Embracing The Chaos – Animar, Soul Of Elements

Sheldon will be talking about the new WotC Commander product all week this week, one article each day! He kicks off with an exclusive new preview, a legendary Elemental in an enemy wedge.

If there’s not a picture right here, you’re just going to scroll down until you find one, so here it is in all its deliciousness.

Animar, Soul of Elements

The new Intet-colored wedge Commander has some nice build-around elements. Let’s talk about them.

Protection from white and from black

Generally, this means that you’re not going to lose it to much besides board sweepers, especially once you get counters on it and it gets too big
for red. No Swords, no Path, not in a million years Vindicate. The only way to give it protection from green is Sword of Body and Mind, but there are
certainly other ways of getting around green’s armies. Obviously, you want to give him hexproof so you can still do what you want with him.

Casting creature spells puts +1/+1 counters on Animar

So cast creatures! Unfortunately, by the time this ability triggers, you don’t get the benefit of the cost reduction, but you do on the next one.
You’re going to want your ramp and utility spells to be stapled to a creature, so Wood Elves instead of Cultivate, and so forth.

Sometimes the mana curve of Commander decks is a little haphazard, but with Animar, it seems like you might want to pay stricter attention to the cost
of the things you put in your library (perhaps leading to an easy inclusion of the much-discussed Birthing Pod). The good news is, even later in the
game, smaller creatures aren’t worthless. Sure, if you have fifteen lands on the battlefield, you’re disappointed when drawing Wood Elves,
but with Animar, he’s cheaper AND the Commander you’re about to bash with gets bigger. Suddenly, no creature is a truly dead draw.

Creature spells cost {1} less for each +1/+1 counter on Animar

Once you get him going, cards that were once a little out of reach become worthwhile. Apocalypse Hydra, Rock Hydra, Feral Hydra, Protean Hydra, Ivy
Elemental, and Krakilin all come to mind. Phyrexian Marauder and Shifting Wall work as Fling or Momentous Fall fodder.

It means casting any artifact creatures for less. You know you’re eventually casting Jens for zero.

Cards that combo with Animar

I’m sure most of you looked at the card and said “Ooh, proliferate!” so I probably don’t need to cover them. Tezzeret’s
Gambit is the one that excites me most, I think.

The first card that came to my mind was Forgotten Ancient. Move counters from Mr. Babycakes during your upkeep and you’re off to the races.

There are a number of other cards that seem pretty good at first blush:

Blade of the Bloodchief:  It doesn’t really matter that he’s not a Vampire.

Dragon Blood: A little pricey but repeatable.

Evolution Vat: Animar could get out of hand pretty quickly.

Fangren Firstborn: You’ll have to swing with Animar, but you’re going to want to be doing that eventually anyway.

Plaxcaster Frogling: As we discussed, lots of targeted removal is off the table, but there is still Lignify and everything blue that can steal or
bounce him. Sometimes, you’ll want him to have shroud. Obviously, Whispersilk Cloak and/or Lightning Greaves will fill this slot in many decks.
Don’t get me wrong; they’re both very good, but they’re so overdone in the format that I’m looking for other options.

Power Conduit: I’m surprised we don’t see more Power Conduit in decks, especially those with persist and -1/-1 counter stuff (not to
mention cumulative upkeep).

Predatory Hunger: Your opponents will cast creatures. The enchantment is inexpensive, and as mentioned, Animar is a little tougher to kill with
targeted removal.

Simic Guildmage: The mini-Babycakes ability is worthwhile, even if you never use the Aura swap—although remember you can use that ability to save
an Aura from a creature about to get killed.

Spike Feeder (and all his brothers): Another set of creatures that we played in the olden days that we don’t see much more of, the Spikes bring
Animar-pumping coolness with them.

Vigor: Probably another card that many of you also thought of. You’re also playing red, so damage to your guys isn’t all that difficult to
come by.

There are also some otherwise bad cards that may have gotten more useful. They’re in no way bombs but will fit into your “put counters on
Animar” strategy.

Ashnod’s Transmogrant: In my quest to play as many terrible Antiquities cards as possible, I offer you Ashnod’s Transmogrant.

Bounty of the Hunt: It’s super-janky, but you can use Simic Guildmage to move the counters off.

Decree of Savagery: By the time you’re at nine mana, it won’t likely matter. I like it for the cycling ability.

Fungal Behemoth: Suspend him, cast other dudes, and by the time he comes out, it’s a +1/+1 counter party!!!

Hunting Moa: Three mana for two counters and a dude in between.

Jugan, the Rising Star: The least-played of the legal Dragon Spirits (or is the Ryusei?), Jugan is another card in green that I’m surprised
doesn’t see more play. He addresses a green weakness—flying—and his ability will make your Spearbreaker Behemoth that much more

Ley Line: I’m sure you read that and said “Leyline of the What?” Back in Mercadian Masques, this not-particularly-good card made
Timmies everywhere dream of Spike Cannibal decks.

Stand Together: The only saving grace for this is that it’s an instant.

Strength of the Tajuru: You’ll generate mana since you have green, and you’ll save mana since you have Animar, so piling up some counters
seems pretty easy.

Wurmskin Forger: He does cost seven, but maybe in your Animar-Elf deck… who am I kidding. This guy is awful.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss The Fab Five, the set’s originally-spoiled cards, and how they might help you Embrace the Chaos. Until then, let me
leave you with a little artwork preview to help tide you over.

Commander artwork
Kaalia of the Vast. Art by Michael Komarck. All preview links or copies must be accompanied
by artist credit, WotC
Copyright, and preview sourced to StarCityGames.com.