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Commanding Amonkhet


Hello Folks!

Since the full Amonkhet spoiler came out on Friday, I hope you enjoyed your weekend binge of consuming new cards. Commander is a fun format. Amonkhet is a fun expansion. Ain’t no reason not to combine these two and go for maximum fun, right? Right!

So let’s blend away!

When you play casually in formats (or variants) like multiplayer and Commander, you always see folks having fun with new cards. New cards! And you know what new cards bring? Yup! Old Cards!

Wait . . . what?

You might not see that connection at first, but let me take you down the train track . . . 

Imagine it’s November 14, 2016. No one knows what Amonkhet is going to bring in terms of card mechanics, right? So, imagine your playgroup. When is the last time anyone played Lightning Rift or Astral Slide? For most of us, the answer has been some variant of . . . it’s been a while. But now that we know cycling is a real thing, people are already dusting off their old cycling cards and engines to give them a new lease on life.

Just like this cycling example shows, Magic is old enough that people often look to the past for ways to emphasize newly printed cards. When a new, unique legendary creature gets printed in a Commander supplemental product and old, wonky cards that work really well with it get a new lease on like. (Case in point, Nekusar, the Mindrazer and Wheel and Deal). We saw that with the artifact loving of Kaladesh and enchantment loving of Theros.

And that’s something I always find exciting: meshing the new and old.

The cycle of Gods in Amonkhet is distinct enough from the Theros ones that I wanted to tap into that distinction. As I looked at each one for a potential Commander deck, I got increasingly disappointed in my options until Rhonas the Indomitable hit. It’s perfect.

Our Naga/Snake God has arrived, and it needs to eat some beef before it can swing or block.

So I wanted to try and stay away from some normal mono-colored tricks you’ll often see in Commander decks, like Gauntlet of Power. But I went in a direction that was still decidedly Mono-Green and yet felt different.

Take a look!

Given that we are running Mono-Green anyway, I emphasized our usage of Forests, mechanics that work in Mono-Green, and some legendary Green enablers.

One of my favorite Green enablers is Yeva, Nature's Herald because pretty much every creature ever printed goes better with flash. It gives Green something powerful to do on opponents’ turns as well as the ability to flash out a creature once you have a better idea of what to use it for, like a blocker or a creature with an ETB trigger like Reclamation Sage. In fact, I liked this so much that Winding Canyons was included as one of only four non-Forests in the deck. (And one of those is a fetch land that gets two Forests)You’ll also note Vedalken Orrery below too.

Another Mono-Green lover is the often-forgotten Meng Huo, Barbarian King. All of your other Green creatures get +1/+1, which is great for pumping up your army, plus it will increase the synergy with Rhonas’s built-in need for higher creature power. Don’t sleep on Meng Huo!

I also tapped into the strong current of devotion, given that a God here is our leader. You can see devotion based creatures like Karametra's Acolyte, Nylea's Disciple, and a combat trick like Aspect of Hydra are all here and assembled for maximum breakage. I pushed the high-Green cost of several cards to pump up the devotion numbers considerably. Take Primalcrux as a good example, as well as Silvos, Rogue Elemental or Woodfall Primus. Many of these cards are harder to play outside of Mono-Green shells, because of their large reliance on Green, Green, Green. So let’s get it clean, clean, clean with Rhonas’s devotion tricks!

See also: Regal Force, both heavy in Green mana and card drawing potential.

I decided to push the card drawing elements here considerably. We have Garruk's Packleader, Soul of the Harvest, Primordial Sage all here and enjoying your playing of (often big) creatures. There are a lot of variants of fun here too! And I wanted to push card drawing more and more. Magus of the Library can be mana or card drawing if you need. Overwhelming Instinct is here for your card drawing needs as well. Shamanic Revelation? Hunter's Insight? Harmonize?

And don’t forget the massive power of Greater Good in a deck like this one. Play Groundbreaker, swing for six and then sac to draw six cards and discard three. And given that Rhonas can increase the power of your creatures, a power amp before the Good sacrifice will draw you two more cards. So Greater Good winds up being one of the best engines for Rhonas I can think of!

Did you note the large amount of card drawing I discussed earlier? Great! Check out beaters like the much forgotten Multani, Maro-Sorcerer and new Sage of Ancient Lore. Both of those are going to rub your belly with happy beats.

Of course Rhonas pumps one creature, not a whole team, and that suggest to me a smaller number of bigger creatures, not hordes of tokens, so you don’t see Deranged Hermit or Ambush Commander here. (Although I went with cards in that space when they mad sense. Hunting Wilds is better than Ranger's Path with its potential for more, so I tossed it in).

For that reason, I tried to have bigger creatures as my support. Indrik Stomphowler instead of Reclamation Sage or Conclave Naturalists instead of Acidic Slime. You can cast Krosan Tusker or Shefet Monitor if you need to later to get beef and a way to turn on Rhonas in case your mana needs are set. And we have this theme continue in other places as well!

Don’t sleep on the power of Vizier of the Menagerie here. Our good Vizier is very much like an Oracle of Mul Daya for creatures. You can get several pushes from having it out and playing creatures from your library, which is free card advantage while you sit on your hand.

Do you like free creatures? How about Champion of Rhonas?

How can you have a Rhonas deck without the Champion breaking stuff?

Like Champion of Rhonas, we are rocking Green Sun's Zenith, Tooth and Nail, and See the Unwritten as potential nasty stuff to run and abuse the battlefield with the latest beater you can fetch from your library to the battlefield. And never, ever, ever sleep on the power of Panglacial Wurm, who turns any search effect like Sword of the Animist or Krosan Tusker being cycled into a large 9/5 trampling beater, who will turn on Rhonas for the beatings. With the Panglacial Wurm out, a late game topdeck of mana-fetching can turn into a major trampling beater!

Now you’ll note that I am running some hasted Green beef that has a good synergy with Rhonas. Did your foe kill your stuff? Sweep the board? Then play Groundbreaker, the Green Ball Lightning, and swing for 11 damage with both it and Rhonas! How about Yavimaya Ants in a similar role? It’s too bad Timbermare taps Rhonas, because Rhonas is always a creature, unlike his Theros cousins. Speaking of which, let’s toss in Nylea, as devotion from her, even from cards like Gaea's Anthem, will turn on Rhonas as well and give you a lot of cheap indestructible beaters!

Now do me a favor. Take a look at your metagame. The next time you play Commander, about how many flyers do you notice running around? It’s a lot right? Given that, the Wrath of God for flyers of Whirlwind is great here. We also have Cloudthresher sitting around, rocking a heavy Green mana commitment to help devotion, a high power for Rhonas, and a huge flashing board presence. Normally I’d run Silklash Spider there, but Cloudthresher makes a lot more sense in this mono-green build.

Don’t wanna get your creatures countered? Then check out Prowling Serpopard as a much better edition of Gaea's Herald. Being proactive against strategies that can mess with your success is important. So, “No, Counterspell Boy, you may not counter Rhonas when I have that Serpopard out!” For the same reason, you’ll notice some additional protection with cards like Asceticism protecting your creatures from targeting and giving you a regeneration ally or equipment such as Lightning Greaves to keep your stuff safe while Yavimaya Hollow plays into the regeneration protection space as well.

You’ll note that any deck built around high powered Green creatures will invariably wind up with higher casting-cost creatures as well, it’s just too hard not to. So I added in a nice selection of the ramping as well. Check out Nissa's Pilgrimage as a great way to toss a pair of Forests onto the battlefield cheaply. Or Myriad Landscape, Sword of the Animist, etc . . .  From mana Elves to land fetching, I think we need to push our Forest-y theme.

In addition to Meng Huo and Multani, another throwback card I wanted to remind you existed is Hunting Cheetah, with will be a good addition to your new Selesnya Cat decks around Regal Caracal and other Cats. Did you hit someone with your Cheetah? Great! Search your library for a Forest, and then put it not your hand. I went ahead and took the liberty of adding in Dryad Arbor and Sapseep Forest if you need an option besides the basic land, and you can really abuse various dual lands as well from Taiga to Stomping Ground.

Nissa, Worldwaker? Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury? There are some brilliant Planeswalkers that’ll work alongside Rhonas the Indomitable. You’ve got this!

And that is pretty much a Rhonas deck! There are some fun surprises in there to unfurl on your next multiplayer night, like Patron of the Orochi or Lifeblood Hydra while also having enough space for six new cards from Amonkhet. That’s six cards added in, even though this is a mono-colored deck, so that’s a good color, right? Right!

I love a deck project like this where I can combine cool new tech from the latest set with recent cards and older stuff that a lot of folks forgot or stopped running. Obscure tech and new tech in equal measure!

What else would you want here? Silklash Spider? Arashi, the Sky Asunder? Rushwood Elemental? Niall Silvain? Emerald Medallion? There are a lot of options to flesh out the deck!

I hope that you enjoyed this walkthrough an Amonkhet inspired deck, and found a few cool new toys as well, like Groundbreaker or Multani, Maro-Sorcerer or Panglacial Wurm. Let me know what you thought, and enjoy!

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