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Don't Call Me A Peck

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Readers!

Less than a percent of you saw the title and said "I know exactly where he's going with this" and I salute you. Not everyone is going to celebrate building around a character named "Willowdusk" (cat's out of the bag, I can't do the bit where I pretend you don't know which commander we're talking about) with a forgettable quote from the 1988 Ron Howard masterpiece "Willow" but that's how we're starting out. Didn't like Willow? That's between you and Ron Howard and let's all try to move past it and look at a commander that has a lot of versatility, a lot of power and reminds me of the movie Willow which I'm probably going to end up rewatching and liking less than I did when I was a kid. Thanks for nothing, Willowdusk.

Lately I have been trying to give you two different decklists rather than just one, which has been a challenge but a fun one. Few commanders make it quite as simple as does Willowdusk because of the word "Or" in her text box. I'll show you the one I mean.

Willowdusk, Essence Seer

Willowdusk lends herself either to a build where you gain as much life as possible or one where you lose as much life as possible. Both seem like a good time to me, and you know I can't resist putting a bit of a 75% spin on the decks either way. First, let's look at the list that takes our life total as high as we can make it go.

Willowdusk Lifegain | Commander | Jason Alt


At first, I was tempted to steer harder into infinite combos, considering with little tuition, you're unlikely to draw all of the pieces you need unless the game goes fairly long. Cloudstone Curio does a lot of work in a bunch of combos with Elves, and I was tempted to steer hard into Elves, and, in fact, if I were doing a third deck, I'd like to see how an Elves list would look. Wellwisher would certainly do some work here! As it is, the Curio is not just for the Eternal Witness combo with Primal Command, because you can actually do quite a bit. Bouncing Gray Merchant, Blood Tracker, and Noxious Gearhulk repeatably (it's a word, google it) rules and Pontiff of Blight makes any creature worth rebuying, especially with Verdant Sun's Avatar in play.

I steered pretty hard into gaining life and that caused me to remove some cards that synergized with having life to use as a resource. There really isn't a way to make the version of the deck where you want to get a huge number of counters by making sure you lose a lot of life that doesn't also gain it all back, otherwise you're just begging to get killed by an errant Lightning Bolt or Guttersnipe activation. Paying a ton of life to make a lifelinking creature huge and gain it all back is a fun way to play the deck, and it's much easier to pay a lot of life than gain a lot of life. We're going to be much more aggressive and attack a lot more with this next version of the deck, and we're going to play some cards people haven't played in quite a long time because of how costly they are to your life total ordinarily. Here's my "Pay lots of life" version of the deck.

Quit Hitting Myself | Commander | Jason Alt


I think this is a lot more straightforward, but maybe less fun and closer to the stock list. Losing a ton of life just to gain it all back by piling the counters on a creature with lifelink is fun, but I struggled to make it do anything cool without access to other colors. White would have let me exchange life totals with an opponent to benefit from all the life I'm paying. Red would have let me easily fling the giant creature at someone's face.

I really wanted to make this closer to a Reyhan/Ikra Shidiqi deck, and cards like The Ozolith and Death's Presence beckoned to me. Ultimately, if I could do another version of the deck, I might focus on counters, but I didn't want to just be a bad Reyhan deck. Willowdusk requires you to play a lot of spells that let you radically change your life total, which in a way is fun because you build something that's not thy Reyhan deck I would have built before Willowdusk was revealed. I think it's possible to blend the two approaches, but focusing on gaining a ton of life with one build, and losing a ton but being able to gain it all back and more with the other was gratifying in its own right.

If you want to modify either deck a bit more to suit your individual tastes, steer harder into what I attempted, I think. Cloudstone Curio is a broken card and there are a few more infinite combos that use it that can be added to the first deck. If you wanted to be an Elves deck, cards like Wellwisher and Shaman of the Pack will play heavily into your strategy. There is room for the Devoted Druid and Quillspike combo, and that can give you infinite life or let you draw as many cards as you want depending on what you sac it to. You could even mill someone out with Altar of Dementia. None of this tech is novel, but if all Willowdusk is doing is uniting a bunch of disparate strategies that synergize by virtue of working with a new commander, that in and of itself makes Willowdusk very interesting. However, you want to build a commander that makes you more aggressive the more life you gain is very cool, and being able to make a creature huge to sac for life or attack for lethal is what a lot of decks have been looking for.

That does it for me, everyone. I made 2 decks and neither one ran Helm of Possession, but one of them functions better with Primal Command. I don't even know who I am anymore. Until next time!

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