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Gruul Enchantress with Blanka


Hello happy people! I hope that your day is going incredibly well! Today I want to write around the recently revealed Secret Lair centered around the Street Fighter IP. This is the first IP that they have done in this form that I am invested in since I've never seen the two shows in the other Secret Lairs, but I have played SF games, and I consider it to be the best series in the fighting genre. Go away Mortal Kombat.

Anyway, as soon as I read this spoiler from WOTC on their webpage, I reached out to my fellow writers to see what we were planning for these 8 Commander legal cards. Let's take a look at the first one I called and wanted to build around, Blanka, Ferocious Friend:

Blanka, Ferocious Friend

As of the writing of this article (2/28 - 3/1), there are 63 decks registered over at EDHREC.com, but we going into a very different direction. Blanka is a 5/5 for five mana with haste - good for the curve. He is a Human and Warrior and Beast - all good types with built-in support. When he is the target of a spell (yours or your foes) then you shoot each foe for 2 damage, and he gets +2/+2 that turn. When you have cast three or more spells that turn, he gets trample.

Crimson Wisps
Viridescent Wisps

You have an obvious way you can build around him. This way is to run cheap one and two mana cantrips that will target Blanka, trigger the ability to shoot your foes, give him a pump, and then it replaces itself and then you can do it again and again with the replaced card drawing you more gas, and then you have a big fat creature for the turn and damaged players. The Wisps above are good places to start. This deck will basically be a Gruul version of Boros's popular Feather, the Redeemed a heavily played deck at the kitchen table.

I am not building that deck, although it seems like a fun way to go. Instead, I am building this around the Enchantress archetype. We haven't had Gruul added to the Enchantress archetype before so that is new ground for us to cover. That's normally mono-green, Selesnya and Bant colors, or I suppose you could do Five Colors with Go-Shintai, of Life's Origin. Check out the archetype list here - Enchantment Theme | EDHREC. As you can see, no Gruul card is in this list.

Here's how it would work. Target Blanka with an Aura. Shock your "friends" (foes) for two damage and he pumps. Draw cards to replace the Aura with your Enchantress effects. Repeat. Keep on going until you have a 5/5 base with at least +6/+6 and trample and haste and then the boosts from the Auras, and then swing. And that's how I see the Blanka deck working with the Enchantress theme. Getting a win-con in the Enchantress Command Zone is something very new. Ready? Let's get this thing started!

Many Auras in here are pretty obvious like Rancor. Let's start with ones you may not expect.

Crown of Flames
Whip Silk

Take a look at his duo. Each of them costs one mana. The Crown gives Blanka Firebreathing. Then you can bring it back to your hand for one red mana, and then recast it for a red mana and keep on keeping on. If you control an Enchantress, then that is massive card drawing, for basically rr each go. I also have Ghitu Firebreathing which can give Firebreathing for two mana with flash and Firebreathing that self-bounces for a red mana as well, so it's repeatable at instant speed for 1rr. Check out the Silk. It gives Blanka reach. Then it also bounces for a green so it's a repeatable effect with an Enchantress out for gg. Even if you don't control an Enchantress effect you can get loads of 2 damage to your foes triggers and a bigger and bigger Blanka.

Canopy Cover
Alpha Authority

Check out these two Auras. Each is uncommon and costs 1g. The first makes it so that your Blanka cannot be blocked by ground pounders, only reachers and flyers. Then your dork has hexproof. This is good to protect your leader proactively in the same Aura that gives you evasion. Then then second Aura gives your dork the inability to block unless it's by just one dork, so no multiple gang pile to kill an inflated Blanka. And then, again, it gives hexproof. I am running these sorts of Auras that will protect over less-synergetic ways like Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots. Since Blanka already has haste, shroud/hexproof is all that they would grant anyway. Nice pair!

Keen Sense
Snake Umbra

I want to be able to draw cards, enter this duo. The first uncommon is an Aura that only costs a single mana. When the enchanted dork deals damage to an opponent, you'll draw a card. Did you note a key word missing here? Yup! It's "Combat." Most of these effects only trigger for combat damage, but the Sense is an older card with an older template, and thus, when Blanka is self-targeted with an Aura and enchanted with this, you'll shoot your foes for damage, and draw with this. And you can swing later that turn for another card. The Umbra is a 3-drop version of the Sense. It gives the enchanted Blanka +1/+1 which is nice for its size, and it has totem armor, so if Blanka would die, instead destroy this and remove that damage. Note that this is a destruction effect not a sacrifice one, so you could keep it around with Heroic Intervention or Tamiyo's Safekeeping and give it indestructible for the turn to keep on drawing those cards. Great card drawing combo, because we need to find flavorful ways to keep on drawing those cards, because this color combo has a weakness we'll look at later.

Alight's let's leave behind creature Auras for a bit.

Fertile Ground
Grafted Growth

Check out some Land ones instead! Instead of leaning on traditional forms of green ramp like Cultivate and Three Wishes, I am running enchantment-based ramp, like this pair or pure ramp like Font of Fertility. The Ground is a 2-drop that can let the enchanted land tap for an additional color of any mana, which is good on basics or non-basics alike. The Growth is a 3-drop Aura that will give Blanka a +1/+1 counter for permanent pumping and the enchanted land can tap for two mana of any one color. So that's nice for the win. You can get a Commander damage win with a permanent boost to his size.

Alright, now let's turn to some supplemental effects that will help us go off.

Herald of the Pantheon
Goblin Anarchomancer

Check this pair of two drop 2/2 Grizzly Bears. The former Bear will drop the cost of your enchantments by a generic mana each time, and you gain a life as you cast enchantments, which is a lot. With Whip Silk/Crown of Flames/Ghitu Firebreathing loops that's strong. The latter Bear can drop the cost of your red and green spells by a generic mana each. For example, this pair will turn the Ghitu Firebreathing loop from 1rr each time to rr. They can really help you explode each turn with your mana costs, and just one will help your bigger stuff all over the block. Love this pair a lot here!

Birgi, God of Storytelling // Harnfel, Horn of Bounty

Check out Birgi! When you control this on curve three mana 3/3 God, you'll gain a red mana for each spell that you cast. That's nasty! For example, it will turn the casting of Crown of Flames into basically a r only loop since you can recast it with the mana made each time, which is very powerful stuff. She works quite ably with above duo to link multiple casts of Auras into the same turn. Her power in here is very strong.

Tanuki Transplanter

Coming from the Commander set that debuted with Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is this four-mana 2/4 Artifact Creature - Equipment Dog. Why is an artifact here in my enchantment build? Because, when it works, it should have the mana to win the game quite ably. When this is equipped to Blanka, when it swings, you'll make an amount of green mana equal to his power, which won't end until the end of the turn. The best way to break this is to tap out your stuff your pre-Combat main phase to target Blanka a few times and get a swole dork. Then swing with your 12/12 and make 12 mana, and then use that mana in your post-combat main phase to continue to cast and target him for more triggers. Just Whip Silk alone is six more loops and that's 12 damage to each foe. It's a big nasty thing in here and adds to the explosive play potential of Birgi above.

Let's turn to some synergies that will help unlock the power of this deck.

Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
Destiny Spinner

Each of these Mono-Green dorks are enchantments from the same set. The Nymph is a 2/4 for three mana, a bit on a small side of life, but with two abilities. What happens when you draw another land when you are drawing all of these cards from your Enchantress effects or cantrip Auras? Well, this happy looking Nymph will let you drop another land each turn. Nice. And I am also running Exploration. Also, your lands are every basic land type, so your Forests and non-basics are now red making Mountains to daisy chain Crown of Fire and your Mountains are now Forests to help to daisy chain the Whip Silk you control. Two powerful effects on one card. Nice! The Human is a two 2/3 which is on-curve. Your enchantments and creatures cannot be countered, which is a key way to stop this deck. That alone would be worth the price of entry, but this fun uncommon can also turn four mana into big fat lands that becomes an X/X with trample equal to your enchantment count for the turn, which is a powerful game winner later in the game.

Weaver of Harmony

Check out this two mana 2/2 enchantment dork from the most recently released set! It will pump up your other enchantments dorks like the Dryad and the Spinner above, but we aren't running that many of those. Instead, it's here for that g, tap ability. You can copy any activated or trigger ability of an enchantment source. This includes your foes', like their triggered ability for Phyrexian Arena or an activated one like Greater Good. A good way to use this in here is with Enchantress's Presence which will draw you another card, and I have an activated ability that can win the game we'll look at later.

On that note, let's turn to some game winners:

Livewire Lash

Check out this pair of equipment. The Lash is a 2-drop, two to equip dork that gives it +2/+0. Nice, but a bit slow. But, when this becomes the target of a spell, cast from any player even you, you can Shock any target for 2 damage. In this build? You can use it to kill very powerful dorks out there, almost dead planeswalkers, or instead you can just target and kill even more quickly with the Aura self-targeting happening here. The 'Cyst is a 3-drop equip 2, but it comes with living weapon, so you won't have to equip it until the Germ dies. The equipped dork gains +1/+1 for every enchantment and artifact you control, which could easily be +5/+5 or +7/+7 and that can kill quite quickly with Commander damage on a Blanka.

Gratuitous Violence
Fiery Emancipation

Sure, the triple rrr in each of these enchantments might put off a few players, but in a two-color deck with green they're fine. When your creatures deal damage to any source, then when you control the Violence, that source is doubled. That means that your Blanka trigger, two damage from a dork source, when targeted will be doubled. This will also turn a Commander Smash of 12/12 or 11/11 into a game winner. The Emancipation is a triple threat since it will triple any damage from any source from Livewire Lash to Blanka's shooting, and more. With one of these two damage increasers out, Blanka will win quite quickly against a 40 starting life format.

Grafted Exoskeleton

Check out this artifact. Four mana to cast is a pricey and two to equip is fine with the +2/+2 size boost that comes with it. It also has infect. When it deals combat damage to a player, rather than actual proper damage, it's in the form of poison counters. When a foe has 10, they lose the game. What that means here is that you can drop Blanka in the pre-combat main phase, target him three times with Auras, then swing and kill with poison since he has haste. He'll win in one punch. Also note that Blanka will kill foes with the poison on his targeting trigger, and you only need to do that five times for game.

I don't run it in any of my 28 real life Commander decks. I know that poison counters aren't loved in many casual circles. In fact, this is my first deck I've ever included infect. But it's needed with an Enchantress interpretation of Blanka. Why? This deck is more fragile than a normal Enchantress deck, so it needs a backup way to win. Normally, this genre of deck fills the battlefield with permanents of the enchantment persuasion and then draws a ton of cards with the Enchantress effects. But it's very susceptible to mass removal. More so than normal since your Fertile Ground and Wild Growth ramping can be answered by things like Akroma's Vengeance and the new hate spell Farewell which will exile them without Heroic Intervention protection. But then it drops more Enchantresses and reloads. The normal Selesnya Enchantress deck has 8 Enchantresses and if it's running Sythis, Harvest's Hand, it has one in the Command Zone so just running 1-2 others and not overcommitting and drawing the others and holding onto them makes sense. But there are only five mono-green Enchantresses that are here like Argovian Enchantress or Verduran Enchantress. That means this deck won't explode like a normal deck and will get bogged down after a mass removal spell, so this is key way to deal with that weakness. Your mileage may vary. If you want to pull it out, feel free.

Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar

Check out Kediss! This 2-drop 1/1 is a bit behind the curve, but as your Blanka deals combat damage to one opponent, it will deal that much damage to your other foes. That scales up nicely in multiplayer. That helps with the Commander Damage kill for Blanka since a 12/12 Blanka that can hit a player will also deal another 12 damage to each foe, making a much faster clock. It does not double the non-combat damage that Blanka deals.

Aggravated Assault
Bear Umbra

Check out this infinite combo, each of which makes sense in the build singly. The Assault will let you tap five mana and then take another combat after this one. You can get a nice Relentless Assault effect that will untap your stuff. Then the Umbra is a four mana Aura that will give Blanka or a friend +2/+2, totem armor, and when they swing you can untap your lands. Tap your lands for mana to activate the Assault in your precombat main step as well as to do your stuff, swing with the enchanted dork, untap your lands, and then in the post-combat main step tap your lands for the Assault again and keep on. You'll need an unblockable dork to make the infinite combats work, or an empty board with a hasted Blanka swinging from the Command Zone. I am running three unblockable pieces of equipment to make this work. I also have Sword of Feast or Famine which can serve as a backup Bear Umbra, but it needs to deal combat damage to untap your lands. You can get infinite mana with this combo as long as your lands can tap for six or more mana, likely given the aura ramping happening here. I am not running any Tutors, so you would need to draw them, but since each is an enchantment that works here individually, I figured I'd toss it in.

How about some lands?

Contested Cliffs
Witch's Clinic

Check out this pair. Each of these non-basics will arrive untapped and ready to be used and tap for colorless. The first will tap, and need gr, and will let your Beast fight another target foe's creature. Blanka is a fat Beast, so this is recursive removal after you made him big. The Clinic will tap for two generic mana and give your Commander lifelink, so the damage you deal from self-targeting him you'll gain back, as well as his combat damage. From two triggers in a four-player game (12 damage = 12 life) and one combat damage step (9/9 so 9 damage, without being pumped by an Aura or Equipment like Rancor) you could gain 21 life. Nasty!

Spinerock Knoll
Mosswort Bridge

Check out these two hideaway lands. Each tap for a color of mana and arrive tapped and on arrival will dig four, exile one, and then put the rest on the bottom of your library. You can cast the cast without paying for it (nice!) if you meet the qualifications and each only needs the tapping of the land and one mana of the color it taps for. The Knoll needs to have dealt at least 7 damage to one foe that turn, easily done post-combat or after a rarer 4th trigger in one turn. The Bridge only needs a dork with a total power of 10 or more, again, easily done with just a few triggers of Blanka that turn. Nice stuff!

Kessig Wolf Run
Skarrg, the Rage Pits

Here are two lands with Gruul colors that arrive untapped and tap for colorless. The Wolf Run can serve as a nice mana sink if you have the extra mana from various effects. It gives the creature targeted +X/+0 and trample for each mana spent in addition to the two mana spent to get it started. Even if you don't have the mana to pump it, you still give trample, so if you just have a double triggered non-trampling 9/9-ish Blanka that gets chump blocked by a Fog Bank, you tap this to stomp over it. Skarrg will tap for two mana and pump your Blanka by +1/+1 and trample, which can, again, help with a smaller Blanka. The trample and pumps from these can help turn a mid-sized Blanka into a one hit Commander damage machine.

Bonders' Enclave
War Room

Every Commander deck needs card flow to continue. Each of these colorless lands can tap to draw you a card. The Enclave will tap with three mana to draw a card if you control a dork with a power 4 or more, pretty likely given Blanka qualifies. The Room will tap for three mana well and you'll lose two life for Blanka's color and draw a card, and unlike the Enclave, you don't have to control your leader to do anything.

Let's finish with a pair of Auras from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Commander.

Unquenchable Fury
One with the Kami

Each of these Commander deck rares are pretty spicey. The red one is a 3-drop that will create an attack trigger for the enchanted creature. When it attacks, it will punch the defender for damage equal to the defender player's card count in their hand. In my metagames, that's a lot. Note that the damage comes from the creature, not from the red Aura. That means it will draw cards from Keen Sense and Snake Umbra and get doubled by Gratitious Violence. The green aura is a four mana flash-er which is good as a combat trick on defense. Whenever another modified dork (or the enchanted creature) des, then you'll make a number of 1/1 Spirits equal to its power. That means that if you have a 11/9 Blanka from a pair of triggers and a Rancor, and he dies in combat, you'll make an instant army of 11 1/1 dorks. Nice right? And you can flash it out when something is about to die, for example, if your foe just cast Wrath of God, with you controlling a 7/7 modified Blanka wearing Sword of Feast and Famine you can cast this on a 2/2 Goblin Anarchomancer, and then they'll make 9 1/1s instead of the 7 you'd get by enchanting Blanka with it. Good stuff.

Now let's move on to the decklist proper!

Gruul Enchantress with Blanka | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there we go! So...what did you think of my different take on Blanka? I hope that you enjoyed it, but if not, let me know what I did wrong. Have an amazing day!

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