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Better Populate than Never



I got 75% of the way through an article before I gave up. That's where the 75% theory got its name, by the way. Increasingly it makes less and less sense to brew decks that contain a lot of permanents in a world where Farewell can destroy a big pile of Enchantments, render your Replenish effects useless and also make the game take an extra hour. Losing to Farewell is annoying, losing to it because I refuse to build decks like it exists is me being stubborn and that makes it even worse. The cutesy cards I used to run to get around Merciless Eviction don't work on Farewell, forcing me to do something I haven't done for a while - refuse to let them play the card.

I don't mean like, rule 0 forbid them to use it, I mean mechanically. There are some cards that make it so they can't play the spell.

Gideon's Intervention

It feels extra bad to have to run these, but I came to a few conclusions. The first is that if a card ruins your whole deck, play around that one card. Don't hope to dodge it forever, Nevermore it and don't worry about that card in their hand they never play. I hate having to play one-card answers like this, but if they're going to print a card that destroys Enchantments AND graveyards, I don't have Magic cards left if that spell resolves and I would prefer not to scoop to a dumb card. I never thought I would praise Merciless Eviction, but I guess people in 1919 never thought they'd hear someone say "It's JUST the Flu." In the same way that the Flu is better than Covid, Merciless Eviction is better than Farewell. I don't think I'm being uncharitable when I say that.

With a couple of flu vaccines in the form of "NO" spells, and additional ones in the form of Nullstone Gargoyle and Null Chamber (boosters) if I want them, I think it's safe to build around a fun Enchantments-matter card again. And boy do we have one.

Anikthea, Hand of Erebos

There are a ton of cards that put stuff into the 'yard in Green, a lot of them are Enchantments and all of them are playable. We're going to risk it all by playing Reanimator, opening ourselves up to a pantsing with Farewell, but opening ourselves up to the thrill of playing a fun, synergistic deck, knowing the game could end for you for six mana. This isn't just reanimator, though - we are making creature tokens out of Enchantments, which means we can copy those tokens. I plan to do that as much as possible. Sure, Parallel Lives and Anointed Procession are cute, but what happens once that non-aura Enchantment is out of the yard and has already become two weird 3/3 Black Zombie creatures that are also somehow also Deadbridge Chants? Don't you want to do more? Speaking as someone whose kick for like a year at least has been to make copies of things that should not have copies made of them, I plan to make copies every turn. I plan to accomplish this by using a mechanic we all dismissed at the time - Populate.

Sure, Populate was fine in Standard - this article from 2013 is a nice snapshot of the kinds of things I was doing with Voice of Resurgence at the time, and Ryan did a lot of work with the build. I am not going to sit here and pretend I didn't go deep on copies of Scion of Vitu Ghazi when I saw how game-ending it was with the Voice of Resurgence elemental stag token. I will, however, suggest that perhaps more people are proliferating than populating. LET 'EM. We're going to get so much value out of every populate card that they won't know what hit them. And I DO mean every Populate card - I want to run Sundering Growth and Rootborn Defenses. I'm building this deck like they made a core set commander that populates and I have to run every Populate card or the deck does nothing like some sort of Selesnya Verazol. No, my babies, I am choosing to Populate the earth with unholy, shambling Hill Giants that have the card text of Legion Loyalty printed on them. Which eight mana Enchantment is best to make a lot of copies of? Turns out there are no wrong answers! Sandwurm Convergence, Nyxbloom Ancient, Nylea's Colossus (I'm mostly naming creatures, huh?) - even Liliana's Mastery is a beating in multiples. If those Zombies stick around, I'm going to populate hard and often and really fill the board with nonsense. Want to play a Wrath? The copies I make of Nevermore are going to make that tougher and tougher. Let's dare to expose ourselves to a boring, overly-juiced Wrath, because that's how you truly live.

What does my perfect pile of populate look printed on paper? Probably pretty powerful.

So Long, Farewell | Commander | Jason Alt

Card Display

This looks insanely fun, actually. I almost wish I could make room for Doubling Season and Primal Vigor because making a token of something is kind of like doubling it, and if you double your doublers, your doublers double and then things get kind of ridiculous.

One thing I haven't seen a ton of people run is Reconnaissance. This card does an insane amount of work in this deck. A few of our creatures and a few of our abilities require creatures to attack, and I like if I can get those triggers without losing my creature. We still run cards like Conjurer's Closet to get a lot out of Anikthea, but getting more is better, and saving a bunch of Myriad tokens from an untimely death rules.

One build I got close to but which wasn't running nearly enough Green to function was a Zombies build. Quite a lot of our tokens are Zombies, and "lords" like Necromancer's Covenant and Liliana's Mastery could go in the deck. I toyed with the build but I ran out of time this week to fully explore it. I'll give you a list next week if I come up with anything.

What do we think? Not enough staples? Am I overly worried about Farewell? Let me know on Twitter. Thanks for reading - until next time!

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