Ah, clever WotC—I see what you did there! You give us the nifty/cool Inspired mechanic on a handful of cards in Born of the Gods, some of which look like you pushed for Constructed play. You even toss in Springleaf Drum to give us a way to tap our Inspired creatures without attacking first – a very handy thing in a world of gigantic monsters like Polukranos that would otherwise gobble up our relatively little Inspired dudes when they used their inherent ability to tap by attacking. So those of us with at least a little bit of Johnny in us go rushing to their favorite card databases searching for more ways to tap our own creatures for profit in Standard, and find… well… not much else. Those of us sporting a lot of Johnny likely dive down the Tritan Tactics/Hidden Strings rabbit hole for a little while, but that deck ends up being more about Heroic than Inspired.
After a while our collective Johnnies move on to other things. Then Journey into Nyx comes out and tosses a few more Inspired dudes into the mix, but with no additional ways to tap our own dudes for profit, there's barely a blip on our Johnny radar. Yeah, yeah whatever dude.
Then Magic 2015 comes out and everyone gets excited about all the sweet new cards and reprints we've got coming into the new Standard. Amidst the excitement is the return of a mechanic that is mostly just a decent Limited and casual mechanic, Convoke. If you've got more than a dash of Spike, few of the Convoke cards outside of tournament-proven Chord of Calling probably registered with you at all. A few Convoke cards like Return to the Ranks and Chief Engineer have probably tickled our inner Johnnies… but the thing that made me sit up and take notice?
Convoke spells let you tap your Inspired dudes for profit--we just went from one or two decent Inspired enablers to more than a dozen when no one was really paying attention!
Let's set out the cards in question and take a gander…
Potentially tournament-worthy Inspired cards:
Potentially tournament-worthy Convoke cards:
See any peanut butter from one list just waiting to be added to the chocolate in the other? I sure do! If you've followed any of my more recent adventures in Standard you'll recall I wrote a few times about my Black/Blue (and occasionally another color) Disciple of Deceit deck, which I found to be quite good at times, but sometimes not so good. Either I was able to tap and untap the Disciple when I wanted to (and fetch up the perfect silver bullet against my opponent), or… I drew an early Pack Rat. So yeah, a lot of times I just won with Pack Rat, but there were times when Disciple did some amazing work. A reusable tutor is a powerful effect, depending on what you can tutor for.
So what Convoke cards might we want to pair up with Disciple? Sticking in its colors the first one that jumps out is Chief Engineer. Look, he's got the same base stats! While he himself doesn't have Convoke, he gives all your artifact spells Convoke so in a lot of ways that's even better.
Hm, let's see what a deck might look like with these two peas in the pod?
- 1 Phyrexian Revoker
- 4 Scuttling Doom Engine
- 1 Bogbrew Witch
- 4 Chief Engineer
- 1 Daring Thief
- 4 Disciple of Deceit
- 2 Festering Newt
- 1 Siren of the Silent Song
- 1 King Macar, the Gold-Cursed
Yes, Chief Engineer was made to enable Trading Post shenanigans, at least for a few months before Trading Post – alas! – rotates out of Standard. Chief Engineer was also made to accelerate the massive beat stick that is Scuttling Doom Engine—DOOM!
Chief Engineer + Trading Post + Scuttling Doom Engine! Trading Post conveniently sacrifices Scuttling Doom Engine (DOOM! Take 6 damage), and it gets back artifact creatures like Scuttling Doom Engine, and can even make creatures to help Convoke Scuttling Doom Engine back into play. Attacking aside, taking six points of damage directly out of your opponent's hide multiple times is a pretty good way to finish off a game fast.
I gotta find someone to do an Invader Zim alter on a Scuttling Doom Engine for me, heh heh…
When searching through the available artifacts in Standard I ran across Bubbling Cauldron, which is another way to sacrifice a Scuttling Doom Engine, and since I'm playing a tutor-engine with Disciple of Deceit I figure why not throw in a Bog Witch and a few Festering Newts? These four cards could probably be something better, but what the heck—we've only got them for a few more months and this sort of deck might actually be a great spot for them (you've got other ways than Bubbling Cauldron to sacrifice the Newt if need be). Worst case, trade a Festering Newt for your opponent's Blood Baron of Vizkopa with an Inspired Daring Thief.
Instead of going with artifacts and Chief Engineer, notice that we've got 6-7 potentially playable Inspired creatures in black and blue, and 3 potential playable black Convoke cards. Any creatures you've discarded to Disciple of Deceit you can get reload with Unmake the Graves. Any sweet creatures that have been dumped into your opponent's graveyard with Siren of the Silent Song you can reanimate with Endless Obedience. After you've taken a peek at their hand with Thoughtseize you can do some permanent damage with Stain the Mind.
We could dip into another color for some other Convoke cards. The best way to go is likely white – Ephemeral Shields can protect your Inspired dude, and is conveniently costed at two mana for tutoring. Return to the Ranks is also technically two mana, and gives us another angle to exploit since we're pitching cards to tutor for cards, and if those cards are creatures that cost one or two mana we can potentially put several of them into play. God-Favored General and Oreskos Sun Guide might have a place in this sort of deck.
The other Inspired card that has had my brewer's curiosity was Felhide Spiritbinder. If you love value creatures you've gotta love Felhide Spiritbinder! One combo I heard about not long after Felhide Spiritbinder was spoiled was playing it alongside Aurelia, the Warleader to give you infinite attack steps, hopefully killing your opponent in the process. Of course, trying to pull off this combo pretty much required you to play 3-4 copies of each to have any hope of putting the pieces together. Even Brad Nelson monkeyed around with this idea, but ended up just killing people by attacking with big creatures or Planeswalkers.
Conveniently, we now have a creature combo-enabler with Convoke that goes perfectly in just such a deck—hello, Chord of Calling!
- 3 Archangel of Thune
- 1 Banisher Priest
- 4 Felhide Spiritbinder
- 2 Fleecemane Lion
- 1 Frontline Medic
- 1 Hornet Nest
- 2 Nylea's Disciple
- 2 Reclamation Sage
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 2 Voice of Resurgence
- 4 Voyaging Satyr
- 3 Courser of Kruphix
- 1 Aurelia, the Warleader
- 1 Polukranos, World Eater
So if you're not familiar with the combo, you attack with Aurelia, the Warleader and Felhide Spiritbinder. Since this is Aurelia's first attack, she triggers, untapping your team and giving you another attack step. Felhide Spiritbinder's Inspire ability triggers on the untap, and you pay two mana to copy a creature. Copy Aurelia, and then sacrifice the original one to the Legend rule. On the extra attack step, since this is the new Aurelia's first attack she can attack and start the triggers all over again. If you've got two mana creatures in play, you can keep this up however long it takes to hopefully finish off your opponent.
Combo aside, I also wanted to squeeze in plenty of value creatures that would be nice to either tutor up with Chord of Calling or copy with Felhide Spiritbinder. Unfortunately, searching for creatures with “enters the battlefield” doesn't yield too much outside of Reclamation Sage, Nylea's Disciple, and Banisher Priest, but I've added in a few other creatures that can be handy to have a hasty copy of even if only temporarily: hold back the original Voice of Resurgence and attack with the copy, and if they kill it, you get a token; an extra Battlefield Medic could be exactly what you need to give you Battalion.
Another thought—a fair number of the Inspired creatures are humans, so Obelisk of Urd might be something to consider.
Do you see any other nifty synergies between the Inspired and Convoke cards we're getting ready to have together in Standard?
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):
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus :
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice ( new player-friendly)
Uril, the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)