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Pillow Fight

Pillow fort is a term that is tossed around a lot in this community, and I love the images it evokes. I picture a pitched melee with barbarians and knights in blood-spattered armor trying to cave each other’s skulls in while, off to the side, a lone wizard peeks out from a narrow slit in a small shelter constructed from couch cushions making “pew-pew” noises. That’s where my imagination took it, and you’re not talking me out of it.

I have talked about pillow fort decks before, kind of. The thrust of that piece was that, sometimes, unassuming decks can have hidden headshots out of nowhere—and isn’t it very 75% to be unassuming rather than have people overestimate the threat you represent? Pretending to be a durdly, group-hug deck and lulling everyone into a false sense of security before you strike can be a lot of fun and is a pretty 75% thing to do.

I want to change gears a bit this week though. Is it still possible to build a 75% pillow-fort deck if you’re playing a commander who suffers from what I have dubbed “the Rafiq problem?” I would like to think it is; otherwise, it’s going to be pretty awkward playing one of my favorite cards from Commander (2015 Edition).

Daxos the Returned

There is a lot to like here. First of all, this card reminds me a lot of Heliod, God of the Sun, and Heliod was a God I was excited to build around because he can make creatures, and making creatures is pretty rad. But unlike Heliod, Daxos puts us in an additional color, black, and that gives us access to a ton of great sweepers, card-draw, and, most importantly, pillows. Black has some pretty great pillows to add to the fort, and unlike the white ones, these pillows have some barbs—which makes them . . . like, awful pillows. Just the absolute worst. Who has barbed pillows? People who sleep on a bed of nails? Look, we’ve established that metaphors aren’t my strongest suit; can we just move on? We have a lot to cover.

Rafiq of the Many
Daxos is going to look a lot more aggressive in your command zone than would a card like Zedruu the Greathearted, and that’s something we’re going to have to be ready for. Can we build a pillow fort that is robust enough that we can take the extra heat? Can we play a political game and pit the other players against each other to survive? Can we find a way to beat tuned decks with our pile of pillows? I think we can, and I’m going to make the case that a deck with a Rafiq-esque commander like Daxos the Returned can stand up to tuned decks and adhere to our 75% tenets without folding to extra pressure. The good thing about a pillow-fort deck is that a lot of what you do is weather the storm of the other players beating each other up, so the risk of the deck being “too good” for a more casual group is mitigated by the possibility that they gang up on you. In this way, you can almost scale the deck to the power level of a casual group by building on the strong side and hoping you commander invites enough aggro from the group on principle that you’re not going to terrorize the group. Can we build a deck that can take the heat?

Before I post the list, should we buy Daxos as a single or should we go grab the entire deck at MSRP? The full list of all of the decks is found at this link. In my opinion as a Magic financier, it’s probably worth it to grab the deck. There are enough cards in here that you will want to play in the final version of the deck that it’s worth it to use the precon as a basis: Karmic Justice, Phyrexian Arena, Black Market, Sigil of the Empty Throne, Underworld Connections, Dictate of Heliod, Sol Ring, and even Temple of the False God and Lightning Greaves. You can acquire cheaper cards like Doomwake Giant for nothing separately, but I’m generally in favor of grabbing the precon decks and building them up, so that’s what I’d do. New cards like Grasp of Fate and Deadly Tempest are worth a look as well.

Now that we have that established, what would a 75% Daxos pillow-fort deck look like?

75% Daxos Pillow Fort ? Commander | Jason Alt

  • Commander (0)

The mana base is a little “budgety,” punctuated by expansive utility lands, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will say the more I play with Vivid lands in Commander, the more I hate lands with counters on them. I think the deck can tend to be mana-hungry, so I included the powerful tandem of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Cabal Coffers tandem along with Serra's Sanctum, my favorite Commander land right now. The few instances of lifelink you have in the board could help.

Contagion Engine
I decided to include Contagion Engine, and I will tell you why: While it’s easier to put counters on Luminarch Ascension in Commander, it’s impossible to put counters back on Parallax Wave otherwise, so I like to be able to use Wave as another Grasp of Fate while also using the Engine as removal while also giving myself infinity experience counters. Contagion Engine was a controversial late inclusion, but I’m happy with it.

A lot of my “pillows” have synergy, and I’m happy with my suite. There are removal cards in white on top of pillows like Ghostly Prison, Koskun Falls, Norn's Annex, and Sphere of Safety. You also have nasty cards like Oppression, Painful Quandary, and No Mercy. You want to be able to affect the game. You may find removing nastier cards and being less conspicuous works better, so feel free to swap Oppression for Wrath of God or the like. Wrath with abandon here—you have few creatures and a lot of Gods and tokens. You can weather the storm with your indestructible Gods and replayable commander and then refill your board with tokens. I included a few Anthem effects, but if they prove to be weak, feel free to add something else. I like the idea of making my tokens a bit more robust. I had to aim a bit for bigger creatures than I did with the plain Heliod deck, so there’s no Sacred Mesa and no Skullclamp, so maybe Anthems are weak, here. Feel free to experiment and tune.

You have a lot of ways to make a lot of creature tokens and get there, and that’s primarily how we win. Feel free to load up on more Wrath effects because tokens recover nicely. Extinguish All Hope is a favorite since you can just keep your tokens, which are also enchantments, like the ones made by Daxos and Heliod. If you do have to kill some of your own dudes, Decree of Pain, ironically, makes that less painful.

All in all, I think this is a decent place to start, and I’m excited to play the deck and tune it up. You’re safe enough to take some extra heat, prickly enough to make people think twice about messing with you, and explosive enough to recover from a board wipe and start farting out a ton of Angels and Spirits. Have fun with Flickering Ward and constellation triggers!

What do we think? Are we inviting more heat than we can stand? Should we go a different route? This deck has a few elements you could pursue—you could load up on token-generators and remove cards like Painful Quandary. You could cut the Anthems and add more nasty cards. You could go all-in on being a Spikey deck and add tutors like Academy Rector and Heliod's Pilgrim if you want to steer out of 75% territory. Make the deck your own. Just remember not to cut Serra's Sanctum. That card is harsh.

That does it for me this week! Join me next week, when I’ll be brewing up crazy ways to build some other Commander (2015 Edition) commanders rather than experimenting with ways to make a deck more 75%. Leave an argument or compliment or fact-check me in the comments. Until next time!


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