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Missing Pieces


Accumulated Knowledge
Sometimes, a deck is ninety-nine percent of the way there. We know it’s ninety-nine percent of the way there without having to do any math because it’s one card short and it’s a Commander deck . . . I don’t even know how to end this sentence—that’s how obvious all of this is. Sometimes, that one missing card is the commander, and then we have the incredibly exciting task of finding what those other ninety-nine cards are. The deck was always there; it just needed the commander to bring it together. Other times, we have a card that does something new—or at least new to the color it’s printed in—and all of a sudden, it clicks, and the deck is finished.

Still other times, the deck is there, but it’s not great. We don’t tend to label our Commander decks in “tiers” as sixty-card players like to, but I think we can all tell where decks stack up. Sometimes, a deck is just for funsies (as opposed to “winsies,” I guess), and that’s all it will ever be. I like when a funsies deck receives a new toy because even if that one card doesn’t make the deck appreciably more viable, it will at least make it more fun.

I took a second look at a deck today that was technically a deck before, but not very popular. The printing of my favorite card in Oath of the Gatewatch could perk it up quite a bit, and I’m excited to jam it. Since the deck was tricky and fun but not super-amazing before, adding a new card to it to make it more competitive and cutting ourselves a little slack when it comes to card selection makes me think it would be pretty tough to end up with a deck that wasn’t a good 75% build. After all, we’re relying on our spells resolving, we’re focusing on one permanent at a time, and we’re hoping we can build a nice enough pillow fort that we aren’t bum-rushed before we can get our cutesy little combos going. I think if we avoid mass land destruction, we can even relax a little and run a few narrow tutors provided we have more than one card we want to find with them. I bet you’re pretty eager for me to stop being vague and to tell you the deck we’re discussing and the new card that was the missing piece to make this deck worth focusing on this week.

You probably already guessed it: My favorite card is Eldrazi Displacer. And what’s the deck it’s going to breathe new life into?

Mangara of Corondor

Mangara was always a fun card. I actually played a few Mangara variants in Legacy, ranging from the regular, mono-white “Death and Taxes” (destroying all of the opponent’s permanents gives you inevitability, just like death and taxes are inevitable) build to a junk version that let you tutor for your Karakas with Knight of the Reliquary, and could break the opponent’s back with sequences like, “Land, Mox Diamond, and Hymn to Tourach on turn one, followed by Vindicate or Knight of the Reliquary on turn two.” The Mangara combo was simple: Activate Mangara, and choose one of your opponent’s permanents to wipe off the face of the earth; then, activate Karakas to bounce Mangara, saving it from destroying itself. Replay Mangara, and do the same dirty trick next turn. The opponent’s Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, Delver of Secrets, and Umezawa's Jitte don’t scare you when you can headshot one of them and get in with your army of efficient creatures. I even added a few of my own tech, such as Tivadar of Thorn, to pair with Karakas and help our iffy Goblins matchup. Remember when Karakas was like $40 and we thought that was really expensive? Those were the days.

Mangara of Corondor
Eldrazi Displacer

We don’t have access to Karakas because that would make Commander really, ridiculously frustrating. Instead, we have to try to come up with some other ways to gain value out of Mangara because the commander tax will make it prohibitively expensive otherwise. I like being tricksy, and being tricksy in mono-white is challenging and fun, and Eldrazi Displacer is a great way to do that. With Mangara’s ability still on the stack, flash Mangara out, and flash in a new Mangara that says, “You must be trying to destroy that other guy; you just missed him.” There are more ways than just Displacer to do this, of course, but this is a new tool for us to use, and it makes the deck that much more consistent. How would I build the deck if I built it today? Good question. Let’s do it to it.

Mangara?s Inequity ? Commander | Jason Alt

  • Commander (0)

I feel that this is missing about thirty cards, but maybe that’s because I am trying to do a few different things and each of those things has access to about five or ten more playables. This is a hybrid of sorts between a capitalize-on-Mangara-by-Flickering-and-untapping-him-a-ton and pillow-fort and find-some-way-to-actually-kill-the-opponents, and that’s good. I need to do all three of those things, actually, so not going too deep on any one of them is how we’re going to win.

Illusionist's Bracers
There are tricksy things to do with our cards to keep Mangara going. Doubling the effect with Illusionist's Bracers and Rings of Brighthearth is a good start. Untapping Mangara with Magewright's Stone and even Village Bell-Ringer loads up the destruction before we have to worry about how to save him. You can even let him go to the ’yard and bring him back with a card like Emeria, the Sky Ruin or Karmic Guide to keep the commander tax from becoming too, err, taxing. Voyager Staff and Journey to Nowhere and Cloudshift and cards like Dust Elemental and Whitemane Lion are all dedicated to keeping Mangara from killing himself.

This is a lot of fun from the looks of it, and I am sure we can find a few more creatures that trigger when they come into play to pair with Eldrazi Displacer—maybe something to blow up artifacts or something to gain us life. White has a few cool cards, and for now, cards ranging from Knight of the White Orchid to Stonehorn Dignitary take full advantage of the deck. Sun Titan looping a Voyager Staff can make any enters-the-battlefield trigger worthwhile. Want to make some room for your pet card? Feel free to tweak the list as much as you want.

What do we think? Can we make this nastier? Should we cut the pillow-fort stuff and go full aggro? Should we retreat deeper into our fort and add cards like Magus of the Moat? You can customize this deck any way you want. What I would suggest is not cutting any Auras because we’re pretty close to a situation in which Heliod's Pilgrim always finds Flickerform as it is, and while that is good, it could grow boring. Heliod's Pilgrim is much more fun as a toolbox card than it is a second, more expensive copy of one card, no matter how good that card is with our commander. I tried not to break any of our guidelines, but if this needs a kick in the butt to get it winning, feel free to add tutors or Wrath of God effects or whatever you need to bring it there. Most of white’s tutors are narrow, and that’s what we like in our 75% tutors—when we play them, that is.

I’d love to hear what you think of this pile. It looks pretty affordable to me, and could be something to throw together for cheap to have fun with, but once it gets going, you could be capable of assassinating anything at the table. Don’t let all that power go to your head. As always, thank you so much for reading, and join me next week, when we’ll tackle another deck or subject. Until then!

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