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Etrata's Commanding Win


Hello folks! I hope your day is going well. Well, did you see our newest Vampire Assassin legendary get spoiled last week? I think she's a strong contender for Commander -

It's like Etrata is an entire Commander combo for herself, and she already has built-in the Rogue's Passage or Whispersilk Cloak you might want to help her slip by, as well as the smash-trigger of exiling target dork until you exile target opponent!

The great thing about Etrata is that she is great for the format and for running as your leader, but she doesn't force you to do down a certain path. I find that the pre-built Commanders are a bit... boring... for my tastes.

Sliver Overlord
General Tazri
Najeela, the Blade-Blossom

These decks tend to be similar to one another. How different is each Sliver Overlord deck from each other? Not very. Tribal decks, and some others that feel tribal with their tight theme, are ones that feel like I really wasn't involved in the building process. Wizards built my deck when they printed the card.

Here are some of my favorite Commanders (in real life):

Vhati il-Dal
Ghave, Guru of Spores
Muldrotha, the Gravetide

These four. There's no requirement that a Muldrotha, Ghave, Diaochan or Vhati deck look or feel similarly. Shoot, Vhati shares colors with Ghave, and barely shares any of the same cards. They spread out in different directions. No Ghave deck is the same. I'd rather have a map and a compass of Ghave than the GPS forcing me to take a certain route like Tazri.

And that's why Etrata is my favorite of the new leader options from Guilds of Ravnica. There is much for our good Vampire Assassin to consider, but there is no forced build. I suspect that my build of Etrata may be much different than yours, or another's.

So, let's take a look and see!

Etrata's Commanding Win | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there we are! Etrata for the win!

Etrata wins by swinging, punching someone and exiling their creatures. (Note that the shuffle effect on Etrata still puts her back into the Command Zone, so I am running a number of mana rocks and Ancient Tomb to help with that cost.) Given that the first place I looked was classic haste-enabling. The Lightning Greaves and such. I even like Strider Harness here as a haste-enabler that has an equip cost of 1. The benefit of the Greaves and Boots is that they will also help to protect your Etrata for a few turns from targeted removal. After Greaves/Boots, and fast mana such as Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, and Ancient Tomb, this is probably where the forced similarly of Erata decks ends.

Where did I want to look?

If your leader is unblockable and you are swinging with it to smash someone's face already, then it might as well carry a Sword of Fire and Ice into battle, right? Right!

And my deck hewed into an interesting and organic path. One I didn't expect when I began my Etrata journey.

This deck was not initially an artifact-themed deck. It was a deck with some equipment and things that wanted to be unblocked. But as I added more cards on theme, such as Bident of Thassa, I saw that I was increasing my artifact theme. Given I was in a color that loved artifacts, I decided to enhance that theme in order to strengthen this deck.

Now I'm not tossing in every single artifact themed card in here if they don't fit the deck. You don't see Machinate, Arcbound Ravager, Chief Engineer, Darksteel Forge, Irradiate, or Master of Etherium. That's not this deck! You also don't see Darksteel or Blightsteel Colossus in here either.

And while this is not the build for every big name pro-artifact card out there that's available, we have a lot of synergy.

Let's begin with key equipment.

Bloodforged Battle-Axe

Fireshrieker is amazing in this deck as you can drop it before Etrata arrives. Etrata triggers for each time you smash someone's face win combat, so you can exile two dorks with Fireshrieker a turn, which means she'll kill in two turns, not three. I didn't run the more expensive double strikers as they come down too late or cost too much to equip. But this is a good start. I'm unsure if the resolution of the effect would stop this from working, but it's still a strong synergy with other cards in the deck, such as the ubiquitous Shadowmage Infiltrator. So the card still works in this build!"

Bloodforged Battle-Axe is here for a different reason. One way to fight against the fast kill of Etrata is to not cast creatures. What happens if your foe gets wise to how they are about to die and doesn't play any more dorks? Well that's where Bloodforged Battle-Axe arrives.

Here let me show you:

Turn S (Where S is the first turn you have equipped and hit with Etrata with the Battle-Axe)

Turn S - 5 Commander damage is dealt. Equip Etrata with the 2nd Battle-Axe

Turn S+1 - 7 Commander damage is dealt. Equip Etrata with the 3rd Battle-Axe

Turn S+2 - 9 Commander damage is dealt. They have taken 21 Commander damage. (Equip Etrata with the 4th Battle-Axe and you can kill everyone else in two hits each)

It gives you an alternate path to take if they want to try and take things slowly. In both cases it's a three-turn kill.

You can also drop Forbidden Orchard! Give them a Spirit token to exile! That works as well to answer their lack of creatures. I'm unsure if the tokens would work as part of the wincon, but if not, you could still force your foe to have creatures with cards like Living Death or Twilight's Call.

Quietus Spike

You also have Quietus Spike and Scytheclaw to play into this area as well. Both will drop someone's life very quickly, and Etrata will finish them. A Spike on Etrata will deal 3 damage, and then drop to 19 after one hit starting at 40 life. Then a drop to 8, then 3, then death follows in your wake. (The Scytheclaw will knock them to 18, 7, and then 2 before death)

I have a bunch of other equipment in here too. I also am running Deadeye Navigator to fetch the best piece from my library for the situation, so if there is an empty board and people have been easing back, then they will come forward. We have Demonic Tutor and Whir of Invention and Inventors' Fair as well.

Sphinx Summoner
Noxious Gearhulk
Torrential Gearhulk
Wurmcoil Engine

I dipped into artifact dorks that helped push my theme along. I didn't overdo it and run artifact creatures simply because they were artifact creatures. But cards like the Gearhulks, the Engine as well as classics like Solemn Simulacrum and Burnished Hart did not feel out of place. All of them work.

The Antiquities War
Phyrexian Scriptures

Both The Antiquities War and Phyrexian Scriptures are valuable in my deck. The first can help me grab vital artifacts from my deck and put them in my hand, and then potentially lead to an alpha strike by turning all of my mana rocks, equipment, and artifact creatures themselves (like the Simulacrum) into 5/5s. The latter is great at turning one of my dorks into an artifact that's better (might I suggest Etrata herself) and then sweeping the board of a lot of stuff. Some of your dorks won't survive, but most will. Don't sleep on the follow up with the mass graveyard exiling either. It should prove to be useful.

Did you see Muzzio?

Muzzio, Visionary Architect
Silas Renn, Seeker Adept

Of the various cheap artificers in Blue that will help your team out, he was one of the few that I think partners well with this build of Etrata. Even if you just cast a turn two Baleful Strix into a card, and then drop him the next turn, he can start digging into cards to try and put an artifact into the battlefield. Speaking of partners, Silas Renn, Seeker Adept is also pretty nice as an artifact creature who also comes down quickly and can allow you to recast stuff in your graveyard if it was an artifact and you smashed someone in the face. He is along a similar parabola to Etrata, so I felt he was a great, on-theme addition to the deck.

Artificer's Assistant
Hidden Strings

I do really like Artificer's Assistant here. It gives me an early and pertinent Turn One play other than my Sol Rings and such. There are a number of artifacts and artifact dorks in here to get your scry on. There are also some legendary dorks as well as your Commander, like Muzzio and Ashling. But there are also the two superfluous Sagas that made the cut too, just out of happenstance, and the result is a strong card for the first turn.

Note that Hidden Strings can make a ton of mana! You can untap two of your lands when you hit someone as well as two artifact rocks like Sol Ring and Everflowing Chalice. Or you can just use it to tap down some opposing stuff instead.

And that's my Etrata deck! I am not going to belabor every single card choice, as you have eyes there, but I'm sure you can see what the deck is trying to do.

Who wants to slay with the Vampire Assassin? Me!

Thanks for reading! Anything in here that inspired your own deck-building? Anything I missed that would really work well? What's your favorite legendary creature from Guilds of Ravnicato build a Commander deck around?