Anafenza And Your Restless Dead

Hate-oriented green and white creatures have a storied history, but is there a more hateful card than Anafenza? Check out Bennie’s hateful little list for when you just want to hate the opposition out of commission!

This week I continue on my quest of recruiting each of the new Khans as the leader of a brand new Commander deck, and now it’s time for the leader of the
Abzan Houses to get the Bennie treatment.

Anafenza, the Foremost-I choose you!

I have to admit to being disappointed that there are no creature cards specifically representing Anafenza’s Ibex war-goats in Khans of Tarkir, and there
are goat creatures in Magic that fit Anafenza’s color identity, but I can get over that flavor-fail and focus on the positive. Let’s take a close look at
Anafenza and see what her card suggests to us for a Commander deck.


First off, she’s obviously aggressively costed for Constructed as a 4/4 for three mana with upsides. We could power her out on turn 2 in Commander and
start smashing people, but we need to be honest and realize a 4/4 is going to get outclassed pretty quickly. Worse, even if we smash someone five times
we’ll still be one point of damage short of killing them with Commander damage. If you’re looking for Abzan aggro you’d likely be better off with Doran,
the Siege Tower unless you’re looking to do a tribal soldier deck in Abzan colors. I think an Anafenza, the Foremost Commander deck would be better focused
on her text box abilities rather than her capacity for beatdown (though there will be times we appreciate that aspect).

+1/+1 Counters

The Abzan color combination is no stranger to +1/+1 counters– anyone who’s built a deck around Ghave, Guru of Spores has gone deep down that rabbit hole.
But Anafenza’s +1/+1 ability doesn’t really move me to focus too heavily on it-she’s basically able to distribute a +1/+1 counter once each turn and only
on the turns where she’s attacking. Sometimes you’re not going to want to attack because there are no good options; perhaps the red zone in front of each
opponent is fraught with doom. So how can we still get that +1/+1 counter? Maze of Ith is a classic solution to this dilemma since it doesn’t just have to
be used defensively. You can attack, get the +1/+1 counter trigger, and if she finds herself in a meat grinder use the Maze to pull her out of harm’s way.
There are a couple white cards that can help in a similar fashion: Reconnaissance and Gustcloak Savior. What’s extra nice about these cards is that you can
use them to also protect a creature you’re attempting to add the +1/+1 counter to but don’t necessarily want it in combat (since Anafenza can only put the
counter on a tapped creature). I like Glare of Subdual here too, letting you tap the creature you want to put a counter on to clear a path for Anafenza to
swing in.

What’s particularly cool about weaving in a +1/+1 counter theme is that so many of new Abzan cards in Khans of Tarkir play into that theme, and it only
makes sense that a deck using Anafenza, the Foremost as our commander should make use of a lot of these cards too. In particular I like the +1/+1 counter
“lords” such as Ainok Bond-Kin (first strike), Abzan Falconer (flying), Tuskguard Captain (trample), Abzan Battle Priest (lifelink), Longshot Squad
(reach), and Mer-Ek Nightblade (deathtouch). Even Ivorytusk Fortress makes our creatures into pseudo-Seedborn Muses.

Dipping into Magic’s past we can recruit a host of good creatures that either come into play with +1/+1 counters (Spike Feeder, Spike Weaver, Ghave, Guru
of Spores, and Mikaeus, the Lunarch) or can generate +1/+1 counters (Scavenging Ooze, Gyre Sage, High Sentinels of Arashin, Forgotten Ancient, Archangel of
Thune, and Ob Nixilis, Unshackled).

Another thing I thought would fit nicely alongside Anafenza would be cards with persist. Since +1/+1 counters neutralize -1/-1 counters persist creatures
could stick around a lot longer than normal, so I tossed in Kitchen Finks, Kithkin Spellduster, Cauldron of Souls, Twilight Shepherd, and Woodfall Primus.

Yeah, that’s right-Kithkin Spellduster! How many of you recall that was a card? I can honestly say I’d totally forgotten it existed until I was
database-diving researching this deck. With all the sweet enchantment creatures that popped up in Theros Block, having a creature with persist that can
nuke two enchantments (and maybe more with a steady stream of +1/+1 counters) seems pretty sweet in this deck and just overall a good card to have in our
Commander card pool.

Hate Bears

The last line of text is an interesting one too, letting Anafenza basically hose any creature-based graveyard strategies your opponents might be up to as a
toss-in. Since the graveyard is one of the most powerful resources in a Commander, this is a pretty sweet bit of “hate” that plays right into white’s
tradition of setting rules that bend things in your favor. So I thought, why not add some more “hate bear” cards into the mix and surround Anafenza with
all sorts of things to screw with your opponents’ plans? Deathrite Shaman and Scavenging Ooze provide some graveyard-hate redundancy. Imposing Sovereign,
Grand Abolisher, Aven Mindcensor, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Erebos, God of the Dead, and Ob Nixilis, Unshackled can turn the screws on your opponents
while leaving you free to ignore those new rules. I really like Ob Nixilis pulling double duty here since it’s pretty easy to get a +1/+1 counter on him,
and I like the thought of letting him take advantage of the +1/+1 lords to gain lifelink, first strike, and deathtouch in addition to his natural flying
and trampling abilities!

We can exile our opponents’ creatures with Anafenza by killing them with such “blow ’em all up” classics as Wrath of God, Rout, and Akroma’s Vengeance.
Remember that even if the creatures are dying at the same time as Anafenza, her triggered ability still triggers and exiles them (while she can mosey over
to the command zone to be cast again). Syphon Flesh is another way to kill and exile some creatures while snagging a few zombie tokens while you’re at it.

But keep in mind that Anafenza doesn’t care where the creatures come from before they hit the graveyard; all that matters to her is that they hit the
graveyard. So I thought why not add some milling to the deck, giving you chances to perhaps exile a bunch of creatures that would have otherwise killed you
once they hit play regardless of any graveyard recursion they have built in? Altar of Dementia is a perfect fit, especially with our persist creatures (and
Rancor). Mesmeric Orb is a little riskier since it hits us too, but I’ve added one of the Eldrazi titans so that when he hits the graveyard he can shuffle
our graveyard back into our library. I decided to use Kozilek, Butcher of Truth so that I could cast him (to draw some cards) but still be able to kill him
with Wrath of God cards if I needed to shuffle my graveyard back into my library.

Okay, so without further ado here’s what I’ve got cooking for my Anafenza, the Foremost Commander deck:

Anafenza, the Foremost
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 10-17-2014
Magic Card Back

Some notes on additional cards I’ve included:

Melira, Sylvok Outcast
is the perfect companion to persist creatures so I went ahead and put her in here. Yep, she combines pretty viciously with Altar of Dementia and any
persist creature so I avoided putting any tutor cards in. If the combo comes up then I can throw that haymaker honestly.

Spike Feeder and Archangel of Thune
both fit nicely into the themes of the deck but also combine to gain infinite life while making your creatures infinitely large. Again, a pretty vicious
combo that I can’t tutor for, but I don’t mind having these as outs I could draw into when facing down long odds.

Saffi Eriksdotter
is one of my all-time favorite cards and I was thrilled to put her in this deck alongside Commander mainstay Nim Deathmantle to let me keep a vital
creature into play in the face of board wipes or removal.

I shoe-horned Trading Post and Springjack Pasture into the deck so I could produce some on-color goats for my gal Anafenza to ride to war
on, and both cards can give us some utility too. Still-GOATS! Break out the Brad Nelson tokens!

So what do you think of my take on Anafenza, the Foremost? Have you built a Commander deck with her yet? What are some other cards you’d add to the mix?

Multiplayer Magic Hall of Fame

Before I go, if you haven’t already make sure to go over to the Mothership and check out the update to the Multiplayer Magic Hall of Fame. In case you’ve
never heard of that, here’s a little knowledge dropping: many years ago, from the primordial soup of Magic internet content rose the very first incarnation
of StarCityGames.com. Looking for some pillars to give itself form, the fledgling site scooped up some of the hottest writing talent to bring in the
eyeballs. I was lucky enough to be one of those early writers, and another one was Anthony Alongi, who blazed a bright path different from just about every
other Magic writer out there. While most of us were writing tournament reports and strategy guides for playing dueling decks, Alongi wrote funny adventures
and insights into multiplayer Magic and you can find most of his writing for SCG in the archives


. Sometime in 2002 he began writing about Multiplayer Magic for Wizards of the Coast’s Magic website, and his archives there can be found here. Alongi retired from Magic writing (and Magic for the
most part) in 2006, and while the game has changed quite a bit since then, there are still tons and tons of great multiplayer strategy that can be mined
from his articles. If you are new to multiplayer Magic and have never read Alongi’s stuff before, bookmark those links and check them out whenever you have
some time.

Sometime along the way Alongi cooked up what he called The Multiplayer Hall of Fame. He took all the best multiplayer cards at the time, rated them by
various weighted categories, crunched the numbers and boom-a list of the best of the best! The last original Hall of Fame article of Alongi (which has
links to the previous two) can be found here.

Considering Alongi compiled this in 2003, Bruce Richard — the current casual Magic writer for Wizards of the Coast– decided it was high time to update
Alongi’s Multiplayer Hall of Fame. He recruited a handful of multiplayer enthusiasts to help him out, which yielded a column for each color, gold cards,
and colorless cards running all this week on Magic.Wizards.com. I’m honored to report that yours truly was asked to do the update for Multiplayer Green
cards, and that column should be up the same Friday that this here column goes live.

Check out Bruce’s Introduction article right here,
which has the links to all the various Hall of Fame updates, and be sure to click on green and see the sweet mono-green Commander deck I’ve got over there!

And if you’ve never read my columns before but have come over here after reading my column on Multiplayer Green over at the Wizards site, welcome! Hope you
like what you’ve read and hope to see you back next week.

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:

My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)