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Flying High with Akim

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I wanted to try something a little different today. I got the chance to look at a decklist for a deck in progress, and offer my suggestions! Let's jump right in with what we have to get started!

Akim, Lost but Seeking | Commander | Unknown


This deck, and Akim, the Soaring Wind, looks like a ton of fun! Akim as a 3/4 creature with flying for five mana is not all that exciting, but getting an extra 1/1 white flying Bird creature token sounds great. And getting one on each of my opponents' turns sounds even better. Giving them all double strike to grind my opponents into dust seems like the best thing of all!

The deck is trying to do a little bit of everything. It tries to push Akim and get maximum benefit from Akim, while working with a sorcery and instant benefit thing as well. I like a lot of what is going on here, but I'll be spending most of my time looking at where to cut. The deck needs some trimming to start as we are sitting at a beefy 108 cards! Expect to see some painful cuts to a deck that looks like a bunch of fun.

Land

When I'm looking at decks, the first thing I look at is the land. Most decks don't run enough land. The math is pretty straightforward. How many lands does your deck need to function? In this case, the deck definitely wants to hit five mana, so getting to five lands is the target. This means that you want to see five lands in your first five turns. This means you want five of your first twelve cards to be land. This is 42% of your deck. This deck also has ten pieces of ramp. You are only likely to see one of those in the first five turns, so you could argue that you need four lands in your first twelve cards, but why would you take the chance? I won't go into the ratio of colors since that is bound to change as we change the deck, but keeping in mind that we need forty slots for lands means there are going to be even more cuts to be made.

Tutors

I understand the value of tutors. A tutor means that you have a second copy of whatever card you need at that moment in the deck. You have just doubled your chances of drawing that card and reducing variance improves to play of your deck.

In spite of that, I'm taking out the two tutors in this deck. This format is designed to encourage variance. That is the whole point of playing with 100 cards instead of 60. That is the whole point of only allowing one copy of a card instead of four. Embrace the format and the variance it brings!

I'm not saying that decks should never have tutors. There are plenty of wild decks that are trying to use a particular card that is not a legendary creature as their commander. There are decks that absolutely must have an enchantment or artifact for the deck to even come close to doing what it is supposed to do. Those decks need tutors to find that card so their hijinks and shenanigans can reach full bloom! This is not one of those decks, so we can set those cards aside.

Flash

If I am going to make a token on each of my opponents' turns, I'll want as many ways as possible to make that happen. Leyline of Anticipation is already in the deck and that is a great start. I will also want to add Vedalken Orrery. There are plenty of sorceries and creature in this deck that make tokens. Let's give them a chance to shine on my opponents' turns!

I have also added Winding Canyons and Emergence Zone. These are underplayed lands that can really surprise an opponent once they have been out there for a turn or two. Four cards probably aren't enough, but we'll revisit it after a few games and see how it has been working out.

Ramp

I love the ramp package! Keeping virtually every mana rock to two mana or less is wonderful! However, running the Talismans is not necessary. There are other two-mana mana rocks that can do the job. Boros and Izzet Signets fill two slots and the criminally underplayed Fellwar Stone does a great job. When you are running a deck that has three colors, Fellwar Stone is likely going to get you the mana you need for at least two of those colors. And if your meta has someone like me who loves running Vivid lands, or lands that can tap for any color, then you are getting a two mana rock that can tap for anything you need.

Counterspells

I am not a fan of counterspells in Commander. I understand that there is a time and place for a counterspell, but too many times it seems like they are just forcing the player into using it when you would have preferred to give another opponent the chance to use their own cards to stop the threat.

I am dumping Counterspell, Narset's Reversal, and Dovin's Veto. These are hard counters that don't offer anything else. The Glen Elendra Archmage is a creature in addition to the counter. Having it just sitting there on the battlefield is often enough to deter someone from playing a spell, so it can work to slow down opponents in addition to being a counter. Mystic Confluence gives multiple options when you use it, and I'm generally a fan of getting extra in Commander games. Finally, Swan Song specifically provides a flying bird token which is on theme for the deck, even if it is the opponent that is getting the token!

Token Makers

The next big reduction were the token makers. While the whole purpose of the deck revolves around this, we need to trim everywhere and some of these cards need to go.

Midnight Haunting and Migratory Route were easy cuts. Each of them offers only one use unless you plan to pull it out of your graveyard. While this deck can do that, I don't really want to play underwhelming cards to get a chance to play them again.

Docent of Perfection wasn't going to stay on the list either. Do a bunch of stuff to get tokens that don't fly so that you can eventually transform the creature to make just those tokens better. There are a lot of ifs to making this card work. These are the kinds of cards I normally love, but they are also ones that tend to just not make the cut, particularly in a deck that has started with 108 cards!

Finally Dovin, Grand Arbiter goes away. Getting a token every second turn just isn't enough from this planeswalker. The card also can't provide a token on an opponent's turn, so it only really interacts with Akim on my turn. It needed to go.

I did add Benevolent Offering to the list. I like the idea of adding Spirit tokens on another player's turn (go Akim!). When you also add in the life gain, I think this card makes sense. If your only creature on the board was Akim, you would be adding ten life to your total, in addition to the three creatures!

So what did I end up with?

Akim Takes Flight | Commander | Bruce Richard


Surprises

One of the big surprises for me in the deck was Shared Animosity. I looked to cut it early on since I didn't think it was going to carry its weight. This isn't a theme deck, so I expected that it was only going to give a couple of creatures a small bonus and that just wasn't going to be worth it. Instead I started thinking about Akim's birds. Even if I could only get two of them on the battlefield, if they attacked with Akim, each of the three creatures would get +2/+0 until the end of the turn. Suddenly five points of damage in the air turns into eleven points of damage in the air! Whether it is insects, cats, or Pegasi, it only takes three of them attacking to get a significant benefit from Shared Animosity. It is also a very pointed threat, so an opponent will likely leave it sit there until it actually hurts them, so the odds that it stays on the battlefield a little longer are pretty good.

Faerie Artisans is another all-star for this deck. It essentially reads that when an opponent plays a creature, you get a blocker. Sure, I know if they play more than one creature, you don't get a second bird, but it does mean your bird count will soar! There are also a handful of ways to Populate so the Faerie Artisans will give you all sorts of interesting creature tokens to copy!

Another wonderful option is Faerie Formation. While it is a little pricey for five mana, paying four to get a 1/1 flying Faerie, a 1/1 flying Bird, and drawing a card seems like a great thing. I also love mana sinks, so ending your turn with this on the battlefield and eight mana up is not going to be something your opponents are going to love!

I'm happy with the result but there are plenty of options here and I suspect that the deck will see plenty of iterations as I play it through a few times!

Bruce Richard

@manaburned

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