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Building Killian in Commander - Dueling with Ink

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Hello folks! I hope that you are having a great day today! Today I want to take a deep dive into the powers of the Orzhov colors and the Silverquill School!

This is the second Commander deck I've built around a Strixhaven character. Check out my other!

First, I built my deck around the Elder Dragon Galazeth Prismari who founded the Prismari School! I added in a ton of artifacts as well as some big spells to cast more easily with his ability to tap any artifact for mana for instants and sorceries. I hope you enjoy it!

What was my second choice from the set?

Killian, Ink Duelist

We have a writer's forum where we coordinate things. I called the Elder Dragon first because I wanted to build one in the format that used to be named after them (EDH stands for Elder Dragon Highlander), but Killian was the second card I called as I really wanted to build around him. Why this uncommon? Because I love him so much! Look at this guy! He's a cheap two-drop and even after Commander tax he'll be affordable. You net a 2/2 menace lifelink-er for your mana investment which is very nice and on-curve. And then you have that awesome ability! Whenever you target one of your dorks it's two cheaper to cast a spell. Most spells that self-target are instants and sorceries so we'll run those! Now note that Auras self-target so you could run an Orzhov Aura Voltron build around Killian as well (which is what they are doing over at EDHREC.com) and get the bonus cost reduction for those enchantments. But I am going elsewhere!

However, there is a combo from the spoiler that I love here! What is it?

Reflective Golem

It's this Golem! Take a look-see. As you can see, when you cast an instant or sorcery that only targets the Reflective One then you can spend two mana and copy said spell with new targets (should you want them). With both Killian and this out you can drop the cost and then pay that mana you would have used for a copy for the same mana as the spell in question. It's pretty nifty!

What am I looking to add to this build?

  • Instants/Sorceries that Self-Target. My favorite addition to this build are sorceries and instants that self-target. Again, I could add in cards like Auras, but they won't help the Golem for Fork'ing. Note that the Golem has to have a single target to copy so you'll want to have single-target spells for the build not those that have a bunch of targets.
  • Triggers off Instants/Sorceries. I want to dig into these triggers from the set that fire off when you cast or copy an instant or sorcery called magecraft. Most of those triggers are previously in Red and Blue like Guttersnipe and Murmuring Mystic. The magecraft will trigger twice off a spell targeting Reflective Golem that gets copied.
  • Cantrips. My goal is to run enough self-targeting spells that can be copied that are cantrips in the two colors that Reflective Golem and other Fork effects like Mirari are my major card advantage engine.
  • Mana. This deck needs enough mana to cast multiple times a turn a spell and copy mana, so we'll lean into ramp like Solemn Simulacrum, White's mana ramping and mana rocks and lands like Ancient Tomb.
  • Support. Our final category are cards that support our theme that we'll unlock as well as removal and such. And card drawing. In this case I'll lean on support that are instants and sorceries like the instant removal Generous Gift over the creature-based removal of Duplicant or Rambunctious Mutt.

There are cards that will work with Killian on the EDHREC.com page but won't work with Reflective Golem. Should I run them in this deck?

Let's look at a big one:

Silverquill Command

This is Silverquill Command! If you cast it for its normal cost, then you can spend four mana. But if you choose the first one to jump and Giant Growth a creature that you control and you control your leader it's easy to cast and you can get the card replacement with reanimation, draw and losing a card or forcing someone to sacrifice a dork. But this is a non-combo (non-bo) with the Golem as it has multiple targets on all sides. Do I run a card like this in my build?

Not at first, but if I run out of space, then yes.

What cards am I looking to copy and get as cheaper versions?

Shelter is the first instant/sorcery that popped into my mind! I love how powerful it is in this shell! I run it in a few places, decks, and more! You can give a key creature protection from a color to save it from targeted removal, damage-based mass removal, to keep it alive from a chump block or to slip through a mono-colored defense for some damage. You'll draw a card! If you have out your combo this is three total mana for two Shelters and two cards. Pretty good right?

There are 72 instants and sorceries in the game with the text "target creature draw card" and are in color. Some aren't eligible since they are removal spells like Afflict, Bright Reprisal, and Annihilate, (I'll include some of these) as well as cards that self-target but draw a card with cycling. But a few I like a lot for this deck. They include...

Bladebrand
Acrobatic Maneuver

...this duo! Bladebrand is a two-mana instant that will give deathtouch for a turn and draw you that sweet sweet card. If you target the Golem and you control Killian, then you spend three mana total, one more than its casting cost. The Maneuver is a three-mana spell that can also be used to flicker something else to save it in an emergency or to reload an enters-the-battlefield trigger on something like Pilgrim's Eye or Kor Cartographer. Both have value here as great ways to keep up that needed card flow as cantrips for the win. They exist!

Dark Dabbling
Defiant Strike
Guided Strike

Here's another trio of common cantrips that exist as well! Hello friends of mine! The Dabbing (er...Dabbling...) is another great way to save a creature by regenerating it and drawing that card as well. If you have spell mastery (likely) then it's a Wrap in Vigor that will save your whole team and replace itself! It also only has a single target with spell mastery so you can target the Golem. I also like the pair of Strikes here as great card flow and combat tricks. The Defiant one cannot have its cost dropped by your Ink Duelist, but it's still cheap card flow at one mana and three mana forked with the Golem.

Another fun common sorcery duet to sing with Killian and his Golem is Nighthaze and Shoulder to Shoulder. As you can see, they have a lot of proffer with their single targets (maybe) and card drawing fun times. Swampwalk is good at getting damage through a powerful defense that controls a Swamp. In today's dual land-heavy metagames it's quite likely and most players run at least two colors and most run more, so this is pretty likely that at least one of your foes will have one. And you net that card! Support 2 can target just one creature for a +1/+1 counter if you want to Fork it with your Golem which needs a single target. And then if you don't target your Golem, you can spread it out and drop its cost with Killian to a single mana. And draw that card too!

Spiritualize
Cease-Fire
Restrain

After my self-targeting options are exhausted, we moved into controlling cantrips. I tossed in some removal and this trio as well! The first card is the rare uncommon in this section of the build and as you can see it turns damage into life gain. Target a foe's creature that swung at you and you'll gain life from their hit rather than lose it. Draw a card. The third card is similar to that as it'll Fog one attacking dork and replace itself as well. Aggressively use Cease-Fire to stop someone from casting creatures for a turn and draw a card! Good stuff!

Now let's turn to Magecraft. There were few options in Silverquill's colors, and I am running the best. Which ones made the cut?

Professor Onyx

The best is this version of Liliana. As you cast or copy your spells, you'll net a key Syphon Soul effect. It's pretty good, right? Right! This ability can close out games and give you more time to close out games. You can +1 her to trade a life for digging three and drawing one card and putting two in your graveyard - key card flow for this build. You can also -3 her and force your foes to sacrifice a dork with the highest power, a nice way to get around hexproof and indestructible! No Heroic Intervention here! This is my only planeswalker in the build as we need to emphasize the Magecraft cards it cares about, but I adore her here!

Let's look at some more more magecraft stuff! This color combo is all about cheap magecrafters with abilities that pump themselves or others and turn them into powerful aggressive tools of face-punchery. Because they trigger off copies, you'll net two triggers from the spell and the copy from Reflective Golem. As you can see, we have those cheap, on-curve options reflected in Clever Lumimancer and Leonin Lightscribe and Silverquill Apprentice. I also tossed in Mirari and Lithoform Engine to make more copies for more triggers and more power. With one instant and one copy you can turn a Lumimancer into a 4/5 out of nowhere and block and kill a foe that swung at you. Play into the swinging and blocking of these powerful engines.

Mavinda, Students' Advocate

I love Mavinda for this build! Check it out! See how great it is here! For Wind Drake mana you get a better card with 2/3 body and this powerful ability to cast an instant and sorcery from your graveyard. If you self-target a creature of yours, then the spell just costs the normal amount. If not, you have a tax of eight mana. It's a great way to squeeze more value from spells and triggers and cards drawn from the deck! I love it here! We have 41 sorceries and instants to use this on!

Toshiro Umezawa
Monastery Mentor

Don't sleep on this awesome duo either! I adore it here. The former is a classic old force of nature who will turn your creature removal into casting an instant from your graveyard that will self-exile afterwards, so you'll get another spell out of your deck! There is a lot of targeted removal in this build in spell form so turning a Generous Gift on a creature into another Swords to Plowshares that nets you another trigger is pretty handy. The latter card is another trigger for your build, but not magecraft and brings no copying synergies to the table. However, between mana rocks, enchantments and my 41 spells we have only 12 non-Commander creatures in this build so it'll trigger a lot for those sweet 1/1 prowess Monks which are pretty synergetic here! It's a great addition to your trigger.

Let's turn to lands and ramping.

Monologue Tax
Smothering Tithe

Check out this pair of Treasure-making treasures! I adore them here! Smothering Tithe is a classic way to turn opposing card draws into powerful mana ramping for you as people rarely pay the tax. And then have you seen Commander 2021's Monologue Tax? It's pretty good as a potential ramping as it turns the second spell each turn by your foes into a Treasure. It's no Tithe, but it's another great way to make that ramping and your opponents cannot turn it off by spending mana.

Do you know why Vault of the Archangel in my deck? It's not on the EDHREC.com page but I love it here! Why? You have a small number of creatures in the build, and they tend to be small. By giving them all deathtouch, you can trade up with the big forces! Keep up four mana and this untapped and people will often attack elsewhere as they don't want to trade their powerful Eldrazi Titan or nasty big green ramped creature with your 1/1 Monk Token with deathtouch and lifelink. It's awesome in decks with smaller creatures like here!

Environmental Sciences
Mascot Exhibition

Have you seen the awesomeness of these two Lessons? I love the former here as a colorless Lay of the Land that costs one more mana and triggers your magecraft by being a two-mana sorcery. Pretty good right? Right! And the latter is tossed in as a game playing token maker that triggers your stuff like Professor Onyx while making nine power of token creatures across three bodies. Good pair!

How about one more card and we'll call it!

Inkshield

Check out Inkshield! It's another Commander 2021 card. We have an Ink Dueler with Killian, so I wanted to toss in this flavorful addition! As you can see, it counts as a Fog which will help keep you alive, just let everything that attacks you through. And then for each damage you prevented? Wow that's a lot of 2/1 token creatures! That have flying! Nasty stuff!

Let's turn to my deck!

Dueling with Ink | Commander | Abe Sargent


And there you are! Anything in here that I missed or that inspires you? How are you looking forward to building a Killian fun time? Just let me know!

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