Strixhaven Limited Set Review with MTG Nerd Girl
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Surf's Up



Every once in a while, a commander comes along that I will take a look at, decide it has potential, realize I'm utterly unaware of how to do anything besides copy the stock list and put it on the back burner. I call this "Kethising" and it's not the bravest way to approach a Magic: The Gathering card, but with Wizards giving us 900 new legendary creatures in the past 12 months, I have been able to get away with it by simply moving on to the next one. Well, that ends today. I'm going to put a 75% twist on a stock list and come up with my own completely novel approach even if it kills me (it won't, how could it possibly, why do people say that?).

Araumi of the Dead Tide

Stock Araumi is pretty straightforward. You mill yourself a bit, you ramp your mana and you cast your cards with encore, allowing you to bring back the dead to smack your opponents and get some ETB triggers. You can run standard Reanimator cards for value, meaning you don't have to confine yourself to Encore shenanigans. In fact, you don't really need to activate Araumi at all unless you want the value from making multiple copies. The stock list is cool, but I want to put a 75% spin on it. For me, that means stealing their stuff. Taking an Artifact with Master Thief is pretty cool, but even cooler than that is taking an artifact from each player. For a lot of creatures, you'll need to give those permanents back when the tokens perish, which is why I am loading up on creatures that don't revert control, as well as including Sundial of the Infinite so that you can keep the stuff you gleaned. Loading up on ways to take their cards and sometimes even keep them forever really puts a nice 75% spin on the stock list. Here is what I came up with.

75% Twist on a Boring List | Commander | Jason Alt

I added a lot of my pet cards, true, but they work here quite well. I stopped short of adding Altars both Phyrexian and Ashnodian because Altar of Dementia and Helm of Possession should do, but if you find you want to make some mana from borrowed creatures, consider it.

I like the idea of using a creature like Sower of Temptation in combination with Panharmonicon to remove a ton of blockers from the board so you can get through, even if you don't manage to keep them forever. However, I included quite a few ways to see that we can do our best to keep those creatures around, and I think I significantly improved that ability from the stock list. I would be perfectly happy battling with something like this.

However, I really wanted to put my own spin on Araumi, and it involves making sure we mill everyone. Sure, reanimating your own creatures is cool and all, but what about reanimating everyone's stuff? If we mill everyone, we can have a very big "hand" because we'll be able to play reanimator spells on anyone's dead creatures, not just our own. It's going to be a graveyard smash and I can't wait to show you my list.

Monster Mash | Commander | Jason Alt

This looks like it's my kind of deck. With a whole raft of Liliana planeswalkers, Rise of the Dark Realms, and a slate of pinpoint Reanimator cards, we'll make their dead stuff our property in not time. We'll mill them a lot and while we're not a mill deck, we can have access to a greater number of their creatures but still make them think they could get milled. This means spells like Memory Erosion may make them play a bit more carefully since they don't know that we're not trying to mill them out. Threatening something we have no intention of doing can throw them off of their game and let us focus on ours - taking big creatures from their graveyard and putting them onto the battlefield.

I like both of these builds a lot and the turns where you Encore a Keiga and swipe a pile of creatures will be memorable and fun. Remember to take their stuff early and often and never be afraid to mill yourself a bit. After all, what's a graveyard if not a bigger hand you can keep more cards in? That does it for me, readers. Until next time!

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