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Chun-Li's Countless Kicker!


"My father saved his village at the cost of his own life. You had him shot as you ran away. A "hero"...at a thousand paces."

"I'm sorry, I don't remember any of it." - M. Bison

"You don't remember!?"

"For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life.

But for me, it was Tuesday."

As rife with 90's-era cheese as the live action "Street Fighter" movie was, those immortal lines by Ming-Na Wen and Raul Julia go a long way toward capturing the essence of both characters. Bison is an egotistical tyrant, hungry for violence and long past any trace of humanity. Chun-Li's entry into the World Warriors tournament is a mission to bring an end to his reign of terror. That, and to avenge the father Bison stole. Her role as an Interpol agent has seen her face many vicious battles, but none were ever so personal as with Bison and his criminal Shadaloo syndicate.

Chun-Li, Countless Kicks

The original Street Fighter 2 claimed many a quarter from countless allowances. Considered an absolute titan among fighting games, Street Fighter 2 paved the way for legions of 1-on-1 arcade successors. Each new rendition brought with it new characters, costumes, settings, and combinations with which to beat the pulp out of your opponent. Magic: The Gathering's Secret Lair: Street Fighter fittingly packs the original roster of World Warriors (Ryu, World Warrior, Ken, Burning Brawler, etc.), but with such an expansive franchise and character library, I've no doubt a future sequel will appear. After all, the villain who set Chun-Li on her vengeful quest has yet to appear in card form. Neither have his enforcers Vega, Balrog, and Sagat. And don't even get me started on Akuma. Or Cammy. Or... you know what, I'm getting too far ahead of myself. The Street Fighter rabbit hole runs deep, and that's before you even consider Street Fighter 3 and beyond, so for now, let's turn back to the cardboard.

Chun-Li, Countless Kicks faithfully recreates the player-demolishing move that felled many an arcade regular. I hope whomever paired her Magic debut with Multikicker received a hefty Christmas bonus, as the combination of flavor and function is brilliant. An Azorius identity effectively captures her heroic quest crossed with intelligence background while providing an excellent Spell-Slinger foundation.

But how best to take advantage of her abilities?

Cyrptic Command by Jason Rainville

Let's start our exploration by breaking down our Commander.

Insert $0.25 to begin.

Thirst for Discovery
Faithful Mending

1. To get the most mileage, Chun-Li, Countless Kicks asks for two things: A fully-stockpiled graveyard, and enough mana to take advantage of it. White/Blue provide plenty of options to accomplish the former, with 'looting' style cards (Curate, Thirst for Discovery, Faithful Mending, etc.) helping us dig for resources while simultaneously filling up the graveyard. Later on, these spells can be exiled by our very own general to recycle unneeded draws into pure gas.

Dramatic Reversal
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

2. Loading up the graveyard is only half the equation, as without a healthy dose of mana, Chun-Li is relegated to humble Nessian Courser status. Added mana is necessary to get the most out of Multikicker, so aside from the usual assortment of on-color rocks, we'll include Instant-speed sources of land searching like Tithe, untap effects like Dramatic Reversal and Turnabout, and more generalized cost-discounts like Grand Arbiter Augustine IV. What's important to bear in mind is that cards exiled with Chun-Li stay exiled with Kick counters even if she leaves the battlefield, meaning that her subsequent recasting still lets you cast these cards whenever she attacks. This can go a long way toward mitigating the Commander tax, as you need not activate Multikicker each time to take advantage of repeatable Instants. Oh sure, it'll certainly sweeten the deal to snag a few more Instants, but when you've already loaded up the exile zone with card-draw effects, there's little to complain about.

Speaking of which...

Swords to Plowshares
Cryptic Command

3. Chun-Li, Countless Kicks has the potential to generate us an insane amount of card advantage with only a handful of Instants. A single Brainstorm can churn through a lot of our deck, removal like Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile nukes the biggest threat each turn, and heavy-hitters like Cryptic Command can be customized to fit a board state. Note that Chun-Li doesn't gift us these spells for free. Even after they're exiled, we'll still need to attack with her, then pay the mana cost of each exiled Instant we intend on casting. Fortunately, plenty of cheap Instants like Leap and Shadow Rift come with card draw attached. They also allow for another important function...

Shadow Rift
Show of Confidence
Blacksmith's Skill

4. Our Commander has to attack in order for us to access exiled spells. As such, having her survive to fight another day is key to keeping the card advantage flowing. Fortunately, combat tricks live in the land of Instants, so choices like Show of Confidence, Leap, Shadow Rift, Blacksmith's Skill, Valorous Stance, and Shelter are included to either protect her, allow for evasion, or both. Her combat-centric nature also suits Equipment like Whispersilk Cloak and Robe of Stars. Or we could simply protect our entire team via Flawless Manuever, Unbreakable Formation, etc. Which segues us nicely into our final point.

Fated Retribution
Teferi's Protection

5. We get to chose the order in which our exiled-instants resolve once we get around to casting them, enabling all manner of Stack-related tricks to soft-lock the game. For example, Fated Retribution can follow up a Flawless Maneuver, sweeping away all enemy creatures while leaving ours intact. Or we could combine our Commander with Evacuation and Reality Ripple to bounce all creatures, save our own Commander, each turn. Another fun option in having a Dovescape in play, countering all non-creature forms of removal while turning our own arsenal of exiled Instants into an army. There are countless combinations of fun interactions to explore.

In-review, Chun-Li, Countless Kicks offers a lot in the way of board control. So long as we can get enough resources assembled to take full advantage. Our collection of Instants helps us get there, and once we're there, continue to benefit us once they're exiled with Kick counters.

Chun-Li's Countless Kicker! | Commander | Matthew Lotti

Early on, our mission is simple: Start churning through cards, filling up the graveyard, and getting as much mana into play as possible. We've plenty of inexpensive removal to help keep us alive along the way, and ample means to protect our general once she shows up, but priority number one is giving her (and ourselves, by extension) enough fuel to work with. Don't hesitate to discard or mill away expensive Instants like Fated Retribution in the early game. Chun-Li, Countless Kicks will exile them to safety until we're ready to take full advantage later on. Once we get our Commander into play for the first time, focus on Instants that'll keep the plan going, drawing more cards and further filling the graveyard for bigger booms down the line.

Monastery Mentor
Leonin Lightscribe
Talrand, Sky Summoner

Interpol Agents: With our mission leaning heavily on Instants, it only makes sense to recruit fellow agents that further reward us for doing so. You'd be surprised how quickly an army assembles once Monastery Mentor, Talrand, Sky Summoner, or Docent of Perfection // Final Iteration hit the table. Said army then quickly gets scary off the support of a Leonin Lightscribe. Once you've a sizable attack force assembled, Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror and Guardian of Faith make a fun pair to sweep away opposing armies while leaving yours intact.

Vega, the Watcher

Wrong Vega, but we'll take it.

Of course, it wouldn't be proper Azorius without more card draw, so creatures like Archmage Emeritus, Vega, the Watcher, and Spellseeker join the fray to keep engines running. As the game progresses, massive threats like Hullbreaker Horror and Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant put pressure on opponents while protecting our board from disruption. And Grand Arbiter Augustin IV both helps us reach lofty mana heights while taxing our enemies. Just note that his arrival is sure to anger folks, so be prepared to deal with oncoming assaults. No one likes taxes.

Thirst for Knowledge
Careful Consideration
Frantic Search

Special Moves: With over one-third of our deck comprised of Instants, it helps to break things up into categories. For starters, our aforementioned looting-style draw spells to fill our hand and graveyard in equal measure include Frantic Search, Faithful Mending, Thirst for Knowledge, Thirst for Discovery, Consider, Careful Consideration, Fact or Fiction,Curate, and Tolarian Winds. Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin works to smooth out our draws, fill our graveyard, then later act as a tool to dig for more spells. Impulse and Silundi Vision // Silundi Isle may not fill the grave with excess spells, but they'll contribute to keeping our hand size healthy.

Robe of Stars
Reality Ripple
Valorous Stance

Next up are spells that keep Chun-Li, Countless Kicks safe to attack with impunity. The likes of Leap and Shadow Rift provide cheap evasion with card draw while Shelter, Sejiri Shelter, Robe of Stars, Reality Ripple, Blacksmith's Skill, and Valorous Stance offer protection. The opportunity cost of using up card slots on one-shot protective spells is vastly mitigated when our general can reuse those spells later on, turning our protective spells from reactive to proactive. Shields can further extend to the entire team via Flawless Maneuver, Unbreakable Formation, Akroma's Will, and the mighty Teferi's Protection. Combining any of these with the aforementioned Fated Retribution puts your opponents into serious pressure, forcing them to remove Chun-Li or quickly become overrun.

Shark Typhoon

On top of our aforementioned army-in-a-can style creatures, enchantments Dovescape and Shark Typhoon continually produce evasive threats as we carry out our game plan.

Path to Exile
Cyclonic Rift
Generous Gift

Supporting Spells: On our path to draw all the cards, it helps to stay alive. Chun-Li, Countless Kicks is happy to keep the machine gun going once spells like Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Generous Gift, and Valorous Stance clear away threatening creatures. While our general is woefully unable to max-out Cyclonic Rift for its full Overload cost, that she can still wield it as a useful targeted bounce spell after it's cleared the board is not to be overlooked. Fellow sweepers Evacuation and Vanquish the Horde, along with the aforementioned Fated Retribution, synergize nicely with our various mass-protective and mass-phasing effects.

Everflowing Chalice
Midnight Clock

Mana Support and Rocks: Our ability to go off with Instants comes down to how much mana we can invest into Chun-Li's Multikicker, so aside from the classic mana rocks (Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Azorius Signet, etc.), we bring in Instant-speed help for repeated mana generation. This can either come in the form of untapping our rocks (Dramatic Reversal), lands (Turnabout), or continually fetching up Plains (Tithe). Remember that Tithe looks for any Plains, not just basic Plains, so feel free to find Hallowed Fountain, Irrigated Farmland, and Prairie Stream along the way.

Access Tunnel
The Biblioplex
Reliquary Tower

Moving onto lands, our mana base consists of Azorius all-stars Flooded Strand, Hallowed Fountain, Mystic Gate, Sea of Clouds, and the like. Noteworthy additions include Access Tunnel to further assist Chun-Li, Countless Kicks, and The Biblioplex and Reliquary Tower to ensure excess cards-in-hand are utilized to the fullest.

Robe of Stars by Olena Richards

Getting an opponent to see stars is always useful in Street Fighter

Budget Options: Magic: The Gathering can be expensive, and let's face it, arcade games are hardly ever one-quarter-per play these days. While I applaud Wizards of the Coast for now providing in-universe equivalents of Secret Lair cards (think Will the Wise to Wernog, Rider's Chaplain), our Commander is still likely to fetch a pretty price. To save your wallet a K.O., here are some substitutes for players who'd rather not break the bank on cardboard. All cards over $20 will be noted and recommended for swap-outs. If anything seems interesting, regardless of price tag, give them a roll in the main! Creativity is an oft-forgotten cornerstone of Commander. One of the aspects that makes it special. Mix and match card choices to your heart's content!

Creatures: Spellseeker: $41.00

Curious Homunculus // Voracious Reader
Murmuring Mystic
Deekah, Fractal Theorist

All but one of our troops fall within budget, and while the tutoring ability of Spellseeker is wonderful to fetch up a Mystical Tutor, plenty of spell-centric replacements exist to fill her arcane shoes. If you're seeking further cost-reduction, look to Baral, Chief of Compliance and Curious Homunculus // Voracious Reader. If you'd rather expand your army, troops like Deekah, Fractal Theorist, Poppet Stitcher, and Murmuring Mystic are happy to reward you with creature tokens as you cast all your Instants.

Into the Story
Swarm Intelligence
Metallurgic Summonings

Supporting Spells: Enlightened Tutor: $53.00, Smothering Tithe: $45.00, Teferi's Protection: $41.00, Cyclonic Rift: $35.00, Tithe: $31.00, Mystical Tutor: $26.00

Tithes and tutors, demanding the big bucks. It'll be hard to recreate the raw power levels of our pricier Instants, but plenty of serviceable alternatives exist. Our tutors can be swapped out for the Sorcery-speed Merchant Scroll and Solve the Equation. Chun-Li may not be able to reuse them, but they'll still fetch up an important Instant. Or we could simply Opt (that too!) to draw more cards via Into the Story, Ojutai's Command, or Thirst for Meaning.

Swarm Intelligence

Or call some locust to double up our spells. Somehow.

Back to army generation: Metallurgic Summonings can pump out a steady stream of creatures over time, then refill our hand in the later game. Or you could go for Gideon's Phalanx, the Spell Mastery of which is likely to trigger often, protecting our team whilst growing it. Our trend toward token-generation also sees Rootborn Defenses act as a solid substitution for Teferi's Protection.

Port Town
Temple of Enlightenment
Calciform Pools

Mana Options: Ancient Tomb: $67.00, Flooded Strand: $41.00, Mystic Gate: $35.00, Sea of Clouds: $19.99

Finally, I'm happy to report that the release of Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate brings with it a much-needed reprint of the allied-color 'Battle-Lands' from Battlebond. The likes of Sea of Clouds and company are likely to drop in price once the set's released. These lands, along with their enemy-color counterparts from the first Commander Legends (Spectator Seating, Vault of Champions, etc.) are all staples, so be sure to pick em' up. Their price tag tends to grow quickly once the set is out of print.

When it comes to on-color options, plenty of budget options like Port Town, Temple of Enlightenment, Azorius Chancery, Nimbus Maze, and Calciform Pools are on hand to replace the more expensive lands. Or you could lean more toward utility via cards like Blast Zone, Mirrorpool, or Ghost Quarter.

Dovescape by Shishizaru

A literal spinning-bird kick!

I hope today's nostalgic kick down 2D-fighting lane brought back memories of arcade machines and endless summers. Be it in pixelated, polygonal, or cardboard form, Chun-Li remind us that the old classics can still kick butt. Unleash her upon your foes at the Commander table, and they'll learn to respect that rapid-fire kick.

Thanks for reading, and may you always have that spare quarter when you need it!



Commander HQ: Decklists and Strategy for Street Fighter's Legendary Creatures!

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