Dear Azami: Queen Of The Cat People

Mirri, Cat Warrior is an unusual choice for a Commander, but Sean is determined to make her work! Does mono-green have what it takes to be a player in Commander?

Dear Azami,

Sometimes you get an idea and just have to run with it. Sometimes you want to try something new. This deck is result from my love for Invasion block (and
cats!) and my distaste for expensive manabases. After all, nothing’s cheaper than running a bunch of basic lands.

But even though I like to play for fun and on a budget, I still enjoy winning a good match. I feel like the deck often has issues interacting with
opponents. A better backup plan might be needed in case the deck fails to find and keep together the Domain-enabling enchantments. The Domain theme is the
heart of the deck and what keeps it original, so I’d like to keep as much of it intact as possible.

I’m open for ideas as to what the secondary route could and should be. All of the Enchantress cards are fun and help with filling out the list, as well as
digging for combo enablers, but they may not be the strongest options for a deck that intends to win through damage.


Mirri, Cat Warrior

Creatures: 21

Argothian Enchantress

Deepwood Elder

Boon Satyr

Courser of Kruphix

Dungrove Elder

Eternal Witness

Matca Rioters

Verduran Enchantress

Yavimaya Dryad

Eidolon of Blossoms

Nylea’s Emissary

Oracle of Mul Daya

Thelonite Monk

Indrik Stomphowler

Magnigoth Treefolk


Gaea’s Liege

Jedit Ojanen of Efrava

Archetype of Endurance



Spells: 42

Gaea’s Might

Lush Growth

Might of Alara

Mirri’s Guile

Primal Bellow


Sensei’s Divining Top

Sol Ring

Utopia Sprawl

Wild Growth

Commune with the Gods

Cream of the Crop

Gaea’s Touch

Nylea’s Presence

Prismatic Omen


Swiftfoot Boots

Sylvan Library

Blanchwood Armor

Broken Fall


Enchantress’s Presence

Kodama’s Reach

Kruphix’s Insight


Strata Scythe

Wandering Stream

Artisan’s Sorrow


Hunting Wilds

Manaforce Mace


Power Armor

Preferred Selection

Skyshroud Claim

Spore Burst

Woodland Guidance

Accelerated Mutation


Ring of Three Wishes

Planar Portal

Tromp the Domains

Lands: 36

29 Forest

Cathedral of War

Rogue’s Passage

Slippery Karst

Strip Mine

Tectonic Edge

Tranquil Thicket

Unstable Frontier

It’s a really fun deck to play when the cylinders are firing properly, but sometimes you stall out and can’t quite catch back up. Making the deck run
smoothly and still on-theme is big end goal. Thanks for taking a look!


So, I like weird things for weird reasons – and when I saw a mono-green deck playing Tromp the Domains, I just had to look and see what was going on here.
Then I saw the Commander – Mirri, Cat Warrior is not exactly a commonly-played Commander in anyone’s part of the woods, I’d bet, so how could I not say
yes? It doesn’t hurt that a) I really love cats and would happily take this as an excuse to post cat pictures, and b) I have a friend who took Mirri, Cat
Warrior as her “iconic” card on bulletin boards and IRC for about a decade. I would be remiss if I were to pass by this one, and now that I’ve picked it,
well, we’ve got to make it work.

But first, let me show you my kitty. (Well, the first of my kitties – I have three, and all will get their moment in the spotlight.)


This is Superstition, aka “Stitch.” She is the queen of the household, now that she’s in her middle years and can no longer be called the princess. Her
name came originally because of that whole “black cats, bad luck” thing, but her nickname was earned because she is devilishly clever and is one
thumb away from overthrowing the whole human race. I have watched her open doors, break open packages, and figure out how to climb places I frankly didn’t
know a cat could get to in my apartment – mostly to get away from the other cats, who can’t quite keep up to her in the intellect department and
thus can become tiresome bores that are best avoided because they do cat-things like chase her for no reason or try to start a fight to see who’d win.
Superstition is also the first cat I got, chosen by the woman I now elect to refer to as “The Evil Ex-Fiancee” despite the fact that ” evil” may be a bit strong of a normative judgment; she was more malevolent, really. I’ve gotten rid of everything else to do with her,
even the car I had at the time, but Stitch has remained to rule over my apartment for half-a-dozen years since I came to my senses and showed her
“mother” the door.

I bring Stitch into this because the thing about your Commander is that you’re going to need to be clever. You’ve gone and put Mirri at the helm instead of
an abstractly more-powerful option, and the Domain thing is clever, so instead of cutting the Gaea’s Might and Might of Alara from the deck as I
am inclined to do, I’ll just assume you’re using them as really cheap ways to deal someone lethal Commander damage with your cat lady and we’ll go from
there. You’re going to problem-solve in an interesting way in order to get your cards lined up in order to take out dangerous opponents, so you’re going
very cat-like to begin with – and Stitch approves.

The Enchantress sub-theme is doing what it’s ideally designed to do, filling in some card-drawing nicely along the way, but the crux comes down to this:
you’re trying to pump creatures with your Domain cards but are sorely limited in the Domain enablers you are allowed to play, and your deck works
very differently depending on whether or not your opponent controls a Forest. Gaea’s Liege is one way to remedy this, and enchanting an opponent’s land is
another – but like it or not, we’re going to come up light in this regard, so we’re going to wind up wanting more card drawing to make up for the fact that
you’re reliant on drawing specifically Prismatic Omen or Nylea’s Blessing for your deck’s theme to blossom fully.

To make up for that reliance on very specific cards before your Domain cards operate fully, we’re going to pursue another theme as well… and the
intersection between the different things you’re already designed to do very well seems to be Landfall. You’ve got ramp cards and related enablers like
Oracle of Mul Daya that are powering up a few “Forest Matter”-themed cards alongside your “Domain Matters” cards, and we’re going to pursue that further
while also adding cards that care specifically whenever you put a land into play. You’re set up to make Mirri unblockable through whatever means it takes,
even if you have to put Lush Growth on their land to do it; without playing Gauntlets of Chaos with the intent of trading them a Forest, you’re playing
pretty much every card that can accomplish that, then hoping that between pump enchantments, equipment, and Gaea’s Might effects, you can connect with

By adding cards that power you up based off of Landfall as well as Domain and “Forest Matter,” we can turn that into a critical mass of potent effects
that comes together as a functional gameplan. What you need most is a more effective Plan A, with the ability to deal 21 damage with your Commander being a
credible Plan B – unfortunately, this means that a good portion of what is “correct” here is to dilute your Commander’s impact by putting together a solid
overall beatdown plan that she can work alongside, but I’m sure the Cat beatdown for lethal out of nowhere will still happen often enough to keep you

When looking at all the different ways to alter the deck’s composition and plans, this way had the biggest impact for the fewest slots. You’re already
decently on your way to an effective beatdown plan, your existing cards will function at their best in this new configuration as well, and you’ll force
your opponents to interact with you by presenting credible attackers on-time and turned sideways. Yes, you still won’t be able to really interact with your
opponent very much, but that’s sadly just the nature of mono-green – you’d have to go heavy on (bad) permanent destruction cards just to be able to remove
their cards from play, or reach deep into the well for stuff like Null Brooch just to be able to manipulate a spell that is on the stack. You’ll have more
success attacking quickly and striking for the surprise 21, frankly, and we’d have to completely destroy the innate character of the deck to do so or else
stoop to cards that actually just cripple people, like Winter Orb… neither of which we really want to do.

We’re going to make your deck better, but we’re still not going to be able to make your deck great. It sounds like you’re okay with that so long as you
have a good game, and that part we can clearly cover – no one’s going to be afraid of your Mirri, Cat Warrior deck after we’re done with it, but no one’s
going to be able to just ignore it either, and that’s about the kind of play space it sounds like you’d want to occupy. We can make sure you’re relevant
and draw smoothly, bulk out your plans of action, and build in support so it works more often, but no one’s going to be talking about banning Mirri as a
commander anytime soon.

Before we get into it, I’ll note the most expensive possible change is the one we won’t be making. By the weird nature of the card and color-identity
rules, any deck is allowed to play Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth because it has no color nor any mana symbols printed on the card – the big skull in the middle
is strongly implied, but not actually present. But you wanted a cheap mana base, so cutting a Forest and adding a $40 land just to give you +1 basic land
type when you’re not yet firing on all cylinders seems a stretch beyond where you want to go on your budget. In a vacuum, this would be a reasonable
change, but I’m assuming that it’s a step further than you want to take.

If I’m incorrect, by all means feel free to make the switch if you have a copy available from another deck – chances are good, however, that you’ll reap
the benefit of Urborg being in play in something like a quarter of the games you play even without adding it to your deck, so as far as bangs for
your buck go, this is not a very big bang… and a whole lot of bucks to do it.

We have just two changes to your mana base – we’re cutting two basic Forests in order to fit two more nonbasic lands. They’re both more expensive than any
other land you’re playing, but they’re both so strongly on-theme (and, well, so powerful as well) that we’re going to prioritize them anyway.
After all, compared to that Urborg I declined to add, everything’s cheap and affordable! Let’s see who we’re adding back in:

    Glaciers We’re cutting one Forest for a card that turns into a free Forest every other turn for the rest of the game, a pretty ridiculous
deal when you think about it. Thawing Glaciers is my second-favorite land in the format – sorry, Winding Canyons still takes first place, for sheer level
of awesomeness – and while it’s not operating at peak capacity in this deck (it’s not a color-fixer when you only have one basic land type to fetch out) it is going to be a very strong support card for several other additions we make along the way.

It’s great for making Landfall and great for powering
up all of those Forests-Matter cards, plus it helps make expensive eight-drops much more reasonable to play at some point. It’s basically awesome and works
on the same axis as several of your existing cards plus several that I want to add, so we’re going to break that “cheapest possible mana base” rule in
order to fit it in.

Thespian's StageThespian’s Stage has been put to a lot of weird uses since it was printed. I’ve seen it copy bouncelands in order
to get a land drop ahead (since it doesn’t copy the comes-into-play trigger) and in Legacy it’s typically copying Dark Depths and putting Marit Lage into
play – but has also been known to copy Cloudpost from time to time as well. It’s a strong and flexible card that can copy your opponent’s best
utility-land, borrowing a Maze of Ith when you need one with just a little bit of prior planning, or following along when they assemble powerful ramp
effects like Urborg + Cabal Coffers. But here we’re using it for its least-obvious effect… you’re trying to assemble Domain and have very few cards
you’re able to access in order to do so, and copying someone’s non-green dual land with this will jump your Domain count from one to three pretty
effectively. It’ll do more than that in plenty of games, I’m sure, but it deserves to be included here solely because it is capable of advancing your
Domain theme.

Before we move on to the rest of the deck, let’s have another kitty interlude. Meet Bean:

The Bean

Bean’s name comes with a lesson – don’t think you are more clever than you actually are. Bean is my second cat. The Evil Ex-Fiancee and I got him about a
year after Stitch in order to have another cat keep her company during the day while we were at work. She had told me I got to pick the second cat since
she had picked the first one, but as with many other things she had told me, this too proved to be false. While I was exploring the tiny bitey kittens and
had picked a little gray-and-white girl of about four months old whom I had already nicknamed “Land Shark,” thinking that she would be able to defend
herself quite adequately against an already-grown-up Stitch, the Evil Ex-Fiancee picked Bean because he had a heart condition just like she did* and she
fell in love with him immediately.


Turns out Bean doesn’t have a heart murmur; he was just sitting in a mislabeled cage. Good for him, and funny all around that he was picked on false
pretenses by someone who gave me a ton of false pretenses too; the Evil Ex-Fiancee basically lied to me about pretty much everything and that was
ultimately why I broke up with her, so I can approve of a cat lying to her in order to get himself a good home.

I didn’t get to pick the cat, but I did get to name him, and having just re-read the complete Ender’s Game series through to Speaker for the Dead, I decided I was going to give him as positive a name as I
could: I named him after the hyper-intelligent but pint-sized Battle Schooler, Bean, in hopes that he would grow into the name and prove even smarter than
Superstition was.

Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen. As you may have been able to deduce from his vacant stare, there is just not a lot there behind those eyes –
this cat is dumb. I have seen him fall over for no reason because he just doesn’t understand how gravity works, and Superstition has him figured
out to the point of realizing he only has a two-minute memory buffer, a fact which she amusingly uses against him quite regularly. She’s started fights
with him knowing full well that if she loses, all she has to do is start running – he’ll chase her, sure, but after two minutes she’ll stop, he’ll stop
too, and he won’t remember why they were running in the first place and will just go back to doing whatever. This lack of cognitive recall also means that
he just doesn’t learn when you try and teach him anything, and we consider it a stroke of good luck that he even remembers where the litterbox is. He’s
phenomenally stupid – but also phenomenally snuggly, so he is nonetheless a most excellent cat.

The reason for this story? I see a lot of things trying to be clever here, but being dumb would work better in quite a few places. Let’s make some cuts:

Planar Portal Mirri's Guile Preferred Selection Recollect Woodland Guidance Restock

Kruphix's Insight Artisan's Sorrow Wandering Stream Peregrination Accelerated Mutation

Wild Growth Utopia Sprawl Deepwood Elder Nylea's Emissary Thelonite Monk

That’s all of them – the worse card-selection or land-fetch tools, the least-effective pump effects, and the things that don’t really advance your
game-plan but are here just because they seem to work alongside an existing theme. I’m sorry, but Wandering Stream is never going to strike me as a good
deal, even if it is far more worthwhile in this deck compared to, yes, your average mono-green Commander deck. You don’t need to give your
opponents a Forest so badly that Deepwood Elder is actually good in this deck, and ditto for Thelonite Monk – we’re going to re-balance the deck so it has
more creatures to work with, fix the card-flow of the deck while we’re at it, and amp up the brute-force factor of the deck so you can throw your weight
around more effectively.

And let me tell you, Bean likes his dinner. A lot. Not seen in this picture: his belly, which jiggles when he walks and sometimes even drags on the floor
when he’s being lazy. Being dumb but being able to throw a significant amount of weight around will work far more often than it’s given credit for, so
we’re going to stop trying to be quite so clever and build around an effective plan a little bit better.

New Additions

Let’s start with the token makers. You’re already rocking the Basic Forests Matter theme, so Howl of the Night Pack and Beacon of Creation are going to
work at a very high level in this deck. You’re already playing Spore Burst, which can make up to five 1/1’s for four mana, and Beacon of Creation can make
far more than that if drawn later in the game – and if drawn on Turn 4, it will always make a decent number of critters, unlike your average early
Spore Burst. Rampaging Baloths is a big, threatening animal that also makes your land-drops into big, threatening animals, potentially giving you
an army in a can just by playing a normal game of Magic without investing any cards to further the effort. And finally we have Avenger of Zendikar – yes,
it’s boring and done to death, but it works along the same vectors you’re already strong at and is a card that can actually close a game out without having
to rely on Mirri’s commander damage, unlike many cards you’re playing. If you’re already good at it, embrace it: dumb works sometimes.

Landfall suggested two other cards that might work interestingly for your deck, one of which I do see commonly played in Commander, the other of
which quite frankly I do not. Grazing Gladehart is the kind of lifegain I can get behind where Wandering Stream is not; sure, it may not always
get you ten life, but sometimes it may get you even more – and it puts a resource into play for you to work with, even if that’s just a 2/2 body, while
Wandering Stream might as well say “Gain ten life when you discard Wandering Stream.” Sure, you actually cast it, but from my jaded viewpoint, “actually
casting Wandering Stream” looks an awful lot like paying three mana and discarding a card. Maybe Grazing Gladehart will attack and do something useful, or
even wear an Equipment… but the lifegain has a higher ceiling and the card plays onto the table to maybe do stuff. The not-usually-played card is
Groundswell, which we will put next to Primal Bellow, Gaea’s Might and Might of Alara as “surprise things that may just add up to 21.” You were paying five
mana for Accelerated Mutation to probably do about the same thing, give your Commander +4/+4, but with a whole lot more conditions involved before even
that was true. Play a land, tap to attack, pay some green mana to play two of these sorts of cards on an already-equipped Mirri and your opponent may just
fall down dead. Adding another card that acts similarly to those makes each one more worthwhile, as when you need to do that, you’ll be more likely to have
duplicates of the effect.

Next we add even more of the Forests Matter cards – you’ve already got a few and our token-makers were both as well, but we want to go further still, as
this is looking to be quite solid, actually, given how you’ve built your deck with plentiful basics and solid ramp effects. One of them is expensive –
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary – but so powerful that it’s well worth the price tag; I’m assuming from things like Argothian Enchantress that budget is not
something that has to be strictly adhered to so long as we end up on-theme, and Rofellos is miles and miles better than the Wild Growth effects
that we cut up above. We still want something like that, but we need better cardboard to do it with, and Rofellos is the best cardboard we can get.

Uktabi Wildcats and Dauntless Dourbark also make the cut. Yes, Dungrove Elder is better, but they both still put a reasonable amount of power into play and
turn sideways to attack quite effectively, so they’re on the team. We need more creatures overall, because 21 was frankly just not enough, and we want them
to play out quickly but still have a reasonable impact if drawn later in the game – the Forests Matter creatures fit that bill perfectly, though we don’t
want to go so far down that rabbit-hole that Allosaurus Riders starts to sound like a good investment of resources.

We also want some supplemental help – the catch-all Expedition Map, able to do anything your land base can cover – so we have Unstable Frontier and
Thespian’s Stage to work with Domain, and of course it also happily serves as a Thawing Glaciers, Strip Mine, Rogue’s Passage, or Forest if need be. As a
side benefit, if your land count is already heavy and you don’t need anything specifically interesting, it turns itself into a cycling land, so you get
another shot at a productive card instead as well.

And we need more card drawing if we’re going to reliably see at least one effect that will help put extra cards into our hand each game, so I’m happy to
add Skullclamp now that there are extra tokens for it to work with, plus Seer’s Sundial since this deck’s ability to put extra lands into play is strong
enough to turn this into a solid card-draw effect. We want it over Mind’s Eye because Mind’s Eye, frankly, never lives – plus you can potentially draw all
of your extra cards on your turn when you can still use them instead of having to wait through a turn cycle before you receive your cards.

The last batch of cards got added as part of the “Trample Matters” suite, basically taking the nod from your Tromp the Domains and saying we want more of
these things. For the same price as the Accelerated Mutation we’ve cut, we could instead give every creature that same bonus. Overwhelming
Stampede just makes a lot more sense to me if we’re going to try and do that, and again there is a certain benefit to just playing dumb and adding
to the brute-force factor of your deck that will let it close out more games through intelligent use of the attack phase. The other two additions are Baru,
Fist of Krosa – who gives a bonus and grants trample with a Forest-centric version of Landfall that you’re already well-built to trigger – and Craterhoof
Behemoth, who is heavily played and frankly boring but also highly effective at making opponents dead. Remember that you’ll play a lot more game
than just “Behemoth, dead you” since you don’t have any tutoring going on, so Behemoth will only end the games that it is actually drawn and shows up in.
Yes, Behemoth is boring and just frankly annoying when every game ends that way, off of Diabolic Revelations or the fifth activation of Survival
of the Fittest – but here it’ll turn up sometimes and do good work, just not often enough that you should really notice its presence skewing things.

This leaves just one slot, which I worked out through remembering that it’s good to be clever, not just brute-force-dumb, and decided that the aspect of
cleverness we were maximizing here was also part of that “Forest Matter” theme. You liked the budget aspect of the mana base, and we don’t want to punish
your opponents for not following that same level of strict discipline in a way that stops them from playing Magic… if Blood Moon were a green card, we
wouldn’t be playing it, though frankly it might be tempting solely as yet another way to give your opponent a Forest. But stopping your opponent
from playing Magic because they’re dead, though? That’s kind of classy and right up your alley, if your opponent is greedy and has hundreds of dollars
worth of lands sitting in play then they deserve to die to this. Say hello to my little friend:

First they laugh at you for playing a Homelands card. Then they die.

Speaking of little friends, we have a new addition to the friendly neighborhood cat family – back in January I found an itty-bitty baby kitty freezing to
death on my doorstep and grabbed her up before she could run off, brought her inside and nursed her back to health. While the adult cats would really
rather I not have brought this newcomer into their home – they were quite content with being old, fat, and lazy before a baby-thing started
chasing them around, thank you very much – when you see an adorable kitten, you adopt an adorable kitten. That is simply how it is done. This is Harley

Harley Quinn

She’s smiling all the time and she was born around Halloween, so if the name fits, keep it. We called her “Tinycat” for the first two months, but she has
slowly but surely grown out of that name, so it was time for a new one anyway. And now that we have seen a sufficient number of kitties, let’s put that
deck of yours together:

As always, for your participation in this week’s Dear Azami you will receive a $20 coupon to the StarCityGames.com store in addition to this
week’s bonus cat pics thanks to your Cat-inspired deck. That’s about half of the Urborg we decided not to add and two-thirds of a Rofellos, Llanowar
Emissary… or if you start at the cheaper end, it’s two-thirds of the suggestions we’ve made instead. At the very worst, the expensive cards we’ve
suggested are all Commander staples and will do well by you in any number of possible decks, not just this one – we’re at the usual budget point my
suggestions tend to end around, somewhere in the neighborhood of $80, despite dropping $30 on one card and $15 on another. A few expensive cards shouldn’t
argue against the changes we’ve made here just because you’ve come to think of this as a “budget” deck; we’re really not adding that much of a price tag to
the deck, all told, just because a few suggestions are commonly-played and somewhat-expensive staples of the format.

Breaking it down by price, they came down as follows:

Card Price
Grazing Gladehart 0.15
Howl of the Night Pack 0.49
Seer’s Sundial 0.49
Uktabi Wildcats 0.49
Baru, Fist of Krosa 0.75
Primal Order 0.99
Groundswell 1.49
Overwhelming Stampede 1.49
Expedition Map 1.99
Rampaging Baloths 1.99
Thespian’s Stage 1.99
Beacon of Creation 2.99
Dauntless Dourbark 4.99
Avenger of Zendikar 5.99
Skullclamp 5.99
Thawing Glaciers 7.99
Craterhoof Behemoth 14.99
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary 29.99

I think we’ve hit a good balance of adding to the deck’s strength while respecting the parts you liked about it, and we even got to look at kitties while we did it. What’s not to like?

— Sean

Want to submit a deck for consideration to Dear Azami? We’re always accepting deck submissions to consider for use in a future article, like Jeff’s Athreos, God of Passage deck or Michael’s Derevi, Empyrial Tactician 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 StarCityGames.com!

Email us a deck submission using this link here!

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And because I can, we exit with a Bonus Kitten Pic displaying Harley’s most dangerous aspect: her absolute adorableness while she sleeps on me, which has
caused me to oversleep more than a few times now since she’s come into my life. Including oversleeping last weekend’s State Championships!

Bonus Harley!