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Going Infinite with Emmara


Emmara, Soul of the Accord
We all build decks differently. Some of us see a commander and buy or trade for the cards we need to make the deck we want. Some of us open a booster and build a deck with a random Legendary using only things we have in our collection. Some of us get ideas from other people and articles, then make it our own with some changes. And sometimes, we just have an idea - we see an interaction or think of a thing we might be able to do - and build a deck attempting to pull it off. We might lean toward one method or another, but the truth is most of us pull from all of them. Today's deck is one of those last ones. It's an idea based on an idea imagined. In truth, it's a bit half-baked. This is not a play-tested deck, ready to be brought to a table. This is a deck designed to make a specific idea work. I recommend tinkering with the numbers and individual card choices a lot. Make this one your own!

Emmara, Soul of the Accord has been all over the internet the last few weeks. It's no surprise, because she's pretty awesome. She's cheap, in solid colors, with a reasonable body for her cost and a relevant ability prime for abusing. Building a token deck with her seems as simple as figuring out how to tap her and adding a Doubling Season, right?

And a couple of cards made sense right away. Any time there are a lot of random creature tokens around, Ashnod's Altar is in order. Need a little extra mana to cast that big thing? Sac a dork! Want to upgrade your soldiers with Entreat the Angels? Sac 'em all! And any creature which wants to be tapped can use a Paradise Mantle. 0 to cast, 1 to equip, and whatever creature we have is now a Birds of Paradise. Great for mana fixing, paying for itself, and tapping down a dude we want to tap.

The thing is, if we add an Umbral Mantle to all of this, we're suddenly in the midst of a potentially infinite combo. If we put Paradise Mantle on Emmara, tap her for a mana, make a Soldier, and sacrifice it to Ashnod's Altar, we've got three mana in our pool. With Umbral Mantle also on Emmara, we can use that three mana to untap her and do it again, infinitely. We don't finish with any extra mana, and we sacrifice our Soldier every time around, but we do get infinite enters- and leaves-the-battlefield triggers for the tokens, and as long as Emmara's all equipped up, we can do it at instant speed. Let's see what we can do with that, shall we?

Emmara, Soul of the Accord | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

Umbral Mantle
We have to assemble the combo for this to work, and it requires three pieces in addition to our commander, so tutors are necessary. Fortunately, two of the pieces are equipment and all three are artifacts, and White does a nice job of looking for those things. (There are a couple of tutors omitted, mostly for monetary or mana cost, but if you have a Stoneforge Mystic around it fits here.) With any luck we find one naturally and can tutor up the others. Once we've got it all together, there are a whole bunch of things we can do, so it probably makes sense to talk through them all.

The first, and most obvious, is to use Parallel Lives, Primal Vigor, or Anointed Procession to make double Soldiers. That makes as many Soldiers as we'd like, meaning we should be able to make enough to simply kill our opponents on our next attack phase. Due to the fact most Emmara decks are going to be running Paradise Mantle, Ashnod's Altar, and these three cards anyway, it's almost worth it to find a spot for Umbral Mantle just for this approach alone.

Next up, we can use our incoming Soldiers to make infinitely large creatures. There are several candidates for this (Bronzebeak Moa would be hilarious), but this deck opts for three which have evasion of some kind - Bramblesnap, Griffin Protector, and Champion of Lambholt. Bramblesnap requires an interim step of tapping the Soldier while it's briefly alive, but the effect is the same: an infinitely large creature, capable of attacking any opponent to death. It's worth noting we can also make any other creatures we already have infinitely large with Cathars' Crusade, Valor in Akros, and Goldnight Commander, so if we've been diligent about making Soldiers as we're working toward our combo, we'll have a few kicking around ready to get really, really swole.

Third, we can tap down all our opponents' things. Glare of Subdual is awesome in any Emmara build, but in this case we can use Bramblesnap's trick of tapping the creature before sacrificing it (remember summoning sickness isn't an issue when the card instructs you to tap the creature. This is different from Paradise Mantle, which gives the ability to the creature itself) to tap down, well, every creature they have. Court Street Denizen only taps creatures but doesn't require a tap from us. Aura Shards does something similar except it destroys their stuff, which is mean to someone playing Daxos the Returned or Sharuum the Hegemon.

Path of Discovery
Fourth, we can dig through our deck for something specific. Path of Discovery will explore us to the very bottom of our deck if we wish. We'll have to dump the things we don't want into our graveyard, but if there's one more things we need to finish the game we can use this to find it. Plus it'll put a ton of lands in our hand.

Fifth, we can gain all the life. There are so many ways to do this that a bunch of them have been left out; all the traditional Soul Sisters, for instance, which are one mana 1/1s which gain a life each time a creature enters the battlefield, aren't here. Instead, we have Suture Priest, which also does some damage to other people, Anointer Priest, which has a higher toughness and can actually block an X/2, not to mention featuring Embalm so we can bring it back and still get the effect, and Healer of the Pride, which gains us two life, so we can have 2x infinite life, which is twice as much as normal infinity. Of course, having a ton of life doesn't do much if we can't win the game, so Test of Endurance is here, as is Aetherflux Reservoir. Felidar Sovereign would be fine too.

Finally, we can make infinite Energy. Decoction Module gains us an Energy every time a creature enters, so we'll have enough to power a mission to Mars. Unfortunately, there's not a ton that can be done with infinite energy, but the one thing we can do in this color pair is pretty great: Architect of the Untamed lets us spend eight Energy to make a 6/6 Beast artifact creature token. So we can make 80,000,000 Energy and make 10,000,000 Beasts, which are likely to end a game a turn later.

The rest of the deck is support. We've got a series of tutors to find our combo pieces. We have a small garage of vehicles for a few reasons. First, they're ways for us to tap our Commander. Second, they tend to scale up in terms of power and toughness, which makes them fine blockers as we're trying to stay alive. Third, they're artifacts to sacrifice to Kuldotha Forgemaster if we need to find a combo piece. Then there are a couple of other ways to manipulate Emmara, like Nature's Chosen. And we've got a touch of removal, all variations on Oblivion Ring - catch-all enchantments which remove permanents. A pair of cards will destroy all the creatures in case some silly Krenko, Mob Boss player gets the jump on the table.

The conversion, on the other hand, is a bit of a cheat. See, the obvious thing to do is remove a number of the pieces which work with the combo and turn the deck into a more traditional Emmara build, but there are a ton of those out there and I didn't feel like I'd offer anything new to that conversation. So I held the one last thing I figured out could be done with this combo for the Optionboard. Two cards.

We actually can mill our opponents out. The Altar requires infinite creatures with a token doubler, because we have to sacrifice the Soldier to mill them, but Hair-Strung Koto only cares about tapping an untapped creature, so Bramblesnap to the rescue once again. Make the dude, tap it to mill, sac it to Ashnod's Altar, rinse and repeat. Who would ever expect a Selesnya mill deck?

For those who don't know or aren't clear, a combo deck is a deck designed to pull off a combo, often a specific one. The old Deceiver Exarch/Splinter Twin combo in Modern is a great example; the whole deck was planned around pulling that combo off as quickly as possible. Most often, combo Commander decks run tutors and a ton of redundancy in order to find their pieces and get to their combo as fast as they can. This deck, as it stands, is an example of that.

A pocket combo, on the other hand, is a combination of cards, most often in a Commander or other high-variance deck type (mostly any singleton format), which, when put together, combo off and win the game. They're sort of "whoops, I win!" moments, where the deck is designed to work a certain way but the combo can come together naturally to win the game.

Because most of the pieces of the combination are already in most builds, all that's required to make your Emmara deck have this as a pocket combo is add in Umbral Mantle. At the very least it'll be a surprise moment with Parallel Lives on the 'field!

Did I miss anything that can be done with infinite enters-the-battlefield triggers in these colors? I'd love to hear if I did, so please use the comments to tell us all. Anything else you'd like to share about this deck? Please do so!

Now get out there and make infinite, if very short-lived, creature tokens.

Thanks for reading.