Anafenza The Second

Dragons of Tarkir is on its way, and Abe Sargent can’t wait to build Commander decks with all the new and exciting legends the set has to offer! See the bolstered up Anafenza list he can’t wait to assemble!

Have you ever had that feeling? You know, you have just been introduced to a new set of cards, but it’s something else that strikes you?

In a world of dragons, I am most inspired to create my first Dragons of Tarkir Commander deck around a humble little spirit soldier. Hello again, Anafenza!

So let’s take a look under the hood of Anafenza Redux (whom I think we should start calling Re-fenza. Who’s with me?)

We get a two-drop with a solid 2/2 body. That’s a cheap body you can drop reliably early on. Plus, as it dies over the course of the game, replaying it is
quite easy. Normally a cheap aggressive white creature might suggest a deck that uses tokens as a tool, but Anafenza, the Next has an ability that only
works when a nontoken creature arrives at the battlefield, all ready to stomp some face. Cards that are aggressive but use token creatures might still find
a home, but they just don’t have as much to offer here.

What she brings is an always-on ability to bump the smallest guy to better levels anytime one of your creatures arrives to party. She doesn’t require any
mana, tapping, or any activation costs.

With that in mind, how do you build a deck around her?

How about like….this?

This deck wants to be the Anafenza’iest little deck around. Who’s a cute lil’ spirit solder?

I didn’t want to dip into tribal territory with Anafenza II: Anafenza Harder. It’s too easy to go with a solider or spirit deck to support her. That’s not
really the direction I think she should be oriented towards.

Basically I decided to mine three different sub-themes:

1). +1/+1 counters. Since we know Anafenza Take Two gives out counters with her bolstering, this is an obvious direction to mine.

2). Aggro – When your commander is an on-curve two-drop with 2/2 size in a color that owns a lot of quality early drops, you should take advantage of that.

3). Little Legends – I thought it would be fun and flavorful to have Anafenza, This Time It’s Serious to have a variety of cheap and useful legendary

And that served as a solid plan to harness Anafenza’s true, er, um…spirit. (Sorry about that.)

The first place I want to delve is the Little Legends concept, and a lot of cheap legendary creatures certainly fit with Anafenza, the Second. A great
example is Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, a fellow two-drop that can serve and give folks protection (and then whiten others to help make that protection
pertinent). It can work on the back end, throwing bodies out there to keep larger stuff from hitting you, or help a team to swing through a nice defense.
Either way you get a strong addition to your force.

Other cheap legendaries do the same. Commander Eesha can block or swing through any creature-based defense for a guaranteed hit. Meanwhile Brigid, Hero of
Kinsbaile can tap to dole out two damage early on to every blocker of your team, to soften them for Anafenza’s Army (or you can do the same to soften, or
kill, attackers that are deluded into thinking you are an easy target). Jazal Goldmane can give the deck a useful mana sink and an on-curve threat to pump
up everything. (See also: Mikaeus, the Lunarch.)

In case you hadn’t noticed, I want to make sure that my aggro tendencies don’t leave me overly open to counter attacks. In addition to cards that can play
both roles, consider legendary creatures like Mangara of Corondor or Lieutenant Kirtar. Both of them can pop stuff, so they act as additional removal
options, but the major reason for enjoying their company is that they act as powerful rattlesnakes that help to keep opposing creatures from coming your

Now that we’ve seen the legendary side of life, what else suits the aggressive nature we’re trying to build? We have some early beaters, such as Serra
Ascendant. I want to bring pain early and often.

And it’s not just that guy either. Early players like Mother of Runes and Weathered Wayfarer can play nice roles. (Weathered Wayfarer is actually card
advantage here. Use it, and grab a land with cycling and cycle it instead of playing it, then rinse and repeat – three cycling lands are in the deck.) We
have some great early plays here. True Believer is a strong two-drop that helps to keep folks from targeting you with their tricks.

After the theme was pushed hard in the Abzan clan, there are a variety of creatures with outlast that give some ability to all other en-countered
creatures. Before, all we had was Cenn’s Tactician. Let’s toss that guy in of course (we have a few soldiers incidentally in the deck). But the bounty of
Abzan becomes evident. We can give creatures with tokens flying, lifelink, or first strike. That’s a pretty handy slate of supplements to Re-Fenza’s theme.

And it’s not just those guys either. We can toss a bunch of counters on the whole team with a few effects. Consider Cathars’ Crusade or Archangel of Thune
as solid examples. I like Meadowboon because you can evoke it to get the +1/+1 counter or play it normally for the creature, which better fits your theme.

Normally my white decks load up on the Elspeths, but this one doesn’t have as much use for a bunch of token creatures and the other abilities don’t sell
me. Instead we’ll harness the power of a pair of Ajanis that can give the whole squad a bit of a counter boom. Thanks for being a friend! (It’s nice to see
the Goldmane brothers together, right?)

A week after tweaking my Equinaut Commander deck, I had it on the brain, so I
dipped into it for abusing Whitemane Lion again in an identical way. Imagine you have out your Good Leader Anafenza, the Lesser. Now play Whitemane Lion,
and choose to bounce itself back to your hand after it arrives. Each time you do this, you’ll trigger Anafenza the Dead. Stonecloaker will play the same
trick while fighting graveyard abuse a bit. Sure, you can use them to save a creature from damage or removal, or to pull off a Faith’s Fetters or even to
replay a creature with a nice enters-the-battlefield trigger. But having the ability to play off your commander is really sweet!

Another sweet combo is persist. When a creature with persist dies, when they come back, if they are the smallest thing, Anafenza the Cheaper can toss a
counter on them. The goodness of the +1/+1 counter cancels the badness of the -1/-1 counter, and you get a counter-less creature. That’s hot because it can
die, and recur, all over again. Pretty sexy, right?

Now take a gander at Cauldron of Souls. For a simple tap, you can make any number of creatures gain persist. They will come back, smaller, and then you’ll
get a host of Re-fenza triggers. You can stack them, move counters, resolve stuff, and probably get most of the -1/-1 junk off those folks. It’s a great
answer to mass removal or bad combat math. In a similar vein, Twilight Shepherd will aid you.

Isn’t it sad that you’ve spent all of this time building up your creatures, only to see them get killed? I’ve tossed in some ways to fight against
inevitable removal (both targeted, and mass). One option is to run Valorous Stance, Test of Faith, and Feat of Resistance. They grant indestructible,
damage prevention or protection from a color to one of your key guys to keep them in play. If you’ve loaded up a big beater, now you can keep things moving
in the right direction.

Another way is to flicker stuff. A mass flicker creature like Planar Guide can work, and a spell such as Cloudshift can prove useful as well. And why not
just bring back everything that died with Faith’s Reward? Or use Nim’s Deathmantle for the occasional dying creature?

Knowing that we’ll lose stuff, we can also recur them with Sun Titan, Reveillark, Order of Whiteclay, and Timely Hordemate. That gives the deck some useful
ways of fighting the good fight.

We also want to pump the team. Leonin Sun Standard is a great way to do just that, and you don’t see it around much anymore. You can sink mana to grow your
team to great heights. You don’t even have to spend the mana. If you finish your turn with six mana, people will assume that your creatures are +3/+3 when
making battle plans and will usually skip attacking you. It’s a great mana sink and rattlesnake.

Joining the Sun Standard are other…standard…mass pumpers – Spear and Dictate of Heliod (I’m sorry, I just can get out of this bad joke/reference
thing!) I have to start with those two Anthems, because they bring something more to the table than a merely Glorious Anthem. Paragon of New Dawns will
pump every creature in the deck. I ran out of space, but you could toss in something like Marshal’s Anthem or Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”.

This really isn’t a deck that could benefit from Sol Ring or other mana rocks. Most of the creatures included aren’t going to give you much. I added in a
Tithe and Knight of the White Orchid to play with the Weathered Wayfarer from before.

I wanted to add in a few ways to blow up stuff en masse without your own going along for the ride. The first option is clearly Mass Calcify. Normally a
card like Retribution of the Meek can blow up the bigger stuff, but mass pump and counter-age can mess with that plan. Instead, you can rock Fell the
Mighty and scale your removal to your current board position. Because it works with casting cost instead of power or toughness, Austere Command can blow up
a lot more opposing creatures than your own, and it can take out artifacts or enchantments in addition.

Let’s highlight a fun card for this deck. Lashknife Barrier is a classic underused card, and I put it into
my Underused Hall of Fame
a long time ago. Take another look at it, because it works very well in a Commander deck. Your three mana earns an enchantment that replaces itself upon
arrival, so you aren’t losing any cards by running it. It’s a free card. Now, it also prevents the first damage that’s dealt to your creatures. If you are
running a deck with creatures, it seems like a pretty good inclusion.

I felt that we needed a spot of pinpoint removal. We can exile opposing artifacts/enchantments with cards like Act of Authority and Return to Dust, and
opposing creatures with the old standby Swords to Plowshares. Exiling is vital in today’s post-Theros environment (with its indestructible gods). And we
have Unexpectedly Absent to tuck a particularly annoying commander, or as an emergency tuck spell against other non-lands that are extremely irritating.

Speaking of lands, there’s no reason not to run Strip Mine, Wasteland, and Dust Bowl here. We can use them to fight against bad non-basics like Gaea’s
Cradle, Academy Ruins, Maze of Ith, and Cabal Coffers. Don’t use them on mana lands to cut off someone’s mana. Don’t be that person. Just don’t.

White isn’t exactly a color known for drawing cards, so when I have a chance to run Mentor of the Meek, I like to do so. Staff of Nin and Coercive Portal
were included too. The Portal usually acts as a brake on one player getting too out of hand, or else the board will go boom. In a four-player game, three
have to vote on carnage, so you will almost always draw a card, so it’s really nice. Why not throw in stuff like Scroll Rack, Sensei’s Divining Top, Temple
Bell, or Mind’s Eye if that’s your style?

I didn’t mention all of the useful cards in our deck, so you can discover some interesting inclusions on your own!

You could certainly build an Anafenza Jr. brew for Tiny Leaders. Many of the cards we tossed in here could easily make the swap on over.

You could also run stuff like Citadel Siege, Herald of War, or Custodi Soulbinders. You could go a more aggressive route with Brimaz, King of Oreskos or
Odric, Master Tactician.

What did you think? Is there anything in here that resonates with your own deckbuilding? Are there other cards that would support Anafenza, Kin-Tree