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The Patient Professor


Ruxa, Patient Professor

Ruxa, Patient Professor delights in teaching first-years arcane fundamentals. To become great spellcasters, you need to build on a great foundation. Ruxa understands that simply because a person doesn't know how to create living fractals from their will doesn't mean they never will. Intelligence can be viewed as a crystallized trait, but that's not as helpful as seeing it as something fluid that can be nurtured.

Our bear professor instructs with the basics, which in card terms means vanilla creatures. We will begin this week's lesson with a decklist full of cards without abilities. This deck is suitable for beginning mages interested in playing Commander with friends, and seasoned wizards may delight in battling with their favorite classic creatures, such as Craw Wurm or Centaur Courser.

In a follow-up course we will study a strategy that emphasizes tokens. Without abilities, these masses get many of the benefits from Ruxa, Patient Professor. By giving up his recursion, we may gain even more in raw power.

Ruxa, Patient Professor inspires creatures with no abilities, which includes morph creatures when face down. Cards that bestow abilities, such as Sword of Feast and Famine or even Overrun, cause our basic buddies to lose their buffs. If there's one thing I want to avoid when designing lists for other people it's confusing them or placing them in an awkward position where they think a creature is getting Ruxa's powers but is in fact not. For that reason, I avoided cards that might be intrinsically powerful but break our bear druid's requirement, such as Triumph of the Hordes.

We don't want to give our creatures trample because Ruxa has taught them something greater. This ultra-trample in the style of Thorn Elemental will turn our clueless creatures into wiz kids. You'll always be able to discover wonder with a first-year guided by a Dowsing Dagger. Draw the maximum number of cards each time with Hunter's Insight.

You should be aware that your vanillas will lose their potency if you equip them with Swiftfoot Boots or Lightning Greaves. These shoes are only for Ruxa, Patient Professor, who gives us additional upside when he attacks right away, and we don't want him to be killed mid-combat, letting our opponents chump our big creatures. So, keep those boots in the staff closet until the professor is in the classroom. Besides, it would be ridiculous to expect most of our other creatures to slip on footwear.


Gigantosaurus (of turn-three fame) stands out not only above the treetops but also as the lone vanilla creature in our deck fearsome alone. Kalonian Tusker and Leatherback Baloth may be solid bodies in other formats, but they don't move the needle in Commander. Ruxa brings them up to speed, makes certain they deal damage, and recurs them. Yes, your creatures may die in board wipes, but you can also sacrifice them every turn to Feed the Pack or Greater Good.

But let's not get lost in card stats. More important in casual formats is not what a creature does but how it makes us feel. This bear professor is giving you the excuse to play with old friends, the creatures that first excited you in Magic, drew you into the game, and earned you your first wins. That might be Ancient Brontodon, Panther Warriors, or something else entirely. If a vanilla creature brings a smile to your face, make certain you include it in your deck. That's what I did with this list.

Norwood Ranger
Elvish Warrior

These elves captivated me in my early days of Magic. Back then we had a rudimentary understanding of game principles, (and in general creatures were underpowered). To see if a creature was good, I added its power and toughness, and if it was double its casting cost, it was good. Norwood Ranger and Elvish Warrior had an additional toughness, making them seem great, almost mystical in my eyes. How could they be so amazing? And according to that math, Memnite was unbelievable. I included it and every other vanilla that excited me over the years of playing.

How good is a free 1/1 in Commander, or even a 2/2? Again, let's not worry about that so much. What a card does on the battlefield isn't as important as what it provides for you politically. Your deck is full of adorable creatures, and we chose Enormous Baloth just because of the beastly flavor text. Rather than trying to eliminate you from the game, the other players will want to see what you play next. You will not be seen as a threat and because of that you may well win.

Communication is key in Commander. Convey the happiness these vanilla creatures bring you. Premise each play with a story, from the first time you encountered these cards. Doing so will make the game better for everyone. Other players will also understand what you're doing, having fun, and will assess you as a (non)-threat accordingly. Expensive cards such as The Great Henge and Finale of Devastation may be at odds with that philosophy, and the latter also denies Ruxa's bonus. For those reasons I excluded them.

You should communicate something different when playing the next Ruxa list. Here we're running the strongest token synergy cards we can, with a commander that makes them deal more damage. Your foes may underestimate you if they expect vanilla creatures, and you could ambush them with Scale Up squirrels. We're only playing one vanilla, Gigantosaurus. The rest is our token swarm.

If you know your playgroup well, and they're the type who would forgive being surprised by a Howl of the Night Pack and ripped apart the next turn, then you could lean into a deception. Say you are simply playing a silly deck with Ruxa, Patient Professor. But against most tables you should be forward that this deck is try-hard tokens. I included everything short of Gaea's Cradle.

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