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Torens Human Tribal


Dance of the Almeh by Jean-Leon Gerome (1863).

Vraska the Unseen by Igor Kieryluk.

Today's column was originally going to be a look at one of those decks that runs a short list of viable commanders. The idea would be that you could play the deck using Torens, Fist of the Angels out for Sigarda, Host of Herons, Katilda, Dawnhart Prime, Karametra, God of Harvests or one of a few other options as your commander. I even played the deck a few times, but came to the realization too many of those creatures wanted to be built in very specific ways. Generic Selesnya goodstuff wasn't going to unlock any of their true potential, so I switched gears and took a closer look at today's subject.

Torens, Fist of the Angels

Torens, Fist of the Angels does two things well - he creates creature tokens and he puts +1/+1 counters on creatures. To build Torens to be a relatively strong deck I'll want to focus on humans and I'll want ways to make the most out of both his token-making and his +1/+1 counter-making triggers.

Oh, the Humanity!

There are a lot of great Humans I could have pulled into this deck. There are mean, staxy humans like Drannith Magistrate and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. There are humans that provide graveyard recursion like Eternal Witness and Timeless Witness. There are mana dork / land tutor humans like Drumhunter and Oashra Cultivator. I expect I could trot out a dozen different lists and still find humans that I'd wish I could have included. Today's list is largely based on a deck I have in paper, but definitely leave a comment if I overlooked your favorite Green or White human.

Ranger of Eos
Esper Sentinel
Serra Ascendant

While Ranger of Eos might not hit the table in the first turn or two, it will often get played the turn after Torens, Fist of the Angels gets cast. Ranger of Eos will let me grab two creatures with converted mana cost one or less, reveal them and put them into my hand. If Esper Sentinel and Serra Ascendant aren't already on my battlefield, they'd be great picks. The aforementioned Oashra Cultivator is also a 1 drop, as is my favorite Selesnya mana dork - Avacyn's Pilgrim. Loading up on 1-drop humans and running a Ranger of Eos flicker strategy is very tempting, but this deck doesn't lean very hard into that game plan.

Bounty Agent
Sungold Sentinel
Borderland Ranger

I've got some artifact and enchantment removal tacked onto a human body in Bounty Agent and Cathar Commando. I also have a little graveyard hate in Sungold Sentinel, which also comes with the ability to get a weird pseudo-protection from a chosen color if I've got three or more creatures with different powers. Borderland Ranger might not seem like a good addition, but I often find myself wishing for extra lands to play in the mid game. Decks that run the occasional land tutor - even if it's just putting the land in my hand - tend to run just a little smoother.

Elder of Laurels
Champion of Lambholt
Thalia's Lancers

Elder of Laurels is going to give me a way to make sure I've got a big creature to trigger all of my creatures with Training. If I've got a dozen 1/1 Green and White human soldiers with Training but nothing bigger to attack with, none of them will trigger. Elder of Laurels will let me pump up one of my creatures so that I get to pop a +1/+1 counter on them when they attack.

If that sounds good, you should check out Champion of Lambholt. It will grow as my army grows, it will make my creatures harder - or impossible - to block, and it will also help me have a big creature to attack with so I can get those Training triggers.

If neither of those fantastic humans has joined the party, Thalia's Lancers should go a long way toward getting a big creature on the field. It will let me tutor for a legendary card. One go-to play with this deck is going to be wiping the board, so Avacyn, Angel of Hope might be a good choice if I've got a wrath in hand. Humans might not seem overwhelming but if I've wrathed a few times and phased out with Teferi's Protection or just made my creatures indestructible with Flawless Maneuver or Heroic Intervention, I should be able to make a push to win the game.

Selesnya Enchantments

While I was tempted to run a ton of humans and just hope for the best, I decided it made sense to instead run a bunch of humans, some support cards, and just hope for the best. This isn't one of those decks that is looking to hit a key card or set of cards to just win the game. Any games it will win will be won the old fashioned way - on the battlefield. With any luck, that will happen after I've cleared out my opponents' blockers, but I still want those support cards.

Doubling Season
Hardened Scales
Mirari's Wake

Doubling Season is a staple in planeswalker decks but this is that rare deck where you'll be able to promise your tablemates that they don't have to panic for fear of seeing a walker hit the field and ultimate that same turn. This is a value Doubling Season, and with any luck you'll be able to convince your tablemates that they'll be OK if they leave it alone. If they have any sense at all, they'll see how it synergizes with both your commander's token-making and counter-placing abilities and blow it up anyways, but you should still make your best case. If you're persuasive enough, they might listen.

Hardened Scales is a little less scary, and a little more likely to stick around. This enchantment will give you an extra +1/+1 counter every time you put one or more +1/+1 counters on a creature you control. That might not seem like much, but if you've got a half dozen of those soldiers tokens with Training or you're trying to ride your Champion of Lambholt to victory, it could really help out.

Mirari's Wake is an anthem effect along with a way to squeeze more mana out of your lands. It's very good, but if someone gets nervous you can always point out that it's not as good as Zendikar Resurgent, which gives you card draw along with extra mana. I'm not running Zendikar Resurgent in this list, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth including if you've got one lying around.

Parallel Lives
Anointed Procession
Cathars' Crusade

Any deck with token generation in the command zone will want to run token doublers. Parallel Lives in Green and Anointed Procession in White both double up your token production. That might not seem like a big deal, but they will survive boardwipes and help you rebuild faster than your opponents.

One last enchantment that will really pull its weight in a deck like this is Cathars' Crusade. You'll be putting +1/+1 counters on your creatures like crazy, and those counters will make it easier for you to get those Training triggers. With a couple of tutors in the list, you might do well to grab Cathars' Crusade before you go looking for Doubling Season, though both are very solid support card for Torens.

Tribal Support

At a glance, I'm wondering why I'm not running Brass Herald, but it just didn't make my short list of non-humans that I wanted to run in today's list. It's good, but it's six mana and there are cheaper artifacts I can run to help me out with my tribe of choice.

Icon of Ancestry
Door of Destinies
Vanquisher's Banner

Icon of Ancestry will work as a +1/+1 anthem and will help me dig for more humans to cast. Door of Destinies won't trigger on token humans, but ought to see enough castings to get a few charge counters and become a problem for my tablemates if it sticks around for a few turns. Vanquisher's Banner is both an anthem and a potential source of card draw.

Beyond artifacts, I've got a number of creatures that care about humans and will make this deck a little more dangerous.

Katilda, Dawnhart Prime
Sigarda, Champion of Light
Kyler, Sigardian Emissary

Katilda, Dawnhart Prime will turn my humans into mana dorks and can put +1/+1 counters on my creatures if I'm able to make enough mana. Sigarda, Champion of Light is another anthem for my humans and will let me dig for more of them if I control three or more creatures with different powers. Kyler, Sigardian Emissary will get counters, pump up my humans, and is especially good with Torens as it will trigger on both my token humans and my non-token humans.

Any one of these support cards will help me quite a bit, and if I'm able to get two or three out at once I should have a good chance to mount a real threat.

More Than Human(s)

Even with a couple dozen humans, some good support cards, protection, removal, and enough boardwipes to have a shot at swinging out over an empty battlefield, this is ultimately still a very fair build. My inclusion of Triumph of the Hordes notwithstanding, for the most part this is going to be a classic "hope for the best" kind of deck. It should be fun at medium power level tables, but will probably struggle against high powered decks. I don't think you could even make a run at fringe cEDH with Torens, but I'm always happy to be proved wrong so leave a comment if you've found ways to break this commander wide open.

Torens' Selesnya Humans | Commander | Stephen Johnson

The ceiling on this commander might not be incredibly high, but you could still tune this list up a bit. Fast mana and more instant speed, low mana interaction might give you a shot at stopping high powered decks, but I think in these colors you'll be more likely to find success by running more stax pieces and leaning on your boardwipes. I'm happy to have more decks that find themselves in the middle of our format's power range. It gives me a way to start low and move up in power through the night, or just drop down in power if I just crushed a table and want to let up on the gas for a game or two.

Final Thoughts

If today's column is giving a feeling of deja vu, it might be because you recently read Mark Wischkaemper's recent article, "Building Anafenze Abzan Humans". In it, he dove into a Green/White/Black humans build led by Anafenza, the Foremost and hit on a bunch of the cards I ended up using for this list. If you didn't catch that article, you can (and should) read it here.

Mark's list was a little more focused on counters than on humans and really loaded up on creatures with the outlast ability. While I've never loved outlast as a mechanic, his clever use of those creatures as a way to give his army abilities because of their +1/+1 counters makes a lot of sense and really works in a 3-color deck.

I'll be the first to admit that I've been struggling with Selesnya over the past few months, moving a list from Drizzt Do'Urden over to Sigarda, Host of Herons and then to Katilda, all the time hoping to find that right mix that would give me a game I'd enjoy, hopefully win, and most importantly, let me settle on someone to lead the deck for more than a few games. I can't say yet whether I'm going to pick up Torens, Fist of the Angels and build this list in paper. It's tempting, but I have a soft spot for voltron, hexproof commanders with evasion.

That's all I've got for today. If you've got a favorite Selesnya commander you think you can sell me on, by all means leave a comment. I've seen lots of great Green/White decks over the years and have even had a little fun with the likes of Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith, Arahbo, Roar of the World and Yasharn, Implacable Earth.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!

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