As a fan of Commander, I’ve always been intrigued by the cycle of epic spells from Saviors of Kamigawa. For me, Commander is all about playing
epic haymakers that make for great stories, so at first glance you’d think big splashy sorceries with “epic” right there in its text box would be
no-brainers. The problem, of course, is if successfully cast, the wpic ability shuts down the way most Magic decks operate, preventing you from casting any
more spells – including your commander — for the rest of the game. The epic spells are sweet, but are they so sweet that you’re willing to sacrifice the
ability to do anything else but fire off another copy of the spell each upkeep? The easy answer is “of course not,” and we should move the epic spells into
the “not really playable in Commander” zone and forget about it.
Easy answers don’t really satisfy our inner Johnny now do they? If I always went the easy route, I’d have never built the sweet deck with Phage the
Untouchable as my commander — and was able to actually get her into play without losing the game immediately (see Commander with Kid Gloves).
The first order of business was to figure out if there were any commanders that could either set up the epic spell(s) or could still provide value from the
command zone. I didn’t really see any multicolor legends outside of ones that could produce a mana that could facilitate the epic spells. Command zone
value led me to Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and Derevi, Empyrial Tactician. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic, aka “Big Lazy,” had some appeal considering the constant
stream of life he provides from the very beginning of the game, but who am I kidding: Derevi, Empyrial Tactician is the perfect commander since you can
still put it into play when under the epic spell moratorium.
Quacks at your tuck.
I was a little leery about choosing Derevi, Empyrial Tactician given the hysteria that popped up when the change to the tuck rule came down, making your
commander basically immune if you want it to be. Derevi has definitely jumped up the threat chain and will certainly provide some level of red flag to the
table when I reveal it as my commander, but since it works perfectly with my plan, I’ll just have to deal with the aggression by playing defense and
politics the best I can.
So with Derevi, Empyrial Tactician chosen, I guess we’re rocking Bant, which is perfect since the three epic spells in those colors are perfectly capable
of winning games of Commander, particularly the white one considering Enduring Ideal has actually been a competitive tournament deck.
Plan A: Enduring Ideal
You want it all, but you can’t have it…
Each of the epic spells win in a very different manner, and once you cast one, you’re locked out from playing any of the others. I thought about trying to
find cards that worked well no matter which epic spell was cast, but that was a pretty tall order: Enduring Ideal wants to win by putting an enchantment
from your deck into play each turn; Endless Swarm wants to make a bunch of 1/1 Snakes each turn; and Eternal Dominion wants you to assemble your victory
based on stealing one of the best non-planeswalker permanents from your opponents’ decks each turn.
We could add a few things to our deck to do fun things while going epic with Eternal Dominion (cycling, channel, bloodrush), but many of those things would
be generically fine under any of the epics. Eternal Dominion doesn’t really require us to do anything interesting for the rest of our deck.
We could add a few things to our deck to do fun things while going epic with Endless Swarm-Snake tribal stuff from Kamigawa block, generic tribal stuff
like Coat of Arms – but those cards would be pretty low power or totally useless if we ended up casting either of the other two epic spells. And truly, if
we end up casting Endless Swarm, it’s probably sufficient to just let our hand fill up and crank out seven 1/1 Snakes each turn. They will eventually
overwhelm just about anyone.
Then there’s Enduring Ideal, which requires we find a way to win by putting an enchantment into play each turn. On the power scale that falls somewhere
above cranking out 1/1 Snakes and somewhere below the best non-planeswalker permanents in your opponents’ decks, but it very likely demands a wide variety
of enchantments be available in your deck to go search up. Of course, there has been a variety of “enchantments matter” cards printed over the years, so it
wouldn’t be unreasonable to just play an enchantment-heavy deck and win without ever getting to cast one of your epic spells. So I think the best approach
is to slant the deck towards Enduring Ideal: finding it, casting it, winning with it, and (hopefully) not losing despite it.
Mikokoro, Center Of The Sea , Temple of Enlightenment, Temple of Mystery, Temple of Plenty, Mystical Tutor, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Sylvan Library, Scroll Rack, Impulse, Long-Term Plans, Rhystic Study, Sphinx’s Revelation
Since we’re not running black, it’s difficult to find many cards that will let you go search for a specific sorcery card. There’s Mystical Tutor and
Personal Tutor, but I don’t own a Personal Tutor so I’m not including it here. There’s Long-Term Plans if you have patience, and I think we can work with
that. Outside of tutor effects, we can certainly stock up on card draw like Rhystic Study, card selection like Sylvan Library and Ponder, and filtering
such as the Theros Temples. Given time and a little luck, we should get there.
Of course, the absolute worst would be to go to all the trouble of making an Enduring Ideal deck, finding the enchantment, living long enough to cast it…
and then having Mr. Fun Police counterspell it. Luckily, we have a couple creatures like Grand Abolisher along with Boseiju, Who Shelters All to make sure
we can cast our signature spell unmolested.
Winning With It
Paradox Haze, Thassa, God of the Sea, Heliod, God of the Sun, Nylea, God of the Hunt , Karametra, God Of Harvests , Kruphix, God of Horizons, Privileged Position, Dovescape, Volition Reins, Humbler of Mortals
Okay, so we’ve gone to all the trouble of resolving Enduring Ideal-now how to win with it? The first order of business is probably going to be putting
Dovescape into play since the last thing you want someone to do once you’ve gone epic on the enchantment plan is to cast something horrid like Wave of
Vitriol. While there are creature spells that can destroy enchantments, that’s not nearly the disaster a sweeper would be, so let them cast Bird tokens
instead! Also keep in mind that each epic copy of Enduring Ideal can be countered, so Dovescape will protect against counterspells that aren’t Mystic
Snake. If you have a moment to breathe, Paradox Haze isn’t a bad enchantment to fetch up either, letting you get double up your epic upkeep triggers.
One new development for Enduring Ideal decks are the Theros block enchantment creatures, particularly the Gods. It may take a few triggers to turn
on their devotion and make them creatures, but they make pretty durable and potent win conditions while providing benefits along the way.
Sometimes your opponent may have the perfect way to win the game, so Volition Reins is a good all-purpose way to re-purpose that permanent into your own
Not Losing Despite It
Aegis of Honor, Soul Snare, Aegis Of The Gods, Planar Collapse, Seal of Cleansing, Seal of Primordium, Darksteel Mutation, Song Of The Dryads, Bow of Nylea, Orim’s Prayer, Opposition, Perplexing Chimera, Sphere of Safety, Exclusion Ritual, Dismiss Into Dream, Decree of Silence
Putting an enchantment into play each turn provides inevitability, but it does take time, and one way to stop you from winning is to kill you first, so you
may need to keep yourself from losing before you go about winning. If people start pouring high-cost spells into Dovescape, you may find yourself in the
middle of a Hitchcock horror film, so search up Orim’s Prayer to neutralize attacks from 1/1s and blunt attacks from bigger creatures. If you need to sweep
creatures, Planar Collapse can do the job (while leaving your indestructible Gods alone), and a combination of Opposition and Dismiss into Dream can pick
off individual problem creatures.
Darksteel Mutation, Song of the Dryads, and Exclusion Ritual can all solve problems that might otherwise cause you grief, so they make solid additions to
the Enduring Ideal toolbox while also being perfectly serviceable cards pre-epic.
Bow of Nylea is a Swiss army knife of abilities built into an enchantment, not least of which is the ability to add enchantments that might be in your
graveyard and put them back in your deck to find with Enduring Ideal.
Plan B: Endless Swarm or Eternal Dominion
Okay, so despite your best efforts, say someone ruins your day-a Wheel of Fortune makes you discard Enduring Ideal, and someone pops off a Tormod’s Crypt
and sends it off to exile. You can still do just fine playing out your sweet enchantments as you draw them and eventually draw and play one of your other
epic spells. Eternal Dominion should be fine all on its own as you search out people’s Blightsteel Colossus or Eldrazi titans. For Endless Swarm, you’d
probably want to wait until you’ve got a full grip, and maybe one of these two sweet lands to double the punch: Gavony Township or Oran-Rief, the Vastwood.
Snakes… Why’d it have to be snakes?
Playing Under The Epic Spell Moratorium
Regardless of which epic spell you’re operating under, I’ve included some cards that can do some work even under the spell moratorium.
Emeria, the Sky Ruin: I’ve kept the Plains count relatively high in the deck (including the dual lands and Ravnica shock lands) so that going long, Emeria,
the Sky Ruin can start putting creature cards from your graveyard back onto the battlefield. Land Tax, Embodiment of Spring, and Sakura-Tribe Elder fetches
should lean towards Plains to get this online faster.
Mistveil Plains: This is mostly for when operating under Enduring Ideal. If an enchantment gets destroyed or otherwise put in your graveyard, Mistveil
Plains can put it back in the deck to be found by epic copies of Enduring Ideal.
Pride in the name of birds.
Pride of the Clouds: The forecast ability can give you something to sink your mana into when under the moratorium, generating a 1/1 flying Bird token each
Hunting Grounds, Defense of the Heart, Hibernation’s End: These enchantments can let you still put creatures into play despite the moratorium, and it’s
especially nice that they can be fetched up with Enduring Ideal.
What About Derevi?
While our deck isn’t specifically built to abuse Derevi, I think there are lots of little synergies that we can take advantage of. Derevi plays pretty good
defense, acting as a double-Maze of Ith for four mana, tapping down one attacker and chump blocking another. It can provide virtual vigilance for any of
your creatures that can connect with an opponent and can make Opposition even more obnoxious. Derevi can give you back half of any mana you spend with
Thassa, God of the Sea to make something unblockable by untapping a mana. Getting extra mana can help generate more tokens with Heliod, God of the Sun.
Okay, so here’s how the deck turned out:
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Xantid Swarm
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Academy Rector
- 1 Pride of the Clouds
- 1 Grand Abolisher
- 1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
- 1 Thassa, God of the Sea
- 1 Heliod, God of the Sun
- 1 Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
- 1 Silent Sentinel
- 1 Karametra, God of Harvests
- 1 Perplexing Chimera
- 1 Kruphix, God of Horizons
- 1 Aegis of the Gods
- 1 Humbler of Mortals
- 1 Embodiment of Spring
- 1 Dragonlord Dromoka
- 4 Forest
- 6 Plains
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
- 4 Island
- 1 Tundra
- 1 Tropical Island
- 1 Savannah
- 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 Tolaria West
- 1 Mistveil Plains
- 1 Bant Panorama
- 1 Seaside Citadel
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Sunpetal Grove
- 1 Emeria, the Sky Ruin
- 1 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Homeward Path
- 1 Hinterland Harbor
- 1 Gavony Township
- 1 Temple of Mystery
- 1 Temple of Enlightenment
- 1 Temple of Plenty
- 1 Brainstorm
- 1 Wrath of God
- 1 Replenish
- 1 Mystical Tutor
- 1 Scroll Rack
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Sylvan Library
- 1 Land Tax
- 1 Impulse
- 1 Seal of Cleansing
- 1 Mirari's Wake
- 1 Hunting Grounds
- 1 Decree of Silence
- 1 Decree of Justice
- 1 Opposition
- 1 Long-Term Plans
- 1 Orim's Prayer
- 1 Planar Collapse
- 1 Defense of the Heart
- 1 Rhystic Study
- 1 Aegis of Honor
- 1 Endless Swarm
- 1 Enduring Ideal
- 1 Eternal Dominion
- 1 Privileged Position
- 1 Dovescape
- 1 Hibernation's End
- 1 Paradox Haze
- 1 Seal of Primordium
- 1 Ponder
- 1 Wheel of Sun and Moon
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Preordain
- 1 Volition Reins
- 1 Exclusion Ritual
- 1 Soul Snare
- 1 Sphinx's Revelation
- 1 Sphere of Safety
- 1 Dismiss into Dream
- 1 Bow of Nylea
- 1 Darksteel Mutation
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Song of the Dryads
Pretty epic, huh? I’m sure there’s some crazy interactions I’ve missed, so feel free to enlighten me with your own ideas!
New to Commander?
If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
Commander Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2
(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
Commander Starter Kits 1
(kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 2
(kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 3
(kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):
• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)
- • Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)