Strixhaven Limited Set Review with MTG Nerd Girl
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Commanding Kaldheim: Fynn, the Fangbearer


Poison is an interesting thing in Magic. From the very beginning, the game had this alternate way of defeating an opponent: give them 10 Poison counters. For most of the game's history, there were extremely limited ways to do that, though. There were only a few creatures that gave poison counters when they did damage, and they tended to be weak.

Then the Phyrexians invaded Mirrodin, the metal plane was overtaken, and Infect became a thing. Suddenly there were a whole bunch of creatures who dealt damage in Poison counters, and players around the world realized it was easier to count to 10 than to 20, and a whole archetype was born.

Commander players, though, had it differently - in some ways, worse, and in others, better. Because a player loses the game if they amass 10 Poison counters, it doesn't matter what their starting life total was. That means instead of having to do half the damage, you only have to do a quarter of the damage. With three opponents, instead of having to deal 120, you only have to deal 30. This is a huge discount!

On the other hand, facing down an Infect deck can feel a little unfun. Now we have to block much more aggressively, because each 1/1 is a serious threat, taking massive chunks of a life total we have no way of regaining. The community has cried for the Poison counter amount in Commander to be changed to 20 or even 15, but the Rules Committee, in their wisdom, has ruled it's not dominating games in a bad way, so the rule of 10 stays.

Then Wizards goes and prints this guy.

Fynn, the Fangbearer

Fynn is interesting, because it allows us to deal normal damage and Poison damage at the same time. However, the Poison amount is fixed at two, so hitting with a 1/1 and hitting with a 12/12 will have the same effect from the Poison point-of-view. No matter what, though, if we can hit an opponent five times (or with five different creatures, or some combination), they will die from Poison counters.

The first thing I did was look at creatures with Deathtouch in Green, and there are a bunch. We piled in about 30 of them, mostly going for cheap because we want to be able to play out several over the course of a couple of turns. As they got more expensive, I started to value abilities beyond Deathtouch more. The idea is going to be fairly simple. Play creatures with Deathtouch. Play Fynn. Attack a lot. If they block they lose their stuff, and if they don't they get Poisoned. Simple enough.

We are going to need a steady flow of Deathtouchy creatures, so the second big chunk of the deck is card draw. Normally, with Mono-Green, I'm a fan of things like Triumph of Ferocity and Momentous Fall. Green excels at massive creatures, and taking advantage of that for huge piles of cards is normally worth it. However, we're rarely going to have a creature with power greater than 3, so it made more sense to go for things like Seer's Sundial and Staff of Nin. We want repeatable card advantage, turn after turn, to make sure we can keep the pressure up on our opponents. If we're not attacking every turn Fynn is out, we're definitely going to lose, so we want to make sure to draw those cards.

We have several expensive spells, and Fynn is likely to die at least a few times, so it seemed worth it to do some ramping. Besides, it's one of the things Green is best at, so why not take advantage? I tend to prioritize two-for-ones, so we spend one card and get two lands (or at least two things, like a creature and a land) for our trouble. I also like cards that put lands directly on the battlefield. However, it's not that big a deal; if you want to run what you have and they're different, just make sure you have a regular flow of lands hitting the battlefield and you should be fine.

A couple more things worth noting.

Fynn says "Whenever a creature you control with Deathtouch deals combat damage to a player, that player gets two poison counters." So, we're running Grappling Hook and Fireshrieker. With one of those equipped, one of our Deathtouchers will give an opponent four Poison. That seems worth the slots.

We're also running Rogue's Passage, to make sure we can sneak a guy through if we can't force the damage some other way, and Inkmoth Nexus, because it seems stupid to not put that in the deck.

Asceticism is here, too, to protect those creatures and help us keep them alive through blockers, which can be quite helpful.

We've got Contagion Clasp and Contagion Engine, both as removal and to Proliferate. Planewide Celebration is here too, since it'll take everyone from two to six or six to dead, but it's possible Evolution Sage should be in its place (or something else's place).

Then, finally, we've snuck in an infinite combo. It requires a number of pieces, so we have a couple of ways to tutor for specific cards. They're all expensive and reasonably "fair" as tutors in Commander go, but if tutors aren't your thing, it'd be easy to swap in a couple of other Deathtouchers, or Harmonize and other card draw.

Anyway, here's how it works. We need Ashnod's Altar and Nim Deathmantle on the battlefield, plus Hornet Queen in our hand. With those three, we play the Queen and make our four tokens. We sacrifice the Queen and one token to the Altar and make 4. We use that 4 to activate Nim Deathmantle, returning the Queen to the 'field and making four more tokens. Repeat until we've made several billion Deathtouching Hornets. With Concordant Crossroads on the 'field, we can then attack that turn. Otherwise, we have to wait a turn.

Even if you keep the Planar Portal and friends in, it's worth it to not go for the combo every time; instead, see if you can win with the deck "fairly". But it's nice to know it's there if the game needs to end or if you happen to draw into it naturally.

Fynn opens up some interesting deck-building challenges. There's no point in building with him if you don't build around the ability, but how you do it is curious. Do you go Infect? Deathtouch like this one? A hybrid? Something else entirely? All in on Contagion Engine? Or is he part of a 99 with a different general? Do us a favor and let us know in the comments how you would build around Fynn.

In the meantime, enjoy exploring Kaldheim!

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