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Commander & Change: Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter


I’ve been jazzed for a week to write an article about Pia Nalaar. I feel like she’s the commander Daretti, Scrap Servant’s precon deck has been looking for. She’s cheap, she has a couple of relevant abilities, a great enters the battlefield effect, and can give the oomph to that deck it needed. When I sat down this morning to build the deck (I build before I write the article), I decided it would be a good idea to read the story which came out on the mothership, because it led with a picture of her card. It’ll be about Pia, I thought. Maybe I’ll get some insight or a spoiler which will be good for her.

Yeah . . .  that got derailed. Because, it turns out, the card spoiled at the end of that article would be absolutely no good in a Pia Nalaar build. In fact, it wouldn’t even be legal. But immediately, I jumped on this vehicle.

So let’s put Pia on a shelf for a while and do a little experiment from another mentor from Chandra’s childhood. We’re going to start by taking a look at her, then see where she takes us. There are options, but Mrs. Pashiri merges Green magic with Kaladesh’s world of scientists and inventors, so let’s try to build something a bit . . .  on theme, shall we?

We’ve got a 1/2 creature for g. There’s something to that — I’ve seen Isamaru, Hound of Konda decks which just rock that turn-1 general. We’ve effectively always got a turn-1 play, which means we’ve got a blocker for annoying early 1/1s, plus we can start putting out some early damage if we want. Honestly, a Mono-Green deck designed to take advantage of an early commander like this could be very cool.

Trading Post
Then we’ve got two nifty abilities. For 2g and a tap we make a 1/1 artifact Servo creature. That’s a blocker, an attacker, and an artifact, with all the positives and negatives that come along with that (can be sacrificed to Trading Post, dies to Shatterstorm). Then, moving up the ladder, for 4g and a tap we make an X/X artifact Construct creature where X equals the number of creatures we control. So if we, say, played a turn one Oviya, turn two Sakura-Tribe Elder, and turn three and four made Servos, on turn five we could make a 4/4. Then on turn six we make a 5/5. 6/6. 7/7. That starts getting scary quick. And more importantly, if we have 3 mana, we have something to do, even if our hand is empty or we’re flooded out.

But none of that can be done without mana. Fortunately, we’re in a good color for that. So we run 40 lands, most of them basic Forests. We’ve got a few extra lands to help or solve the occasional problem — Encroaching Wastes will destroy some obnoxious land. Foundry of the Consuls, Urza's Factory, and Gargoyle Castle all make artifact creatures. Ruins of Oran-Rief lets us buff up our little dudes, thanks to the Eldrazi destroying Zendikar. Tomb of the Spirit Dragon can help us make a ton of extra mana. Blighted Woodland and Myriad Landscape will thin us down and get us extra mana. Plus we can ramp in some traditional Green ways, like Cultivate, Kodama's Reach, and Nissa's Pilgrimage. Boundless Realms late game can ramp us hard and help ensure we draw mostly gas for the rest of the game.

Shamanic Revelation
We do want to keep up with card draw. Green is pretty solid at this normally, but most of Green’s draw magic is based on the power of a creature. Life's Legacy and Momentous Fall are great, but only when we’re sacrificing something with power 4 or 5 or more. A 1/1 Servo gets us one card for our trouble, which hardly seems worth it. Fortunately, we can get creative. Hunter's Prowess and Hunter's Instinct both let us take advantage of attacking, which is nice. Attack with a couple of larger Constructs and target the Instinct with one that gets through. Shamanic Revelation lets us take advantage of having lots of little dudes around. Skullmulcher can eat a few extra dorks to draw some cards. And Ichor Wellspring can start looping with Trading Post, but even without it, 2 mana for two cards is a good deal.

The theory here is to make a bunch of dudes, mostly artifact dudes, and hit an Overrun effect to stomp the board. That’s our primary threat. Overrun makes an appearance, of course, as does Overwhelming Stampede. Kamahl, Fist of Krosa is an Overrun on a creature which can be activated more than once if we’ve got the mana. Decimator of the Provinces is our Craterhoof Behemoth stand-in. Beastmaster Ascension is particularly fun when we play it and immediately activate it by attacking with seven creatures. Thunderfoot Baloth is a neat way to buff up the team. And Triumph of the Hordes is a rather mean way to end the game, but end the game it will. Save that one, though, for when everyone is ready to shuffle up for another.

Since we’re doing the Overrun effects, one card is a bit off-theme but way too important. We really want Avenger of Zendikar here. It would be nice if we had some other big dude with so much impact, but we don’t really have anything else like this aside from Myr Battlesphere. Feel free to replace Avenger with something else, but I wouldn’t want to go without it.

We’re a risky experiment, so we’ve got fewer answers than is probably responsible. Beast Within and Desert Twister will solve individual problems. Primal Command can deal with some random things too — a nice effect can be to shuffle the reanimator player’s graveyard back into their library. Nevinyrral's Disk will blow up the world, which can be necessary even if it blows up our corner of that world, but we’ve got Darksteel Forge. Have them both, and the Disk doesn’t even destroy itself; we just keep killing everyone else’s stuff.

And there’s our synergy. Darksteel Forge is amazing because suddenly all our dorks are really tough dorks. Eldrazi Monument makes them all fly and be indestructible, and get +1/+1 to boot. Myr Matrix and Myr Turbine will make more artifact creatures — sure, they’re visiting from another plane, but they work just fine with Chief of the Foundry. Steel Overseer buffs them up. Even Shrine of Loyal Legions is here, because though we don’t cast White spells, it still ticks up every turn. Myr Propagator might be more on theme. After a few turns, squirting out five or six Myr isn’t a bad thing. Trading Post does work, because we can sac our dudes to return our important artifacts (Eldrazi Monument) or sac our dudes to draw cards.

In the spirit of experimentation, let’s use some extra space to look at several of the new Kaladeshi cards we’re using in the deck. Verdurous Gearhulk buffs up some of our little dudes, all while being a Construct itself. Highspire Artisan and Cultivator of Blades both have Fabricate, which means we get even more little guys when they come into play (it’d be pretty unusual in this deck to use the other option). Architect of the Untamed might not do anything special, but if we can hit it and then Boundless Realms, we could wind up with a couple of free 6/6s.

The three Modules — Animation, Decoction, and Fabrication — all do fun things, and working together they make quite the team. Decoction, specifically, lets us recycle our Fabricate creatures, which is nifty. Aetherworks Marvel is a sweet way to dig through our library and take advantage of our artifact sacrifices. Bomat Bazaar Barge draws us an extra card and lets us use our little dudes to drive a big one. Foundry Inspector lowers the cost of a number of our spells. Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is big and flashy (and the built in Lightning Bolt can be useful), and Whirlermaker makes even more little dudes, and these fly. Finally, Wildest Dreams lets us dump a bunch of mana late game into getting back things we might not want to languish in our ‘yard.

Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter ? Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

This deck really wants a few specific things, some new, some not. Mostly, it wants Craterhoof Behemoth, and that’d be the first thing I’d make room for if I had the cash or one kicking (stomping?) around. Nissa, Nature’s Artisan, the one from the upcoming Planeswalker deck, would also be great here, together with Verdant Crescendo from that deck. The thing is, we don’t know how much they’re going to be yet, so they can’t fairly go into a budget deck. The whole package is $15, and will probably be worth it just for the extra ‘walkers alone. Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury would probably be good. Illusionist's Bracers might be worth trying with the commander. Kuldotha Forgemaster would power up the deck some, but tutors aren’t for everyone. And Phyrexia's Core is a way to get benefit from someone destroying something of ours or make sure our Wellsprings get full value. One could also look at Awakening Zone and From Beyond, or even more Eldrazi Spawn and Scion makers, to push colorless tokens, but they weren’t artifacts, so they seemed less on-theme with a Lifecrafter. All is Dust would do well in addition to the Disk.

How’d we do with this experiment? Please let me know in the comments what you’d do with Oviya! Changes? Glaring omissions? Other thoughts and suggestions? I want them all!

Now get out there and build!

Total cost: $98.12

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