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(Best Way to Pay a) Price is Rite



I had to restrain myself a bit because I saw a commander when the set was first revealed that made me incredibly excited but I wanted to make sure I had something new and original to say with the deck because I didn't want to waste good inspiration on rehashing old ideas - I'm not WotC (I kid! I kid!). Long-time readers of this column will know that I both love big mana and Enchantments and there is one card that combines both of those into one sweet package and I put it in any deck that is going to generate more than an average amount of creatures, usually with tokens. That card, of course, is Citanul Hierophants.

I am barely kidding - I include Hierophants alongside Cryptolith Rite quite a bit because redundancy is good. You know what's even better than redundancy? More redundancy, and we're going to earn our award for most redundancy award with this deck because Cryptolith Rite has decided it belongs in the command zone.

Katilda, Dawnhart Prime

Well... kind of. Katilda is a Cryptolith Rite on a stick, which is very cool, but with the caveat that the creature you tap for mana must be a Human. That narrows our card pool very significantly and forces us to play some sort of humans tribal build if we want to take full advantage of our commander's abilities. That sort of forces our deck-building into a kind of narrow place, which isn't very much fun. I don't want to be a humans tribal deck, right? Right?

Early on in discovering how 75% worked, I thought an important aspect of 75% deck-building was to narrow your card pool. If you built with a restriction, I reasoned, you'd be forced to be more creative. Early on, I realized it was easy to narrow our card pool by building a tribal deck since you were restricted to only creatures from that tribe and it became a bit of a crutch. I may have overcompensated slightly for those early foibles because now I am VERY resistant to building a tribal deck. It's not just that I recognize that it's probably a lazy way to build 75% (at least I thought it was a few years ago, now I'm not even sure), I just don't particularly enjoy a build where it feels like the deck is already built. Once you add Coat of Arms and Vanquisher's Banner and the rest of the auto-include cards for tribal decks, the 20 creatures mandated by that particular tribe and the mana fixing a deck needs to function, you have like 5 flex spots to play with. The thing is, I think Humans has become a tribe with so many creatures, you actually don't have to play the 20 best creatures in that tribe since we have so many to choose from. If you build Lynde, you know what curses you're including already - you're putting all of the Grixis ones in the deck, right? Well, if I'm using the search function correctly there are almost 3,000 Human creatures in Magic. With that many, we can pick a subtheme and have it very well supported by sheer virtue of the embarrassment of options the gigantic card pool gives us. In a way, I'm not restricting the card pool by going tribal, instead I'm restricting it by picking a theme for the creatures I include. The theme is going to make us some enemies quickly, but we hope the theme also means they can't do much about it. We're building S-T-A (S-T-A being 75% of the word Stax, it's more cute than descriptive, hence this parenthetical).

Stax in a 75% deck isn't quite Stax in the traditional sense. We are aiming to slow them down but not stop them from playing Magic. We are going to include all of the Humans in Magic who can trip them up, make their spells cost more, shut off certain permanent types or, in general, make their life hard. This is the part of the article where we lament the Stax creatures that aren't Humans, but that list is so small it's barely worth mentioning - I wish I had access to Gaddock Teeg and maybe Dragonlord Dromoka because six mana isn't a big deal when your commander is a Cryptolith Township. The list of creatures we do have access to is bigger and badder and I'm pretty stoked about it, honestly.

Drannith Magistrate

Once we've filled our deck up with every Thalia and Thalia and Drannith Magistrate, you can literally add Ethersworn Canonist, a literal artifact creature and also a human. It's true. Look at the card, I'm not making this up.

Ethersworn Canonist

If this creature were any more robot badly pretending to be human it would be the CEO of Facebook. Not having access to Collector Ouphe or Archon of Emeria isn't ideal, but we'll live, especially when we remember that not all of our Staxy pieces need be creatures. We still have the rest of our deck to run Root Maze, Blind Obedience, and Suppression Field. Why would we run Suppression Field when our commander's ability already costs six mana to activate? Maybe because we're CRAZY and also, we have the mana, so let everyone else figure out how they're going to pay for stuff.

Esper Sentinel

"How do you do, fellow humans?"

We win the same way a Gaddock Teeg deck wins the game, only we can boost our creatures with our commander, which seems great with another totally-not-a-robot-totally-a-human-person card from Modern Horizons 2, a card that is already deeply and profoundly unfair in a deck where your commander can't boost its power and toughness permanently. Our creatures tap for mana, their spells cost more mana and their lands come into play tapped. I literally don't know how to swing the scales more in your favor unless we blow up all of their lands. We're not going to do that, by the way. Let's see this beautiful S-T-A build, shall we?

Staxing Katilda With Me | Commander | Jason Alt

This seems like a lot of fun, honestly, and pretty powerful. It plays like a Teeg deck, but you'll need to be faster. Teeg decks run a lot of creatures that can shut them down for much longer - we are merely inconveniencing them to give ourselves a head start. However, we have a lot of ways the deck can win explosively since there are a lot of humans who generate a lot more than just a token to replace themselves, leading to a snowball situation where we can play more creatures, use them for mana to play even more creatures and snowball out of control while they're still contending with their lands coming into play tapped. Being able to tap our creatures and our lands for mana while their lands are tapped should give us a few turns to get ahead of them and bury them under card advantage.

A few different ways you could take this deck occurred to me during building and I'd like to lay out your options as I see them.

You could run spells like Chord of Calling which has Convoke or Green Sun's Zenith and Finale of Devastation which have convoke in this deck, basically. Finding your big, dumb Craterhoof Behemoth or Decimator of Provinces as a finisher is a nice top-end reward for ramping your mana super hard by having lots of creatures. If you don't think this is a boring way to always try to win, you could jam that in this deck. Craterhoof isn't a human, but Craterhoof doesn't tap for mana anyway, it ends the game, usually.

I included a lot of Enchantments in here and if you wanted, you could run the Siona, Captain of the Pyleas/Shielded by Faith combo in the deck since there are ways to tutor for Shielded by Faith and you could run even more. I generally don't love tutors for combo pieces, especially a two-card combo, but without a way to give the creatures haste, you're not actually going THAT nuts. Again, this is about what you're comfortable with. I am not including the combo but I am telling you about it. I think it's fine in a 75% deck, but I would hesitate to add cards like Enlightened Tutor - you'll get it when you get it, otherwise find another way to win.

You could go deeper into Enchantress territory fairly smoothly. Argothian Enchantress is a Human, for example, and we could be real nasty and run Damping Matrix, cutting our few mana rocks for Wild Growth and friends. We wouldn't need to cut that much to make this run like a deck that answers the question "What if Sythis had a win condition?"

There's no wrong way to benefit from having a Cryptolith Rite/Gavony Township in your command zone, as long as you remember to attack early and often, make their stuff come into play tapped and bring enough dice to represent how fat your creatures will get. Why decide between going wide and going tall when you can just do both? That does it for me, readers. Until next time!

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