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Volo's Guide to Commanding Monsters


Hello all! I hope that you are having a great day today! I hope that it's one of the best days you've ever had in your life. Top Five? Top Ten? Maybe just an honorable mention? I'd take that!

Today I want to create my first deck built around a card from the latest set, Dungeons and Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, which is a pretty long name for a set. It's worse than Ravnica: City of Guilds.

What card am I looking at?

Volo, Guide to Monsters

It's Volo! Volo is one of the most unique leaders I've ever seen for Commander! As soon as I saw him, I loved him. A lot! I called Volo in our behind-the-scenes writer group for the website so hard and fast as soon as I saw him previewed. I love that ability so much! He's a 3/2 for four mana, which is fine for a commander. And then each time you cast a creature spell you will copy it and net another spell if said creature spell doesn't share a type with a creature in your graveyard or in play under your control! Note that the trigger is a cast trigger and if your foe counters your spell, you'll still net a copy! Pretty nasty right?

So, how do I see building this deck?

  • Creature Crazy. The first thing I want to dig into is going heavy on the creatures! We cannot net our awesome copies if we don't run those creatures. Go wide with the dorks! Don't duplicate creature types, so if we run a card like Mulldrifter, that has to be our only Elemental in the build.
  • Creature Triggers. One way to make sure this works well is to lean into dorks for removal, counters, and enters-the-battlefield triggers like land fetching and card drawing. I want to work backwards from key ETB triggers that are rare and then move into other effects here and there.
  • Support. And then? I just want to run support, like ramp, counters, removal, and protection from creature removal like Heroic Intervention.

One way to make this guy work would be to change the creature types of creatures in play with something like Unnatural Selection and then remove them from your graveyard with something like Tormod's Crypt. That's a cool trick, but I prefer the path we'll be forging just playing one of each creature type. That means we'll have just one Elf, et all! I like that a lot better!

I heavily deviate from the very early results on the EDHREC.com page for Volo, Guide to Monsters. For example, none of my counter creatures are on the page, neither are cards like this.

Riptide Shapeshifter

This was the first card that came to my mind as I read Volo. If every creature in your deck has a unique type, then you can sacrifice this Shapeshifter, name that unique creature's type, and then reveal cards until you reveal that unique card and then put that card on the battlefield under your control! It's a free dork! Nasty stuff, right? And this is the first of many cards that play very nicely with Volo.

Junk Winder

Look at this card from Modern Horizons 2! It's our only Serpent, and it's got affinity for tokens. Each creature cast with Volo on the battlefield will net a token, so that could easily be 3 or 4 mana off! As copies arrive to the battlefield you can tap and lock down opposing stuff for an extra turn which is pretty good tempo. I love this a lot!

Draining Whelk
Mystic Snake
Voracious Greatshark

Look at this trio! All of them are just one type, and all have flash and will counter spells when they arrive to the battlefield. Consider the Mystic. Did you know that there are multiple Snakes on the EDHREC.com page for Volo? (Ice-Fang Coatl and Lotus Cobra) That's weird. I think this is clearly the better option for this brew as you can counter multiple cards! Check out the Shark! It can counter an artifact or dork and it's pretty beefy as a 5/4 with flash for five mana and you get two Sharks if you control Volo! My favorite one might be the Illusion which can be a flying game winner in the mid or late game. Do I run Frilled Mystic? It's an Elf and a Lizard and a Wizard? Too many types, right? Right! If it were just the Lizard I'd toss it in. But it's also a Wizard which messes with Volo.

Shefet Monitor
Krosan Tusker

Well since I have the Lizard creature type free let's add the Monitor to my brew! You can cycle it for four mana and a basic land or a Desert (in here I only have basics). Pretty good at the card draw. I'll also toss in the Boar Beast that inspired the Monitor and give us another cycling for land and a card option with the Tusker. They are a nice combo here!

Rooting Kavu
Artisan of Kozilek

I wanted to search up cards with various unused creature types and I forgot about this Kavu! You can exile it when it dies, and you get to reload your library with all the dead creatures that are in your graveyard and shuffle up. In a deck as creature-packed as this but without Black or White for reanimation? It felt pretty nice! Now that I mention it, I like the idea of some reanimation as well. Want a smattering of graveyard interaction, I tossed in the Artisan. It has a cast trigger to Zombify, and we have ramp to enable more expensive spells, like this one. It's pretty nice here, right? And it's a great Eldrazi for your consideration.

Birds of Paradise
Sylvan Caryatid
Overgrown Battlement

I also wanted to toss in some serious mana dorks. The first one I dug into was Birds as I didn't expect to be running another dork in that tribe. Then I looked up some other options! The Caryatid is a Plant that can tap for any color of mana for just two mana. I searched up Walls that tapped for mana and came away with the Battlement. I really liked this group a lot! We need that mana and netting two mana makers is pretty nice! I also tossed in Kiora's Follower as my token Merfolk that can untap a land or a mana dork to make some mana or something better like Artisan of Kozilek after it swings to block a counterattack.

Alloy Myr
Ornithopter of Paradise

I liked the idea of mana dorks with copies so much that I tossed in three artifact ones as well! At first, I just tossed in the Myr, which I run in my Commander Cube! It's a solid 3-drop that can tap for any color of mana. And then I thought, is Scuttlemutt a Dog? Nope! It's a Scarecrow that can also tap to add a color to do something cool. I just added the Ornithopter of Paradise into my Commander Cube last week after getting my MH2 stuff in the mail. It is a cheaper mana rock but it trades power for flying and is a colorless but bigger-butted Birds of Paradise. Enjoy reading this trilogy! (You can check out my Commander Cube here).

Acid Web Spider
Kogla, the Titan Ape
Qasali Slingers

Now let's move to some removal. I searched up every dork that read "destroy target" in Mono-Green and tossed in a ton of stuff that you'll see above. Did you forget about the Spider? It can destroy a piece of equipment on arrival which can be anything from Lightning Greaves to Skullclamp to Kaldra Compleat. We also have the Slingers and Naturalists that can destroy artifacts or enchantments on arrival which provide a great body to copy! I didn't think I'd get a Warrior in this build, so welcome! Kogla is our beefy 7/6 Ape for six mana that can provide a win. It will fight when it arrives to the party with a fellow party-goer. It will also love attacking to break things of an artifact or enchantment persuasion. You can bounce Volo to your hand to indestructible-ify Kogla. Not only can that be used to protect Kogla, but also Volo to get a cheaper without Commander Tax copy of your Commander.

Keiga, the Tide Star
Ondu Giant
District Guide

Six creature types in three cards! The Dragon Spirit is a powerful game winner and has a great death trigger. If you get a copy from Volo, then kill the legendary and has to die copy and net a steal trigger. The Giant and the Guide are great and different ways to net those lands! Drop them and then get those lands. You really want copies here as well! I also tossed in Solemn Simulacrum as my token Golem and Burnished Hart to be my Elk which play into this duo of land lovers.

Rhox Oracle
Sarulf's Packmate

Want to draw cards? I got you here! We are running the Rhino Monk as a nice way to keep up the card flow as well as Kaldheim's Wolf. Both are great here. I also tossed in Bookwurm from another Standard legal set to draw a card, gain some life, and then start destroying players and dorks with the larger sized Wurm.

Temur Sabertooth
Cloudstone Curio
Doubling Season

What cards did I add to round out my deck? We have a ton of creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities, and we cannot blink them since Volo's trigger is a cast one if we want more copies! So, we need to self-bounce them. Enter Temur Sabertooth, which can activate for two mana and bounce a dork we control and give the kitty indestructible. Feel free to do so a few times. If you control the Curio than any non-artifact creature you drop will let you self-bounce another creature for you to cast. Reload your counters or removal or card flow! I also tossed in Erratic Portal and Crystal Shard to play into this space.

Check out Doubling Season! These are back-to-back weeks that I've run it, but it does different work in this build than last week's Insect token-loving Grist, the Hunger Tide build. Here they'll copy token creatures that you made with Volo's cast trigger! Pretty nice, right?

Winding Canyons
Alchemist's Refuge

Flash is pretty important in this build as the ability to destroy something at instant speed with your stuff is pretty keen. I love this land duo to help with that without devoting a crucial nonland spot to it. Both will let you tap for two mana and the land and then let you play dorks until the end of the turn. The Refuge is better since it can let you cast sorceries and other non-lands with flash like Lightning Greaves or Cloudstone Curio. The Canyons is on the Reserve List with a strong price on the secondary market, but it's great here!

Let's look at two more cards and then we'll call it.

Riptide Replicator

The Replicator is a great mana sink and if you spend just 3 for the X and 4 more mana than you can tap it and four generic mana to make a 3/3. Choose a creature type that isn't in your build like...Assassin or Archon or Angel or Avatar or other types that begin with the letter "A." (Advisor? Aetherborn? Anteater? Antelope? Artificer? Atog? You know you want to make Black Anteater tokens!) I love it here with my token loving cards!


Note that, like Volo, this enchantment is a cast trigger, so you spend an extra mana when you cast something to bounce something. You can self-bounce your own card for an extra mana although you must target an in-play option, not the one you just cast which is on the stack. You'll bounce and protect a key card from removal or death in blocking even if the creature is countered. You can bounce your foe's stuff for a single mana. It's great! I also add cards here like Man-o'-War that bounce.

I pulled Mulldrifter in my first list for Soul of the Harvest. Note I'm not running any Humans or Wizards in my deck other than Volo, so we'll get a copy when you control Volo. I also don't have any Shamans here either, weirdly. I searched for Shaman that mentioned "land" to see if I had a tribe option but there were none available in a tribe that was an option.

Ready for my build? Let's do it!

And there we are! What did you think of my Volo, Guide to Monsters brew? Anything in here that resonated with you or that I missed? Just let me know!

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