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Four Levels of Naya: Rin and Seri, Inseparable


Those of us in the United States celebrate our day of Thanksgiving this week. For anyone outside the U.S, it's a day normally organized around a meal: traditionally, it includes a turkey with various sides determined by season (cranberries, potatoes, brussels sprouts) and region (ravioli, mac and cheese, green bean casserole). Family and friends gather and eat until they can't stand. They also (supposedly) give thanks for all the things in their lives worth giving thanks for - health and/or healing, new jobs, family members, the fact that Crimson Vow is looking to be a great draft format - that kind of stuff.

We're in the midst of a short series on Naya right now. In honor of something I give thanks for every day, not just once a year, I'd like to honor our pets this week with a Commander worth praising:

Rin and Seri, Inseparable

"Fighting like cats and dogs" goes the phrase, but anyone who's grown up with a cat and a dog who get along knows how much of a team they can become. Rin and Seri certainly seem to get along, and not only that, they manage to make both their teams come along for the ride. Let's see what we can do with a $200 budget and a Dog Cat tribal deck.

The first thing we need to notice is Rin and Seri care when we cast Dog and Cat spells, not when Dogs or Cats enter the battlefield. This matters because something like Release the Dogs, which we certainly want anyway, won't trigger our furry friends and make the corresponding number of Cats. We have to actually cast a spell which says "Dog" or "Cat" (or "shapeshifter", but more on that in a bit) to get the token.

One way to go with this would be to jam a bunch of cheap Dogs (there are a few) and Cats (there are a bunch) and do an almost entirely creature build. Might even be fun! Run a few card draw spells (Skullclamp comes to mind) and otherwise just jam a bunch of dudes which trigger our commander and go to town, overwhelming our opponents with tokens and direct damage plus incidental lifegain from Rin and Seri. That seems to suit Naya well.

This deck is going to take a somewhat more nuanced approach, but will still very much be about casting a lot of Dogs and Cats to make a bunch of extra tokens.

Since we're going to lean into power over speed, we'll need mana to keep up with our needs. That means ramp. This particular suite uses some mana rocks and a couple of ramp spells, because we don't want to overemphasize Green here and it'd be nice to hit some all-color ramp earlier on (Arcane Signet gets us three colors, Rampant Growth only gets us one). It's possible Peregrination or Migration Path is better than Commander's Sphere here, but keeping the ramp cheaper and able to make all the colors seemed worth it in this case. This is along with our standard 40 lands; we definitely want to hit right up to five if at all possible, preferably with a ramp spell along the way. Mostly our lands support our colors, but we do have a few ways to benefit our strategy. Animal Sanctuary is a good way to use up some extra mana, as is Castle Embereth and Gavony Township. Kessig Wolf Run can turn flooding into a solid attack as well.

One nice thing about a Commander which makes tokens is they are their own form of card advantage; we get extra "cards' in the form of our tokens just for doing something we already want to do. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to draw extra cards anyway, so we have that Skullclamp, which is a great way to use some of our extra resources. We also have Shamanic Revelation and the even better Camaraderie. Realmwalker at least lets us cast Cats off the top of our library, and Keeper of Fables will draw us extras each time we attack, which we're likely to do a fair amount. A lot of our cards make tokens when they are played, though, and keep in mind getting two tokens plus a creature is a great way to stay ahead on board.

We're likely to win the game through a combination of things. We should be making enough tokens (and powering them up enough) to be able to attack fairly early on and continue attacking throughout the game. That should put some pressure on life totals, and sometimes that will be enough to simply outright kill a player. Rin and Seri themselves can also kill someone, so keep track of how many Dogs and Cats you actually have; if someone is at 15 and you've got 18 creatures, you can kill them on the spot (bonus points for saying "it's raining Cats and Dogs," though you may need an umbrella to ward off the groans). Likelihood is those two things will combine in various ways, ending with the demise of all your opponents.

We also have Strixhaven Stadium, which (I am guessing) is going to show up in a lot of token decks going forward. It will not be unusual that we'll have several more creatures than our opponents, so even if they can block lethal, or even serious, damage, we might be able to get through with nine or ten 1/1s or whatever and kill them right then.

Rin and Seri kindly can keep individual threats mostly handled with their direct damage. Occasionally that won't work, so we've got a few point removal spells, plenty of Artifact and Enchantment destruction, and a nice clear-the-board effect in Vanquish the Horde.

Oh! I suppose we do have a few more ways we could win the game, though they're honestly just variations of attacking. Titanic Ultimatum is hilarious and awesome. Akroma's Will will probably have close to the same effect, making all our creatures unblockable (protection from all colors) and Double Striking should do a lot of damage. Cathars' Crusade and Beastmaster Ascension are also ways to make an absurd force, because both will give massive bonuses to all our creatures, tokens and non-tokens alike.

We're running some lords, too. There's a Dog lord now, Pack Leader, who also prevents combat damage to all our Dogs. There are a bunch of Cat lords, giving bonuses and other abilities. We've got a couple of ways to give our entire team Indestructible for a turn, preventing being blown out by a wayward Wrath of God. But one of the most fun interactions we have is with Changelings, because each one counts as a Cat and a Dog, so each Changeling will trigger Rin and Seri twice, making both a Dog and a Cat token. Universal Automaton will, for one generic mana, make three power over three creatures, and the Automaton will be buffed by any lords on the battlefield. That seems worth the price of admission.

Raining Cats and Dogs | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

We sailed easily under the budget at $188.06, but there are a few cards I'd consider adding if I had a bit more money or could figure out what to cut. On the creature side, Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Mirri, Weatherlight Dualist would both be excellent in the deck. And of course, in any deck that makes tokens, Anointed Procession and Parallel Lives are fantastic (even Doubling Season would be good, but I hate Doubling Season, so never mind). I also really like the idea of Chameleon Colossus, but despite its history as a powerhouse, I'm not sure it's worth it anymore. Felidar Sovereign would be reasonable, but I don't like it here. Mowu, Loyal Companion could be a way to push into a +1/+1 counter theme, and Nacatl War-Pride might be a fun way to increase the number of tokens.

The deck should be relatively easy to play: do a little ramping, play Rin and Seri, and play Cats and Dogs. Attack. Do direct damage. Win.

What would you include in a Rin and Seri deck? More Changelings? More creatures? More win conditions, like Overwhelming Stampede? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading.

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