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Comboing with Lagrella, the Magpie

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Entourage de Marine au Claire de Lune by Aert Van Der Neer (1603-1677).

Deadeye Navigator by Tomasz Jedruzek.

When I first started digging into today's subject, I was at a loss for what on earth I would want to do with the card. That might sound like a bad way to start a build - or a column, for that matter - but it's the truth. I didn't see how this commander could be turned into something great or even something particularly good. After a little thought, I found myself wandering down familiar paths, turning over the same old rocks and finding the same nasty bugs that some of you love to play with and that some of you just can't stand to put into a deck.

One of the wonderful things about Commander is that there are so many ways to build around the card you pick to put into the command zone. I tend to gravitate toward higher powered solutions. I'm eager to show that I know how to build decks that are capable of winning games. I also find myself playing at tables against high powered decks more often than I'd like. I also love casual games that have a slow build, lots of twists and turns, and enough room to run cards that the try-hards of the format would classify as "unplayable".

Today's list is going to be somewhere in the middle. It's a little slow for high powered play, but has some powerful wincons that can absolutely close out a game. Buckle up and get ready for what will hopefully be a fun ride!

Lagrella, the Magpie

Lagrella, the Magpie is a Human Soldier, but I'm not going to be exploring a tribal build today. I expect you could build Human tribal, Soldier tribal, or even Human Soldier tribal, around Lagrella, but I'm not quite sure what the point would be. Tribal decks can be fun, but beyond digging up some tribal support and the best members of the tribe you're working with, I don't find them particularly novel. I'm more interested in what else our little Magpie brings to the party.

When Lagrella enters the battlefield, you get to exile some creatures. To be specific, you get to exile any number of other target creatures controlled by different players until Lagrella leaves the battlefield. When an exiled card enters the battlefield under your control this way (from Lagrella leaving play), you put two +1/+1 counters on that creature.

That's a lot of words, but what does it all mean, and more specifically, how on earth can we turn that to our advantage?

Mass Oblivion Ring on a Stick

Lagrella is like an Oblivion Ring effect. When she hits the battlefield, you can exile up to one target creature for each player and those creatures return when she leaves the battlefield. Removal is important in commander, and Oblivion Ring effects are powerful. I can choose not to target any of my own creatures, but if I do exile one of my dudes, I can have it generate another enter-the-battlefield trigger if Lagrella leaves play and that creature comes back.

It's worth mentioning that if I exile a token, the token goes poof and won't come back if Lagrella gets killed or exiled. Tokens tend to be small but there's always a chance that I can exile a Marit Lage creature token, or some other big threat that just happens to be a token. Popping tokens isn't hugely important, but it could be relevant in the right situation.

It's also worth mentioning that I can target commanders, but more often than not the card will just get put back into the command zone. It's a minor inconvenience as opposed to... well, a slightly less minor inconvenience. Players who run enough removal don't worry too much about Oblivion Ring effects. Pop the O-Ring and you're right back in business.

Lagrella, the Magpie does not have flash, so you can't very well save her for use as a defensive measure against being attacked by some big, scary, targetable threat. Lagrella does target up to one creature per opponent, which is pretty cool. In one fell swoop, you get to sideline the biggest threat on each of your opponents' boards.

It looks like we've got some defensive capabilities at sorcery speed and the opportunity to do something with our own creatures entering and leaving the battlefield. Is all that enough to make a playable deck with a way to win games? I think it might be.

Making The Most of Our Magpie

I love having removal in the command zone, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the key to making the most out of Lagrella is to use her odd ability as more than just removal.

When she leaves the battlefield, not only do our opponents' exiled creatures return to play, our own Lagrella-exiled creature also returns to play. Not only does it come back but it gets two +1/+1 counters for all the trouble we put it through.

To make the most of our Magpie, I want to squeeze extra value out of those extra enter-the-battlefield triggers. That means I need to run ways to get Lagrella to leave and come back as often as possible. When I flicker her or exile her and have her come back at the end of the turn, all of Lagrella's exiled creatures come back and then I'll get to pick new targets to exile.

Cloudshift
Soulherder
Panharmonicon

If I can flicker Lagrella with a spell like Cloudshift or a creature like Felidar Guardian, I'll get that extra value from whatever creature I chose to exile. It might be a creature that draws me a card or it might put a land onto the battlefield. It might even let me destroy an artifact or enchantment. Most of the creatures in this deck will bring some sort of ETB value, so I'll be happy to exile something I own alongside removing each of my opponents' biggest threats.

I've got a few end-of-turn flicker effects in today's list. Soulherder, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling and Conjurer's Closet will all give me that extra flicker. If I've got Panharmonicon on the field, I'll get twice the value. Mulldrifter will draw me four cards. Springbloom Druid will let me sacrifice two lands to tutor up four basic lands. Panharmonicon doesn't serve up a win, but with the right boardstate it could really help me pull ahead of everyone else.

All this talk of flickering Lagrella, the Magpie might be missing the point.

Why flicker Lagrella if I can just flicker a Solemn Simulacrum or Reclamation Sage directly?

I think it will depend upon what I and my opponents have done since Lagrella first came into play. If there are better targets to exile on any of our boards, it makes sense to flicker Lagrella and get a new set of exiled creatures for the next time I'm able to make her leave and come back. Sometimes I won't have any need to mess around with flickering my commander and will be happy to just target my own creature.

With any luck I'll have the presence of mind to think about what I'm doing and make the right choice based on what the battlefield looks like.

Lagrella Unleashed

All this dancing around with single-use flicker spells and end-of-turn triggers is a fine way to squeeze a little extra value out of our many, many ETB creatures, but my mind always turns to what I can do to actually win games. If you're in a meta where you're able to take off the kid gloves and play powerful combos and synergy, this next part probably seems a little obvious. To be honest, I didn't see this build path at first, and it took me a while before I put it all together.

Ghostly Flicker
Archaeomancer
Peregrine Drake

With Ghostly Flicker, I can flicker two creatures. If one of them can bring an instant back from the graveyard, I can get Ghostly Flicker back. If the other can untap more than three lands, I can do it again, and again, and again, as many times as I like. With an "untapper" like Peregrine Drake, I can generate infinite mana. That doesn't win me the game, but it sets me up to do whatever the cards in my hand and the permanents on my battlefield will let me get away with.

Deadeye Navigator
Palinchron
Great Whale

If I'm running Peregrine Drake, it's not a big leap to make to also run Deadeye Navigator, Palinchron and Great Whale. These three untappers combine with Deadeye Navigator to again allow me to make infinite mana. Once I've gone infinite, I can use Deadeye to flicker a card like Coiling Oracle to put all of my lands onto the battlefield and draw my entire deck.

If you're into Laboratory Maniac draw-to-win decks, you'll want to add in that, Thassa's Oracle and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. I didn't throw them into this list, but if you like them you should think about running them. Good cards are good and wincons do win games. I'm just not personally that big on Lab Man. I am big on this next little gem.

Food Chain
Eternal Scourge
Misthollow Griffin

If I'm running Deadeye Navigator, again it isn't a big leap to also run Food Chain combo. This delightful little enchantment combines with Eternal Scourge or Misthollow Griffin to allow you to generate infinite mana. That mana can only be used to cast creatures, but you can now make Lagrella leave the battlefield and return as many times as you like. Using Lagrella to target some of your favorite ETB dorks will let you do fun stuff like draw cards, put lands onto the battlefield, and blow up your opponents' stuff.

That doesn't win the game by itself unless you're being smart and running Lab Man effects so you can draw into the win. It's not my style, but there's nothing wrong with it. I've been watching lots of AliasV's Elder Dragon Hijinks videos lately, and have grown to appreciate her mantra: "Always Choose Violence!"

The Ozolith
End-Raze Forerunners
Craterhoof Behemoth

The Ozolith might not seem like an obvious fit, but if I exile a creature with Lagrella and it returns to the battlefield, it will get two +1/+1 counters. If I do it again, those counters will go onto the Ozolith. If I do it an arbitrarily large number of times, I can go to combat, move those counters onto some evasive threat like a lowly Skyscanner and then swing lethal damage through the air. That may not kill the table, but flickering End-Raze Forerunners or Craterhoof Behemoth sure will if I flicker either of those bad boys enough times.

I genuinely don't know if AliasV would consider this sort of strategy to be too much combo for her style of play. Many players frown on going infinite, but it's legal, it is fun, and it can absolutely win games.

Lagrella Combo

I will be the first to admit that it's rare for me to parade out a list in one of my columns and to feel like it's the kind of refined, well-honed list that probably couldn't be improved upon. At a glance I'm wondering if I need a few less creatures and a few more tutors and instant speed artifact and enchantment removal. I could also see a build where you just dropped out all of your instants and went for a Primal Surge wincon. You could also load in those Lab Man wincons if you like to win that way. What matters most is that your build is fun for you and fits into your playgroup's meta. Drop out all the combos if you're in a low powered meta. Load up on more interaction and tutors if you need to push up into higher powered play.

Neither this list nor your own build is perfect for every player and every meta. If nothing else I hope to give you an interesting starting point for you to build up your own Lagrella deck that plays the way you like to play.

Lagrella Combo | Commander | Stephen Johnson


Any deck with this many creatures definitely wants to run cards like Gaea's Cradle, Growing Rites of Itlimoc // Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun, and Circle of Dreams Druid. The average mana value of this list is 3.37, which doesn't put it in a spot where I'm optimistic that you're going to be flooding the board with creatures early. I do think you'll be seeing a lot of creatures if you play this deck, and if you're playing at the sort of mid-power table where this deck probably belongs, you should have time to build up your board and push out a good-sized army. If closing out games proves to be a challenge, you could easily throw in a Triumph of the Hordes or simply a good old-fashioned Overrun to give you the ability to push to the win even if you don't land a combo.

One of the most interesting takeaways I have from this list is that I stepped out of my usual comfort zone when building in Green. I didn't run my "holy trinity" of Rampant Growth, Cultivate, and Kodama's Reach. Leaving those out feels wrong, but my goal was to absolutely go overboard with a strategy of having as many ETB triggers as possible. It feels a bit weird, and I wouldn't blame you at all if you dropped out Ulvenwald Hydra and another creature or two in order to add in those ramp staples.

Final Thoughts

In retrospect, I'm not 100% sure that Lagrella, the Magpie has enough direct synergy with Deadeye Navigator to satisfy me. You could play a deck with all of those ETB creatures and Deadeye combo without Lagrella and still have a perfectly serviceable deck. Lagrella does some neat things to be sure, but she isn't providing the kind of really interesting challenge that I find myself drawn to as a deck-builder.

I do really like how Food Chain combo turns Lagrella into an ETB engine for your own ETB trigger creatures. It's an interesting way to abuse her and get to that combo win that isn't quite as obvious as Deadeye Navigator. That said - I fully appreciate how many of you might roll your eyes every bit as hard at Food Chain as you do at Deadeye Navigator.

I don't know if these tried-and-true combos are welcome, unheard of, or woefully overplayed in your meta, but if you haven't taken a dive into the deep end of our wide and ranging format, they're a fine way to start getting into playing combo.

If I've somehow missed the mark or slept on some really neat Lagrella tech please leave a comment. I'm sure there are Reveillark loops or other combos that I could have put into this deck and I'm always impressed by what readers are able to suggest for our lists. I'm generally very diligent about not looking at other content creators' deck techs when I'm putting together a column, so it's entirely possible I've missed an obvious card that works really well with Lagrella, the Magpie.

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


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