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Turbo Tax


Hello, folks!

Martyrs of Korlis
The other day, I was looking over at the cards I had available for Commander or other deck inspirations. One of those cards was Martyrs of Korlis. Now, there are a few ideas I’ve been looking at regarding Martyrs for a while. One of my favorite is the old-school combination with artifacts that dealt damage to everyone like Armageddon Clock and Copper Tablet. You deal damage to everyone, and then the Martyrs take the damage meant for you. Good stuff.

There are other combinations with Martyrs in my mind as well.

But I was looking for inspiration. So I did a Google search of Martyrs of Korlis. What Commander deck ideas were out there for Martyrs? What could I come across? What would inspire my deck article?

And then I found my inspiration from an odd place. The website MetaMox, classifies it as “unplayably bad” in Commander.

Unplayably bad? Not on my watch!

Let’s drill into Martyrs of Korlis more.

Early on in Magic’s history, as a callback to Veteran Bodyguard, and there were a number of creatures that would redirect damage meant for you (or others) to itself—stuff like Opal-Eye, Konda's Yojimbo, Oracle's Attendants, and a lot more. Shoot, even recent versions are there, like Palisade Giant and Weathered Bodyguards.

So what I want to do is to layer in some tricks and a boatload of synergy.

Turbo Tax ? Commander | Abe Sargent

  • Commander (0)

Some of my final cuts included Spirit of the Hearth, Godsend, Mikaeus, the Lunarch, and Sanctum Guardian.

Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant
Anyway, the goal of the deck is simple. Use a variety of damage-based artifact sources to directly smash folks. You are immune from a variety of angles, like Martyrs of Korlis. Then you win.

So let’s peer into the deck and its deep levels of synergy

First, we have a virtually perfect leader: Rune-Tail. Play it, flip it, and then prevent all damage to your creatures. So if damage heads from you to things like Veteran Bodyguard, you are going to prevent it with your leader. Drop Rune-Tail on turn three, and then use its Essence in combination with these sorts of cards to keep your life from dropping too much.

Then, layer in other ways to keep your stuff alive. Check out Darksteel Plate, as a useful example. Equip it to a key creature, and it won’t die. Indestructible is clearly a boon for fun times, so I added in Archangel Avacyn and other stuff.

But the best indestructible card is obviously Darksteel Forge. All of our artifacts are indestructible. That includes tools like Sol Ring or Gold Myr, winning conditions like Armageddon Clock and Copper Tablet, and combo elements. There’s a lot of fun for the deck. And for another threat on this line, check out Avacyn, Angel of Hope!

Talon of Pain works with the various artifact tools here as well since you’ll be layering damage onto foes with regularity from your artifact sources.

I also added in the key card Pariah's Shield, which can make any creature a better version of your key concept. Combined with Darksteel Plate, it’s nasty. Even Gold Myr becomes a strong power. I also have some obvious indestructible creatures as well for Shielding (or for the Pariah Aura). Obviously, the best choice is Stuffy Doll. But there are certainly other options here as well.

Platinum Emperion
You have a lot of other cards involved in the game. Platinum Emperion keeps your life total at the same place, so you won’t damage yourself, and it keeps your total above the 30 needed to flip Rune-Tail for when it eventually is destroyed and needs to be redeployed to the battlefield.

Platinum Angel and Worship act as ways to keep yourself from dying later, and we can rock some cards to bring them out. I tossed in Darksteel Reactor as a backup win con in case you need it get the gold medal after the defenses are pushed or you are unable to find another path to victory.

Other ways to prevent damage include Eiganjo Castle, Oriss, Samite Guardian, and more. Check it out, and you can find a few ways to keep your stuff alive via damage and such that comes from other places.

I have a layer of artifacts, such as Ankh of Mishra, Time Bomb, Barbed Wire, Psychogenic Probe, and Jinxed Choker. All of these are useful to smash stuff, and Armageddon Clock or Copper Tablet are also online. You can also layer in cards like Dingus Staff or Angel's Trumpet as well if you like this. I want to include Rackling and Viseling to deal damage to folks who either have grips overly large or small. The Viseling is a particularly valuable foil to players who rack up giant hands from cards like Reliquary Tower or Thought Vessel. Know anyone like that at your Commander game?

Leonin Abunas
After having all of these various weapons and powers, there are a lot of ways to defend our stuff as well. One of those ways is to keep people from being targeted by your foes. That way, your stuff can’t be exiled, destroyed, stolen, bounced, or otherwise dealt with. Sure, obvious choices for creatures include Commander stalwarts like Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots. That’s fine. And then we can later add in stuff like Fountain Watch or Leonin Abunas. (You can also check out cards like Hanna's Custody and Spectral Guardian for more options if you are interested in heading that direction.)

Shoot, even stuff like Mother of Runes and Devoted Caretaker are here to provide extra layers of protection.

But even with all of that protection, you have stuff that’ll eventually die. And that’s sad. So what can help out when something is invariably taken off the board? Well, you have some reanimation effects that’ll suffice, including powerful stuff like Razor Hippogriff to Frantic Salvage to Buried Ruin.

I also want other ways to keep alive. I don’t want the only tricks in the deck to stay alive to be Martyrs of Korlis, Veteran Bodyguard, and such. And white is good at keeping alive, so cards like Ghostly Prison, Kor Haven, and Norn's Annex join colorless options like Silent Arbiter and Maze of Ith. Gotta stay alive to win. And this deck key’s in on staying alive and winning via many things.

This deck is built on various layers of synergy. Take a card like Serum Tank. White has never been great at card-draw, so it suffices. You could toss in Staff of Nin or other cards as well. Even stuff like Oathsworn Giant is here to enable swinging, keeping up your defenses, and pumping up butts in case of a Time Bomb blowing up. It’ll also help to keep alive a Martyrs of Korlis. Even To Arms! is here to act as a useful combat trick to untap your team to block, to untap, and to use protective effects, all while replacing itself.

Cho-Manno, Revolutionary
I’m sure you see it. You see the value of Linvala, Keeper of Silence here, keeping folks from doing something overly nasty with their creatures and artifacts, and it also acts as a way to keep commanders from using their activated abilities as well. You can see the role of Commander Eesha both as a blocker in the sky or a swinger for some damage to peck a person down a little more. If you like that, you can see how Dawn Elemental is great with a Pariah's Shield, against a Time Bomb, or as a flying blocker or how Cho-Manno, Revolutionary would rock a similar role.

You can also see how we have enough artifacts to toss in cards like Kuldotha Forgemaster and metalcraft cards of quality.

I thought about Mycosynth Lattice because it would work well with Rune of Protection: Artifacts, Martyrs of Korlis, and other damage-prevention effects of the artifact kind. If I turn all opposing creatures to artifacts, I layer in more immunity. Plus, it works with stuff like Darksteel Forge, but I didn’t want to open myself up to mass removal either. I felt the deck stands on its own without it, but that’s certainly a direction to mine.

A lot of other ideas are there as well. In addition to the Triskelion above, you could do Clockwork Hydra. Ebony Owl Netsuke? Jade Monolith?

Did you like the Viseling and Rackling? How about noncreature variants like Wheel of Torture and Iron Maiden?

You could layer in more mono-white lovin’—Sanctum Gargoyle, Mine Excavation, or Myrsmith all came to my mind.

Open the Vaults
And how about Open the Vaults or Roar of Reclamation for mass reanimation? Want to protect your artifacts more? Perhaps Loxodon Mender or Metallurgeon would fill your needs.

There are a ton of other routes to scout out: Sphere of Purity, Treasure Hunter, War Report, Mycosynth Golem, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Atalya, Samite Master, Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Leyline of Sanctity, Witchbane Orb, Seht's Tiger, Sword of the Parun, and Memory Jar.

You know what I wish? I wish Empyrial Archangel were legendary! Then, you could toss in cards like March of the Machines and Titania's Song alongside Clockspinning and land-fetching. But that’s not to be, and that’s okay . . . 

 . . . Because this deck works. And Martyrs of Korlis? It’s not “unplayably bad.” It’s playably awesome!

So what did you think of my deck? Did you enjoy it? Any thoughts on where you’d go in the future?

And seriously, check out Antiquities for more clever and awesome and playable cards! Even “bad old sets” have a lot of hidden gems.

Order Shadows over Innistrad at today!