Following up on my last article I wanted to explore more space to do with +1/+1 counters. They're interesting things after all that can be used in all sorts of different ways. The Glissa deck was using modular to have a closed loop that was never broken made of ever-growing counters that were restocked thanks to Glissa's ability to return an artifact from the graveyard resurrecting modular creatures.
I wanted to play with it more but none of the submissions sent in really got me into the space I was looking for. While submissions used counters they tended to be counters on Animar or that were used in other simple ways like choosing Experiment Kraj as your commander and then playing all of the persist creatures. I wanted something wackier. I wanted Mindless Automaton to be literally groan-worthy. I wanted Etched Oracle in a deck that couldn't actually use it just off of the sunburst mechanic and had to work harder to abuse it.
Toying around I found Chorus of the Conclave and my play-space was clear: to build a new deck that does interesting and curious things with the Chorus's almost 'multikicker' effect not just find a way to spend twelve mana on a Mindless Automaton and get to sacrifice it to draw five cards. That's nifty and cool and all but TomTom is only going to be one out of 99 cards so there has to be more crunchy bits to make it worth picking a goofball commander to build the deck around. As I often like to do when working on readers' submissions I started by asking the simple questions of identity: what does Chorus of the Conclave do what restrictions and limitations are there that go with that and what benefits are there to be derived from making such a decision in the first place?
Playing around with the idea I went fishing on Gatherer as I am wont to do when I have weird ideas. Just because my brain has to some degree or another catalogued every Magic card in existence into some weird encyclopedia of wasted neurons does not mean that this encyclopedia of meat is very efficient at hunting up cross-references. Gatherer unlike my brain understands Boolean logic and can look for green cards and white cards with +1/+1 counters involved. My brain can too but not without missing things and I wanted to start by compiling a list of things that were awesome with Chorus of the Conclave at the helm.
First things first I went searching for backup plans: ways to get a lot of counters on something if my plan of exploiting my commander didn't work out. After all Hinder and Spell Crumple are real cards as are things like Oblation and Spin into Myth and then there are the times you'll play your eight-mana commander and have it just go die in a fire automatically. Eight's a big enough number to have to get to the first time; the second time's ten then twelve and things really start to get out of range.
Vigor came up specifically because of this search though it takes a level of optimism or at least a carefully cultivated style of play to make that actually a way to profitably put counters on your cards. Forgotten Ancients is of course an awesome way to redistribute counters mightily and then somehow profit and Doubling Season can double the bang for your buck. On that note Doubling Season is awesome because Doubling Season + Mindless Automaton effectively gives your entire deck Cycling: 0 allowing you to trade your hand for the perfect hand with no drawbacks so long as you have an Eldrazi somewhere in your deck. I like Eldrazi anyway especially in decks with Survival of the Fittest so more awesomeness occurs because of this.
There's a lot to riff on though these are fairly limited ways—just three other ways to work with counters for fun and profit. We can expand on that number by taking advantage of green's natural ability to find creatures really well and white's little bit of Tutoring power which means at the very least Enlightened Tutor for Survival or Doubling Season and we can look at how the deck pans out before deciding on Idyllic Tutor. Since we're going to be able to find creatures reasonably well this is not too thin a host of ways to back up the Chorus counter plan and we can build the rest of the deck off of this limited suite.
Exploring the creatures that actually use +1/+1 counters we find things like Triskelion and Spike Feeder that get really good exchange rates of cool stuff happening and then we can hit the subtheme of lifelink as a means to take advantage of huge size. There's other ways to dummy up both huge size and lifelink thanks to equipment and the ease with which we can access Stoneforge Mystic so we're going to be able to design for that and play our game very consistently so long as we account for things that might go wrong in the meantime. We'll need a bit of proactive disruption since these aren't colors for reactive responses.
The Mana Base
With the shape of the deck starting to take form it's time to start breaking it down into pieces and assembling those bits. Considering the deck is going to need to have a reasonable amount of room for basic lands and gets some awesome utility out of its mana base thanks to two on-color hideaway lands and good legendary lands as well in addition to the plentiful mana artifacts and as many land-fetching ways that exist for the purposes of getting two lands out of one card thirty-seven lands will be a good sweet spot to make sure you draw enough mana in your opening hand to reliably get to four mana by turn 4.
The rest of the ramp can take over from there as green decks are wont to do. Knowing that Crucible of Worlds and Enlightened Tutor are part of the package we'll want to have a good chunk of fetchlands in our mana base though it's also worth noting that the initial temptation to add a Tree of Tales can go by the wayside thanks to the inclusion of Expedition Map as a 'land' that can be dug up by the Tutor.
Basics: 3x Plains 10x Forest – Thirteen basics should be sufficient to make sure that even the third or fourth land-fetching effect will still find two be it Yavimaya Elder or Explosive Vegetation. Given how many of these cards bias for Forests we have to bias accordingly though thankfully some will allow for the finding of dual lands and thus this will go as high as fifteen lands to be hunted out as needed in many cases.
Eight fetchlands should be sufficient to make sure that in the games you put in work to get Crucible of Worlds online you've naturally drawn at least one land you can use with it profitably to help with mana ramping.
That's a lot of bonus effects strapped to mana sources with free spells and repeating useful effects attached. At least one of the dual lands counts too if you've drawn Crucible. Horizon Canopy and Crucible of Worlds is a very neat 'free' addition but I am mostly considering that an accidental bonus interaction and thinking of the Canopy as just a better Brushland. While it can't tap for colorless pain-free unless there's an Urborg in play... Come on this is Commander; you can almost bet on Urborg being in play somewhere.
Gaea's Cradle allows for a crazy amount of mana to be generated at pretty low cost which means it is perfect for getting to the higher reaches of mana that Chorus of the Conclave really wants to reach. Saltcrusted Steppe has to work harder to get there since every mana you get out of it is a turn's investment carefully set aside but it's a pretty solid ability to plan for later on—getting all that bang for your careful planning can be really impressive with some of the cards in this deck.
Conspicuously Absent: Temple of the False God
This deck really wants to get to four mana easily and once it does can jump right from four to six and from six to eight and so on and so forth. Temple of the False God is great for skipping your fifth mana and going right to six on turn 5 but not good for getting to four mana initially so while I otherwise tend to think of it as an auto-include in this particular design it is instead not worth the risk of stumbling over and thus simply cut. Gaea's Cradle is already one such land that might actually just not tap for mana to help cast a mana-fixing spell and its upside is much higher. I really don't want two such potential risks involved as it will start to happen more frequently and lead to frustration in games that were otherwise going smoothly.
Moving onward since in many ways this is also part of the mana base I'm going to move to the artifacts. White is very good at finding equipment so some of these are almost by a logical extension part of the creatures section or at least some sort of natural offshoot of it.
Dreamstone Hedron is my common replacement for Thran Dynamo in that it provides the same basic mana jump in a way that is similarly vulnerable but can also be cashed in for a few fresh cards in a pinch. Thus it is part Dynamo and part Harmonize either side of which is pretty good. The deck can expect to have a need for fresh cards since a fairly large number of its spells focus on generating mana so having that attached to one of the mana cards is pretty important.
We're going to have high-power guys on our side of the board fairly often so Behemoth Sledge helps keep up a meaningful race by passing out lifelink while also helping to ensure we connect for damage thanks to trample. It is basically the equipment we can expect to have the biggest impact on an even board position. Skullclamp is well Skullclamp and Swiftfoot Boots gets the nod over Lightning Greaves because we have a fairly sizable list of ways to profitably interact with our creatures (think things like Yavimaya Hollow) which will make hexproof considerably better than shroud.
Sword of Feast and Famine is obviously amazing for reasons that shall surprise no one. This is a mana ramp deck by design so getting to use your mana twice in a turn is going to be ridiculous especially since so many of our cards put fresh lands into play tapped to allow us to spend mana before combat to put lands into play that we'd then be able to use after combat. That leaves just Bonehoard needing an explanation and frankly not much of one...which is based on the fact that Chorus of the Conclave boosts creatures very well but not itself so some way to help get through for 21 commander damage was needed and Bonehoard suggests itself very nicely for efficiency's sake. Three-power Forestwalkers are not really clocks but twelve-power Forestwalkers are.
SDT is so common and ubiquitous in this format it needs no further consideration; Sheldon sometimes uses this space to post cheesecake photos so rather than explain why this Commander auto-include is in fact an auto-include I'll just post this. Oblivion Stone is selected as a second beneficial way to wipe the board preferentially; this deck wants to be able to control key problems but not lose all of its own stuff in the meantime and it suggests itself very strongly by the inclusion of Enlightened Tutor. It also happens to be ridiculously awesome with Sun Titan and is one of my favorite awesome unintended interactions in this format so if for no other reason than that it gets included.
We have now used 49 out of 99 slots leaving us room for exactly fifty things left to do. I want no fewer than 30 creatures in the deck as threat density is a major issue of concern to me and each creature above 30 is something I value...so I'm going to be pretty harsh in deciding if a spell is needed or not. That said it makes the most sense to work on the individual spells next. Seeing what fits within that space and how tightly we can compress it will give us more room to fill out creature cards and ensure there is enough threat density to go around.
Explosive Vegetation Ranger's Path Hunting Wilds Skyshroud Claim – My new fascination is with the fact that there are actually enough of these sorts of cards to build around a reasonable expectation of drawing one. Three wasn't enough to get my attention but four is. Sure you still won't have one by turn 4 every game but you can reasonably expect to draw one every third game or so and be moving on at high power once you do. As the game goes longer their importance remains just as vital since they're powerful mana resources in a deck that really values having a lot of mana to pour into one big threat.
Cultivate Kodama's Reach – More ways to get two lands for one card's investment no matter what. Between those and these you'll draw one reliably especially once you add in the fact that there are creatures like Oracle of Mul-Daya and Yavimaya Elder in the creature slot that likewise assist in these efforts. I'm not interested in ramp spells that get a land at the cost of a card but ones that find multiple lands get me very interested indeed.
Enlightened Tutor – Quite a lot of options for just one mana especially when you add 'artifact creatures' to the mix. Any creature can be accessed through Survival of the Fittest and while there aren't that many enchantments to access the ones that are there will be very high-powered.
Eladamri's Call – One of the bonus side benefits of playing green and white in your deck is access to this fancy little Tutor. Neither color usually gets efficient Tutoring without having to spend a card to do so and thus it's the closest thing you're likely to get to Demonic Tutor in these colors. Considering the deck is going to be built with a bit of a toolbox approach to it in the creature department anyway this will be especially useful as a Tutor and let's be honest here: no one looks down their noses at a free way to get Primeval Titan in their hand.
Survival of the Fittest – First of the enchantments to Tutor up with ET. Survival helps assemble awesome interactions as well as provide the right mix of defensive cards to deal with threats on the table. A game with Survival in play for a few turns should be a game with a powerful advantage built into it since it finds mana ramp effects that provide card advantage major haymakers and answers to key problems you can expect to face. It even provides recursion effects on the cheap thanks to the ability to cycle through an Eldrazi to restock your stuff or the ability to dump Genesis at leisure and start grinding the game out with an extra creature bought back each turn.
Mirari's Wake – Nothing says 'more mana' better than Mirari's Wake and since it's so infrequent that I am even playing the right colors to include the card I'm not going to shy away from it here just because of pure power consideration reasons that will make me a target. It's not going to fuel some ridiculous combo; it's just going to let Chorus of the Conclave make threats really damn big so the big red bulls-eyes shouldn't come down unnecessarily upon you.
Doubling Season – An obvious addition given the desire to abuse counters or at least spend them profitably at a bonus. Another card I don't use terribly often but which is clearly a strong fit here.
Greater Good – This card however I use all the time and know just how ridiculous it is to include and get to use for a few turns. Powerfully broken in half with the ability to spend piles of mana on a creature's stats thanks to Chorus and not bad with 'fair' usage in a green deck to begin with. Bonehoard just makes it ridiculous but if you need to do that more than once you're overthinking things so we'll just consider this an accidental interaction rather than try to conspire to draw fifty cards in a single turn and see what happens.
Praetor's Counsel – Once you get to 'all that mana' what are you going to do with it? Usual answers to that question include Tooth and Nail (for obscenity) Genesis Wave (deserve to get punched) and other unfriendly things. Considering the deck's focus on getting the most out of its cards for what they're worth as well as the potential utility to the deck of playing two Skyshroud Claim effects and still wanting more Praetor's Council struck me as a good compromise between broken and you're all dead right now.
We've used a lot of our predetermined slots so far and not touched a single defensive card. Defense is very important after all; a little bit of threatening power in the hand gives you a lot of table talk to politick with and the more efficient that answer card is the better able you are to deploy your own threats without needing to decide between developing your board and defending against the worst that could happen. Thinking of it that way sort of self-selects what cards will be added here as well as dictating how few of them rather than going overboard on it...
Path to Exile Swords to Plowshares – White has the advantage in that it has the best pinpoint creature removal spells in the game and the basic shape of your defense will be built around these two. Overloading on one-for-one removal is a mistake but having one of these two at-hand is very critical (as is at least being able to credibly threaten to) so you have to include them.
Oblation – Catchall answer to everything including commanders. Chosen specifically for its utility and efficiency. Beast Within would also answer many but not all such threats and is excluded specifically because it misses too many major issues. We want only the cards that absolutely defend ourselves from anything no matter what and there are plenty of problem cards a Beast Within won't solve.
Austere Command – The defining 'advantageous' sweeper of the format Austere Command answers whatever ails ye without eliminating the part of the board you're most developed in and is the single sorcery-style sweeper spell of choice. It would be nice to have more but you can't go too deeply into answering threats in this manner as all of the other cards run into the problem of killing all of your things while they're at it.
Lapse of Certainty – My 'pet' card for this particular concept green and white are so very bad at defending themselves from spells on the stack that it's worth providing what little defenses there actually are. While it's true that the threat in question will just be there to be drawn on the next turn it won't be a surprise next turn a fact which can allow you and everyone else to pummel and/or outright murder the offending player before their ace in the hole can be redeployed. A little bit of spell control goes a long way tactically so just one effect can give you planning options for the way the game will play out that otherwise these colors simply wouldn't enjoy.
At eighteen cards there are other things I'd want—the two most obvious shortcomings being the willful and entirely conscious decision to exclude both Land Tax and Sylvan Library from this deck. Both would be good based on the fact that they're ridiculously high-powered cards but Land Tax only works when you're not ramping ahead of the opponents (currently the opposite of our plan) and is thus only really good in the opening hand or when Enlightened Tutor is in your opening hand. Sylvan Library would be quite solid especially as there's a fair share of lifelink going on in the creature section so the cards would basically turn out to be free but it wouldn't be better than Greater Good and our support slots are limited.
I'd rather have another creature and another creature I shall have. We have room for 32 monsters when there are really 36 or 40 that I actually want on my top priorities list so given the choice between Sylvan Library and cutting one of the five or six creatures I can't fit in but really want to I'm going to stick with the extra critter slot. There are already cards I wanted like Steelshaper's Gift that I can't put in because space is getting tight; I'll just have to live without and build the best deck I can without 'em.
Moving on to the creatures we have a few structures in place still to fill out with this side of things and then we can play in the interesting space of +1/+1 counters and messing with amped-up creature size.
Things That Work With Mana
Solemn Simulacrum – Not exactly surprising I know. Things that help get more mana are pretty key to this deck and this fits in nicely alongside the four-mana thingies that put extra lands into play ensuring that on turn 4 you'll do something that puts at least one land into play.
Oracle of Mul Daya – Not quite as consistent as the Sad Robot at making sure you get an extra land on turn 4 but the Oracle keeps on giving past the turn it is played and gives in a very big way if it's allowed to work for a few turns. We want to get a lot of mana on the cheap and Oracle helps admirably with that goal especially with other shuffle effects built into the deck with the high number of fetchlands.
Fertilid – Finally something that fits the +1/+1 counter theme! While you might not really need the extra lands Fertilid provides if you've already got Chorus of the Conclave out and are playing a Fertilid with five extra counters it's still not something I'd turn my nose down towards. Not every effect has to be flashy. This just happens to have some overlap...and I can giggle to myself about casting a Fertilid with Chorus and Avenger of Zendikar in play with Gaea's Cradle providing the mana to kick it obscenely and put five counters on the Plant tokens in a single turn.
Primeval Titan – Every green deck's Plan A this one more so than most as the need to get to the eight ten or even twelve mana range to really hit the sweet spot with Chorus of the Conclave is prone to make us more reliant than usual on getting Primeval Titan down at least for a turn. Thanks to the hideaway lands Primeval Titan is even better than usual as the first summoning can be good for not just two lands but two free spells. Both G/W and R/G are excellent two-color combinations because of this which makes me want to look at red-green Commanders again to see what other interesting ideas might be made better by recent printings.
Weathered Wayfarer – Land Tax on legs the Wayfarer makes up for not being accessible via Enlightened Tutor by being part of the Survival / Eladamri's Call access chain and being discarded to Survival when it is no longer relevant—a point in the game that becomes true after approximately turn 4 in this deck which is why Land Tax doesn't bear inclusion. Wayfarer makes up for this by potentially staying relevant longer—the first land you search for can be Selesnya Sanctuary after all—and hunting for nonbasics instead of basic lands letting you search for our very valuable utility lands and get way more than just a free land's worth of card out of the deal.
Yavimaya Elder – An astounding amount of card advantage for such a low cost Yavimaya Elder is the epitome of why it is just easier to get your mana plumped out when you're a green deck. Other colors get Solemn Simulacrum as their best deal around while you get to trade some mana and a card for two lands in hand and your card back to boot. Chorus of the Conclave really likes having a lot of mana to work with so Yavimaya Elder is ideal even if it's not actually 'ramp' that helps get to Chorus mana faster.
The Occasional Tutor Or Card Advantage Critter
Fierce Empath – Sure it can get other cards besides Primeval Titan. But is it likely to? Remembering how critical Prime Time is going to be to getting into the sweet spot of operating mana it should come as little surprise that Plan A is to get the Titan and then (as needed or available) think about getting other fancy things that we might want. It's very highly rated and yet still underrated in my consideration since it goes well with all of your fatties but the sheer power of getting Primeval Titan as soon as you hit six mana is not to be underestimated.
Mwonvuli Beast Tracker – Like Fierce Empath #2 except it gets a much smaller range of non-Primeval Titan creatures. There are going to only be about four or five targets in this deck...mostly thanks to trample but there is at least one deathtouch creature too...so while it doesn't get nearly as broad a range of creatures as the Empath it still does a serviceable job of Plan A. Plan B is still a utility creature a +1/+1 counter-engine enabler and Wurmcoil Engine. It doesn't have to be amazing to still be really good.
Eternal Witness – Speaking of amazing do we really need to go into how a Regrowth with legs is about ten times better than a Regrowth without? Especially when you make it a 10/9 creature and beat your opponent to death with just an Eternal Witness which I imagine must be a ridiculously fun way to clobber the opponent to death. Let us not forget after all that in addition to making interesting things happen with +1/+1 counters that you spend for interesting purposes Chorus of the Conclave also makes it clobberin' time.
Kozilek Butcher of Truth – For strategic Eldrazi purposes. I like having the reshuffle option online when I have Survival going which meant this or Ulamog in the deck and choosing between drawing cards or a free Vindicate is always easy for me: I draw cards. Kozilek is right at that sweet spot we expect to inhabit fairly easily meaning it will be the top of our fatty curve but much more accessible than it often is in other commander decks. Being able to play a massive threat and draw a grip of cards is the payoff we're looking for in this deck in a nutshell right there.
Stoneforge Mystic – One of the side benefits of getting to play white especially alongside green which makes it so very easy to access out of your library. Stoneforge Mystic is just a high-powered piece of cardboard that will help get all of the plans working as you need them to—whether it's getting a hammer to push through damage and get some life back protecting your commander with Swiftfoot Boots or finding Sword of Feast and Famine and starting to double your mana capabilities each turn Stoneforge is going to get you there fast.
Stonehewer Giant – Less fast than the Mystic but a repeating effect. We certainly have enough of an equipment subtheme to make the Giant a potent enabler if left untouched and the kind of repeating advantage that it cranks out is another benefit of green and white working together. This is an option you'll be able to access much more often than otherwise.
Sun Titan – While it is the lesser of the two Titans in this deck Sun Titan is no less impressive just because Prime Time is ridiculous. With the ability to buy back lands we're talking about a card that is still at least part Primeval Titan if that's what we want to be doing. Other options include buying back things like Eternal Witness or Yavimaya Elder that will keep our grip full of relevant stuff bring back destroyed equipment or better yet even buy back Oblivion Stones that have already been used letting you keep the board clear every single turn and still keep the Titan online and attacking. This is just a downright high-power card with a lot of synergy even if that synergy isn't with the +1/+1 counter theme. And hey it can do that too if you include a Spike that costs three or less...
Mindless Automaton – Pretty much the perfect card to be drawing when you have Chorus of the Conclave online since it starts as a decent-sized body that can replace itself and only gets bigger and more full of cards as you pour mana on it. With Doubling Season absolutely crazy things happen which will be this deck's version of 'I combo off' since sculpting the perfect hand turn after turn is about as deep into the realm of unfair as I am usually willing to go. With Chorus online or 'just' Genesis to allow for recursion the Automaton is merely going to be very very good.
Etched Oracle – Technically without any outside assistance this does nothing—you're limited to two colors so the sunburst mechanic makes it a four-mana 2/2. Doubling Season brings us back to par since it's supposed to be a 4/4 for four that is able to cash itself in for three cards and that's not all that impressive unless and until you also get Genesis recursion back in as well. With Chorus of the Conclave though I start to get very impressed indeed—Etched Oracle draws cards even more efficiently than Mindless Automaton does with Chorus online. The swings go from terrible to amazing and you can always toss it away when worthless to Survival of the Fittest so these worst-case scenarios should be mitigated by large deck size and the intersection of Tutor power meaning you'll usually see it only by conscious decision and thus only when it's awesome.
The Counter Theme
Forgotten Ancient – Backup enabler for when Chorus is not something that's going to work out so well. Forgotten Ancient is already just a bonkers Commander card and when it overlaps in theme with what you're trying to accomplish it's even better than usual. Getting more than two uses out of a Fertilid is not something that you'll strive for when Chorus of the Conclave is already accessible but I for one will not hesitate to juice additional uses out of it if Forgotten Ancient enables that option.
Vigor – Backup enabler #2 it's less of an enabler because it requires that your key creatures somehow get damage put on them which is harder to plan around tactically when your opponents will be the ones deciding if damage happens or not. To make up for this tactical 'problem' it protects your creatures from damage-based sweepers and is accessible via both Fierce Empath and Mwonvuli Beast-Tracker meaning that as far as backup plans go you'll see it fairly consistently.
Shinewend – Cute thing to do with counters? Yeah. Cutest thing to do with counters? Not really but being able to take out multiple enchantments—the hardest-to-deal-with problem card type in Commander—either when you're in the sweet spot of +1/+1 counter manipulation or via Genesis recursion makes it a noteworthy inclusion.
Triskelion – Usually there's a Duplicant in every Commander deck for creature control but in this one we get Triskelion instead. Exiling threats is already something we're good at and using +1/+1 counters for fun or profit is what we're trying to accomplish with this deck. Triskelion is almost like a rapid-fire machine gun with Chorus online able to take out hordes of small creatures or even just going nuclear on a player at a very efficient exchange rate of mana to damage—six for the first three's not great but one for one thereafter is.
Spike Weaver – Board control that is in keeping with the +1/+1 counter theme Spike Weaver's ability to defensively Fog and prevent multiple opponents from attacking you is very key. You'd think being able to kill a 3/3 would make it not as good as it looks for Commander but pinpoint removal tends to go to high-value threats only and mass sweepers that kill this also kill the problems this is intended to answer. Also: Genesis is a card which makes this very difficult to get around when you have to get around it again and again and again.
Spike Feeder – Now I know I usually am hard on lifegain cards for well being life gain cards. Spike Feeder however is in that sweet spot on the mana curve that lets us recur it with Sun Titan and thus bootstrap together another source of +1/+1 counters to build an enabler...and really darn efficient at gaining a whole ton of life with Chorus of the Conclave online. I make fun of life gain yeah but ten mana gets you a 9/9 that trades in for eighteen life... Even I can't make fun of that with a straight face and Spike critters are just really good for this deck in general concept.
Filling Out The Remainder
Serra Ascendant – One of the other benefits of picking white as a color is that some games you play this on the first turn and things are stupid. That being a known quantity white decks tend to get whittled down under 30 by conscientious players and Serra Ascendant has a backup plan when that happens—Chorus of the Conclave lets us go large again since a one-mana critter that wears +1/+1 counters very effectively is pretty awesome. Lifelink is solid with all aspects of our plan so this is part of the second thematic element. We use easy access to life gain to allow us to play fewer defensive cards and since this life is all gained by attacking I can actually get behind how we're gaining it.
Baneslayer Angel – Another absurdly high-power lifelink creature Baneslayer also holds Chorus counters very efficiently though the ridiculous deal you get for just five mana prevents you from needing to combine it with some other card in order for it to be very impactful. Life gain is almost at the level of Plan B in this deck or at least it's the conscious effort of what we're going to do when Plan A doesn't work to still look like we have a deck and Baneslayer is the flagship of this backup plan.
Wurmcoil Engine – Another potent lifelink creature this one is key as unlike the other ones this one is searchable via the creature Tutors as well and thus can expect to show up time and again. That it does so while also providing a bonus pair of creatures is why it's a Commander card everyone reaches for. It's just going to work harder in this deck by design—we can amp up its size recur it for multiple uses search for it more consistently and even do crazy stuff like feed it to Greater Good to power through our library and take advantage of those extra bodies in a variety of ways.
Thornling – I wanted another card that would be really amazing with Chorus's +1/+1 counter ability and Thornling came to mind as a creature that is a gigantic pain in the ass: indestructible at will hasty and trampling as-needed and able to use the extra toughness granted by such counters to make extra damage instead. It gets better the more mana we have (and we do intend to make a lot more mana) and it holds equipment quite nicely as well so it isn't an obvious card by any means but it intersects with all of the themes we're trying to use very neatly.
Woodfall Primus – Utility creature of choice Primus is one of those obviously good Commander staples that just happens to work quite nicely for us here. I keep thinking of new and more interesting ways to use Woodfall Primus and not being able to really so it just being a blunt instrument is no surprise. My new 'kick' is trying to figure out how to use this in a deck with flash in order to play it much earlier in the game and blow up two permanents while getting a sizable threat much too soon but these aren't the colors for that and I just have to use it as a dumb rock with which I bash the opponent's head in. The most interesting use is with Greater Good online and this is far from original.
Genesis – An obvious staple that was added alongside Survival of the Fittest. The only thing that makes me sad is that I wasn't able to find the room for Glory while I was at it. Passing around protection to your entire team at leisure because you have Survival of the Fittest in play is an awesome trick but room was very tight in this deck and I couldn't squeeze it in.
Novablast Wurm – What's green and white and kicks everyone's asses? This guy. Novablast Wurm hates blockers and is just an amazing card when you're trying to control the board; the obvious lack of synergy with the rest of the deck is made up for by the fact that it breaks everyone else's synergy in half while he's at it too.
Qasali Pridemage – Now we start hitting the Survival of the Fittest package. Qasali Pridemage lets us control artifacts and enchantments that would get out of hand and operates nicely with Genesis active. Other cards like Acidic Slime or Indrik Stomphowler are harder to use turn after turn since they have to find a convenient way to die and between this and Sylvok Replica I went with the one with the more-interesting rules text. We might play a turn 1 Serra Ascendant and a turn 2 Pridemage after all so long as we're curving out perfectly we might as well make it a nut draw.
Ethersworn Canonist – Survival gives us access to a card that provides spells-on-the-stack control which is something these colors otherwise suck at. Lapse of Certainty was our singleton spell that could interact with something on the stack and it doesn't do that good of a job at it. Ethersworn Canonist prevents too many spells from going on the stack which prevents some of the shenanigans you can expect to face from decks you otherwise would interact very poorly with being just a dumb creature deck. As an added bonus this is even on the Enlightened Tutor chain not just the creature-search chain.
Scavenging Ooze – A little bit of graveyard hate goes a long way. It also amps size with its own +1/+1 counter access and gains a little bit of life meaning it's a hate card that meaningfully interacts on all of the axes we already wanted to pump ourselves actively along. This makes it a perfect addition instead of a sucky necessity.
Putting it all together we get the following deck:
- 1 Etched Oracle
- 1 Ethersworn Canonist
- 1 Mindless Automaton
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Triskelion
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Baneslayer Angel
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Fertilid
- 1 Fierce Empath
- 1 Forgotten Ancient
- 1 Genesis
- 1 Mwonvuli Beast Tracker
- 1 Novablast Wurm
- 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Primeval Titan
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Serra Ascendant
- 1 Shinewend
- 1 Spike Feeder
- 1 Spike Weaver
- 1 Stoneforge Mystic
- 1 Stonehewer Giant
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Thornling
- 1 Vigor
- 1 Weathered Wayfarer
- 1 Woodfall Primus
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Chorus of the Conclave
- 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- 10 Forest
- 3 Plains
- 1 Arid Mesa
- 1 Bant Panorama
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Dust Bowl
- 1 Horizon Canopy
- 1 Krosan Verge
- 1 Marsh Flats
- 1 Misty Rainforest
- 1 Mosswort Bridge
- 1 Naya Panorama
- 1 Saltcrusted Steppe
- 1 Savannah
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 1 Stirring Wildwood
- 1 Sungrass Prairie
- 1 Sunpetal Grove
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Verdant Catacombs
- 1 Windbrisk Heights
- 1 Winding Canyons
- 1 Windswept Heath
- 1 Gaea's Cradle
- 1 Kor Haven
- 1 Yavimaya Hollow
- 1 Behemoth Sledge
- 1 Bonehoard
- 1 Crucible Of Worlds
- 1 Dreamstone Hedron
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Mana Crypt
- 1 Oblivion Stone
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Sword of Feast and Famine
- 1 Doubling Season
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Mirari's Wake
- 1 Survival of the Fittest
- 1 Eladamri's Call
- 1 Enlightened Tutor
- 1 Lapse of Certainty
- 1 Oblation
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Austere Command
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Explosive Vegetation
- 1 Hunting Wilds
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Praetor's Counsel
- 1 Ranger's Path
- 1 Skyshroud Claim
I for one am itching to put it together and see how it fares. I like taking weird commanders and putting a lot of thought into them to build unexpected decks especially if it lets me play cards like Shinewend I could not play in Commander with a straight face otherwise.
-- Sean McKeown
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