Guids of Ravnica's guild leaders are all pretty saucy, and they all beg to have decks built around them. This week I'm going to present you with sketches of five decks, one for each of the guilds. Then, I'm going to ask you to tell me which one you'd like to see me build. These will all be partial builds, with an identified theme or direction. I won't go too deep listing the cards underneath, like mana rocks or ramp spells; I'll fill in the smaller details on the deck I actually assemble. You're certainly also welcome to take an idea or ideas and run with it yourself. If you do, share with us your final list.
Weirdly, three of them have two legendary creatures to pick from. It feels like all five should have multiple choices, but I'm a fan of symmetry. I'm told by our own Ari Lax there's a backstory reason for that. Apparently, Nicol Bolas has assembled his team of planeswalker agents, and those agents are taking over the guilds. I suppose we'll see more of this unfold in Ravnica Allegiance.
For those guilds that have two legendary creatures, I'm going to pick one and run with it. The other will probably figure in the deck somewhere; you don't want to leave out your guild buddies, after all.
Boros: Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a fan of Angels, in all their battle glory incarnations. This deck will feature multicolored Angels - you'll see that there's more of them than you thought - plus cards that help out with multicolored spells. Then we'll go where that leads.
Tajic will protect us when Archangel Avacyn transforms or against a multitude of other damage spells. It might lead us to a whole Mark of Asylum angle. We can add our favorite equipment or auras for Tiana, which may add Guildscorn Ward to the previous list. We all know that auras can be tricky to play with because you get two-for-one'd when the creature dies, but Tiana can help mitigate that. There are only two that are both white and red. Scourge of the Nobilis and Squee's Embrace; both seem worth playing if we want to head that direction. Some of the equipment that buff up creatures, taking advantage of our commander's ability might be good for laying some savage beats, so long as they don't also confer protection from white or protection from red.
There are 120-odd choices, so the Angels we choose would be all about flavor and taste. Whether we want to go aggressive with Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken blade into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares or more controlling with Angel of Serenity, Angel of the Dire Hour, or Angelic Arbiter, we're pretty much left up to our moods. Heavenly Blademaster would play into the Tiana subtheme. Obviously, we're playing Emeria Shepherd since it's simply good. I'm hard pressed to build an Angel deck without Blinding Angel, because it has saved me many, many times. Having Akroma, Angel of Fury and Akroma, Angel of Wrath on the battlefield at the same time is pretty thematic, but they're both expensive enough to think twice about.
As far as other cards go, it feels like Angels are quite retributive, so a few You Did This to Yourself spells, like Mirror Strike, Comeuppance, and Reflect Damage make sense. Psychotic Fury got me thinking about double strike. This gives us spells like Boros Charm, Onward//Victory, Phalanx Formation, and everyone's favorite, Savage Beating.
Selesnya: Emmara, Soul of the Accord
The first card which leaps to mind with Emmara is Glare of Subdual. The action of tapping down an artifact or creature creates another thing to tap down something with. Selesnya Control isn't a direction we often head in, so clearly that's where we'll go. Trostani Discordant obviously becomes part of the deck since she makes all our creatures larger while bringing some along with her. We obviously play March of the Multitudes as well.
If we're headed the token-creation route, then we'll want Divine Visitation, so that they're big Angels instead of little Soldiers. Even if we're doing that, we'll want all three versions of our favorite white planeswalker:
They all create tokens and do other cool things. The idea is to get the emblem from Elspeth, Knight-Errant so that we won't have to worry about getting our stuff blown up. Because we're playing some sort of control, it's far more likely to happen.
As tapping down creatures is part of our raison d'tre, we'll want to consider things which will keep them that way. Marble Titan, Crackdown, and Meekstone are all possibilities. Blinding Beam has some possibilities. Pollen Lullaby, Tangle, and Spore Cloud are Fogs which might do the trick. Oracle en-Vec might create some difficult choices for people. They'll know we can tap down creatures and they don't want to lose them, so they're more likely to just not attack. Steam Catapult, a card from Portal Second Age, will always have plenty of targets. If you have the cash, Moat is a fine idea, but we'll need to make sure we have some attackers that can fly, but that's more protection for our planeswalkers than it is tapping down stuff.
We'll also need some bigger offensive weapons, especially flying ones. The majority of them are white, and we could certainly go down the tribal Angel path again. Even if we don't, a few Angels probably make the cut anyway. Emeria Shepherd, Exquisite Archangel, Requiem Angel, and Sigarda, Host of Herons are all possibilities. Blazing Archon shuts down attacks while providing big beats.
Add Bear Umbra and/or Sword of Feast and Famine to untap our creatures so that they can tap down more things. Join Shields from Guilds of Ravnica does the same while making our side indestructible. Ahn-Crop Champion gives you the ability to do it every other turn while getting in some damage as well. Seedborn Muse takes us down a well-traveled road for very good reason.
Dimir: Etrata, the Silencer
No insult to Lazav, the Multifarious, but Etrata is a pretty splashy card. It can't be blocked, so we don't have to worry about that, which means we just need to somehow protect it. We can go the equipment route of Hammer of Nazahn or Darksteel Plate to make it indestructible, Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot boots to make it untargetable, or if we want to get really techy, Ring of Xathrid. The Ring lets us regenerate it and will give it a +1/+1 counter on our upkeep since it's black. After that, it's just equipment to taste, since Hammer of Nazahn will fetch something else, and if we're going to play that one, we should probably take advantage of it.
As far as Etrata's triggered ability goes, we'll want to make sure that we can target opponents' creatures, so Arcane Lighthouse is the first thing which suggests itself. We might even consider things which keep other creatures around (Dark Dabbling?) just so that they're available for targeting. There are two Commander-specific cards that could pay dividends here. One is Infernal Offering. You choose an opponent and each of you sacrifice a creature; both players who do draw two cards. Then, you and an opponent both return a creature card to the battlefield (note that this ability isn't targeted). These can both be different opponents, so you can target the player who is reluctant to have creatures out that you're going to exile. The second card is Tempt with Immortality. It's a Tempting Offer which will return a creature from your graveyard and then an additional one for every opponent who does the same. The principle is the same; make things available to be targeted.
The rest of the deck I would build involves keeping too many things from attacking me, such as Propaganda or Crawlspace. No Mercy is a fine enchantment, and if people want their creatures to go away so that you can't hit them, that's even better. But it won't all be defensive. Using the surveil mechanic, we can get some fat into our graveyard. I'd consider House Guildmage, Mephitic Vapors, Price of Fame, Mission Briefing, and Sinister Sabotage. We'd use Oversold Cemetery or Palace Siege to start getting the smaller ones back and cast them, while we use reanimation spells or Sheoldred, the Whispering One to bring back the big ones. I'd include a few Clones as well-Stunt Double, Sakashima the Imposter, Gigantoplasm, Quicksilver Gargantuan, Body Double to capture the value of other players' creatures. If we want to go a different direction, we're in the colors to leverage the Bone Dancer/Thassa, God of the Sea combo.
In the end, an Etratra deck is all about the commander, so the rest of the cards are support for what you want to do. What would be really cool is trying to set up killing each opponent a different way. Add something silly like Snake Cult Initiation so that you can kill someone with poison counters after having eliminated someone else with those equipment and commander damage, then finish off the last person with Etratra's ability.
Golgari: Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
The time which has passed since we first saw Izoni hasn't dampened my thirst for it in the least, especially since we're going Insect tribal. Ant Queen, Carrion Beetles, Crash of Rhino Beetles (!), Decimator Beetle, Giant Adephage, Gleancrawler, Grave-Shell Scarab, Hornet Queen, Living Hive, a whole swarm of Nantukos, Nullmage Advocate, Saber Ants, Scute Mob, and Vorapede are just the tip of the iceberg. Beacon of Creation and Symbiotic Wurm will help us do good work.
Of course, we'll want to have some self-mill to take advantage of undergrowth abilities on more than our commander, like Hatchery Spider (keeping with our creepy-crawly theme), Kraul Foragers, and Undergrowth Scavenger (which is a fine card in any commander game; it's normally going to be huge). Mesmeric Orb should get us there really fast. We can also sacrifice creatures to Altar of Dementia. And since we're in Golgari colors, Deathbridge Chant works.
There are some fantastic other black and/or green creatures that use the graveyard, like Golgari Grave-Troll, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, and Lord of Extinction. Kessig Cagebreakers can be lethal very quickly. Vraska, Regal Gorgon isn't going to get there that often, but getting that ultimate just once will fell pretty good. We can use Champion of Stray Souls to sacrifice some of those Insects in order to bring back the beef from the graveyard.
We can also go wide by making a bunch of Insects and using Overrun and its cousins, Garruk Wildspeaker or Overwhelming Stampede. We might think to buff them with Door of Destinies, Vanquisher's Banner, or the king of them all, Coat of Arms. It won't take that many Insects to just overwhelm all opposition.
Izzet: Niv-Mizzet, Parun
We save the toughest for last. There are some affordable Izzet commanders, like Jhoira of the Ghitu, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, and Nin, the Pain Artist (who we'll most assuredly be putting into this deck), but Niv-Mizzet follows the hard-to-cast-repeatedly model that many Izzet commanders suffer from. I'm not saying that for what it does it shouldn't be hard to cast, but the three of each colored mana component makes things awkward.
We'll obviously want to take advantage of Niv-Mizzet, Parun's abilities, the second of which works in tandem with the first. We might even consider going mostly creatureless, getting our creatures onto the battlefield by casting spells. Bribery and Rite of Replication are Commander staples, or we could go the Clone Legion route. The Locust God will create 1/1s for each card we draw. Crush of Tentacles provides nice battlefield control with adding a huge creature to our side of the table. There are enough Threaten spells to make a whole suite out of, which has the advantage of being useful even if we don't have our commander on the battlefield. Mind's Dilation would do double duty, sometimes giving us creatures, sometimes giving us spells.
If we're going to have creatures, we'll make them do the spellcasting that we want. Diluvian Primordial and Chancellor of the Spires come to mind, as does Baral, Chief of Compliance. The other versions of Niv-Mizzet are a must. Psychosis Crawler will help with both damage and beats. There are few substitutes for Consecrated Sphinx when it comes to drawing cards. Hypersonic Dragon would let us cast sorceries as though they had flash, bringing lots of surprises to the battlefield. Magus of the Jar would certainly get us drawing cards in big batches, dealing out loads of damage-but putting cards into other players' hands is pretty dangerous. The rest of the deck is then mana rocks and the other fuel which lets us cast lots of those spells.
Each of the five ideas has its own value. I'm interested in hearing which one you'd like for me to build, so reach out via social media and let me know. I'll post Twitter and Facebook polls and we can tally up the results. I'll then put together the winner and take it through its paces.
Question of the Week
This week's question comes from Boom Bap Connoisseur on Twitter. They ask:
"Why is Prophet of Kruphix still banned when you have turn 1 6/6 with flying and lifelink? I get probably someone in your test group loves playing green and gets all the cool green stuff banned but can we get some spicy unbans?"
Well, for one, banning one card has nothing to do with banning another. You can check out our philosophy document for how we arrive at decisions. And the person in my group that loves green is me. I'm more likely to support a ban on something that I've abused myself than something that I've faced. As far as spicy unbans go, we'll see. I haven't gotten any support on Recurring Nightmare from the rest of the Commander Rules Committee-mostly because it's a terrible idea.
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 ; Queen Marchesa's Knights ; 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."