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Convertible Commander: Akroma, Angel of Wrath


I confess to being a theme junky when it comes to Commander. I like to pick some sort of direction for a deck, like a tribe, style, or idea, and build around that, generally pushing fairly hard into it. A Draw-Go deck in the style of the classics? Sure. A deck designed to cut life totals in half as soon as possible? Done. Or how about a way to give your friends a present? You got it! Themes focus our choices (a necessity in a format with thousands of unique choices). They let us express ourselves and our personalities (because darnit, if I like horses and want to build horse tribal, I can!) Plus they give us a way to describe our decks (one of my favorites these days is playing my new Vial Smasher the Fierce deck and describing it as “Rakdos Big Enchantments.” No one has any idea how to respond).

But sometimes those themes complicate deck-building. Sometimes we just want a deck that will work, play well, be reasonably capable of winning a game and isn’t more than that. Way back in 26 Decks In a Year, we built a Jund deck which wasn’t themed and simply tried to play a reasonable game of Magic. More than three years later, I’d say it’s high time to try again.

Akroma, Angel of Wrath

Akroma, Angel of Wrath — Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

A quick note before we dive in: Generally speaking, I use a deck-building device called “My Deck Tickled a Sliver” to construct Commander decks. If you’ve never read the article, it’s definitely worth it, but the gist is Mana, Draw, Threats, Answers, and Synergy. By considering all five of those categories, you’re at least somewhere in the realm of a deck which will work (as in, it will be able to cast its spells, present a threat, deal with opposing threats, and keep up with multiple opponents). I took each of those categories into consideration as I built this deck.

The other thing I did was decide before I put the deck together how many of each different category I wanted. I know I have 100 cards and one of them is Akroma herself. That leaves me with 99. She’s expensive, so I’m going to want 40 lands to ensure I hit my land drops, plus I’ll want some additional mana so I can get to her a bit faster. Since I’m going to have a bunch of mana, I may as well play some large threats which require the game to deal with them. Akroma has a lot of abilities, but it’d be nice to give her some extra oomph, so some Voltron pieces seem reasonable, plus those things can go on other large threats in a pinch. We need to draw some extra cards for sure, and one of the advantages of being in Mono-White is we have answers to everything coming our way, which means we’ll want some answers to problems (both board sweepers and point removal). Finally, we want a few flex spots to allow for other cards which may not fit one of these categories but will make the deck stronger or more fun. So, with all those things in mind (and My Deck Tickled a Sliver covered), here are the numbers I came up with:

  • 1 Commander
  • 40 lands
  • 10 Mana Ramp spells
  • 10 Bombs
  • 9 Voltron Pieces
  • 5 Card Draw spells (preferably repeatable)
  • 5 Board Sweepers
  • 10 Point Removal spells
  • 10 Good Stuff slots

We’ve got our Commander, and she’s a doozy. Her color identity means our mana base is a bit easier, because we know we’ll be running plenty of basic Plains. Out of our 40 lands, 24 of them are basics. That means Emeria, the Sky Ruin is probably a good choice even if we don’t have a ton of creatures. We’ve got some Deserts because those can be useful (it’s nice to be able to sacrifice one to exile cards from graveyards), plus some extra mana or Scrying or returning all stolen permanents. We shouldn’t have any problems getting w to cast our bigger spells.

For mana ramp, we’ve got some artifacts and some other ways. Sol Ring, Mind Stone, Hedron Archive, and Everflowing Chalice are all quality rocks, plus Pearl Medallion makes nearly every spell we’re casting cost less, as does The Immortal Sun. Solemn Simulacrum is just great value, and Weathered Wayfarer can get silly if he sticks around a couple of turns. Note he can get any land, so searching up that Emeria right away is probably a good idea. Caged Sun doubles us up. Burnished Hart is nice because we can leave it back to block something before activating, and we can sometimes get it back with Sun Titan.

Bruna, the Fading Light
Gisela, the Broken Blade

Our bombs are pretty, well, bomby. Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade are both solid on their own, but when they meld into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares (which is a stupid name) it gets really scary. Sun Titan is rather large, plus it brings back a lot of our stuff, which can be very helpful. Neither Angel of Finality nor Archangel of Tithes is huge, but they’re also not expensive and have relevant abilities, while Angelic Arbiter is relevant and huge. Chancellor of the Annex taxes each of our opponents. Linvala, the Preserver will often leave us with extra life and an extra body. Luminate Primordial doesn’t fly, but it wears equipment well and free Swords to Plowshares is almost always worth it. Finally, Oketra the True joins the party as a big indestructible threat. Sometimes we won’t have the three creatures, but we can always dump extra mana into dudes when Oketra is around.

To pump up our dudes, we start with an enchantment: Duelist's Heritage, which grants Double Strike to an attacking creature any time a creature attacks. This is great for us, because we can give whatever flying beef we’ve got Double Strike, but we can also name creatures we don’t control! So if one of our opponents is attacking another, we can grant Double Strike there to do extra damage. Fun! Champion's Helm, Fireshrieker, and Loxodon Warhammer all give a creature a nice boost, and because Akroma has First Strike, Ogre's Cleaver bumps up that power a lot. Strata Scythe could conceivably make Akroma a one-shot killer, and Argentum Armor turns her into an Eldrazi. Sword of the Animist isn’t much of a boost, but the additional land searching makes it worth it. Sublime Archangel gives all our dudes Exalted, which means for each creature, our one attacking creatures gets +1/+1. (Sword of Fire and Ice would be amazing on Akroma, but the price puts me off. If you’ve got one, jam it for sure!)

We’ve got two more Equipments to draw cards, Mask of Memory and Rogue's Gloves. Seer's Sundial is often overlooked, but with this much mana and this many lands, it’s nice to get an extra card every turn. Mind's Eye is old school but 100% worth it; we’ll often have just a couple of mana left over after our turn, and turning those into cards is great. Finally, Staff of Nin costs a bunch but keeps the cards coming, plus it can be used to remove annoying utility X/1s or even just ping an opponent. It can also tilt combat when it’s lopsided.

Descend Upon the Sinful
Akroma's Vengeance, Austere Command, Descend Upon the Sinful, Mass Calcify, and Sunblast Angel are all variations on a single theme: Wrath of God. We don’t have the four-mana spell here, but we don’t really need it. These cards all work a little differently, but they’re all great and will give us some flexibility. Sometimes we need to blow up all the artifacts, and other times we need to exile everything. Mass Calcify, of course, is fabulous for us, because oftentimes it means we’ll be the only one left with a board.

Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile are excellent point removal spells in the deck. Forsake the Worldly and Return to Dust are similar but for Artifacts and Enchantments. Aura of Silence rounds out our Artifact and Enchantment hate, while Pacifism is our last spot creature spell. Pacifism is great in Commander because it stops opposing Commanders from attacking and must be removed before they can again. Then we’ve got a slew of enchantment-based permanent removal: Oblivion Ring, Banishing Light, Cast Out, Faith's Fetters, and Quarantine Field. This breakdown should help us deal with just about everything that comes our way.

Finally, some fun stuff. Comeuppance, for example, can be backbreaking when someone else thinks they’ve got us dead to rights. Luminarch Ascension has been known to win games all on its own. Marshal's Anthem lets us reuse our creatures. Windborn Muse and Ghostly Prison both keep opponents off our back. And never underestimate a well-placed Aven Mindcensor. Sure, it stops a Demonic Tutor, but it also shuts down any ramp-heavy Green deck.

And there we have it. This deck will be fun to play, each game with it should be different, and it will likely be reasonably competitive without feeling overly powerful at any given table. Of course, for more variation you could bring along the following Optionboard. Just take out 9 Bombs and The Immortal Sun and replace them with these 10 cards.

A bit less traditional, yes, but Mono-White superfriends looks like a bunch of fun. The way they all interact could be very cool; Gideon could wind up with counters from Ajani, or Nahiri’s Equipment ability could equip one of Elspeth’s tokens.

In a way, our “theme” this time around is the structure adopted to build the deck. We’re not Angel tribal or strict Voltron, we’re just a stack of good cards which should work well together and make for a fun game to play. (For what it’s worth, this structure is a good one to use when you want to build using just the cards you already own. Pick a general, build the skeleton, then use cards you’ve already got in your collection and poof! New Commander deck.)

Now get out there and play!

Thanks for reading.

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