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Common Inspired Commander



Have you ever been bit by the awesomeness of a common? A card that is so good it inspires an entire Commander deck? I was today!

One of the great hidden commons from the ancient past of the game is Escape Routes. Take a look:

Escape Routes

Escape Routes was printed a long time ago. It does a good job at playing into a theme of Planeshift -- gating. It was about things that self-bounced your stuff.

Cloud Cover
Arctic Merfolk

Fleetfoot Panther
Rith's Grove
Sunken Hope

As you can see, these self-bounced something of yours when they arrived on the battlefield, as a kicker cost, in order to protect your stuff, or even to play into an everything-bounces theme. There were creatures that would have an effect when they left play, so your bounce would trigger them, as well as re-use enters-the-battlefield triggers, and there were common cost-reduction triggers as well to help with the cost. That was a key part of this set.

Another (un)common card that caught my eye recently is Dreams of the Dead from Ice Age.

Dreams of the Dead

So, the current Oracle versions states that you spend two mana, any time you want, and you return from the graveyard to play a White or Black dork. That dork will be exiled if it is sent anywhere.

Now there is an interesting ruling from Gatherer on Dreams of the Dead:

If a creature returned to the battlefield with Dreams of the Dead would leave the battlefield for any reason, it's exiled instead -- unless the spell or ability that's causing the creature to leave the battlefield is actually trying to exile it! In that case, it succeeds at exiling it. If it later returns the creature card to the battlefield (as Oblivion Ring or Flickerwisp might, for example), the creature card will return to the battlefield as a new object with no relation to its previous existence.

(This also works similarly to Whip of Erebos)

So, suppose I use Dreams of the Dead on Scathe Zombies, a 2/2 Black Zombie. It returns to the battlefield, with the Cumulative Upkeep. Then if I cast Cloudshift on the Scathe Zombies, they'll head to exile, and return, just like any other blink effect.

Can you see the really cool intersection of these enchantments? Both really care about the same two colors of creature cards, and both are engines.

If not . . .  how about now?


This is Cloudblazer, a card that counts as White. When it arrives on the battlefield, you'll gain some life, and draw some cards. You can self-bounce with Escape Routes and recast it for another trigger. Or, you can Dreams of the Dead it back for another go, after it invariably dies, and then get one more trigger and then it will be exiled. Or you could blink it and get another trigger, and it will remain on the battlefield, for another Escape Routes.

Oh, and there is another common here that I totally love, one of my all-time Abe favorites.

Tortured Existence

This is the common Tortured Existence, a card that would clearly have a commonality upgrade if printed today. It's essentially a Survival of the Fittest for your graveyard. You can discard expensive creatures early in the game to recur good cheaper ones, and then discard the lower stuff later for better ones and always be on curve. It works well in a shell like this already to grab a creature that you really like with the ideal trigger moving forward.

And that's your deck.

Now, because this deck began as a deck around commons and uncommons, I decided to play into that theme, and I am only using rares and mythics when we have to.

So here we go!

Dreams of the Dead to Find Escape Routes Before You Are Tortured Out of Existence -- Commander | Abe Sargent

And there you are!

Rare Count (not counting leader):

  • Rares: 13
  • Mythics: 2

An even dozen-ish rares and a pair of mythic 'walkers and that calls it!

The result is a fun blink, graveyard sensitive, bouncy deck that's fun. And should be easy on the pocketbook as well!

So let's delve into it a little to unpack where I went.

The first place I went was engines that could exile our stuff for later recursion.

Take . . . 

Cold Storage
Endless Sands

Cold Storage and Endless Sands as two quick ways to make the Dreams of the Dead work better. You can exile something Black/White you brought back from Dreams, and then bring it back, permanently, when you sacrifice the card you used to exile the stuff in question. I love both of them, particularly the Storage as it won't tap and can always be used to pull stuff out, so you won't get caught with your mana pants down. If you like these, you could look at other similar effects such as Helvault or Safe Haven.

And these aren't the only engines that play into Dreams of the Dead either! How about Eldrazi Displacer, Conjurer's Closet, or either of my 'walkers? We can also surprise folks with the instant power of Illusionist's Stratagem or Ghostly Flicker. I also have a ton of the White flicker dorks like Glimmerpoint Stag and Flickerwisp as well to give us a strong amount of flickerage to lead onto to make the Dreams of the Dead work.

And then what about the Escape Routes? I also wanted to add other self-bounce options to the table. Who doesn't like Crystal Shard or Whitemane Lion? Return something to save it from removal! Block and bounce to save it! Recast it for another enters-the-battlefield trigger! And again, if you liked that line of thought, you could consider stuff like Erratic Portal.

And did you see Azorius Aethermage here? Oh, you don't know what that is?

Azorius Aethermage
Mentor of the Meek

How could you forget this key card from my Equinaut deck? (Check it out here)

I'm sure you can see its power alongside Escape Routes and pals! It's also a way to be rewarded for someone casting Cyclonic Rift and bouncing your stuff back. You are also running Evacuation for both resetting your foes while also netting more and more triggers!

Such as Mentor of the Meek! Your Aethermage triggers when one creature heads back and the Mentor triggers when it comes back as long as it's small enough, and most of your stuff is small enough to make the Mentor happy! From Reflector Mage to Mulldrifter to Karmic Guide to Wall of Omens, it all triggers your Mentor!

Oh! In true Equinaut fashion, allow me to present you with one of my favorite enchantments of all time, without any additional commentary from me, because you don't need it. It's art. It stands on its own.


So majestic!

What about graveyard fueling? See the power of cards here like

Duskmantle Guildmage
Extractor Demon

Duskmantle Guildmage, or the Extractor Demon. Give how often something is blinked, killed, or bounced, you can self-mill tons with the Demon, or turn it against another library! The Guildmage of Duskmantle is strong at investing some mana into milling here and there while also give you another 2/2 body for various triggers and a useful way to deal life loss to folks beyond normal damage. You could toss in anything from Phenax, God of Deception to self-mill card drawing effects such as Bitter Revelation. Even Stinkweed Imp works.

And that gets me through the support of my various enchantments and effects. That's the supporting infrastructure.

But what to blink, bounce, or recur? What works?


Kill stuff with Ravenous Chupacabra, Shriekmaw, Angel of Despair, and Faceless Butcher. (Use the stack trick to exile with the Butcher permanently. Put the first ability on the stack, kill or blink it, put the "leaves play" on, then resolve in reverse order, and your target will be exiled permanently.) You could also Butcher something of your own that was about to die to your Dreams to save it to come back later if you wanted to.

You can reanimate or recur stuff from your 'yard with Gravedigger, Reveillark, Restoration Gearsmith, Archaeomancer, or Karmic Guide!

You can draw an epic-ton of cards! Draw from Wall of Omens, Baleful Strix, Disciple of Bolas, and so many other choices! From the discard of Liliana's Specter to the countering of Voidmage Husher, you have options here! Enjoy it my friends, enjoy it!

And if you like some o' the cards in here, how about things like Ghostway and other everything-blinks? Evil Twin or other Clones? Don't forget your boss can mass bounce a color when it smashes face, so you have a built in Wash Out. So Wash Out!

And win while doing it in style!

There we go. I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into all things older, cheaper, commoner and yet fun. So fun.

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