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Convertible Commander: Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar


Once upon a time, Commander was called Elder Dragon Highlander, and it was mentioned in passing by only the hardest of hardcore at game shops. You’d drop in for a casual Saturday afternoon, or an FNM drafting Alara Reborn, or just because you didn’t have anything else to do, and one of those people who went to competitive events in other cities would talk about this weird format with funny deck-building restrictions and which Legendary creature they would choose.

Back then, we casual players had fewer options. Most of us would just run 60-card decks built with whatever we had: draft fodder, a bulk pickup from eBay, or gifts from friends. We’d sit down at a table completely unsure what we were facing. I once played a multiplayer game against someone running tribal elves with no lords, just every elf he’d opened, another person playing a million artifact mana spells intending to Armageddon the world, and a kid who’d just bought his first precon. I’m not sure, but I might have been playing my Shards block deck. Anyway, we’d dabble in draft and Standard, I personally attempted to keep Block going as a format for a season, and we’d think about Extended or look for cheap ways to get into Legacy. We wanted to play, but pickings were slim. But this EDH thing we kept hearing about kept popping up, and then suddenly there was a small group playing this format. My Mono-Black loving heart opened an Anowon, the Ruin Sage just after I retired my Mono-Black Vampires Standard deck, and I was off to the races. My first year was spent with just that deck. I switched to Sheoldred, Whispering One as soon as she was available, bought all the tutors I could afford (we didn’t know better, back then), and made this sweaty, salty, grindy control deck that just never let anyone have anything nice. It was fun, but ultimately people didn’t want to play against me anymore. It wasn’t that it always won, it was just always a pain. So I decided to build something a bit more . . .  fair. Enter Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer.

Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer

That’d work. Big, dumb, and tramply seemed like it’d be a bit less offensive to my expanding playgroup. And it was, but it was fun as the dickens to play and, unlike Sheoldred (which was sadly taken apart about four years ago, because still no one would play against her) is still in my deck box and gets played on the regular. And then we were told we were returning to Dominaria, and we got some spoilers, and we see Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar, which costs one fewer mana, gets the power/toughness bonus from lands both on the ‘field and in the ‘yard, and even gives us an extra ability! Sold.

Myriad Landscape
In honor of the fact this deck is built around a commander still almost a month away from being released, this deck otherwise only uses cards already available. Heck, it would run really, really well as a Molimo deck: promote him out of the 99, drop in a copy of Kalonian Twingrove, and you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

Our job is to pull every possible land out of our library and get it on our battlefield. That’s kind of it. Everything else is gravy. Because so much of the land-fetching available gets basics, we want to have a critical mass of those, so we’ve got 35. Myriad Landscape and Blighted Woodland both get us more lands and still boost Multani’s P/T once they’ve done their thing. Rogue's Passage is for the occasional person who either has something bigger than our commander, which will be rare, or has a boat load of tokens that can block forever, or who thinks First Strike Deathtouch is a thing. And Hall of the Bandit Lord is here because the only thing better than a 27/27 commander with Trample is a 27/27 commander with Trample and Haste.

We’ve got roughly eight million spells which pull those lands out of our deck. Generally, in Commander, it’s not worth it to just run Rampant Growth (though that spell certainly can be good). There are too many good ones which do more than just get a single land, and it’s worth it to spend a little extra mana to get those extra effects. So we’ve got spells which get a land and leave behind a body, or get multiple lands, or do something else. Either way, the vast majority of them pull lands out of the library and put them on the ‘field, just where we want them.

Green does a good job of drawing cards, and often that ability depends on how big a creature is. Since our creature will often be huge, we’ll draw a bunch with one of those spells. Reliquary Tower will help to keep us from pitching everything. But think about Hunter's Insight — we cast Multani and attack with Hall of the Bandit Lord. He’s 22/22. Our opponent has no blockers, so we kill them, but before they die, we cast Hunter's Insight and draw 22 cards. If that doesn’t make everyone else at the table nervous, your table is made of sterner stuff than mine. Rishkar's Expertise, Soul's Majesty, Momentous Fall, they’re all variations on a theme: draw cards equal to the power of a creature. Harmonize is a classic, and Tower of Fortunes is one of those cards which has spent its life looking for a home and just found one. (Not a lot of other decks regularly pass with 12 mana available.) Drumhunter hangs out in this category too, and don’t forget that trigger.

Howl of the Night Pack
Most likely, we’re going to win with our Commander. However, there’s the occasional other win-con this deck can provide. Howl of the Night Pack is a hilarious way to win the game and can nicely get someone to use that Wrath of God you know they’re holding so you can play Multani the next turn. Rampaging Baloths or Avenger of Zendikar with Boundless Realms (or even Nissa's Renewal) can do a bunch of damage. Garruk, Primal Hunter is mostly here for the card draw, but an unanswered ultimate from that guy would probably win the game, too.

Desert Twister, that strange old card, is our only catch-all answer (though in a meta which requires more interaction, Beast Within could be here, as could the colorless sweepers like All is Dust or Oblivion Stone. Song of the Dryads is another all-around answer, plus could be used in a pinch to give our commander +1/+1. That’d be hilarious). Tornado Elemental is a surprise for people, especially people playing Luminarch Ascension. Tower of Calamities joins her sibling to deal large chunks of damage, and of course Indrik Stomphowler and all its friends are here to destroy pestering artifacts and enchantments. Bane of Progress solves a lot of problems and leaves behind a rather massive threat, and Wave of Vitriol turns whatever artifacts we’ve got into more lands for our commander.

As someone who’s played a variation of this deck for several years now, I can say with absolute certainty it is a great deal of fun and extremely fair. It’ll win, it’ll lose, but it’ll be explosive and delightful and hilarious. But it is fairly one-note — ramp like crazy, stick a massive commander, hit for commander damage. What to do with all that mana? What about going Voltron?

We take out Multani, probably five of our ramp spells, and maybe four of the pieces of equipment which grant Haste (I’d pull Chariot of Victory, Fleetfeather Sandals, Haunted Cloak, and Lightning Greaves), and slide in these 10 cards with Thrun at the helm, and suddenly we’re playing a much quieter, introspective game (appropriate for a lonely old guy like Thrun). We’re still going to win with Commander damage, but we’re going to have to be a bit more sneaky about it, and we can use our massive amount of mana to move equipment around and regenerate Thrun as much as necessary. Or cast a massive Genesis Wave. Or play Increasing Savagery from our hand and the graveyard in the same turn. Those work too.

Whether Molimo or Multani, crashing in with a giant Green monster that cares about lands feels like a classic Magic: the Gathering thing to do. So how would you do it? Would you do something differently? Is Scapeshift a necessary card in this deck? How would you transform the deck with the optionboard? Finally, on a different subject, what Legends are you excited about from Dominaria? Let us all know in the comments!

Thanks for reading.

Dominaria is Now Available for Preorder!