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Rasputin Dreams of Goblins

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Oneiromancy: Prediction of the future via dreams.

Imagine going to bed and having visions of a goblin horde. Probably not a fun snooze, but for Rasputin, the Oneiromancer, it's just another night. Scary as his dreams may be, their prophetic nature likely confers a strategic advantage. No stranger to the battlefield, Rasputin's classic incarnation - Rasputin Dreamweaver - fought alongside Tivadar of Thorn all the way back in The Dark.

It's fitting that we're going back to The Brothers' War, as its explosive conclusion (Urza's Ruinous Blast) ushered in Dominaria's medieval dark ages. The Dark was Magic's original horror-centric set, focusing on themes of widespread paranoia, mistrust, and violence. Much of civilization was in ruins after Urza and Mishra fractured the world. Folks struggled to survive whilst picking up whatever pieces of society were left. Even seemingly noble endeavors, like humanity's war against the goblins, were born more of fear than heroics. The goblins were an imposing force, but cards like Tivadar's Crusade illustrate a brutality that goes well beyond simply defending one's homeland.

Tivadar of Thorn may be the poster child for the Goblin Wars, but Rasputin, the Oneiromancer's involvement is just as apparent. Those are Knights of Thorn he's making, after all.

Knights of Thorn

Minus the Banding part.

And they'll come in handy, for Rasputin's dreams have a habit of coming true. Each time he enters play, opponents get a Goblin token, as if the enemy's arrival was foreseen in advance. Typically, gifting your opponent free creatures is a drawback, but as with any mechanic, nuances make all the difference. What if we wanted our enemies to build up Goblin armies? To sit comfortably behind fortifications whilst our adversaries tear each other apart? All the while, we'd be making full use of Rasputin's mana production to ramp up into game-ending threats.

Make a lot of Goblins?

Pile on Dream counters?

I'm thinking a Blink-effects are on the menu.

Teleportation Circle
Mistmeadow Witch
Thassa, Deep-Dwelling

Let's start by breaking down our Commander:

1. Rasputin's 'drawback' becomes an asset if we can point enemy goblins at other opponents rather than us. Add blink to the mix, and those goblins start adding up. These armies may not be under our control, but they're still valuable weapons. Bulking them up (Ex. Crescendo of War) or granting them evasion (Ex. Absolute Law) helps increase their lethality against opponents. Rasputin's ability to churn out Knight tokens with Protection from Red puts up an initial defense, but we've plenty of protective enchantments (Ex. Teferi's Moat) for further fortification. What's even better, with all the blink effects we'll be running, yet another insurance policy comes in the form of...

2. ...a high count of ETB-ready creatures (Lavinia of the Tenth, Watcher for Tomorrow, etc). Packing multiple forms of "Flicker" warrants troops that play well with either entering or leaving the battlefield. Much of our army works to provide this effect or ETB-abilities to generate repeated card advantage and tools for board control.

3. On his own, Rasputin, the Oneiromancer essentially comes with three colorless treasure tokens. That's a lot of extra mana for a 3-drop. He'd make a Llanowar Elves blush. Rasputin's Dream counters are unique to him and his original incarnation from Legends. Bit of trivia: They're also the only instance of Dream Counters in the game. You listening, Perrie the Pulverizer? New Rasputin comes in at only half the mana of his original, and while he'll need to wait a turn cycle for summoning sickness to wear off, once it does, he can boost our mana explosively. This opens up massive spell access earlier in the game. Expropriate for six mana is a universe away from nine. It also plays incredibly well with our blink-effects, resetting Dream counters with each instance.

4. Finally, while Rasputin's aforementioned Knight tokens handily tackle Goblins via their Protection, our deck packs additional sources of Protection from Red for further defense (Ex. Acolyte of Grace). These will not only allow us to attack through the walls of goblins, but utterly ruin the day of any opposing deck already playing Red as a primary color.

Conjurer's Closet by Jason Felix

Rasputin Dreams of Goblins | Commander | Matthew Lotti

Card Display


At the game's onset, out plan is simple: ramp up the mana base. Azorius isn't exactly renowned for this sort of thing, but we've a few resources up our sleeve beside the typical rocks. For starters, Rasputin, the Oneiromancer brings three colorless mana with him. Creatures in the '99 like Loyal Warhound and his ETB-happy buddies are happy to build real estate early on, then hopefully keep the Plains coming as future blink shenanigans get underway.

Once your mana base is established, it's time to set up your blink-engines. These should work to both control the board (against more threats than mere Goblin tokens) and generate you card advantage. It won't take long before your steady mana development and ability to repeat ETB abilities opens up a game-breaking spell to really take control of the table.

Let's start the journey by exploring what our army had to offer.

Lumbering Battlement
Brago, King Eternal
Displacer Kitten

Displacer-Dudes: For starters, let's assess what troops actually provide the Flicker-effects that make our deck run. Yorion, the Sky Nomad, Charming Prince, Glorious Protectior, Lumbering Battlement, Restoration Angel, and Flickerwisp generate a one-shot blink effect with the bonus of protecting the team at instant speed or providing an evasive (or in the case of the Battlement, a potential gigantic) threat. It's not difficult to chain these creatures together for complex stacks of triggers. That's especially true once the second variety of Flicker-Fighter enters the fray: the repeatable blink-enabler. Brago, King Eternal, Eldrazi Displacer, Nephalia Smuggler, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, Mistmeadow Witch, Displacer Kitten, Soulherder, and Deadeye Navigator all offer repeated Flicker effects, and with them, repeated ETB-effects off our other creatures.

Circuit Mender
Boreas Charger
Watcher for Tomorrow

Speaking of ETB-creatures, our assortment ranges from providing card advantage/utility to downright game-stealing when repeatedly blinked. The aforementioned Loyal Warhound brings buddies Knight of the White Orchid, Boreas Charger, Kor Cartographer, Stoic Farmer, and Scouting Hawk to power up mana production. You could also deploy Peregrine Drake to untap the same lands over and over. When it comes to board control, removal-on-a-stick like Solitude, Lavinia of the Tenth, and Deadeye Harpooner ensure attackers headed your way don't remain in existence for long. Tivadar of Thorn's inclusion is not only a flavor-win, but his ability will seldom be without a target. After the first Goblin is slain, Tivadar will stick around to block future Red threats. If you're looking for raw card advantage, creatures like Circuit Mender, Cavalier of Gales, and Watcher for Tomorrow will keep the resources coming.

Agent of Treachery
Torrential Gearhulk
Diluvian Primordial

Utility is nice and all, but to really wrap up the game, we bring out the ETB-haymakers. Agent of Treachery only needs a few appearances before it's handing us a free Ancestral Recall each turn. And that's after we've already stolen the best permanents in play. Even if our opponents manage to kill the Agent, whatever he's stolen is ours forever. Another option is to recur of our best spells. If a single Expropriate isn't enough to close things out, a second round via Torrential Gearhulk oughta finish the job. Diluvian Primordial goes one further, casting the best spells in each opponent's graveyard each time it enters play, likely providing a huge impact on each time. Finally, while the Elementals generated by Master of Waves can't grow to exponential numbers, as they'll die whenever we blink the Merfolk, the fact that a single card can repeatedly churn out multiple 2-power bodies per entry is no laughing matter. If an enemy wipes out one wave of tokens, we simply remove Master of Waves from existence with the knowledge his return will generate a fresh army.

Suture Priest
Twilight Drover
Welcoming Vampire

Our final squad of commandos synergize with all the creatures entering and leaving play. Twilight Drover grows quickly once Goblins begin butting heads, eventually able to generate an entire flying army in his own right. Ephara, God of the Polis and Welcoming Vampire further ensure we don't run out of gas. While the impact of Suture Priest appears small, this innocuous little cenobite has the potential to generate tremendous life swings over time. Not only will it gain us copious life via all our Flicker-effects, but will also chip in for life loss as our opponents receive Goblin tokens, in addition to whatever other creatures they planned on casting. You'll be surprised how quickly the gain/loss adds up.

Flickerform
Disorder in the Court
Lae'zel's Acrobatics

Synergizing Somnomancy: Our creature-count is high, but that's not to say more standard varieties of spellcraft aren't included. Our abundance of card advantage and the trio of Dream counters Rasputin, the Oneiromancer brings with him accelerate our mana production, speeding up mighty spells like Expropriate or a massive Ascend from Avernus. Granted, in the case of the latter, that's considering we've even creatures in the graveyard to begin with, as mass-blink effects like Eerie Interlude, Disorder in the Court, and Lae'zel's Acrobatics can rescue the team from a sweeper in addition to recurring ETB-abilities. The abundance of creatures entering play at our whim also makes Mystic Reflection into a fun source of shenanigans.

For more static blink effects, Rasputin, the Oneiromancer also packs cards like Teleportation Circle, Flickerform, Conjurer's Closet, and Sword of Hearth and Home, which serves as yet another source of ramp alongside our ETB-creatures.

With all this astral manipulation we've got going on, we're bound to draw attention. We're handing out free Goblins, so it's not like our opponents can be too upset with us. Still, we'll want to ensure said goblins aim their spears at other players. Knight tokens help, but we'll also bring in some extra combat-centric support to sway attackers in the opposite direction. Ghostly Prison and Propaganda are a classic duo, making the prospect of swinging at us with smaller creatures largely impractical. Or we could simply prevent them from attacking us altogether with Reverence and Teferi's Moat. Finally, Absolute Law allows the goblins to sneak past each other and strike at the heart of opponents while simultaneously buffing up our defending force. And utterly ruining the day of any opponent who just so happens to be playing Red.

Supporting Spells: Cards like Glorious Protector and Eerie Interlude obviously do a great job of shielding the team from enemy 'wrath effects, but they can just as easily turn our own sweepers one-sided. Both Vanquish the Horde and Hour of Revelation can be played at discounted mana rates, allowing us to snap off a mass blink-effect to cover the team from the ensuing blast wave. Once the dust settles, not only will they be the only ones left standing, but they'll trigger all their ETB abilities again.

Vanish into Memory

4/1 are the perfect stats to go with this.

Also, note that Vanish into Memory pairs quite nicely with Rasputin, the Oneiromancer, both resetting his counters and netting us three extra cards.

Sword of Hearth and Home
Archaeomancer's Map
Sea Gate Restoration // Sea Gate, Reborn

Mana Support and Rocks: We bring aboard the usual on-color mana rocks (Arcane Signet, Azorius Signet, Talisman of Progress, etc.), but much of our ramp hails from the aforementioned creatures (Kor Cartographer, etc.). Sword of Hearth and Home also does great work making an attacker more deadly, providing ramp, and netting a free Flicker while we're at it. Speaking of which, Archaeomancer's Map makes for quite the tasty blink target if no creatures are available.

When it comes to real estate, our deck makes full use of the Zendikar Rising modal lands. The opportunity cost on cards like Sea Gate Restoration // Sea Gate, Reborn, Ondu Inversion // Ondu Skyruins, and Kabira Takedown // Kabira Plateau is nearly zero, making them easy includes for raw utility. Other sources are attached to lands like Scavenger Grounds, Blast Zone, Arcane Lighthouse, Kor Haven, and Winding Canyons. These sources of colorless mana also make Eldrazi Displacer smile. Well, it would. If it had a mouth.

Eldrazi Displacer by Daarken

Nothing cheers up an Eldritch being like warping reality.

Budget Options: The Dark wasn't exactly a pleasant time to be a Dominarian. Cataclysmic artificer wars have a nasty habit of eating up resources. If you weren't a warlord or zealot, you were most likely a hungry peasant just trying to make ends meet. We can't all be fancy wizards like Rasputin, after all. Magic: the Gathering can be expensive, so 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!

Luminate Primordial
Mocking Doppelganger
Nils, Discipline Enforcer

Creatures: Solitude is the only creature in our deck that busts the budget. Plenty of removal-centric soldiers can fill his Modern shoes. Luminate Primordial is expensive, but Dream counters a la Rasputin help, and it'll hit three enemy creatures each time it enters play. Cavalier of Dawn, Phyrexian Ingester, and Duplicant can also provide additional wallet-friendly removal.

If you're looking to get more tricky with your enter-the-battlefield effects, a myriad of options are available at a low price. Windshaper Planetar, Nils, Discpline Enforcer, and Mocking Doppleganger help control combat, Scholarship Sponsor provides another source of ramp, and Lulu, Loyal Hollyphant begins to bulk up your army each turn, as having creatures leave play is our bread and butter. Trophy Mage can begin fetching up mana rocks and our 'Sword. And repeatedly blinking Mage's Attendant generates an army that increasingly impacts what enemy spells get to resolve.

Aminatou's Augury
Cosmic Intervention
Ghostly Flicker

Supporting Spells: We do lose one of our most powerful spells - Expropriate - to the budget gods, but I'm sure we can dig up another absurdly-expensive Sorcery to fill its place. Aminatou's Augury, Clone Legion, Mnemonic Deluge, and Storm Herd are all potentially ridiculous when sped up by a few turns.

Knight Paladin

Take 4...

Take another 4...

If we want more sources of blink, one-shots like Ghostly Flicker and Ephemerate are always solid choices, though something more widespread like Cosmic Intervention or Semester's End will have a greater impact. Storm of Souls provides excellent recursion, bringing each ETB-ability back with our newly-spectral creatures. Strionic Resonator will begin to double-up your variety of triggers for even more value. Or you could employ the new Knight Paladin as an grindy win-con.

Skycloud Expanse
Ghost Quarter
Castle Vantress

Mana Options: No shock, we lose some of our best mana-fixing (Flooded Strand, Mystic Gate, etc.) and utility (Winding Canyons, etc.). Shoring up the color fixing isn't difficult, as many budget Azorius lands are on hand to fill the void (Irrigated Farmland, Temple of Enlightenment, Skycloud Expanse, Prairie Stream, etc.). If you'd rather utility, look to cards like Ghost Quarter, Castle Vantress, Thespian's Stage, and Bonder's Enclave.

Yorion, the Sky Nomad by Steven Belledin

At least you'll always have a home in Commander, buddy.

Here's hoping your dreams are more enjoyable than those of poor Rasputin, the Oneiromancer. While the sleepy wizard and his off-putting ally Tivadar of Thorn wage war against all things Goblin, perhaps your opponents can put the little beasties to good use? Against each other, that is. They may start small, but with a single Crescendo of War, even the most unassuming goblin quickly becomes a force to be reckoned with. And while the chaos ensues on the battlefield, you'll have Rasputin and his army of reality-shifting sentries on guard to ensure your life total remains protected. Chaos is the most fun when it's headed in the other direction, after all.

Thanks for reading, and may you have sweet dreams.

-Matt-

@Intrepid_Tautog

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