Conspiracy: Take the Crown has been revealed in its entirety, and two legendary creatures in particular look amazing. Queen Marchesa gives that Mardu wedge options for an archetype other than aggro, which really hasn’t been available until now, and Leovald, Emissary of Trest is an amazing hatebear (hatehillgiant?) against one of the most common effects in Commander.
But this week isn’t about looking forward at the new set. There’s one last thing that I want to cover from Eldritch Moon first.
I am a reanimation fiend in Commander. I love the value that can be gained by recurring creatures from the yard. As such, most of my favorite decks involve white and black (Karador, Ghost Chieftain is my soul mate). When the new Bruna was revealed, I saw the potential to make a mono-white reanimator deck. Sure, I could only recur Angels and Humans, but in mono-white, what else would I really want to recur? Angels are one heckuva tribe in Commander, and Humans aren’t too shabby either.
The unfortunate thing, though, is that Bruna can’t just be blinked to be abused. I added in Erratic Portal to bounce her back to my hand for recasting, but at a seven-mana investment, that’s not exactly giving me a ton back in value. Still, here is where I landed…
Creatures — 35
Lands — 39
Enchantments — 4
Light From Within
Artifacts — 10
Sorceries — 4
Instants — 7
First, yes, I included the new Gisela to try to live the dream and get Brisela on the battlefield. However, I am not trying to gear the deck in that direction. The inclusion of Thalia’s Lancers is about as much as I am adding in to help the melded monster appear. The main focus of the deck is to create an army of beatdown angels and humans that never truly die. Angels often come with a slew of keywords, so I included the newest Odric to help the entire army gain so extra skills. Bruna and many of the angels are expensive, so I included a bunch of ramp. While I like a lot of the deck, I have some worries.
1. Card draw – I don’t have a lot of sources of card advantage. I have some good sources, and I have a fair amount of recursion value, but I worry that it is not enough.
2. Early game – Like I mentioned, many of the Angels are expensive, so I am worried about surviving the early-game to make it to the late-game where my heavenly creatures can bash faces.
3. Bruna – I like Bruna a lot, but like I said, since her ability is cast-only, I am trying to figure out how to grind extra value from her. Any missing tools I can add in?
4. Lands – I feel like it is hard to spice up the manabase of mono-colored decks, but I’m sure it is possible. Any ideas?
My budget for the deck is about $80, including the store credit.
Thanks for the lookover! I can’t wait to see the results!
I knew it was a matter of time before someone sent in a list built around Bruna, the Fading Light. First, she gives you a much better chance of melding Brisela, Voice of Nightmares in a game than having Gisela as your commander. Second, she’s somehow the first legendary creature in the history of Magic that gives you a mechanical reason to run a tribal Angel deck.
Obviously, Kat is leaning more towards the second reason than the first, but that’s fine. I have some history with mono-white Angels myself, as my first Commander deck was built around Akroma, Angel of Wrath. As an archetype, the Angels deck was always in a weird place because there weren’t any incentives to actually build tribal, and green-based decks could usually aggro faster, so you wound up trying to play aggro-control with disruptive creatures like Angelic Arbiter and Archangel of Tithes.
That was never really a bad plan, but none of the available commanders supported the deck. Akroma is a great clock, but she’s nothing but a beatstick. Avacyn does an amazing job of protecting your creatures, but once she’s the commander, there’s no reason to not run as many battlefield wipes as possible and simply make your opponents as miserable as possible. The newest iteration of Bruna actually gives your deck a degree of resilience by letting you rebuy your lost creatures.
Now, before I go into the individual changes in this section, there’s something that I want to talk about. I’ve played with this archetype a fair amount, and in my experience the single greatest hurdle to deckbuilding is the temptation to overload on your theme. You’re making an Angel tribal deck, after all, so why wouldn’t you play as many Angels as possible?
The problem is that we’re talking about a tribe with only a handful of meaningful plays at four mana and effectively zero below that threshold. Filling the deck with Angels almost always results in a giant clog at six and seven mana and very little ramp to reach that point. There’ve definitely been games where I wound up praying to just draw lands five or six turns in a row so that my deck could function properly.
The result of all this is that I’m going to be cutting a lot of good cards out of your creature section so that I can beef up the other sections to give you more tools that do things in the early- to mid-game.
With that out of the way, let’s get on to the changes:
Aegis Angel and Deathless Angel are both fine ways to protect your creatures, but given that your deck is built around recursion, that’s a lot less necessary than normal. Add in the fact that Deathless Angel is just plain expensive to use, and we can afford to get rid of these.
Now, I know you called out Odric specifically, but look at the abilities he grants. Your team all have flying already, we just got rid of the main things that grant indestructible, and other than a few examples of first strike or vigilance, the only other significant boosts Odric can give you come from Gisela and Akroma. That doesn’t make the card bad, but we can do better.
Resolute Archangel is a fine tool against aggressive decks, but I’ve seen people get knocked from 40 to dead in one shot too many times to value this at seven mana.
Restoration Angel is getting cut for one simple reason. It can only target non-Angel creatures, so you can’t use it with any of your own creatures.
Subjugator Angel would be great in an Akroma deck where all you want is a finisher to let you punch through the last few points of damage. Here, where you’re less aggressive and more interested in grinding out battlefield advantage, that kind of Falter effect is much less necessary.
Pentarch Paladin can do some awesome things, but it’s slow and mana-intensive, and you effectively have to declare whom you’re trying to hose a full turn before you use it. Oftentimes, you’ll make enemies as soon as this hits the table.
And finally we come to Blinding Angel. In a lot of ways this is a lot like Subjugator Angel in that it’s a great tempo card, but unless you’re willing to lock a deck without fliers out of combat forever, sooner or later someone’s going to get the chance to use that Overwhelming Stampede that they’ve been holding back, and their whole army will be pointed your way. I’d rather not attract that kind of attention.
I’ll be talking more about your ramp needs in the artifact section, but for now Palladium Myr is a card that guarantees you five mana on turn 4, or six if you’ve got a land drop. That’s right in the range your deck needs to function.
When it comes to deterrents and ways to keep you alive, Windborn Muse is a fantastic option. It’s not the best against Voltron commanders, but anything that keeps incidental attacks away from you when you’re setting up is good.
This might seem weird after adding Palladium Myr, but Hedron Archive is a full turn slower, and given that your important creatures start at five mana instead of six, I was willing to trade this in for a more vulnerable card. Yes, Archive is better when you flood out on lands and need cards, but I’m more concerned with racing to the point when you can start playing the game than getting a few extra cards once the game goes long.
You said you included Erratic Portal to be able to reuse Bruna’s cast trigger, and the closest card I could find to duplicate that effect is Dragon Mask. Not bouncing until the end step isn’t great, but using it at the end of your opponent’s turn will let you play Bruna on your turn, and even if it’s slow, it’ll let you get a ton of value out of your commander.
Staff of Nin joins Tamiyo’s Journal as repeatable card advantage and comes with the added bonus of a hard-to-kill pinger.
Extraplanar Lens is a very strong piece of ramp for mono-colored decks, and in ideal scenarios it can give you six mana on turn 4. In that sense it’s similar to Palladium Myr and Worn Powerstone, but the ceiling it has in the late-game is much higher.
And lastly we come to Norn’s Annex. “Pillow fort” cards are one of the best ways to survive the early game, and Norn’s Annex is simultaneously one of the best and worst versions out there. It’s amazingly powerful because of how tightly it restricts attacks against you, but at the same time white decks can pay this tax more easily than any of the others, and if anyone ever decides it’s worth paying 38 life to attack you, you can’t really stop them.
Blind Obedience is great at slowing down haste creatures and your opponents’ defense, but you’re not really set up to take advantage of that tempo advantage, and it doesn’t actually slow down your opponents’ offense in most cases.
Ghostly Prison shouldn’t be a surprise after Norn’s Annex and Windborn Muse. It’s one of the best versions of the effect, and there’s not much more to say about the card.
Marshal’s Anthem is an Anthem, but once you hit the late-game it’s a multi-target reanimation spell that can provide a huge swing of battlefield presence. Given how high-impact your creatures are, even two or three coming back at once will make a big difference.
Endless Horizons may not be particularly flashy, but it serves two roles here. First, you can slam it on turn 4, get five to ten lands out of your deck, and secure your land drops for the rest of the game while not screwing yourself if someone blows it up. Second, if you draw it late and you already have all the lands you need, you can rip all the Plains out of your deck and make sure you draw nothing but gas while still probably ensuring you’ll always hit land drops.
Sigil of the New Dawn lets you pay mana to return any creature that dies to your hand, which turns any attempt to trade resources with you into a grueling slog for your opponents, made even worse for them by Bruna’s reanimation ability.
And speaking of slogs of card advantage, Enduring Renewal is a card that often gets overlooked because it basically locks you into winning with the creatures you already have on the battlefield, but it makes sure they never truly perish. Oftentimes giving up the potential to draw into a new threat, as well as the downside of losing hidden information, makes this card not worth it, but you don’t rely on combat tricks at all, and bouncing and replaying Bruna will let you get any creature you’ve milled past onto the battlefield, which adds it to the cycle of undying Angels. If ever there was a perfect deck for Enduring Renewal, it’s this one.
Arguably, I should’ve tried to build sacrifice outlets into the deck to really take advantage of this engine, but there wasn’t quite room. If you want to go that route, Martyr’s Cause is probably the first one I’d look at, followed by Scapegoat.
Debt of Loyalty is one of those cards that looks good on paper. But I tried to play with it for three years, and I literally never got to take a creature with it. What isn’t apparent when first reading the card is that the creature actually needs to get regenerated in order for the Mind Control effect to kick in; considering that many favorite wraths either exile or specifically hose reanimation and a creature the dies in combat will almost always be at best the second-strongest on the field, and this almost never pans out in practice.
Valorous Stance is an amazing combat trick, but for this deck I’d rather have more reanimation effects than an “indestructible until end of turn” spell, and while the removal side is useful, you have a lot of Oblivion Ring-style effects that can take out a much wider range of targets.
Abeyance is a great way to stop an opponent in their tracks for a turn, and I’ll be honest enough to say that I don’t know if this cut is right or not, but I needed another slot, and nothing else stood out as cut-worthy.
I actually really like Akroma’s Vengeance here, as you’re very well set up to recover from battlefield wipes. However, since you’re not running any planeswalkers, you might as well run a Wrath that takes care of them as well as the other permanent types.
There isn’t much to say about Breath of Life and False Defeat. Like Defy Death, they’re solid, single-shot reanimation spells that come at a reasonable rate. Solidly on-theme. I’ve never regretted running either of these.
As for Planar Cleansing, unless your metagame spends a lot of time animating lands, it’s just better than Akroma’s Wrath. Killing planeswalkers in the disaster makes this card one of the best hard resets out there, although it can’t get around indestructible.
You said you wanted to spice up the manabase a little, and while you don’t want to cut too many lands because of Extraplanar Lens and Emeria, the Sky Ruin, there was room to get some utility lands into the mix.
Haunted Fengraf lets you cash in a land for a randomized Raise Dead late in the game, which is both on-theme and a fine effect to have in a land slot.
Terrain Generator and Myriad Landscape both let you build just a little bit of extra ramp into the deck, and in the right hands they can let you skip to having five mana on turn 4. That’s a small upside, but given that your real curve starts at five, the turn these can save you isn’t something to underestimate.
Putting it all together, here’s the finished decklist:
- 1 Mother of Runes
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Weathered Wayfarer
- 1 Windborn Muse
- 1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Mageta the Lion
- 1 Reya Dawnbringer
- 1 Adarkar Valkyrie
- 1 Knight of the White Orchid
- 1 Guardian Seraph
- 1 Angelic Arbiter
- 1 Palladium Myr
- 1 Sunblast Angel
- 1 Shattered Angel
- 1 Fiend Hunter
- 1 Angel of Jubilation
- 1 Herald of War
- 1 Angel of Serenity
- 1 Angelic Skirmisher
- 1 Banisher Priest
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Angel of Finality
- 1 Angel of the Dire Hour
- 1 Archangel of Tithes
- 1 Emeria Shepherd
- 1 Bastion Protector
- 1 Gisela, the Broken Blade
- 1 Thalia's Lancers
- 1 Ghostly Prison
- 1 Wrath of God
- 1 Urza's Incubator
- 1 Pearl Medallion
- 1 Enduring Renewal
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Breath of Life
- 1 Extraplanar Lens
- 1 Mind's Eye
- 1 Sigil of the New Dawn
- 1 False Defeat
- 1 Dragon Mask
- 1 Mind Stone
- 1 Miraculous Recovery
- 1 Erratic Portal
- 1 Worn Powerstone
- 1 Thran Dynamo
- 1 Condemn
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Oblivion Ring
- 1 Endless Horizons
- 1 Light from Within
- 1 Planar Cleansing
- 1 Day of Judgment
- 1 Marshal's Anthem
- 1 Norn's Annex
- 1 Defy Death
- 1 Staff of Nin
- 1 Faith's Reward
- 1 Grasp of Fate
- 1 Tamiyo's Journal
And the additions, sorted by price:
The changes add up to $58.31, more than twenty dollars under Kat’s budget. As always, she will receive $20 in store credit to StarCityGames.com for having her work featured and to help with these changes.
The one regret I have with this deck is that Linvala, Keeper of Silence isn’t an affordable five-dollar mythic anymore. The card is great, but there was no way to work it into the budget. The other big debatable point is that maybe I should’ve found room for the Land Tax / Scroll Rack engine, which is one of white’s strongest ways to gain card advantage, but in the end that wasn’t in the budget either, and Staff of Nin will do a great job in its own right.
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