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Astral Projectiles

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I typically open up articles with a premise that lets me get a running start into the article. Sometimes it's my thesis paragraph, frequently it's about a thought that I'm fixated on that made me want to build the deck that doesn't necessarily relate to the deck itself. This is one of those weeks and this week, the thought is "I don't love night and day as a mechanic." If they had done the night and day shift in the first Innistrad set, I would likely have liked it a lot more. It works better with Werewolves, although switching Insectile Aberration back over to Delver of Secrets when someone played a Moonmist might have been a feel-bad moment. Would all of the transforming cards have been tied to the day and night cycle? It's hard to say, but what's easy to say is that adding the day and night mechanic, even if it's an improvement over the previous mechanics, this late in the game is a bit of a miss. It doesn't mesh well with previous flip creatures, werewolves especially, and it's under-supported in Commander as a whole with cards coming from one set. I bring this up because I saw a daybound Legendary creature, was determined to build it and was determined to completely ignore trying to flip it from day to night and back. Is this because I don't like it as a mechanic or because the deck is better off not bothering? More importantly, if the deck plays better, does it even matter?

So, what's the commander in question? I'm so glad I pretended you asked - here it is.

Vadrik, Astral Archmage

Vadrik is very powerful and has somehow found a way to make himself more physically powerful as day turns to night and back to day, which is neat flavorwise and, as I've already decided, doesn't matter in the deck I want to build. Day-flipping is not very well supported in the set and while you don't give up much to include a copy of The Celestus to grind some incremental value, commanders don't stick around the board for long, punchy commanders doubly so. As soon as you begin to grow Vadrik, he'll be dealt with. Do you waste your resources packing a ton of countermagic to protect your investment, or do you ignore putting +1/+1 counters on Vadrik? Perhaps my distaste for the mechanic was a huge boon in this case, because the sooner I abandoned trifling with ways to put counters on Vadrik through solar cycle manipulation, the more I realized that throwing a Runechanter's Pike on Vadrik for a couple of mana was more effective and deadly than messing around with changing night to day a half dozen times. If we're trying to cast Instants and Sorceries, which we should be doing, why not make Vadrik's power very large very easily? Why not do it in a way that we can repeat if he's removed? Equipment made a lot of sense to me, and once I decided to run a lot of equipment, I realized I might as well attack with Vadrik a lot. There are a lot of very powerful, splashy Instants and Sorceries that often get cut because of how much mana they cost, but if we can make a deck where we build a big commander, the deck can serve making that commander as capable a battlemage as possible, using early cantrips to find the equipment we want and using the equipment to make our big spells cheaper. In short, day and night is a red herring, let's focus on what matters - a dumb Voltron commander with a bunch of really good equipment.

The first thing we should discuss is a card that's in lower supply lately than what I'd like to talk about. Spellbinder is in the midst of disappearing from online. If you have copies, consider them for this deck because you can do some pretty silly things with this deck, especially since we plan to attack unblockably every turn and cast big, splashy spells as often as possible, but the deck will be fine without it.

Spellbinder

Spellbinder can have a spell like Savage Beating imprinted on it and give you lots and lots of extra attack phases, making it a bit of a Godo/Helm (depending on how you feel about that) but Spellbinder can have fun spells imprinted as well. There are plenty of powerful Instants that are just waiting to be cast on-hit and you can throw your favorites on here easily. Spellbinder sticks around if your creature dies, meaning our investment is a lot safer than the +1/+1 counter route. In my experience, it takes a lot of time and effort to put together a combo like this and Godo Helm has only ended games that might not have ended any other way. If everyone's hands are full, Godo is dealt with easily, if everyone has been slugging each other and their hands are mostly spent and a 3/3 can end the game, it will. Godo/Helm is controversial, but I think Spellbinder and Savage Beating should be less controversial. We're not going to get this setup very often at all, even with the extra cards I plan to try and draw, and it will be fairly trivial to interact with the combo unless Vadrik is so suited up that a win was already inevitable. Your playgroup will ultimately tell you if this is too strong (or too weak) but, and I can't stress this often enough, 75% decks are not designed to play with a group you know well. If you have a regular group, build for the group. Most of the time, a 75% deck will still work in those groups, but don't hold a 75% deck up as the best universal deck when you know exactly what will fly in your regular group, that is outside the scope of this ethos and I forget not everyone knows that.

I'm not happy when I'm not stealing their stuff, and stealing their stuff is expensive. It has to be - stealing their stuff is deeply unfair and hurtful. If you could steal their creatures very early in the game, you could kill them before they could get set up, stealing their blockers and getting through with your own creatures. There are a lot of reasons that Blatant Thievery costs seven mana. If Blatant Thievery cost three mana, it would be considerably better. Well, this is the deck where it's considerably better because we hope to remove all of the colorless mana from the cost when we play it. This will allow us to keep countermagic up to protect our stuff, and it will allow us to play counterspells like Aethersnatch at all. Aethersnatch is a very versatile card but it's not playable, even in Commander because it's so difficult to keep up six mana. However, with a buff Vadrilk, keeping up Aethersnatch is exactly as difficult as it is to keep up a regular Counterspell. Vadrik upgrades a regular Counterspell into the power level of Aethersnatch when you think about it that way, because you can treat expensive, powerful spells as their cheaper equivalent when it comes to how you use them to interact with opponents. Getting to leave 2 Blue untapped to hold up Aethersnatch feels good, and Vadrik has allowed us to upgrade our entire deck. Did I build this deck entirely so I could cast Mass Manipulation for X=6 for the first time in my life? No, but I won't pretend that's not a huge fringe benefit of this build. We'll load up with the typical cantrips and other spells that make a Vadrik deck function, but you're mistaken if you don't think all of my flex spots are going to ridiculous cartoon swipey cards.

The deck is already starting to sound pretty full. Will I run other utility creatures to help me out? Yes, but the creatures list will be the first place I start to make cuts to make room for good equipment and spells, which is kind of a departure from how I typically build. Here's my take on Vadrik.

The Frumious Aethersnatch | Commander | Jason Alt


This looks like a LOT of fun, honestly. There are a few ways you can expand on this list to your individual taste.

You could add more equipment, and maybe add Godo/Helm as a secondary combo win. Again, I think it's defensible in 75% builds and I can spend a whole article on it if necessary. It ends games, but specifically it ends games that needed help ending. I feel the same way about Insurrection - if you ramp to Insurrection on turn one, it does nothing, meaning Insurrection can only end a game with a big, stupid ground stall where no one wants to attack. Godo Helm is a lot more dirty if you ramp to it on turn one, and Godo tutoring for the other half of the combo makes it a little harder to defend, but you'll notice it's not in this build and you'll have to add it yourself.

You could add more spells with Buyback because they are especially potent here. Once you reduce colorless mana costs by 6, which seems fairly trivial to do in this deck, you'll be able to cast a lot of buyback spells for one or two colored mana, which is fairly dirty. Turning a pile of treasure tokens into enough casts of Seething Anger to Mass Manipulation for the entire board seems hilarious.

You'll notice I used spells that gain control of creatures rather than Enchantments. Spells like this cost more mana because they're tougher to deal with, but mana is no issue for us here. We have the mana to cast Dominate instead of Control Magic, so we shall, and we shan't regret it.

Finally, you could add more treasure token business into the deck. It's the way EDH seems to be going these days, with a ton of support for treasure tokens in every set. This deck would benefit more than most, though what deck doesn't love Goldspan Dragon?

That does it for me, folks. Whichever ridiculous spells you want to cast that you can't play in any other deck, buffing Vadrik with equipment and making him unblockable is sure to give you enough power to cast them and end games fairly quickly. That does it for me - until next time!

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