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Commander GabrielFire


Hello, folks! Have you ever had that itch? You know, you came up with a wacky idea sometime in the past, and then it just pops up again randomly in your head. How come it won’t go away? Why is this thing bothering me? And the only way I know to deal with it is to scratch that itch.

What I wanted to do was update a deck concept that came to me when I was playing a variant of Commander called Commander ’95 that I created. The idea is simple: If the card was printed before or through 1995, you can play it. Anything up through Homelands is allowed.

There’s an old-school combo you used to see played in the early days of Magic: Circle of Protection: Green and Hurricane. You would play the Hurricane, sweep the board of flyers, deal some serious damage to your foes, and prevent it by activating the CoP.

It was a really fun combo, and you could add in Force of Nature—instead of paying gggg to prevent yourself from taking 8 damage, you could pay 1 colorless mana to prevent that damage from your CoP. Great stuff!

I built a Commander version of the Hurricane/CoP deck around Gabriel Angelfire for my playtesting of the format, and it was fun, but not consistent enough. The goal was to sweep the skies and then jump my commander into the sky and swing unblockably.

And that’s the itch. I’ve had that basic idea in my head ever since, and I thought it would be a fun time to brush that thing off and give it a fun run in the sun with cards printed in the last twenty years. We have a lot of thematic cards that don’t normally see the light of day. Get ready for the fun!

There you are, folks!

Gabriel Angelfire
You know you have a fun deck idea when Leaping Lizard makes the cut! Let’s start with the creature base. In addition to Gabriel, we have some solid cards that can head on up into the air. Urza's Avenger can jump up to a 3/3 flyer and get in a hit. Like all of the Dragons from Dragons of Tarkir? Well don’t forget Canopy Dragon, which can throw itself into the air for a hit! Toss in Gargoyle Sentinel and Manor Gargoyle for a modern take on the concept. Don’t forget that Skinshifter can shift into a 2/2 Bird either. (Elven Riders do something similar.)

It’s not just creatures that can leap up into the sky. We have cards like Angelic Armaments, Power Matrix, Flying Carpet, and Soratami Cloud Chariot to do the same. Even Evolution Charm can do its best Jump impression instead of grabbing a land if you prefer.

Now, I really pushed the anti-air button on this thing. I included almost every damage-based flying sweeper we have. If your foes have flyers, this deck is really going to blow them out of the sky. I remember once I had a friend who ran a Kaalia of the Vast deck, and every creature was a flyer. This deck gives you a strong game against something like that.

Sure, we still have the damage-based sweepers that also zark players, like Hurricane and Squall Line. I also included Borrowing the East Wind as a sort of Blaze to everyone—we already had the protection built into the deck. After that, I included a ton of other sweepers like Corrosive Gale and Tropical Storm. It didn’t stop there! Toss in Arashi, the Sky Asunder and Silklash Spider!

Radjan Spirit
That’s a lot of damage-doling. If you are between sweepers, and a few flyers have popped out, just drop to the table with Radjan Spirit or Downdraft. Shoot, you can even tap them with Storm Front!

There are a few subtle ways to push this theme into additional angles. For example, suppose that you can give an opposing creature flying just before you cast Hurricane for 6. Wouldn’t that be an awesome way to add some removal? While many cards that jump a creature into the air only work on your own stuff, there are enough Flying Carpets and Predator, Flagships that this becomes a realistic way to kill nonflyers as well.

Here’s another: We have a handful of creatures that have useful effects when they take damage. Broodhatch Nantuko, Hornet Nest, and Saber Ants all spit out tokens as they have damage applied to them. Toss one into a Soratami Cloud Chariot, and then sweep the sky with Silklash Spider for 5 or 9 damage. Make an instant army! And that’s not all! If you toss Phytohydra into the air, it just grows bigger and bigger as it takes damage; it’s a great choice for Angelic Armaments.

Stuffy Doll plays that trick well. It will not go quietly into the night toting that indestructible keyword. Pull it into the air, and suddenly, someone is taking some serious damage. Oh, and since we have Stuffy Doll and some other stuff, why not run Pariah and Pariah's Shield? Imagine if you cast Hurricane for 8 with a Pariah on the Doll. Now my Dolled opposition is taking 16, me 0, and our other foes each 8. If the Doll has flying, that person is now taking 24 damage. Rawr! That’s an attack of awesome from Jank Land. Plus, Pariah and the Shield also work on Phytohydra and, to a lesser degree, on Broodhatch Nantuko and similar stuff.

Now add in Circle of Protection: Green, its Rune friend Rune of Protection: Green, and even Story Circle as well, to keep all things safe.

Eidolon of Blossoms
I noticed we were putting in a lot of enchantments, so I added in Eidolon of Blossoms. Since we’re expecting to get in some hits, One with Nature appeared as an interesting card to ramp some more lands turn after turn into order to have mana for Hurricanes and such. In the same artery, Hunter's Prowess heads in to draw some cards. If you wanted to push this theme, toss in Quietus Spike.

Another pro-enchantment card is Sterling Grove, and man, if this card isn’t due for a reprinting soon in a Commander deck, I don’t know what is! It protects your other enchantments, and it can be sacrificed to tutor one to the top of your library. It works well with the many enchantment-recursion cards in those colors. Another tutor is the Enlightened Tutor. I thought about adding Idyllic Tutor instead, since the card would go straight to your hand, but it doesn’t find you artifacts, and that obviously precludes many of the useful combos in this deck.

Bow of Nylea is a great adjunct. You can tap it to shoot a flyer, so it’s on theme. You can attack with deathtouch stuff, those giving your deck some synergy with things like One with Nature. And you can use it with the other triggers if you prefer.

Since all of our flying removal is damage-based, there are a few flyers you can run that are immune to it. You have Voice of All, or a similar card, set to green. Dawn Elemental would work, too. But I like Pristine Angel—when it’s untapped, you can block some serious stuff, and I want so badly to cast Windstorm for a lot of damage to instantly wreck an attacking force and untap the Angel so it survives, and it can block and kill a ground-pounder.

Reclamation Sage
Because this deck kills creatures as its raison d’etre, it doesn’t need a lot else. I just tossed in emergency tuck spell that can also handle noncritters as well. Other removal would need to be on set, so cards like Reclamation Sage and Acidic Slime are useful adjuncts.

This deck runs a lot of on-theme cards that are outside the normal scope of Commander decks. As you can see, this deck has a strong undercurrent to it from ye olde days, as we take a deck from long since and move it forward.

Don’t be surprised by the infusion of Commander standards such as Kodama's Reach, Cultivate, Sol Ring, and Eternal Witness. This is a deck from the primal era of Magic, and it uses a lot of quirky cards as a result. There are a lot of other directions to consider, of course. Want to run Kami of the Honored Dead or Glarecaster? General's Regalia or Worship? You can cast Blood of the Martyr to keep your creatures alive and then Circle of Protection the damage to you. I chose not to run Squallmonger because I didn’t want my opponents to clean out the skies after I had bumped my stuff into the air. Want to run Skyblinder Staff?

But despite some flexibility, this is the sort of deck that has a home for a lot of odd and quirky cards. Get ready!

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