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Big Mystake

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2019 has been a year that has been fairly depressing for a lot of Magic players. Cards like Teferi, other Teferi, Oko, Wrenn and Six, Urza, Hogaak, and Once Upon a Time have made multiple formats fairly homogenous and there have been a lot more bannings and threats of bannings lately. Commander has been fairly insulated from these "mistake" cards because those sorts of shenanigans are either very cheap and low-impact, which means they get outscaled quickly, or they're very similiar to... well, everything a Commander deck does. Wrenn and Six murdering unflipped Delver, Noble Hierarchs and Dark Confidants repeatedly, and smoothing draws out for two mana doesn't affect us in Commander but it makes Legacy a completely different format. Without Paradox Engine, Urza is just another commander, and not even as popular as Kykar or K'rrik at that. In a year where so many "mistakes" were made in the rare and mythic rare slots, I maintain that, ironically, the card from 2019 most likely to make Commander less fun and more homogenous (besides Arcane Signet) is a common land. I present to you, the big mystake of 2019.

Mystic Sanctuary

If this doesn't seem that bad to you, consider how good Snapcaster Mage would be if it cost 0 mana, you could fetch it with a Misty Rainforest and you could replay the spell without exiling it. Not only that, it's very easy to loop lands, get lands back from the graveyard, search for lands and play extra lands in a turn and the fact that you can also tap it for mana feels absurd to me. I may seem like I'm overreacting a little, but I want to talk about the cards Sanctuary is very silly with in a 75% context and you may get a few evil ideas of your own.

Meloku the Clouded Mirror

Meloku has been a favorite card of mine for a long time and it's a card I included in decks like Tatyova and early versions of Temur Omnath. Ultimately, the number of Instants and Sorceries you need to run in the deck is fairly low if you can churn through a bunch of re-castings by bouncing and replaying Sanctuary. Expropriate, Time Stretch, and Cyclonic Rift come to mind but even spells like Dramatic Reversal, Turnabout, or High Tide can get vicious. Patron of the Moon can go in this nasty pile as well as Trade Routes. You can't play a ton of extra lands in Mono-Blue (Walking Atlas is huge in a deck like this) which means you're most likely playing the spell on subsequent turns, but you're going to get a Sanctuary trigger every turn until someone exiles your Sanctuary, and if you're looping Expropriate, Time Warp, Time Stretch, etc, you don't need to worry about only being able to play Sanctuary once in a turn. Mono-Blue best makes use of re-buying Instants and Sorceries - you can cast Cryptic Command or Deprive every turn to tap a team down or counter a spell as long as you also bounce Sanctuary. Sure, Sanctuary puts the card on top instead of drawing it, but I read somewhere Blue decks do a decent job of drawing extra cards in a given turn. Bring back Wash Out, Curse of the Swine, or Engulf the Shore to make sure the board is clear for your horde of fairies to swing.

A stock Meloku list already has a lot of ways to put lands back into play and bounce them but doesn't always run big payoff spells. I would cut a medium creature or two like Guardian of Tazeem or Illusory Angel and jam a few more cards like Time Stretch to really maximize Sanctuary. You can also run every fetchland that tutors for Islands - the list is fairly lengthy.

Tatyova, Benthic Druid

Tatyova decks are even better-equipped than Meloku decks to run Sanctuary shenanigans because you can easily play extra lands every turn. Use Burgeoning or Growth Spiral to surprise them with getting a spell back or to thwart some sort of graveyard hate. Green also gives you access to two spells that you may want to get back with Sanctuary - Life from the Loam and Splendid Reclamation. You can sac all of your lands to Zuran Orb and bring them all back with Reclamation and re-buy Reclamation with Sanctuary, for example. That's honestly one of the most fair things you can do in these colors. You can tutor for Sanctuary with more than just fetches, play a lot of extra lands in a turn and Amulet of Vigor, a great way to make sure you trigger Sanctuary, works well in the deck because of your other lands and spells that put a lot of lands into play tapped normally. I don't recommend running Uyo, Silent Prophet in Meloku per se, but it's perfect here because Green can dump the lands it picks up right back out much more easily with Exploration and Sakura-Tribe Scout. Even re-buying Summer Bloom is great and Tatyova draws extra cards ensuring the spell you throw on top goes right back into your hand. If you're a monster, re-buy Sunder to bounce all lands with yours in the yard then Reclamation them back and other shenanigans. Life from the Loam can sometimes dredge cards you need and you can get them back and get Sanctuary back with Life from the Loam, creating somewhat of a loop between the two cards and a sac outlet. You should have a fairly easy time winning with a Rude Awakening every turn with an empty board. Keep your library full with Finale of Revelation, deck yourself with Thrasios and Laboratory Maniac or Helix Pinnacle them to death. There is nothing nice about a Sanctuary deck.

Elsha of the Infinite

I was about a quarter of the way through brewing an Elsha eggs deck for today but I thought better of it because I really wanted to talk about Sanctuary. It's very good here because you will already have a lot of Instants and Sorceries and you can play the card you put on top with Sanctuary without having to draw it, which can matter. The best thing about this sort of build in my opinion is that the spell you bring back doesn't matter as much as in other decks because you have so much to choose from. Any cantrip triggers Saheeli and Kykar and Monastery Mentor and you're really using Sanctuary to re-buy a spell that can gate the land pretty often. Play a Bonus Round, replay it off of Sanctuary and the rest of the turn is a formality unless they can stop you.

Muldrotha, the Gravetide

While Tatyova has Ramunap Excavator and Meloku has Crucible of Worlds, Muldrotha makes it a near certainty that you'll be able to play Sanctuary at least once a turn. Muldrotha decks don't run a ton of Instants and Sorceries since they're not optimal in a deck like Muldrotha, so dredging them into the yard happens a lot and being able to rescue them is key. Looping a Villainous Wealth, Buried Alive, or Grisly Salvage can go a long way, and including Sanctuary in the deck is a fairly minimal investment. Not only can you fetch Sanctuary with Polluted Delta because it is and Island, the requirement for triggering Sanctuary also says "Island" so Breeding Pool, Watery Grave, and even Sunken Hollow can help you make sure you get back a spell every time you play Sanctuary even if you don't have a ton of extra lands in play like you might with Tatyova. Yarok is another commander I would consider running with Sanctuary.

Since I never made a 75% Yarok list, I should do that, now.

Mystake Sanctuary | Commander | Jason Alt


I don't have a Yarok deck but this one looks like fun.

I put my usual 75% spin on the deck with Acquire, Bribery, Praetor's Grasp and Villainous Wealth as Mystic Sanctuary targets, which sounds like fun. Sanctuary will get back two spells if Yarok is out which doubles your fun and stealing their stuff is a lot of fun. Agent of Treachery, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, and Roil Elemental also do some work in the deck. I had to add every fetch and shock I could and a few clunky cards like Moonring Island but I think you have enough Islands to trigger Sanctuary reliably by midgame. The deck plays just like a Yarok deck but instead of trying to use something like Snapcaster, you can much more reliably loop and find Sanctuary and it fits in with the landfall, extra land and dredge infrastructure of the deck. This may or may not be the best home for Sanctuary but I don't think there's a Blue deck that can't find a way to play Sanctuary.

What do we think? Do you want to jam Sanctuary in all of your Blue decks? Is it not a very 75% card (I think it's a gray area but this deck looks fun)? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments section. Until next time!