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Freaky Shidiqi


Demonic Tutor
Today I want to talk about tutors. It’s a subject I feel like we don’t spend enough time on because how tutors interface with a deck-building ethos like ours where we’re trying to limit our wins by lowering consistency rather than lowering power level is very tricky. We’ve tried to steer away from face-down, universal tutors which is great for figuring out our tutor policy without having to think too hard but sort of leaves black decks stranded.

Not recently, but it was in 2016 so semi-recently (I think. I know, I’m not doing a very good job of establishing any of the facts surrounding this anecdote), I was a guest on the Commanderin’ podcast. I’m not sure which time it was or which episode so if you want to hear this exact conversation, I guess you have no choice but to listen to every episode where I was a guest. If you ask me, there are worse ways to spend your time. In any case, Sean was bristling a bit at my hard stance against cards like Demonic Tutor. He’s had to use DT as a Farseek at time, after all, and is it any less fair than Cultivate in those circumstances? Green decks get to ramp out of control every game and B/x decks with no green are forced to trade 1-for-1 with cards like Expedition Map to select land but they can never really get ahead. It’s not the worst argument, really. A lot of our trepidation with respect to cards like Demonic Tutor surrounds how we feel they’re likely to be used and personal accountability can be just as effective a way to deal with them as prohibition does. How would we like tutors to be used in 75% decks, ideally?

We tend to like narrower tutors a bit more, which is a little ironic when you think about it. We don’t want a tutor to just be a second copy of a combo piece or lynchpin card but we’re restricting ourselves to tutors that can only get a few cards in the deck rather than any card? When you look at how the tutors actually interface with the finished deck, though, you’ll notice they are more often toolbox cards than extra copies of a specific card. Though the tutors are narrow, they can still select the right card for the job from an array. We run Stonehewer Giant or Godo, Bandit Warlord in a deck with 6 equipment. We run Call the Gatewatch in a deck with 10 Planeswalkers. We do a third thing. Toolbox tutors are what we want in a 75% deck since we’ll need to get specific cards to help us beat better-turned decks occasionally and as long as we’re not using our tutors for the same card every time, they are probably not as much a problem as we may have initially indicated.

Time of Need
It comes down to how you’re using them, I think. I personally am going to continue to exclude face-down Black tutors like Demonic Tutor from my lists but I think if you want to try them out, don’t be afraid that the 75% police are going to kick your door down and write you a ticket for a tuition violation. Police yourself — if you’re using it as a toolbox card and you aren’t afraid to snag a Dimir Aqueduct with it, feel free to jimmy jam it all day. If you’re using it as a second copy of Sanguine Bond, maybe scale back. In general, I still prefer narrower cards and I found a deck where I can showcase a few of them including a favorite tutor of mine that no one else seems to like — Time of Need.

What could be more perfect for Commander? Time of Need gets you a Legendary creature out of your deck and puts it into your hand. If this card were a combo piece, it might already be your commander. Chances are you’re just grabbing a sweet utility card like Selvala (either Selvala). Today I conceived of using it to grab a card that’s the de facto third commander of a deck that already has two. Playing a Legendary creature that turns a lot of your deck on is great when that card is in the command zone but what if you want two of the partner commanders in that spot instead? What if all 3 creatures could work together in a deck where you pray you don’t eat a Fumigate because if you don’t, you’re going to run combat? What if your deck had a ton of sweet targets to go grab with Time of Need? Today I want to explore Ikra Shadiqi, the Usurper paired with Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa. We want our toughness high, our power low and our deck’s power level very high. We want a few tutors that are demonstrably OK in a deck like this and an opportunity for you to swap one or two of them for cards like Demonic Tutor to prove to yourself that you will use them like a toolbox. We want a deck that is 75% and we want all of it with new cards we’re just now getting a chance to play with. Can we do all of that? I think so.

Doran Sink?d a Irish Kid IQ ? Commander | Jason Alt

Thalia's Lancers
This deck looks like a lot of fun to play.

The land base gives us access to cards I like a lot. You can feel free to jam a few different ones in there. Experiment with a few legendary lands you can search for with Thalia's Lancers if you want. Gaea's Cradle might not be any good in this deck, but I imagine Boseiju, Who Shelters All or Pendlehaven might do some work in your builds. I even included fetchlands, something I don’t normally do, because I love getting Murmuring Bosk with a lot of different cards in the deck. This land base might need some tinkering, but I’m pretty happy with it.

I tried to include a lot of creatures that either worked well with Doran/Kondo/Shadiqi or were Legendary creatures with good abilities. Some, like Ishkanah, Grafwidow, are both. I jammed Captain Sisay and Thalia's Lancers as additional tutors, and the deck is dense with targets. Legendary creatures will do a ton of work with this deck and with the option to find the perfect one with cards like Time of Need, you’ll have a decent toolbox full of powerful creatures to bail you out of any jam.

Without Doran out, you may feel a little weak, especially swinging with cards like Nyx-Fleece Ram so I kept my 0-power creatures mostly limited to creatures that had other abilities. Guiltfeeder doesn’t feel weak when it’s not swinging like a 4/4 with Doran out because it’s still going to dome people for a lot of damage regardless. Ohran Viper sneaks in there easily with Sidar Kondo providing cover and doesn’t feel weak on defense, either. Sure, Doran makes Tree of Perdition seem more formidable, but no one will call it weak when you nail someone for 27 with it. You’re a deck that’s better with Doran out but fine without it considering how well Sidar Kondo and Ikra Shadiqi work with a lot of the same cards that make Doran decks great. Assault Formation is another Doran with additional upside. This lets us avoid wanting to be treefolk tribal like a Doran deck and lets us play creatures like Blinding Angel.

Felidar Sovereign
When we’re not beating them in the face with creatures that Sidar Kondo is making it tough for them to block, we’re also trying to get some lifegain happening. Felidar Sovereign will make your anaconda want some so it would likely make the cut in some Doranesque decks regardless, but having it as an alternate win condition (coupled with some redundancy in Test of Endurance) and a source of lifegain makes it a shoo-in. Aetherworks Marvel is another fun card and I’m sure I’ll never tire of shotgun blasting fools for their life total with it. Big toughness means more damage with Doran but also more life with Ikra Shidiqi so pursue both aims at once and see which one nets you the victory first.

A lot of the enchantments that aren’t Test of Endurance boost toughness so getting out Assault Formation helps a lot, but gaining more life with Ikra makes it much harder to kill you, so I don’t feel like any of the cards here are dead when you don’t get your “third commander” out. Behind the Scenes is a card I see a lot of people wanting to jam in Shidiqi decks and it seems pretty busted for an uncommon. I’m looking forward to sneaking in a lot of extra damage and having a nice mana sink late-game.

Finally, I know Abzan Banner is just Commander's Sphere that goes in fewer decks and isn’t as good. I don’t care. I was excited for banners and never got to use them.

What do we think? Which direction would you take this deck in? Would you add more narrow tutors? Would you dispense with that and just run Demonic Tutor? Does this need more Treefolk? More lifegain? Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments section. Thanks for reading, sending me decklists and keeping me motivated to continue this series. You are the best. Until next week!

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