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Dreading Tourach, Dread Cantor


When we think of building a Commander deck, the vast majority of the time we start with a Legendary creature which strikes our fancy. New sets bring new legends, we look at spoilers, and we think "I want to build a deck around that dude!"

Sometimes it is power we're attracted to. When I built Sheoldred, Whispering One, it was the raw power of that card I wanted to lean into, and I did, ultimately building a deck I took apart because none of my friends would play against it. Other times it's a theme we want to build. I have a friend who saw Heliod, God of the Sun and wanted to build a Holy War deck, so all the cards are on that theme.

The thing is, with every set bringing a bunch of new legends as Wizards supports the Commander format more and more, not every legendary creature is going to inspire. I suppose today's legend should make me want to build, because I'm actually a professional singer, so you'd think a dude with "Cantor" in their name would be my jam!

Tourach, Dread Cantor

We have some interesting, competing abilities here. Of course, the Kicker ability is a creature-based version of the classic "Hymn to Tourach", which is quite cool. The problem is targeted discard isn't great in a multiplayer format. Additionally, the payoff doesn't help us, because a discard theme doesn't need +1/+1 counters, it needs creatures or cards or mana. Also, there are way better commanders out there if the goal is to build a discard deck. Pro White is nice, because a lot of the targeted removal is White, but that doesn't really make a strong commander unless you play in a playgroup where everyone runs Mono-White decks.

So, let's take a look at some ways Tourach could be useful in the 99, rather than try to build a deck around him. It'll be a different way to approach a "Commander", but it might spark some ideas for a new deck!

The first thought is a deck using cards like Crystal Shard. Tourach can't be kicked if he's Flickered, but we can bounce him and recast him for some pretty serious value. It can be an annoyance in a deck which is playing around with cards coming in and out (thinking Aminatou, the Fateshifter) or a hand-wrecker in a deck with infinite mana and a way to untap the Shard. It might be interesting to assemble a combo that allows infinite bounce-and-recasts and have a toolbox of creatures to do different things. I suppose at some point it's a decision to build a deck which doesn't just immediately try to win, but instead lock down the board.

The next approach might be a Discard theme. Tourach could be a useful player in a deck where the whole point is to force discards from our opponents. This deck might start like this:

The idea here is to have Nath of the Gilt-Leaf helm a deck which leans into discarding to kill our opponents. Liliana's Caress and Megrim are the classic game-winners, and cards like Gibbering Descent cause even more trouble. Tourach helps push the theme, causing more chaos and targeting a player who's managed to actually keep some cards in hand through the onslaught.

From here, it's pretty easy to go a few directions. Lean into Elves or Warriors and win with the swarm, or suit up any random creature with a few swords and swing for the fences; Tourach is great here because he'll get bigger automatically and already slides past some of the creatures on the battlefield.

Next up is tribal. Tourach is a Cleric! Let's see if there's something there.

Tourach is quite strong in an Athreos, God of Passage Cleric shell. Clerics tend to be small and have an ability, so we can leverage that by playing them and replaying them and replaying them. Sacrifice effects would be a must, and three life each time starts to add up. Something like Relic Vial is quite solid, and Soul Warden (or even better, Suture Priest) can cause a lot of problems.

Winning isn't overly complicated here either. Eventually the card advantage will add up and something like Righteous Valkyrie will pop off. Tourach being cast three or four times just helps limit the options for our opponents.

One more direction. This is actually the first idea I had. Hymn to Tourach makes people sad, right? So will Tourach, Dread Cantor. Why not lean into the terrible?

This is a look at old-school Mono-Black Pox decks. The theory was to use the titular Pox and others like it to deny access to resources, then break parity somehow. Most of the cards here are designed to take away resources from our opponents. A great example is Possessed Portal - for eight mana, everyone skips their draw, then has to sac a permanent or discard a card. That gets costly.

The thing is, we also run some ways to make it work. Sifter of Skulls, Waste Not, Geth's Grimoire, and especially It That Betrays are all examples of how we can turn our Pox effects into benefits. Waste Not will keep creatures, mana, and cards flowing, so we'll always have stuff to sacrifice and cards to discard while our opponents sacrifice their lands (or, more likely, scoop).

Tourach is solid here. Considering this shell will likely end up playing out of the 'yard, we can get a few casts out of him to keep hands empty. And, because we'll force discards a fair amount, if he sticks around, he could get reasonably large and potentially even threaten a kill.

Note this is a really terrible thing to do to a table. Contamination is awful, because (unlike Blood Moon, which at least lets people have their basics) everyone just kind of can't play Magic, because they can't make any of their colors.

If your opponents actually make you win the game, rather than scooping or running from the table, having Chainer at the head will help because we can take a couple of the juicy targets that have been discarded or sacrificed and beat people with them. On the other hand, Liliana, Heretical Healer is helpful right from the beginning by creating a creature and forcing discards once she's flipped. Not to mention her second ability is great, and her ultimate (if it should pop off) will surely win the game, if for no reason then everyone will surely scoop at that point. (It's also worth pointing out Tinybones, Trinket Thief isn't a terrible idea for a commander here, and will probably be less terrible than the Liliana version for a table. Probably better in the 99.)

So, there we go. Four ways to use Tourach, none of which is as a commander! Do you have a story of realizing a card belongs in the 99 and not at the helm? Any other ideas for Tourach? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading.

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