TWR: Brewing Around Partners

I’ve been sitting on a couple of partner commanders for a couple of years now. I bought the Saskia Commander 2016 precon that came with Tymna the Weaver and Tana the Bloodsower and though I played the deck as it was for a little while, I eventually broke it up to make Saskia into a weird ball lightning deck before later changing her to an infect commander. Tymna found her way into another brew of mine that centered around Alesha, but Tana was relegated to a binder never to see play again (not to mention that the decks I’ve mentioned to this point aren’t seeing play or are broken up). Knowing that the partners have some powerful decks people have come up with, I was looking into another competitive option so that I’m not forced to play Zur every time I want to play cEDH. Arguably the most powerful combination, Tymna + Thrasios builds typically rely on the “Flash Hulk” combo. You can google that last term and find viable lists abound. Vial Smasher decks look solid too, and was the other build I saw most of when it came to partners with Tymna. Finally though, I came across a “Bloodpod” primer that showcased a deck centered around Tymna and Tana, and these are the cards I already owned. It turns out that I owned a good chunk of the list too and though I didn’t want to out right copy it, there isn’t a lot of room for change either. Mainly, I figured that there were some budget versions of cards that I could swap out, and thereby make it a little easier to build overall, despite having a value similar to that of my Zur deck. Most importantly, it isn’t trying to win via Laboratory Maniac and actually wants to turn creatures sideways, which is fun. It’s also pretty stax oriented, another style I enjoy. Backstory aside, let’s take a look at our partners:

Tymna doesn’t look all that great at first glance, being a 2/2 for 3 with Lifelink. However, if you can manage to damage an opponent, you’ll get an extra draw during your second main phase. If you manage to damage multiple opponents, you’re drawing more cards. That’s actually pretty amazing, and with her low CMC you can start doing this early. Tana supports the other side of our plan, in that she too wants to get in for combat damage, but also produces tokens for us to use sacrificially, or to spread our damage around to multiple opponents for more card draw via Tymna. Also, being able to create tokens and draw cards while under stax effects means we’ll be ahead of our counterparts for the majority of the game.

So what’s our game plan? Well the original Bloodpod deck was named as such due to the above two cards. Blood Moon is a card that hoses many multicolored decks, particularly if they are running mostly non-basic lands. It does ruin our non-basics too, and with only a few basic lands that can hurt, but it shouldn’t be an issue if we already have out our commanders and can keep drawing cards and creating saprolings. Birthing Pod is a nefarious card that allows you to sacrifice creatures in order to tutor up other ones, and there are several ways we’re going to utilize it. Essentially, the deck wants to throw down some early stax/tax effects and then pod into a victory combo. The original deck was made a few years back though, but newer versions have come out and I’ve managed to take some ideas from multiple decks and put them together. Some things to note: I don’t have the mana base that most lists do, but found a more budget friendly way to go that should still be effective. I also don’t own some of the most expensive cards, so I’ll be showing you some budget options for those as well. First up, the stax pieces:

I’d argue that more stax pieces are artifacts and enchantments than creatures, but it seems there are plenty of good hatebears for the deck as well. These cards are all purposefully picked in order to slow your opponents down and allow us to get ahead. Combo/Storm decks need to cast more than one spell a turn, so shutting that down as an option is good, as is forcing them to pay taxes on top of CMC. Shutting off the abilities of artifacts and creatures or making them come into play tapped sets people back turns. We also have the all important graveyard hate stapled to Leyline of the Void and Anafeza the Foremost. Magus of the Moon is a second Blood Moon. Grand Abolisher protects us on our turns. You see where this is going. So our gameplan then is to have more mana, more card draw and a faster tempo than the rest of the table. We’re only running 34 lands, which are a combination of Shocks, Pain lands, and others that allow us to create mana of any color, with very little utility. Mana rocks are present in Mox Diamond, Chrome Mox and Sol Ring, but otherwise we are depending on multiple early dorks to really accelerate our plan. Here’s our dork package:

We can make most of our colors with the above elves, along with making an explosion of green mana if we get priest of titania and a couple more elves on the battlefield. Birds of Paradise and Deathrite Shaman can fix for us. So after we have out some decent ramp and some stax pieces to put us solidly ahead, we can work on our wincon. This can be helped with a solid tutor package:

Yisan is basically another Birthing Pod, while Fauna Shaman is a budget version of Survival of the Fittest. Eldritch Evolution only works one time, but can grab you something needed, while the other more traditional tutors can pick up pieces that we need for our combos. What do we need for combos? I’m glad you asked:

So, here are some combo pieces that will win us the game. Kiki-Jiki along with Splinter Twin are two ways to allow us to infinitely ping down our opponents in conjunction with Goblin Sharpshooter, as such:

Splinter Twin + Goblin Sharpshooter + any x/1:

  • Twin on Sharpshooter #1.
  • Tap #1 to create #2.
  • Tap #2 to kill a dork. #1 and #2 untap.

Loop:

  • Tap #1 to create #3.
  • Tap #2 to damage face.
  • Tap #3 to kill itself. #1 and #2 untap.

We also have loops from Birthing Pod/Yisan that count on creatures like Felidar Guardian, Karmic Guide and Village Bell Ringer, all of which can essentially be tutored with Buried Alive and then reanimated with either the Karmic Guide or the couple of reanimation spells present in the deck. For example:

Birthing Pod + 3drop + 4drop + 2mana -> pod 3 into Felidar Guardian -> Flicker Pod -> pod 4 into Kiki-Jiki

The deck can be a little convoluted, but you should be able to win either by infinitely pinging, or making infinite Guardians with haste that you can hopefully win the game with. Instant board wipes could be an issue, but with the recursion you should be able to get one of these going. If nothing else, you can stax lock the board and win via normal combat damage. I think the deck can be very competitive and I can’t wait to start building. It’s probably going to take some time to get the capital together for the cards needed but I think it’s going to be worth it just as much as building Zur was.

The War Report: Atraxa Brew

Over the weekend I did a little shopping at the convention and picked up a copy of Atraxa, one of the commanders from the 2016 sets. Funny enough, when I got into commander was right around the same time that the 2016 sets were out, and I could have purchased this set, or Breya which is also super popular and as a result the commander deck is overpriced. Instead, I picked up Saskia because she sounded fun and kick myself every time I think about it. Turns out that the decklist is full of good cards but many of them I already own, so I decided to just get a single of the legend herself. Still pretty pricey, but getting my hands on her and Doubling Season made my day. The only conundrum at that point was deciding what to do with her. I’ve been scratching my head ever since, up until last night when I finally sat down to brew a deck centered around this lovely devil:

Atraxa is likely the #1 commander used in Superfriends decks. This style of deck revolves around abusing her proliferate ability to stack counters on your deck full of Planeswalkers in order to use their ultimate abilities as soon as possible and do some broken things. This often involves the use of Doubling Season along with cards like Oath of Teferi and The Chain Veil. However, a while back I made the snap decision to sell off most of the Planeswalkers I owned and gave up on getting a Doubling Season as it was priced around $75 at the time. It’s been reprinted in Battlebond though, so I managed to get my copy for $36. This brought me back around to the though of doing Superfriends, though using Atraxa means missing out on any Red Planeswalkers which is why my original Superfriends brew used Ramos, Dragon Engine instead so I could go 5-color, and later I was trying to do the same sort of thing with Jodah. Jodah ended up being a 5-color good stuff with big beaters that I could cheat into play, but still has a handful of Planeswalkers along with Oath of Teferi and The Chain Veil in the deck. I’m kind of over the idea of a Superfriends deck at this point too, so I’ve decided to go another route with Atraxa.

Infect:

One of the first EDH decks I built was centered around Temmet who was new at the time, and I eventually turned it into an infect deck. It worked, but still was not very competitive. Atraxa and infect go hand in hand, as her proliferate ability will allow you to ping someone for 1 poison counter (let’s say with Blighted Agent, who is unblockable) and then proliferate your way to 10 counters, killing off an opponent. Most of these creatures have infect innately, but for those in the deck that don’t, I’ve included Grafted Exoskeleton and Phyresis to seal the deal. Conversely, if someone plays a powerful creature I can steal it and give it Infect with Corrupted Conscience. Lovely.

Proliferate:

Proliferation isn’t just the duty of our commander though, I’ve included a handful of cards that also help with that detail. The artifacts here will allow you to do it on command, Inexorable Tide is basically a win-con in a card, Tezzeret’s Gamble will draw you some cards too, and Thrummingbird depends on doing combat damage to proliferate, but in a multiplayer game someone is bound to not have fliers.

Counter Shenanigans:

There’s a lot to take in with this last gallery, but generally speaking, we’re going to not only be aiming to put poison counters on our enemies so that we can proliferate them to death, but we’re also going to want to be adding +1/+1 counters to all of our creatures so that we can smash face. Bonus from cards like Abzan Falconer and Herald of Secret Streams who give evasion to creatures with counters on them. Each of these cards will help us to have the biggest creatures on the field and will also allow us to get poison counters spread around the table quickly.

That’s really all there is to it. I think this deck is going to be fun as hell for me to play but not so fun for those I’m playing against. It’s not going to hold up against a deck that wins on turn 3, but it should be able to hold its own against decks that are a little slower to get out their combo pieces. You can view the full decklist here.