Dear Azami: Clued In

Jess Stirba loves the investigate mechanic! That’s why she’s ready to help out a reader that needs a little something extra in their Commander deck! See what Dear Azami has come up with this week!

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<p>As a Commander player, there are few things that bum me more than a neat mechanic given insufficient support. For example, since <i>Rise of the Eldrazi</i> stopped having Allies for some inexplicable reason, it was quite difficult to make an Ally deck for years. It took visiting <i>Zendikar</i> a second time for us to give the robust support needed to make a reasonably powerful Ally deck.</p>
<p>Of course, the second time around <i>Zendikar</i> also introduced two new under-supported mechanics: Processors and <a href=Wastes. Each was only given a set’s worth of attention, despite being neat enough to merit more.

I hope that Shadows over Innistrad doesn’t follow this pattern with investigate. The mechanic is neat and it’s basically on the cusp of being powerful enough with the current level of support, but a few more quality cards would do a heck of a lot of good. Because Clues are fun! Let’s look at one of the interesting ways to use them:

Dear Azami,

I have been mulling over Clues since I first started seeing the spoilers of how to solve this puzzle. It was hard to let go of white, but Kruphix’s mana ability seems to enable us to use the Clues whenever we want. So here is my current list for Clue Fix with Kruphix. I am willing to large shifts to get more themes involved, but right now I like the ide of just casting more and more spells to develop a solid battlefield and finish with the ultimate riddlers: Sphinxes. One of the interactions I love the most is being able to sacrifice all the unspent Clues to Bane of Progress to finish things out. It’s solving the puzzle with a sledgehammer instead of finesse! I hope you have fun puzzling this one out!

Acidic Slime

Alchemist’s Refuge

Alhammarret, High Arbiter

Altered Ego


Arbiter of the Ideal

Bane of Progress

Beast Within

Briarbridge Patrol

Byway Courier

Coiling Oracle

Command Tower

Conclave Naturalists

Confirm Suspicions

Confront the Unknown


Curse of the Swine

Cyclonic Rift

Daring Sleuth

Diluvian Primordial

Drownyard Explorers

Elvish Visionary

Embodiment of Spring

Erdwal Illuminator

Eternal Witness


Explosive Vegetation

Fleeting Memories


14 Forest

Ghost Quarter

Gone Missing

Graf Mole

Guardian of Tazeem

Halimar Depths

Hinterland Harbor

Homeward Path

10 Island

Isperia, Supreme Judge

Kiora, Master of the Depths

Krosan Grip

Leyline of Anticipation

Lonely Sandbar

Magnifying Glass

Medomai the Ageless

Mystic Snake

Ongoing Investigation

Opal Palace

Oracle of Mul Daya

Plasm Capture

Ranger’s Path

Reclamation Sage

Reliquary Tower

Root Out

Scavenging Ooze

Seasons Past

Simic Cluestone

Simic Growth Chamber

Sphinx of Jwar Isle

Sphinx of Lost Truths

Sphinx of Uthuun

Tamiyo’s Journal

Temple of Mystery

Thornwood Falls

Tireless Tracker

Tolaria West

Trail of Evidence

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Trygon Predator

Ulvenwald Mysteries

Ulvenwald Tracker

Urban Evolution

Weirding Wood

Wood Elves

Yavimaya Dryad

Yavimaya Elder

Zendikar Resurgent

Thanks again for your help if you choose this deck,


This deck is basically playing every investigate or Clue-based spell in Shadows over Innistrad‘s blue, green, and colorless cards. It’s not enough for a full deck, thus Dio had the (frankly brilliant) idea to get some Sphinxes involved.

While I disagree with some of Dio’s choices, in general I felt the deck needed another subtheme. Since Clue tokens are artifacts, I had the idea to do some March of the Machines shenanigans, but Tezzeret the Seeker was the only one I could find that set power and toughness independently of a card’s converted mana cost. Since the CMC of a Clue token is going to be zero, this didn’t seem like a sufficiently fruitful avenue… though I did leave room for Mr. The Seeker.

The next thing that grabbed me was the potential in Fleeting Memories. Incidental mill often proves helpful for opponents in Commander, since the graveyard is so commonly used as a resource in one way or another. It gets better, though, when you dedicate more emphasis to it. I’m not going to spoil the full package, but Grinding Station and Krark-Clan Ironworks are both excellent ways to take advantage of the artificial nature of Clues.

Card Advantage

Out (6): Arbiter of the Ideal; Diluvian Primordial; Elvish Visionary; Isperia, Supreme Judge; Kiora, Master of the Depths; Medomai the Ageless

In (6): Book of Rass; Jace, Unraveler of Secrets; Master Transmuter; Prognostic Sphinx; Sage of Lat-Nam; Sphinx of Magosi

So, first I made some room by cutting some of the card advantage engines. Since there is so much play to the deck already, it doesn’t need the same sort of random card draw as your typical deck, and the number of Clue cards means that there are fewer slots than ever for off-theme action.

For instance, Arbiter of the Ideal is a good card in decks built to take advantage of inspired, but this isn’t one of them. While we could add in Cryptolith Rite or something, that doesn’t really synergize with the rest of the deck, so it’s easier to just cut it. Diluvian Primordial is similarly without overarching interactions, although it might be neat with the mill theme. Still, it seemed an easy cut.

Elvish Visionary is good in decks that either reuse Mulldrifters or have a tribal synergy; this one is neither. Kiora, Master of the Depths is more of a self-mill card, and without creatures or lands tapping for multiple mana, she can likely be replaced.

Isperia, Supreme Judge and Medomai the Ageless confused me. I take it this deck had another Commander at some stage in its construction? Anyway, these cards aren’t in line with the color identity of Kruphix, God of Horizons, so they should be removed.

So let’s look at what I brought in. First off, what I love about Clue-phix is that one of the downsides to Omnath, Locus of Mana and Kruphix, God of Horizons comes when it’s removed during an opponent’s turn (or in the end step, or during combat, or in your upkeep… you get what I mean). In those situations, you need to dump some (usually colorless) mana at instant speed.

Clues make for a good use of that mana, but with abilities like that of Tamiyo’s Journal, perhaps that’s not how you want to spend it. In those cases, Book of Rass and Sphinx of Magosi both offer ways to turn that mana into cards without losing track of your Clues. It’s a toss-up whether it’s better to pay the mana or the life, but the mana at least pumps the Sphinx to which it’s attached. That will not only draw you to action, but it will end games.

Sage of Lat-Nam and Master Transmuter both do something I appreciate: they turn Clues into cards without having to spend the mana on them. Master Transmuter does this aggressively by cheating things onto the battlefield; Sage of Lat-Nam does this more generally, not only giving a discount on the Clues but letting you sacrifice your other artifacts in a pinch.

Prognostic Sphinx is a good Sphinx. It’s a discard outlet that does some deep selection, and it’s pretty hard to get off the table when things are going your way. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets seems fitting in blue decks. There are no other thematic or synergistic reasons for the addition of these two cards.


Out (10): Beast Within; Conclave Naturalists; Curse of the Swine; Forbid; Krosan Grip; Mystic Snake; Plasm Capture; Reclamation Sage; Scavenging Ooze; Trygon Predator

In (4): Draining Whelk; Unstable Obelisk; Spine of Ish Sah; Phyrexia’s Core

Most of these cards were cut because, while powerful, they are not really on any theme. Krosan Grip, Conclave Naturalists, Beast Within, Reclamation Sage, and Trygon Predator are all good noncreature removal options. But one of the reasons I like to cut back on interactive cards is that they just stretch out games. A well-built, well-piloted, and lucky Commander deck can make a game last forever. Since there’s a greater theme at play, and because there was stuff closer to the theme, these seemed worth coming out.

Plasm Capture is a good spell, but it’s hard to cast. It’s neat that you can hold onto the mana for longer than you’d otherwise be able to, but it still means holding up four very specific lands and you can’t play it out as a body in a pinch.

Mystic Snake should be great, since it meets those requirements, but its mana cost is a little heavy as well, and here it adds three pips towards Kruphix, God of Horizons’s devotion. While that seems positive, Kruphix, God of Horizons is at its weakest when it is a creature. Since it’s not winning the game through punches anyway, there’s no need to hurry it to the battlefield.

And that’s what distinguishes Draining Whelk, a counterspell that costs six mana in theory. Sure, the cost on the card is high, but with Kruphix, God of Horizons bleaching any of your spare mana and letting you hold onto the change, you end up with a rolling bank of colorless mana. Looking at this ability as a cost reducer, you can cast Plasm Capture for four mana, Mystic Snake for three, and Draining Whelk for two mana. Like Counterspell. Add in the fact that it leaves a serious threat in its wake, perfect for the late game, and I think it’s a better fit in the deck.

I also considered adding in a Throne of Geth proliferate subtheme, which Draining Whelk better supports, but there weren’t enough things to proliferate. Still, Clues and Throne of Geth will find a home together somewhere, hopefully after further support for this mechanism in Eldritch Moon. The set sounds awesome, and it’s surprising that this is literally the first Magic set designed with more than one woman on the team, but I’m really psyched to see it, and I hope it includes Clues.

Curse of the Swine makes good use of Kruphix, God of Horizons mana on your turn, but it’s not instant-speed. This means you’re going to get put into scenarios where you’re out of luck. If you are going to be spending a bunch of colorless mana at sorcery speed, Spine of Ish Sah is a good fit. Not only does it work well with cards like Sage of Lat-Nam, it’s great with Phyrexia’s Core, the 38th land this deck wants. You need to be making your early land drops before you get your Clue engine online!

Forbid is a card that has grown to annoy me outside of madness-style decks. If the buyback is advancing your gameplan, I can dig it; if it’s just prolonging a game while someone tries to worm themselves out from under a Forbid lock, I’m much less of a fan.


Out (4): Exploration, Urban Evolution, Wood Elves, Yavimaya Dryad

In (4): Dreamstone Hedron, Hedron Archive, Mind Stone, Courser of Kruphix

Courser of Kruphix is such a good card that it definitely earns a slot in a Kruphix, God of Horizons deck. I mean, Kruphix, God of Horizons is the Kruphix in Courser of Kruphix. That’s Vorthos flavor. It helps that the Clue tokens give you increased power over the top card in your library, maximizing the value of the Courser by letting you dig for lands to play out of the library. If you don’t draw them, they’re free cards!

Exploration is good, but this isn’t a deck chasing landfall. Just because it’s powerful doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for this deck. If you disagree, Gaea’s Touch is occasionally a fun supplement to those effects.

Wood Elves and Yavimaya Dryad would both be better with a Breeding Pool in the mix, but without the typed dual land, I don’t know that they earn their slot. Like, in an Edric, Spymaster of Trest deck I’d keep them in a second, but I think Kruphix, God of Horizons wants a different set of ramp options.

That’s why I brought in the three bears: Mind Stone, Hedron Archive, and Dreamstone Hedron. Each one ramps you, each one pops to draw cards, and the Hedron Archive is just right for popping Clues.


Out (1): Traverse the Ulvenwald

In (1): Reshape

Reshape makes better use of colorless mana, and you can sacrifice a Clue token to power it. Traverse the Ulvenwald is less powerful. I’m sure it’s a good card, but in a format with access to Worldly Tutor, Demonic Tutor, and Mystic Tutor, a quick trip Into the Woods doesn’t seem like a good use of the slot. Reshape puts the artifact on the battlefield, and there are still plenty of good targets for it.


Out (0):

In (3): Krark-Clan Ironworks; Sharding Sphinx; Trading Post

These three help the deck advance its gameplan. Trading Post is another one that, on its most basic level, offers you a way to sacrifice Clues for cheaper than you’d otherwise be able to. It just happens to additionally be a whole host of other things too. It’s a recursion engine, offers lifegain to make up for something like Book of Rass, and even provides bodies to gum up the ground in a pinch. Plus, it’s a fun card with a lot of play to it, and I enjoy those the most.

Krark-Clan Ironworks amuses me, but not because it’s a weak card. I just somewhat love the synergy of how it inverts your Clues. Instead of paying two mana and sacrificing it for the effect, you sacrifice a Clue and gain two mana. Since Kruphix, God of Horizons is indestructible and lets you bank mana, in a pinch Krark-Clan Ironworks lets you cash out all your Clues and artifacts while something like Shatterstorm is on the stack, making you a little less vulnerable to mass removal effects. I mean, your positioning on the battlefield still gets wiped out, but you’re not set as far back by it since you have the resources to rebuild.

Sharding Sphinx is another source of artifacts to fuel the Krark-Clan Ironworks, Sage of Lat-Nam, Phyrexia’s Core side of the deck. It is also a Sphinx! Including it hits two stones with one bird.

Doubling Season would also be a good addition, but at some point it became a $50 card. Even beyond that, though, Doubling Season decks generally push a deck towards planeswalkers, and the support for such a strategy is currently not there.


Out (2): Alhammarret, High Arbiter; Guardian of Tazeem

In (5): Blue Sun’s Zenith; Grinding Station; Sphinx’s Tutelage; Stroke of Genius; Tezzeret the Seeker

Sometimes you need to end a game. Currently, your plan seems to be a swarm of Sphinxes. I admire this plan, but sometimes it runs into complications, and in those situations it’s always nice to have a backup plan. Alhammarret, High Arbiter and Guardian of Tazeem do not offer a new avenue of attack. Milling does.

When I went looking for “Sphinx cards,” a piece of my process, I saw this one and instantly knew. Sphinx’s Tutelage not only allows you a way to spend excess mana should you end up in a “use it or lose it” scenario, but it also means that every Clue you crack with it on the battlefield is going to mill an opponent for at least two cards. Since this deck wants to draw a lot of cards, even if you’re behind in the card count, you’ll probably be able to kill them before you deck yourself.

Blue Sun’s Zenith and Stroke of Genius both complement this plan. Early in the game, or if you lose Kruphix, God of Horizons, you can point it at your face and drink from the firehose; in the late-game, when you’ve built up a bunch of mana, you can point it at an opponent’s face for a kill or target yourself with Sphinx’s Tutelage on the battlefield to double its power. Amusingly, this may be one of the rare cases where Stroke of Genius is better then Blue Sun’s Zenith; at least with Stroke of Genius, you don’t need to have more than one blue mana left untapped.

Grinding Station furthers this plan. Grinding Station turns each of your Clues into a three-card mill effect. It’s also a means of sacrificing artifacts, a subtheme I’ve mentioned, and it can be pointed at your own deck in a pinch (say, if you need to clear the top card off your library for Courser of Kruphix or Oracle of Mul Daya).

Finally, there’s Tezzeret the Seeker. This is more in line with the Bane of Progress kill Dio mentioned. Tezzeret the Seeker ultimates to turn all your artifacts into 5/5s. If you have a bunch of Clue tokens on the battlefield, his final ability animates them, and the next thing you know an opponent is facing down a Sorcerer’s Apprentice scenario. I don’t know what it would look like were Clues to stand up and become 5/5s, but I can imagine it’s not something I’d want to be on the other side of. That he can search up artifacts and ramp your artifact mana is just gravy.

The List

The Cost

Despite a temptation to blow half a century on Doubling Season, I kept the budget more reasonable, especially when the weekly $20 coupon to StarCityGames.com is factored into the mix. Here’s how it looks:



Dreamstone Hedron


Phyrexia’s Core


Sage of Lat-Nam


Book of Rass


Unstable Obelisk


Prognostic Sphinx


Sharding Sphinx


Sphinx of Magosi


Stroke of Genius


Mind Stone


Hedron Archive


Spine of Ish Sah


Grinding Station


Trading Post


Blue Sun’s Zenith


Sphinx’s Tutelage




Draining Whelk


Courser of Kruphix


Krark-Clan Ironworks


Tezzeret the Seeker


Master Transmuter


Jace, Unraveler of Secrets




$62.39 isn’t exactly a round number, but it’s reasonable for a deck like this. Until we see some more support in Eldritch Moon (fingers crossed), Clues are going to need to pack some synergistic power, and that tends to get pricey. Still, when the most expensive card in a build is a Standard one, it’s good for accessibility.

That’s it for this week! Tune in next week, for more of the same. And don’t forget… submit!

Want to submit a deck for consideration to Dear Azami? We’re always accepting deck submissions to consider for use in a future article. 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 StarCityGames.com!

Email us a deck submission using this link here!

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