Dear Azami: Spin The Wheel!

Random elements are some of the most fun you can have in Commander. So what sort of random Commander mastery does Dear Azami have in store this week? Check out the brew Levi has assembled that will put a “random” monster onto the battlefield to devour your enemies!

Before I get into this week’s deck, I want to take a moment to address some things. Regular readers will know that my co-author Jess Stirba resigned last week. Life moves on, and writing this column is a huge commitment. (Seriously, it’s a lot more work than I ever would’ve expected before I started going into it.) Hopefully she’ll be able to come back at some point in the future, but for now she needs to focus on other things in life.

When Jess’s article went up last week, we weren’t sure what we were going to do to fill the void left by her absence. After some discussion, we’ve decided that Sean McKeown will rejoin Dear Azami, starting next week. I’m excited to work with the man who started all of this, even if it means we’ll all be hearing the words “Winding Canyons” a lot more than we have in the past year.

With that said, let’s see what I have to work with this week.

Dear Azami,

I’ve always liked quippy/sarcastic humor. It started with my love of Monty Python, Bug Bunny, and the Marx Brothers and has grown ever since. Also, Yogi Berra-esque quotes like “a nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore” have always had a special place in my heart. So, it should be no surprise that my first Commander was a Jaya Ballard deck. The initial build was a bit weak, but I’ve been nurturing it for the past five years or so and now it is at a spot I like. However, there is another legendary creature with a particular wit that I’ve had my eye on for a while: Jaya’s Blue counterpart, Jalira, Master Polymorphist.

Polymorphing cards have always been a favorite of mine. If built properly, it could allow some busted combo decks. If built for the lolz, though, it could make for some hilarious plays. I am aiming for the latter, hence no Blightsteel Colossus.


Creatures (28)

Akroan Horse

Inkwell Leviathan

Reef Worm

Chasm Skulker

Phyrexian Ingester

Stormsurge Kraken

Frost Titan

Master of Waves


Solemn Simulacrum

Clever Impersonator


Meloku the Clouded Mirror


Myr Battlesphere

Epitaph Golem

Talrand, Sky Summoner

Augury Owl


Tidal Force

Icefall Regent

Drowner of Hope

Eldrazi Skyspawner


Jeskai Sage

Palace Familiar

Profaner of the Dead

Youthful Scholar

Enchantments (4)


Training Grounds

Homarid Spawning Bed

Diplomatic Immunity

Artifacts (10)

Swiftfoot Boots

Trading Post

Lightning Greaves

Sol Ring

Hedron Archive

Mind Stone

Seer’s Lantern

Thousand-Year Elixir

Illusionist’s Bracers

Elixir of Immortality

Sorceries (9)

Rite of Replication

Synthetic Destiny

Curse of the Swine

Whelming Wave


Mass Polymorph



Dream Cache

Instants (10)


Cyclonic Rift


Rapid Hybridization

Polymorphist’s Jest

Turn to Frog

Polymorphous Rush

Arcane Denial


Lands (38)

Myriad Landscape

Lonely Sandbar

Temple of the False God

Springjack Pasture

Ghost Quarter

33 Islands

I wanted to have some value for sacrificing creatures, so I put in cards like Palace Familiar and Youthful Scholar. It would be disappointing to Polymorph something into one of those cards, though, so I am not convinced they should be included.

I did my best to provide some token makers, especially cheap/dependable ones like Akroan Horse. I have my doubts that I have enough, and of the ones I do run, I am not sure if they are the right ones. Does Talrand really belong in this deck? I assumed a deck inviting him to the party would run 30+ instants or sorceries, and this deck does not do that.

Also, am I missing some great creatures to Polymorph in? I don’t feel like I cheat in anything beefy or dramatic enough to create super-memorable game states. I want something zany enough that if Jalira herself were to witness it, she would have some beautifully understated quip ready to deliver to bring the table to tears of laughter. Maybe that’s a high and/or hard to quantify bar to set, but here we are. If anybody can work with that, it’s you fine mages at Dear Azami.

Some cards I love and would hate to see leave are Reef Worm, Chasm Skulker, and Master of Waves. All three can become potent threats, but they can all be sacrificed for a profit or provide bodies for the sacrificing.

Similarly, I love the polymorph cards themselves, especially the removal options. I am on the fence regarding polymorphous rush and synthetic destiny, but the rest I would want a very compelling reason to boot out. I can be swayed, but only by the right motivation.

I look forward to getting your take on my pet deck!


Hold onto your hats, everyone. We’re building blue chaos.

That’s not to say that I’m looking to make a blue version of the Scrambleverse / Warp World decks that occasionally surface, where the goal is to mess with the battlefield and not actually have a plan of your own. But having an ability that varies as wildly as Jalira’s does based on something you largely can’t control is inherently chaotic, especially at instant speed. Just having Jalira untapped can make your opponents reluctant to attack you, because they have no idea what kind of insanity might result. You can leverage that reluctance into time, and time will let you develop the kind of insanity you opponents were wary of in the first place.

The Creatures


I’m breaking the creatures getting cut into two sections, because there are two very different reasons for me getting rid of things. First off, we have the package of stuff you’d never want to Polymorph into.

I get why you wanted some cheap creatures that provide value when you sacrifice them, but having too many little creatures will just create too many “whiffs” where you go to try something and wind up cheating in a 1/1. Similarly, I get that Omenspeaker is attractive for its ability to set up the next Polymorph, but I’d rather just increase the number of creatures that you want to hit. Finally, Epochrasite; Talrand, Sky Summoner; and Akroan Horse are mediocre token generators (or self-recurring creatures in Epochrasite’s case) that will just feel awful when you need to hit a big Polymorph.

And now we come to the Polymorph targets that aren’t pulling their weight. Stormsurge Kraken is just a beefy creature that doesn’t do much. On top of that, its trigger only works when you’re being aggressive, and you want most of your creatures to work defensively when Jalira flashes them in on your opponents’ turns. Epitaph Golem is here to recycle your sacrificed creatures, but with an increased focus on noncreature token makers, it’s mostly here to put stuff your opponents killed back into the deck, and in that role it’s more likely to eat a Wrath than to provide a lot of value.

The rest of these creatures are getting cut because they make the timing of Jalira’s ability really awkward. In order for tappers to really impact the battlefield, you need to use them before combat. With this many tappers to potentially hit off your Polymorphs, you’re forced to aggressively use them before attackers are declared in the hopes of hitting one and Fogging the attack. I’ll be replacing these with creatures that will still be effective once you know if attackers are pointed at you or your opponents.


You asked for crazy, and these creatures will deliver. Chancellor of the Spires can do anything from a midcombat Boundless Realms to Rise of the Dark Realms, while Diluvian Primordial can do the same kind of craziness for each player. Out of all the cards I’ve added, these will be the most unpredictable by far.

Scourge of Fleets, Kederekt Leviathan, and Ixidron come in as ways to blow out attacking armies, and they provide a lot more hilarity than a midcombat Frost Titan. Spawnbroker can steal a key attacker in exchange for one of your big enters-the-battlefield creatures that’s already done its job. (I almost put Gilded Drake here, but $30 seemed a little steep for one card.) Finally, Draining Whelk and Voidmage Husher come in as the ultimate uncontrollable silver bullets. Sometimes you’ll hit them and they’ll do nothing, and sometimes you’ll have one chance to stop that game-ending Insurrection and Jalira will come to the rescue. These cards probably don’t have a place in truly tuned lists, but you asked for silly and ridiculous and I think a few slots that are this hit-or-miss are fine here.

The last two slots aren’t meant as Polymorph targets at all. Serendib Sorcerer isn’t impressive in and of itself, but being able to repeatedly Sheepify things is worth a slot. Cryptic Annelid comes in to replace Omenspeaker, except it’s a lot more likely to find you the card you need than Omenspeaker was.

The Artifacts


As a mana rock, Seer’s lantern is very awkward because it doesn’t help your commander come out any faster, and when it comes to setting up a Polymorph, scry 1 will often be irrelevant. Elixir of Immortality falls under a similar category to Epitaph Golem. They’re there to recycle used creatures, but it’s not terribly likely that the games will grind out for so long that you really need that ability.


Temporal Aperture acts as a hilarious backup to your general, giving you something off the top of your deck every time you activate it. Just keep in mind that these cards are subject to timing restrictions, so use it on your main phase before dropping a land for maximum value. Myr Turbine joins Trading Post as a consistent source of sacrifice fodder. I almost added Acorn Catapult as well, but it’s out there if you want another token maker. Magewright’s Stone is a little-known gem that I like for any deck where your commander has a tap ability. It’s not as good as Thousand-Year Elixir, but when you’re already running that card, this is a fantastic second option.

The Enchantments


Soothsaying is a good idea, but the card is just slow and expensive to use. If you really wanted to manipulate the top of your deck, I’d recommend Sensei’s Divining Top or Scroll Rack, but those cards both command hefty price tags and aren’t really necessary to your gameplan.

Diplomatic Immunity is a third piece of protection after Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves, but flash doesn’t make up for the fact that it doesn’t survive a battlefield wipe.


Infinite Reflection, Mirror Mockery and Followed Footsteps: all of these enchantments are silly ways to mess around with copying things and mostly take advantage of the fact that you have so many enters-the-battlefield effects. Imagine for a moment what you can do with any one of these on Scourge of Fleets or Diluvian Primordial. That might be the most powerful thing you can do with them, but I promise it’s not the most ridiculous. Using a little creativity and your opponents’ creatures, you can generate some truly ridiculous scenarios.

The Spells


Brainstorm is amazing because you can set up a Polymorph at instant speed. Dream Cache, on the other hand, is both more expensive and sorcery speed. That means you have to telegraph your play and nobody will want to play into your trap.

Whelming Wave is mostly redundant, since I added Scourge of Fleets and Kederekt Leviathan. And with Profaner on the Dead already in the list, you don’t need a fourth mass bounce effect.

Finally, we get to Polymorph itself. Now, I know you said that you’d need a really good reason to cut any of the Polymorph-esque spells. As it turns out, I’ve got several reasons. Out of all your removal spells, Polymorph is the only sorcery and it’s also the most expensive in terms of mana. It’s also the one that’s most likely to give your opponent a legitimate threat. And if you want to use it to cheat your own threats onto the battlefield, why aren’t you using Jalira?


And to round out the additions, we have more cards supplementing the copy / Clone theme that I’ve been working in. Cackling Counterpart allows you all sorts of instant-speed shenanigans and conveniently costs the same as a Jalira activation. That means you can hold up mana for it and no one will be suspicious.

With an evasive creature Stolen Identity lets you Clone the best thing on the battlefield every turn, which can let you assemble any synergy out of your opponents’ battlefields. In Commander, synergy is almost always more important than the raw power of your cards, so being able to borrow (or mix and match) entire strategies over the course of a couple of turns is incredibly strong.

And speaking of synergy, we come to Clone Legion. I know a lot of people are looking at this card like a weaker version of Insurrection, but it’s a lot more subtle than that. First, you get to abuse any enters-the battlefield abilities that other people are taking advantage of, and if your playgroup is anything like mine, that can be more potent that owning all the creatures for a turn. On top of that, being able to keep your opponents’ battlefield beyond the end of the turn can sometimes be backbreaking, since you get more time to take advantage of the abilities that make creatures special in this format instead of just turning a lot of power sideways.

Putting it all together, here’s the finished decklist:

And the additions, sorted by price:



Cryptic Annelid




Chancellor of the Spires


Diluvian Primordial


Scourge of Fleets




Infinite Reflection


Serendib Sorcerer


Cackling Counterpart


Stolen Identity


Voidmage Husher


Mirror Mockery


Magewright’s Stone


Kederekt Leviathan


Quicksilver Gargantuan


Clone Legion


Myr Turbine


Temporal Aperture


Followed Footsteps


Draining Whelk




The changes this week add up to $22.78, a very budget take on the deck. As always, Chun will receive $20 in store credit to StarCityGames.com, enough to cover almost all of the changes I made. Of course, there are plenty of more expensive cards that could do great things for the deck, but I felt that it was important to do a budget build this week, especially since submissions that include a budget range have become very rare in the past few months.

For those of you who intend to submit a decklist, I strongly urge you to tell us what kind of budget you have to work with. It makes our jobs much easier, since we don’t have to second-guess whether a certain card is unreasonable to include or not. And it makes the finished product better for you, since we have a realistic goal to build towards.

Stay tuned next week for Sean’s return, and I’ll see all you again soon.

Want to submit a deck for consideration to Dear Azami? 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!

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