Olivia, Mobilized For Commander

It’s safe to say that the new version of Olivia Voldaren is being underrepresented at the moment. Bennie Smith is solving that problem by putting her into a brand new Commander build!

Shadows over Innistrad had a great crop of legends to build Commander decks around, and I’ve done just that with Archangel Avacyn; The Gitrog Monster; Odric, Lunarch Marshal; and Sigarda, Heron’s Grace. Last, but certainly not least we have Olivia, Mobilized for War to turn our Commander eye towards.

She makes a pretty strong Commander to build an aggressive tribal Vampires deck around, but the more I mulled over her abilities, the more I wanted to do things a bit differently. Any other creatures that enter on your side of the battlefield once Olivia is on the battlefield become discard outlets, and since we’re playing black, my mind naturally turned towards reanimation. I had a vision of this sequence of cards playing out on the turn following the casting Olivia, Mobilized for War, potentially on turn 3:

Cast Doomed Necromancer. Discard Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger with the ability from Olivia, Mobilized for War to give Doomed Necromancer haste and a +1/+1 counter. Sacrifice Doomed Necromancer to put Ulamog onto the battlefield and discard Squee, Goblin Nabob to give Ulamog haste and a +1/+1 counter. Attack with Ulamog and start devouring people’s libraries with your indestructible monster!

We can even port over some Standard technology. You know Jon Finkel’s B/G Seasons Past deck? Cast Dark Petition to go get Seasons Past, cast Seasons Past to get back Dark Petition from the graveyard so you can do it all over again? Let’s do the same sort of thing with Ever After and Rune-Scarred Demon!

I think that gives us a pretty good direction to lean towards, let’s flesh this baby out!

Reanimation Spells

Reanimate, Exhume, Doomed Necromancer, Feldon of the Third Path, Necrotic Ooze, Whip of Erebos, Zombify, Dread Return, Beacon of Unrest, Torrent of Souls, Ever After, Cauldron Dance, Champion of Stray Souls

Doomed Necromancer is the best reanimation spell to pair up with Olivia, Mobilized for War, but we certainly have no shortage of options in black and red. Feldon of the Third Path is nearly as good, but rather makes copies of the target in the graveyard that stick around for a turn rather than bringing the whole body back. Sometimes that’s going to be insane, like when you make a copy with Feldon first and then reanimate it with something like Beacon of Unrest.

Necrotic Ooze can do a mean impersonation of either of those fellows if they happen to be in the graveyard, or sometimes you may just want to copy something with a sweet ability. Cauldron Dance is a fun way to reanimate at instant speed, potentially ambushing your opponent’s attackers, and getting a juicy reanimation target from your hand into the graveyard. Whip of Erebos only reanimates for the turn and exiles it when you’re done with it, so I anticipate only using the activated ability, but mostly I’m looking at giving my huge monsters lifelink to help race other players or pay for the life loss from Reanimate.

Reanimation Targets

Shriekmaw; Netherborn Phalanx; Flayer of the Hatebound; Steel Hellkite; Hellkite Tyrant; Rune-Scarred Demon; Sheoldred, Whispering One; Tyrant’s Familiar; Utvara Hellkite; Avatar of Woe; Stalking Vengeance; Kozilek, the Great Distortion; Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

When I was looking at potential reanimation targets, Utvara Hellkite looked like a good choice even outside of a Dragon deck—assuming you give Utvara Hellkite haste and attack, you immediately replace it with a 6/6 flying Dragon token.

Turns out there are a fair number of other Dragons worth including in the mix. Tyrant’s Familiar pairs up fantastic with Olivia as a fast reanimation target, jumping out as a 7/7 flying creature with haste that attacks and deals seven damage to a creature that player controls. Hellkite Tyrant can make a brutal surprise reanimation target if you give it haste and swing over to steal a bunch of artifacts from someone who’s open to the attack. Steel Hellkite gives us a helpful way to get rid of problem permanents like enchantments. See, that’s a fair number of Dragons for a non-Dragon deck!

A fast Sheoldred, Whispering One is a brutal trap to spring if you’re playing against some high-powered decks. Avatar of Woe is a great early reanimation target that gets much easier to hard cast later in the game. Netherborn Phalanx can punish token decks, and what’s really sweet is you can transmute it to put it in the graveyard and go find Ever After!

Prime the Graveyard

Entomb, Magus of the Wheel, Wheel of Fortune, Corpse Connoisseur

I’ve got enough good reanimation targets that I should hopefully have one or two in my hand early on. Assuming the first one or two reanimation targets don’t win the game on their own we’ll want to sow some additional targets and that’s where Entomb and Corpse Connoisseur come in. If we’re giving our reanimation targets haste as well, we’ll probably want to refuel our hand so Wheel of Fortune and Magus of the Wheel are here to help with that. Magus of the Wheel is particularly nice since we could reanimate it or copy it with Feldon to refuel periodically. The two Wheel spells are nice backups to our general gameplan if casting Oliva, Mobilized for War has been stifled by our opponents.

Discard Fodder

Drownyard Temple; Bloodsoaked Champion; Phyrexian Reclamation; Sanitarium Skeleton; Reassembling Skeleton; Bloodghast; Dragon Shadow; Squee, Goblin Nabob; Big Game Hunter; Stensia Masquerade; Anger; Vengeful Pharaoh

There are some other ways to mitigate the loss of cards we’re pitching to give our reanimated creatures haste. There are cards we can play from our graveyard like Drownyard Temple, Reassembling Skeleton, Bloodghast, and Bloodsoaked Champion. Bloodsoaked Champion’s raid ability works quite well with our hasty creatures. We can tap into some Madness tools with Big Game Hunter and Stensia Masquerade. Stensia Masquerade giving our attackers haste is pretty sweet anyway, but since we can use the ability of Olivia, Mobilized for War to turn the creature into a Vampire, you can take full advantage of the enchantment. Dragon Shadow pitched to the graveyard will be happy to come back out and enchant a big reanimation target. Anger pitched to the graveyard doesn’t mind just sitting there and giving your team haste if you control a mountain.

I like Phyrexian Reclamation as more than just a way to recoup pitched cards. If you’ve reanimated Kozilek, the Great Distortion and someone casts a card you want to counter, you can use Phyrexian Reclamation to retrieve a creature spell with the corresponding casting cost from the graveyard and then pitch it to Kozilek (or Necrotic Ooze, if Kozilek is in the graveyard).

Sanitarium Skeleton can serve a similar function for one more mana but no life so long as the converted mana cost is one, which happens to be a popular casting cost for pinpoint removal spells—Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Tragic Slip, Pongify, and Rapid Hybridization.

Here’s what I’ve got cooked up:

Olivia, Mobilized for War
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 05-12-2016
Magic Card Back

I traded for a foil Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed a couple of years ago and really like it here in this deck. If I’ve got a Nim Deathmantle on the battlefield, I can use Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed to continually get back a reanimation spell each turn.

Cauldron of Souls is a great card to force opponents to have multiple answers to a reanimated creature, and if you’ve got Olivia, Mobilized for War on the battlefield, you can use her +1/+1 counter ability to cancel out the -1/-1 counter from persist.

Do you have any ideas that I may have overlooked for a reanimation strategy with Olivia, Mobilized for War? What sort of decks are you building with Olivia, Mobilized for War as the Commander?

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visonary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)