Welcome back, Lore Seekers! Today I'm here with another flavor build, this one centered around the character Akiri, Fearless Voyager, with a dash of Nahiri thrown in. The two did work together until Nahiri, you know, killed Akiri's close friend and pushed her off a cliff.
Who is Akiri?
Akiri, Fearless Voyager by Ekaterina Burmak
We learn more about Akiri in The Legends of Zendikar Rising:
Akiri is arguably the greatest line-slinger on Zendikar, blazing new trails and surviving falls that would prove fatal to anyone else. In the past, she served as guide to a band of kor, but she was forced to watch helplessly as an Eldrazi attack took the lives of her comrades. This event hardened her, and she swore to fend for herself from then on.
Once the Eldrazi were defeated, for lack of anything better to do, she found herself involved with the reconstruction of Sea Gate. She fell in with a party of adventurers who struck forth in search of rare materials needed to complete the city. Among those adventurers was the merfolk Zareth San. Connecting with Zareth and other adventurers helped her open up once more, and her desire to fend for herself slowly became a desire to protect those closest to her. Sea Gate completed, she now spends her days traveling between the expeditionary house and the Skyclaves in the company of her found family.
Akiri has gone from flavor-text character with a Commander side-card to a major character in a Zendikar set story, with two side-stories and an appearance in three of Zendikar Rising's episodes, it would surprise me if she wasn't a fan favorite soon.
As a card, I fell in love the moment I saw her. While at first blush she's a smaller Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale without access to Black, she has several advantages that make up for it. As a cheaper creature, she can get aggressive earlier and allow you to start drawing cards sooner (even if it's only one instead of several, there's an opportunity cost). She's easier to recast (you can cast her twice before you could cast Gwyn once), and she comes with built-in protection.
It's that protection that made me want to do a flavor build for her. The deck I've built for Akiri focuses on her Equipment-matters theme, but contains light tribal themes for both Kor and Warriors. I'm particularly proud of this deck, as Zendikar's six sets made it easy to build the kind of flavor I'd wanted. Cards like Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots aren't as necessary in a deck with Akiri's built-in protection.
Akiri and Nahiri, Equipment-Slingers
Akiri, Fearless Voyager is our Commander, but it isn't Akiri's only card. We'll also be including Akiri, Line-Slinger, who is a solid Red-White artifacts-matter card, making her perfect for an equipment deck. The one equipment we absolutely cannot do without in this deck, flavorfully-speaking, is Grappling Hook, so I'll mention that first and we'll come back to other equipment later. With a hook equipped, you can pull your opponent's most potent blocker to a specific attacking creature and then use Nahiri's ability to make your attacker indestructible.
Nahiri Art by UDON
We'll also be including three cards of Akiri's patron: Nahiri. Nahiri, the Lithomancer, Nahiri, Storm of Stone, and Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients are all Equipment-focused cards that are easy includes in this deck, especially since they make tokens to help you rebuild after a board wipe. Nahiri, the Harbinger also helps with filtering your hand and removal, and while we won't be dropping any Emrakuls with her ultimate it's not bad either.
With those easy includes out-of-the-way, let's look at the other creatures of the deck.
There are quite a few perfectly flavored equipment-matters cards from Zendikar:
- Armament Master is a kor-tribal lord that gets bigger the more equipment he has. Pairing with the two Nahiri's that make kor tokens is great synergy.
- Kor Duelist gets double-strike when equipped, making it a very cheap creature that can turn into a big threat very quickly.
- Kor Outfitter gets you around an Equip cost.
- Quest for the Holy Relic lets you tutor for the equipment you really need.
- Kitesail Apprentice gets a stat boost and evasion when equipped, which makes it a good card for a surprise swing.
- Stoneforge Mystic is such a legendary card, I'm not sure if I even need to explain it here.
- Stone Haven Outfitter is an 'equipped lord' that effectively gives all equipment the Skullclamp cantrip on death, which is nothing to sneeze at in colors typically weak on card draw.
- Weapons Trainer isn't terribly flashy but these anthem effects stack up nicely between all these creatures.
- Kazuul's Toll Collector lets you equip it for free, which is nice, even if you can't use it as a combat trick.
- Kor Blademaster is a major upgrade from Kor Duelist, giving all your Warriors double strike in addition to having it naturally.
- Fireblade Charger is a cheap equipped creature that you want to die
- Resolute Strike is a nasty combat trick that allows you to pass your best equipment around.
Grappling Hook by Philip Straub
As for the Zendikar-flavored equipment you should be including:
- Captain's Claws adds to the kor tribal and go-wide minor strategies of the deck.
- Chitinous Cloak grants your creatures evasion.
- Explorer's Scope and Sword of the Animist both provide ramp, which is sorely lacking in Red-White.
- Grappling Hook I mentioned before is the thematic core of the deck.
- Maul of the Skyclaves grants evasion and a power boost, and is one of the better Zendikar-themed equipment.
- Ogre's Cleaver is just a big beatstick that you should use in conjunction with combat tricks to get major damage through. It also flavorfully goes well with Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs.
- Pennon Blade pairs nicely with go-wide strategies.
- Relic Axe pairs nicely with the warrior sub-theme.
- Stoneforge Masterwork is part of the kor and warrior subthemes. Equip to a creature that is both, and you'll get the most of out this card.
- Trailblazer's Boots, in a Commander game, is effectively just "can't be blocked".
Note that I'm specifically not including Kitesail or Cliffhaven Kitesail here, as the story Red Route mentions they're not something Akiri uses. Now let's look at a few Zendikar-themed cards that fit the kor and warrior tribal aspects:
- Dawnglare Invoker opens up an opponent for an all-out attack.
- Kor Cartographer provides some needed ramp.
- Kor Sanctifiers provide some excellent removal.
- Kargan Intimidator allows you to both keep a creature from blocking one of your warriors every turn, as well as given another trample to push damage through.
- Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs contributes to the go-wide strategy of the deck and provides much-need blocker back-up.
- Day of Judgment, Planar Outburst, Single Combat are all effective and on-theme board wipes for the deck, and thanks to Akiri they're easier for you to dodge.
Single Combat by Livia Prima
As much as I'd love to build this deck entirely from Zendikar cards, there are some cards from outside Zendikar that add some much needed oomph to the deck.
- Teshar, Ancestor's Disciple returns the cheap creatures of the deck to the battlefield.
- Goblin Gaveleer, Fervent Champion, and Champion of the Flame give you cheap but powerful creatures.
- Puresteel Paladin is obviously a must in any equipment deck.
- Kemba, Kha Regent helps with the go-wide strategy, even if it doesn't line-up with the tribal sub-themes.
- Heavenly Blademaster becomes a finisher by herself and an anthem for the rest of your creatures.
- Tiana, Ship's Caretaker brings your equipment back in case of removal.
- Danitha Capashen, Paragon makes your equipment cheaper to cast.
- Master Warcraft is the coolest combat-effecting card ever printed, and will let you get all your creatures through as you wish.
- Sigarda's Aid is just an incredible card.
- Sram, Senior Edificer cantrips with all of your equipment.
- Leonin Shikari lets you pull of obscene combat trips with your equipment.
- Skyhunter Cub has some much-needed evasion.
- Zirda, the Dawnwaker cuts equip costs down and removes a blocker from combat every turn.
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer creates a huge anthem for all your creatures with only three equipment.
Skullclamp by Daniel Ljunggren
Weapons of other Worlds
While these equipment aren't specifically from Zendikar, I have some favorite equipment I'd like to round my deck out with.
- Skullclamp combined with the two token-creating Nahiri's is just an insane amount of value. And if you think Nahiri wouldn't sacrifice her own people? Uh... watch the video above again.
- Colossus Hammer, Embercleave, Blackblade Reforged, Argentum Armor, Loxodon Warhammer, and Sword of Vengeance make up my favorite suite of beatsticks.
- Blade of Selves and Bloodforged Battle-Axe create tokens that scale nicely for games like Commander.
- Hammer of Nazahn, Masterwork of Ingenuity, and Assault Suit are cool utility cards that I recommend.
Akiri Flavor Build | Commander | Jay Annelli
- Commander (1)
- 1 Akiri, Fearless Voyager
- Creatures (27)
- 1 Akiri, Line-Slinger
- 1 Armament Master
- 1 Champion of the Flame
- 1 Danitha Capashen, Paragon
- 1 Dawnglare Invoker
- 1 Fervent Champion
- 1 Fireblade Charger
- 1 Goblin Gaveleer
- 1 Heavenly Blademaster
- 1 Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer
- 1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
- 1 Kazuul's Toll Collector
- 1 Kemba, Kha Regent
- 1 Kitesail Apprentice
- 1 Kor Blademaster
- 1 Kor Cartographer
- 1 Kor Duelist
- 1 Kor Outfitter
- 1 Kor Sanctifiers
- 1 Leonin Shikari
- 1 Puresteel Paladin
- 1 Skyhunter Cub
- 1 Stone Haven Outfitter
- 1 Stoneforge Mystic
- 1 Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle
- 1 Tiana, Ship's Caretaker
- 1 Zirda, the Dawnwaker
- Planeswalkers (4)
- 1 Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients
- 1 Nahiri, Storm of Stone
- 1 Nahiri, the Harbinger
- 1 Nahiri, the Lithomancer
- Instants (1)
- 1 Resolute Strike
- Artifacts (24)
- 1 Argentum Armor
- 1 Assault Suit
- 1 Blackblade Reforged
- 1 Blade of Selves
- 1 Bloodforged Battle-Axe
- 1 Captain's Claws
- 1 Chitinous Cloak
- 1 Colossus Hammer
- 1 Embercleave
- 1 Explorer's Scope
- 1 Grappling Hook
- 1 Hammer of Nazahn
- 1 Hedron Blade
- 1 Loxodon Warhammer
- 1 Masterwork of Ingenuity
- 1 Maul of the Skyclaves
- 1 Ogre's Cleaver
- 1 Pennon Blade
- 1 Relic Axe
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Stoneforge Masterwork
- 1 Sword of the Animist
- 1 Sword of Vengeance
- 1 Trailblazer's Boots
That's it for this week! I'm going to tinker with this Akiri deck for a while, I think, and the lack of in-store play makes it hard to test these decks out these days. I'm trying to walk the line between power and flavor (and the above skews mostly toward flavor). Let me know what you think!