Each new expansion set of Magic: The Gathering cards brings new Legendary Creatures to the table in which we can build decks around. I try to build at least a couple of these during each new set’s release to keep up with new metas and ideas that form around new commanders. In between sets however, I’m forced to look back at older sets’ creatures or revamp existing decks in my collection. Some of the commander decks I have built over the years have been broken up, others have been revised as new pieces come out and sometimes that means a deck will take a whole new direction. In the case of today’s article, I’m looking at the first commander I ever played, Daxos the Returned:
Daxos the Returned is a three CMC 2/2 that utilizes the experience counter mechanic introduced in the Commander 2015 set. My friends and I purchased some of these decks back at the beginning of 2016. This one appealed the most to me despite the fact that the Merens, Ezuris and Mizzixs are definitely more competitive. As someone who was new to Commander at the time, I was going off the fact that I like the Orzhov color pairing and his ability sounded interesting. The trouble is that you have to get Daxos onto the board and then play a bunch of enchantments to get experience counters, then you also need a good amount of mana to be able to pump out the */* spirit tokens. The tokens don’t have any sort of evasion either, so they can be chump blocked and overall it is fairly ineffective. Version 1.0 was the slightly modified precon that didn’t really do much but it was okay in our meta at the time because we were all new to the format.
Version 2.0 of Daxos came a few months later. I ended up going with an “enchantment tribal” theme by including some of the Gods and other Enchantment creatures to the deck so that I would basically always be getting experience counters no matter what I was casting. This version of the deck was more consistent, but it still didn’t “go off” like I thought it would, and still lost more games than it won. Guilds of Ravnica could have changed this a bit, because of this one card:
Divine Visitation is essentially the card I built this deck around. It still has enchantments to get experience counters and it still has some parts that include Daxos into the strategy, but generally I’ve made this into a token strategy to go wide. The trick here is that Daxos can make tokens innately, in this case the experience counters don’t matter. With Divine Visitation on the board, you essentially get a 4/4 Angel with flying and vigilance for three mana. Daxos would technically create a 0/0 token if he has zero experience counters, but since this is a replacement effect, that 0/0 would immediately turn into a 4/4. So really, get this card onto the battlefield and win the game, given the mana. Of course, we also want to be able to make tokens in other ways, so let’s look at ways to do that:
Black and White aren’t necessarily the best token creators, (Green/White tends to be the best) but we do have some nice tools at our disposal. With cards like Luminarch Ascension, Spirit Bonds, Heliod and Bitterblossom we can churn out tokens pretty effectively, and if Divine Visitation is on the board, we’ll get 4/4 angels instead of lousy 1/1s. Also, if we can get Anointed Procession out we’ll be doubling up on our tokens. There are spells like Entreat the Angels and Secure the Wastes that will flood the board given the mana, and other creatures that create tokens upon certain conditions being met, like Brimaz and Angel of Invention who ETB, or Elenda who creates tokens upon dying. The Master Breeder is another great token generator, because with that replacement effect from Divine Visitation, he will never be sacrificed (which is meant to be his downside given his power level). So what happens if Divine Visitation isn’t on the board or is removed? We can still do something about it!
Here are some ways that we can boost the power level of our crappy 1/1 tokens. Dictate of Heliod and Intangible Virtue are just straight up additional power, whereas cards like Marshal’s Anthem is also a recursion spell with the anthem tacked on> Whip of Erebos gives our tokens lifelink, but also gives some recursion as well. Akroma’s Memorial gives our tokens some nice keywords, while Elesh Norn will kill other token players while buffing up yours. These cards will instantly make a token army that much more formidable.
I’ve also included some sac outlets to use as options when you have a bunch of tokens that are shitty 1/1s. Those can be used for mana, to draw some cards, as removal, or to tutor out something good (like Divine Visitation!). Pretty basic stuff here.
Pretty much everything else in the deck is utility. I’ve added a pretty decent removal package, but also ways to ramp (Land Tax, Weathered Wayfarer), card draw (Greed, Mentor of the Meek), recursion (Sun Titan and Debtors’ Knell) and tutors (Enlightened, Idyllic, Plea For Guidance). We should be able to reliably tutor out the cards we need, draw more cards and ramp effectively (though sometimes we need someone else to be ahead to do so). There are a couple cards here that are pillow fort or stax, like Ashes of the Abhorrent, Ghostly Prison and Aura of Silence. Black Market can also get us a ton of mana.
I think this version of the deck will definitely be more consistent and probably a bit more competitive, but I have yet to test it out. I own most of the deck already but need to pick up a few of the cards. It’s about $350 in value, so not exactly budget but not super expensive either.