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Around the Wheel: Naya Rienne


EDH is lots of things to lots of people, but the one thing the vast majority of us agree on is it should be fun. There are plenty of ways to have fun, and they vary from person to person. Sometimes it is nothing but being able to slot a favorite card into your deck. This deck lets me cast one card I simply adore resolving. That card? Titanic Ultimatum.

Titanic Ultimatum

The Ultimatum cycle has some great ones and some real duds. There was a point when the dominant deck in Standard ran five colors and won on the back of Cruel Ultimatum. I think the much newer Genesis Ultimatum should probably be in my Maelstrom Wanderer deck. And Clarion Ultimatum is mostly worthless to those of us in the Commander world.

But Titanic Ultimatum? That's just awesome. We should be able to have some fun with it. And there's an Angel I suspect would be delighted to help us with the task.

Rienne, Angel of Rebirth

There are some great ways we could go with this. The obvious one is to jam-pack the deck full of multicolored creatures. We could go big with Woolly Thoctar, or fast with Rip-Clan Crasher. Certainly Rienne's second ability will help us with either plan, giving us our creatures back. But +1/+0 isn't a huge bonus, and it seemed to me the thing to do was to go wide. I wonder how many multicolored tokens there are in Magic?

Enough, it seems. It'd be tough to go tribal, but we should be able to clog up the board with a lot of little dudes, all with a bit of a power boost. And a lot of the ways to make them are with multicolored creatures themselves, so we'll get those creatures back if someone wipes the board and get to recast them, starting the whole cycle over again.

A quick note - this deck probably won't be a table-dominator. In fact, I'd suggest it would be a good fit for fellow writer Jason Alt's 75% column. It's going to play fair, it's not going to mess with others' stuff too much, and it's going to attempt to win with a bunch of creatures and a Titanic Ultimatum. But it will be fun to pilot, and should make other players enjoy the game more too - that sounds like a win all by itself to me.

We have a five-mana General and some expensive spells, and we're in g, so we may as well take advantage of that and ramp. Additionally, we have some pretty serious color requirements, so making sure we have access to all of them is key. Our mana base, therefore, is pretty simple - the on-color Guildgates (because we can search for them), Grove of the Guardian (because it makes a big ol' token), and a bunch of basic lands, all searchable via our myriad ramp spells. We're still running 40 lands because we want to keep our ramp spells relevant as long as possible; drawing one late game can be a real bummer if there are no lands left to fetch. (This has a couple of effects. The first is we miss out on what can be a great use of card slots, because lands that do things other than tap for mana are effectively free spells, not taking up another non-land slot. However, it also makes the mana base cheap - as in, inexpensive - so the deck is more in the reach of budget-minded players.) The ramp spells presented here all do more than one thing: Rampant Growth is a perfectly reasonable spell, but I'd like more value for my mana investment. Sakura-Tribe Elder costs the same and does the same thing, except it puts a body on the 'field that can chump block. Cultivate ramps and makes sure we hit next turn's land drop as well. Peregrination costs one more but adds a Scry to the mix. Mwonvuli Acid-Moss can take care of someone else's problematic land. You get the picture. However, the precise makeup of them is not particularly important; there are some great ones more recently printed or at higher mana costs, and all would be fine in those slots. Feel free to build that to your taste (heck, feel free to build the whole deck however you want), but my one major piece of advice is make sure you can get any basic land. If you're stuck getting Forests all the time, you may find yourself without enough other colors to do everything you want.

We have a few ways to draw cards. w is bad at it. r is really the color of Rummaging, so if your build pushes into the graveyard somehow (Eternal Witness shenanigans or something) that could be worthwhile. g draws well, but mostly ties to the power of the creatures it has. Fortunately, we should have some big ones, so while we won't be drawing incrementally, we're running enough effects like Momentous Fall that we should be able to refill our hand periodically, making sure we stay in the game. A nice thing about ramping hard is we'll often have enough mana left over to cast that Momentous Fall in response to a board wipe, which can help with keeping up. We've also got Skullclamp, which is great with lots of little tokens, and Infiltration Lens, which is nice when we want to get some damage in.

We have a whole bunch of different multicolored tokens we can make, which is ultimately (see what I did there?) how we hope to win the game. Xenegos, the Reveler, for example, makes a 2/2 rg Satyr for 0 loyalty every turn. Sunhome Guildmage makes a 1/1 wr Soldier for four mana, which is a lot, but when we're ramping this hard we can sometimes make two or three a turn.

There are a few particular cards worth being aware of, though. Dragon Broodmother makes a 1/1 rg Dragon with Devour 2 every turn. That means we can turn some of our smaller tokens into much larger ones, and these fly. However, just letting the 1/1 be a 2/1 flier (thanks to Rienne) for a few turns can make all the difference when it's time to try to win. Voice of Resurgence will mess with anyone trying to do things during your turn, but even more important it works well with Rienne, because if it dies, we get the token - and Voice back to our hand. Godsire is important because it makes 8/8 tokens; a couple of those can really swing a game. Finally, Assemble the Legion is just awesome here. If that thing survives for a few turns, we'll be making more tokens than we'll know what to do with.

Titanic Ultimatum is the goal. Have a bunch of dudes on the table, windmill slam that card, and crush everyone. However, sometimes we won't draw it, so it's good to have a backup. There are plenty of options here. Craterhoof Behemoth is the obvious one, but even Overwhelming Stampede would do a good job. I've opted for the newer Finale of Devastation; it lets us grab something cool out of our deck, plus it'll give all our creatures a massive boost. Sounds like fun.

Our removal suite comes mostly from White, and is based around Oblivion Ring; it's nice to be able to remove anything, and these "remove target non-land permanent from the game" enchantments do a nice job of playing catch-all. That said, any chance I get to run Ride Down, I do it. There's probably something better there, but that spell is hilarious and really surprising. Be aware there aren't any Wrath of God style effects in the deck. We'll talk about that in a bit.

The truth is that little bonus from Rienne probably won't hack it in Commander. It's nice, but a bit more would be even better. Therefore, we're running the three on-color Lieges: Balefire Liege, Boartusk Liege, and Wilt-Leaf Liege. All of them will help every token we make at least a little, and many of them will help quite a bit. +3/+2 from a Liege and Rienne on a 1/1 is a much bigger deal than +1/+0, and we get bonus abilities.

Rienne is really important to our game plan here, so there are a few cards designed purely to protect the Angel. Indestructibility, Gift of Immortality, and Flickerform are all here just to keep Rienne alive in the face of someone else's board wipe. That can be very helpful, especially as games go long and breaking through can be hard.

Played like this, the deck will be a fun, casual deck which shouldn't make anyone miserable and be a kick to play, win or lose. However, there are a few things we should talk about in the event you want to push it in different directions, or just try to make it a bit more competitive.

The lack of Wrath effects is a choice, and a big one. Not having an occasional reset button can be the reason a game that should continue doesn't, and we're in White, so we've got a ton of options from the highly efficient Wrath of God on up to seven mana spells that completely annihilate the board. If your meta is filled with a) lots of creature-based decks or b) lots of other players who also don't play board wipes, it might be worth finding a few slots. Two or three would probably do it in a vacuum. Also, if you find yourself playing pickup games with people you don't know a lot, it might be worth running a couple.

Second, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and Iroas, God of Victory would both make our tokens more deadly. They aren't necessary, but dealing double damage or having indestructible tokens can drastically change combat math. Bronzehide Lion might be a better choice than Flickerform or Indestructibility, too; it comes down early, is cheap to protect, plus can later be an enchantment to save Rienne. Beware, however, because a board wipe will kill them both before the Lion has a chance to return and save Rienne.

Finally, one of the last cuts I made was Goblin Trenches. I didn't want to sacrifice the lands for a couple of tokens. However, there is an argument for running it along with a couple of ways to buy back lands. That also would turn on fetch lands - both the fancy ones like Arid Mesa and pedestrian ones like Terramorphic Expanse - in a powerful way. This could be a way to move the deck into the graveyard a bit with some of those Eternal Witness-style effects. Saffi Eriksdotter would be strong in a build like this, since we can sacrifice Saffi to save something else, then recast Saffi from our hand thanks to Rienne. Rummaging would speed the deck up a bit, too, and being able to play out of the 'yard would broaden the hand and options a fair amount.

Oh! For casting Titanic Ultimatum: I highly recommend a toy dinosaur or stuffed dragon or something in your backpack. When you cast the spell, put the little guy on the table next to you. If that doesn't put a smile on your friends' faces... well, probably get new friends.

Thanks for reading, and stay safe.

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