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What's 75% of 36? - Part 2

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Readers!

No one wrote to me and told me not to do what I did last week again for the other walkers we didn’t cover, so I guess I’m going to finish up. Good news, too, because Modern Horizons previews have started and there are already quite a few spicy cards that I can’t wait to start slotting into decks and as much as we’ve only had War of the Spark cards for about 90 seconds, that’s old business and it’s almost time to move on to new business. Luckily, this old business is going to give players the business. And let me tell you - business is booming. Let’s go down to… brass tacks.

Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God

Bolas is a pretty nasty walker, and while the mana cost is clunky, it’s also pretty cheap. A lot of superfriends decks don’t run Red because they’re Atraxa-based, but if you can see your way clear to finding a way to include Red, being able to use any other walker’s ability could really come in clutch. Having a built-in “you win the game” clause is especially nasty if you slam him with a Doubling Season out and ultimate him immediately. This card is a lot of fun.

The decks: Most of the decks currently using Bolas are either Nicol Bolas, The Ravager decks which would use him for flavor reasons even if he weren’t a beating or 5-color decks, because obviously. One interesting deck I saw emerge is Breya, Etherium Shaper. I am not sure this synergizes well there nor do I think it’s got enough raw power to get there. However, a Grixis Walkers deck built around Breya loses out on Green but has a ton of really potent artifact cards like every Tezzeret, Saheeli(s), the Darettis, the Karns - if you think about it, the best reason to run Green is cards like Doubling Season and less-so walkers like Kiora or Garruk. Breya Superfriends actually sounds like a ton of fun. Here is the EDHREC page with the average decklist. I’d like to run this with Doubling Season, so consider a deck like Jodah or The Ur-Dragon. It’s sort of boring to run Bolas just in decks with lots of other ‘walkers, but it’s also silly not to leverage his best ability, so sometimes boring is fine.

Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge

Giving artifacts affinity as a static ability is potent and like Bolas, it sort of wedges you into an artifact-heavy build by nature of you wanting to take advantage of all of his modes. That is fine. You want artifacts in the deck because all of his modes reference them.

The decks: The Breya decks we referenced above would be good for a start. Planeswalker decks need lots of mana rocks, cards like The Chain Veil and Rings of Brighthearth and cards like Contagion Engine and having a pile of Tezzeret ‘walkers is great. Saheeli and Daretti and the rest of the artifact ‘walker gang synergize well. I really just want to build that deck. Sharuum the Hegemon and Sydri, Galvanic Genius are also excellent destinations for this versatile ‘walker, and being able to quickly ramp into very big creatures with a board full of indestructible artifacts with Mycosynth Lattice and Darksteel Forge out can lock the game up. If we’re looking to get very creative, this wacky Mishra deck we brewed would be a good home.

Ajani, the Greathearted

Giving creatures Vigilance isn’t the best possible static ability and I feel like the other abilities don’t quite justify inclusion in too many decks. At first, only able to use his -2 twice without having to use the +1 seems like a slight upgrade on a card like Titania’s Boon, but hopefully the static ability makes you glad you chose him, and his ability to charge other ‘walkers over it. In Atraxa Superfriends, the least creative deck of all time, he is pretty good, but there are 900 cards that are good in that deck, so what are you taking out?

The decks: Besides Atraxa Superfriends, I think he shines in go-wide token decks. I don’t know that Trostani, with their populate mechanic, is quite as good a destination as a deck like Rhys, the Redeemed which goes wide quickly, but any tokens deck really benefits from the growth ability and the Vigilance. Being able to aggro them but still not leave yourself vulnerable is a huge plus. Ghave, Guru of Spores is likely the best possible destination, here - having all of those counters to remove is a lot of value. If you have Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter out, you can even tap those tokens EOT for the mana to remove the counters from themselves to make more Saprolings which can get counters next turn. That second ability can really go nuts, and a Ghave deck is already running Doubling Season which gives Ajani 5 activations for free rather than 2. There’s your deck, baby.

Domri, Anarch of Bolas

Domri performed better in Limited than I had anticipated, which isn’t nothing. You can get out from under the occasional counterspell lock that you may find yourself in playing Commander and he’s removal in a color scheme that has to resort to burn spells. I am not sure I like him for Commander, but at three mana, it’s clear he wasn’t designed with Commander in mind, anyway. Let’s get creative and find him a few homes, if we can.

The decks: Nikya of the Old Ways plays a few non-creature spells and this is a great play the turn before you slam Nikya and lock yourself. Being able to play huge creatures and use them to shoot down their big creatures that never block like Consecrated Sphinx is pretty useful and making your creatures uncounterable is already something that deck plays. Domri could join Huatli in your Gishnath dino deck and Xenagos and Ruric Thar make some big creatures as well. I like making creatures like Wurmcoil Engine and Vigor fight their puny creatures and laughing. If you’re going to go Gruul, go Gruul.

Ral, Storm Conduit

There are plenty of spellslinger decks in Commander that would benefit from being able to shoot opponents you’re not directly targeting, and copying spells like Expropriate and Time Stretch in our favorite format is always useful. Ral may not be the best ‘walker in the set but he seems like a perfectly good Commander inclusion. Scry 1 is non-trivial, especially when knowing your top card comes up so often. All in all, I am happy to jam this, especially compared with a lot of other iterations of Ral Zarek.

The decks: There is really no shortage of potential homes for a versatile card such as this. Obviously Melek (Check out Robert Burrows’ list!) is a strong contender right off the top, but Riku of Two Reflections, Jori En, Ruin Diver, Will Kenrith and Rowan Kenrith, Mizzix of the Izmagnus, Kess, Dissident Mage, any Niv-Mizzet (even the new one)... decks that could benefit from Scry, contain a copy of Brainstorm and maybe a copy of Bribery and/or Expropriate benefit here. Copying spells is good, copying a spell 3 times in 4 turns is better.

Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord

Giving your Planeswalkers lifelink is amazing, and while it may or may not ever come up on cards other than he himself, I like that they’re exploring the design space. I like reanimating creatures a lot. If your creature is dead, more often than not, they used a resource to put it there and now you can get it back without paying mana. Maybe they made you discard or mill it. Maybe you blocked and they used a combat trick. Maybe you cast Entomb. The only way I’d like this more would be if you could reanimate their dead creatures (I call Animate Dead the Black Bribery). His middle ability is pretty disappointing but considering what it builds to and how good his static ability is in a deck that’s usually got a ton of vampires in it, I’ll give him a pass.

The decks: Sure, Edgar Markov wants this card, but we can do better than that. I am testing this in my Tesya Karlov deck because sometimes I have to sac something I want to keep around like Cruel Celebrant or Viscera Seer to get a loop going because I need a non-token to die. Bringing those back is helpful. Not only that, decks that thrive on lifegain ranging from Oloro, Ageless Ascetic to Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim like the static ability here and even if this only ever a four-mama Noble Purpose that drains for one a few times, that’s worth it in those decks, usually. Remember, your blockers won’t have lifelink, but playing this the turn you swing with Giden could be potent.

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

Well that’s a fine static ability. I don’t know how often you get menaced by creatures with annihilator but it happens to me a ton, and I have a tendency to play Sadistic Hypnotist in my decks. The static ability alone might or might not warrant inclusion, but being an Eternal Witness to boot seems like Tamiyo has a lot to offer. I have a lot of Simic decks and almost none of them are jazzed to play this but if you’re a combo deck, being immune to certain forms of disruption is handy, digging for a piece is handy and getting a lost piece back is handy. This sort of does a lot for certain builds.

The Decks: I am playing this in my Estrid the Masked deck because I like putting stuff in the yard and being able to get stuff out, and once I get both Privileged Position and Greater Auramancy out, it becomes difficult to remove my permanents and this makes it even harder. I could see Muldrotha, the Gravetide running this, also, as well as other graveyard decks like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and The Mimeoplasm. Going all Dwarves of Middle Earth on your deck and accidentally digging too greedily and too deep means you might want to be able to get stuff out of the yard as well as put stuff in and Tamiyo does both. Yes, please.

Teferi, Time Raveler

Gross. This card is gross. Mike Flores, who knows what he’s talking about, called this the best card in Standard. Cards that don’t resolve exactly during the opponent’s main phase get countered, essentially, which turns your spells like Delay into hard counters. It makes players play stuff on their own turns. It shuts off Vedalken Orrery shenanigans. It also lets YOU cheat, letting you cast sorceries whenever you want, and we play those in Commander. Bribery is a sorcery, for example. Teferi also bounces stuff and draws a card, all of which is solid. We can do better than merely adding this to Superfriends.

The decks: Did you build a super annoying Lavinia soft lock deck? This goes in that, but also other lock decks like Grand Arbiter Augustin IV and Dragonlord Ojutai are interested. If you’re playing counterspells, you basically play this. Other players turns are much more critical without Instants, so make sure you have counterspell backup because if someone tries to resolve something nasty, you can’t rely on any other player to counter it - it’s all up to you.

Ashiok, Dream Render

This card is really annoying in Limited, but lacking the ability to add more counters, this is mostly a mill 8 that has a mini-Stranglehold on it. That said, you can wipe yards and mill yourself, and that matters.

The decks: Phenax obviously comes to mind, but I could see Lazav, Circu, Dimir Lobotomist, and Tasigur wanting this. Milling their yard is actually non-trivial, and if you have access to Green which would let you get it back after you deplete its loyalty like in Sidisi or The Mimeoplasm or Muldrotha, that could be cool, too. Wiping their yard matters and milling yourself is good and this does both. I like this.

Dovin, Hand of Control

This -1 isn’t terribly broken but you may just want to keep the loyalty as high as you can, because that static ability is pretty nasty.

The decks: Making their spells cost more is a very 75% way to hurt them. You don’t blow up all of their lands so they can’t do anything, but you tax them heavily so they can’t do as much. This allows you to pull ahead. Like I said of Teferi, a lot of the control decks like Augustin love this ability. You add some Thalias, some Kismets and some Winter Orbs to basically any Azorius deck and Dovin is right there with you, taxing them. When you think about parity in a game of Magic, taxing their spells is sort of like making yours cheaper in the sense that you play a 5-drop a turn before they do, not because yours was cheaper but because theirs was more. You have more mana to counter spells and they have fewer mana to play multiple spells. Every missed land drop is a Time Walk. This is a beating for creature-light decks.

Huatli, the Sun's Heart

More Doran effects? This is a slam dunk in the decks that will use this as essentially more copies of the effects they already have. This is a slam dunk in a small number of decks. What are those decks?

The decks: Basically Doran and Arcades, but it’s super good in those!

Kaya, Bane of the Dead

Hexproof is no longer an issue, and you can exile two creatures to boot. Six mana is a lot, but I think it can potentially be worth it in the right deck. Hexproof can make Magic pretty annoying and while this doesn’t deal with shroud, it deals with a lot of the effects people are playing lately.

The decks: Unfortunately, targeted removal in the 2 best colors for mass removal isn’t that exciting. Lots of Orzhov decks run it, but if you can’t use it, you don’t want to play a six mana enchantment that makes it work, even if it’s stapled to 2 Unmakes. I could see Kambal, Consul of Allocation perhaps running this, or Aminatou, the Fateshifter, but this isn’t that exciting.

Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner

I put this in my Maelstrom Wanderer deck to test it and being able to untap a mana rock and re-use it, especially one like Mana Vault or Gilded Lotus, is very strong. I have this in the place that used to be occupied by Temur Ascendancy for now. We can’t ask for a ton of our uncommon commanders but this one does Simic stuff and that’s useful. I also slotted this in Kydele // Thrasios but since I never trigger the static ability, it’s less useful, even when untapping a fat Kydele.

The decks: Decks with fat creatures can really get some yardage out of her, however, and Arixmethes leaps to mind right away. Prime Speaker Vannifar decks benefit from a repeatable untap effect, Roalesk, Apex Hybrid, Vorel of the Hull Clade, Pir, Imaginative Rascal and Toothy, Imaginary Friend and others like the mana ramp and card draw and Kruphix decks play a lot of big spells and untapping a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is potent. I think a lot of Simic decks should try this out, if both modes are relevant in your deck, I think this is powerful, although Kiora’s Follower can be used multiple times in a turn more easily, so you should replace a different card if you were considering cutting that. Why not run both?

Nahiri, Storm of Stone

This is strong, but narrow and that’s OK. It’s uncommon, after all.

The decks: The problem with having a cheaper equip cost is that every deck that wants that is Mono-White right now. Certain Feather, the Redeemed builds go Voltron and that’s neat, but Sram decks would like this and can’t use it. Giving tokens first strike is good if they can grow, but I don’t have a ton of decks like that. EDHRECast did a brew battle with Feather and some of those decks, though, might benefit from a removal spell that made your tokens better in battle but I don’t have any decks that want this card. Maybe if she were Mono-White.

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

This card is playable in every format. Wow.

The decks: I threw this straight into Brudiclad and if you haven’t seen that deck, I am very proud of it. This card does a ton of work in there. Any deck where you can loop spells to get a ton of Servos will benefit and decks like Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice and Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain are at the top of that list. Turning any Servo into a powerful artifact, perhaps one that is tapped, is solid and can be abused even in Limited so imagine the things you can do in a format like Commander. All in all, this may be one of the most powerful ‘walkers in the whole set and I have 3 or 4 decks ready for this effect and ready for Japanese foil copies.

Samut, Tyrant Smasher

Are you attacking with just one creature a lot? Do you have room in your deck for a Need for Speed? Does scrying help smooth out weird draws in a Gruul deck (I’ll answer that one, yes). Maybe you have room for this.

The decks: Grand Warlod Radha seems like a decent home for this card, but I like this more with Neheb (any of the Red ones) and the double color identity really limits the decks Samut can go in. I also don’t really want her in my own Samut deck, and that’s bad news for a card that she can’t even synergize with her own historical abilities. They can’t all be gems. I’m sure someone will tell me in the comments how solid their build is and I welcome it.

Vraska, Swarm's Eminence

This is good against Planeswalkers but how many creatures with deathtouch do you have in a deck?

The decks: I don’t have a ton of ideas for this, but I have seen people use a lot of deathtouch creatures in a Damia, Sage of Stone or Sisters of Stone Death Gorgon tribal deck. Got a tribal Gorgon deck? Then you were already all over this card and didn’t need me to tell you about it!

Karn, the Great Creator

Karn is a beast. While you have no sideboard in Commander and therefore can’t grab stuff from a toolbox like people are doing in Modern, the static ability combining with Mycosynth Lattice to ruin their day is still appealing to people who don’t like other people to have fun. It’s not 75% but you can’t argue with the power level.

The decks: Animating artifacts can be useful if you have ways to untap creatures more readily than you could non-creatures but I am not sure the middle ability is that abuseable. I kind of like Memnarch as a potential home for Karn since you can turn their stuff into artifacts and turn it off while Memnarch’s ability lasts, and then steal it if you want. They can’t use that Staff of Domination, but you can. Karn isn’t really optimized for Commander but not everything has to be, and if you have a deck with other ways to search for that Mycosynth Lattice, you could ruin the game in a hurry. Merely shutting off mana rocks, though, is a great way to break parity and throwing this in Daretti, Scrap Savant or other Karn or Sydri isn’t too bad.

That’s the ‘walkers! Do you have any you’re adding to your 75% decks? Want to pick a bone or even a fight over something I said about a ‘walker you love or hate? I welcome it! Hit me up in the comments and share this on social media to get your friends riled up. Until next time!