The Twitter and article polls have spoken. Aminatou, the Fateshifter will be the first deck that I've built with a planeswalker as a commander. I was kind of hoping for Lord Windgrace to win just so I could start playing Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle a few days faster, but I'll just put it into some other deck.
I've gone into this build with three goals in mind. One, to make Aminatou important to the deck, not just a color choice. I want to get mileage out of all three of her abilities. Second, I want to avoid cards which are in the pre-constructed decks as much as possible. Obviously, the thematic choice is to play Aminatou's Augury since it's named after her, but the idea here is to go in a new direction of my own, not update the one out of the box. Third, I'd like to use a heavy number of more recent cards (not to the point of making it Modern-legal or anything, although that might be a fun challenge), to include Commander 2018 cards which are in the set but not in the Subjective Reality deck.
Aminatou has three distinct abilities, which leads us down three different roads of exploration. The first, which draws a card and then puts a card from your hand back on top of your library, suggest miracles-three of which are in the deck. That's a path we won't head down. Instead, we'll go with a bit more of a "top of the library matters" theme, paired with advantages for drawing cards and having a larger hand (although not down the Maro Sorcerer road of my Phelddagrif deck; I even intentionally avoided Psychosis Crawler for this deck). The second ability suggests a blink theme, for which there are endless routes of exploration. We'll choose a few. The second ability plays into the third, since it blinks something own, not control. The third, extremely fun, ability shifts control of nonland permanents left or right. This is the deck's deepest exploration-what to do when someone else controls everything you own. I suspect that in my group, people will be intrigued how it will all play out, so they're more likely to not take aggressive action against Aminatou. Here's the list; afterward, we'll talk about the individual card choices.
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Abhorrent Overlord
- 1 Abyssal Persecutor
- 1 Angel of Despair
- 1 Archfiend of Despair
- 1 Ashen Rider
- 1 Augury Adept
- 1 Big Game Hunter
- 1 Bloodgift Demon
- 1 Chasm Skulker
- 1 Demon of Wailing Agonies
- 1 Eldrazi Displacer
- 1 Felidar Guardian
- 1 Glen Elendra Archmage
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Knight of the White Orchid
- 1 Loyal Drake
- 1 Mulldrifter
- 1 Oreskos Explorer
- 1 Puppeteer Clique
- 1 Reaper from the Abyss
- 1 Restoration Angel
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 1 Sower of Discord
- 1 Stunt Double
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 War Priest of Thune
- 1 Agent of Erebos
- 1 Demonlord Belzenlok
- 1 Isperia, Supreme Judge
- 1 Kothophed, Soul Hoarder
- 1 Toothy, Imaginary Friend
- 1 Athreos, God of Passage
- 1 Ephara, God of the Polis
- 1 Erebos, God of the Dead
- 5 Island
- 4 Plains
- 10 Swamp
- 1 Adarkar Wastes
- 1 Cabal Coffers
- 1 Cavern of Souls
- 1 Caves of Koilos
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Detection Tower
- 1 Drowned Catacomb
- 1 Forge of Heroes
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Godless Shrine
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 High Market
- 1 Isolated Chapel
- 1 Reliquary Tower
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Underground River
- 1 Watery Grave
- 1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
- 1 Conjurer's Closet
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Despotic Scepter
- 1 Herald's Horn
- 1 Norn's Annex
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Sword of War and Peace
- 1 Tel-Jilad Stylus
- 1 Venser's Journal
- 1 Wayfarer's Bauble
- 1 Arcane Adaptation
- 1 Demonic Pact
- 1 Estrid's Invocation
- 1 Ever-Watching Threshold
- 1 Liliana's Contract
- 1 Cauldron Haze
- 1 Cloudshift
- 1 Cyclonic Rift
- 1 Teferi's Protection
- 1 Cleansing Nova
- 1 Damnation
- 1 Echo Storm
- 1 Merciless Eviction
Playing the deck will involve understanding when to make the choice of playing some cards or holding them back. Conjurer's Closet is one you want on the battlefield as quickly as possible under normal circumstances. With Aminatou, however, you don't want to give it away, so if you know you'll being using her ultimate, keeping it in your hand until afterward is the better choice. You have to always think about your lines of play in any Magic deck; which direction you are going to (or want to) take with this one will need additional consideration. Let's talk about the individual cards:
Legendary Creatures (6)
Athreos, God of Passage: Another card to really think about playing if you'll be using the Aminatou ultimate, remember that you can't get rid of it with Despotic Scepter, which is one of the reasons Tel-Jilad Stylus showed up.
Demonlord Belzenlok: Drawing at least one card is worth the damage.
Erebos, God of the Dead: I like to draw cards, and don't like you gaining life. Voila.
Isperia, Supreme Judge: It's not actual protection for you or your planeswalkers, but it's a way of helping recover. Sometimes, there are attacks people make, like the Shadowmage Infiltrator. With Isperia, you can volunteer to take one for profit.
Kothophed, Soul Hoarder: The ideal scenario with Kothophed is to use it for a little card draw for yourself, then give it away when someone is low on life. Makes me think I should have put Chromeshell Crab into the deck.
Toothy, Imaginary Friend: Be careful Toothy doesn't come back to bite you.
Abhorrent Overlord: The deck has quite a commitment to black, so a fat flyer that creates little friends is quite saucy.
Abyssal Persecutor: This was the card around which I started initially thinking to build the deck. A 6/6 flyer for 2BB is good enough, especially in the early game. Obviously, the play is to give it away with Aminatou; if not, there are a number of ways to get rid of it should it become a problem.
Angel of Despair: Part of the blink package that's a big beater to boot.
Archfiend of Despair: When you have a commander that's not a creature, commander damage wins aren't going to happen. That means that uncontrolled lifegain from opponents is bad. Archfiend of Despair is a way to prevent getting wrecked while doing some wrecking back. I'm not a Wound Reflection fan, but since the Archfiend is a creature, it's more vulnerable to removal.
Big Game Hunter: Big game, it must be hunted.
Bloodgift Demon: Card draw in Demon form. It's my friend Shea's favorite card, and since we haven't played together in a while (he moved just far enough away for it to be inconvenient), this one is a nod to him.
Demon of Wailing Agonies: One of the things which lieutenants suffer from is that they get killed along with the commander when a board wipe happens. With a planeswalker commander, that's less of an issue.
Eldrazi Displacer: Blinky the Eldrazi was the first card I thought of after Abyssal Persecutor, and you'll see that it informed a number of other choices of creatures with good enters-the-battlefield triggers. Panharmonicon was in the deck in an early draft because of it, but ended up getting cut for space late in the process.
Felidar Guardian: Blink chain technology?
Glen Elendra Archmage: Late in the drafting process, I realized that creatures with persist return under their owner's control. Glen Elendra Archmage is already good, but if it happens to end up under someone else's control, it's not that bad.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel: A win condition that doesn't involve creature combat, Gray Merchant is also something you don't mind letting another player have once its done its job.
Loyal Drake: Simple and good.
Mulldrifter: Sometimes, you just have to go with the classics.
Restoration Angel: The last creature element of the blink package which also goes with Aminatou's ultimate, since it brings the creature back under your control.
Shriekmaw: If you want to get really techy, you can play Shriekmaw for its evoke cost, then use Restoration Angel to blink it out. When the triggered ability resolves, it can't find the original to sacrifice.
Sower of Discord: I know this is in the preconstructed deck, but it's cool enough to want to play.
Stunt Double: It's also cool enough to want to copy.
Conjurer's Closet: There might be a line of play in which you run Conjurer's Closet out early for value, even knowing that you're going to use Aminatou's ultimate, then just wait until someone inevitably blows it up.
Darksteel Ingot: A mana rock in an indestructible package.
Sensei's Divining Top: Speaking of which, I'm writing a note to myself to always remember to put this on top before activating Aminatou's ultimate.
Venser's Journal: Another hand size matters card.
Wayfarer's Bauble: Land ramp for the non-green set.
Arcane Adaptation: The wheel behind the Demon theme, Arcane Adaptation almost led me to also try Ninjas, but Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow really needs to be the deck's commander to get mileage out of it. That's certainly on the drawing board.
Estrid's Invocation: It might seem that five other enchantments might not be enough to play this, but there's a sixth: Agent of Erebos. There are actually three more: Ephara, God of the Polis; Erebos, God of the Dead; and Athreos, God of Passage; although they're a little awkward to copy.
Ever-Watching Threshold: If you have a planeswalker commander, you'll want some protection. This might not be enough to completely stop someone who will do in your commander, but at least you'll get something out of it.
Liliana's Contract: It's a long shot that a game ever ends with the contract, but it's worth playing anyway for the card draw. Plus, you can give it away if you're not doing Demons with it.
Norn's Annex: More commander and face protection.
Cauldron Haze: I had thought of Cauldron of Souls for when I give away my creatures, but then I realized I might also have to give away the Cauldron, too. Enter Cauldron Haze as a little Wrath protection.
Cyclonic Rift: One of the few battlefield control cards in the deck, it'll leave us with someone else's creatures on the battlefield PLUS our own stuff back in our hands. And, you know, it's just good under normal circumstances.
Teferi's Protection: Be to be perfectly honest, this was a last minute addition (replacing Saving Grasp) when I remembered that it is an instant. I was thinking the whole time, "man, it would be cool to activate Aminatou's ultimate and then respond with Teferi's Protection." Well guess what, me? I can. And it'll be a beating for someone, so tread carefully.
Damnation: I considered one of the higher-cost board wipes, like In Garruk's Wake, but in the end decided on the cheaper mana cost because it's more likely to be able to save my commander.
Merciless Eviction: It's also nice to have options that exile stuff.
Planeswalkers and Gods (3)
Sorin, Grim Nemesis: "How bad could it be?" asks the person who lets you get to nine loyalty counters on Sorin. "No one's gained life because of your damn Erebos."
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria: This one is all about the first ability and then seeing if anyone is silly enough to let you get to the emblem.
Venser, the Sojourner: Emblems like this are a good reason to not have planeswalkers as commanders.
Fellow Commander Columnist Bennie Smith also ran a similar poll and got similar results, so he built an Aminatou of his own. We slightly differed on the ultimate ability; his thought was that it would scare players. It might on an obviously bad-for-them gamestate (like with Teferi's Protection involved), but I think for the most part that folks will embrace the chaos. Bennie went with a great deal more top-of-the-library control and went for the Miracles angle which I intentionally avoided. Bennie also felt as though The Eldest Reborn would be too vicious when paired with Aminatou. It seems strong but not too terrible. I very much like his choice of Blind Obedience for protection against hasty creatures (plus its other advantages). All in all, even though we went somewhat different directions, he built a fine deck. Check it and his discussion of it out here .
Question of the Week
This week's question comes from Shabbaman on the official Commander forums :
All joking about unbanning Recurring Nightmare aside, have you recently tested this in your group or store? I recall you mentioned you were planning to, but I don't recall reading about the results. It does sound like a fun exercise.
That was several years ago now. I had put a slip of paper into the sleeve of a card in each of my black decks to note that's what I'd replace with Recurring Nightmare. The intention was to make notes on whether or not RN would have been a good card to draw in that situation, which obviously discounts crafting the deck around it with tutors and whatnot. The idea was to see if Recurring Nightmare could unintentionally wreck games. The short answer is that while the testing wasn't extensive, it didn't yield any definable results. At some point, I abandoned it for a number of reasons, like note-taking slowing down games, cards marked for replacement actually got replaced by legal cards, and whatnot.
I encourage anyone interested to try it out with their own suite of decks. If you end up with result you think we'll need to hear, feel free to reach out. For now, the card will get brought up at every meeting and we'll assess whether or not we think the environment is safe for it-since the environment changes all the time.
Lavinia Blinks ; Obzedat, Ghost Killer ; Aurelia Goes to War ; Trostani and Her Angels ; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind ; Zegana and a Dice Bag ; Rakdos Reimagined ; Glissa, Glissa ; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club ; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever .
Shards and Wedges
Adun's Toolbox ; Angry, Angry Dinos ; Animar's Swarm ; Borrowing Stuff at Cutlass Point ; Ikra and Kydele ; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky ; Demons of Kaalia ; Merieke's Esper Dragons ; Nath of the Value Leaf ; Queen Marchesa, Long May She Reign ; Rith's Tokens ; The Mill-Meoplasm ; The Altar of Thraximundar ; The Threat of Yasova ; Zombies of Tresserhorn .
Adun Oakenshield Do-Over ; Animar Do-Over ; Glissa Do-Over ; Karador Do-Over ; Karador Version 3 ; Karrthus Do-Over ; Kresh Do-Over ; Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over; Lord of Tresserhorn Do-Over ; Mimeoplasm Do-Over ; Phelddagrif Do-Over ; Rith Do-Over ; Ruhan Do-Over .
If you'd like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that's been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group "Sheldon Menery's Monday Night Gamers."