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Card Advantage in a Flash



Kaldheim has been a blast to incorporate into my decks so far, and I think I've made an excellent case for adding Snow basics to a few of your decks. However, with Time Spiral Remastered on the horizon, I've realized that we have some unfinished business with Commander Legends. There were a ton of great commanders in that set and so far I've barely scratched the surface. While I brewed the ones that stood out to me the most and even built a few of them, I feel like there are a few very powerful commanders that I haven't tapped the potential of. That ends today because Commander Legends gave us a creature that does a very good impression of a reusable Mulldrifter that starts the game in your command zone if you build your deck to take advantage of it. Rather that drawing two cards, though, you put one card in your hand and put the other in your other hand. Not sure what I mean by that? Let's take a look at the card and I'll explain.

Nymris, Oona's Trickster

Flash, Flying and a big butt can make this card a very potent surprise blocker when opponents don't expect you to cast your commander on their turn, but Nymris' real power lies in the card draw ability. I mentioned that you put one card in your hand and the other card in your other hand because I firmly believe that your graveyard is your other hand in a Black deck. Both Blue and Black excel at playing cards from the graveyard, meaning Nymris draws you cards to play now and cards to play later, all while encouraging you to play a lot of creatures with Flash and powerful Instants. You could potentially trigger the "draw 2" on every other player's turn if you have the mana and the Flashy stuff to play.

A stock build of Nymris loads up on Flash stuff and mostly filters the cards by keeping the best one, a strategy that is honestly pretty good. A few of our best cards can be rescued with a well-timed Snapcaster Mage or Archaeomancer and the extra lands can just hit the bin. Drawing a ton of extra cards wins games, and we'll draw a heap of them with all of the Instants and Flash creatures we'll play. I put my spin on a stock list to emphasize using 75% cards like Desertion, Aetherspouts, and Memory Plunder to trigger Nymris on their turn to draw us extra cards. If we can benefit from any spell as long as it can be played on their turn, I want to load up on all of the 75% spells I can to make sure we're pilfering their cards, thus getting us even more value. I've long maintained that stealing a creature from their side of the board and using it as our own is a two-point swing in our favor in the zero-sum game called "having creatures" and drawing a card to boot is just gravy. Here is a stock Nymris list with a 75% twist.

Drawing Cards with Nymris | Commander | Jason Alt

This almost feels like a tribal deck to me - we have Cunning Nightbonder and Niad of Hidden Coves reducing the cost of our "flash tribal" cards and that's as many warchiefs as most tribes get. I made sure I got in as many "steal their stuff" cards with flash as I could, but I am pretty sure I jacked up the average CMC of the stock deck considerably. I think this deck is very mana-hungry, but it can also slow the pace of the game way down, and with all of the filtering of your draws you'll get later, you'll have the mana you need just by virtue of hitting all of your drops and finding all of your rocks.

I think the stock list does a good job of making sure we can trigger Nymris basically at will, and while that is fine and the deck plays a lot like the kind of deck I like to play in those colors, I really like the idea of using my graveyard as a second hand. While it's true that this opens you up to potential blowouts when they wipe the yard with cards like Bojuka Bog or Tormod's Crypt, remember that we're going to be drawing extra cards, too, and we'll be putting cards into the graveyard on most turns, meaning we can recover from a Bog (or Draugr Necromancer) fairly quickly. It won't just be our yard that's a resource, however, as we'll want to include some cards like Animate Dead and Rise of the Dark Realms to really get the most out of our "second hand." With Spelltwine, Sepulchral Primordial, Diluvian Primoridal and dear god what is the average CMC of this deck going to be?

Fear not, I plan to swipe all of their mana rocks to fund my largesse, stealing cards I'll use to steal more cards. Playing the occasional Hullbreacher or Notion Thief on their turn will ensure I keep my hand fully stocked and I'll even sneak in a few creatures without flash by employing Leyline of Anticipation and Vedalken Orrery. This is going to be a blast.

Nymris's Graveyard | Commander | Jason Alt

I think we can cut down on the number of creatures we run a wee bit if we run Cloudstone Curio and Equilibrium and possibly some other bounce cards, letting us get more mileage out of creatures we run and letting us get value out of cards that don't have flash but that I want to still run like Thieving Skydiver and Sepulchral Primordial.

I thought about tuning this way toward Enchantments, and that build when I devised it had nasty cards like Warped Devotion to make Words of Wind and Equilibrium more punishing. In that build, we got to pick a lot more cards from their graveyard since we'd be making them discard a lot more. I kept Dire Undercurrents from that list and that's about it, and I think that deck will make an appearance someday, just not with Nymris at the helm. I had to cut my Enchantments and Artifacts to the bone and still cut quite a few Instants to make room for the three nasty Sorceries I'm including, but it was all worth it. I think this gives me just as many Nymris triggers as a stock list, especially since I used flexible cards like Necromancy that can be used as an Instant in a pinch.

I have quite a few cards without Flash, however, and I decided rather than cut them, to instead run Vedalken Orrery, Leyline of Anticipation and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. It may not be enough, but I had some goofy ideas not make the cut, such as running Rootwater Shaman and a bunch of Control Magic effects. If Rootwater Shaman were our commander, I'd absolutely consider it, but I can't have a bunch of sorcery speed cards that are bad unless I draw and keep alive an obscure, fragile Merfolk from 1996. I still have love for Rootwater Shaman, but this isn't the time nor the place.

I think these two approaches to a Nyrmis deck emphasize different aspects of what makes Nymris so cool and powerful. We draw a lot of cards and we also discard a lot of cards, making our graveyard a place to hold our big spells until we need to fish them out and wreak havoc with them. Don't be afraid to treat your graveyard like it's your other hand and while you're at it, don't be afraid to treat their graveyard like it's your graveyard. They weren't using that dead creature, so put it to work for you. That does it for me this week, thanks for reading. Until next time!

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