Before I get into this week's Commander deck, I wanted to spend a few moments talking about my other Magic love – Constructed Magic!
While multiplayer Commander games are my bread and butter, I also like to get competitive with off-the-beaten-path brews. For a while I have had a mono-green deck in Standard that has been able to go toe-to-toe with the best in Standard (at least at the local level), but with the recent banning and the release of Amonkhet, I have changed things around a bit.
The mono-green deck was built on two assumptions: first, that ramping to four mana on turn 3 thanks to the mana creatures that cost two (Druid of the Cowl, Ulvenwald Captive, and Servant of the Conduit) was something worth doing; and second, playing mono-green (with Ulvenwald Hydra) unlocks the power of some awesome colorless lands in the format such as Mirrorpool, Sea Gate Wreckage, and Westvale Abbey. The assumptions seem to have paid off with Standard success for me the past six months or so.
In the new Standard, though, I think white just offers way too many good cards and the mana fixing for G/W is just way too easy to try to stick with mono-green. In particular, I like the instant-speed interaction offered by Archangel Avacyn and Stasis Snare, and Scattered Grove helps ensure Fortified Village usually enters the battlefield untapped. Due to quite a few Angel cards, I've been calling my new deck G/W Angel Ramp. If you are interested in hearing more, contact me via Twitter or my Facebook page. (Links at the bottom!)
More importantly, though, I have been turning my attention to Modern. With the SCG Tour®'s new focus on Modern, it seems I should dust off some of my old favorites and get to practicing. The Modern deck I have sleeved up currently is Mono-Green Devotion, but with the recent success of the new breed of Abzan Company ("Counters Company") with Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies, I'm thinking hitching my train to a deck with small creatures is probably not the wisest move.
My previous Modern interests were Doran/Zur and Necrotic Ooze, but I am not sure either of them is a good rogue choice either. Doran/Zur is solid and not too vulnerable to burn spells, but I am not sure it has the stuff to hang with Counters Company's raw card advantage and explosive combo potential. Necrotic Ooze suffers some splash damage from Devoted Druid exposure and Death's Shadow decks leaning so heavily on delirium and Tarmogoyf.
What is a rogue fan to do?
One deck idea I noodled out during Aether Revolt has caught my attention as something that might be decent in this new metagame.
Engineered Explosives for two seems to be a solid counterplay to Counters Company's key creatures. Scrap Trawler; Glissa, the Traitor; and Trading Post provide good sources of steady card advantage and selection.
Now, I know I just mentioned graveyard hate splash damage, and that is certainly a drawback here, but this deck mostly uses the graveyard as a source of extra cards and is capable of functioning through disruption. It is unfortunate that Glissa, the Traitor dies to Lightning Bolt, but if Jund Death's Shadow moves towards Tarfire, then three toughness might be okay. Spellskite helps with the Lightning Bolt problem too.
What do you think I should focus on for Modern this year?
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled Commander article.
This week I wanted to build a deck around Oketra the True. Each of the Amonkhet Gods offers some interesting factors when building Commander decks around them. Like all the Gods, Oketra is indestructible, which makes it a decent creature to load up with Auras and Equipment. Oketra's other static ability is double strike, so any effect that pumps the power is double the fun.
Oketra's activated ability creates creature tokens that are Warriors, a tribe that certainly has been given some support over the years. The tokens also have vigilance, which is a superb ability in multiplayer Magic. While a 1/1 isn't typically going to be scaring too many people when it attacks, it will be nice to get in the occasional chip shot off some blockerless player's life total without losing it as a chump blocker when a real threat turns sideways in your direction.
The ability to make creatures is quite handy when it comes to enabling Oketra the True's capacity to attack or block, but the cost isn't cheap, so until we get to a point in the game where we have twelve mana and the ability to creature three creatures on demand, we'll want to pepper in lots of ways to keep Oketra company on the battlefield.
Three or More Creatures: Indestructible
Oketra is indestructible and invulnerable to most mass removal, so it makes sense we'd want many of its companions to be indestructible as well. Darksteel Myr, Creepy Doll, Darksteel Sentinel, and Darksteel Gargoyle are all solid choices that have indestructible naturally. With enough devotion, Heliod, God of the Sun can join the gang. Kytheon offers an indestructible body with a mana activation on one side and a planeswalker activation on the flip side.
Blinking Spirit isn't technically indestructible, but it does a good job of dodging most removal and so can be counted on at being around most of the time. Blinking Spirit used to be a staple in Magic many years ago, but it doesn't really stand up to creatures nowadays; it's nice to be able to dust it off for a Commander deck it's going to do decent work in.
Three or More Creatures: Tokens
While tokens are vulnerable to removal spells, cards that make tokens will typically give us several bodies without costing extra cards, which can help ensure that Oketra has some companions on the battlefield. It's no surprise that Oketra's Monument would prove to be a great Oketra enabler, and it can do nice work with Blinking Spirit since it shaves a mana off the casting cost of a white creature.
Secure the Wastes is a nice instant-speed trick to enable Oketra the ability to block or attack out of nowhere. Martial Coup where X is five or greater is a fantastic one-two punch, blowing away most potential blockers while creating enough creatures to enable Oketra to attack.
Three or More Creatures: Noncreature Creatures
I'm rounding things out with some cards that can become creatures when you need to turn on Oketra. You could do something like activate Blinkmoth Nexus, tap it to crew Smuggler's Copter, and then tap Smuggler's Copter to crew Skysovereign, Consult Flagship. Now you've got three creatures on the battlefield so you can attack or block with Oketra.
Oketra's three power makes it look tame at first blush, but that double strike ability can add up damage in a hurry. Even something small like Gryff's Boon provides two addition points of damage in addition to flying. When the boost is from cards like Angelic Destiny, Armored Ascension, and Bonehoard, the doubled damage can get truly frightening!
Iona's Blessing was a stellar find—a boost in power, vigilance, and being able to block an additional attacker all seems perfect for an indestructible creature with double strike. I'm not sure that I've ever seen this card before.
Celestial Mantle is particularly exciting with Oketra's double strike if you can get damage done directly to an opponent—double your life, and then double it again!
Indestructible is sweet, but there are ways around it, particularly effects that exile. I've peppered in some additional ways to give Oketra some protection from those effects, like Rebuff the Wicked and Mother of Runes. Lapse of Certainty is a cool card that no one will be expecting; save it for someone casts something heinous for the whole table so that everyone knows who the Archenemy is this turn.
The en-Kor creatures pair up fantastically well with an indestructible creature, making them all effectively immune to combat damage. Slapping a Pariah on Oketra feels good too.
In a moment of Vorthosian weakness, I decided to search for all cards with "True" in their title and made room for the white and artifact cards. Some of these would probably be better off as more utility spells like removal, and I'm pretty sure Caged Sun would be more useful than True Conviction, but hey—sometimes your Commander is about the True and so should you.
White Deck Good Stuff
A lot of these are the usual suspects you'd expect to find lurking about in a mono-white deck. When it comes up, the Land Tax / Scroll Rack combo offers some fantastic card selection in addition to regular land drops with Plains, which is especially nice with Emeria, the Sky Ruin late-game. Odric, Lunarch Marshal appreciates borrowing Oketra's indestructibility and double strike for the whole team during combat. Skullclamp is obviously a silly good card, but it's particularly nice here with Oketra able to make 1/1 creatures that so easily die to Skullclamp.
So here is the finished product:
- 1 Creepy Doll
- 1 Darksteel Gargoyle
- 1 Darksteel Myr
- 1 Darksteel Sentinel
- 1 Hangarback Walker
- 1 Blinking Spirit
- 1 Frontline Medic
- 1 Hallowed Spiritkeeper
- 1 Herald of Anafenza
- 1 Mother of Runes
- 1 Oketra's Attendant
- 1 Selfless Spirit
- 1 Shaman en-Kor
- 1 Spirit en-Kor
- 1 True Believer
- 1 Trueheart Duelist
- 1 Twilight Drover
- 1 Unwavering Initiate
- 1 Warrior en-Kor
- 1 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
- 1 Odric, Lunarch Marshal
- 1 Heliod, God of the Sun
- 1 Bonehoard
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Loxodon Warhammer
- 1 Mind Stone
- 1 Pearl Medallion
- 1 Scroll Rack
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Smuggler's Copter
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Thunder Totem
- 1 True-Faith Censer
- 1 Angelic Destiny
- 1 Armored Ascension
- 1 Celestial Mantle
- 1 Darksteel Mutation
- 1 Gryff's Boon
- 1 Iona's Blessing
- 1 Land Tax
- 1 Pariah
- 1 Shielded by Faith
- 1 Spectra Ward
- 1 Spirit Bonds
- 1 Spirit Loop
- 1 True Conviction
- 1 Lapse of Certainty
- 1 Make a Stand
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Rebuff the Wicked
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Rootborn Defenses
- 1 Secure the Wastes
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Oketra's Monument
- 1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
- 1 Martial Coup
- 1 Rout
- 1 Wrath of God
What do you think of the deck? Have I covered all the bases for making sure Oketra is a force to be reckoned with, or did I overlook something great? How would you build it differently?
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)
Commander write-ups I've done (and links to decklists):