This a strong long-game card with the ability to exile three enemies and then cast them yourself. You could exile three immediately once you are going off with mana to remove three blockers or deal with three issues, and then flip it and immediately put one onto your side. So that would be a cool little trick.

Ravenous Chupacabra
Twilight Prophet
Tetzimoc, Primal Death

All of these cards are strong here. The Chupacabra and Tetzimoc are good as destroying things and playing into the whole “dying creatures” theme of Elenda. Meanwhile, the Twilight Prophet is good at drawing cards and draining folks of life in a deck that will clearly get ascend quickly.

What other surprises lurk here in the deck list? I’ll leave some to your imagination obviously. But . . . 

Hanweir Militia Captain
Westvale Cult Leader
Vault of the Archangel
Bastion Protector

These have strong value. In a deck with a number of 1/1 token creatures, Vault of the Archangel forces some difficult blocks. Normally people might block with things like 0/4 Wall of Blossoms or 4/2 Flametongue Kavu and 5/5 Shivan Dragon. But with deathtouch? Now it’s a tougher question, and you tend to hit with a little more damage each attack, and that will devastate people or their boards when they do block. Hanweir Militia Captain is a good token-maker you can drop early, and you don’t need a lot of range to make it work.

See how great Bastion Protector is here? You get 2 more dorks from Elenda each time she bites it, and she’s harder to answer from your forces, making her more powerful for swinging and winning with a giant critter. It will also allow you to control Elenda’s death to be timed when you can better go off, by sacrificing her.

And there are tons more cards in there. Lots of various effects that work with the deck from self-sacrificing creatures to token-generating stuff to removal to card drawing. Everything from Sorin, Lord of Innistrad to Ravos, Soultender is here and brings game. Are you ready to rock with Elenda?

So what did you think of my quick little Elenda build? Anything in here you like? Anything that I missed? What would you add to it? Thanks for reading!

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