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Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief in Commander

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City of God by John Martin (1850). Aeromunculus by Simon Dominic.

When going through the many legendary creatures from Dominaria United that we hadn't yet covered, a bunch of them jumped out at me as support cards rather than good choices to lead an EDH deck. Sifting through all of the cards that might be great to actually put in the command zone, one of them jumped out at me because of an uncommon from Core 2019 that I always wanted to build around. That card in turn reminded me of some other cards I really wanted to build around and I realized that I really needed to scratch that itch. I have no idea where we'll end up, but let's look at our starting point.

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief

For some reason I kept thinking of Ivy as being a Selesnya card, but this 2/1 Faerie Rogue is in that most powerful of color combinations: Simic. She has flying and whenever a player casts a spell that targets only a single creature other than Ivy, I may copy that spell and that copy will target Ivy.

That ability is much more powerful in multiplayer EDH than it seems.

Any removal spell can be ignored if it's targeting another creature unless for some reason I need Ivy to be gone. Any pump spell can be copied to also pump my commander, though many of those effects only last until end of turn. This ability doesn't just look at instants and sorceries. Any aura can be copied and I'll put a token copy of the aura onto Ivy. Even a mutate card can be copied and if the top card of my Ivy mutate stack isn't legendary, or if I find a way to get rid of the legend rule, I could theoretically use spells to make copies of a nonlegendary mutated Ivy.

Ivy doesn't care about abilities, so there's not much play around equipment or permanents that have abilities that can target Ivy. She only triggers when a player casts a spell that targets a single creature other than her, but it can be any player and any spell so long as it's got a single target.

This is a card that may have already been "broken" by deckbuilders online and might even find its way into fringe cEDH circles. It's got a relatively high ceiling in terms of power levels. I expect that a strategy around copy shenanigans is where you want to be, but find those decks can get a little confusing. I'm going to be building around that card I mentioned before that has been on my mind since Core 2019, but first I'd like to go on a short tangent.

Mixed Feelings

I play most of my Magic in paper, so I've got mixed feelings about Ivy.

If she only copied instant and sorcery spells, this card would still be amazing. You'd apply whatever effects the spell had to the original target and also to Ivy. The instant or sorcery would go to the graveyard. No muss, no fuss, no problem.

My issue with this and other cards that copy permanents is that Wizards of the Coast is setting players up to really need additional tools to be able to properly maintain the boardstate.

Let's say an opponent casts Eldrazi Conscription on their creature and I copy it. I probably don't have a spare copy of Eldrazi Conscription lying around to pop onto my battlefield to represent this token aura. I could use a copy token, but if Ivy has two auras and three mutate cards, I don't like having to remember what each one was and I really don't like extra ways to get confused about my boardstate.

But Steve, what about those spiffy dry-erase tokens that all the cool kids are using these days?

I might not have dry-erase tokens and markers to be able to make a usable facsimile. I don't yet own dry-erase tokens and if I were to build this deck I feel like I'd have to go out and buy some just to be able to play the deck.

I do get that we already have to bring additional supplies to be able to play. I bring a playmat and a bag of dice every time I head out to the LGS. A few years ago I purchased a special deck box and dice for my Ramos deck so that I could easily track that colored mana. I've even found coins that have a "3" on one side for me to use for Mana Crypt coin flips because I like being able to actually do what the card says - flip a coin - and if I flip a "3" I know I'm taking 3 damage.

I'm not against buying weird stuff to make playing EDH easier. I'm just not a huge fan of cards that pretty much require you to go out and get additional materials to be able to play your deck and properly represent your boardstate.

I may play this deck on Tabletop Simulator first because it's super easy to copy a card for use as a token, but I'm going to have to think a little harder about whether I want to buy and start carrying around dry-erase tokens as part of my kit when I go to the LGS.

Scratching That Itch

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has come across a card, wanted to build around it for an EDH deck, but never found the right excuse or the right commander. The card that got me itching to build Ivy is one that isn't overwhelmingly powerful, but falls into a category of cards that do something extra when they get targeted by a spell. The funny part is that this card is the worst of the lot, it only triggers when it is targeted by an Aura spell, where the rest of the cards in this category don't care what kind of spell targets them.

Druid of Horns

This Human Druid will let me create a 3/3 green Beast creature token when I cast an Aura spell targeting it. It doesn't go well in Human or Druid tribal decks. It doesn't go that well in Beast decks. It might not go well in today's list, as I'm only running 11 auras, but it is the real inspiration for my building this list so it will stay in this first draft.

This deck is full of spicy targets for spells that will get copied and also applied to Ivy if she is on the field. That extra copy is essentially double the value for my mana, but I want to get something extra out of these castings.

Centaur Battlemaster
Pheres-Band Thunderhoof
War-Wing Siren

I used to think it would be a fun idea to build a Modern deck around cards like Centaur Battlemaster, but I never dipped my toe into that format. This deck has a handful of creatures that will get +1/+1 counters when targeted with spells. Centaur Battlemaster gets three +1/+1 counters, Pheres-Band Thunderhoof, Setessan Oathsworn and Staunch-Hearted Warrior each two +1/+1 counters, and War-Wing Siren will get a single +1/+1 counter. A few of these targets and a few good spells and I should be able to build up a nice boardstate.

Card selection and card draw are incredibly important in any Commander deck and Chorus of the Tides will let me scry 1 when I target it with a spell. Not to be outdone, Gnarlback Rhino and Triton Fortune Hunter will draw me a card when they get targeted. There are a few other interesting targets in this list but the spiciest one of all might be Sage of Hours. This card gets a +1/+1 counter but has one of the best party tricks ever. If I remove all of the +1/+1 counters from it, for each five counters removed this way I can take an extra turn after this one. I can do this at instant speed, so I can respond to removal by using this ability even if it isn't my turn.

Simic Cantrips

One of the most fun decks I ever played was a budget Zada, Hedron Grinder list. I had a single turn where I made a bunch of goblins, drew a mess of cards, and was able to murder my tablemates out of nowhere. Zada will let you take a spell you cast that targets her and copy it for each other creature you control. That can be a lot of copies, and a lot of card draw if you're playing cantrips (spells with card draw tacked onto them).

This isn't going to have the raw explosiveness of a Zada deck, but I love the idea of taking cantrips and getting twice the card draw from them. The only problem is that many of the low-mana Blue cantrips that target a creature are spells that bounce that creature to its owner's hand. I don't want to focus on bouncing my creatures to my hand, especially if I'm playing with auras. Fortunately, green has a lot of combat tricks that pump a creature and draw a card, so I was able to mix a little cantrip spellslinger flavor into this brew.

Aggressive Urge
Hunter's Prowess
Soul's Majesty

Aggressive Urge is just a +1/+1 pump until end of turn, but I like the prospect of drawing two cards for two mana along with any extra effects a creature might have when it gets targeted by a spell I control. I'm even running a -1/-0 combat trick in Fleeting Distraction, which costs just one mana and also draw me a card. Charge Through is also in the list and gives trample and a card draw for one green mana.

Hunter's Prowess and Hunter's Insight are more than just cantrips. The former, shown above, gives +3/+3, trample, and "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, draw that many cards." Hunter's Insight will do the same, but without the pump or trample, at instant speed, and for two less mana. Soul's Majesty will simply draw me cards equal to the power of target creature I control.

Poison the Blade
Shadow Rift

Poison the Blade and Lace with Moonglove both grant deathtouch until end of turn and they each will draw me a card. Refocus just untaps target creature and draw a card. Shadow Rift grants shadow until end of turn and draws me a card. That keyword will make a creature only able to block or be blocked by another creature with shadow.

All of these spells are OK and in some cases they are only OK because they replace themselves, but when you have Ivy on the field, you should be able to copy them with the copy targeting Ivy. I don't yet know if this deck is going to make its commander into a legitimate threat, but I think it's possible. This isn't the next Uril, the Miststalker but there's no reason to think that you won't be able to chip away at your opponents with Ivy if she gets enough counters, auras and buffs.

A Matter of Mutation

I like to mix different strategies into the decks I share with you here, not only because it makes it more interesting but also because you can take the list and move it in the direction you find most fun to play. Wizards of the Coast used to build their precon decks this way, and while Ivy might be stronger if I were to lean more heavily into one strategy, I like variety in my game play. This isn't just an enchantress build, nor is it just a spellslinger/cantrip build. I couldn't resist adding in a few mutate cards, but this also isn't a dedicated mutate deck.

Gemrazer
Sawtusk Demolisher
Pouncing Shoreshark

This deck is not packing the kind of removal I'd normally add in for high powered play. My usual slot of cards like Naturalize, Beast Within, Cyclonic Rift and the like are notably absent. I wanted to lean towards a more casual approach but there are a few answers in here. The mutate creatures Gemrazer, Sawtusk Demolisher and Pouncing Shoreshark can all help to clean up a few problems. Gemrazer will let me destroy target artifact or enchantment. Sawtusk Demolisher is basically a Beast Within on a creature. Pouncing Shoreshark will bounce a creature to its owner's hand.

I've got a few other mutate creatures in the mix. Migratory Greathorn is a Rampant Growth on a stick, putting a basic land onto the battlefield tapped every time it mutates. Parcelbeast will let me put a land onto the battlefield or just draw me a card. Auspicious Starrix will let me put some permanents onto the battlefield. These are fun cards, and when you pile mutate cards on top of each other, they trigger each other so you get more value out of each one.

Becoming The Problem

This isn't the kind of deck that is likely to draw attention early in the game. Unless your Ivy build had developed a reputation for itself, I don't expect it's going to draw a ton of removal and you shouldn't find yourself playing archenemy. This isn't Slivers. You aren't playing Prossh, Skyraider of Kher. That doesn't mean you don't want ways to actually close out the game.

This isn't a combo list and it isn't aimed at high-power tables, but it's still worth running enough threats that you will be able to actually do damage to your opponents and maybe win a few games along the way. One of those threats will be Ivy, but your mileage may vary with her based upon what you draw into.

Season of Growth
Aqueous Form
Colossification

Card draw is definitely one of the ways you should be able to quietly maintain relevance at the table. A lot of the cards in this deck draw you more cards and an enchantment like Season of Growth will go a long way towards that part of your game plan. You'll scry 1 when you play a creature and you'll draw a card when you cast (not copy) a spell that targets a creature you control.

Making my creatures unblockable is something auras do well, so I've got a handful of those in the deck. Aqueous Form, Aether Tunnel, Cloak of Mists and Invisibility can each work to let my creatures get through a line of blockers. They each have their own quirks, but my favorite is probably Aqueous Form, which gives scry 1 when enchanted creature attacks. It's a favorite from my Narset, Enlightened Master deck and should do some work here.

Getting through blockers is fine, but I want to be able to eventually be able to take my opponents out. To that end I have a few pump auras as well. Colossification will give +20/+20 at the cost of tapping the enchanted creature when it enters the battlefield. That's not a big deal if I do it in my second main phase to creatures which are already tapped because I attacked with them. Prodigious Growth, Blanchwood Armor and Rancor are also in the list. Prodigious Growth will give +7/+7 and trample. Blanchwood Armor gives +1/+1 for each Forest I control, which is OK but fantastic if I've got Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth on the field turning all of my lands into Forests. Rancor only gives +2/+0 and trample but will get put into my hand if it gets put into a graveyard from play.

I've got some sweet targets for my auras, mutate creatures and combat tricks, but there are a few creatures that are worth a special mention.

Hydra Omnivore
Blighted Agent
Errant, Street Artist

Hydra Omnivore will deal damage to each opponent if it deals combat damage to a single opponent. That's good on its own, but it's great if I can make it unblockable and enchant it with Colossification. Blighted Agent can't be the target of a mutate card, as it is a human. It does give me a naturally unblockable threat and it has infect, so if I can make this human rogue big enough, it could be a game-ender for somebody.

Errant, Street Artist might be a surprise all-star in this list, turning Ivy from a reasonable threat to a big problem for my opponents. For two mana, one of which must be blue, I can copy target spell I control that wasn't cast. I may choose new targets for that copy.

Let's say I cast a Prodigious Growth targeting my 3/3 Centaur Battlemaster. That Centaur will gain three +1/+1 counters and become a 6/6. Ivy will then let me copy Prodigious Growth, targeting herself. I can then tap Errant and copy that copy, targeting either Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief, Centaur Battlemaster, or any other creature on the battlefield. In this scenario I'd pay six mana for what is normally a +7/+7 aura, pay an additional 2 mana and end up (thanks to both Errant and Centaur Battlemaster) with an extra 24 power and 24 toughness on my battlefield!

Your Mileage May Vary

This list is one that I expect to be a lot of fun to play, but any time I write that I feel obligated to include a well-worn caveat. It's not packing a ton of protection or removal. I've got Shielding Plax and Heroic Intervention, and I've got those mutate creatures that act as removal. I'm running the obligatory Swan Song, but didn't throw in Counterspell, Arcane Denial, or any of a number of other counters that high powered Simic decks rely on. My point isn't that this, or any other deck, is a "bad" deck.

My point is that you need to look at this list, look at your meta, look at your preferred style of play, look at the centaur, back to your meta, back to the centaur, and then make whatever adjustments you need to be able to have a deck that will work for you. Also, look at that centaur one more time and award yourself bonus points if you get my oblique Old Spice reference. You earned them.


If you wanted to tune this deck up, you could drop out a few lower performing cards and toss in the usual suspects. Rhystic Study is always nice, and this deck wouldn't mind an Eldrazi Conscription and a bit more stack interaction. Force of Will and other high-end counters will go a long way towards making this deck viable in higher-powered metas where you sometimes need to be able to stop a problem or a wincon before it resolves. You're in Blue. You can go that way with Ivy if you like.

I don't see much need to drop this deck's power level as it's already playing a very fair game. You don't have the crazy explosiveness of a Zada deck. You're not likely to present the kind of overwhelming voltron threat that a Uril or Bruna deck can put together. You're playing a reasonable deck that should be able to build up into a viable mid or late game threat if things go well and you're able to keep drawing all those cards.

Final Thoughts

I don't know that I've talked myself into buying a stack of dry-erase tokens, but I'm closer to making that purchase than I've ever been. This list might not be able to keep up with every table I sit at, but I think it will be a lot of fun to play and it might just surprise me.

Squeezing extra value out of about half of my creatures when they get targeted and having all that extra card draw makes me think this deck could really develop some nice momentum once it gets going. I don't know how well it will respond to boardwipes or how it will fare if it gets heavily targeted, but that's why I advertise these new lists as being first drafts. If I play them and build them in paper, I guarantee that they will evolve over time, losing underperforming cards and getting new cards and staples as I push them up in power and make them more consistent and resilient.

I'm writing this a few days ahead of my trip to Rochester, NY for the 2022 Commander Sealed event. It's a fundraiser for the Trevor Project and I'm hoping to have a lot of fun and maybe even win a game or two. If I remember to run enough removal and get a good commander to build around, hopefully I'll be able to cobble together a playable list out of the 17 booster packs I'll be opening.

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

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