I hope you are having a great day today!
Today is the finale of my Battlebond exclusive articles after doing a Commander deck for you two weeks ago, then some awesome combo decks, in 60-card style, last week, a Top Ten list of the best cards in the set, and now, today, which cards are making the cut for my various decks and projects. Moving forward, I'll incorporate the set into Commander decks here or other Top Ten lists there, but we'll set aside the Battlebond exclusive stuff.
But knowing what cards are making the cut where is key to seeing the actual value of these cards in play. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the proverbial road.
So what good enough to make the cut?
Let's find out!
The Alphabet Deck
This is a Boros Commander deck where every card (save for basics) must begin with the first letter of my name, so in my case, that's "A". I choose to build around an Angel tribal theme with Archangel Avacyn as my leader. Anything in here that I like?
Arena Rector -- Arena Rector? I do run some copies of Ajani in my deck. So, there would be something for the Arena Rector to fetch upon death. But I don't run many copies; just those that fit my deck. For now, no thanks!
Vela's Night Children
This is a flavor-first deck that uses Vela the Night-Clad to hit people with triggers that will hit them. The keys are Ninjas (as they are slippery) and dorks with shadow (as they are people of the night). After that, every card in the deck that makes the cut must meet the theme of Vela. For example, I have Victim of Night as a removal spell rather than a better option such as Murder.
Virtus the Veiled -- Virtus is a strong ally of Vela! As you can see with Vela, she gives your folks intimidate. So, a card in my deck like Shadowmage Infiltrator (although it already has fear) can net you a hit trigger. Many of the cards in my deck do precisely that. I have cards in here like Dreamstealer that have hit triggers. Having a 3-drop dork that basically has a Scytheclaw attached to it is nasty for Vela. They have to tag team!
Morphic Pool -- Duh.
Out: Choice of Damnations, Island
Surrak's Beasts and Where to Find Them
This is a smash-y Timmy flavored deck that uses Beasts and cards that love Beasts to give it a tribal theme while also using cards with enough size on the front end to trigger various size-matters triggers. It's fun!
Anything in here . . .
Just the obvious . . .
Spire Garden -- Duh.
In: Spire Garden
This deck is built around two odd synergies - heavy ramp and minor land destruction like Wildfire. It was designed to answer folks that were being a little too Spike-y. The deck began its life with Borborygmos Enraged, but Omnath fits better as all of the landfall Elemental triggers survive Wildfire and friends. The deck plays oddly.
Anything in here to recommends?
Nothing beyond the obvious . . .
Spire Garden -- Duh.
In: Spire Garden
Pain into Progress
Ezuri is technically the Leader of my Simic colored deck wherein my "Tap for a damage" effects like Prodigal Sorcerer (nicknamed Tim) trigger my Dinosaurs like Fungusaur to help make them better, while we also have a few effects to hurt opposing dorks too, such as Basilisk Collar. It's a fun little deck. Anything in here to recommend?
Grothama, All-Devouring -- What about this machine? It certainly can work well. Note that it doesn't have to die from the damage dealt. I could shoot it for a few damage with my Tims, and then sacrifice it to Diamond Valley or Greater Good or something. Or I can shoot it with my Tims at the end of someone's turn, right before it's mine, and then make the last one my Basilisk Collar wearing stud. But the issue is that I don't want my opponents to draw more cards than me, nor do I want to encourage them to swing all out either.
There shall be no Grothama today. And that's it!
Fumiko's Fun Time
This is the first of my mono-Red builds, and like the other, doesn't play like your typical Mono-Red dork. It's a deck that tries to force folks to attack, and then punishes them for doing do by running them into cards like Ben-Ben, Akki Hermit or Caltrops. For things to work here, they need to well with Fumiko and her Friends.
Stolen Strategy -- What about this awesome card? It's a strong addition of potential card advantage and havoc playing. It can be a fun alternate way to push the table and is a great long-term hold. It fits Fumiko quite well!
In: Stolen Strategy
I still have too many lands in muh deck.
Diaochan's Beauty Parlor
This still remains one of my favorite decks I personally own, because it both plays very well and looks like a pile of crap. Diaochan comes with a few tricks to keep folks from killing all of my stuff. Equipment such as Lightning Greaves and Sword of Fire and Ice will keep her (or another) from getting targeted. I also run stuff with indestructible, with enters-the-battlefield triggers that already did their thing, with friendly junk that no one wants to kill, or with stuff that will come back post-death. That's my Diaochan deck. I want people to be encouraged to kill each other's stuff, and not my own.
Stolen Strategy -- Give how much I liked it for m first Mono-Red build above, does this work well with Diaochan? Not as well. It's not as clean a fit here as it would be with Fumiko. But's still a strong option for card advantage in a color looking for it. So let's do it!
In: Stolen Strategy
Out: Fire Imp
Fire Imp often isn't strong enough to matter. It's loss to the deck isn't going to slow it down or reduce its winning percentages.
Edric Fast Beats
Edric leads this deck with a ton of 1-drop evasive threats like Scryb Sprites. The goal of the deck is to draw 2-3 cards on turn three after dropping Edric and swinging with the fast smashers from earlier turns. The deck adds some tempo cards to slow folks down, like Winter Orb or Tangle Wire, while also having a smattering of Time Warp effects to keep going. The deck is hard to stop when its drawing four or six cards a turn.
Anything in here to tweak my Edric build?
This Commander deck features a lot of effects that either do a -X/-1 effect or a damage in order to kill something that Vhati drops to 1 defense. Examples include Staff of Nin or Liliana, the Last Hope. The goal is to Machine Gun kill a lot of foes, and then win.
Anything here that sparks or injects some new love into my Vhati build?
Thrilling Encore -- If your Commander deck features both Black and lots of killing folks, then this seems like a top addition to the team, right? If I just kill three dorks in one turn with Vhati and some untapping, I still get three creatures out with one instant. That's pretty spicy! The potential here is pretty good!
I do think it may be taking a board position where I am already winning, and just making me more winning, rather than helping me to secure that winning place. Is it too late to be truly synergetic? I think it might be, but it's on my radar for a later trial in a deck somewhere to see how it plays.
For now, no swaps!
This deck is built around self-recursive dorks like Nether Shadow and Ashen Ghoul, and then layers in a ton of self-sacrificing effects. Bontu is really just a placeholder as the leader and does not inspire anything here. We have sacrificing effects like Krovikan Horror, Attrition, Bontu proper, or Carnage Altar. The goal is this deck is to drown your foes in a number of triggers and effects that yields long-game winning conditions.
Anything in here?
This is my oldest (and first) Commander deck! It features a lot of good, older time classics such as Guiltfeeder, Martial Coup, Akroma, Angel of Wrath, and Decree of Justice twinned with answers. If you are facing a problem, Oros has the answer. You can burn, exile, or destroy anything that gets in your way. Kill an annoying planeswalker. Destroy lands, artifacts, dorks, enchantments. Any permanent that bothers you can be immediately answered. They can be swept away. You have answers to other problems too, and can force folks to play fair with a number of ways to dial back the table. Oros's colors are perfect and stopping crap from getting out of hand, and Oros can reset the board over as many times as you have dedicated slots to sweep away.
There are four cards from Battlebond in the conversation!
Play of the Game -- I love the idea of a mass-exile removal spell. Pretty much any card that someone runs that has been nicknamed, "I Dodge Wraths" by your local playgroup is going down hard. Artifacts that become dorks? Something with indestructible? 'Walkers that can swing as soon as you cleanse the board? You get the idea. Play of the Game for the Win of the Game!
The one issue here is cost. Eight mana is a lot, and you can't guarantee an assist will come your way.
Virtus's Maneuver -- One of the things Oros does well is to provide sacrificing removal that can take out stuff that don't have a buddy. Here you are tethering a mass Edict effect with a Raise Dead. I don't run a lot of Edicts, and this one is nice. It's also a way to keep up the pressure and card advantage, which is also good. I have a card that has been underperforming for a while that this is going to head right in for.
Last One Standing -- Again, let me say it. Three. Mana. Wrath.
My deck has 8 mass removal spells: Starstorm, Akroma's Vengeance, Planar Cleansing, Hallowed Burial, Living Death, Martial Coup, Rout, and Black Sun's Zenith and one mass removal effect -- Hythonia the Cruel. If you count it, I also have the -3 on Elspeth, Sun's Champion. So that's 10 spells and effects that I can aim at most stuff. I don't run cheap stuff like Wrath of God or Damnation. I could! But I would prefer a 5-mana answer to indestructible stuff, or a Rout I can instant-ify if I need to or something that can bring back my graveyard. You have enough of a life pillow in Commander that you can afford the extra turn to have the proper answer. Now, I have not been finding the Zenith to be as good as the rest here. It takes too much mana to sweep. So, I am going to pull it for the cheapest pure-Wrath out there!
Luxury Suite -- Duh.
Five Color Friends and Enchantments
This is Cromat. To my mind, he is the only potential leader here who can lead my planeswalker and enchantment Five Color deck. This features all of the normal expected enchantments from a control-ish deck. It has Collective Restraint and Propaganda, for example. Also, for fun, I run the full suite of five Hondens and five Sanctuaries:
We have both cycles! I also run a few enchantment enablers like Academy Rector and such.
The main feature of this deck is the heavy use of planeswalkers. I rely on them for most of my permanent heavy-lifting, with a smaller number of creatures in the deck. I have sweeping removal for dorks and my critters tend to be things I don't care about dying or have indestructible. Meanwhile, the 'walker theme is prominent.
Anything in this deck to recommend? Yes!
Arena Rector -- I already run Academy Rector here. Welcome home! I mean, what more do you want me to say? It's a perfect fit. I could say it sucks here, or that it's overrated, or that it will always be the target of exiling removal rather than death to keep it from dying. But you know what? All of that is lies.
The only question is, "What is Arena Rector going to replace?" I'm pulling my third Tutor for it.
This deck does not need land. It has the perfect mana base for a five color deck already (both sets of dual lands, all ten fetches).
In: Arena Rector
Out: Diabolic Tutor
Two Commander Decks left!
Lady Caleria's Adventuring Party
My latest real-life deck is built around Lady Caleria and her all-female adventuring party that travels the planes and destroys badness.
Anything here that suggests itself?
Not really. Other than . . .
Bountiful Promenade -- Duh.
My Equinaut deck is designed around a self-bounce engine that uses these colors to collect various triggers from things being cast (Equilibrium), things arriving on the battlefield (Aura Shards) or things bouncing (Azorius Aethermage). The goal is to use self-bouncing stuff like Whitemane Lion and Fleetfoot Panther to create a board state that cheap and efficient beaters can win from. The deck features three things -- self bouncers, engines, and beaters. Anything in here to suggest?
Bramble Sovereign -- One of the things I have to remind readers (and myself) as I review cards is that the Equinaut deck is not a Bant Blink deck. That hypothetical deck does share some cards here are there, like Aura Shards or Venser, the Sojourner, but they are not the same. This is not a blink deck.
However . . . this is different
This is amazing in Equinaut.
Imagine a normal turn.
You pass. I cast Whitemane Lion and tap two mana. Let's suppose I control these normal tools:
Five mana spent. I have Whitemane Lion still in my hand. I have a 2/2 dork in play, I have tapped two of your creatures, and bounced a third.
Now what if we added in Aura Shards? I just destroyed two artifacts or enchantments. What if I add in Spirit Bonds? I made a 1/1 flying Spirit token (and tapped a third permanent). What if we had out a card-drawing engine like Soul of the Harvest? You get the idea.
That's how this deck can take over a battlefield and provide powerful effects that layer over time to collapse your opponents under an avalanche of stuff.
But, the best parts about Bramble Sovereign are two-fold, and I haven't mentioned either yet!
I have to run this card!
Oh, and . . .
Out: Island, Plains, Man-o'-War
No More Commander Decks!
But how about one bonus deck . . .
Abe's Deck of Happiness and Joy
I have an approximately 4000 card deck that's Highlander, and uses all Five Colors. What's making the cut?
Great question, mon frere!
24 new cards for my deck!
And there you are!
I hope you enjoyed this little tour through multiplayer land. Commander and Five Color for the Win.
What Battlebond cards are you most looking forward to shuffle up now that the sets' in your hand?