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Around the Wheel: Ikra Shidiqi and Tymna


Several years ago, my dad called me.

"My local shop is having a Commander tournament."

"Cool!" I said. "That'll be fun. What's the prize structure?"

"Winner takes all," he said. "It's a box of Modern Masters. I'm not sure which deck to play."

"Well," I responded, "it depends on your goal. If you want to go and play and make some new friends, play Molimo or something. Something fun and fair."

"What if my goal is to win the box?"

"Let me send you Edric, Spymaster of Trest."

I boxed up my Edric deck, insured it well, and sent it along. Two weeks later he called me again.

"I think I should split the box of Modern Masters with you."

Edric, Spymaster of Trest is a deck I'll probably never take apart, because it's just so silly.

My friends still hate it when I haul it out because they hate losing to a bunch of janky one- and two-drops. It leverages the Commander hard, and runs every cheap creature in its colors with some sort of evasion. It draws a million cards and wins by simply overwhelming the table. I've been wrathed twice in a game and rebuilt the following turn both times, dropping six or seven creatures and refilling my hand. It's powerful, because Edric is a built-in engine: attack, do damage, and draw cards. Sold.

As I was digging around for Abzan commanders, I realized I haven't done a partner deck in this series, so I took a look at the options. Two jumped out as a neat partnership.

Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper
Tymna the Weaver

It's kind of a build-your-own-Edric, only without Blue and the stigma! Tymna doesn't draw equal to the creatures, but we can draw equal to the number of opponents if we build correctly. She also costs us life, but Ikra gains us life based on our attacking creatures, so we can make up for the life loss. It's a less mean, more costly, differently colored Edric which shouldn't draw too much hate, but works much the same way - we want to hit with multiple creatures every turn. Let's do this.

We're running 34 lands.

Hang on. I really need to type that again, because that number of lands is absurdly low for a Commander deck, especially when you're the guy who advocates for 40 as a baseline.

We're running 34 lands. Most of them come into play untapped, all of them are reasonably cheap because there's no reason for them not to be, and a few of them have extra abilities. Mostly what we need is one of each color (a single dual would be nice as part of the mix) and then we're kind of done. This is a deck where we can easily keep two-land hands (I'd probably mull a 1-land hand unless I had a bunch of 1-drops I could cast with it), and if we don't draw our third for three turns we'll be fine. Vault of the Archangel can gain us a bit of extra life, and Grim Backwoods can let us turn underperformers into cards.

And of course, we draw cards with Tymna. We're going to spread damage around and try to hit every opponent every turn, so in most games we'll be starting to refill on turn three when Tymna lands. By turn four we'll often be drawing three cards a turn, so we should be okay unless we get nailed with Wrath after Wrath.

The threats are where this deck really shines. They're ridiculous. We have 15 1-drop and 33 2-drop creatures. Every one of them has evasion of some kind. Flying is the most common (there are a bunch of cheap White fliers), but Flying is great, because most often people won't have a bunch of early fliers, and sometimes a player will never have any! They come down early and get in right away, which is exactly what we want.

The next most common abilities are landwalk of some kind (Forestwalk, &c.) and Shadow. Both are great because they'll make those creatures unblockable to at least someone at the table. There is one dude who simply can't be blocked (Tormented Soul) and a few with protection from something, but the protection just helps - those guys can always fly or something else in addition. Well, Auriok Champion doesn't, but Protection from Creatures works just fine.

The idea is really simple: play a threat. Play another one. Play Tymna and start drawing. Play two more threats, play Ikra, and play more threats. Keep attacking everyone, drawing three every turn, gaining life every turn, and eventually bury everyone in card advantage and landwalking 1/1s.

There's a smattering of removal, all two mana or less. Feel free to run whatever flavors you've got, but you'll want some, mostly so you don't die to some jerk who figures out how to make an 84/84 or something and just kill you in one fell swoop. There are also a few wrath effects of our own, specifically pointed at larger creatures (Dusk // Dawn is a great example of the kind of thing we want). It's worth it to leave other little things around in order to not wreck our own board, and we'll rarely have anything big enough to get hit by the wrath. If we lose Ikra or something, we can just replay.

Finally, we've got a few fun things. We've got some mass pump spells, all which cost two or less: Sigil Blessing is my favorite, but there are a few more. If we get to a point where we're swinging with 14 creatures or something and an opponent or two would die if we added some damage to that total, it's nice to have this kind of thing around. There's a Blade of Selves, because that's hilarious on stuff with evasion. And there's a Beastmaster Ascension, because that thing can win a game all by itself if it sticks around unmolested for a turn or two.

No-Blue Edric | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

This deck is fun, aggressive, fair, and should be pretty cheap to build. (Depending on the pieces you've already got, it should be around $200, which isn't cheap but isn't bad in Commander-land.) One of the things I like a lot about it is how it encourages keeping all the players in the game - if you knock out one opponent early, it's a source of card draw gone! It makes sense to spread the damage around. Plus, who can complain that you beat them with a Cliff Threader?

What would you do differently in this build? More Myriad? Bigger creatures? More land? Let us know in the comments!

In the meantime, a deck like this one - that's fun, quick, and keeps everyone playing - is a good one to have in your arsenal. Now get out there and win with a bunch of janky cheap creatures!

Thanks for reading, and stay safe.

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