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Luke-Warm Takes by Johnny

Commander 2019 has arrived. Sooo many hot takes have been... taken. And one thing that jumped out to me when combing through the deck lists was this feeling that I found a bunch of new homes for old tricks. So here are my thoughts on how I’d like to upgrade the decks for Commander 2019. Let’s jump in.

Mystic Intellect

Having been a Splinter Twin/Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker player years ago, I’ve always had a soft spot for these combo cards. So when the complete lists for Commander 2019 were revealed I was happy to see a new home for this strategy in the Mystic Intellect decks. Though maybe not for such obvious reasons. The make up of the deck doesn’t scream twin combo, but Pramikon, Sky Rampart does present an opportunity. With Pramikon as your commander you kind of shift the game into a pseudo 1v1 situation that limits treats by combat to one player per turn cycle. This is helpful for the Splinter Twin player at large because once the combo is suspected it is easy to get hated out of a game. Forcing half of your opponents to go through each other just to attack you could buy some much needed time to set things up.

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The other piece of that time-buying effort is provided in the stock list with the reprinting of Ghostly Prison. This brings us to the meat and potatoes of what I’m thinking. Protection of a Splinter Twin combo strategy shouldn’t just rely on an upgraded Counterspell package (which this deck should get anyway.) I want to go pillow fort. This means brining in more cards like Propaganda, Sphere of Safety and Collective Restraint to keep the hordes at bay until you can pop off and close out the game. But wait. There’s more. The other cheeky backup plan I would work into the deck would be mass Threaten style cards like Insurrection, Reins of Power and Mass Manipulation. This way you get to play with someone else’s horde of critters. Super fun :)

Just for reference, typical Splinter Twin combo pieces are:

  • Splinter Twin
  • Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
  • Deceiver Exarch
  • Pestermite

and/or

  • Saheeli Rai
  • Felidar Guardian

Primal Genesis

While some are calling this deck the weaker of the bunch it is certainly not lacking potential. For instance, should you choose to run Atla Palani, Nest Tender as your commander and added nothing more than Ashnod’s Altar and Thornbite Staff, you can infinitely break eggs until every creature in your deck in in play. That’s right, a 3 card combo that plays out all the creatures in your deck. Even more convenient is the fact that the Shaman subtype on Atla Palani, Nest Tender allows Thornbite Staff to equip for free. For consistency just add Enlightened Tutor and Steelshaper’s Gift. I do love me some combo strategies if you hadn’t noticed.

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Considering more value-oriented thinking, some golden oldies popped up on my radar that help maximize this deck as well. Instill Energy and Nature’s Chosen are two auras worth considering. These are much older cards that haven’t seen printings since the mid 1990s and don’t seem that great at first glance. Until you picture them cast on Atla Palani, Nest Tender, Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, Feldon of the Third Path and Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, doubling up those activated abilities. Then for added value bring in more cards to take advantage of the extra ETB triggers like Soul Warden and Impact Tremors. Even Sudden Disappearance would have some extra relevance in this build. It may not be big and flashy but it certainly will grind out the value.

Other premium upgrades to consider:

  • Wurmcoil Engine
  • Doubling Season
  • Parallel Lives
  • Panharmonicon

Faceless Menace

Again, feeling that itch to add in the combos I found myself daydreaming about how to loop a soft lock out with this deck which centers around Ixidron. To make this happen we need Deadeye Navigator and Brine Elemental. With Ixidron soul bonded to Deadeye Navigator, you can stack the Deadeye blink abilities so that that the Deadeye Navigator blink resolves after the Ixidron reenter the battlefield. This way you get to reload your Morph creatures and turn everyone else’s non token creatures into vanilla 2/2’s. A very handy tool against pesky commanders and Eldrazi titans. Then once you’ve advance your mana base, you can continually morph you Brine Elemental on each of your turns to take away everyone’s untap phase. I admit it’s kind of a jerk move but it’s nowhere near as abusive a Winter Orb or Tangle Wire. Then for added value you can add in an Obelisk of Urd turning all your morphs into beefy little beasts.

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There were also some decent old morph creatures that were not included in this product that I feel deserved a seat at the table for the way this deck is assembled right out of the box. Dulcet Sirens gives you the ability to dictate who the biggest threat at the table is going to attack. This makes for great political leverage. Weaver of Lies adds in some recurring value for your morph activations and even icreases the depth to the combo with Ixidron. For some value beaters we can turn to Quicksilver Dragon and Primal Whisperer.

Then there is Ebonblade Reaper. This one's a little tricky and requires some extra evasion and life gain support. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to get the Reaper turned face down. Still, should you have to pull a hail-mary and swing with it face up we are in the colors for life gain once again with cards like Soul Warden. We also get some added bonus for life gain with the likes of Tomb of the Spirit Dragon which can repeatedly gain us life off of our morphs and has some more added value with the reprint of Seedborn Muse. For evasion in this situation I like Whispersilk Cloak and Dauthi Embrace.

Other fun additions for this deck would:

  • All is Dust
  • GhostFire Blade
  • Erratic Portal
  • Crystal Shard
  • Dream Chisel

Merciless Rage

Merciless Rage reminds me of an old friend who build a Red/Black Storm deck around Waste Not and, brace yourself, Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. It was pretty good too. He even won a Channel Fireball online deckbuilding challenge with it. So it’s not all that surprising that many of the pieces from that deck would work nicely with this commander. Cards like Pack Rat and Burning Inquiry would definitely provide a valuable service. This got me to thinking about other party discard options that would accelerate the Merciless Rage strategy while forcing the opponents to jump through hoops of fire in the process.

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I liked what I found in Creeping Dread and Cunning Lethemancer. Both of these cards force discards for all players and in the case of Creeping Dread there is the off chance of an incidental Lightning Bolt to the face. Of course Liliana of the Veil and the lesser variants Bottomless Pit and Necrogen Mists must also be considered. I was also happy to see a madness card playing the same game in Gibbering Descent. Now if you do choose to go this route you will also want to throw in some punishment cards like Megrim and Liliana’s Caress.

Lastly we should talk about the prospect of Wheel of Fortune style cards. I would advise caution against running versions where everyone is drawing up to a full 7 cards in this deck specifically. Having seen Anje Falkenrath in action it very easy to dig into deck at breakneck speeds and even maintain a full hand once Squee, Goblin Nabob shows up to play. This means you can gain more value out of cards like Winds of Change and Dark Deal. These kinds of “wheel” cards will be better exploited by Anje and limit the potential gains by your opponents. Really kick them while they are down.

Some other inclusions to think about would be:

  • Wheel of Torture
  • Mortuary
  • Tortured Existence

There it is my good EDH compatriots. I hope you enjoyed the directions I would chose to go with upgrades for the Commander 2019 decks. Should you have any questions or thoughts please feel free to chat me up on Twitter: @JohnnySlivers.

Thank you for your time and until we meet gain, may your top decks be epic.

John.

John Humphreys

John Humphreys

Husband | Father | Red Mage | Pauper Rube | EDH Casual | Tin Street Hooligan talking head | Cardsphere blogger impostor | Follow me on Twitter @JohnnySlivers at your own risk ;)

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