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Opening Up the Faerie Mosh Pit With Alela


Over the years, I've talked about a large swath of topics. As time has gone on, I think it's pretty safe to say that a lot of people reading my articles have a good idea about a lot of the things I love. I've talked a lot about Pauper, my love of archetypes like Elves and artifact decks, as well as being heavily focused on history and nostalgia. What can I say? I'm a long-time player who loves the old just as much as the new.

One thing I don't talk about nearly as much, however, is my love for music. I grew up on rock music, with my dad playing in a small local band in the Buffalo, NY area for a number of years. Hanging around the house or driving in the car your ears would often be greeted to the likes of Meat Loaf, Bruce Springsteen, and The Beach Boys. As I got older and I really began exploring music, I was quickly hooked onto hard rock, heavy metal, and good old-fashioned punk. I love the energy and style that drips from the shredding guitars and pounding drums.

I've discussed this a little bit in the past now, such as that time I made a heavy metal Thraximundar deck a few years ago, but it's been a while since I covered it as a theme or topic. As it turns out, MagicCon Minneapolis was just a few weeks ago and I was able to go as an exhibitor. If you stopped by the CoolStuffInc.com booth, you might've seen me buying cards over a large chunk of the weekend. I got to see a lot of great people and had a good time in the city in general. While there, I picked up something that absolutely delighted my old rocker heart: the Legendary Flyers (Not That Kind) Secret Lair release exclusive to the event.

Each of these was modeled after concert flyers you might find for a punk or metal band advertising a concert. I've seen these plastered up around venues advertising upcoming shows and even picked up posters looking just like these at a handful of events. If you'd ever been to a hard rock show, odds are these resonated with you tremendously. As such, you'd better believe I went right in on this. I especially wanted this for two cards primarily: Phage the Untouchable - a childhood favorite whose name influenced my current Twitter display name - and Alela, Artful Provocateur. Phage doesn't really make for a good Commander or anything, and is more of a fun collectable keepsake for myself. Alela, on the other hand, was one of the first times in a long while where I saw it and immediately knew I wanted to make a Commander deck around it.

Today, I'm going to put together a deck for her and share the list with you all! And oh yeah, with all the artifacts floating around with the deck, you better believe it's going to get metal as hell. So put on your patch vest, spin some Anthrax, and get ready to slam dance with Alela's faerie mob - we're going in!

Alela's Mosh Pit | Commander | Paige Smith

Card Display

Now when I said we were getting metal, I meant we were getting metal. Not so much in the long haired drunken headbangers moshing around kind of way, but with artifacts! Alela works well with both artifacts and enchantments, but frankly I'm just a sucker for a good artifact strategy. As it happens, there're far more artifact creatures than there are enchantment ones, so I went to them to look up good artifact fliers. Turns out, there were quite a bit of them!

The first ones that jumped out to me were naturally the Alara block sphinxes. It's no secret that I love playing my Sharuum the Hegemon deck, and she's perfect here, as are mainstays of that deck, Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Magister Sphinx. However, one thing I've learned in the past when working on artifact decks - especially Esper ones - is that I often end up falling back on favorite strategies that can reflect how that Sharuum list plays. It's hard not to be that way when it's your pet deck, after all. Here, I wanted to avoid that and leaned harder into the other options available to me instead.

Some of the fliers I pulled up were continuing that trend of high-end sphinxes. Sharding Sphinx fills your board up even more with creatures as you deal damage while Sphinx Summoner finds whatever specific artifact creature you're looking for. Ethersworn Sphinx and Thought Monitor look expensive but end up being cheap and generating you extra value just for playing them. Similarly, Steel Seraph looks costly, but is actually quite reasonable to cast as a 3-drop. Ethersworn Adjudicator and Steel Hellkite both blow stuff up, Junk Diver gets you back cards, and the likes of Pilgrim's Eye and Ornithopter of Paradise help smooth your mana out.

Sharding Sphinx
Faerie Mechanist

One of the more interesting fliers here is actually Esperzoa. I once used it in my earliest builds of Sharuum as a card that showed up in my Duel Decks: Elspeth vs. Tezzeret precon, but quickly found the bouncing drawback simply wasn't worth it. In a deck like Alela, however, it's possible to make this ability work to your advantage. Combining the ability with the likes of Pilgrim's Eye, Arcanist's Owl, and Faerie Mechanist is a great way to fill your hand turn after turn while also simultaneously filling your board with small faeries. Picking up a Phyrexian Metamorph is a great way to reset what it's cloning and bouncing a prototype Steel Seraph lets you recast it in its bigger form later on in the game. Even without Esperzoa, you can benefit from putting Sensei's Divining Top repeatedly back on top of your deck for those extra creatures.

The next thing I looked at was mana rocks. Unlike my Sharuum lists, which both have fun ways to make mana rocks and rely on cheating out the bigger spells through reanimation, this deck doesn't have it so easy. With so many bigger plays, you really want to make sure you can cast everything, and thus playing a larger density of mana rocks is always beneficial. Typically, I only like 3-4 but with how high the deck's top end can get, I ended up going with closer to nine, including the aforementioned Ornithopter of Paradise. Best of all, these also trigger Alela, which rewards playing a few more in the list as a result.

One problem with looking at both of these first, however, is that I got a bit of tunnel vision on the artifact side of the deck. In fact, truth be told, I almost forgot that Alela triggers off of enchantments as well. Thankfully, there's a handful of worthwhile options to utilize here. Both Tempered Steel, Etchings of the Chosen, and Favorable Winds offer healthy doses of power buffers, though one only works on artifact creatures. Imprisoned in the Moon, Oblivion Ring, and Darksteel Mutation act as great removal effects that also give you creatures in the process. Finally, Reconnaissance Mission grants you a potent Coastal Piracy ability that you can cycle away in a pinch and is thankfully a very affordable card for how useful its ability is.

Beyond that, I looked at actual faeries to utilize. Scion of Oona and Sprite Noble both pump up your existing faeries, of which you'll be making many. Hypnotic Sprite and Spellstutter Sprite both counter some stuff before or as they come down, and Glen Elendra Archmage can counter on the board itself. Finally, Sower of Temptation is an excellent Control Magic option that works wonders to steal away an opponents' major threat. Faerie Trickery isn't the most optimal spell, admittedly, but it's flavorful and can still impact the board. I gave consideration to cards like Bitterblossom and Puppeteer Clique, but in the end I just felt they weren't nearly as good in a multiplayer Commander setting when you're already gonna fill up the board quick as is.

Imprisoned in the Moon
Sprite Noble

Most of the remaining cards are your general good value stuff. You have your obligatory Swords to Plowshares, Wrath of God, and Counterspell, as well some similar multicolored options like Void Rend, Vindicate, and Dovin's Veto. Empyrean Eagle provides another cheap anthem effect and Sai, Master Thopterist isn't a flier, but will spit out plenty alongside Alela as you play more artifacts. One of the better cards here, though, is easily Skullclamp. This card is a stone cold classic, and while it's less good when you have anthems in play, it makes for such an easy way to draw an absurd amount of cards. Even if you do have anthems, Distant Melody has your back, as it can easily draw you a dozen cards or more with ease as you go off.

What you end up with is a deck full of fliers ready to swarm and take you out. It's a fairly straightforward build, but if there's one thing I've re-learned lately playing Commander, sometimes you don't need to play something big and flashy. In fact, I've been having some of the most fun with the format in years just by breaking out my recent Jirina Kudro deck (which I wrote about here) and turning creatures sideways. This feels much in the same vein and I can't wait to put it together and see how well it works. You too can bust her out at your next Commander night and have an outstanding time. Just make sure you bring the rockin jams. It wouldn't be the same without it!

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal

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