Lydia: Mr. and Mrs. Maitland? Hello? Where are you?
Betelgeuse: Dead. Dead, dead, deadski.
Lydia: Of course they're dead. They're ghosts.
Betelgeuse: No, I mean they're gone, split, out of here, afterlife kids, deceased—ahh.
Lydia: Are you a ghost too?
Betelgeuse: I'm a ghost with the most, babe.
Hello, and welcome to those of you kind enough to tear your eyes away from coverage for what may very well be the last Magic World Championship as we've known it. Even though I'm not a professional player and can't imagine ever reaching that level of play, I do recognize that the Pro Tour provides a vital cornerstone to the Magic Community that provides benefits to all players, competitive and casual alike. Transforming Worlds into a small, elite Invitational is effectively cutting a Pro Tour from the schedule, and I can understand how upsetting that is to the game's top players. However, I do have faith in the Magic team at Wizards, many of whom came up through the Pro Tour before making the leap to making the cards, and I feel certain that when the dust settles the Pro Tour will continue to be a thriving, exciting place that the game's best minds will find worth their while.
That said, it's also worthwhile to express your opinions and passions to the powers that be, to give your allies the strength and ammunition to fight the good fight, whether it's in the political arena or within the halls of Wizards HQ in Renton.
This week I'm back on Commander. Last time I wrote about how I was dismantling decks (and powering up Glissa, the Traitor); so now that I've got a bunch of Good Card stock ready for deckbuilding, I wanted to pick a new Commander from Innistrad's legends. The one that appealed to me the most is Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (yeah, I love him as much in Commander as I do in Standard), but since my Commander compatriot Sean McKeown has recently given his take on it, I figure I'll push Grimgrin back ‘til December. Instead, let's build around Geist of Saint Traft!
A Geist deck intrigues me for a couple reasons. It suggests an aggressive deck, something I don't tend to do much in Commander. Also, white/blue alone isn't a color combination that I tend to like too much, but if I'm going that route, then Geist of Saint Traft seems like the one to take me there.
So which sort of cards does this Legend suggest to us for our Commander deck? Let's dig in.
Hexproof is a powerful and rare ability to inherently have on your Commander and can be downright scary as demonstrated by Uril, the Miststalker. It strongly suggests a “Voltron” approach, where you load up your guy with Equipment or Auras to make him scary. Since Traft is pretty puny himself, a small 2/2 with no evasion and an ability that requires attacking to be any good, we have strong incentives to suit him up with enhancements. That generally means Equipment and Auras.
Equipment: Quest for the Holy Relic, Steelshaper's Gift, Infiltration Lens, Skullclamp, Basilisk Collar, Runed Stalactite, Sylvok Lifestaff, No-Dachi, Nim Deathmantle, Trailblazer's Boots, Umezawa's Jitte, Stoneforge Mystic, Kor Outfitter, Puresteel Paladin, Auriok Steelshaper, Leonin Shikari, Scythe of the Wretched, Vorrac Battlehorns, Darksteel Plate, Fireshrieker, Helm of Kaldra, Kusari-Gama, Loxodon Warhammer, Brass Squire, Kemba, Kha Regent, Strider Harness, Sword of Body and Mind, Sword of Feast and Famine, Sword of Fire and Ice, Sword of Light and Shadow, Sword of War and Peace, Sword of Vengeance, Auriok Windwalker, Steelshaper Apprentice, Taj-Nar Swordsmith, Bonehoard, Deathrender, Shield of Kaldra, Sword of Kaldra, Batterskull, Stonehewer Giant, Auriok Survivors, Argentum Armor, Tatsuma, the Dragon's Fang
There are so many good equipment and good white equipment-themed cards that I think a Voltron-style equip-themed Geist of Saint Traft nearly builds itself, so I'll resist the urge to throw my Kaldra pieces in yet another deck this time. I just wanted to point out the cards that are at the top of my list for such an approach, and Trast's inherent ability negates the need for many of the usual Commander suspects (Swiftfoot Boots, Lightning Greaves, etc.).
Auras: Tallowisp, Auratog, Kor Spiritdancer, Mesa Enchantress, Monk Idealist, Auramancer, Academy Rector, Nomad Mythmaker, Grand Abolisher, Crystal Chimes, Replenish, Retether, Open the Vaults, Three Dreams, Totem-Guide Hartebeest, Cantivore, Sigil of the Empty Throne, Writ of Passage, Consecrate Land, Flickering Ward, Hyena Umbra, Brilliant Halo, Carry Away, Daybreak Coronet, Dragon Scales, Dragon Wings, Flickerform, Spirit Loop, Animal Boneyard, Griffin Guide, Hobble, Pariah, Prison Term, Steel of the Godhead, Traveler's Cloak, Unquestioned Authority, Vow of Duty, Vow of Flight, Angelic Destiny, Faith's Fetters, Flight of Fancy, Indestructibility, Corrupted Conscience, Treachery, Take Possession, Eldrazi Conscription
There are certainly a ton of Auras we can consider, especially given that Tallowisp is a fellow Spirit that sets up a great sequence of events—turn two Tallowisp, turn 3 Traft (a Spirit), Tallowisp trigger, tutor up Angelic Destiny to play next turn. We can even play around with the Aura theme deeper with things like Auratog, Kor Spiritdancer, and Mesa Enchantress. Given that we want to attack with Traft, we'll probably lean heaviest on Auras that provide evasion (like Steel of the Godhead and Unquestioned Authority). Tallowisp could let us dip into more utility-oriented Auras such as Faith's Fetters and Corrupted Conscience.
4/4 ANGEL TOKEN
The next powerful thing Traft does for us is generate a 4/4 flying Angel token for no other cost than he needs to be attacking. The “drawback” for the ability is that the token comes into play attacking alongside his homeboy and becomes exiled at the end of combat. That makes the window of opportunity to benefit from the token production relatively narrow but still worth thinking about when choosing cards for our deck.
If we go the Voltron route, then exalted cards become worth checking out, especially since the attacking Angel that Traft brings along doesn't stop exalted from triggering. Besides, exalted would certainly be on-theme and flavorful for our beloved Saint Commander. Sovereigns of Lost Alara plays very nicely with our Aura theme, and hello—Eldrazi Conscription makes our cute little Saint into quite the frightening monster!
White gives us plenty of cards that give us life for creatures coming into play, so if we set our deck up so Traft is attacking each turn, that's at least one creature coming into play each turn.
Sacrifice: Helm of Possession, Blasting Station, Worthy Cause, Altar of Dementia, City of Shadows, Culling Dais, Jinxed Idol, Spawning Pit, Ashnod's Altar, Barrin, Master Wizard, Fanatical Devotion, Martyr's Cause, Skull Catapult, Claws of Gix, Perilous Research
The Angel token is exiled at the end of combat, but there's no need for her to just go away after attacking with no further benefit! There are all sorts of great ways to cash in creatures for profit. I've been particularly interested in trying City of Shadows out in my Commander decks lately—if your Commander bites it, sac to the City to help pay for the mana tax to play it again. Each creature that's dying anyway makes it easier to keep playing your Commander over and over again—something that's important for any deck that focuses heavily on its Commander.
Traft is a Spirit, and sometimes that matters—in Kamigawa for instance, with Soulshift and cards that care about “Spirit or Arcane spells.” Innistrad gets into the game with Angel of Flight Alabaster—which pairs up nicely with Karmic Guide, doesn't it?
Traft is also a Cleric, a tribe that has certainly been pushed to competitive levels in the past. If we're leaning heavily on the equipment theme, we can add in the Shuko/Daru Spiritualist combo to rack our Cleric up to an arbitrarily large toughness and then sacrifice it to Animal Boneyard or Diamond Valley for a huge life infusion.
Some other thoughts…
In his Commander review of Innistrad, Sean mentioned Sundial of the Infinite as a way to keep Trast's Angel token around by ending your turn with the exile trigger on the stack, and I think it sounds like a fine idea to try it.
Keeping with the Aura theme, you could set up some crazy Iridescent Drake/False Demise (Abduction, Fool's Demise) shenanigans with sacrifice outlets in these colors.
I also thought briefly of having just a really small Aura/Enchantment Voltron theme and play Spellweaver Volute and play a bunch of instants and sorceries that lets Traft and his Angel get through unblocked. Yeah, we'd probably put Snapcaster Mage to work in that deck too. Likely better as a 1v1 Commander deck idea.
Okay, so here's my first take on a Commander deck built around this Innistrad Legend:
- 1 Academy Rector
- 1 Angel of Flight Alabaster
- 1 Auriok Champion
- 1 Battlegrace Angel
- 1 Grand Abolisher
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Moonlit Strider
- 1 Nomad Mythmaker
- 1 Reveillark
- 1 Soul Warden
- 1 Soul's Attendant
- 1 Sovereigns of Lost Alara
- 1 Stoneforge Mystic
- 1 Sunstrike Legionnaire
- 1 Suture Priest
- 1 Tallowisp
- 1 Totem-Guide Hartebeest
- 1 Windborn Muse
- 1 Barrin, Master Wizard
- 1 Geist of Saint Traft
- 1 Hanna, Ship's Navigator
- 1 Island
- 10 Plains
- 1 Azorius Chancery
- 1 Celestial Colonnade
- 1 City of Shadows
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Diamond Valley
- 1 Faerie Conclave
- 1 Forbidding Watchtower
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 High Market
- 1 Maze of Ith
- 1 Mistveil Plains
- 1 Moorland Haunt
- 1 Mystic Gate
- 1 Nimbus Maze
- 1 Reliquary Tower
- 1 Strip Mine
- 1 Tolaria West
- 1 Tower of the Magistrate
- 1 Tundra
- 1 Vesuva
- 1 Winding Canyons
- 1 Academy Ruins
- 1 Eiganjo Castle
- 1 Flagstones of Trokair
- 1 Kor Haven
- 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- 1 Miren, the Moaning Well
- 1 Serra's Sanctum
- 1 Azorius Signet
- 1 Basilisk Collar
- 1 Claws of Gix
- 1 Crystal Chimes
- 1 Darksteel Plate
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Helm of Possession
- 1 Infiltration Lens
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Sun Droplet
- 1 Sundial of the Infinite
- 1 Trailblazer's Boots
- 1 Angelic Benediction
- 1 Angelic Chorus
- 1 Angelic Destiny
- 1 Ghostly Prison
- 1 Indestructibility
- 1 Martyr's Bond
- 1 Propaganda
- 1 Seal of Cleansing
- 1 Spirit Loop
- 1 Steel of the Godhead
- 1 Vow of Duty
- 1 Vow of Flight
- 1 Writ of Passage
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Perilous Research
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Worthy Cause
- 1 Umezawa's Jitte
- 1 Austere Command
- 1 Cataclysm
- 1 Sleep
- 1 Three Dreams
- 1 Wrath of God
- 1 Eldrazi Conscription
Notes on additional cards:
Sunstrike Legionnaire: I'm not sure how useful this will be, but when I'm trying to punch through for an attack, having someone that can untap whenever a creature comes into play and then tap down a potential blocker—even if it's limited in scope—seems worth trying out. Trast's Angel trigger is what led me to consider him.
Sun Droplet, Ghostly Prison, Propaganda, Windborn Muse: Since you're going to be the aggressor, stands to reason that you're going to draw aggro from your opponents. These spells will help mitigate the damage.
Cataclysm: Even on the Voltron plan, it's very likely that Geist of Saint Traft will get outclassed the longer the game goes. This card can help reset things to Traft, a sweet Aura, a sweet piece of Equipment, and a land.
Martyr's Bond: Since I'm playing ways to sacrifice my Angel token at the end of combat, seems to reason that Martyr's Bond can really spread some pain around the table when that happens. Not to mention evening out damage when someone points enchantment or artifact removal my way.
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Post in the comments below, especially if you have any questions about some of my choices that may not be clear.
By the way, if you know anyone in the Richmond area who needs a place to live within the next month or two, I VERY much need a roommate and will have my house ready for him or her to move in by December 1. So keep an ear out for me, and if you hear of anyone, they can contact me via the email, Facebook or Twitter info below, and I will send along the details.
That's it for this week!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback, ideas, and random thoughts. I've also created a Facebook page where I'll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic, life, or anything else you want to talk about!
I've started a blog, it's not Magic-related but you may find it fun to read and comment on. I update at least once a week so check on it often and let me know what you think! I recently revamped my blog header with a perfect drawing from the awesome MJ Scott, check it out!
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Ghave, Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Damia, Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Glissa, the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira, Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda, Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh, the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra, Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril, the Miststalker (my “more competitive” deck)