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Baby, You Can Drive My 'Kar


Rishkar, Peema Renegade
I slept on Rishkar, Peema Renegade. I didn’t think much of his applicability in Commander and I certainly didn’t expect him to impact Standard. I’m not sure why; Rishkar does a lot of things I like a card to do and he does it as the Commander meaning he gets to do it a lot more often than any other card in your deck. Fortunately, I didn’t miss the boat and I can still go buy ‘kar. Get it? You’ll get it later.

How do I make it up to Rishkar for underestimating him in the first place? I think by building a deck that plays into his combotastic nature. Specifically, I want to play with druids and do degenerate things with Paradox Engine. You’ll notice that I have been trying a lot of degenerate things with Paradox Engine lately. Are you not? Instead of building around Seton, Krosan Protector like I see so many people doing, I decided to jam my favorite druids into the same pile and see what we came up with. We could build elves, but most of my favorite elves are druids already and this gives us access to some other cards we’re excited to have access to. This keeps us out of combo pieces like Nettle Sentinel and utility cards like Ivy Lane Denizen, so hopefully it ends up being worth it. I imagine once I steal all of their lands with Gilt-Leaf Archdruid one time, it will be worth it. Here at 75% we like to occasionally limit our card pools slightly to spark some creativity and keep ourselves from building the same exact “optimized” list as everyone else. We’re going to end up with a completely serviceable list at the end, but it may contain some cards you wouldn’t run ordinarily. That’s a good thing.

Lifecrafter's Bestiary
Druids are a very powerful tribe and since there is a lot of overlap with elves, we’re going to generate a ton of mana. Rishkar can help with this, turning some creatures which ordinarily couldn’t generate mana into mana dorks. Plant tokens and goats and even germs — every creature can help us ramp out or big spells. Even -1/-1 counters, Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer bribery counters and age counters can make the creature eligible to get in on the mana game. We’re going to want to make tokens here so we can have access to a lot of mana, but we’ll also want mana sinks so it’s likely we’re going both wide and tall, taking over the entire board slowly but surely. Luckily we’re resistant to board wipes with spells like Inspiring Call, we can keep our hands relatively full with cards like Lifecrafter's Bestiary and we can win the game in the way I like to win the game best with Helix Pinnacle. Even our non-elf druids are going to pitch in with cards like Karametra's Acolyte and Citanul Woodreaders giving us a lot of utility.

With so many tap abilities, both innate and granted by Rishkar himself, we’re going to get a ton of mileage out of Paradox Engine. We’re certainly no slouches without the engine — this deck promises to grow creatures big and strong with Hardened Scales and Primal Vigor but also generate enough extra mana to play big Eldrazi turns earlier than expected. However, with the engine, we can make some very powerful plays like using Gilt-Leaf Archdruid to steal every land, making infinite wurms with Wurmcalling and straight killing them with Helix Pinnacle. The more druids, the more mana, to paraphrase Biggie Smalls, Archdruid. We’ll even get to use both halves of From Beyond because I plan to jam a few Eldrazi in the deck to make sure we have something to use all of our mana on. We’ll even contrive a few ways to re-buy Rishkar a lot, like saccing him to Ashnod's Altar and bringing him back with Nim Deathmantle or bouncing him with Cloudstone Curio. This is going to be fun. What’s our deck going to look like?

Mr. Steal Yo? Lands ? Commander | Jason Alt

Helix Pinnacle
This seems pretty saucy. We have a lot of ways to distribute +1/+1 counters and that makes creatures better even when it doesn’t make them eligible to tap for mana. We have mana sinks, including some of the best mana sinks ever like Chameleon Colossus and Helix Pinnacle. I cheated and added some non-Druid creatures in the form of Eldrazi, but I was mostly good and avoided adding a lot of cards I was itching to include like Nettle Sentinel, Imperious Perfect and Fauna Shaman. It’s OK, though because the deck is pretty good even with us sticking to druids.

I wanted to make a deck that didn’t suck without Paradox Engine and which got stupid with it. I decided to cut Wurmcalling late because that card isn’t great without the Engine. I did include a lot of ways to keep the party going once we get the Engine, though, and we’re going to generate a tremendous amount of mana. If you find you need more mana sinks, there are a lot of good ones like Kamahl, Fist of Krosa that we can include. You should be able to dump your hand fairly easily and keep it full with Lifecrafter's Besitary and Glimpse of Nature. If you find you have to relax our Druid requirement to make room for Soul of the Harvest or something like that, feel free. But with Sylvan Library, Citanul Woodreaders and access to cards like Shamanic Revelation, we should have pretty full grips and be able to cast a ton of spells when we get the Engine out. The goal isn’t to combo off, although you technically can if you find your Helix Pinnacle. I didn’t want to feel like a combo deck so I cut cards like Concordant Crossroads that made your one turn much better but which didn’t help you have a series of very good turns. Paradox Engine is kill-on-sight, though, so don’t expect the good times to last too long — get what out of it you can.

Gilt-Leaf Archdruid
I like the idea of stealing everyone’s land with Gilt-Leaf Archdruid and Paradox Engine helps you do that very well. Once you have every land at the table, it should be fairly easy to pull ahead. You can’t do much about their board states but you can sure hamper their development. It’s a tough combo to pull off, so I wouldn’t compare it to a spell like Armageddon. If you manage to pull this off, they deserved it.

Druids are a fun tribe and you get a lot of synergy going here. Try and bounce Rishkar often so you can recast him to distribute counters, or get some mileage out of your utility creatures. Bouncing stuff to replay it is also very good with Paradox Engine. Acidic Slime would be a good part of that combo, but I built a druid deck and I’m sticking to it. You should know these interactions exist, though, if you want to go your own way with your own build.

There we have it. What do we think? Is sticking to druids (and eldrazi) foolhardy or is it a good way to keep our card pool a little more narrow and encourage creativity? Did you have to look up what Durable Handicraft and Kujar Seedsculptor even did? Do you have your own ideas about how to make the most of Paradox Engine being around? Leave it in the comments section. As always, thanks for reading. We’ll see you next week!

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