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Down and Dirty with Ertai Resurrected


I hate to sound like a broken record who is stuck on the track "My Tatsunari Deck", but I absolutely want to talk about my Tatsunari deck. Specifically, I want to talk about my favorite thing to do in that deck - make lots of copies of Keimi, the Toad that Tatsunari puts out when you play an Enchantment. There are lots of ways to clone cards, especially tokens, but not quite as many to do it if the token is Legendary, as in the case of Keimi. Luckily, there are a few sneaky ways to make non-Legendary copies of Keimi such as with Spark Double or regular cloning shenanigans while you have a Mirror Gallery in play. I have taken to differentiating between the Legendary copies and non-Legendary copies with the designation "Clean Keimi" and "Dirty Keimi" written on my infinitoken. The non-Legendary copies of Keimi are the "dirty" ones because I'm clearly violating the intent of the card. They want you to play a lot of Enchantments to do massive damage with Keimi, not play lots of Keimis to do massive damage with one Enchantment. Too bad. Do I have a point here? I do. I want to take what I learned from this Tatsunari deck (the part where I have more than one Keimi) and expand that to a different kind of exactly the same deck basically with a different commander. I'm going to take the Dirty Keimi concept and make Dirtai, the dirtiest recently dead mage in all of Dominaria. It's going to feel as dirty as its namesake Toad.

If we apply the same shenanigans to Ertai as we do to Keimi, we have a deck that just wants the Ertai tokens to come into play for value. This means rather than being counter to your aim, getting a second Ertai that dies to the Legend Rule immediately is good for getting the ETB and then triggering Grave Pact. You don't need a pile of Ertais in play, you only want that trigger. This means the deck will be less frustrating to play when you don't draw a Spark Double or some other way to make a dirty clone since you'll constantly be churning through ETB triggers whether you keep the token or not. If you keep the token, cool, it's a creature on the board to attack with, block with, sac to Attrition or sac to Helm of Possession. It's fun to make a bunch of creatures like with the Tatsunari deck, but considering you get your board wiped 15 times every time you lay a 3rd creature these days, maybe getting triggers and kissing your tokens goodbye isn't the worst expectation. It's extremely frustrating to play my Tatsunari deck these days because of the prevalence of easy and comprehensive board wipes and relying on keeping a bunch of Creatures alive has always been fraught. I basically started cutting Creatures for Enchantments, which isn't great either since every new Wrath also blows up Enchantments and exiles them and dings you 5 points on your credit report (Experian only, but, still). Plan on your tokens dying, and set yourself up to benefit from it rather than lamenting that Commander isn't the format you wish it still was.

It's occurring to me we haven't looked at ol' Ertai yet, so why don't we do that now?

Ertai Resurrected

Dominaria, where even Wizards who spent a lifetime in study and quiet contemplation present an unhealthy body image to the statistically least-in-shape group of hobbyists of all time. Is this what a man is supposed to look like? With all those muscles?

In addition to muscles, Ertai pops out of the command zone or your hand as a combat trick or a counterspell and that's rad. Making a clone at Instant speed, flickering Ertai, bouncing and casting Ertai all give you access to both of these modes and that's a lot of versatility. Making a copy nukes a creature or Planeswalker and being able to do that a lot means you can control the board. A token dying to the Legend Rule triggers Blood Artist and Grave Pact, but keeping the token gives you a lot more flexibility. You can even let someone you're allied with trade a dork for a card if you're feeling charitable. You will have complete control over what resolves and sticks around and you'll get to play Mirror Gallery in a control deck. Who says EDH can't be fun, besides everyone who was on the Warhammer 40k design team?

We want a lot out of Ertai but it needn't be the entire deck since it can get very costly to continue to play Ertai if he dies a lot so we'll want some redundancy from the core of the deck - namely we'll want typical bounce and blink deck stuff in Blue and Black. One card, though, that I think we must build around, is Vesuvan Duplimancy. With this as our core, we can look to both cards like Rite of Replication and Ghostly Flicker to serve as the basis. Rite of Replication on a Dirtai is going to get out of hand quickly even though we're letting our opponent draw a bunch of extra cards. Did I say "let"? We're going to MAKE them draw extra cards, so why not punish them for doing a thing we made them do?

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

Cards like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Underworld Dreams, Fate Unraveler and Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted have been vexing opponents who draw extra cards for years, and now we have a reliable way to make them draw lots of extra cards. Not only that, we have cards like Consecrated Sphinx and Notion Thief to draw you extra cards instead. Are they going to play extra cards now that they're drawing a ton extra? They can, but they have to answer to Painful Quandary. This is getting very Nekusary fast, but we want to refrain from wheeling them, preferring to trade the cards they draw for the creatures we kill and effects we stop. We're very much going to try and make them do as little extra as possible, but we're offsetting the extra value we grant them rather than cutting into their ability to do anything at all. This deck is honestly going to be less frustrating to play against than your average Dimir control deck, and with us leaning away from wheels and discard, if only because there's no room, it won't feel frustrating to them and they won't underestimate how much damage they're in for until the snare tightens around their foot and it's too late.

I think this is going to be a lot of fun to brew, let's see what I come up with.

Dirtai| Commander | Jason Alt

Card Display

This deck is honestly a hoot. I like the Tatsunari deck despite its clunkiness and this eliminates all of the clunkiness. It trades some of its aerodynamism for a bit of a less satisfying game experience vis-a-vis not being able to make a big pile of Enchantments like I like to do in Tatsunari, but creatures with ETB abilities rather than abilities that require them to remain in play are much better in a world jammed with Wrath effects. I'm not saying I'm scrapping Tatsunari because it has become a bit of a signature deck and if I can get it running more smoothly, I'll be glad I put the work in, but I can't deny this immediately on paper leaps out at me as a less frustrating experience.

What do we think? Is Ertai the new bounce and blink king? Should I stop trying to make Vesuvan Duplimancy happen? Am I going to ruin the game with Notion Thief like I did in a webcam game on my own stream without realizing what was going to happen like a complete and utter donkey? Leave it for me in the comments section, remember to share this on social media and check back with me next week for more shenanigans. Until next time!

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