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Not the Stars to Hold Our Destiny

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Shakespeare said that. "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves." Should we listen to Shakespeare, though? I've been to Shakespeare's house - he slept in a bed that's like 3 feet long because people back then slept sitting up like lunatics. Scholars theorize that he had syphilis. Oh, and he was a plagiarist. Everyone back then was a plagiarist, sure, but I'm trying to make a point here. The point is, if it's not in the stars to hold out destiny, how do you explain this?

Klothys, God of Destiny

The God of Destiny is literally made of stars and once you get over how good this constellation copy of Klothys looks, we can avert our gaze to the text box and take a gander at the pile of abilities on Klothys. We can give ourselves mana or dome the whole table and gain some life every turn and both of those are very useful. You don't even have to pick your own graveyard, so you can insult the graveyard-based decks by stripping a creature before you injure them with the damage. What are the odds there will be 0 cards in any graveyard? Worst case scenario, red has cards that rummage and we can play fetchlands. We could even have a lands-from-the-yard subtheme and play Crucible of Worlds with Strip Mine to make sure we always have a target if we need the mana. However, I think we'll be using the second option more frequently. Sure, 2 damage doesn't seem like a ton in a 40 life format, but if Shakespeare were alive today, and not too badly ravaged by syphilis to give us advice, he'd tell us to double double our toil and trouble. Minimal toil for us and a lot of trouble for our opponents is what I'm envisioning, and here's how I plan to do it.

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell

Remember this guy? We had a lot of fun building with him as a commander but since Klothys is Red, I started to get nasty ideas about doubling or quadrupling the trigger on Klothys to deal the entire table significant damage when his ability triggered. How deep will we go? Furnace of Rath? Dictate of the Twin Gods? Heartless Hidetsugu? We can certainly toy with all of those cards and considering they take up minimal space in the deck, don't require anything other than our commander to make an impact and make the rest of our deck better, they're fine inclusions. They're also pretty stock cards, and you don't come to me for a stock list, you come to me for a 75% take. My take is simple - if we're going to be making our Red sources deal additional damage, shouldn't we use a Red source of damage that plays well with our favorite kind of 75% Red strategy? I love to build Threaten effects in 75% Red decks, and playing with Torbran and Furnace of Rath lets me dust off a sac effect that I haven't used as much lately as I'd like - Goblin Bombardment.

Goblin Bombardment

Old Gobby Bombs, as it likes to be called, is one of my favorite Magic cards of all time. It's not always fun to have to sac your own creatures to it, but if you're borrowing creatures, all of a sudden the choice between giving it back intact at the end of the turn and flinging its body at your opponent's face with a huge ballista isn't a choice at all. Being able to Bombardment for 2 damage with Furnace, 3 with Torbran or 6 (someone check my math) with both makes those damage modification effects potent and every expendable dork in our deck into a real lethal threat. Suddenly a well-timed Avenger of Zendikar ends the game and it's not like Avenger of Zendikar is bad in a deck where "all" it does is give you a ton of tokens that you can grow, either. Our other sac outlets can make use of the tokens if we don't draw Bombardment but want to Threaten their side - Perilous Forays can feed our mana-hungry cards, Phyrexian Altar can give us a temporary burst of mana and you can use a creature you don't want to return to activate Helm of Possession and steal a different one for longer.

What does our deck end up looking like if we're trying to get the most out of Klothys, Threaten their best creatures, make a ton of tokens and make sure there are lands in the yard if we need them? It's actually not that much of a mess when you start putting the deck together because a lot of the cards synergize. Crucible of Worlds with Strip Mine fuels Klothys, gives us landfall triggers for Avenger, which is a card that gives us tokens we could sac to Perilous Forays to get more lands to trigger Avenger or trigger Rampaging Baloths which gives us more tokens to sac to Goblin Bombardment to kill them. A lot of cards do double or triple duty and they unite our seemingly disparate aims. Just one damage modification card is enough to significantly increase our clock and we're going to run a pile of them. Here's how I envision the deck looking.

The Assault in our Stars | Commander | Jason Alt


Zo-Zu the Punisher
This barely resembles a stock list, which is what I was going for. This is much closer to an Omnath list with its landfall triggers and such, which is by design.

A stock Klothys list has a lot of Ankh of Mishra and Zo-Zu the Punisher type effects, which I naturally cut to make room for landfall cards. I wanted mana from saccing creatures and getting lands into play early and often makes this deck work. That can't happen with Manabarbs and Spellshock doming me every time I did something big. Accordingly, I cut those "pain" effects, except ones that punished opponents for activating non-mana abilities. This breaks parity by affecting them disproportionately. I can activate Perilous Forays as often as I want but they get a ping or a shock every time they do the same. I also cut Mindcrank which may well need to be in here but which I think is superfluous. This is Commander- there will be a card in a yard every upkeep, I promise. We're trying to make the most of Klothys triggers, not get a ton of them since we don't have a way for that to happen easily. If you want to look at stock lists for cards like Citadel of Pain, Spellshock, Zo-Zu the Punisher, Sulfuric Vortex, and Manabarbs, be my guest, but I'm focusing on something else here.

Our Threaten effects got pricy, mana-wish. Mob Rule, Insurrection, Mass Mutiny - these are big-mana spells. Our average CMC is sort of high but I included a lot of ways to generate mana to compensate. I ran more mana dorks than usual and fewer spells like Rampant Growth since we can always sac the dorks if we rip them late in the game, making them higher-impact. We even have Zhur-Taa Druid which can deal some serious damage with a doubling effect or two out. If you want to lower the CMC, cards like Omnath, Locus of Mana and Rampaging Baloths help us generate tokens, which the deck needs, but aren't much good if you die before you get that much mana. Those are the first cards I'd look at cutting - Baloths more-so than Omnath. I feel like I always put Baloths in my first draft of the deck and rarely keep them after a few rounds of cuts.

Furnace of Rath
This deck didn't set out to be a Valakut deck, but it ended up that way for a few reasons. First, we were always going to run Dryad of the Ilysian Grove since it lets us play an additional land. Secondly, we have cards like Oracle of Mul Daya, Splendid Reclamation and Crucible of Worlds, meaning even if we don't do a huge Valakut turn with a Scapeshift, we can get incidental chip damage in. That's how Valakut was designed - it was a card that tapped for Red mana and helped you win as a burn deck if you were top-decking Mountains late in the game and needed to finish your opponent off. Valakut also helped you play around cards like Kor Firewalker. I liked what they were going for with Valakut and I think since we can double the damage with Furnace of Rath, Valakut can do some real harm. We can have a big turn with Splendid Reclamation, but a turn where you play a Wooded Foothills and crack it to get a Stomping Ground with Valakut, Akoum Hellkite, and Furnace of Rath is a pretty decent one.

We generate a lot of our own tokens so we're not reliant on the opponents to supply us with creatures to threaten, but playing Green allows us to play one of my favorite "don't return a living creature, lob the creature's head over their parapets with a bomb in its mouth" cards - Birthing Pod. We have high CMC creatures in the deck and not paying their mana cost is amazing. Saccing their creature to get a big one of ours is a great way to mitigate the high CMC cost of some of our most powerful creatures and it feels like cheating when you threaten something and turn it into something better that you can keep. Goblin Bombardment and Perilous Forays are a fine fate for our foe's fighters, but Pod is dirty on top of fine.

I'm building this despite it having a lot of the same cards as my Omnath, Locus of the Roil deck. I like those types of cards - Crucible, Exploration, Oracle of Mul Daya, Avenger of Zendikar, Phyrexian Altar. They show up in a lot of my lists for a reason, but I think they are legitimately good in this deck, support our strategy of dealing them chip damage which we amplify and give us big mana once we get rolling. Insurrection is usually good enough to win the game on its own but if it isn't, strapping every creature on the board to a Goblin Bombardment post-combat and launching those creatures for 3 or 5 damage a pop will be enough. This is going to be fun.

That does it for me. We're getting better comment section engagement, even if it's to point out lines of text on cards I missed, and I'm glad for that. I want to see what you would run if you built this and what you'd cut. Do you plan to build Klothys? Have you considered a Valakut plan? Let me know in the comments section. Until next time!