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Joining the Toluz Hype Train


If you ever think of me at all, you probably think of me as a Magic player. I play Commander, I write about it, I talk about it in my columns. But I do more than play Magic! I'm actually a professional musician in my real life. And, I'm excited to say, come this fall I'm going back to school to get a Master's Degree in Choral Conducting (headed to Texas State. Eat 'em up, Cats!)

So, despite the fact today's Commander is a Conductor of people and information, not a choir, I couldn't help but want to work with her.

Toluz, Clever Conductor

With any luck, what we have here is a 4/2 for three mana, which is a decent deal. She also provides us a way to get back the cards we use to buff her up, as well as any additional cards we might happen to discard while she's on the 'field. Let's take a look at a deck, then talk through it.

Toluz, Clever Conductor | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

The plan here is to lean into discard, knowing we'll be able to get everything back. In the meantime, we can use those discards to benefit us. We have several angles we can take, depending on what we see, but the most important thing is we're going to draw cards and discard them, then probably get them back when Toluz hits the Graveyard.

Our mana is fairly straightforward; like most decks in three colors, we're going to attempt to fix our mana. Additionally, however, we're running all of the Cycling lands. I'm often an advocate for these, as in the late game often another card is worth more than another land, but in this particular case they're really good, since we'll buy them all back with Toluz. We also have Rogue's Passage in case we're going in on attacking with Toluz, and High Market if someone dares to attempt to Exile her, keeping us from getting our hand back. We also have the three on-color Channel lands, since those also get discarded. Finally, a slate of mana rocks give us some help, supplying some color fixing and additional mana. The Celestus is probably the most notable one, though, since we can use it to switch between Day and Night, and each time we do, we draw and discard a card.

We have a few ways to draw cards, and the vast majority require a discard as well. I think we can demonstrate the variety with two cards: Dark Deal and Teferi, Master of Time. Dark Deal forces everyone to discard their hand, then draw back up to the number they discarded minus one, so everyone goes down cards, and for most people, that means the cards in their hand are gone for good. Teferi lets us plus up to draw and discard. The primary thing we're doing here is giving ourself options. We can pick a strategy and go in on it, discarding pieces to other strategies and keeping things which work for us. Then if our plan falls apart, we get all the pieces to our other strategies back when Toluz dies.

In true Esper - ahem, Obscura - fashion, we don't have a "win condition." We have some creatures and we can attack with them. We have a few ways of buffing up our Commander past her initial Connive, and ways to make her sneak past defenses, so winning with Commander damage isn't off the table. Sickening Dreams could be a fun way to knock one or more players out of the game. There is a possibility of winning with Zombie tokens, since we have a fair number of ways of making them, and they can certainly get out of hand. Psychosis Crawler probably can't win a game for us, but it's likely it can help. Dauthi Voidwalker might Exile something really cool we can use to win. How awesome would it be if we forced someone to discard Omnipotence or something? Also, Syr Konrad, the Grim works well with Toluz, because Toluz doesn't replace the discarded card hitting the Graveyard. Instead, it leaves the 'yard for Exile. Syr Konrad cares about creatures hitting 'yards, and creatures leaving 'yards, so if we discard, say, a Ledger Shredder to Toluz, we'll do one damage for it hitting the 'yard and another for it getting Exiled. It'll be hard to make that a winning loop, but two damage is better than one!

We've got some ways to blow up the world. Akroma's Vengeance and Decree of Pain - two of my favorites - are both extra good here because they can be Cycled, which means we can Cycle them early and get them back with Toluz later. Damn gives us some nice options, as does Dismantling Wave. Void Rend kills whatever, Swords to Plowshares is sheer quality, and Neutralize is a Counterspell with Cycling.

The really fun part of this deck is how all the pieces come together. Consider Wizard Class, for example. We draw a bunch of cards with this deck, so we can level this up to put counters on Toluz or whatever we want whenever we draw. Dying to Serve only works once, but often we'll be looting at Instant speed, so we can make a bunch of Zombies that way. Ominous Seas can pump out Krakens for us, plus we can Cycle it. Feast of Sanity throws around damage, as does Faith of the Devoted, and Queza, Augur of Agonies causes life loss for others and life gain for us. Drake Haven makes flying creature tokens. Tormod, the Desecrator makes Zombies too, as does Bone Miser. And Archfiend of Ifnir helps keep our opponents' creatures smaller with each discard. And how much fun is Chasm Skulker?

We also have the tag-team of Kamiz, Obscura Oculus and Raffine, Scheming Seer. Both of these creatures allow us to care a lot more about Toluz. Kamiz makes Toluz unblockable (and something else have Double Strike) and lets her Connive again, giving her more counters. Raffine also makes Toluz unblockable and lets her Connive again, though if we're also attacking with, say, six Zombies, we get to Connive seven, because we have seven attacking creatures. Seems good.

We have a few ways to discard cards like Ghostly Pilferer, a couple ways to sacrifice creatures like Viscera Seer, and one way (Malakir Rebirth // Malakir Mire) to get a creature back if it dies this turn, all of which should come in handy at some point or another.

One thought might be to include some Madness cards. I opted not to because if you cast the card for its Madness cost, it won't be exiled by Toluz and you won't get it back, but there's certainly a reason to consider it. I'd up the discard outlets and probably add more Connive cards if you wanted to go that route.

This deck is for the long nights. It's for the games where no one has to work tomorrow morning and everyone feels like being there a while. It's for the games where you want to think through every decision, wonder if someone is holding the counter or the kill, and play politics the whole game.

How would you build Toluz? I'd love to hear. Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

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