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Stop Cloning Everything!

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Readers!

I'm ending 2022 by continuing the ridiculous kick I'm on where I make a bunch of clones of my commander. In fact, I will go so far as to choose which commanders I write about based on how much I'd like to clone the Commander. Warhammer 40k cards are very cool and very strong and everyone has reviewed the set to death EXCEPT FOR ME and I want to really review (a small portion of) this set with respect to all the (Blue) commanders. Why Blue? Because that's the color Clone is in, that's why. There are certainly other ways to clone creatures, true, but Blue is the way with enough redundancy and, more importantly, redundancy in the "the copy isn't Legendary, because that would kind of defeat the purpose" department. There are 10 Blue-containing Legendary creatures in Warhammer 40K and I'm going to rank them talk about them in no real order and then build my favorite one. Sound good?

Abaddon the Despoiler

Abaddon the Despoiler

This was a bad one to start on because it looks like there is no reason I should be cloning this. A clone package would take up too much space in a deck that already has a lot going on between all the expensive Instants and Sorceries, good payoffs, ways to deal damage, and regular cards that need to go in the deck. Abaddon doesn't benefit from having two of him. That doesn't mean it's bad to want to do this, it's just bad to pick Abaddon for that. But we still have 90% of the Blue commanders to go, give me like 3 and then you can roll your eyes at me. It gets better from here!

Be'lakor the Dark Master

Be'lakor, the Dark Master

Bam. #2 in our alphabetical list is an absolute beast. Be'lakor draws you a ton of cards and deals a ton of damage when it comes into play, and every token copy, whether it stuck around or not, would do the same. In fact, you may need to include some ways to gain life because if you get these to stick around, their ETB could really start to drain you for a ton as you acquire more demons. Casting Rite of Replication deals you like 30 damage and draws you a bunch of cards. You need to gain a lot of life or be very careful to mitigate that risk. Still, the insane power you get from casting Be'lakor makes it an attractive commander and it's worth it to try and make copies - especially if you want to take all that damage until you draw a card that lets you swap life totals with someone.

Belisarius Cawl

Belisarius Cawl

It's pretty obvious already that we want to prioritize ETB or LTB effects, but from there its a bit murky. What if the ability is super fair, requires the creature to live to untap and requires a lot of a finite resource to make it work, making it barely better than just running Umbral Mantle? Clones of Belisarius are a bad Intruder Alarm, a terrible one, but isn't a bad Intruder Alarm still pretty good? The juice isn't worth the squeeze. I have a feeling we're going to mostly like ETB stuff and LTB as well, but I remain optimistic that this endeavor will have felt more interesting than that. Am I genuinely unsure or am I clumsily foreshadowing? Maybe I'll tell you later. See? THAT'S an example of clumsy foreshadowing. Just sayin'.

Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph

Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph

I knew this was going to pay off - I started this dumb exercise with Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph and that wacky Aristocrabs deck I made last week. If we decided to instead build The Swarmlord as a clones deck, you would be drawing a heap of cards as each one dying would trigger all of the others - even copies that were Legendary would still be worth it. I'll talk more about The Swarmlord when it's The Swarmlord's turn - Starn deserves a clean paragraph for me to fully gush about how stupid and fun this deck would be.

You will need to cut back on a bit of the redundancy in the deck to make room for the clones package, but being able to clone more than just creatures like so many modern "clones" like Clever Impersonator and Phyrexian Metamorph can be that redundancy, meaning you don't need to draw a ton of ways to deal 1 damage or pay off from it. Making a lot of copies of Ghyrson means anything that takes exactly one damage is going to get nuked from orbit by a heap of Ghyrson triggers that don't interfere with each other. Prodigal Sorcerer gains the ability to set off a deafening cacophony of a guy who has at least 3 hands with guns in all of them, multiplied across his various clones like some sort of Marvel team-up. It sounds hilarious, frankly - an entire firing squad set off by a single damage is the exact kind of thing I want to be doing in my Tatsunari clones deck. I think this is the deck I want to build this week. I'm in.

Inquisitor Eisenhorn

Inquisitor Eisenhorn

This could be a ton of fun. You'll have a real feast or famine situation where a successful trigger will set off an explosion of tokens and a whiff will whiff so hard it will blow your opponents' cards off of their mats. Hitting them with a pile of clones, which isn't that hard to do off of something like Blade of Selves, can investigate enough times in one combat to make your Mechanized Production absolutely terrifying. I think with the bonus you get from Mirror Gallery you could KO people pretty easily, and the stock list of this has ways to make Eisenhorn unblockable already, so you're cutting like 10 cards max to jam in the clone package, which seems very worthwhile.

Inquisitor Greyfax

Inquisitor Greyfax

This is probably the least playable commander I'd bother going the clone route with. Stacking a ton of +1/+0 bonuses is very, very fair, and so is the ability to tap their creatures and investigate. That said, you can make an impregnable wall of Greyfaxes if you get more clones than they have threats, but the typical Esper (boring) way to do that is just wipe the board a lot. If other people wipe the board a lot, you'll struggle to do this super fair thing - at least with ETB and LTB effects, you can shrug off those board wipes. This isn't thrilling me, but maybe I'm just burnt out on how every Commander pod is a mix of people who want to win and people who want to do something cool, and the people who want to win will stop you from doing the cool thing because it might make them not win. Like, I get Commander isn't a spectator sport but just let some of us do something stupid. Even if it is, like in this case, ultimately too stupid to be all that worthwhile.

Magnus the Red

Magnus the Red

This is basically Inquisitor Eisenhorn but better. I'm super into it - stacking the cost reduction on multiple copies works twofold - each copy adds the cost reduction ability and also counts as a creature token. If all you have in play are 2 token copies of Magnus the Red, Instants and Sorceries will cost 4 less. Sleeve up some X spells. The best part? Like Eisenhorn, there's also a payoff for damaging them with Magnus - tokens and lots of them. The best part of being forced to make non-Legendary copies to make the Legend rule not erase all your progress? The non-Legendary copies are eligible to be targeted with Mystic Reflection. Suddenly each Magnus hitting them makes another Magnus. Magnus madness they'll call it, probably. Madness the Red. No, that sounds like an Innistrad deck. Stupid! OK, pull it together, people are watching. This would be a lot of fun and spells like Fireball could wipe out the table if you have n clones making your spells n to the second power mana cheaper. This would be a ton of fun to build, nevermind how much tun to play.

Magus Lucea Kane

Magus Lucea Kane

Her second ability is thrilling just in the sense that you'll need to have an X spell deck on top of the clone package, which could honestly be worse. If you couldn't cast Rite of Replication on Lucea and instead had to resort to casting it on something like Kalonian Hydra and making everyone get out a calculator, would it be that bad? Temur gives us access to cards like Parallel Lives and lots of ways to Proliferate. Tons of Luceas putting tons of counters on tons of creatures sounds super worth it and fun. You can't use the mana the clones make on anything you want, but you can dump it into cards like Hydroid Krasis or spells like Chord of Calling and that's honestly pretty disgusting. Cutting some durdle cards from a Hydra tribal deck or just playing a bunch of Fireballs or other disgusting X spells makes it super worth it to have multiple mana dorks that also put counters on things. Parallel Lives, Intruder Alarm, Master Biomancer - the list of cards I would run in this deck is putting me into a dopamine coma.

Marneus Calgar

Marneus Calgar

You're going to draw cards. When you make a token copy of Marneus, you'll draw a card for making a token, then the next time you do it, you'll draw two. That's a nice payoff for making copies (I'm sorry if me saying "making copies" made you think of Rob Schneider). Esper isn't the ideal color combo for making a ton of copies of Marneus unfairly the way you can if you have Doubling Season or Progenitor Mimic, but Esper can put tokens in general into play, and having a few copies of Marneus in play rather than just one can draw you a ton of gas when you activate Luminarch Ascension or Sacred Mesa. Not to sound like a broken record, but decks like this are the unintended but ideal use of Mystic Reflection, a card I've wanted to break since it was previewed.

The Swarmlord

The Swarmlord

I'm happy with last week's Aristocrats-style deck, but this could be a ton of fun as well. Multiple Swarmlords can give you multiple triggers per one dead creature, and even temporary copies let the other ones see them die. Imagine how much value you'll get from Blade of Selves in a deck like this. The Swarmlord is obvious to build and therefore hasn't been considered that interesting by people do far, but I've come up with two entirely novel approaches in a two week period - not everything needs to be Xyris to be exciting. Doing a little work for it is rewarding.

As a final reward to you, I'll share with you my Ghryson Starn, Kelermorph decklist. Should be a hoot!

Ghyrson Starn | Commander | Jason Alt

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This looks like a ton of fun. We gave up basically nothing to include the entire clone package I wanted and we have nothing but great targets here.

We can add a bit more redundancy to the "give Ghyrson deathtouch" package, especially with Goblin Chainwhirler and Goblin Sharpshooter. If you want to do those shenanigans all the time, consider adding cards like Godo, Bandit Warlord or Trinket Mage to have more ways to snag that Basilisk Collar, but you might just not want to bother. There is plenty going on here and all of it is hilarious.

What do we think? Too cute? Too many arms? All hat, no space cattle or whatever space cowboys say? Is he a space cowboy? Would that also make him a gangster of love, or are all of you too young for that reference? I don't have all the answers, but I do know it's time to call it an article. Thanks for reading - until next time!

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