Dear Azami: This Is Akros!

At Dear Azami, we love nothing more than to take an underrated legend and watch them soar! That’s why today’s aggro pairing is overdue for some Dear Azami limelight! See what Levi has in store for them!

This past week I got a chance to play several games of Commander with some friends from out of town, which was great both because I don’t get to see either of them nearly as much as I’d like to anymore, and because two of the games included some of the craziest plays I’ve ever seen in Magic. For those of you that want to stick to deckbuilding advice, feel free to skip ahead, but these were too good for me not to share.

In the third match we played, the table was Bosh, the Iron Golem (me) vs. Rubinia Soulsinger (Craig) vs. Rhys the Redeemed (Deb) vs. Zedruu the Greathearted (Ben). This was a fairly slow, grindy game, but the crazy part started when Craig cast March of the Machines and followed it up by Cloning my Caged Sun. Clone was followed a turn later by Dance of Many, and then Rubinia’s copy of Rhys the Redeemed started doubling them and the token copy of Eternal Witness that had been made at some point. Add some Patron of the Orochi triggers and the game ended with 80 6/6 Caged Suns and about twenty Eternal Witnesses that were all 29/28 from the Caged Suns set to green in play under Craig’s control.

The game after that, Deb was still playing Rhys the Redeemed, but the rest of us had switched it up. I borrowed Nath of the Gilt-Leaf from Craig, who’d changed to Wort, the Raidmother, and Ben was playing Seshiro the Anointed. My brother also joined this game piloting Nekusar, the Mindrazer. We all got off to explosive starts in this game, thanks to every deck hitting its early ramp.

Ben and Liam’s decks combined to set the pace of the game as “very fast,” with draw punishment and straight-out aggression being enough to drop everyone to the mid-teens by turn 5 or so. I cast Exsanguinate to stabilize and shot up to the sixties just before Liam and Ben took each other out. Craig had been laughing for a while and pulled out a calculator around now.

On his turn, he cast and conspired Saproling Symbiosis, then cast and conspired Increasing Vengeance to copy it a total of four times. In one turn he went from having nine creatures to having 59,059 of them, thanks to his Parallel Lives and Doubling Season and Deb’s Primal Vigor.

It got back to his turn, and even though he could win easily from there, he decided to go for sheer epicness instead. He floated several thousand mana with Citanul Hierophants, cast and conspired Mogg Infestation, and copied it an additional three times by flashbacking and conspiring Increasing Vengeance. Once all of those spells were done resolving, he recast his commander and conspired Fresh Meat.

At this point we stopped the game and spent several minutes with an Excel spreadsheet trying to figure out how many creatures were in play. Assuming that all of our math was right, he’d made a total of 61,928,898,560 Goblins and 66,057,428,800 Beasts. That’s over 120 billion tokens made without going infinite. Games like that remind me why I love Commander in all its insanity.

Now, for something a little less common…

Dear Azami,

I’m a player who plays casually an awful lot. Unfortunately, I am on a very small budget for playing Magic. However, I love improving my decks. So, in my case, on my small budget of $26, I would like your aid in improving my very first EDH deck. It is assemble entirely from cards traded for and opened in packs. I’m told by my peers that my deck is not fun to play against because of its aggressive style and also that it lacks any form of late game. Here is the decklist:

Commander: Anax and Cymede

Act of Treason
Akroan Hoplite
Alabaster Mage
Angelic Destiny
Assemble the Legion
Aurelia’s Fury
Balefire Liege
Barrage of Boulders
Battlefield Forge
Boros Charm
Boros Garrison
Boros Guildgate
Boros Keyrune
Candles of Leng
Chained to the Rocks
Clifftop Retreat
Coordinated Assault
Darksteel Ingot
Desperate Stand
Doomed Traveler
End Hostilities
Evolving Wilds
Faith’s Shield
Figure of Destiny
Flame Slash
Fury of the Horde
Ghost Quarter
Gods Willing
Griffin Guide
Hero’s Blade
Hopeful Eidolon
Lightning Talons
Loxodon Warhammer
Master of Diversion
Mentor of the Meek
Mighty Leap
Mirror Entity
Mizzium Mortars
Molten Primordial
9 Mountain
New Benalia
Nobilis of War
Oblivion Ring
Outpost Siege
Pay No Heed
14 Plains
Raise the Alarm
Redeem the Lost
Resolute Blademaster
Revoke Existence
Sacred Foundry
Sandsteppe Outcast
Secure the Wastes
Shattering Blow
Slayers’ Stronghold
Spare from Evil
Spectral Procession
Spectra Ward
Spirit Mantle
Sunhome Guildmage
Swiftfoot Boots
Swift Justice
Swords to Plowshares
Sun Titan
Temple of the False God
Temple of Triumph
Temporal Isolation
Temur Battle Rage
Tenza, Godo’s Maul
Terramorphic Expanse
Tormenting Voice
Transguild Promenade
Truefire Paladin
Warleader’s Helix
Wind-Scarred Crag



True aggro decks are a rarity in Commander, mainly thanks to how much the rules of the format favor what an old roommate of mine called “the midrange menace.” Certainly your Commander needs to provide some pretty strong incentive to justify excluding as much card draw as possible. Plus, most aggressive creatures just don’t look that great in a format defined by board-wipes and six-drops.

Anax and Cymede come with that kind of deckbuilding restriction built in. Heroic as a mechanic doesn’t leave you with much room in the deck for cards that aren’t Creatures or heroic enablers, and on top of that, Anax and Cymede’s ability works best with a bunch of small creatures instead of a few heavyweights. I remember giving them the same once-over that I give every new Legend and passing because Akros’s royal couple didn’t really fit my playstyle, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t power here.

As an added challenge I’m going to try to keep all additions under Zephram’s rather strict budget, not go up to $46 and hand-wave at the store credit that comes with getting featured here to justify going over. Heroic, especially heroic tokens, is a great strategy to show that Commander doesn’t necessarily mean thousand-dollar decks full of nothing but staples.

The Changes

The Creatures


These are all getting cut for some combination of inefficiency and not matching up well with your gameplan. Without more Allies, Resolute Blademaster is just a one-shot way to give you team double strike, and we can do better than that. Master of Diversion only matches up well against Voltron builds, while your own creatures aren’t really big enough for Alabaster Mage to be worth a slot. Figure of Destiny is just unimpressive in a format where only its final form is really relevant, especially since we have better things to do with our mana. Truefire Paladin is just awkward and underwhelming in pretty much every situation.


Beetleback Chief gives us three bodies for four mana, while Eidolon of Countless Battles is both a heroic enabler and one of the best ways to pump Anax and Cymede up to lethal size. I picked the rest of these creatures to address one of the problems you mentioned, your lack of an endgame. Token armies tend to get outclassed pretty quickly unless you have a ton of them or a ton of things to buff them, and your current setup can’t really do either. Chancellor and Krenko are both armies in a can, although the times that they’re useful are very different. Aurelia is easily the best extra-combat card ever printed, and not including it here would be a mistake. Finally, Requiem Angel gives you some precious insurance against Wraths, hopefully leaving you as the only one with an army.

The Enchantments


You had just a little more removal than I wanted, and Temporal Isolation is just the worst of the bunch, despite how much I like the card. (Although depending on your metagame I could see cutting Arrest Instead.) I needed to make room for a lot of new enchantments, so here we go.


Intangible Virtue and True Conviction are great ways to make your creatures much more threatening and stack well with your commander’s heroic triggers. The rest of the enchantments are all ways to trigger that ability. Protection from Creatures is one of the strongest abilities you can put on a creature, so Holy Mantle is a great inclusion. The Umbras and Indestructibility give Anax and Cymede some crucial protection from getting killed, while Undying Rage has the Rancor wording to let you use it over and over. Finally, Madcap Skills is one of the best Auras for raw aggression, and will often let you punch though a surprising amount of damage.

The Artifacts


Yes, Candles of Leng is card draw in R/W, but let’s face it: you don’t have the mana to ever be happy about activating it, so most of the time it’s just going to sit on the board and do nothing. As for the mana rocks, they’re not really where you want to be when your general only costs three and you want to be playing out creatures every turn.

The Spells


This isn’t exactly the kind of deck that wants to dedicate slots or mana to card filtering. Even if it was, Tormenting Voice isn’t that good of a card unless you can copy it. Warleader’s Helix and Flame Slash are both getting cut because four damage isn’t actually enough to count as removal in Commander, unless you really need to gun down utility creatures. Similarly, Wear//Tear and Shattering Blow come out because you had a surplus of artifact and enchantment removal and didn’t really need these two. You also had a few too many protection effects in my opinion, so Pay No Heed and Redeem the Lost come out.

Barrage of Boulders and Aurelia’s Fury are both nice but usually won’t be necessary since your plan involves going wide enough that your whole team can’t be blocked. Certainly there will be times that you want a Falter effect, but in general I’d rather have the ability to flood the board with creatures. Skullcrack is just suboptimal since no lifegain deck I’ve ever seen in the format relies on a big burst of life in a single turn. You’re far more likely to get buried under a ton of little lifegain triggers than to ever need this. Act of Treason is a card that’s at its best in “fair” games where all players are trying to interact in combat, and in my experience those kind of games are few and far between. Since you don’t have any sacrifice shenanigans going on, I don’t see a reason to keep this.

End Hostilities is getting cut because you really can’t afford to get Wrathed, even by your own spells. I kept Mizzium Mortars to give you a soft Wrath that misses your team, but a card like End Hostilities is a no-go even with the few cards I’ve given you to fight board wipes. Fury of the Horde got upgraded to Aurelia, a repeatable version of the same effect that’s actually cheaper since you don’t want to pay the 3-for-1 alternate cost on Fury of the Horde.


Rootborn Defenses is a great trick to have in the deck to make sure people are a little wary about going for a Wrath, and it even spits out an extra token as a bonus. Dragon Fodder and Krenko’s Command are both cheap token makers that you can fire off the turn before your Commander comes down. Deploy to the Front, Nomads’ Assembly, and Tempt with Vengeance give you access to explosive levels of token generation and give the deck a little more late-game punch. Devout Invocation and Descent of the Dragons let you turn all of your 1/1s into 4/4 fliers and have some other benefits besides that. I find it a little amusing that it’ll often be right to target everything with Descent of the Dragons, since most of your creatures are worse than a dragon token and most threats others are running are better than that.

The Lands


I like most of what you have going on in your mana base, but I’m going to cut both the Promenade and Rupture Spire from any deck that I see them in. They’re just bad, even in a five-color deck that really needs prismatic lands.


You’re running most of the good to middling dual lands already, so the best option left without going over budget is to raise your basic count a bit.

Putting it all together, we’re left with this:

All in all, I think this new version of the deck will be a little faster and far more streamlined than what I started with. It will also have a lot more staying power if the initial rush gets stymied or dies out, which also means that you have more to do than sit back and be bored if the game goes long. Hopefully that will garner a little more acceptance for the deck among your playgroup. Anyway, here are all the changes.

That adds up to a total of $22.06, making this easily the least expensive overhaul I’ve featured so far. As always, Zephram will receive $20 in store credit to StarCityGames.com for having his deck featured in Dear Azami this week, which will be enough to cover almost all of the changes that I made.

Jess will be back next week, so stay tuned for whatever deck she winds up overhauling!

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