I always thought Tibor and Lumia was a bit weird. Take a look at the creature type: Legendary Creature (singular) – Human Wizard. And yet the name and the art clearly indicated these were two people, and the backstory for these characters is that they are the Izzet guild champions, a husband and wife team of wizards. I suppose these individuals have been married so long they're connected at the hip and have become a single entity that is always together, living together and dying together. Tibor was the wizard of air, so the blue spell trigger belongs to him, while Lumia was the earth wizard, so the red spell trigger belongs to her. They hold the distinction of being the only legendary creature card with "and" in the name . . . until Theros came to town.
Now, Anax and Cymede join this exclusive and rare Club And (we won't count Rank and File because it's just a nasty little non-legendary Zombie). So what abilities are tied to Anax and what are tied to Cymede? I'm figuring that first strike and trample are very aggressive and probably come from the male perspective—hit first and hit hard! The vigilance and a +1/+1 boost are more feminine, more motherly—watching out for the home front and building up morale.
I have to admit that Anax and Cymede didn't inspire me on the Commander front too much at first. The heroic mechanic is quite limited in scope, triggering only when targeted by your own spells. If it triggered off your opponent's spells or from being targeted by abilities, you could go buck wild in Commander, but I suspect that might have made heroic rather insane and maybe even broken. Plus, Anax and Cymede's abilities suggest a fast and aggressive deck, which isn't usually my cup of tea in Commander.
But then my good friend MJ Scott's article went up documenting her Cymede cosplay, and I was inspired. It occurred to me that, yes, a fast and aggressive Commander deck is outside of my comfort zone, but I shouldn't avoid that—I should embrace it! Playing something different can be a great learning experience, so I decided to see what I could come up.
So . . . how do we trigger heroic? In Theros there are a bunch of juiced-up enchantment creatures that play quite nicely with heroic, but I didn't necessarily think that would translate too well in a 100-card deck. A lot of those creatures are costed for Limited play, and I didn't feel they'd be able to hang with the big boys of the Commander format. However, there have been some decent Auras printed over the years that when they get sent to the graveyard from play they bounce back to your hand: Spirit Loop, Brilliant Halo, Angelic Destiny, even Ghitu Firebreathing. I could target Anax and Cymede with these to trigger heroic, and if something happened to my commander, they'd bounce back to my hand ready to play again.
Of course, this line of thinking then led me to Auratog, which could sacrifice the Auras on demand and let me recast and retrigger heroic however many times I have mana available. C'mon, look at that guy—who doesn't want to play Auratog in a deck with perpetual Auras? And I'm giving him +1/+1 and trample each time too!
It also occurred to me that spells with buyback would be worth taking a look at. For red and white there aren't too many that jump out. Seething Anger is a good one. Anoint is borderline and basically just a heroic trigger. Searing Touch is a possibility—each time you touch Anax and Cymede for a point of damage, the heroic basically cancels out the damage dealt thanks to the first strike.
I wanted a few backup heroic guys in case something terrible happens to Anax and Cymede (it gets tucked or shuffled into my deck). Akroan Crusader, Phalanx Leader, Fabled Hero seemed like givens; Labyrinth Champion I'm not too sure about.
Anax and Cymede is better the more creatures you have in play, but I was concerned with overextending in Commander, where creature sweepers get played early and often. I thought it might be beneficial to choose cards that produce token creatures, and there are a fair number of them in Boros colors. Rise of the Hobgoblins; Mobilization; Elspeth, Knight-Errant and the other Elspeths; Assemble the Legion; Captain of the Watch; Nomads' Assembly; Decree of Justice . . . we could even rock Kjeldoran Outpost! Creatures with indestructible like Tajic, Blade of the Legion and Purphoros, God of the Forge also provide some protection from overextending. To help provide resilience to actual creature cards without indestructible, I tossed in Eldrazi Monument and Boros Charm.
Looking at all the tokens made me realize that nearly all of them in Boros colors are Soldier tokens. Anax and Cymede is a Soldier card as well, so perhaps I can toss a nice juicy layer of soldier tribal synergy into the mix! There's Field Marshal, Preeminent Captain, Daru Warchief, Catapult Master, not to mention all the good generic tribal support cards like Shared Triumph, Harsh Mercy, Shared Animosity, Door of Destinies, and Cryptic Gateway. Veteran's Armaments looks doubly sweet while trampling!
The Boros guild likes to attack, triggering abilities like battalion, so I looked for some worthy of multiplayer and picked Akroan Hoplite, Frontline Medic, and Firemane Avenger. Aurelia, the Warleader is a great commander in her own right and deserves a spot in the 99 if I have the room.
The classic Boros equipment Sunforger is something to take a hard look at, being able to search up instants or sorceries that can target Anax and Cymede or dig up utility cards like Allay and Shattering Pulse.
With all this in mind, this is what I've cooked up:
- 1 Akroan Crusader
- 1 Akroan Hoplite
- 1 Auratog
- 1 Captain of the Watch
- 1 Catapult Master
- 1 Cloudgoat Ranger
- 1 Daru Warchief
- 1 Fabled Hero
- 1 Field Marshal
- 1 Firemane Avenger
- 1 Frontline Medic
- 1 Hero of Bladehold
- 1 Knight-Captain of Eos
- 1 Legion Loyalist
- 1 Phalanx Leader
- 1 Precinct Captain
- 1 Preeminent Captain
- 1 Anax and Cymede
- 1 Aurelia, the Warleader
- 1 Darien, King of Kjeldor
- 1 Tajic, Blade of the Legion
- 1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
- 1 Basilisk Collar
- 1 Boros Signet
- 1 Cryptic Gateway
- 1 Door of Destinies
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Sunforger
- 1 Sword of Feast and Famine
- 1 Aggravated Assault
- 1 Angelic Destiny
- 1 Assemble the Legion
- 1 Brilliant Halo
- 1 Ghitu Firebreathing
- 1 Mana Echoes
- 1 Mobilization
- 1 Rise of the Hobgoblins
- 1 Shared Animosity
- 1 Shared Triumph
- 1 Spirit Loop
- 1 Allay
- 1 Anoint
- 1 Aurelia's Fury
- 1 Boros Charm
- 1 Reiterate
- 1 Searing Touch
- 1 Shattering Pulse
- 1 Spear of Heliod
- 1 Decree of Justice
- 1 Harsh Mercy
- 1 Mana Geyser
- 1 Nomads' Assembly
- 1 Rout
- 1 Seething Anger
- 1 Veteran's Armaments
My roommate Chuck has been playing my Rakdos, Lord of Riots deck, and the other day while playing a game, some guys were watching over his shoulder when he played Mana Geyser. He didn't play the Reiterate in his hand, but the guys watching it told him later that he could have made infinite red mana since the Mana Geyser was producing more than six red mana. Just target the Mana Geyser while it's on the stack with Reiterate—paying buyback—and when Reiterate resolves you put it back in your hand, where you can cast it again and again and again, netting X – 6 red mana each time where X is how many tapped lands your opponents have. Chuck had a Pyrohemia in play and was at the highest life total at the table, so he could have ended the game on the spot.
In this deck, you can dump all that mana into Purphoros, God of the Forge to pump your team to infinite power or play Fireball with Aurelia's Fury or even Searing Touch (how's that for annoying). You could generate infinite attack steps with Aggravated Assault, but only for creatures that have vigilance like Anax and Cymede. Mobilization and Captain of the Watch give all your Soldiers vigilance.
Mana Echoes won't necessarily provide "infinite"—or technically "arbitrarily large"—amounts of mana but in a tribal deck like this will certainly give you lots of colorless mana to work with whenever you put a Soldier into play, whether it's a token or a real card.
Set Mind To Purpose
Every time I see the word "Purphoros" I think of the phrase "set mind to purpose," one of the oft-said phrases from the Spartacus TV series that recently ended over on the STARZ network. There were figures of speech and dialog in the show that had a real Ancient Rome/Gladiator flavor, nicknamed Spartacus Speech, that really did a lot to flavor the show as authentic—you know, if those people had spoken English.
I was thrilled to see previews recently advertising that we could relive the brotherhood when Spartacus returns to STARZ for the Spartacus Saga: Uncut. All four epic seasons, with extended episodes and bonus footage, begins on October 26th! I was originally drawn to the show by its stylized and graphic depiction of gladiators fighting in the arena, but I stayed because the story and characters were compelling. I'm excited to see the extended uncut episodes, but for those who never got a chance to see it the first time around, if you're digging the flavor of Theros, then you definitely should check out Spartacus on STARZ!
What sort of cards are you running in your Anax and Cymede Commander decks? Did I miss anything big? Do you have any questions about any other cards I've included? Hit me up in the comments below!
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)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Nylea, God of the Hunt (Devoted to Green)
- Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)
- Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)
- Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)
- Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)
- Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)
- Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker (Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling)
- Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)
- Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)
- Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)
- Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)
- Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)
- Aurelia, the Warleader (plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)
- Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)
- Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)
- Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)
- Skullbriar, the Walking Grave (how big can it get?)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Yeva, Nature's Herald (living at instant speed)
- Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)
- Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius (new player-friendly)
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice (new player-friendly)
- Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)
- Riku of Two Reflections (steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts)
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda, Host of Herons (Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Ghave, Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa, the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
- Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia, Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- 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)