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Esper Tricks and Treats with the Second Doctor and Turlough!


Hello awesome folks! I hope that you are having a day as awesome as you are! Happy Halloween! I have a fun take on the holiday planned! Halloween is all about "Trick or Treat" and I have a legendary dork to build around who is all about treats with a Group Hug feel, but then adds in some Black stuff with some hurts, just like tricks!

Let's look and see! I want to build around a fun new legendary dork in Azorius colors that was just released in Doctor Who. Let's look at this take on the Doctor:

The Second Doctor

He has two key abilities. The first is that players have no max hand size - you, your foes, no one! Very nice! The second is a triggered ability during your end step. Each player can draw a card. If they do, they cannot attack you or your stuff. And since they aren't likely to discard, this is pretty smooth. This seems pretty likely. I doubt folks will be coming his way for removal. I want to build around him!

Vislor Turlough

Since he's a Doctor, I can call a Companion for free. I like the colors of Azorius for him, but check out what Vislor offers for free. I can give him away when he ETBs, he cannot attack me with goad, and then the owner loses life equal to their hand count. He's a win con in this brew. So, let's add him in, and move to Esper. Then I can add in other Group Hug win cons in Black.

Now let's turn to mana making!

Mana Ramp, Rocks and Lands

Since both of my Commanders cost four, I want two-mana rocks to drop on turn two, and then drop the commanders on turn three. Since I'll be drawing a bunch of cards each turn, I don't need Land Tax effects to ensure my land hits every turn. Fellwar Stone is a classic mana rock and taps for one of any color that your foe would produce. Since we have a bunch of colors typically played in four-player multiplayer games, that should be bunches. Thought Vessel is a heavily played two-drop that eliminates a maximum hand size. I am also running the rock that stops discard in Decanter of Endless Water and Reliquary Tower in your land base.

Now let's turn to non-mana rock rampers. Archaeomancer's Map costs three with a White, ETBs and you tutor for two basic Plains. Then, for the rest of the game, if a land ETBs under another player who has more lands, you can drop a land from your hand for free. I'm shocked this doesn't show up more. Tempting Contract combines colorless combines ramp with group hug. At the beginning of your upkeep, your foes can make a free Treasure token, and then you can if they do to help drop those spells on everyone's turn! I suspect they'll want too. Note that I am not running the synergetic but not-friend-making Smothering Tithe, which fits mechanically but not flavorably.

Academy Ruins
Inventors' Fair

Now let's turn to lands! The Blue color identity legendary land ETBs untapped, taps for colorless, and can be tapped with two mana to reload an artifact from your graveyard to the top of your library to draw it. I am running a few self-sacrifice mana rocks like Mind Stone and Commander's Sphere to recur over and over again, but this is here for Howling Mine effects to bring them back over time. The colorless identity legendary land can make you a life in your upkeep if you control three artifacts, and sacrifices to Demonic Tutor for an artifact. Again, it's here to grab a Howling Mine effect if you control enough artifacts. I also have an artifact win-con if that's also needed called Iron Maiden.

Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Urza's Saga

The legendary land taps for colorless, taps with two to have everyone draw a card, so it's group hug in land form. I also have added Geier Reach Sanitarium in this section of stuff. The enchantment land is a Saga. It's here to tap with two mana twice to make a X/X Construct where X is your artifact count. It's a win con in land form, and then the final chapter will search out Sol Ring, but that's it, but it's here for the second chapter.

Kor Haven
Bojuka Bog

Let's finish with this Orzhov land pair! The former one taps for colorless, can be tapped with two to prevent all combat damage for something. Love it here when your foe doesn't draw and can attack you. I am also running Maze of Ith and Labyrinth of Skophos. The latter one ETBs tapped, taps for Black, and then you exile a graveyard. It's our only graveyard abuse, so be careful with it.

Group Hug Fun Times

Seizan, Perverter of Truth
Zenith Chronicler

Now let's turn to Group Hug stuff, and we'll start with these two creatures. The mono-Black one costs five for a sizeable 6/5 body, and in everyone's upkeep they draw two and lose two life too. In a 40-life format like Commander, most people are happy to swap two life for two cards, especially if they didn't use mana or a card slot for it, so it's less likely to be axed, and it's player removal too. The colorless one costs two for a 3/1 body. When a player casts their first multicolored spell each turn, everyone else draws! That means loads of cards should be drawn over time, and you'll give and get regularly. Nice creature pair to kick off this Group Hug Section!

Now let's turn to dorks in my other two colors. Tidal Barracuda costs four and has an okay 3/4 body - nothing amazing. It has two abilities. The first is a Group Hug, everyone can cast things as though they had flash! And they don't discard, so they can store up until EOT to cast and then untap and draw. But, there's a twist, just like The Second Doctor. No one else can cast things on your turn. Do they answer to stop the shutdown or keep it out to get the flash? Interesting! Orzhov Advokist costs one fewer for a smaller 1/4 defensive minded body. It has one trigger in your upkeep. Any player (you too) can toss two +1/+1 counters onto a dork they control! But, again, like your leader, if they do? They cannot attack you or your planeswalkers for a full round of turns. Nice option for growth and you'll just toss these counters onto The Second Doctor for protection.

Now let's turn to a gold three-mana legendary rare pair! Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer has an okay 2/2 body. It can tap with two mana in your colors to toss a bribery counter on a foe's critter and then they draw a card, and it's not a may effect. Then Bribery counter stuff cannot participate in combat. So, you are stopping attacks or blocks, but giving them a card in compensation. I think many will take that.

Breena, the Demagogue is a smaller 1/3 but adds flying. Whenever a player attacks one of my foes, if that foe has more life than another of my foes, they draw and put two +1/+1 counters on my dork. Free card flow for swinging with the goaded Turlogh or the other things? They are going to love this, and it works for your stuff too!

Nils, Discipline Enforcer
Minds Aglow

Now let's finish with this pair. The creature costs three for a 2/2 body with two abilities. At the beginning of your end step, you place a +1/+1 counter on a targeted dork each player controls - so that's Turlough and then others. Then each creature with counters on it cannot swing my way without paying a tax equal to the counter count. So, I am helping and Pillow Forting in one card and remember that I am running those three lands to stop the combat damage from those that pay. The sorcery costs one in Blue. You can spend X mana to have everyone draw X cards, and your foes can spend that mana to increase the cards drawn. Everyone will draw all of the cards!

Synergies and Winning Conditions

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
Price of Knowledge

Now let's turn to synergies and win-cons and we'll start with synergies that are win-cons with this mono-Black pair. The four-drop has a solid 4/5 size and then has deathtouch, not as great on four-drops this good, like Grave Titan, but hey, it's there. Then you have two draw triggers one for you (gain two life) and one for your foes (lose two life). You gain as your foe's lose! The seven-drop is an enchantment that also lets everyone not have hand size either, so it's a backup The Second Doctor if he is answered. Then your opponent's upkeep, they take damage equal to their hand count. That can be a fast kill.

Now let's turn to backup win-cons. Approach of the Second Sun costs a splashable seven mana, this time for a sorcery. Then you gain seven life if this is the first time you've cast it, and then stock it seven down and then the second time you cast it you win. With drawing all of those cards, that's quite possible to cast again in just a couple of turns. Laboratory Maniac costs three for a 2/2, with one win-con ability. Did you draw a card while nothing was in your library? Win! Since we are drawing so many cards, this is a nice backup way of winning. Then I am also running that Jace that does this on planeswalker form.

Now let's finish with a mono-Blue rare permanent pair! Forced Fruition does exactly one thing: each time your foe goes to cast any spell, they draw a massive seven cards. With you keeping them in their hand they should be drawing a lot to get smashed by Turlough or your opposing card draw into life loss like Sheoldred et all. On the other hand, two-drop Triskaidekaphile comes as a 1/3 creature with three abilities. First? You don't have a hand size either. Second, you'll win in your upkeep if have exactly 13 cards in your hand. Third, you can draw a card at instant speed by spending four mana like a Treasure Trove. Just draw up to 13 with that last ability to win the game on your upkeep. It's also a mana sink too, by the by.


Everybody Lives!
Akroma's Will

Now let's turn to answers. Normally I run around 10 answers to things in my decks, but since I had space with lesser dedicated card flow and want to answers to people's things given they are likely casting more stuff getting cast per turn, I doubled it to around 20. Let's start with my three answers to answers, which are these two and then Teferi's Protection. I wanted ways to protect my key stuff from removal, targeted, mass, or combat damage, enter this trio. I don't have many dorks, but they are key to my team and are running key card draw like Kami of the Cresent Moon or player kill like Sheoldred.

The first instant above was just printed, and it will give all creatures everywhere indestructible and hexproof, so you'll protect opposing stuff too. Then you and other players cannot be targeted by others with hexproof and then no one can lose or win this turn and no one loses life. It's nice! The second instant above costs four and has two options, and if you control either Commander, you'll net both - quite easy in a two Commander brew. Ideally, you'll use this to give your team protection from all colors and the indestructible for the turn and then if you have your Commander you'll add double strike and other abilities for your team. That can be used as an Alpha Strike win-con with the protection swinging through anything and then double damage, don't sleep on that.

Now let's turn to emergency counters! Reverse the Polarity will emergency counter all spells on the battlefield, and thus ensure that you counter things like stack wars in multiplayer or storm stuff. Then it can swap power and toughness as a combat trick or force nothing to block to also serve as a win-con out of nowhere. Do the last one on your opponent's turn when they are attacking to kill out of nowhere or to gang up on the big bad. Arcane Denial will counter anything, and then they will draw two and then you one. No one gets upset when they draw two from your counter, so it's Group Hug playable. I am also running Vex.

Loran of the Third Path
Stroke of Midnight

Now let's turn to targeted removal, which I often lean into ways won't mind where possible. The creature costs three, on arrival to the battlefield it destroys any artifact or enchantment (it's a may effect) and then you can tap her to have you and a foe draw, so she's Group Hugging card flow! The instant also costs three, was just printed, and then will destroy anything not a land, and they'll net a 1/1 dork. They get something out of it! I am also running Generous Gift, which gives a 3/3 dork instead.

Supreme Verdict
Time Wipe
Winds of Abandon

Every deck should have some mass removal as emergency buttons and we have three in this deck! The four-cost one cannot be countered, so your foes won't be able to stop it. It was heavily played in Standard and it's now heavily played in Commander. The five cost will bounce a dork of yours and then wipe the battlefield. Ideally, here you'll want to use that to bounce a key dork of yours you don't want to die to recast later like your leader or Sheoldred. Then the two-cost can be overloaded for six. It's a sorcery speed Path to Exile which can only hit opposing stuff. But when overloaded you'll Path to Exile all dorks you don't control, so that's mass removal for others that gives them lands, so they'll be happy and it's like Group Hug for the winner.

Other Card Flow

Now let's finish with one card flow spell and three planeswalkers. Rember that we protect our buddies from attacks with The Second Doctor or things like the Orzhov Advokist we saw before, and we have the three lands to save them if they are about to die. Union of the Third Path costs three, and you draw one at instant speed and then gain life equal to your card count. As a surprise out of nowhere that can save your life.

I really love Teyo, Geometric Tactician here! He costs three for an on-curve three loyalty and has three abilities all of which he can do on arrival. His ETB is to make an 0/4 flyer Wall for free. That can block attacks on your buddies, himself, you and others for a while. Then he can +1 to have you and a foe draw a card, so he's people friendly card flow. Then you can -2 him once with his starting loyalty to have everyone attack left or right for a round, including you. That can keep you safe from just one attack every turn at multiplayer, and then you can use your lands to safe or they might want to draw with The Second Doctor. He is just so strong here!

Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim

Now let's finish with this mono-Blue mythic duo of planeswalkers! The five-drop has four strong abilities. When you draw a card from anywhere, you put a loyalty counter on him so that's synergy with your Group Hug stuff. He arrives with four loyalty a bit small for a five-drop, but he'll grow fast here! His 0 can draw a card and then put a counter with his static. Then he can -2 to make a 2/2 Spirit with vigilance to swing away and then when you draw a card you grow it in size permanently by a +1/+1 counter. So, it's a win con combined to a card draw engine, don't sleep on vigilance there to attack and then hold back for the blocking.

The latter also arrives under the curve with five counters. You can +2 him all day long to draw a pair of cards for two triggers, and then put one to your deck's top spot from your hand, so he's like a mini-Brainstorm. Check out that -2 though! You make a 2/2 Dog Illusion with power and toughness equal to twice your card in hand count! That'll win almost as fast as the first one's -2. Nasty win card and card flow combo to finish this fun deck with!

Esper Group Hug with The Second Doctor | Commander | Abe Sargent

Card Display

You'll note that I only have 37 lands since we should be nailing our land hits after our Commander hits and things like Howling Mine or the Kami of the Crescent Moon on the second turn having everyone draw two a turn. I don't think you'll miss those three lands, and they were three Group Hug cards in Minds Aglow, Prosperity and Folio of Fancies. I think those are all strong options to add to the brew. Thanks for reading and have an awesome-tastic day! Happy Halloween!

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