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Roxanne, Starfall Savant in Commander


Outlaws of Thunder Junction gave us a bunch of powerful new cards and with every new set I try to keep an eye out for commanders that play well with known combo pieces. Not only do I want to be able to stop them when they are about to go off and win the game, I also enjoy building around these powerful cards.

I play a little cEDH and a lot of casual EDH, but my "sweet spot" is probably somewhere between degenerate EDH and fringe cEDH, where crazy things happen but games are usually long enough for most decks to have a shot at doing their thing. Today's commander is a Gruul (RG) Cat Druid with the ability to create token Meteorites.

Roxanne, Starfall Savant

When Roxanne, Starfall Savant enters the battlefield or attacks, you'll create a tapped colorless artifact token named Meteorite. This is a reference to an old mana rock named Meteorite from Core 2015 that costs 5 mana, deals 2 damage to any target, and taps for one mana of any color. True to form, Roxanne's Meteorite tokens do all of that, but they enter tapped so you'll have to wait a turn to use them. She'll reward you for your patience, as whenever you tap an artifact token for mana with Roxanne on the field you'll add one mana of any type that artifact produced.

The ability to get more mana out of artifact tokens works nicely with Meteorite tokens and the ever popular Treasure tokens, but that's about it. If I were to produce Powerstone tokens, those would let Roxanne produce an extra mana, but the Powerstone token mana can only be used for artifacts. The extra mana could be used for anything, but it's not worth it to go all in on making Powerstone tokens.

Replicating Ring is another option, but it takes eight turn cycles before I'd make eight token copies of Replicating Ring, and that's an awfully long time in todays' EDH. Skyclave Relic is a mana rock that can make tokens if it's kicked. Svella, the Ice Shaper is a Gruul (RG) Troll Warrior from Kaldheim that can make Icy Manalith tokens. Both are decent but if I were going to lean into Roxanne's second ability I'd probably focus hard on treasure generators,

How We Win

It might seem like talking about winning is putting the cart before the horse, but when you're building a high powered or degenerate EDH deck your focus should be on how to win the game. You might do a few things along the way, but your eye is always on the prize. Your goal is to hit a wincon, preferably sooner rather than later.

Food Chain
Squee, the Immortal
Eternal Scourge

Food Chain is a powerful enchantment that will let you sacrifice a creature to add mana of any color equal to its mana value plus one to your mana pool. The mana you make from Food Chain can only be used to cast creature spells. The extra one mana won't be enough to let you keep up with your commander tax if you wanted to loop your commander, but there are creatures that can help. Both Squee, the Immortal and Eternal Scourge can be cast from exile. Food chain conveniently sends them to exile, so all you have to do is loop one of these two creatures to generate enough extra mana, and then you can loop your commander as many times as you like.

What makes Roxanne an ideal Food Chain commander is that she represents a wincon without any extra pieces. She'll make a Meteorite when she enters the battlefield, that Meteorite can be used to ding someone for 2 damage, and you'll just do that until the table is dead. If that sounds like a boring way to win a game, I don't blame you. It works but after a few wins it might get less interesting.

Food Chain combo isn't perfect. If someone has hexproof you won't be able to target them. If someone has Rhystic Study on the battlefield, they'll be able to draw a card every time you cast a spell if you can't pay the tax. If you've got an opponent with a stax piece that stops enter-the-battlefield triggers from happening, you won't be making any Meteorites until it's gone.

If you can't win with Food Chain, or you're just having trouble drawing into it, this deck has a few backup plans.

Dockside Extortionist
Temur Sabertooth

With enough artifacts on the board under your opponents' control, you could use Temur Sabertooth to bounce and re-cast Dockside Extortionist to make enough Treasure tokens to let you bounce and recast Roxanne to kill the table. This has a lot of the same drawbacks as Food Chain combo with the advantage that both combo pieces are creatures.

This deck runs Tooth and Nail, which you could use to go get any pair of creatures and put them onto the battlefield. Dockside Extortionist and Temur Sabertooth seem like good targets, but if one or both of them got exiled, you could always go old school and get Avenger of Zendikar and Craterhoof Behemoth. This deck has enough creatures that Craterhoof might even let you swing for lethal without Avenger of Zendikar's plant tokens.

Getting There

There may be games where we'll be able to build up a board, play out key permanents and eventually draw into our combo and win. If I'm not planning to pubstomp (and you should never plan to pubstomp), I have to expect that my tablemates are packing some amount of interaction. The higher the power level of the table, the more interaction they should be playing, and the more important it will be for me to have ways to protect a win.

Vexing Shusher
Veil of Summer
Conqueror's Flail

Vexing Shusher is a 2/2 Goblin Shaman who can't be countered, and who has an activated ability that can let target spell also be uncounterable. That means I can protect my spells from stack interaction and I can help make sure other players' spells resolve. Veil of Summer is also in the list and can help protect my spells on the turn I'm trying to win.

I'm running Heroic Intervention and Tamiyo's Safekeeping, both of which can give my Food Chain hexproof and indestructible. The former will protect all of my permanents, and is nothing short of a staple for any green deck in today's EDH. While not a staple, Conqueror's Flail probably should see more play. This equipment will lock my tablemates out of casting spells on my turn, often sealing a win as soon as I untap on my turn if I'm ready to go off.

Another key part of playing a combo deck is trying to make sure we can draw into our combo pieces. This list isn't playing an abnormally high amount of card draw but it's got enough combined draw and tutors that it's got a good shot at getting where it wants to go.

Good Morning Starshine

It can be hard to squeeze a personal touch into a deck that is aiming to be able to compete at high powered tables. You often play the most efficient spells you can get your hands on, and it can feel like you wind up with a big pile of staples. Staples are fine, but playing cards that are chosen for flavor more than for power can give a deck a personal touch.

Roxanne, Starfall Savant is just begging to have a few cards in this list with references to celestial bodies.

Comet Storm
Star of Extinction

Comet Storm is not a bad card but I don't think it sees much play in cEDH and higher powered metas these days, except as an outlet for infinite mana. This deck happens to have a lot of ramp, ways to make a ton of mana, and ways to go infinite that don't involve Food Chain. It can be cast with only one target, it can be cast with dozens of targets, and it can flat out win games, assuming it doesn't get countered.

Moving from a Comet to a Star, Star of Extinction is about as unlike Comet Storm as you can get. It's expensive, you can't pick and choose your targets, and it's so brutal it even destroys a land. Dealing 20 damage to each creature and each planeswalker should solve any problems on the board, but it might just catapult a lucky player holding back a Heroic Intervention into a win. Hopefully, that lucky player will be you.

I decided not to run Meteorite, Chromatic Star, Star Compass, Inferno of the Star Mounts, Starstorm, Starfall, or any of the many other cards with Star in their names. I could easily see a lower powered non-combo deck with all of these, along with Jugan, the Rising Star and Ryusei, the Falling Star for good measure. You could even keep the combo side of the deck and load in a few dragons, especially if you play in a meta with a lot of flying threats.

Food Chain Roxanne

For some players this list might seem like a straight up cEDH powerhouse. For others, they might laugh at the suggestion that this deck could do much of anything at a "real" cEDH table. I fall into the latter category, but it's worth remembering that every player has a different experience of the game. I do think this deck will perform well at high powered tables, but up against cEDH turbo Ad Nauseam decks or the other heavy hitters at the top end of our format, it will be lucky to even threaten a win.

To tune this list up, you would load in some of the cEDH staples like Mana Crypt, more ways to protect your wincons, and cards like Collector Ouphe and Stranglehold to slow down your tablemates.

If you wanted to tune this list down, your first question would be whether or not to keep in the combo lines. Dropping them out entirely will probably leave you with a mid-powered deck. Keeping some of them in might let you have a higher-powered deck that is a little less likely to combo off. You could also adjust the deck to play with other combo pieces. A graveyard loop using Ashnod's Altar, Nim Deathmantle, and Amulet of Vigor to untap your Treasures, might be a fun addition if you prefer your combos to have more pieces to have to assemble.

There's really nothing wrong with combo wincons, but lower powered playgroups can find them less fun and may discourage players from "winning out of nowhere". The truth is that combo decks don't really win out of nowhere, but every playgroup gets to figure out for themselves what is and isn't OK in their games, and what power levels they like to play at.

Final Thoughts

I've played a lot of Food Chain decks over the years, most recently landing a win last Fall with a Goose Mother deck of all things. While The Goose Mother isn't likely to strike fear in the hearts of cEDH (or even EDH) players I think there's a chance better deckbuilders will be able to tune up Roxanne, Starfall Savant to the point where it's playable in cEDH.

I think I'd probably enjoy a goofier Roxanne build with a heaping helping of "star" cards, but I'd probably have a hard time resisting the urge to load it up with at least a few ways to combo off and win. Either that or a healthy pile of dragons, treasure generators, and cards like Goldspan Dragon which do both. There are plenty of playgroups out there where powerful wincons (both combo and non-combo) are welcome even if they're not playing actual cEDH.

Roxanne seems to be generating a lot of interest and I expect she'll be popping up at a lot of EDH tables in the months to come. Whether you're building a lower powered, jankier build or as powerful a deck as you can put together, I hope you have a ton of fun dropping Meteorites with her!

That's all I've got for today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!

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