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Commanding Kaldheim: Ranar the Ever-Watchful


When I first set out to build around Ranar the Ever-Watchful, I wanted to build two decks. I wanted to play around with his first ability (the Foretell one), and then build around his second ability (the Exile one).

Ranar the Ever-Watchful

Here's the thing. Wizards already did the first one of those, in the form of a Kaldheim pre-constructed Commander deck. They've already done a fine job. So, if you are interested in building around Foretell, I highly recommend checking out Phantom Premonition.

So instead of just treading that ground, let's take a look at his second ability. "Whenever you exile one or more cards from your hand and/or permanents from the battlefield, create a 1/1 Spirit creature token with flying." Bust out those Spirit tokens: we're about to exile some stuff.

My first thought was Flickerform. Flickerform lets us exile a creature and returns it at the beginning of the next End Step. That's great, because it will make a token every time. The problem is we can only do it once per player's turn, because it always won't come back until the next End Step, so even if we could go infinite with Palinchron or something, it'll still be a slow roll getting enough tokens to matter.

But that got me thinking about other ways to blink things in and out of existence, which led me to an old Extended deck back in the day when Extended was actually a thing. It used Astral Slide and lots of Cycling cards to blink creatures in and out, gaining abilities all the while, churning through the deck, and eventually using Eternal Dragon as a finisher. (It was a great finisher! Big body, cycle-able early, and you could buy it back from the 'yard later in the game.) So, what if we loaded up on creatures that have enters-the-battlefield abilities, cycling cards, and played Astral Slide? That could be fun, and we'd make an army of flying Spirits for our trouble!

Okay, now we have a plan. We'll need a few pieces. We need Astral Slide, of course (and its newer friend, Astral Drift). We probably want at least a few ways to search for them, since the deck will operate much better if we have one on the 'field, so we're running a couple of Enchantment tutors. We probably want some ways to flicker things even if we don't have Astral Slide. Finally, we need cards that Cycle and cards that care about being flickered. Let's take a closer look at those two groups.

Astral Slide
Astral Drift

With the Cycling cards, it helps if they're actually at least somewhat useful should we want to actually cast them. Therefore, I stuck to abilities I thought might actually be useful; no vanilla creatures or tapping artifacts or whatever. Instead, we're going with stuff like Migratory Route, which creates four more flying tokens, or Akroma's Vengeance, which blows up the world. We have all the lands that Cycle, plus some weirder (but still useful!) ones like Startling Development and Fend Off. The goal is to not have anything useless in hand, even if Cycling isn't what we want to do in that particular moment.

When it comes to our ETB creatures, we can divide them into three rough categories.

  1. Things that help smooth our draws. This is stuff like Omenspeaker. Basically, there's a slate of creatures that Scry when the come in. This helps get us to land, draw an answer, find a finisher, or whatever else we might want to do.
  2. Things that mess with our opponents. This would be the Luminarch Primordials and Phyrexian Ingesters. These sometimes have crossover with the final category, but if it removes something or otherwise keeps our opponents from doing what they want to do, this is why it's here. Meteor Golem is particularly fun if you can flicker it several times.
  3. Things that win the game. Eternal Dragon falls into this category, and frankly, I'd put the two Myojin here too, though Myojin of Cleansing Fire may well belong in Category 2. Myr Battlesphere is probably another great example of this category; flickering that guy leaves us with piles of tokens.

There are a few more cards in here like Conjurer's Closet which let us flicker our stuff, which mostly exist as weaker versions of Astral Slide. Don't count them out, though, because sometimes weird things happen and Astral Slide never shows up, but Mistmeadow Witch carries the day.

A few of the Cyclers are mass pump spells. These can be good if we've reached a good amount of Spirits but need them to be a little bigger to seal the deal.

We have 40 lands. We don't really need any acceleration; we'll be moving through our deck fairly quickly and smoothing our draws with the Scrying, so we shouldn't have any trouble hitting our land drops. We'll have the mana we need. Note we are running Fluctuator, which can help save us some mana, especially if we're working toward a turn where each mana counts.

Finally, there is an infinite combo in here, but it's pretty specific, and of course it involves Deadeye Navigator. Deadeye and Cloud of Faeries create infinite flickers. With Ranar on the battlefield, this means infinite Spirit tokens, and since Deadeye works at instant speed, that means it can be done like the old Modern Splinter Twin combo, at the end of an opponent's turn, so you can untap and attack with your eight bazillion tokens. With more stuff, though, it can do other things. If Temple of the False God is on the battlefield, we can make infinite colorless mana, which can be fun if we have, say, Decree of Justice in hand. If Azorius Chancery is active, though, we can make infinite mana of both our colors, which means we can then turn around and flicker whatever else we happen to have around. The aforementioned Luminarch Primordial and Meteor Golem come to mind, because with them we can simply wipe out the rest of the board. Heck, we can just search them out with Omenspeaker or another Scry creature, make sure one of them is right on top, then cycle a card to draw it, play it out, and go to town. This is a nice combo, though, because we need to draw all the pieces naturally.

Ranar Flicker | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

There are a few cards this deck wants but I didn't include because of price and accessibility. This deck shouldn't be overly difficult to get in terms of price, considering the "general" cost of entry for Commander. However, if you have a really extensive collection or want to trick this deck out as much as possible, you probably want to include Shark Typhoon, Palinchron, Gustha's Scepter, and City of Shadows. They are simply more ways to do cool things with the deck, but Palinchron allows for a lot more nuttiness with Deadeye Navigator, Shark Typhoon is a great Cycling card to include, and City of Shadows and Gustha's Scepter both help keep cards flickering in and out. The final card worth considering is Brago, King Eternal, but I wasn't convinced enough to find a spot. Having to attack is a limitation, and because he flickers everything at once, you'd only get one Spirit.

What would you include in this deck? Did I miss something obvious? And if you have a story of actively using a Commander in an unusual way, please share it in the comments!

I hope you enjoyed this look at a different side of Ranar. But even if you didn't, I encourage you to look beyond the obvious use of a commander and see if there's something else you can do with it. It may not be the most optimized version of a deck or the strongest pile of 100 cards ever put together, but it's a great way to challenge your own deck-building skills and show your personality in a deck. Thanks for reading!

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