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Smells Like Kin-Tree Spirit


Spiked Baloth
My time as a frog changed me. How could it not? One minute I’m a Planeswalker, capable of travelling the Multiverse, and the next I’m a tiny blue frog. It’s not something you can forget: the shift from powerful to powerless.

Not to mention Jalira stole all my valuables.

Fortunately, I’m still alive after a harrowing escape from the local Shandalari baloths. I planeswalked to somewhere ostensibly worse, though. Maybe fortune had nothing to do with it after all.

Dragons flew far above as I landed on the plane of Tarkir. This clearly wouldn’t be my first choice, but I’ve jumped between three planes in the last day and I was still recovering from having been turned into a frog. That’s the thing they don’t tell you about Polymorphic magic, it sticks with you. I needed somewhere to bolster my strength, and I knew just the person…well, ghost, I was looking for.

There’s a interplanar ring of planeswalkers who pride themselves on being keepers of vast knowledge from across the Multiverse. I’d heard about the plane of Tarkir from one of them named Tamiyo who had travelled here to meet with a native planeswalker by the name of Narset. This plane apparently has a colorful history, one in which the Dragonlords had not always ruled. There were some who still contested the rule of the Dragonlords in this day and age, but cruel fates befall those who cling to a past in which dragons did not control the world. The person I’m seeking is one such malcontent, executed for her practice of the old ways, from before the time of the Dromoka clan.

Salt Road Ambushers
I made my way across sand dunes that stretched out like an endless sea of white before me. I couldn’t help but think this had been a waste of time. Here I am in the middle of a hostile desert, and I’m literally chasing a ghost. How foolish could I be? But, in a suspiciously well-timed twist of fate, I came across a single tree standing proud amidst the scorching heat of the desert sun.

Sand swirled up in spirals around the base of the tree as I approached, and, suddenly, a small group of humans, aven, and, what I assumed to be, ainok sprung up around me from their hiding spots in the rocks around the base of the tree. They meant to protect this sacred site, and I had no intention of testing their mettle. Then, a small whirlwind of sand came together before me and the outline of a woman in dragonscale armor materialized before me.

She regarded me with a steady eye, holding back the small ambush group with but a single gesture. This had to be the ghost I was looking before. I’d found the worshipper of Kin-Trees, the soldier Dromoka had labeled as a heretic and sent to death. The one Narset called, Anafenza.

Guess who’s back, back again. I am, and I’ve brought another installment of Chroma Commander with me! For those of you are tuning in for the first time, Welcome! I’m Robert and this is a little series on Mono-Color Commander decks I’ve called Chroma Commander. We’re more than halfway through the color pie at this point and there were two options left for me to sink my teeth into for this week, Green and White. Green has a lot of options available to it, and I’m gonna be honest when I say I still haven’t decided on which direction I want to take with the deck. So, Green will be on the docket for the final installment of Chroma Commander next week, which leaves us with but one option: White.

I have mixed feelings about this. I knew it was coming eventually, I just hoped it would quietly resolve itself and I wouldn’t have to deal with it. But, here I am, making a Mono-White Commander deck.

If you can’t tell already, I am not a huge fan of Mono-White in Commander. Don’t get me wrong. White has answers for almost anything in Commander. You need to take care of some troublesome permanent? White can deal with literally all of them. White can exile or destroy creatures, enchantments, artifacts, lands, and Planeswalkers. It can wipe the board and lock your opponents down. White likes to keep things fair by being able to answer anything you can throw at it . . . There’s just one problem.

White is terrible at drawing cards!!!

Many prominent voices in the Commander community have said it before and I’m echoing their voices here: White has a hard time hacking it on its own in Commander due to its lack of efficient card draw. Without the ability to draw extra cards, White just falls behind the other colors despite the fact that it has answers to everything and big evasive threats to back itself up (i.e. angels). So, my challenge for building a Mono-White Commander deck was to find a way to overcome this shortcoming while putting together a list that wasn’t too conventional (I’m looking at you Eight-and-a-Half-Tails). Not that there’s anything wrong with conventional, I just need to make something that I’m gonna have fun playing.

So, which direction did I elect to take? Let’s just say I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.

Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit

Smells Like Kin-Tree Spirit ? Commander | Robert Burrows

So, turns out Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit isn’t a super popular Mono-White Commander. Looking at EDHRec, there are currently only 70 decks registered under Anafenza, as opposed to the 200+ for Kemba, Kha Regent, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, and any number of other respectable and powerful legendary creatures. But, like Nirvana, I feel stupid and contagious. So, let me entertain you with my take on one of the smaller generals for Mono-White.

Anafenza does one thing, and she does it very well: reward you for playing lots of non-token creatures by bolstering your forces as they enter the battlefield. +1/+1 counters are good and all, but there’s gotta be more to our theme than that. Luckily, there are two creatures that pull double duty in helping define our deck’s theme and answering the question of how we get more card draw in White:

Mentor of the Meek
Bygone Bishop

Mentor of the Meek and Bygone Bishop have a lot in common, as it turns out. They’re both from Innistrad, they both enjoy the company of other small creatures, and they like to draw you cards for playing small creatures. They make a lovely pair, and they’ll figure out a way to make their romance work despite the fact that one is corporeal and the other isn’t. Possession has never been so intimate! This unlikely duo is what provides us with the basis for the rest of our deck: playing small creatures and making them bigger over time with +1/+1 counters. Let’s get into it then, shall we?

There are a total of 20 creatures in this list that cost 3 mana or less, which makes Bygone Bishop very happy. Then there’s a total of 21 creatures with power 2 or less for Mentor of the Meek to trigger off of. If I didn’t like the Nirvana reference in my deck title, I would’ve called this deck All the Small Things. This multitude of small and inexpensive creatures gives us the option of getting off to an aggressive start, which can sometimes take opponents off guard in a format that is usually slow. Anafenza does a good job of rewarding us for playing creatures by pumping them up with counters. Mikaeus, the Lunarch helps us throw counters on all of our creatures, as does Collective Effort. Collective Effort is nice because it can be removal for creatures, removal for enchantments, an anthem for our creatures on the battlefield, or any combination of the three thanks to Escalate. We have another anthem in the form of Angel of Invention, which has been included for a reason I’ll discuss later. Now on to one of the cool things about this deck.

Ainok Bond-Kin
Abzan Battle Priest
Abzan Falconer

We’re gonna be spreading +1/+1 counters all over the place thanks to Anafenza, so what are some ways we can take advantage of that? Enter some of the Outlast lords from Khans of Tarkir. Ainok Bond-Kin, Abzan Battle Priest, and Abzan Falconer give our creatures with +1/+1 counters a keyword to help them keep swinging when our opponents put up a defense (well, lifelink doesn’t really do that, but it is definitely a bonus). Dropping an Abzan Falconer out of nowhere and killing someone with your pumped up army that now has flying has to be a great feeling. Mirror Entity plays in a similar space in that it lets us attack with wild abandon while keep our mana untapped. Blocks are very difficult when your creatures can grow to monstrous size at any time. Silverblade Paladin also likes helping your other creatures get harder to block with Double Strike for those lucky enough to pair with him. Duelist's Heritage fills a similar role while giving you the flexibility of messing with other players’ combats. Meanwhile, Archangel of Tithes makes it expensive for our opponents to block us when we attack, and expensive to attack us when we’re on the defense. Seems like we can keep up the offensive pretty well, but what happens when the board gets wiped and we have to rebuild?


Order of Whiteclay, Karmic Guide, Sun Titan, Profound Journey, and Reveillark.

Karmic Guide
Profound Journey
Order of Whiteclay

It turns out White is actually pretty good at getting stuff back from the graveyard. Sun Titan, Karmic Guide, and Reveillark are some of my favorite creatures, and they do an excellent job of pulling us back after the board has been cleared. Order of Whiteclay is a new inclusion for me, but it seems like a natural fit for a deck that plays so many small creatures. Profound Journey is expensive, but it lets us get back anything, and we get to cast it again because of rebound. Seems dece.


Stoneforge Mystic, Relic Seeker, Recruiter of the Guard , Expedition Map, and Enlightened Tutor.

Relic Seeker
Recruiter of the Guard
Expedition Map

I don’t like to run too many tutors, but White has a severe need for help in getting set up for a long game, and the equipment tutors let us pick up our Skullclamp or Sword of Fire and Ice to keep the cards flowing if things get bad. Enlightened Tutor lets us pick up something that is very quickly becoming one of my favorite cards, Cathars' Crusade, as well as any number of artifacts or enchantments depending on the situation. Recruiter of the Guard is a new creature, and I love it. It can get so many things, and it isn’t limited by mana cost! Remember that Angel of Invention? We can get it with Recruiter. Flickerwisp? Get it and then flicker Recruiter for another card. You see what I’m throwing down? Value, that’s what.


Eldrazi Displacer, Flickerwisp, Wall of Omens, and Linvala, the Preserver.

Eldrazi Displacer
Linvala, the Preserver

If there’s one thing I love about Magic, it’s value. Eldrazi Displacer and Flickerwisp let us rebuy ETB effects, which we can double with Panharmonicon. Wall of Omens is a card I’ve always loved and it has a home in basically any White deck I ever build. Linvala couldn’t hack it in my Bant Roon of the Hidden Realm deck, thanks to Thragtusk just being unconditional and better. But White doesn’t have Thragtusk so Linvala gets to shine.


Oblivion Ring, Grasp of Fate, Austere Command, Martial Coup, Mass Calcify, Condemn, Path to Exile, Return to Dust, Swords to Plowshares, and Unexpectedly Absent.

Grasp of Fate
Return to Dust
Austere Command

 . . . This might seem like a lot of answers, but I have my reasons. I like to be able to interact with my opponents game plans, and even if this deck is running properly we’ll have issues with card draw. A bulk of multipurpose answers means we should come across one or two even if we don’t draw a bunch of cards.


Oreskos Explorer, Knight of the White Orchid, Sol Ring, Solemn Simulacrum, Ashnod's Altar, Burnished Hart, Wayfarer's Bauble, Mind Stone, and Marble Diamond.

Oreskos Explorer
Knight of the White Orchid
Burnished Hart

A good chunk of these are pretty self-explanatory. Solemn and Sol Ring are staples, plain and simple. Burnished Hart and Wayfarer's Bauble are great for non-Green decks that want to ramp, and Oreskos Explorer is a card I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. I’ve wanted to slot it into a non-Green deck for some time, and I’m excited to finally try this Tithe on a stick. Ashnod's Altar sticks out here as being bizarre, but I really do like having a free sac outlet, and we can actually make an infinite combo with Reveillark and Karmic Guide. Sacrificing Karmic Guide and then sacrificing Reveillark lets us get back the Karmic Guide and something else with Reveillark’s ability. Karmic Guide then get back Reveillark and the process starts again, netting us infinite mana and ETB effects for the creature of our choice. There isn’t much to do with the mana in this deck, which is probably for the best, but we could make infinite tokens with Secure the Wastes at the end of our opponent’s turn, untap, and kill everyone. Seems unlikely, but I like the idea that it can happen. Combos that require so many pieces in which some of the pieces aren’t tutorable are totally fine in my book. They’re cool when they happen, but don’t happen often enough to be annoying.

Mind's Eye
There are a few more bits and bobs that I feel merit mentioning. I’ve included some good utility colorless lands to give us some options in the land slot while keeping up the colorless mana count for Eldrazi Displacer. We can tutor up some good lands with Expedition Map, so Kor Haven, Ghost Quarter, Throne of the High City, and a few other lands I really like get the nod. Elspeth, Sun's Champion is just really solid value, serving as both a token generator and a wrath for the really big creatures in play which will often miss a bunch of our creatures. Mind's Eye is great for us if our opponents draw a lot of cards, or even if they draw a normal amount of cards.

Everything else is just gravy at this point. Eight-and-a-Half-Tails made its way into the deck after all. Turns out it is just really good at helping protect our creatures and punch through for damage. That’s fine. He can sit in the 99 and let someone else take the spotlight for a change.

And that’s Anafenza in a nutshell! I’m actually kind of psyched to put this deck together. I think I’ve succeeded in making an interesting Mono-White deck, at least on a personal level. That’s a success I can live with, and I hope you enjoy trying it for yourselves as well! I’ll be back next week with the final installment in Chroma Commander as we tame the Mono-Green beast. Until then, leave any comments or questions below or find me on Twitter @ironmanphoenix. See you next week!

—Robert Burrows

Take a look at the other articles in the series:

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