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Four Levels of Voltron: Second Tier Ruhan


This week, we continue our exploration of Voltron. Last time, we did a budget brew around Godo. Somehow a commander which can grab Argentum Armor for you seems like it might be pretty powerful. This week, we're going to up our budget and take a look at a different way of doing things. Let's start with our Commander.

Ruhan of the Fomori

At 7/7 for four mana, Ruhan is really cheap. Since our goal is to attack our opponents, the "downside" of attacking randomly and every turn isn't much of one. We can't do as much threat assessment as we might normally do, but we've got a lot of power to throw around, so hopefully we can just kill everyone before they get going too hard anyway.

Seven power is also important because it represents a specific change in a Commander's power. Because we have to do 21 damage with a Commander to end an opponent, at 7 power we have to hit three times, as opposed to 6 power when we have to hit a fourth. This is good.

On the other hand, we have zero native evasion; Ruhan is just big and dumb, so we'll probably want to figure out a way to get him in. Fortunately, we have multiple ways, and in this case, we're going to focus on a much-maligned method: Auras.

Auras cause problems because, unlike Equipment, which sticks around when the creature dies, the Auras go with the creature to the 'yard. This means we're a lot more likely to get 2- (or 3- or 4-) for-one'd, but it also means we sometimes get more bang for our buck. There's no Equip cost, so we just pay once, and we can get some pretty serious effects for not that much mana.

Here's another thing. Ruhan kind of feels... unfair. Just a little bit. Here's this big dumb random dude that packs a wallop, and we're going to be dressing him up in all kinds of finery to make sure he has maximum impact. People are going to be losing huge amount of their life total and will sometimes die because of random bad luck. In order to minimize some of these "feel bad" moments, this deck is going to limit itself. We can make Ruhan as big and evasive as we want, but no making him invincible. No ramping. And minimal interaction. We've got a few ways to solve problems, but mostly we're going to try to do our thing and see if the table can stop us. That way at least it should be a bit more fun for everyone.

With that in mind, we're running 40 lands. That's it. No mana rocks, no other forms of acceleration. At 40 lands, we'll hit our fifth land drop the majority of the time on turn five, and this deck doesn't have a ton of cost past five, so we should be fine, but it is a bit of a risk. Since we're not optimizing, this is a good thing. If your group tends more cutthroat, it's probably a good idea to make some space for some ramp.

We also need to talk about budget. Once I got to where I wanted without a mana base, I was at just under $90. That gave me $35 extra bucks to spend on lands, so I spent some of it. That still wasn't enough for Shocks and Fetches, but we were able to get some of the premium lands for the color combination. Feel free to strip the mana base down a bit to get the cost of the deck down, but it's worth noting if you have extra money to put into a deck, a mana base is always a valuable place to put it. Later, if you take this deck apart, many of the pieces won't be useful in other decks, but the lands will always have a home.

There are a few auras that draw cards, but mostly we're going to be topdecking. The thinking is Ruhan doesn't need much to be a serious threat, so we don't need to overload him; a couple of Auras will have him as a flying 8/8 or something, so it should be a pretty serious problem. Just sit on the rest of your Auras for when you need to recast Ruhan and suit him back up.

Our Commander is our main source of threat. We're going to drop a couple of Auras on him and let him do his random attack thing, hopefully getting through. I prioritized Auras that offer some kind of evasion. "Can't be blocked" or "unblockable" is rather common in Blue, which works out nicely for us, as is flying. We've got a few ways to give him Protection from creatures or Protection from all colors, and a few Auras with Totem Armor to give him a second shot at life should he be the target of a Murder. Eldrazi Conscription has to be here, and we have two ways of giving him Double Strike. With a minor power boost, Double Strike means insta-kill. The one non-Aura piece we have is Helm of the Gods, which seems too good to pass up.

In order to solve an otherwise insurmountable threat, we've got a few ways to handle some problems. Mostly we're leaning into enchantment-based solutions, like Oblivion Ring and Detention Sphere, but we've got a few resets which allow us to protect Ruhan while wiping out the rest of the field. Mostly, though, we want to leave everyone else alone; let them do their thing.

Finally, we have a few ways to get some of our enchantments back, to soften the ease of binning them. Open the Vaults gets us all our enchantments back to our hand, as does Triumphant Reckoning. Trusty Retriever gets us one back too, and Hanna, Ship's Navigator can return an Aura every turn. This is great if there's a particularly good one we'd like back (I'm looking at you, Steel of the Godhead).

Ruhan Voltron | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

We landed at $107.77 at time of writing. One card I didn't include, but we probably want, is Homeward Path, which brings the total up to around $120. I'd recommend it; having Ruhan stolen is pretty much game over for us.

Additionally, I didn't include Assault Suit, because we were going the Auras-only route. However, Assault Suit is hilarious with Ruhan and worth a consideration.

This is a good deck for a lazy night. There's not a ton to it. Play some lands, get Ruhan out, stick him with a couple of buffs, and let the dice tell you where to go. It should be threatening enough to matter without being so obnoxious it drives everyone crazy, and there should be some pretty fun interactions with all the various Auras. I love the idea of an 11/11 unblockable Ruhan suddenly getting stuck with a Battle Mastery and killing a random opponent out of the Blue.

How would you build Ruhan? Any Auras you'd want to see included? Am I silly to include Ride Down every opportunity I get? Let us know in the comments!

Next week, we'll be back with a $250 deck.

Thanks for reading, and stay safe.

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