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Orah's Cleric Clinic


If there's one thing I've been pretty vocal about over the years, it's my love of the Onslaught Block. It was a time that I really felt was a turning point for me as a Magic player. While I started a few years earlier with the Urza sets and cards from the years before, I was largely a casual player for a number of years. The Onslaught Block was where I discovered such things as Friday Night Magic and Magic Online and got a deeper exposure to what the game had to offer. It certainly didn't hurt that Onslaught was an excellent set and the others in the block - while flawed - had elements that worked really nicely with the set.

The biggest element I loved was the tribal aspect. There were so many sweet creatures with different types that all worked well with and against one another. It felt balanced and fun, with lots of unique ways to play decks. Most people probably know that my love of elves stems largely from these sets, but they're not the only one. Slivers were a big one from years back, but I really fell in love with them as a tribe here. They even made up my first FNM deck! Zombies, beasts, goblins, soldiers, wizards, there were so many that could be utilized here.

Vile Deacon
Whipgrass Entangler
Rotlung Reanimator

One of my less talked about favorites, though, has always been clerics. I loved what clerics did in the Onslaught block. It was still very Tammy-esque for me, obsessing on cards like Vile Deacon - a Limited house in the past - and Doubtless One. Like many of the tribes in the block, though, it started teaching me different aspects of the game with neat effects and abilities.

Rotlung Reanimator made zombies when your clerics died, Whipgrass Entangler stopped opponents from attacking, and being able to sacrifice with Dark Supplicant to bring out the massive Scion of Darkness.

All of these just represented small pieces of why I loved clerics during this block. There were so many various aspects to them that felt so synergistic. In fact, depending on who you ask, they arguably made up one of the best decks in that Limited environment just on the back of their quality of cards. All of this came flashing back to me when, while looking for new commanders to talk about, I stumbled onto Orah, Skyclave Hierophant.

Orah, Skyclave Hierophant

Orah was one of the few truly cleric-centric legends that I've run across, and feels very much like one of the best. What's more, his ability offers a ton of great synergistic interactions and ways to play. Having creatures die only to get back other creatures seems excellent, and is a recipe that can lead to all kinds of shenanigans. Let's check out a list!

Orah Cleric Clinic | Commander | Paige Smith

As you might expect, this is a bit of a sacrifice deck. Creatures need to get into the graveyard somehow, after all! Thankfully, though, the deck ends up offering a bit of a different take on your typical sacrifice list. More often than not, you'll find the same kinds of cards in that style of deck. This usually includes the likes of several recurrable creatures (Gravecrawler, Bloodghast, Reassembling Skeleton) or else use ways to repeatedly return creatures from your bin (Phyrexian Reclamation is a big one here). Thankfully, Orah does that by himself for us.

There are a few ways to still get creatures back if needed - like Sun Titan, Luminous Broodmoth, and Mikaeus the Unhallowed - but largely we'll be relying on Orah to do the major legwork. After all, that's why he's here! Turns out there's quite a number of good clerics across Magic since the days when I first really played with them back in the Onslaught days. Many before then were just Samite Healer variations and were terribly boring, but there's nothing boring about something like Twilight Prophet, Pontiff of Blight, and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician!

Luminous Broodmoth
Twilight Prophet
Righteous Valkyrie

That's what makes the deck so cool, too: it does more than just sacrifice. Sure, you can win with the usual Aristocrats style of deck and make your opponents lose life and permanents as you sacrifice things, but there's more to it than that. There's essentially a lot more interaction points here, and thankfully there's also a number of great ways to swarm the board. Not only can sacrificing a creature cause you to get them back along with a friend, but you can also pump them all up frequently with various card effects as well. Victory's Envoy, Door of Destinies, Goldnight Commander, Righteous Valkyrie, and more all provide excellent ways to pump your board.

There's also a bunch of ways to get down a bunch of tokens as well. Valkyrie Harbinger and Speaker of the Heavens can bring the beats with a bunch of angels as you gain a lot of life. You can do more with smaller creatures too like the ones Westvale Abbey or a flipped Hanweir Militia Captain can make. And if those fail you, Rotlung Reanimator makes tons of zombies while you sacrifice and revive tons of your clerics. There's numerous ways to remove permanents, ways to tax opponents, save your creatures, and more.

Orah really ends up fulfilling a lot of my childhood dreams of a cool clerics deck and I love it. We've come a long way from many of those early designs, and as such it feels harder to justify them here. That said, there's always room for a good ol' Whipgrass Entangler or Dark Supplicant with a Scion of Darkness at your disposal if you need a couple good budgetary replacements. Now that I've slapped this list together, I really want to get together and play it myself. I hope you do as well, and that you might get to give it a shot in your own playgroup at your next Commander night!

Until then, stay safe and have fun!

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal

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