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Modifying Mirror Mastery: Riku Rebuild

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Do you like what you see when you gaze into the mirror? If you took a jaunt over to CoolStuffInc.com and individually purchased each card in the preconstructed Mirror Mastery deck, you would need to drop roughly $130 to construct this rgu Highlander build. There are some expensive, Legacy-legal cards packed into this deck. Recent price checks indicate Edric, Spymaster of Trest topping out at $15, while Homeward Path will run you about $12. Popular cards like Command Tower are sold out on most major websites, and typing hundred-card names into a search engine to assemble your purchase is enough to give the average card-flipper carpal tunnel syndrome. However, Wizards has assembled the foundation of today’s rebuild neatly in a gift to the Commander-playing community for around $30. Crack your present open, and let’s get to work rebuilding with Riku of Two Reflections.

When unboxed, Mirror Mastery provides three of the hottest Legendary creatures from the June release: Animar, Soul of Elements, and the aforementioned Riku of Two Reflections flanked by the dual-colored Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Animar, Soul of Elements will provide players with a solid general option. Protection from b and w provides Animar a chance to withstand some of Magic’s best spot removal, and the ability to slam +1/+1 counters on a constantly growing Commander while reducing the converted mana cost of your other creatures is simply fantastic. It is easy to imagine aggressive decks filled with powerful creatures piling onto the battlefield in droves as Commander players mount the offensive against opposing forces. Animar will command giant armies of cost-reduced creatures while growing into a giant threat over the course of the game.

Edric, Spymaster of Trest, while only featuring u and g, offers players interesting characteristics that should inspire a new wave of ug tribal Elf decks. With the loss of Rofellos, the Elves needed a new general option. Building highlander decks with u always offers deck architects outstanding card options. Imagine a battlefield flooded with Elves (or any creature type) that provide card draw each time they deal combat damage to an opposing player. His applications in Commander are twofold. He provides card advantage for your deck, and motivates your opponents to avoid attacking you in exchange for free cards and combat damage to your other opponents in a multiplayer game. The political advantage compliments the card advantage superbly.

Although Animar and Edric will impact the Commander metagame, Riku of Two Reflections might be the most impressive option in the Commander slot. At first glance, his busy text box might not implicate the powerful and, somewhat, broken synergies that can be accomplished by copying spells and making token twins of creatures that enter the battlefield. Let’s move through some of the cards that we will keep from the preconstructed deck build, and discuss additions of synergies and interesting ways to modify the deck in order to make it powerful enough for league play or even competitive arenas.

Modifying Mirror Mastery

Aside from the awesome legendary creatures that come with the deck, there are several other foot soldiers that can put in work during the long Commander wars destined to be waged by your deck. I hold each creature to a high standard. It must contribute to the overall theme of the deck or serve a specific niche role needed to support our deck’s function. Therefore, I am looking for cards that will be sweet to copy, and cards that either ramp us up into larger spells, provide some spot removal, or generate card advantage.

Keeper Creatures

We are going to stick with twelve of the original twenty-five creatures that come in the Mirror Mastery deck. Many of the creatures had some sort of land cycling or evoke ability providing stabilization for your tricolor mana base and clever copy tricks with your general. We kept a couple of the best choices. I particularly like to copy cards that bring back other creatures or cards from the graveyard. Artisan of Kozilek, Deadwood Treefolk, and Nucklavee are standouts. Magmatic Force can win games when you are hitting players and creatures for 6 damage each upkeep and Hydra Omnivore is a new kind of awesome! Simic Sky Swallower is a classic and is very cool to have copied. Two giant, shrouded fliers with trample can push through some beatings.

Ramp Up

Wood Elves

Sakura-Tribe Elder

These guys are not going to get copied as much, but substitute land cycle for actual cards on the field without taxing a three-color mana base early in the game. You could also consider the Yavimaya Elder and Dryad if you are comfortable with gg early on.

Clever Copies

The list is long. What creatures would you love to twin as they make their debut on your battlefield? There are so many different options. Half the fun of playing Commander is deck building with access to such a wide array of card options. Many folks will choose different options to populate their lists. However, I chose a few of my all-time favorites.

Solemn Simulacrum is making a return to Standard in M12. I tend to pack copies of the robot along with his emulating 6-cost cousin, Duplicant into many of my decks. I think these are some of the very best cards in the format and would love making mirror tokens with such powerful effects. Every deck needs a win condition. This deck will have several, but will borrow some tricks from Standard. Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch will combo nicely with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and the inclusion of Splinter Twin in your deck. You can bump it or dump it depending on your style and how much you love combos, but it adds an additional threatening element to the Mirror Mastery deck that can help it gain a more competitive edge.

Eternal Witness seems like an auto inclusion in the build. I have written article after article promoting the synergy and enhanced playability in decks sporting both Eternal Witness and Genesis. The engine’s power level is undeniable, and creature based strategies receive a huge boost in resiliency when the best green creatures ever are leaving the graveyard and hitting the field!

The last inclusion is Palinchron. What would you call a copy of an Illusion? If you ask me, pure mirror mastery! Commander is a format where you can ponder questions like, “What can I do with an infinite supply of colored mana?” You might want to cast and copy a huge number of creatures, or simply fireball a pesky opponent for their entire life total. There are so many strong and glorious ways to make sweet battle. Palinchron and his subsequent token copies will provide you with the impetus for such a question.

Let’s walk through a quick mechanical run-down demonstrating why Palinchron and Riku are natural allies. Commander is about casting giant fatties. Riku is awesome because you not only cast, but copy those fatties. When Riku is onboard, players can simply pay gu to make a quick, token copy of a non-token creature on the single instance in which it enters the battlefield. Imagine that you tapped 7 lands to pay for Palinchron’s casting cost. When he resolves, he will untap up to 7 of your tapped lands. He is, in a way, free to cast if he resolves. If you tapped lands that tap for multiple mana like Temple of the False God, Gruul Turf, or Izzet Boilerworks, you benefit greatly from the Palinchron (super Garruk) Effect. Riku turns up the excitement level on that benefit with the simple payment of a gb because your Palinchron token will also yield a mirror benefit of untapping up to 7 lands. For the simple investment of uuug and 5 colorless (9 total mana), you retrieve fourteen possible untapped lands.

This access to a giant amount of extra mana explodes into infinity when you return the non-token Palinchron to your hand using his second ability. For 2 and uu, you can retract your illusion and repeat the cycle until you have all the mana that anyone could possibly want. What you do with this mana is a matter of choice. Some folks will choose to complete this devilish twinning trick with Anger placed strategically in the graveyard. A giant storm of blue illusions will end the game when blessed with Haste. Other folks might choose to use the mana to pump out more spells and more copies of creatures and/or sorceries and instants. You can empty your hand and bring about the end of those who oppose you.

Finishing Touches

Total = 24 creatures

Aside from the outstanding lineup of creatures included in the box and additional supports to your growing army, we have included some support cards to keep your engines running. We reviewed the Kiki-Jiki combos, Genesis will keep your combo pieces coming back, Anger will ensure you hasty assaults, and Squee, Goblin Nabob will be a recurring reminder to use and abuse the copy of Survival of the Fittest that we are dropping into the deck.

Land

After covering the finer points of the creature population, the land base will focus on stability. You can perfect the mana base with the addition of each fetch land, the original dual lands that tap for combinations of gur, the Ravnica block shock lands, and supporting bounce lands like Izzet Boilerworks.

An optimal build can make these modifications, but many players choose to run cheaper mana bases. I always promote the use of non-optimal builds in multiplayer games. In most cases, the monetary investment is not reinforced by playability during casual games. In fact, it can be fun to sport the cheaper lands that come into play tapped and is an added challenge to players to make the most efficient use of storage counters and inexpensive pain lands.

There is a wide range of modifications that you might want to make to the mana base. You can also choose to leave it very similar to the land base included in the box. If budget is no concern or if your Magic playing Uncle just passed you an inheritance of sweet dual lands, you might craft your mana like this:

Total = 34 land

In a podcast with some of the designers and developers of the Commander decks, I heard folks talking about running decks with a higher number of lands. The precon Commander decks tend to sport tons and tons of land. Mirror Mastery comes with forty-one in the box. I am going on record and will disagree with the formidable Research and Design staff at Wizards. Forty-one land is too much. After logging over 1,000 EDH/Commander games, I feel like I have enough evidence that you can build and operate Commander decks fluidly with few to no mana problems with thirty-four lands. Here is a catch. Green decks can play even less if they include 8% to 10% alternative ways to ramp mana (including Sakura-Tribe Elder, Kodama’s Reach, etc.).

In our modified build, I want to cut the lands and add provisions for land-base stability. Life from the Loam is a great engine to secure the operation and playability of your deck. We have access to recurring fetch lands and can occasionally use the dredge mechanic to drop lands into the graveyard. If you opt for card inclusions like Solemn Simulacrum, Yavimaya Elder, and the new Collective Voyage, it is hard to fall behind on mana.

Ramp It Up and Secure Your Lands

Total = 7 other ramp spells

About 9% of the deck involves green mana ramp or increased access to the specific mana that you want to grab. I don’t know how many games you have logged with Collective Voyage, but the card is bonkers. Generally, folks love to create absurd game states. Last evening, we had a 7 person grand melee going down with 8 mana on turn 3! If you think you will be playing with folks that play the Collective Voyage, then you will make sure that you have plenty of basic lands so you can join in on the wild ride.

With green spells that allow you to grab any and all colors of mana to suite your needs, you can lean on the final bit of ramp in the form of artifact acceleration. With the amount of Oblivion Stone and Nevinyrral’s Disk in our play group (not to mention the occasional Creeping Corrosion or Plana Cleansing), I have grown used to leaning lightly on artifacts. Therefore, I might recommend the light inclusion of signets. In fact, we are going to cut most of the artificial ramp, and simply hang onto Sol Ring and add the indestructible Darksteel Ingot.

Artifacts

Enchantments

Total = 11 enchants and artifacts

We have a deck that is both very playable, but also likes to leverage its Commander. Lightning Greaves, Darksteel Plate, and Clout of Dominus work on many of the creatures in the deck, but specifically benefit our general. I like the additional search provided by Survival of the Fittest. It can help set up our Genesis, Anger, and Eternal Witness tricks, along with offering a chance to acquire utility creatures from the deck. Dealing with a problematic opponent’s land? Find your Faultgrinder. There are so many awesome creatures in this deck that you are going to love Survival.

Rhystic Study makes the cut to provide card draw and the Vows are tasty, political inclusions that keep your safe and can build up your allies in multiplayer games. In a pinch, you can put them on your own creatures for added effect.

The Final 14

With the remaining slots in the deck, you can do pretty much anything that you love. We need some removal. The deck will benefit from some mass removal and spot removal. I personally like some counters and a bit of search to even out my decks. Capsize will be a standout in this deck. With the infinite Palinchron mana, you can Capsize with buyback your way to a barren victory in which opponents are glaring at your with empty boards and contempt in their hearts. If you are feeling a little nicer, then simply pack in more multiplayer friendly options that both promote social interaction but limit your opponent’s win conditions. Here are my selections.

Keepers

Total = 6 mix-n-max keepers

Aside from our planeswalker, each of these spells will provide some creature control and a few are awesome targets to copy. The new additions will add to our counter magic. Many players are on the fence when it comes to taking extra turns. I have included a couple of cards that can be powerful and devastating to copy like Time Stretch, but you always have the option of leaving those cards out in favor of a more friendly build. However, using Riku’s ru ability to twincast a counter or to take a couple of free turns can be a great defense or offense.

Something Borrowed

Something Blue

Total = 8

This hundred-card Mirror Mastery monster might be a little strong for your local league or playgroup. If you end up with a Broken Mirror, then tone down some of the more abusive cards like Time Stretch, Palinchron, and/or Survival of the Fittest. Copying your Blatant Thievery will make you a political target, and people will begin calling for Riku’s head. However, if you are going to take the time to modify the deck, this should give you some various directions to take the build.

I want to close today’s article by giving a special shout-out to the women of Magic who are contributing to GatheringMagic.com. As a minority in our hobby, it is awesome to see such bold writing and strong theory coming from staff columnists like MJ Scott and accomplished pro player Carrie Oliver. Few websites have opened the doors to female writers, and we hope to see more strong participation from a growing population of strong female Magic players and authors. Our local FNM hosts an average of sixty players per event. Over 10% of our players are women, and the number is growing. Our Commander league is also about 8% to 10% female, and I expect the numbers to grow. Check out the articles from MJ, Carrie, and others as we grow our diverse community of players.

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