Dear Azami – Answering The Call Of The Herd

Sean McKeown’s article this week has been infected with pachyderms. He helps reader Josh with a specially themed Commander deck for his wife. Can Sean make it work?


Before I get to any talk of the deck itself I would like to preface with a little back-story.

My wife and I met because of Magic. As you are probably well aware the eternal community is rather tightly knit, and a few years back when Kamigawa released I went from playing casually to playing in FNM events. After a few months of playing when I felt my skills as a player were better I began going to larger monthly events held at a local community college here in Pennsylvania. I was intrigued when I saw not only players playing with older cards but a whole event for it with upwards of 25 people. To make a long story short I made very good friends with three gentlemen and became a part of their team. When one of them, Dan Herd, got married in 2008 I was invited. It was at their wedding that I met my wife, where she was the maid of honor. Unfortunately that friend passed less than a year later. My wife and I will be married for two years this August. 

While she had already been exposed to the game through this friend, as she was always around when we played or there to hang out with his wife when we left for events. She let me teach her to play, we started with two Lorwyn pre-cons that my friend had purchased for the purpose of trying to teach her to play. We eventually progressed on to Duel Decks and then finally on to Commander. 

She asked me to build a deck for her of elephants, as they are her favorite animal. It wasn’t a particularly hard idea to compose a deck based on especially when you include rhinos for a pachyderm theme. But in function it seems to be lacking. My friends and I have tried all we could think of to make the deck stand up to other decks, we even tried building a deck specifically to play against it on a similar power level using cats at the theme. It can’t even stand up to the pre-made commander decks either, as I have tried playing it against her precon. She enjoys playing with her Heavenly Inferno deck, but I know she would like to be able to play the Elephant deck against my other Commander decks.

The general we started with was Tolsimir Wolfblood as his abilities seemed to benefit the deck best out of the G/W Legends available. We are considering adding in a 3rd color to the deck as most of the elephants have either the same toughness as they do power or a greater toughness, we are thinking that Doran may be a better choice for the deck. Neither of us want the deck to become like most of the Doran decks that are around.

The Top 5 cards favorite cards in the deck to her are:

Call of the Herd: This card in particular has sentimental meaning to us both. This was one of, if not his favorite card. And when my wife and I went to get memorial tattoos for Dan she chose to use the art for this card. While I chose to use an altered form of his other favorite card, Goblin Welder.

Terastodon: She loves searching up this card as it is so versatile at handling most any issue that can arise. And it doesn’t hurt that when she open our box of Worldwake she opened a foil one.

Sword of War and Peace: This happens to be our cat’s name, Warren Peace. And she had incredible luck opening them; between one box and one fat pack she opened three of them for us.

Bellowing Tanglewurm: She loves giving the majority of the creatures in the deck a reasonable form of evasion.

Loxodon Hierarch: This is a more aesthetic reason for keeping the card. It is her favorite elephant art on a card, and it doesn’t hurt that it is attached to a 4/4 for four and gaining four life.

I know she would prefer to cut as few pachyderms as possible, but we both do realize that they are relatively subpar as creatures. There are two Elephants from Scars block we had not added as we felt them to be too subpar for the deck, Ghalma’s Warden and Loxodon Wayfarer.

Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully a new set of eyes on the matter will make all the difference.

Josh Barkon

A lot of emails I get are along a similar theme, as you might imagine. Mike Flores once said that almost every email he gets from a reader can be summed up thusly: “can you help me make this rusty tin can take down that Star Destroyer?” Sometimes, though, there is a good reason to be that rusty tin can, and needing to be an Elephant is among the best reasons I have ever heard. A charming story to tear at the heartstrings and a love of Elephant Ambush? How could I not pick you?

I do think you have diagnosed the deck’s fundamental flaws pretty well; with the restrictions you have placed upon the deck, another color is required to bring it anywhere near a competitive level, even just with the five pre-built Commander decks. I won’t tell you we can get to high power — and as someone who has gone and gotten himself all jaded lately by one too many games with Animar scrimmaging just as hard as a deck can scrimmage, I know high power when I see it — but we can aim to bring the deck to a level of interactivity and strength that will at least let it play and win a few games at a mid-level competition. You need another color, and Black is not it. You need another tribe, and Rhinos is not it either. What’s cute and cuddly about a rhinoceros? I know you’re picking up on the similarities between a rhino and an elephant… big bodies, thick gray hide, a hint of ivory… but elephants are adorable and who wants to cuddle a rhino? Not even mommy rhinos.

The solution suggests itself, since I wasn’t sold on Tolsimir Wolfblood either. After all, rhinos aren’t cute, but what is more cute than a hippopotamus?

Come on now, you can’t expect me to believe that rhinos are cute and cuddly, and that you hate hippos. Like the elephant, a hippo is both ugly and cute at the same time, and there happens to even be a legendary Hippo you can play as your Commander:

Phelddagrif decks are notorious for being “cute and cuddly,” the kind of “group hug” machine that plans to become indispensable to the opponents early, rely on that utility to not be targeted or attacked, then win late when everyone else has been fighting each other. Your wife’s Phelddagrif deck, however, thinks hippos with wings are almost as cute as elephants, and is born to beat down. If they want to hug you as your pachyderms trample over them, well, that’s their decision, but no “hug plan” here. Cute? Yes. But let us not forget the fact that elephants, while adorable, are also large.

Baby is tiny. Mommy is not. Let’s beat down then, shall we?

First things first we’ll note that the decklist you sent me had 97 cards, not 99, so there are two free slots to fill up in addition to all of the other shifting around. And if we are going to expand the deck from a two-color design to a three-color build, we’re going to need to make some big changes to the mana-base. A fair chunk of change going into the deck will be here, but thankfully these changes will constitute most of the expense going into the deck, as for the most part the changes to the spells and creature base are pretty low-value. Taking your two-color mana-base, we start by paring things down to the fundamentals, and keeping them and only them to begin with:

Bant Panorama, Krosan Verge, Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree, Treetop Village, Stirring Wildwood, Selesnya Sanctuary, Temple Garden

Adding in another color is tough, but once you add the appropriate Ravnica Block dual lands you can work them harder on the pretty cheap. First things first we add the following:

Hallowed Fountain, Breeding Pool, Seaside Citadel, Grasslands, Flood Plain, Misty Rainforest, Simic Growth Chamber, Azorius Chancery, Celestial Colonnade, Command Tower

Colonnade goes in here not specifically because you require another Blue/White dual land, but your lands seem intent on lending some value by attacking, so we’ll go with that plan out of the gate and add the on-color man-land right away. Command Tower I suspected you simply forgot, or had been allocating to other Commander decks, but it serves its function far better than the Ancient Ziggurat you had been using there, especially with some expensive spells in the deck like Rude Awakening and Lurking Predators that it cannot help with.

The next layer I am going to look at is based on the fact that I think you would do well to include a light Life from the Loam package to the deck, to supplement its card drawing but also just to help reach the higher points on the mana curve fairly painlessly. That brings in Tranquil Thicket, Secluded Steppe, Lonely Sandbar and Horizon Canopy can all be added at this juncture, and for that extra slight hint of power we’ll add Strip Mine as well, noting that if you want to cut a dash of expense a Tectonic Edge or Ghost Quarter will suffice in 99% of the scenarios where you’d be calling upon Strip Mine anyway. Choose from what you have ready access to, but I’ll call it a Strip Mine anyway.

Before adding in any basics, this gives much of the same access to Green and White mana as had been given by the Refuge/Palace/Flats/Brushland while also incorporating a third color fairly painlessly. We still want a hint more dual land action from what I can see, but have hit the comes-into-play-tapped resource allocation pretty hard, so much as I might want to start reaching for those easy Elfhame Palace clones, a little bit more work is required in both the filtering department and the speed of access, but we can still accomplish this pretty cheaply and painlessly. In go Sungrass Prairie, Skycloud Expanse, and Flooded Grove to help get the right mana going, and we can fill the rest of the land slots up with basics. The original deck had 35, but with the cycling lands and other similar additions, I am comfortable spending the two spare slots to bring that up to 37, as we’re getting some added utility out of the mana that gives it a spell-like function in several slots and have also made changes that can help you to self-regulate if you draw too much mana.

One Island brings you up to sixteen total Blue sources, an acceptable amount for a Blue splash though it is worth noting that Blue’s a bit hard to get early in the game, so it is more to be relied upon later in the game and we’ll be focusing on Green and White still for the most part. With both your green and white count tied at seventeen a piece and eleven basic lands still to add, we can add three Plains to get back to the twenty white sources it started with, and eight Forests to get back to the twenty-five green sources it started with, meaning it should be no harder to find mana of the right colors for your two primary colors than it was beforehand even though we cut a few Green/White dual lands. The amount of fixing is still there, it just happens to include a third color and needs tap-lands that work with Ravnica-block dual lands, it’s not that I hate Elfhame Palace or anything.

Time to work on the spells. But before we do, a reminder of why we’re doing all this work:

Only two of the Rhinos get to stay, and all but one of the Elephants will be here with us still. Endangered Armodon unfortunately blows up with a few too many of your own cards, like Kazandu Tuskcaller, and since I know I am going to be adding more things that it would blow up with, he will be swapped out for another Elephant. I unfortunately identified all of the following cards as needing to be cut:

Coat of Arms — The theme of the deck is “my things bigger, yours trampled underfoot.” Coat of Arms helps you to take advantage of your Tribal theme, it’s true, but it actually works against the ‘trample underfoot’ plan by making token creatures able to swarm and even outgrow your pachyderm assault squad. Between Equipment and Overrun effects, there is plenty to assist with growing your army, and the card that can accidentally benefit the opponent gets put on the chopping block. When you have power concerns to begin with, cards your opponent can hijack are an unfortunate weakness.

Rancor — Equipment 1.0 is not as good as Equipment 2.0. Rancor is too easy to negate, and doesn’t do enough for the worth of the card, so it falls flat on a cost/benefit analysis.

Mighty Leap — I know, it pains me, because I know you want it just for the picture. It’s a flying elephant! How can I cut it! But unfortunately, if we want to sling a tin can at a Star Destroyer, some of your darlings will have to be cut, and the miscellaneous creature pump combat trick is a clear weak link. This doesn’t always make my draft decks, and it doesn’t weigh in enough to play in Commander.

Evolution Charm — I must really hate flying Elephants, because I am cutting yet another way for a Call of the Herd token to take to the air. The problem here is that it has versatility, yes, but not power. It is a weak mana-fixer… for the same mana price you can play Nature’s Lore and put a dual land directly into play. It is a weak reanimation spell… it provides no mana discount nor any additional benefits, when in Green/White you could be playing Hymn of Rebirth instead for the “how is this not a Black card?” feel. It doesn’t do enough of what it is trying to do, and so it gets cut for power concerns.

Seed Spark — A weak Disenchant plus weak token maker, Seed Spark is getting cut simply to get access to a more powerful card. Plain and simple, it isn’t doing either of its jobs well enough, so we’ll be looking for cards that have a greater impact on the game.

Gift of the Gargantuan — To be replaced with a more powerful card-drawing spell that can serve some of the same roles. This was the slot I saw that made me want Life from the Loam instead, since you can get a lot of value just by adding it to the deck with a few of the cards it was already playing. Getting to Loam back Krosan Verge every turn more than makes up for the fact that it is technically just one land for your draw step… and anything more beyond that is just pure upside.

Day of Judgment — I understand why it is present, but want something that doesn’t as-frequently kill your whole team. I earmarked this in as Austere Command in my mind, as soon as I saw it, because you can choose to miss some parts of your elephant army — say, the Elephant Ambush and Call of the Herd tokens, plus Kazandu Tuskcaller and friends — and have the added versatility of being able to use it against just artifacts and enchantments if that is the job that needs doing.

Sigil Captain, Rockcaster Platoon, Rhox Meditant, Rhox Charger, Rhox Bodyguard, Stampeding Rhino — Rhinos are neither Elephants nor cute. To be replaced with Hippos. (Dauntless Escort and Stonehorn Dignitary can stay, despite being Rhinos and thus not-cute, because they serve excellent functions in the deck and are still welcome.)

Endangered Armodon — An elephant that has an unfortunate tendency to self-destruct. To be replaced with an Elephant you are not playing who does not — Loxodon Partisan may not be the flashiest of cards, but it’s still a beatdown Elephant that is comparable in size and board presence, and happens to never kill himself.

Qasali Pridemage — Cut because we will be favoring reusable effects. Recursion is the key to increasing the power of the deck, in addition to streamlining, so we will be trading the Pridemage for a card whose comes-into-play trigger serves the same function.

Werebear — While a decent scrapper in his own rights, the mana acceleration isn’t really needed and the 1/1 stature when you lack threshold doesn’t suggest him to the deck. I can think of a way to get much the same benefit using only the tribes of cute things available to us, so Werebear gets swapped out.

Birds of Paradise — Mana you don’t really need early on, with no impact on the board and a tendency to just be a casualty when the first board wipe comes along.

Shattered Angel — Not included for its own stats, Shattered Angel is just here as additional life gain, and I don’t think you need that at the expense of being able to play a more powerful card in its place. Your Equipment cards all gain you a good chunk of life, as can reusing Loxodon Hierarch, so Shattered Angel will be moved aside for something a little more powerful to maintain focus.

And now we get to add more things that are cute!

When trying to figure out what, exactly, would give the deck the ability to keep up with something that punched a bit harder than it was, I was reminded of the fact that it doesn’t really matter what creature you kill your opponent with, just that it be able to survive the repeated sweepers and pinpoint removal you can expect to see at a table. You can kill your opponent with a Mosstodon, so long as said Mosstodon was persistent enough to live to fight another day. Once upon a broken time, I used Erratic Portal to pick up Emrakul every turn back in the good old bad old days when this was legal and not-everyone realized this was the most surefire way to win a game, but there is no reason this cannot be applied more fairly to keep your Elephants healthy and trampling against resistance. The addition of Blue allows you a second copy for added consistency — Crystal Shard — as well as improving your second-string tribe to Hippos instead of Rhinos.

With “the plan” being to try and re-use comes-into-play effects and just outlast removal and the occasional awkward block with your two Portals, we’ll try to focus a little on things with reusable effects. Two of your wife’s favorite cards to use already were Loxodon Hierarch and Terastodon — both just got better, because you can do that over and over again now, and a bouncing Terastodon means serious business.

Filling out the remainder of your spells, we want a light sprinkling of countermagic plus a little more card draw and perhaps a few more of the good Green/White cards that will augment your strategy. We’ll fill these in and then move on to the creature base.

Eladamri’s Call — You’re already Green and White, and heavily creature based. Eladamri’s Call is just Demonic Tutor for creatures at instant speed, and is sure to be better than another mid-level Elephant addition because it finds you your best Elephants while also sometimes doing something else that needs to be handled. It augments your best cards nicely by being a second chance at finding it, and has a lot of utility with comes-into-play effects and can even pretend to be a counterspell if you need it to.

Austere Command — The first wrath effect any beatdown deck should be considering. Yes, sometimes you need to Wrath, but the rest of the time you’ll find yourself either trying to play the board in such a way that it becomes advantageous to Wrath or just stuck with the card rotting in hand. Austere Command scales to do whatever job you require of it, and with a decent mix of token creatures and non-token creatures you should be able to find a reasonable number of games in which you can actually use the card as half a Wrath and take out some other troublesome permanents besides.

Martyr’s Bond — One problem you noted was that perhaps bigger creature decks at the table could tangle with you and come out ahead of the fleet of pachyderms. That would be a sad thing to have happen, and in cases such as that a Grave Pact might be a nice thing to have, so that you take down enemy creatures of considerable size even if they win the fight. White happens to have just such a card made accessible to it thanks to the Commander decks, and it gets to super-size the effect to your planeswalkers, artifacts and enchantments as well. This should help take some of the strain off of your desire to have Wrath effects in your deck, as well as just being a great political card that makes it very difficult to mess with your stuff.

Stroke of Genius — So long as we’re splashing, a powerful card-drawing effect would be much appreciated. The deck now has a much easier time hitting the six-to-eight mana mark and thus would like something to help out when you draw a lot of mana, and Stroke of Genius converts a mana-flooded draw into a handful of spells to cast with all of that mana, and a card just like this will also help with the fact that the plan is now to first deploy Elephants and then to try and keep some lands untapped for reactions while bashing and hopefully calling out ‘Taroo!’ every time there is an elephant ambush. This helps reload, and helps reward you for keeping open mana even if nothing turns out to be worth using a counterspell on.

Life from the Loam — Easy to match up with a lot of cards to help draw more mana very profitably, and just by regular use it can be expected to go from mana engine to card advantage engine once some cycling lands show up. Power early plus power late, and very good to help you out of tight situations like a land-light draw. You don’t even need a land that puts itself in the graveyard to work nicely with it, you can actually just cast it for zero then dredge it back the next turn to give you three shots instead of one at land #3.

Arcane Denial — Obligatory cheap counterspell with the lightest blue mana requirement possible. Arcane Denial is great because it is easy to keep open when you are deploying threats, and when you have to answer that threat you don’t even have to make an enemy or go down a card to do so: they get two cards back for their time, to lighten the blow, and you get your card’s investment back as well thanks to it being a cantrip. Once in a while, you’ll even find yourself in a scrape against a deck with considerable countermagic, and can use Arcane Denial on one of your own spells they’ve pointed a counter at to get both halves of the card-draw it offers for yourself, for the full Ancestral Recall. Sometimes in Commander that’s even a creature that is being countered by Desertion or Overwhelming Intellect, so being able to turn a counterspell on yourself cheaply and profitably is worth doing. Normally I would include Remand alongside Arcane Denial as well, as I did in my Animar deck, which is also a great counter to point at something of yours that is going awry, but with such a light commitment to blue it didn’t make sense to add what is in essence just a tempo card, because the problem you solve will still be a problem later.

Spell Burst — The second ‘easy’ counter I reached for was Spell Burst, under the logic that you will often be using it to protect yourself from removal spells, be it pinpoint removal (like Swords to Plowshares) or efficient sweepers (like Damnation). By the time you’re keeping mana up to counter, you should be able to answer most of the problems that are going to be threatening you, and later on in the game when you can use this with buyback once per turn on even mid-size spells it turns into a highly effective control mechanism that can assist in elephant victory. It’s worth noting that for the less-optimistic, Power Sink effects are easier to utilize early in the game than Spell Blast effects, so it may be worth keeping this slot in mind and noting how the deck plays out when this turns up, to figure out if it should be Syncopate, Condescend, or Power Sink instead of Spell Burst. By my estimate you’ll be able to shrug off one-for-one removal on the cheap and still keep your counter, which gives you another layer of protection alongside the Portals, and not being able to easily counter Time Stretch could be a problem but might not actually be a worry — by the time they can Time Stretch, you can Draining Whelk it.

Speak of the devil, it’s time to add the creatures to the mix!

Loxodon Partisan — Another Elephant worth playing, to go with your tribal semi-theme. Battle Cry pumps power on an Elephant force that already tends to trample, so while he is a little light on stats compared to some of your other Elephants — he could have four power for five mana, or only cost three if he has to have three power — not everyone’s going to be a superstar, and this addition’s just filling out the creature base to stay on theme.

Bull Hippo — Because hippos are adorable, and far more adorable than rhinos. They are, unfortunately, not as numerous, so you will be playing every ‘hippo’ in the game (and no, Hippogriffs don’t count). Bull Hippo is average stats for your deck, on the Hill Giant diet, and happens to have a helpful landwalking ability while we’re at it.

How can you not love that face? Really! It’s cute and cuddly and… wait, it does what? The unfortunate fact is that this card no longer works quite as simply as it used to — it used to steal all of your opponent’s mana or force them to mana burn, which would be even better because then you dealt the mana-burn life-loss, the Pygmy Hippo damage, and still had a tapped-out opponent. Now, well, mana empties several times during an attack, so it’s unlikely to ever steal mana from anyone who doesn’t want to help you, but fortunately you can still make the opponent tap out and still take the damage. Once in a while, though, someone will be willing to help you, or at least willing to let you actually keep the mana instead of take the two damage, and it can always help make sure that Team Elephants comes down fine against a hand full of countermagic.

Hippo power!

Questing Phelddagrif — Not quite as good as Big Mama Commander, since it only gains protection instead of returning to your hand, but both Big Mama and her eager daughter are very good at giving friendly opponents life, cards, and Hippo tokens. An unblocked Questing Phelddagrif can actually just pump power to kill an opponent and not care about any soon-to-disappear babies, and at the very worst is a utility 4/4 for four. And has a picture of a cute hippo with wings. With very big teeth because Questing Phelddagrif likes to eat opponents, and is quite capable of the job.

Chameleon Colossus — Stealth elephant! While there is no picture of an elephant — barring slipping a commission to a card alterer — it is nonetheless quite clearly an elephant, and a hippo, and a Ninja Mutant Turtle. (Still no teenagers, though if you play in silver-bordered land you can get to be a Child.) Chameleon Colossus beats down hard and benefits from your Door of Destinies, not to mention the fact that the doubling ability is patently bananas with Behemoth Sledge and Loxodon Warhammer. I once doubled this twice after attacking with a Sovereigns of Lost Alara in play to search up an Eldrazi Conscription, and tales of the multiplayer free-for-all where Mark Rosewater previewed this card in-game told of thousand-power attacks. There are new dreams to live for with Chameleon Colossus around!

Mirror Entity — Another changeling that happens to advance your overall theme, this time taking all that spare mana you’ve built up with Life from the Loam and more bouncelands to work with and turning it directly into damage. Worth noting that it passes the Changeling ability around, so when the Door of Destinies is charged up Mirror Entity not only partakes but can share the blessings to any other unassociated passers-by. Also worth noting that both Chameleon Colossus and Mirror Entity count as Slivers, for an accidental side-interaction to be made next.

Harmonic Sliver — Replacing Qasali Pridemage, to further take advantage of comes-into-play triggers and your Erratic Portal effects. The risk of the opponent getting one of these triggers for themselves by accident should be small, since the people who will have a Sliver will tend to broadcast it with a Sliver Commander… and they should never be able to get a Portal with it anyway (why wouldn’t you just Portal the Harmonic Sliver back to your hand?), just your equipment, which are sparse enough on the ground that you shouldn’t be losing any sleep to enemy changelings appearing out of nowhere to rob you of your Warhammer.

Mystic Snake — A hard counter, and able to be reused with Erratic Portal. Not an elephant, but at least a little cute.

Draining Whelk — A bigger hard counter, able to be reused with Erratic Portal and to beat down for many fine damages, since it will tend to come down Dragon-sized. Not in the least bit cute, but that’s shellfish for you.

Kamahl, Fist of Krosa — Another Overrun effect, to make up for the fact that I asked you to pull the Coat of Arms out of the deck. As I said, we’d replace them with others, and Kamahl fits in nicely with your overall plan just like Mirror Entity does, and helps to win creature battles or just kill folks dead. Any long-time Commander player has also seen the dangerous abilities Kamahl has once he sits in play with some open mana, not just to one’s now-fragile life total but to completely altering what a ‘good’ response to your swarm is. One Wrath out of them is a lopsided Armageddon too while you’re at it, and later in the game a Kamahl on an empty board can still animate several lands and attack with an Overrun out of nowhere, an impressive feat very few green cards can match, making the Fist of Krosa not just an Overrun effect but potentially a second Rude Awakening that can likewise just kill someone off a mana-heavy but empty board.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this is not that I added Kamahl to your green deck, but that in all of these deck clinics so far this is the first time I’ve added Kamahl to a green deck. But attacking with a swarm of creatures is clearly your plan, where otherwise it is often not, so very clearly it’s a fit. This completes the deck very nicely, and gives you the following final decklist:

Sean McKeown
Test deck on 08-21-2011
Magic Card Back

Hopefully we’ve kept nicely on theme, even if I’ve suggested a Commander switch for the first time here on Dear Azami, and improved the way the deck plays out and the ways in which it can interact with the opponent enough to be able to keep up with more mid-powered Commander decks, maybe not enough to start taking down games against the five Commander decks routinely, but still able to win enough to keep your wife happy and certainly be competitive enough that the game is pleasing and fun. Also, the first time your wife locks out another creature deck with Erratic Portal + Stonehorn Dignitary, something very special indeed will have happened.

We’ve made a lot of changes, and some of them will be pricy. Hopefully, you’ll have access to some of those cards already — most long-term Commander players have access to enough Ravnica block dual lands to play whatever decks they want to play, and I won’t have to feel incredibly, incredibly guilty at suggesting Breeding Pool and Hallowed Fountain at the now-very-expensive price they command. Not too very long ago, they were easy $5 cards, so I’m going to hope you can shift them over from another deck for your wife to play with, and that likewise the same is probably true of the Misty Rainforest that plays the role of on-colored fetchland for you. If you have more fetchlands you can access, like some Verdant Catacombs and Arid Mesas (for Standard players) or the on-colored Windswept Heath and Flooded Strand that used to be the way things were, they would only serve to improve the mana-base even further and should be worthwhile considerations.

Additionally, it’s a shame you don’t have an Elephant Graveyard. Not that I am going to be surprised by this or anything, but if you have a Commander deck built on an Elephant theme, it would be totally awesome if you did. (Another card that might quickly become beloved is Woodfall Primus, which is especially clever with Portal effects that can return it to your hand after it has Persisted naturally.) And as always, for your participation in this week’s Dear Azami, you will find in your email box a $20 coupon to the Star City Games online store, to potentially help pay for any replacements and substitutions you might want to make, and the cards I suggested for addition to the deck have the following prices, for your consideration:

Loxodon Partisan $0.15
Bull Hippo $0.25
Lonely Sandbar $0.25
Secluded Steppe $0.25
Tranquil Thicket $0.25
Flood Plain $0.39
Azorius Chancery $0.49
Grasslands $0.49
Simic Growth Chamber $0.49
Spell Burst $0.49
Crystal Shard $0.75
Pygmy Hippo $0.75
Arcane Denial $0.99
Draining Whelk $0.99
Harmonic Sliver $0.99
Phelddagrif $0.99
Questing Phelddagrif $0.99
Erratic Portal $1.39
Mystic Snake $1.39
Seaside Citadel $1.49
Sungrass Prairie $1.49
Austere Command $1.99
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa $1.99
Skycloud Expanse $1.99
Eladamri’s Call $2.75
Mirror Entity $2.75
Command Tower $2.99
Martyr’s Bond $2.99
Strip Mine $2.99
Chameleon Colossus $3.99
Celestial Colonnade $4.49
Stroke of Genius $5.99
Flooded Grove $6.99
Horizon Canopy $7.99
Life from the Loam $9.99
Misty Rainforest $12.99
Hallowed Fountain $34.99
Breeding Pool $34.99

Here is to hoping your wife can get what she wants out of her love of attacking with Elephants, and maybe find a little love for attacking hippopotami as well.

As a side note before I let you go, I have been told by Andy from CommanderCast that by the time this article is posted you will be able to find his call-in-episode show in which I was one of several guests invited onto the show. If you’re interested in Commander and might be interested in podcasts, especially podcasts that trend towards the lighter and casual instead of jam-heavy and hyper-competitive, CommanderCast might be just the thing for you to give a try to! Every time I’ve listened to their podcasts I’ve been quite pleased with them, and in this episode I bring forth the topic of ‘is Animar, Soul of Elements too good?’ One too many games of jamming as hard as possible with Animar causes me to ask whether the combination of protection abilities, growth, and free mana might not be just that little bit too good to play as a commander, and much is discussed on the podcast.

Following through on this week’s CommanderCast, for our next edition of Dear Azami we are going to look at a deck of Andy’s… to face a problem many have posed, and tackle one of the most well-loved of the Ravnica Commanders when we work through his Savra, Queen of the Golgari deck!

Sean McKeown

Want to submit a deck for consideration to Dear Azami? We’re always accepting deck submission to consider for use in a future article, like Edwin’s Dakkon Blackblade deck or Omar’s Adun Oakenshield deck. Only one deck submission will be chosen per article, but being selected for the next edition of Dear Azami includes not just deck advice but also a $20 coupon to the StarCityGames.com Store!

Email Sean a deck submission using this link here!

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