Dear Azami: Lunarch Ascension

Odric’s return to the Commander scene is already a hit! The legend makes a lot of his supporting cast more fun and interesting, and Levi Byrne is ready to build a keyword-infused beast of a deck in time for Shadows over Innistrad!

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease March 26-27!

Hello all, I’m back for a third week. Jess will be back next Tuesday; she just needed some time off to recoup from the big #GPDC weekend!

One of the most interesting aspects of returning to an old plane is that we get to see what happened to the characters we met during our first visit. Sometimes that means a huge shift, like Avacyn, Angel of Hope going mad and becoming Avacyn, the Purifier or Omnath, Locus of Mana getting all angry, but sometimes the changes are a little more subtle.

Dear Azami,

Hello Dear Azami!

I have been a fan of gothic horror and Lovecraftian nightmares for a long, long time, and as such, Innistrad is one of my favorite planes. The cards are super flavorful and I love the tribal support cards Spirits, Vampires and Zombies received. When I saw that the next set was going to take us back to Innistrad, I could barely keep myself from bursting at the seams.

However, of the cards revealed so far, the one that excites me the most is the white Human legendary creature: Odric, Lunarch Marshal.

He strikes me as a creature version of Concerted Effort but with some differences in abilities (Odric can give cool things like menace and deathtouch, but Concerted Effort can give stuff like landwalk and protection). And I’ve always liked Concerted Effort best in decks with two things: lots of tokens and equipment/auras drenched in keywords. Luckily, white’s slice of the color pie plays well with both of those things.

Here’s my list:

Creatures (24)

Frontline Strategist

Auriok Steelshaper

Leonin Shikari

Puresteel Paladin

Kor Outfitter

Stone Haven Outfitter

Oreskos Explorer

Brass Squire

Mentor of the Meek

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

Burnished Hart

Bastion Protector

Auriok Windwalker

Field Marshal

Enlistment Officer

Steelshaper Apprentice

Daru Warchief

Hero of Bladehold

Catapult Master

Knight-Captain of Eos

Celestial Archon

Auriok Survivors

Captain of the Watch

Darien, King of Kjeldor

Artifacts (17)

Shield of the Avatar

Masterwork of Ingenuity


Sol Ring

Lightning Greaves

Swiftfoot Boots

Trailblazer’s Boots

Konda’s Banner

Sword of the Animist

Chariot of Victory

Darksteel Plate


Loxodon Warhammer


Sword of Vengeance

Commander’s Sphere

Moonsilver Spear

Enchantments (7)


Concerted Effort

Faith’s Fetters

Angelic Destiny

Cathars’ Crusade

Spectra Ward

True Conviction

Planeswalkers (4)

Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Gideon Jura

Knight-Captain of Eos

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Instants/Sorceries (9)


Gaze of Justice

Brave the Elements

Gift of Estates

Conqueror’s Pledge

Nomads’ Assembly

Deploy to the Front

Martial Coup

Decree of Justice

Lands (38)

Emeria, the Sky Ruin

Temple of the False God


Ghost Quarter

Drifting Meadow

Myriad Landscape

32 Plains

I like the list a lot, but I feel like I could use some extra draw. Aside from that, are there any glaring omissions? Any way to sink my teeth more into the strategy?



At first glance, the new Odric, Lunarch Marshal seems like he’s just a different take on the same “master general” trope that spawned Odric, Master Tactician, but once I looked at the cards a little closer I noticed just how much the different mechanics affected the flavor. The original Odric was a product of the highest point in Innistrad’s recent history, with monsters on the run and humans actually winning victories. His mechanics reflect this; give the general his army and you get to make every decision, gaining complete control of the battlefield for as long as you’re on the offensive.

The new Odric is still a general. He still needs an army to work with, but that sense of power and control is gone now. Instead there’s a sense of trying to cobble together a ragtag band with as many keywords as possible. Without the Angels or a real army, the best Odric can do is desperately cross-train some volunteers in as many fighting styles as possible. It’s also important that his abilities work on the defensive now, and in a multiplayer game, that’s how you’re going to be using him most of the time. With a simple shift in mechanics, we see how far one of humanity’s greatest champions has fallen in this return.

Sorry for diving into Vorthos territory without warning. I get excited about the storytelling aspect of the game sometimes. Anyway, onto the reason you all came here: how can we take advantage of the ragtag army?

The Creatures


Kor Outfitter is a classic case of not doing enough, especially in a format where the 2/2 body is all but irrelevant. I’ve played with Steelshaper Apprentice before, and it’s always been an underwhelming package. Five mana per cycle to get an Equipment out of your deck just isn’t good enough when they go to your hand. As for Auriok Survivors, if you want a recursive six-drop in White, there needs to be a really compelling case for anything other than Sun Titan, and the Survivors just don’t measure up.

Enlistment Officer seems like a perfect fit for the deck, but on average only one of the four cards will be a Soldier and that just isn’t good enough to warrant a slot. Knight-Captain of Eos was in your deck twice and apparently became a planeswalker at some point. Finally, Celestial Archon falls a little higher on the curve than I’m happy with, especially since you’re not really dedicated to the “commander damage” route.


The Soul Sisters might seem like strange additions, but if you land one of them early, your token theme can pretty easily see you gaining 30+ life, which are the kind of numbers that actually matter in Commander and will help to keep you alive long enough to aggro out a whole table. Better yet, people almost never bother to target them, so they’re only going to die to Wraths.

The original Odric is a great complement to his newer version, and controlling combat is even more brutal when your whole team has every combat keyword. Stonehewer Giant is the “Equipment matters” creature that you want, not only putting any Equipment you want onto the battlefield but equipping it at no cost and doing it every turn.

The Artifacts


Trailblazer’s Boots would be amazing if you wanted to kill with commander damage or if Odric could spread the ability around, but as it is the card falls just short. Masterwork of Ingenuity seems great, but since the keywords get spread to all of your creatures anyway, all it does in this deck is let you double up on a power boost and that’s far from impressive. O-Naginata gets cut because, while it’s crazily efficient at boosting power, trample is the most irrelevant ability Odric can grant in this deck.


If trample is the worst ability for this deck, flying is one of the best. Bladed Pinions, Cobbled Wings, and Fleetfeather Sandals are cheap ways to send your team to the skies, and two of them come with other very relevant keywords.

Gorgon’s Head and Basilisk Collar let your 1/1s trade with the biggest monsters out there, and the Collar will gain you a ton of life in the process. Shield of Kaldra makes all your creatures impossible to kill, although it’s important to remember that Odric triggers at the start of combat, so a main-phase sweeper will still kill everything except the one creature carrying the Shield. Champion’s Helm makes Odric very hard to get rid of and ensures that targeted removal has to be used precombat.

Finally, you get to Coat of Arms, which is kind of the ultimate inclusion for tribal decks. You’ve gone to some pretty big lengths to make sure all your tokens are Soldiers, so it makes sense to run an extreme payoff card. Just be careful about pumping up your opponents’ creatures. It’s best used like an Overrun, as a final push of damage to knock opponents out of the game so they can’t hit back when your defenses are down.

The Planeswalkers


The two Elspeths you’re running make sense as repeatable token producers, but Gideon just doesn’t do much. The best thing he can do is Assassinate a problematic creature, but his creature form doesn’t do much for you and a five-mana Holy Day seems underwhelming, even if there’s potential for it to be repeatable.

The Enchantments


Faith’s Fetters is perhaps the best Pacifism variant they’ve printed, but it costs four and Equipment decks tend to be very mana-hungry with little ability to run ramp. What I’m getting at here is that most of the time you won’t want to take a turn off from developing your battlefield in order to use the Fetters.

The Spells


Yes, it’s one-mana unconditional upside, but you already have Dispatch, and, unless you’re hugely ahead, tapping three creatures is not something you’re really willing to do, especially not at sorcery speed. There’s also the fact that it can get stuck in your hand after a battlefield wipe, and I’d rather just load up on more Equipments.

The Lands


Unlike many people, I actually like the Ravnica bouncelands, but the original cycle from Visions don’t provide mana fixing (not a problem in this deck) and they won’t even let you use the land before you return it. That’s an even bigger tempo loss than the Ravnica lands for no upside. I’ll pass.


There are plenty of utility lands that could have gone here, but when you’re running Emeria, the Sky Ruin, I prefer to run as many Plains as possible, so that’s what I’m bringing in.

Here’s the finished decklist:

And the additions, sorted by price:





Bladed Pinions


Fleetfeather Sandals


Cobbled Wings


Gorgon’s Head


Soul Warden


Soul’s Attendant


Odric, Master Tactician


Shield of Kaldra


Stonehewer Giant


Champion’s Helm


Coat of Arms


Basilisk Collar




The changes add up to $41.18. As always, Terry will receive twenty dollars in store credit to StarCityGames.com to help with the cost. It was a little weird to work on an equipment deck and not even be tempted to add one of the Sword of Feast and Famine cycle, but Odric doesn’t work with protection. Obviously there are some more expensive cards that could have been included, like Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull, but one of the great things about Commander is how fully realized strategies can thrive without cards that are staples in every other format.

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Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease March 26-27!