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75% – Getting Nathy in a Good Way


I’m figuring this out as I go along. I don’t know whether you consider that a good thing, but that’s the honest truth. This 75% mentality has struck a chord with a lot of players, and I’m fortunate that we all are able to figure it out together. Having communities like Gathering Magic and reddit has been invaluable, as crowdsourcing is sometimes the easiest way to discover answers to difficult questions. It’s fair to say that the 75% mentality has a lot of elements to it that are intuitive, and players have responded to that. But it’s also fair to say there are a lot of elements that are based on gut feelings. What’s the issue with that? To quote John Cusack in High Fidelity, “My guts have $%^& for brains.”

Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
Whenever a card doesn’t feel 75% or I don’t feel that a commander can have a 75% deck built around him, I find it’s best to take the community’s pulse. I have rejected several commanders as subjects for articles for various reasons: I feel that Rafiq would be pointless to build 75% because unknown adversaries will treat you as though you’re playing a 100% deck, and you don’t need something as adaptable as a 75% deck for a regular playgroup. Jhoira of the Ghitu and other commanders that cheat creatures into play are going to suffer from situations in which, to make a 75% deck, you’re just replacing unfair cards with less unfair cards, and that breaks one of our most important rules. Finally, I rejected building a Nath of the Gilt-Leaf deck in this series because, while I was able to build one, it looked so similar to the Shattergang Brothers deck I’d built already that we wouldn’t be able to learn anything from it.

That’s where the community came up big. Reports came in that there are members of the community who had a bit more vision than I had, and they built a 75% Nath deck using one of the other methods I prescribed in an earlier installment: building around a theme. In this case, the theme was tribal Elves.

I was shipped not one, but two Nath lists this week, so I’m going to see if there is anything we can learn from them.


The first one comes to us from /u/cybishop3 on reddit. He plays with a small group of friends and says he’s not sure how this deck would stack up against other builds.

Prima facie, this deck looks to be a good budget deck. Konda's Banner is a fine card in this deck, but would it warrant a slot in the deck if we had a Coat of Arms? Cards like Hurricane and Corrosive Gale seem specific to a metagame although it’s never a bad idea to be able to deal with flyers. Some cards, such as Vitalizing Wind, seem to be budget alternatives to more expensive cards like Craterhoof Behemoth. Craterhoof Behemoth is possibly the best Elf ever printed, but his current retail price is worth about ten percent of this entire deck.

Vitalizing Wind
I think we’re onto something here. The deck is all-in on the Elf theme. He’s not even running cards like Mind Slash, which are very potent with Nath, because they’re not on theme. By committing to a premise, he’s limited the power level of the deck, but he made a deck that works together so well synergistically that including more powerful cards may actually weaken the way the deck works.

Almost every Elf is so cheap in terms of mana, and the deck doesn’t run cards like Craterhoof Behemoth or Regal Force, so I might consider jamming an Aluren to pair with the Recycle and Null Profusion. All in all, I like the build. It’s obviously 75%-based on its adherence to our rules, and, in all honesty, I think it could stand to be quite a bit more powerful and still follow our rules. For example, we’ve jammed Coat of Arms in tribal decks before.

I don’t feel that this build takes advantage of the black mana as much as it could, but you want a Commander deck that can really explode in a few turns with cards like Beastmaster Ascension. I like Slate of Ancestry as a good tool and as a flavorful card as well. There are real, tangible ways to beef this up and still have it be a 75% deck. One thing is clear: This is nothing like Shattergang Brothers.


Our next list comes to us courtesy of /u/silencesc, who posted his Nath tribal list in the subreddit asking for feedback. The entire thread is a short read and can be found here. Let’s take a look at his list and see if anything jumps out at us—that’s how we came up with all of our other rules after all.

75% Nath ? Commander | silencesc

  • Commander (0)

This deck is pretty Nathty. A Stax deck that uses its Elves to ramp to very large spells can be very potent. There are some cards that we aren’t going to want to jam in a 75% deck—such as Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger and potentially Smokestack—but I am not prepared to rule on Smokestack unilaterally. In fact, our poll last week was pretty successful, so let’s try another one. We voted last week on whether Greater Good was a good 75% inclusion, and a majority of you thought so. Let’s do one for Smokestack.

[poll id="350"]

Let’s see where we end up on this.

As far as this second deck goes, it has a lot I like. Champion of Lambholt is a very cool card, and I have actually begun running it in my Vorel of the Hull Clade list. This deck has much less regard for budget, running cards like Overwhelming Forces (I run Decree of Pain), Phyrexian Altar, Karn Liberated, and other expensive cards. There’s nothing wrong with running good, expensive cards. However, Karn seems a bit off to me. He’s certainly powerful, but he’s not overly flavorful. While we’re not exactly required to build a flavorful deck, I think we can afford to cut some raw power in favor of some more focused power. Neither deck is running a Skyshroud Poacher, but at a mere $3, a card that can find your Heritage Druid to help you take advantage of all of your Elf tokens seems to be a better inclusion than a card the main purpose of which is, “He’s really a good Magic card, and as a colorless Planeswalker, he’s in my colors.”

There are some powerful combos, but none of them is infinite as far as I can tell. Powerful combos are totally fine in 75% decks. /u/lobearer recommended adding the Volrath's Stronghold back in to loop Eternal Witness and Pernicious Deed. I’m not super-opposed to that, but I was looking to go a little deeper into Elf tribal, and I don’t know whether I want Eternal Witness in my Nath deck.


There are elements of both of these decks that I like. Hard-pressed to come up with a 75% list, it might look something like this.

75% Nath ? Commander | Jason Alt

I think this is a good reconciliation of the two decks as well as some other strategies I saw online. I used the more powerful of these two decks as the shell, but I incorporated elements from the first. I like the powerful interaction between Copperhorn Scout and Elves that tap for a lot of mana in a deck with Ezuri, Renegade Leader. This will require a lot of tutors and will be very fragile, so even as powerful as it is, it is inconsistent. It will be fun to get off, and it won’t work so frequently that it’s no fun to play against. Face-up tutors such as Skyshroud Poacher are fine in my opinion. I added some additional sac outlets like Perilous Forays.

Sadistic Hypnotist
I couldn’t bring myself to go full Elf tribal. I stripped out a lot of non-Elf cards, but I think Sadistic Hypnotist is too good to exclude. With no way to tutor for him, I think he is a fine inclusion. He can be potent with your commander, but not overly so given your inability to draw him consistently. I didn’t add non-Elf cards like Regal Force, although I did add Craterhoof Behemoth. I reasoned that playing him is not much different than playing a card like Overwhelming Stampede, and you should have a way to end a ground stall.

I like the artifact package I added. I think Adaptive Automaton belongs in a deck like this, as does Coat of Arms. Thousand-Year Elixir is going to be quite good when you want to chain Elves, so I added a few more mana Elves and ways to find Heritage Druid.

All in all, this list strikes me as a nice 75% Nath deck. Are there countless ways to build this? Absolutely. If I sleeved this up, my signature Trading Post probably makes the cut, for example. I may end up cutting Death Cloud and/or Exsanguinate after jamming a few games. Still, I think what I did here that is most important is that I realized that my gut is wrong sometimes and that you can easily make several different 75% Nath builds that look nothing like redundant copies of other decks. All it took was a little creativity, some community feedback, and the inclination.

No new rule leapt out at me in the course of deck-building, but a parsimonious list is fine for now. We adhered to the rules we made thus far, and it led us somewhere pretty exciting.

Thanks again to the Gathering Magic and reddit r/EDH communities for continued help in fleshing out this project. Go out and spread the good word about 75%, and meet me here next week, where I’m hoping one of you will have given me an article idea.

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