There’s no way to play Atogatog and not have a great time. It starts with the artwork and never stops! But Bennie is using more than just a tribal strategy here; he wants to bring a few Amonkhet cycles to life in the possible!

I had a good time at Grand Prix Richmond over the weekend! It is hard to
beat having a gigantic Magic event in your own hometown. It was my weekend
to have my kids and since I have not yet been able to get them hooked on
Magic, I wasn’t able to bring them down and play in the main event for
Saturday and Sunday; however, I took a vacation day from my full-time job
on Friday and spent the day at the Richmond Convention Center. My original
intention was to play the Infinite Challenge on Friday, starting with a
Sealed Deck in the morning and then playing in Standard and Modern
Challenges later in the day. Ultimately, I opted for some Sealed Deck Grand
Prix Trials instead.

Sealed Deck is probably my least favorite Magic format. While there is
definitely skill involved when it comes to building your deck from a
Limited pool, you are stuck with what you open in your packs and sometimes
you get some bad packs. Each person’s pool of commons and uncommons will
likely be of a similar power level, but the game-breaking rares (not to
mention mythic rares) can really make or break you. For instance, look at
these two sets of six rares:

Which would you have rather opened? Now granted, not many stacks of rares
will be as mediocre as the first list, nor as eye-popping as the second
list, but the larger the event, the more these pools will happen. My
philosophy tends to be, in order to win a Sealed event of any decent size,
you need to be a really good player who opens something close to that
second stack of rares (plus the usual amount of run-goods that you need to
win any big Magic tournament).

So when it comes to Sealed Deck, I usually just stick to Prerelease
tournaments. They are small, they tend to emphasize fun, and it is a blast
to get your hands on new cards before you get a chance to buy them. Amonkhet is so chock full of flavor that I felt that more than
made up for any hesitancy I have playing Sealed.

I opened what I thought was a decent pool and went 2-2, losing my last
round in three games to a person that had a really amazing card
pool. One thing that really caught my attention was how much better a deck
could be if you could take advantage of the synergy between Trials and
Cartouches. My deck did not have enough of either to make much of a
difference, but I played against a few decks and saw a few others on either
side of me that were really rocking and rolling on the synergy to generate
some impressive card advantage. So much so that I could not help but wonder
if we could build something around them in Standard?

Trials and Cartouches

I think the answer is probably not. For one thing, having so many of them
occupy the three spot on a mana curve makes it tough, especially given how
many other great three-mana spells there are in Standard. So naturally my
mind turned to Commander. Could we get these things working in our 100-card

Thinking things through, we would obviously need a five-color deck to
maximize our chances of drawing at least one of each; even with five of
each, there are going to be times in a hundred-card decks where that might
not happen naturally, but we’ll get to that. First though-which five color
legend should we pick as our commander? None of them has any sort of
enchantment synergies. The one that really jumped out at me was Sliver
Hivelord since an indestructible commander makes a good target for auras
like Cartouches.

However, something happens to a game when you reveal that your commander is
one of the five-color Sliver legends. You become the Archenemy. It is not
unjustified-Sliver decks are brutal, fast, resilient, and deadly. It takes
multiple opponents working together to keep the Sliver horde at bay. And
even if I proclaimed that my deck wasn’t really about Slivers, there would
still be that suspicion. Not to mention temptation to take advantage of
Sliver synergies.

No, I think it best not to go that route. Okay, so who? After thinking on
it some more, I arrived at a delightful conclusion:

I have been looking for an excuse to play Atogatog for a long time. First
off, the artwork is just fantastic. And the flavor is off the chain! Atogs
are known for voraciously eating certain things to get bigger-it’s just
amazing that Atogatog voraciously eats Atogs to get bigger.

The reason I settled on Atogatog is because of this Atog:

I have always loved the artwork on this card, and if we’re building a deck
to highlight Cartouches and Trials, we will probably have a lot of
enchantment synergy. Auratog can eat many enchantments to get really,
really big. And thus we may be able to eat Auratog to make Atogatog really
big and kill someone with Commander damage.

I debated adding a few more Atogs that eat enchantments but decided on just
these two Changelings instead. Mirror Entity is perfect since it can
potentially turn every creature into an Atog for consumption. Chameleon
Colossus is a threat all its own, especially if it gets bigger from auras,
and Atogatog can always scoop it up as a snack if needed.

Okay, so I had my commander and a couple Atog snacks to go along with it.
Now what?

Auras Matter

One card that really surprised me was Remove Enchantments. I’ve been
playing Magic since before Legends so I’ve seen this card over the
years but not really seen it in action. I’ve certainly never taken the time
to read it’s official Oracle text. Check it out:

Return to your hand all enchantments you both own and control, all
Auras you own attached to permanents you control, and all Auras you own
attached to attacking creatures your opponents control. Then destroy
all other enchantments you control, all other Auras attached to
permanents you control, and all other Auras attached to attacking
creatures your opponents control.

Okay, so for one white mana at instant speed I can save most all of my
auras and enchantments from mass removal? I can bounce my Cartouches and
Trials and any other ones with enters-the-battlefield effects back to my
hand and play them again? Sign me up!

It also seemed like a good time to dip back into Theros,
especially for the heroic mechanic. I tried to pick those creatures with
triggers more than just putting a +1/+1 counter on the targeted creature
since they tend to be a little better in a slower format like Commander.

Kor Spiritdancer and Sram, Senior Edificer provide raw card advantage that
certainly helps make auras playable. And it’s fun to dust off Rabid Wombat
and his legendary big brother Uril, the Miststalker to suit up with some
auras. At the top end of the curve, Bruna, Light of Alabaster is a great
way to Voltron-up a huge threat and recover any auras that have made their
way to the graveyard.

Other Auras

The enchantment creatures from Theros block make good honorary
auras that can also be creature recipients of auras in their own right, but
as I started trimming down the deck to 62 non-land cards, quite a few of
them got cut. Hopeful Eidolon is cheap and the lifelink is handy; and of
course any deck where Chromanticore fits has to play Chromanticore! Rancor
and Spirit Loop are auras with great resiliency, and it can turn into card
drawing engines with Auratog and a few other cards we have in the deck.

Enchantments Matter

Cartouches and the Trials are both enchantments, so I broadened the scope
from auras matter to enchantments matter and there are some real good ones
available. Replenish, Eidolon of Blossoms, Sigil of the Empty Throne, and
Starfield of Nyx are all powerhouse cards. I certainly look forward to
casting Replenish with a Doomwake Giant on the battlefield!

Other Enchantments

I rounded out the enchantment suite with these two cards. Authority of the
Consuls is like an enchantment Soul Warden, and Sylvan Library provides
some good card selection and can turn into a mini card-drawing engine with
enough life buffer.

Last but not least I made room for the King:

The Cartouches have enter-the-battlefield effects. The Trials have
enter-the-battlefield effects. A lot of other cards have
enter-the-battlefield effects, so Brago, King Eternal’s ability to flicker
everything and trigger the effects again was a slam dunk choice.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Bennie Smith
Test deck on 05-12-2017
Magic Card Back

This certainly ended up being quite different from where I thought I’d be
when I started thinking about the Cartouches and Trials in Commander. What
do you think of the deck? Do you have any other ideas I should include?

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 write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visionary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

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)

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)

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)

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)

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)

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)

Konda, Lord of Eiganjo ( The Indestructibles)

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)

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius ( new player-friendly)

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!)

Progenitus (

Fist of Suns and Bringers


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)

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)

Uril, the Miststalker (my “more competitive” deck)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

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