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Oh Canada


While most of us look longingly towards the end of the week and set up plans for a Fourth of July long weekend, Canadians north of the border are already enjoying Canada Day celebrations! My personal favorite way to celebrate when I was living in Canada generally involved poutine or some all-dressed chips, while doing my best to avoid everyone else heading to their favourite lakes or parks near the centre of town. I would get together with friends in a backyard near some fireworks and try to enjoy the day off. That would regularly include games of Magic!

As a Canadian living in the US, I'm celebrating Canada Day by... sitting at my desk at work. I'll be looking for some good poutine in Boston during lunch, so I guess that's something! However, in the spirit of Canada Day, I wanted to share the most Canadian deck I have!

Captain Canada | Commander | Bruce Richard

Some of you are looking at the deck and are seeing a Standard, Boros-themed deck. Do not kid yourself, this deck is no pushover. I've had this deck for a while and the win percentage for it is roughly 35%. For a casual deck, this is almost ideal. It wins far more than it should but not so often people don't want to play against it. Part of the reason it performs as well as it does is the two-pronged attack that so many players don't see coming.

Soldier Theme

Daru Warchief
This is easy to spot with a passing glance, and I tend to start out playing the deck as though this is really the only option. An early Field Marshal or Daru Warchief and everyone thinks they have your deck figured out. When you follow that up with Crescendo of War or Rise of the Hobgoblins and everyone is convinced. You are a soldier-themed deck. They can find a mass removal spell and sit on it until you over-commit, then set you all the way back to square one. Soldier decks (and creature decks generally) are slow to recover from board wipes, so everyone is happy to see you grow slowly, and take a point of damage or two here and there, knowing they have you figured out. You are not a threat.

This deck pushes past a lot of that in two ways. The first thing is the limited number of actual soldier cards in the deck. There are certainly some here, but most of the soldiers hitting the battlefield are token creatures. The rest of the creatures in the deck are giving bonuses of some kind to the tokens. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Balefire Liege are there to make those 1/1 soldiers a little bigger. The goal with the soldiers is to get out a couple of creatures early, then stop. At this point you are trying to load your hand with more creatures and ways to pump those creatures, while appearing harmless to your opponents, but not defenseless. Once you have a full grip of action ready to go, you accelerate. You want five or so soldier tokens and a couple of ways to pump them up, then attack with just that. You aren't over-committing, you are just hitting hard enough, that your opponents understand that they have to deal with what you are doing. You are trying to pull the mass removal spells out of their hands while holding another way to make a bunch of token creatures, so you can respond immediately to their mass removal with them needing another mass removal spell! Some of your opponents will start to say that they should have waited until you played the next spell before casting their removal, and that is exactly what you want! You aren't trying for a single turn kill with four ways to make your tokens huge and a hundred tokens on the battlefield. You are swinging for handfuls of damage at a time.

Commander Damage Option

Tajic, Blade of the Legion
What isn't as obvious is the commander damage. Everyone sees Tajic and knows that he can kill with commander damage, but it regularly gets lost in the action of all the tokens and pump spells that Tajic can become a one-hit killer. I often find situations where Tajic swings at one opponent while the army swings at another, taking both opponents out in a turn.

There are a few unsung heroes in the deck when it comes to this strategy. Trailblazer's Boots is amazing. Finding an opponent who doesn't run a nonbasic land is virtually impossible. The Boots make the wearer unblockable and only cost two to equip! Slayers' Stronghold gives a recently removed Tajic haste to swing back faster than expected, and provides a great boost!

My personal favourite is Sunforger. Everyone knows Sunforger is there as a tutor for instants, but people forget it also smashes for four damage! Equipping Tajic seems like a no-brainer. Tajic, Sunforger, and two other attackers and suddenly Tajic is hitting for 11 points of damage! However, that is the wrong play! Sunforger is constantly targeted, since everyone wants it gone. Some players try to force you to use it by bouncing your creature, so I like equipping it to one of the other attackers. It reduces the damage Tajic can do that turn, but keeps him around longer while removal is used up elsewhere.

The Curious Stuff

I really love Mirror Entity in this deck. A board state with five 1/1 soldier tokens, a Cloudgoat Ranger and an Angel of Jubilation can swing for 17 damage. Casting Mirror Entity with eight mana means that you suddenly have seven creatures who are 5/5 and six of them get a +1/+1 boost. You are now swinging for 41 damage. The key with Mirror Entity is to treat it like a sorcery and only cast it on the turn you can use it. Don't treat it as a three-mana creature and don't pretend anyone is going to let you keep it until your next turn.

Another favorite that doesn't see a ton of use is In the Web of War. Spending five mana for an enchantment that gives a creature a one turn bonus doesn't seem like much, and for many decks it isn't. However when your deck relies on spells that provide a handful of creature tokens, a card that gives all of those tokens haste and +2/+0 is a backbreaker. In the Web of War is another card that can pump up Tajic and make him hasty when he shows up. A card that can support both prongs of an attack is great!


I've been playing this a long time with a level of success, so updating it isn't something I've considered in a long time. There are five cards that should definitely be part of the deck. Sword of the Animist is another way to beef up the mana base. I'll want to take out some of the dual lands and put a few more basic lands back in the deck, but that shouldn't be an issue, as the deck isn't too mana hungry for one color or the other.

Anointed Procession is practically made for decks like this one. Assemble the Legion amps up the pressure really fast. Captain of the Watch becomes a full army in a single card! Martial Coup wipes the board and gives you ten soldiers. Assemble the Legion allows you to apply a lot of pressure early on and bounce back from mass removal even faster than before!

Cathars' Crusade is simply a nightmare for opponents when several creatures hit the battlefield at one time. 1/1 Soldiers can get huge very fast. Cathars' Crusade is vulnerable to mass removal spells, but it allows you to bounce back so quickly!

Smothering Tithe is a card for every White deck out there. It has joined the list of cards you should automatically include in every White deck, then ask yourself whether you should remove it. This deck will be happy for the extra mana. There aren't a ton of X spells, but there are plenty of expensive spells and the ability to sit on the Treasure tokens for a few turns means that you can bounce back from a mass removal spell even faster. Captain of the Watch and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite cast on the same turn sounds outrageous!

The last addition is Divine Visitation. While some of the pump spells only give the benefit to soldiers, turning 1/1 creatures into 4/4 vigilant flyers is worth the loss! Where three soldier tokens doesn't seem like an issue to anyone, three 4/4 flyers can be a real problem for a lot of people. Cloudgoat Ranger may never be a 5/3 flyer again, but getting 3 4/4 angels is an amazing consolation prize!


So what makes this deck Canadian? The deck is quiet and unassuming. It doesn't come charging out of the gates, guns blazing. It doesn't scream its presence from the rooftops. It plays a quiet, understated game. It is careful with its resources and tries not to offend anyone. Canadians play the long game. They are looking for the win in a way everyone will enjoy.

So to my fellow Canadians enjoying our day, wear your Maple Leaf proudly. Enjoy a real beer for me, and be sure to apologize when someone bumps into you. The True North is strong and free!



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