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Reyav, Late Bloomer


Sports on a Frozen River by Aart van der Neer (1660).

Shaman of the Great Hunt by Ryan Alexander Lee.

Are you the kind of person who always feels bad for the kid who got picked last for a pickup game of kickball back in grade school? Did you want to tell that kid that everything's going to be all right, and he or she shouldn't let getting picked last bother them too much. Did you have a few years where you were among the last picked when kids on the playground were picking teams?

Well, today's column is for all you Commander players who have been at the bottom of that barrel. You've been someone's last choice. Maybe you've worked through whatever emotional baggage you have from your school days, or maybe you're still figuring that stuff out. Whatever your story might be, I'd like to introduce you to another last pick.

Reyav, Master Smith

The team of writers here at CoolStuffInc.com have spent months going through all of the commanders from Commander Legends, Kaldheim and Strixhaven, and we've done our best to give each of them a decklist in which they can shine. Today I was going to be working on one of my endless projects around the house. If I wasn't going to be working on my shed or some other trivial distraction, I was going to work on another alter or possibly just work on a project in Minecraft. I had plans, I tell you, but I also realized that there was a kid waiting to be picked.

That kid was Reyav, Master Smith.

This legendary Dwarf Artificer even has the kind of flavor text that belongs on an underdog.

"There's always room for improvement."

There is, Reyav... there IS always room for improvement.

You got picked last because you are in Red and White and because all you would do is give double-strike to any enchanted or equipped creature I control. For some reason the Commander world, or at least I and the other writers at CSI, didn't find that ability very interesting.

Well, I'm back with one final Thursday column and I'm going to find a way to make his party trick powerful and fun enough to show the world that Reyav, Master Smith shouldn't be the last kid for your kickball team. He's a neat, interesting, powerful commander who can hit the table early and give you some really fun games of EDH!

Getting Through Blockers

The first thing to note is that any creatures I equip are going to get double strike. That means I could be dealing out a significant amount of damage if I can get through blockers. Making evasion a priority just makes sense, so my first set of additions will be cards that can solve that problem.

Trailblazer's Boots
Spirit Mantle
Whispersilk Cloak

Commander games always see someone with a nonbasic land, so Trailblazer's Boots are both stylish and effective. Spirit Mantle, Holy Mantle, and Unquestioned Authority will give protection from creatures, allowing the enchanted creature to swing through defenses freely. Whispersilk Cloak gives evasion and shroud, which can be inconvenient at times, but it's a way to protect a valuable creature. Also in the list is Executioner's Hood, which gives the equipped creature intimidate, so it can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and creatures that share a color with it.

I also threw in Sword of Body and Mind, Sword of Feast and Famine, and Sword of Sinew and Steel. Protection from colors outside of Red and White should let me make a creature unblockable against somebody and those Swords have other neat effects as well. Each of them gives +2/+2, which translates into four extra damage if the equipped creature is swinging in with double strike.

Combat Damage Triggers

Running equipment and auras that can make a creature unblockable will work with Reyav to also give it double strike. Double strike means an additional instance of combat damage. That made me wonder what kinds of creatures there are with interesting combat damage triggers.

A quick look on gatherer.wizards.com showed me that I could definitely build a vampires deck. There are lots of bloodsuckers that get a +1/+1 counter when they deal combat damage, but I wasn't really loving that idea. Hellkite Tyrant came up in my search, but it has a trigger that lets me steal all of the artifacts from the player it did damage to. I can't very well do that twice but there were some other interesting hits in my search.

Balefire Dragon
Beacon Hawk
Grotag Night-Runner

Balefire Dragon is a top-of-the-mana-curve creature that I'll be glad to see it if it ever hits the table. Dealing 6 damage to each creature a player controls when it does combat damage to that player is pretty sweet, but if it's got equipment that pumps up its power and gives it double strike that turns it into a board wipe against most opponents. Mordant Dragon and Shockmaw Dragon are also in the list and can push out damage to target creatures in the former's case, or low level damage to their whole army in the latter's case.

Beacon Hawk will let me untap a creature for each combat damage trigger. Grotag Night-Runner and Grenzo, Havoc Raiser will let me exile the top card of the player's library and I can play it that turn. Grenzo can also let me goad a creature if that's what I feel like doing.

Grenzo's Ruffians
Port Razer
Venerable Warsinger

Grenzo's Ruffians will push damage out to each opponent if it's able to damage somebody. Port Razer can give me an extra combat phase (or two). Venerable Warsinger will let me bring a creature (or two) back from my graveyard to the battlefield. I've got a range of combat damage trigger creatures in this list, so it will be interesting to see what the deck gives me in a given game. If I'm able to connect twice with the lowly Precinct Captain, I'll get a 1/1 White Soldier creature token for my trouble. That might not seem like much but it can add up.

Rapacious One
Rustmouth Ogre
Blinding Angel

The Eldrazi Drone Rapacious One will give me Eldrazi Spawn creature tokens equal to the amount of damage it does. It's a 5/4, and those Eldrazi Spawn can be sacrificed to make one mana each, so this could give me some serious mana or just flood my board with blockers. Those Spawn tokens are 0/1 so I probably won't be attacking with them. I'm not running Impact Tremors or Purphoros, God of the Forge in this list, but I could imagine a Reyav deck with a Rapacious One / ETB damage game plan.

I've always loved the art on Rustmouth Ogre and if it's able to do combat damage to a player I can pop one (or two) of their artifacts. If that sounds underwhelming, how about keeping our opponents from ever attacking us again? Blinding Angel will force a player it hits to skip their next combat phase, and those "skips" pile up. With double strike and one player left they'll have to find an answer quickly or combat could soon be a distant memory for them.

Quietus Spike

If none of those piqued your interest, what if we could halve and then halve again an opponent's life total? That's what double strike will do with either of these last nasty little trinkets.

Pumping Up Our Threats

Making this deck interesting isn't that hard. Combat tricks are entertaining and pairing them with double strike sounds like all kinds of fun. The next step is to make this deck able to really dish out some damage.

Blackblade Reforged
All That Glitters
Sunscorch Regent

Blackblade Reforged will give +1/+1 for each land I control, but with double strike that's going to be a huge impact to our damage output. All That Glitters will give +1/+1 for each artifact and enchantment I control. Commander damage kills will be a real possibility with Reyav if I've got enough of these on the field and Reyav is starting out as just a meager two power creature.

I'm also running a few creatures that can turn themselves into real problems for the table. Sunscorch Regent will get a +1/+1 counter each time an opponent casts a spell and I'll gain 1 life. Taurean Mauler is also in the list, and while it won't gain me any life, that changeling will get counters as my opponents play spells. These types of creatures can get huge. If you're already planning on making them unblockable in a way that can give them double strike, you'll be in a position to start killing people.

Reyav, Late Bloomer

Reyav might not have seemed that attractive when the CSI writing team first started to make our picks, but as I've worked through this list, I'm a little surprised that he was our last pick. Combat might seem boring to more experienced players, but it's the foundation of this game we purport to love so dearly. We might love our combo decks.

We might play solitaire every now and then - much to the chagrin of our tablemates - but combat is one of the first things we learned about when we learned how to play Magic. Reyav is a fine and interesting addition to a long list of Boros combat-oriented legendary creatures and I'm actually glad I was able to snap him up at this late hour and write up a column for him to close out our writing team's treatment of Commander Legends, Kaldheim and Stixhaven.

Reyav, Late Bloomer | Commander | Stephen Johnson

Sleep on Reyav all you like, but when I'm swinging at you with a 0/0 Germ creature token loaded up with its Batterskull and Blackblade Reforged, unblockable thanks to some shenanigan or another, and having its damage tripled thanks to the planeswalker Jeska, Thrice Reborn, you're going to have newfound respect for this late bloomer. Double strike can be amazing in the right context, and Reyav, Master Smith is a great commander for exploring all you can do with this powerful keyword.

You might wonder where my Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves are in this list, or why I'm not running beaters like Malignus, Serra Avatar or at the very least Serra Ascendant. I think any of these, along with other Boros staples like Aurelia, the Warleader and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight would put in real work in a Reyav deck. I wanted to focus on combat damage triggers today, but if you've got other Boros staples lying around when you're building your version of this deck, by all means throw a few of them in. Sun Titan and Moraug, Fury of Akoum didn't make my cut, but they'd be great in any deck and don't be shy about throwing them into your list.

Final Thoughts

There are probably a dozen other legendary creatures that might have wound up being the last one out of Commander Legends to get picked for our kickball team. Reyav isn't a bad card, and it clearly isn't one that can't have a fun deck built around it. I enjoyed rediscovering cards like Port Razer and Blinding Angel and if you've been thinking about building Reyav, Master Smith, I think you could have a lot of fun with this Dwarf Artificer.

If I were to build this list in paper, I bet I'd find myself thinking about doing an alter of Reyav as Peter Dinklage's character Eitri from Avengers: Infinity War. Truth be told - my skills as an alterist aren't up to that level of painting quite yet. I just finished an alter of Syr Konrad, the Grim done as The Count from Sesame Street. It came out good, but muppets are a very forgiving subject matter.

I'm now really and truly going back to writing once a week. I guess I have a soft spot for underdogs, but I just had to give Reyav his due. I may well be writing about Codie, Vociferous Codex for next Monday before I move on to Modern Horizons 2. I've got some ideas and I'm excited about exploring that odd little commander.

That's all I've got for today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you back here on Monday!

Commander HQ: Decklists and Strategy for Commander Legends's Legendary Creatures!

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