Commander Catch Up: Journey Into Nyx Edition!

With so much going on in Magic, Bennie Smith is behind on his new legendary creatures! Bennie fixes this by dishing out some amazing new Commander lists utilizing the new legends that have been waiting on his call!

Khans of Tarkir
is coming up the end of next month and promises at least five new legends to build Commander decks around. Add to that the five new Commander decks coming
out this fall each with a new mono-colored legend and a mono-colored planeswalker to build decks around, and we’re going to have a lot of Commander to
explore in the back half of 2014! Then it occurred to me that I still have a lot of Commander left to explore from Journey into Nyx, Conspiracy, and Magic 2015 and not many weeks left to do it, so this week kicks off lightning rounds of building Commander decks.
Normally when I write about Commander I like to focus on one deck and dig pretty deep into how I went about building it, but I don’t have enough time to
give each remaining legend that level of treatment. By my count, here’s what I have remaining to cover:

With nine juicy legends begging to have decks built around them, I’m going to break them up into three “catch up” columns with three full decklists and a
broad overview on my thought process in picking the cards for each decklist. This week I’ll knock out three of the remaining legends from Journey into Nyx!


First on deck is Athreos, God of Passage. I love this guy for his cheap cost and fairly innocuous abilities. I mean, what’s three life when you start out
at 40? Plus, you don’t have to take that life hit if you can’t afford to, just have the creature bounce back to the player’s hand. When revealing what
Commanders everyone is playing at the beginning of the game, Athreos might raise a few eyebrows but won’t likely raise too many alarm bells.

So assuming we’ve got Athreos in play, what does he bring to the table?

Whenever another creature you own dies, return it to your hand unless target opponent pays 3 life.

There are a couple of interesting angles to consider here hinging on the fact that you can target one particular opponent with the triggers. If they are
relatively low in life then chances are they can’t afford to take the hit to keep your dying creatures in the graveyard. Sure, three life isn’t much to pay
for one creature, but what if you’ve got six creatures dying-do they want to lose eighteen life? They may take the hit for a large threatening creature to
stay dead, but they might figure it’s not worth it for smaller dudes, which raises the value of those creatures higher than they’d typically be in a
Commander game.

Let’s say there’s one player that’s taken a big hit early in the game and is at twenty life. I play Myr Moonvessel and sacrifice it to Viscera Seer to scry
1, and target him with the Athreos trigger. Is he going to pay a seventh of his life to keep it dead? If not, it comes back to my hand, and I’ve got a mana
available to cast it and do it all over again. How many times will he let me do that once he’s let me do it once? I might be able to just scry my whole

To better leverage this angle of “free” Raise Dead effects, I’m including a lot of extra cards that cause players to lose life: cards with extort and cards
like Disciple of the Vault, Blood Artist, Vizkopa Guildmage, Geralf’s Messenger, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Massacre Wurm, and the big daddy, Sorin Markov.

So let’s say there’s a big board wipe, and one opponent lets me get back a few little dudes but pays the life to keep a few big creatures dead… how about
following that up with Second Sunrise or Faith’s Reward and get those threats back anyway? What if you’ve got a No Rest for the Wicked sitting there in
play? What about a Nim Deathmantle?

Another angle is to play the hero by going after whoever at the table is the biggest threat, and targeting another player with the death trigger who may be
inclined to let you continue your shenanigans so long as they’re pointed at the other guy. For instance, why wouldn’t someone let you keep getting back
Keening Apparition if you’re knocking Auras off Uril the Miststalker?

So here’s what I’ve got for Athreos:

Athreos, God of Passage
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 08-22-2014
Magic Card Back

One element I find fun here is tag-teaming Apprentice Necromancer with Doomed Necromancer. Sacrifice Apprentice Necromancer targeting Doomed Necromancer;
does your opponent pay three life to keep Apprentice in the graveyard? If he does, go ahead and resolve the ability, bring back Doomed Necromancer and then
sacrifice Doomed Necromancer to get Apprentice Necromancer back again. Does your opponent pay three life to keep Doomed in the graveyard? You can do this
all night, so eventually the Necromancers will be brought back to your hand, and you can use them to keep bringing back whatever large threat (say,
Kokusho, the Evening Star) that your opponents keep paying life to stay dead.


Next up we have the blue/green God, so let’s train an eye on what Kruphix, God of Horizons brings to the table:

You have no maximum hand size.

If unused mana would empty from your mana pool, that mana becomes colorless instead.

The “no maximum hand size” suggests lots of card drawing along with not playing too many spells, which tells me we’re looking for a “draw-go” style of
deck. Since we’ve got Blue in the deck, that’s an easy direction to go. Of course, one drawback to playing “draw-go” is if you hold up your mana to
counterspell something but there’s nothing that’s worth counterspelling, and it comes back around to your own turn and you’ve not spent your mana on
something, you’ve wasted it for the turn. Lucky for us, Kruphix solves that probably by making sure you never waste your mana.

To further facilitate the “draw-go” nature of the deck I figure we’d want to play some flash creatures like Wolfir Avenger and Venser, Shaper Savant. We
can also play Winding Canyons, Yeva, Nature’s Herald, and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir to give other creatures flash, and Alchemist’s Refuge and Leyline of
Anticipation to give all your nonland cards flash.

Of course, using Kruphix to build a basic “draw-go” deck isn’t taking your Commander to its fullest potential. For that you want to really push the mana
boundaries with Seedborn Muse or Prophet of Kruphix, which will give you a rush of mana during each player’s turn. You can even squeeze in some additional
untap effects like Sword of Feast and Famine and Bear Umbra. For further mana ramp I’ve included Birds of Paradise, Sylvan Caryatid, and Dictate of

So what’s the endgame for all this mana? Without an engine like Palinchron, you’re building a lot of mana but not infinite mana, so I think the best sinks
for a truckload of mana are Blue Sun’s Zenith, Stroke of Genius, and big, bad Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur.

Here’s what I’ve got cooked up for Kruphix:

It may not be as brutal as Quicken + Planar Cleansing, but I’m kinda digging the idea of trying out Quicken + Time Spiral.


Last up today is the one I’ve affectionately nicknamed Uncle Iroh after the awesome character from the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender.
It’s even rather appropriate since Uncle Iroh used to be General Iroh, a very successful military leader and Iroas, God of Victory is all about sending
troops into The Red Zone. Let’s check out his text:

Creatures you control can’t be blocked except by two or more creatures.

Prevent all damage that would be dealt to attacking creatures you control.

The first line means that your creatures are going to be more difficult to block so I kept an eye out for creatures that do fun things if they get through
unblocked; cards like Goblin Vandal, Precinct Captain, Blinding Angel, Orcish Squatters, and Balefire Dragon. Of course, making creatures difficult to
block doesn’t mean your creatures won’t get blocked, so I thought giving an attacker deathtouch with Basilisk Collar or Gorgon Flail will make
double-blocking your guy a real losing proposition since your attacker won’t be dealt any damage itself.

It’s that last sentence that makes things a bit more interesting if we dig beneath the surface. Sure, it means that your attackers are immune to combat
damage, but actually they’re immune to all damage while attacking, not just combat damage. So why not announce attackers and then activate Pyrohemia,
sacrifice Shard Phoenix or cast Inferno? Better yet, activate Ashling the Pilgrim so she doesn’t kill herself or your other creatures! How sweet is Cyclops
Gladiator with Iroas in play, basically getting all the benefits of fighting with no drawback, and adding three mana of devotion to your commander to boot?

Of course, with building a deck around Iroas, God of Victory you’re going to want a fair number of creatures on the board attacking. This can leave you
vulnerable to mass removal so I’ve included cards like Ajani’s Presence, Boros Charm, Spirit Bonds, and Legion’s Initiative to help keep your soldiers on
the battlefield, and a Wheel of Fortune to help you reload.

Iroas, God of Victory
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 08-22-2014

Since I’m in Boros, it seemed natural to add Aurelia, the Warleader and other cards to give us more attacks per turn. This seems particularly sweet with
Marton Stromgald, who normally dies a horrible death when he attacks the first time and boosts your team. Iroas ensures he won’t die in combat, and if you
get two or more attacks in a turn, that’s even more Marton Stromgald triggers! With haste you could easily kill someone out of nowhere.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on these decks I cooked up for the first lightning round; did I miss anything glaring? If you have questions about cards
I included but didn’t specifically mention here, let me know and I’ll give my reasons.

See you 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)