Please help my good friend Edric. I wanted to build a deck that could draw cards a lot of cards having access to all the goodies in the deck. Unfortunately the way the deck sits now I don't have too many goodies in the deck to draw upon. I can get cards but they don't always help. During original construction I looked at token generation for more of a Swarm effect as well as tribal Wizards but abandoned both ideas.
You'll see I have emphasized the ability to play more than one land and have most of the creatures that are powered by number of cards in hand.
In addition to the lack of finishers the other main problem is the card draw is a little slow. It often takes a while until I hit one of the hand size enhancers. So I added a few cards to provide a little help pulling from the graveyard later (Creeping Renaissance Memory's Journey Snapcaster Mage Call to Mind) in case I have to discard. In addition I added the control creature auras to try to slow down opponents but they are expensive and only deal with one at a time.
I like the idea of being able to drawing cards to have multiple options at all times but this deck doesn't get me there. Please help!
Commander: Edric Spymaster of Trest
Bonds of Quicksilver
Thanks for any suggestions you can provide.
Over the past few weeks I have been toying with the idea of putting together my own version of Edric Spymaster of Trest. There is a lot of inherent power built into this commander and I wanted to see what I could do with it. Edric idealizes what this format is about for me: attacking with creatures and when they hit someone drawing a bunch of cards. So needless to say when I saw Doug's deck as one of the submissions I knew this was the one I wanted to work with this week.
When building a Commander deck the first step is to break down the essentials of the Commander you're working with. Edric for example lets you draw cards when your creatures deal combat damage. After looking over the initial decklist my first thought was that the deck needed more creatures. Green and blue offer some great effects and most of them can be found on creatures as well as instants and sorceries. For this deck we want as many of our effects to come from creatures so that we have the possibility to draw cards from them.
It's not that the spells were bad or unplayable; they just were not creatures. All of the concepts behind the spells provided a variety of utility so we want to find suitable replacements for them. What we can do is find the same effect but attached to a creature. With mana fixing and acceleration for example there are numerous different creatures that provide the necessary boost to your mana base. Instead of playing spells and artifacts that have these functions there are plenty of creatures that will improve our mana. We can also swap spells for creatures that remove flyers and take control of other creatures.
After looking at the core concepts of the commander you are trying to build my next step is usually identifying some unique cards for that color combination. For this deck specifically there are some blue/green cards that very few commander decks can play due to their mana cost. This goes back to the idea of finding those spicy cards that you were never able to play in Constructed. With Edric we will be able to fit in some really fun cards that synergize well with our themes.
Breaking down the deck further I was impressed with the two main building blocks of the deck. The ability to play more than one land and creatures that are powered by number of cards in hand are both interesting and powerful concepts. I tried to expand both of these ideas into a larger part of the deck. One way I was able to expand the idea of playing more than one land was through the landfall ability. If we are playing more than one land it made sense that we should gain a benefit from that. As far as creatures powered by hand size I wanted to add a few more to solidify that theme as one of your core concepts.
Even though Brad originally took out the token theme I did return to that idea. Tokens did not become a huge part of the deck though because the original concept was not token based. I did add some token makers that were either mana efficient or powerful. The idea of one spell giving you multiple bodies should be included in the deck to jumpstart the card drawing process. If you are able to play an early token making card and then follow up with your commander you can get ahead in the game early. Since Edric has a low converted mana cost this deck should be able to get going a turn or two faster than most decks. Cheap token makers will help enable that strategy.
Next there was one theme that did not belong. The basis of this deck is that you draw extra cards from your commander. Since that is true we do not need many cards that draw us more cards. We are already drawing cards from our creatures. If we dedicate space for normal card drawing effects that will take away from our ability to play more creatures. Also if we are drawing cards all the time with our commander why do we need other spells to do that also? This was space that can be used to fill out the deck more.
Finally 29 lands scares me for any Commander deck. The lowest I am ever willing to go is 36. In our case I think we want 37. Even though I tried to keep the mana curve fairly low we are emphasizing the ability to play more than one land per turn. This will not be effective unless we actually have lands in hand. Space must be cut to add an additional seven lands.
So enough talk; what cards are coming out?
Wizards set those spells aside!
Font of Mythos Howling Mine Kami of the Crescent Moon and Rites of Flourishing – Bear hugging aside we are going to draw more than enough cards and we don't really want our opponents to have access to additional cards to disrupt our game plan. For more on the Group Hug theme check out last week's article.
Infiltration Lens – When I decided to incorporate a small token theme this equipment became less attractive. I think this Skullclamp variant should be seen in more Commander decks but it's not at its best here.
Curiosity – We are basing our deck on the more creatures the better idea so making one of them a little Curious doesn't seem the way to go. Enchanting some of the creatures in the deck isn't so bad but this card will not impact the game enough to be kept in the list.
Shrine of Piercing Vision Gitaxian Probe Ponder Serum Visions Sage of Epityr and Parallel Thoughts – While I appreciate the digging effect these cards provide our goal is to draw a new handful of cards not to find just one. One copy of this effect might not be bad but I think we can do better than these options.
Mind Unbound Divination Foresee Mind Spring See Beyond – Slow card drawing got replaced with more creatures more token producers and made space for more utility. Since our commander is going to do the heavy lifting in the card drawing department we don't really need these cards in the deck. There were a few cards from this category like Consecrated Sphinx that I did keep because they are so good at what they do.
Arcanis the Omnipotent – Even though he is a creature when would we ever honestly attack with him? Since that's the case I cut him to make room for cards that needed to be added.
Creeping Renaissance Memory's Journey Snapcaster Mage Runic Repetition Stream of Consciousness and Call to Mind – Regrowing your cards is a great thing to do in Commander but I think we can do much better. Instead of a Band-Aid let's set the bone and fix the real issue. Again these are all great cards that just don't do much in this particular strategy.
Shrine of Boundless Growth – Every time I see this I am reminded how often green gets the shaft in cycles of cards like this. I kept wishing that each counter gave a +1/+1 bonus to one of your creatures when it was sacrificed. Sadly it does not so the Shrine made room for a creature that will function similarly.
Simic Signet – I jam the Signets into almost every Commander deck but this deck just wants more dudes to smash with. Save the Signets for your other decks and attach this effect to a body.
Bonds of Quicksilver and Diminish – Creature removal in blue is not where we want to be. This fact was one reason I decided the token theme was needed. We are not going to have better creatures most of the time so we need to have more creatures than our opponents. We do not want to be one hundred percent proactive but these Bonds are just weighing us down.
Cast Through Time – There is place in my heart just for this amazing enchantment as well as a place in my binder for my meager collection of them. Unfortunately there is no place for it in this deck. This is the perfect example of an awesome card that belongs in a different deck.
Corrupted Conscience Domestication Numbing Dose Vapor Snare and Mind Control – Other players' creatures are powerful too so why not steal them for our own benefit? I completely agree! The catch is that these are not creatures. Let's change that.
Street Savvy and Snake Umbra – Just like Constructed you need a very good reason to be playing auras in Commander. Some strategies will give you huge bonuses for having lots of enchantments but that's not what we are trying to do here.
Wing Puncture Leaf Arrow and Plummet – In blue we will have our own creatures with flying to help us out but instead of using spells to do it there is one creature that we can use that will directly deal with a flying threat.
Rending Vines – Spell becomes creature. This is true the same for this card as many of the rest. If we were leaning on an arcane strategy it might deserve a place but since we are not let's make those vines grow legs.
Twitch – Cantrips are great but the effect will have almost no impact on the game. If this is a desirable effect we should add cards that can do this repeatedly throughout the game and not just once like Icy Manipulator.
Shielding Plax – At first I thought this was a hard card to cut but then I realized it does not have flash. That may seem quite random but I always thought it could be played at any time. If you could play it as an instant then it would be much better. Instead of trying to protect our commander though we can just replay him because he is so inexpensive.
Darkslick Drake Laboratory Maniac Sage of Epityr – Pulling off a Laboratory Maniac win in Commander would be epic but these three creatures were cut to make room for our token theme. None of them stood out as mandatory for the deck either so cutting these was an easy way to make room for more synergistic cards.
Beastmasters summon your allies!
Sylvan Ranger and Civic Wayfinder – Both of these will help get us more lands. They will also aid in our playing multiple lands per turn theme. Instead of Wood Elves that you search your deck for the land and put it into play tapped we will be able to play our additional land and use it in the same turn.
Coiling Oracle Joraga Treespeaker and Sakura-Tribe Elder – More mana fixing that can walk around and help you draw more cards is exactly what we want to be doing in this strategy. When I was looking for creatures that did this my main focus was to locate the cheap ones. With these three you can play them before you hit three mana and then play Edric to start drawing cards early if you need to.
Oracle of Mul Daya – Here is another engine for playing more than one land. The ability to pull them from the top of your deck will help you to draw more spells as well. Oracle will seem almost like playing Serum Visions every turn.
Patagia Viper Deranged Hermit and Kessig Cagebreakers – These are three of the best token producers for your colors. Do not underestimate the power of the Cagebreakers. Many games have been won by saving him until late in the game. Patagia Viper is one of those cards that is never played because his mana cost includes blue but it is really a great card. Deranged Hermit is a classic but he is still at the top of the list for me.
Lotus Cobra Rampaging Baloths and Roil Elemental – Landfall is going to be at its best in this deck. With the proper hand these three cards can get out of control very fast. Whether making tons of mana summoning a hoard of beast tokens or creating the blue Insurrection these three will do some heavy lifting for you.
Trygon Predator and Acidic Slime – Both of these will help keep the board clear of problematic permanents. The Predator does everything this deck wants. He will attack to draw you your extra card and continuously blow up whatever is hurting you the most.
Invisible Stalker – Live the dream of equipping Invisible Stalker with Empyrial Plate once and that will be enough to keep him in the deck. Even when you don't have the equipment an unblockable Ophidian is always a good thing.
Meloku the Clouded Mirror – Makes tokens check. Allows you to hit landfall check. Gives you the ability to control your hand size at instant speed? Wow Meloku really does do everything this deck wants to do. Every game you have this creature crazy things will be possible. There are so many combos like Meloku plus Burgeoning to allow you to make a token on each of your opponents' turns with no drawback to you.
Maro and Multani Maro-Sorcerer – Since we are drawing more cards on a regular basis adding in these two creatures that rely on your hand size was an easy inclusion for me. They help further solidify this theme in the deck.
Stingerfling Spider – Having access to this card will never be bad. Often it will sit in your hand but when you need it it's invaluable. Sometimes you just need to deal with a flyer that is giving you problems. This Spider should help you entangle the threat.
Bear Umbra and Nature's Will – Gaining additional untap steps will allow you to come out the gates much quicker. The Bear Umbra will also keep your commander safe from most removal spells. We want the ability to play all the extra cards we are drawing and reusing your lands will allow us to do that.
Words of Wilding – Sometimes you do not need to draw any more cards or you just need to start making a new army. This enchantment will turn any draw step into a creature so you can restart your engine.
Propaganda – One idea that was mentioned was the ability to protect yourself from opposing creatures. This usually does a great job of hindering your opponents such that they cannot attack you. Either they are committing resources to be able to attack you or they will be proactively advancing their board state but not both.
Beastmaster Ascension – This innocent looking enchantment will turn your token army into an unstoppable force. Sometimes it may take a few turns to get enough counters on it but once you do every creature in your deck becomes a huge threat. If you can wait until you have at least seven creatures to attack with gaining the counters to activate it in one turn can completely destroy your opponents.
Archmage Ascension – Bulk rares can find new life in Commander and this card is a great example of that. This enchantment fits perfectly with our deck concept because drawing multiple cards a turn is what this deck is designed to do. Once this Ascension is active you can Demonic Tutor for whatever you need.
Fable of Wolf and Owl and Aether Mutation – When I mentioned blue/green cards that really fit the theme of the deck these were what I had in mind. Both of them will help by making an army of tokens. Neither of these sees much play because most token decks don't often have access to blue mana. Edric will enjoy these new friends a lot I think.
Garruk Wildspeaker – Whether you are trying to accelerate your mana get some more creatures in play or pump up your creature army Garruk does it all. His untap ability becomes especially broken when you have lands that produce more than one mana like the Ravnica bouncelands or better yet Gaea's Cradle. I have a tendency to add this version of Garruk to many of my Commander decks but he fits especially well here.
Gilt-Leaf Ambush Chatter of the Squirrel and Hunting Triad – A couple more token making spells will help to draw more cards. Chatter of the Squirrel is not one I typically like but it really shines in this deck. Because the mana is split between original and flashback cost you can cast both in the first two turns of the game and then on the third turn start drawing cards by casting your commander. Gilt-Leaf Ambush can do a decent impression of a removal spell and Hunting Triad is efficient for the number of creatures it provides as well as being a decent combat trick.
Nevinyrral's Disk and Oblivion Stone – Sometimes the game state will become so crazy that you really cannot interact with any player. These two cards will allow you to reset the game and start over. You should have an easier time recovering than many decks. These two will help fill those holes we made by taking out most of the blue removal.
Yavimaya Coast – The mana base is stable but more dual lands will always help. Additional consistency is never a bad thing.
Mishra's Factory Treetop Village Faerie Conclave – Since we had space to work with adding some creature lands seemed like a great idea. Making our lands into creatures can help dig us out of situations where we need to start our engine up again. I tried to choose ones with low activation costs so it would be possible to replay Edric and attack with one of our creature lands.
Tectonic Edge and Ghost Quarter – Dealing with other players' powerful lands is an effect that should never be neglected. Wastland and Strip Mine are both good but neither of them is as inexpensive monetarily as these two. Every player should be able to track these down fairly easily.
So how did these changes pan out in terms of cost?
I tried to keep the cost down as much as possible by finding cheap solutions. For a little over fifty-six dollars ($56.56) we are able to make a lot of changes to the deck and get it on the right track. Our main goal was replacing most of the spells with creatures that had the same effect. By doing this we are able to maximize the power of our commander.
The central themes of the deck were quite good but they needed a few more cards to really solidify them as a large part of the deck. By increasing the amount of cards in our core areas we will draw these effects more often and these pillars will shine as the focus of the deck.
There are a lot of ways that this deck could have been built. One idea I tinkered with was a ramp style deck that used evasion like flying and trample to break through your opponents' defenses. So if you decide the token idea is still not for you try to explore that route. On the other hand if you want to dedicate more of your deck to a token strategy start by adding a Doubling Season and the following cards.
During the writing process I had a great idea about building this deck to make tokens on all of your opponents' turns. You would probably want more ways to find Seedborn Muse because it is central to this theme. By the time it makes it back to your turn you should have a bunch of creature tokens. The two-morph creatures work well because you should be able to keep your lands open on your opponents' turns.
Adding a bit more money to the mana base would increase the power level of this deck as well. I did not add in a bunch of fetchlands like Misty Rainforest Verdant Catacombs Wooded Foothills and Scalding Tarn even though they would have a lot of synergy with the landfall creatures. In addition Blinkmoth Nexus Yavimaya Hollow and Gaea's Cradle would add another level of power on top of an already decent deck.
Commander decks are ever changing so if you find yourself not liking an aspect of your deck try out something new or start on a new deck. Most important is to make sure you are having fun. Build your decks to utilize the parts of Magic that you enjoy most and every Commander game will be tons of fun.
If you enjoyed my take on the column please show your support in the comments. I would love to come back and work with some more of your decks. Commander is such a great format and I hope you have had as much fun as I have in these two articles. Feel free to contact me via email or Twitter. Talking to players about Magic never gets old.
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