MTG Commander Packages – The Whip, Stoneforge Mystic and More
In the light of the recent Commander 2013 additions, I have some packages in store for you. Each contains between ten to fifteen cards that help form a synergistic package or engine. They can be added to any Commander deck that supports their colours, though some Commanders will appreciate the aid more than others.
[Shinfo] To the observant you may notice that the art for [card]Treasure Mage[/card] neither shows the original nor promo art for the card. Yes, it is indeed [card]Mind Control[/card]! I scoured high and low but could not find an image large enough of Treasure Mage. Mind Control was a fine replacement as it is drawn by the same artist (Ryan Pancoast) and shows Jace; the Mage of all Mages. [/shinfo]
Other than the first two, these are all tutor based packages. The idea behind them is that if you play [card]Trinket Mage[/card] for example, there are certain answers you should include in your deck as you have more chance of drawing them. The card included can never be bad, as top decking situational drivel is the last place you want to be in a Commander game. What we want to do is load up our deck with powerful cards that also just so happen to work well together – like a Triple Fried Egg Chilli Chutney Sandwich. Awesome ingredients, and an even better snack.
To get us started we will kick off with a combo currently available in Standard…
The ESPER/DIMIR/ORZHOV Package
ESPER/DIMIR/ORZHOV Package : Best for Commanders [card]Sharuum the Hegemon[/card], [card]Dralnu, Lich Lord[/card], [card]Ertai, the Corrupted[/card], [card]Grimgrin, Corpse-Born[/card] and [card]Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter[/card]
For those of you unfamiliar of the interaction between Whip of Erebos and [card]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/card], it goes a little something like this…
- You can use the Whip to return Obzedat to the battlefield from the graveyard.
- At end of turn Obzedat will trigger intending to exile himself. The whip has a delayed trigger ability that will also occur at end of turn, with the intention of exiling Obzedat permanently.
- We will stack the triggers to allow Obzedat to do his thing first.
- The whip also has a replacement effect that will exile the creature should it leave the battlefield. This replacement effect will not apply if the creature is already getting exiled, and so the hungry whip feels satisfied.
Long story short, The Whip can return Obzedat to the battlefield, and at end of turn Obzedat will enter his flickering loop that we all love. The same can be done with [card]Aetherling[/card] if you use its flicker ability.
I scoured Gatherer for other creatures that can exile themselves so as to dodge the Whip Tax. Additionally, I have added spells that can blink a creature for us, and more reanimation spells/permanents. I give you, The Whip package.
[deck]Whip of Erebos
Dawn of the Dead
Only the Whip has the exile replacement clause, and so you can sacrifice the returned creature safely with the other reanimation methods. The idea will still be to exile/return the creature as that way it will stay permanently.
[deck]Obzedat, Ghost Council
Ghost Council of Orzhova
Deadeye Navigator is especially effective as he allows you to avoid Whip Tax for any returned creature, while also providing instant speed protection and ‘enter the battlefield’ abuse. The rest are underpowered for the format though and we will want to rely more on blinking better creatures.
[deck]Venser, the Sojourner
Vanish into Memory
Conjurer’s Closet allows you to abuse ‘enter the battlefield’ triggers as well as avoiding exile tax from our reanimation spells. Exactly what the doctor ordered. Mimic Vat is completely sick in commander anyway, and does double duty here.
The rest of the deck should include all your favourite heavy hitters, preferably with ‘enter the battlefield’ effects. These play well with reanimation and sacrifice; partly why most of the ‘best commanders’ I mentioned help play a hand into the running of the engine. A different route is available with [card]Dralnu, Lich Lord[/card] which could squeeze more value out of the one-off reanimation and flicker spells while also benefiting from the protection flicker spells provide himself (you do NOT want Dralnu getting [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]ed).
The ESPER Package
ESPER Package – Primarily Blue, thus applicable for any Commander with a slice of the Blue pie.
Not a massive stretch of imagination for this one. [card]Treasure Mage[/card] trustily searches up a whole host of useful artifacts. Be it utility, creatures or combo pieces – he’ll find ’em.
Being able to tutor for a card is very important as it allows you to find the specific tool for the job.
This package also overlaps nicely as a sister package to The Whip. Both packages will be packing large artifact creatures with ‘enter the battlefield triggers. Furthermore, we can reuse Treasure Mage by use of reanimation and blink spells.
Let’s take a look at some of the juicy cards TM can locate for us.
Sphinx of the Steel Wind
Sharuum the Hegemon
If you are in the business of winning, then you will also want to include unfair cards like [card]Mindslaver[/card], [card]Blightsteel Colossus[/card] and [card]Memnarch[/card].
Red variants also have access to the most fun minotaur – [card]Etherium-Horn Sorcerer[/card] or [card]Bosh, Iron Golem[/card].
Staff of Nin
Obelisk of Alara[/deck]
The Memorial is an immensely powerful anthem for token based creature decks. Assuming we have the means to reanimate what we sacrifice… it could be pretty strong here too.
The Obelisk is limited to Domain players, who also have access to the mighty Death Star – [card]Legacy Weapon[/card].
Drift of Phantasms
It is no accident that the first five cards all cost 3mana. While providing irreplaceable tools for the engine they also net [card]Drift of Phantasms[/card] with a generous supply of cards to transmute for (including Treasure Mage).
Whoa – what’s [card]Trading Post[/card] doing here? It is just that awesome in commander.
The important factor here is that all the cards included are decent in their own right, yet make a more powerful whole together.
[card]Fierce Empath[/card] is the Green non-artifact loving version of Treasure Mage. Make sure to play a copy of [card]Krosan Tusker[/card] so your Empath has a land fetching spell to tutor for early!
The UWR (Primarily) Package
UWR (Primarily) Package. Best for [card]Zedruu the Greathearted[/card], [card]Numot, the Devastator[/card] and [card]Riku of Two Reflections[/card].
[card]Capsize[/card] is one of the best spells in commander. Things get nasty once you can cast it twice a turn. Recursion, extra value from your cards, instant speed boomerang – it does it all! Buyback in general is a strong ability for commander. The games go long and the mana pools get large. This allows you to get more and more value from your pseudo infinite buyback spells.
Mystic Speculation is a deck fixer that can help find you the next spell you want to add to your arsenal (also good at setting up a miracle).
Spell Burst can take over games with a soft lock once you have enough mana, plus is able to catch a [card]Brainstorm[/card] or [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] early.
Helm of Awakening
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Now that our spells costs so much less, we can buyback so much more. With just a [card]Memory Crystal[/card] on the battlefield we can dig 9 cards deep with a Mystic Speculation for just UUU.
Firemind’s Foresight looks especially nifty here, most commonly finding Capsize, Spell Burst and either Allay or Shattering Pulse.
Fabricate has it’s targets set on Memory Crystal, but has the two other artifacts to find should you have to.
The Blue/ESPER Package
Blue/ESPER Package – Mostly colourless so fits in any Blue friendly commander deck.
Well if it isn’t [card]Treasure Mage[/card]’s older, smaller brother – [card]Trinket Mage[/card]?
I love this little guy. For 75 card Constructed he allows you to put niche yet powerful 1-of answers into your deck but maintain a initial consistency of 1/12 chance to draw them.
For commander we can only run one. At least we will be searching for [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card] or a [card]Sol Ring[/card] though! Unless you are playing by French rules… Regardless, if you are playing 3 or more artifacts of converted mana cost 1 or less, then you should also be playing Trinket Mage. Here’s what he can rummage around in his cupboard of junk for you.
Relic of Progenitus
Chalice of the Void
Nihil Spellbomb is the best gravehate if you have access to black, Relic of Progenitus if you do not. Hex Parasite can tear down a Planeswalker or +1/+1 counter based Commander. Meekstone, is just funny.
Candelabra of Tawnos
Seat of the Synod[/deck]
Nothing boosts you like a turn one Sol Ring. As it happens, it’s still good on turn four after having searched it up with Trinket Mage. It’s useful to have the option to search for a land too in the form of Seat of the Synod.
Utilities and Removal
Sensei’s Divining Top
Elixir of Immortality[/deck]
Is Liar’s Pendulum not just a tasty little flavour packed nugget of fun? Realistically though, you will be searching for Sensei’s Divining Top over everything else 90% of the time.
Like we weren’t playing Academy Ruins already!! All these cards will help find/return the 1cmc artifacts for value intensive purposes. NB. [card]Executioner’s Capsule[/card] and Salvaging Station make a bit of a c-c-c-combo.
The WHITE/x Package
WHITE/x Package – Playable in any deck with access to White.
Banned in Modern, popular in Legacy, and one of the best cards for Commander too. [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] only costs 2mana, making it easy to protect in a counter war. She fetches either [card]Batterskull[/card] or an over-powered Sword that offers the most protection against your opponent’s colours. It doesn’t stop there though. Her second ability allows you to save mana on the equipment casting cost as well as slipping it in at instant speed, uncounterable.
[deck]Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Light and Shadow
These are the three best Swords for Commander. The first two have very powerful abilities, while Light & Shadow has the most relevant protection a creature can have. The saving one gets on ‘flashing in a Batterskull is sick/sickening (depending on which side of the table you are sitting on).
Umezawa’s Jitte was actually featured in a Magic: the Gathering theme deck for Betrayers of Kamigawa called “Rat’s Nest”. Imagine how fast that sold out once people caught on to how busted Jitte is!
During it’s legality in Standard, decks played Jitte in the sideboard solely to board in against opposing Jitte’s. I.e With the previous Legendary rule, they would both pop. Much like how [card]Phantasmal Image[/card] was boarded in against [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card] or [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card].
Quest for the Holy Relic
Godo, Bandit Warlord[/deck]
This team of helpful hands allow us to keep the armoury stocked when Stoneforge Mystic is busy winning Stoneblade Legacy matches. Stonehewer Giant is quite the fierce-some attacker due to his Vigilance allowing him to find the specific equipment needed to win the dual.
Increase your chances of playing Stoneforge Mystic – Play an [card]Imperial Recruiter[/card]. Only $300….
The UWR Package
UWR Package. Best for [card]Zedruu the Greathearted[/card], [card]Numot, the Devastator[/card] and [card]Ruhan of the Fomori[/card].
This one runs as a sister package to the previous, due to the dual reliance on [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card].
All credit for this goes to Mr LuBuFu, who wrote about the package as part of a Zedruu the Greathearted deck. It was part of a competition for best Zedruu decklist, ran by Eric Lavine and found here.
Without further delay, let’s see what he had to say.
“One of the key things to have around to complete the deck is a [card]Sunforger[/card] package. This offers a certain amount of consistency to the deck that keeps you alive and lets you tutor for basically anything you need. With Sunforger you can fetch counterspells ([card]Counterflux[/card], [card]Absorb[/card]), creature removal, ([card]Sword to Plowshares[/card], [card]Path to Exile[/card], [card]Chaos Warp[/card] etc.) or other artifact/enchantment removal ([card]Dismantling Blow[/card], [card]Return to Dust[/card] etc.)”
says Mr LuBuFu.
[deck]Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Return to Dust
A great list of powerful, situational tutor-able spells at instant speed.
Additional Equipment & Creatures
Godo, Bandit Warlord[/deck]
There are a few more White/Red counterspells that have been printed since this package was made. Those, plus a few older ones I feel should have been included are shown below.
Odds // Ends
[card]Odds // Ends[/card] is especially spicy as you may cast either half of the card, even though Ends is technically a 5cmc spell. Sunforger gets a ‘YES’ from half of Odds /Ends and that is enough for it to be a legal target. The same can be seen when a [card]Shardless Agent[/card] cascads into the Bust half of [card]Boom // Bust[/card].
Dawn Charm is actually an extremely useful card in Commander, and has never been left stranded in my hand. Furthermore, Essence Backlash is sure to deliver the pain when someone attempts to cast one of counter-able Eldrazi.
The ESPER/DIMIR Package
ESPER/DIMIR Package – [card]Vedalken Aethermage[/card] for use in all Blue decks.
I had initially started building two separate packages based around [card]Mystical Teachings[/card] and [card]Vedalken Aethermage[/card] respectively. I gave up after recognising how colossally large the playable pool of cards for each one is. Instead, I have smooshed the two together (as Teachings can find Aethermage) and will highlight a few cards that help stack more synergy with your card choices.
[card]Mystical Teachings[/card] – Include all your favourite counterspells, instant speed removal and card draw. Have a complete riot within the boundaries of your colours! Here are a few to consider though.
- [card]Lim-Dul’s Vault[/card] can be tutored for and then used to burn through your deck till you find that card you need.
- [card]Clutch of the Undercity[/card] can be tutored for with Teachings or used to tutor for Teachings. The inclusion of this pairing then opens up more chances at finding [card]Damnation[/card], [card]Decree of Justice[/card] and [card]Cryptic Command[/card] (doubly findable).
- Mystical Teachings is so good it seems a shame to only use it twice. Other than [card]Archaeomancer[/card] and [card]Mnemonic Wall[/card] we can include [card]Runic Repetition[/card] to really wring the value out of Teachings.
The sometimes missed bonus is that Teachings can also find you creatures with flash. In a flash – here are some of the best!
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur[/deck]
Three of these are also Wizards. [card]Vedalken Aethermage[/card] will have some powerful targets indeed.
In fact, 13% of all possible Commanders are wizards. In reality though, most of the best commanders are.. This makes sense, as the game is called ‘Magic’ and involves a lot of casting spells. It only follows that the more powerful creatures with unique ‘build around’ abilities would be wizards. Aethermage allows you to find these formidable mages; often including your own Commander when they frustratingly get shuffled into your deck.
Wizardcycling is an ability that can be used any time your could cast an instant, making sure you are not caught with your robes down.
Unfortunately there are not any Wizards that single handedly form a recursive loop with Aethermage to allow us to tutor the whole team. What we do have is [card]Pit Keeper[/card] ([card]Oversold Cemetery[/card] on legs) and [card]Linessa, Zephyr Mage[/card]. We can tutor for Pit Keeper and assuming we have 4+ creatures in the ‘yard we can return Aethermage to hand when Pit Keeper enters the battlefield. This allows us to tutor for a wizard with a recursive [card]Unsummon[/card] – in this case Linessa. We can then return and recast Pit Keeper returning Aethermage to allow us to wizardcycle into oblivion.
There are 539 targets in Commander that Aethermage can find. [card]Sage’s Dousing[/card] can be found, as Aethermage searches for a ‘Wizard’ card, not specifically a creature. To really help seal the deal, take a look at some of the non-legendary Wizards you can find.
Disciple of Bolas
Glen Elendra Archmage
Lich Lord of Unx
Magus of the Coffers
Prophet of Kruphix
Sower of Temptation
There are heaps more when you include all Legendary warlocks and witches. If you are playing any of the following as your Commander – you should be playing Aethermage as an insurance policy against tucking.
[deck]Damia, Sage of Stone
Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
Dralnu, Lich Lord
Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge
Jhoira of the Ghitu
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
Nekusar, the Mindrazer
Nin, the Pain Artist
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Oona, Queen of the Fae
Prime Speaker Zegana
Riku of Two Reflections
Vela the Night-Clad
Zur the Enchanter[/deck]
That’s All Folks!
That brings us to the end of the packages production line. It may appear that there are more, but those boxes in the picture are actually full of unwanted [card]Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded[/card]’s. Happy brewing folks and may your Commander games be ridiculously over the top and full of epic top decks!
Till next time nerds.