Prime Speaker Zegana

Join Sheldon as he goes through the process of evolving his Animar Commander deck to one featuring Prime Speaker Zegana as its general.

During my Gatecrash set review, I supposed that Prime Speaker Zegana was so good and good with my existing Animar deck that I must just yank out all the red, make Prime Speaker the commander, and build something new with Animar. So it goes. I’m going to take you, as we’ve done before, on a stream-of-consciousness ride through the process of building this deck, or more correctly, the process of evolving this deck from Animar to Prime Speaker Zegana.

I want to continue leveraging the +1/+1 counter theme with Prime Speaker and stay on the “play fatties for cheap” path with Animar. One of the decisions down the road will be which deck to put Primal Surge in, but we’ll wait to see how things are shaping up.

The first step before porting over to the Prime Speaker deck is to make the post-Gatecrash changes I talked about last week.

Prime Speaker Zegana Fathom Mage Gyre Sage Master Biomancer Urban Evolution Zameck Guildmage

In: Fathom Mage, Gyre Sage, Master BiomancerUrban Evolution, Zameck Guildmage (Prime Speaker was also on this part of the list)

Out: Djinn of Wishes, Viral Drake, Fuel for the Cause, Darksteel Plate, Thrummingbird, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Steady Progress

The second thing is to take out all the red. Gone are the three Mountains, Kessig Wolf Run, Rootbound Crag, Stomping Ground, Taiga, Volcanic Island, Bloodbraid Elf, Shivan Wurm, Stingmoggie, Maelstrom Wanderer, Warstorm Surge, and Chaos Warp. That’s eight lands and six other cards. Then we’ll take out the giant things that Animar cast cheaply—Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and Darksteel Colossus. We’ll also take out Melira, since her whole purpose was to keep -1/-1 counters off of Animar, and Vorrac Battlehorns, since that’s a techy path to victory via Animar Commander damage. This leaves us with 79 cards on our way to 99. We’ll certainly be replacing all eight lands with other lands. Even in a two-color deck, we want to make sure that we hit our land drops early.

Now comes the Primal Surge decision point because it determines how many other nonpermanents we’ll be running in whichever deck it goes into. I definitely don’t want to put it into both. The argument for Prime Speaker is that I’ll be drawing more cards with the deck and therefore be more likely to get to the Primal Surge. The argument for Animar is there will be more giant stuff in the deck, meaning more value if Primal Surge gets fewer hits. Resolving it with Prime Speaker will likely lead to more crazy game states with bunches of evolve triggers and all sorts of madness happening. Being two colors as opposed to three, Prime Speaker feels like it needs more help from spells. Flavor slave that I am, I can’t ignore the fact that Primal Surge and Prime Speaker both start with the same letters.

In the end, I have to say that Primal Surge just feels more like it goes with Animar, so that’s the way we’ll head. That also frees up another slot. While I’m considering that, I’ll take Ancient Ziggurat out as well. We’re going to want to play a few more spells here. The Ziggurat will probably still go over into Animar.

The last choice in porting stuff over is what to do with the few remaining proliferate items, which at this point is only Fuel for the Cause and Tezzeret’s Gambit. I can certainly put in some of the proliferate which has migrated out of the Animar deck over its lifetime. I think we’ll go with keeping the those two in Prime Speaker for now then seeing over the development if we might want to add more.

Let’s work on the land base first. For some reason, there was no Breeding Pool or Hinterland Harbor in the original Animar. We’ll also add a Reflecting Pool. We’re low on sacrifice outlets and don’t have too many colorless-producing lands, so we can pretty safely add High Market and Miren, the Moaning Well. We’ll add Tranquil Thicket and Lonely Sandbar for cycling. Simic Growth Chamber will come in to bounce either Llanowar Reborn or Mosswort Bridge once they’ve done their duty. We can also use it to get back into our hand one of those cycling lands we played earlier. We’ll round it out with one each additional Forest and Island, bringing us up to 37 lands.

Experiment One Bioshift Miming Slime Simic Fluxmage Crowned Ceratok Ooze Flux

From Gatecrash (and picking cards we haven’t added to other decks already), we’re definitely going to add Experiment One, Bioshift, Miming Slime, Simic Fluxmage, and Crowned Ceratok. I also want to try out Ooze Flux. If some targeted removal is going to happen, it makes sense to move the counters to something else. And it should be absurd with Doubling Season.

That brings us to 55 nonland cards on our way to 62. Let’s tick that down to 54 by slipping out Champion of Lambholt to put into the rebuilt Animar. We have to decide what we’re lacking here. Primordial Sage and Garruk’s Packleader are providing us with card draw in addition to our commander. Garruk’s Horde is kind of like card draw. I think for the moment drawing will be priority two, although I think we need to kick it up a notch by adding Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. It just seems wrong to make a Simic deck without him. I know it’ll make Brian David-Marshall happy.

The two things I think we’re missing are protection from other people’s creatures and an additional fatty or two. That protection can come in two forms: removing them or Fog effects. There obviously aren’t that many Wraths in Simic. I don’t want to go to the well too often with the card, but Cyclonic Rift is reasonable. We’ll add Aetherize and Tangle for Fogging. I’m also going to add Brine Elemental for some protection from creatures (and I know I have a foil one in the box). I don’t have any way to turn it face down again, so there’s no Pickles lock (which means I think I just heard BDM go, “Booooo!”). I suppose that I might be able to enjoy a little recursion with it and Roaring Primadox, but now we’re talking significant mana and it’s not really a line of play I’d go for.

When it comes to finding more cards to put into decks, one of the things I do is go to the box of foils and see what’s in there. I picked out Scute Mob as a good thematic choice for this deck, as well as Experiment Kraj and the very saucy Sages of the Anima. That brings us to our magic number of 62. I feel like there’s a sufficient amount of things to do with our creatures that while Asceticism will be good, it will do better service in Animar. I think I also like Keiga and Coalition Relic better in Animar, so they stay there as well.

Since we have only one noncreature artifact, I’d like to do something hostile to anyone abusing them. We’ll go with Creeping Corrosion. I suppose I could go with Seeds of Innocence to kind of soften the blow. It’s one cheaper, but it’s also not available in foil. Creeping Corrosion it is. Molder Slug also comes to mind, but since we already have Woodripper and Woodfall Primus, we should be good on Artifacts.

One thing we don’t have is recursion, either a way to shuffle our own stuff back in or Regrow it from the graveyard. Recasting our cool stuff would be awesome, but I want to leave the Cloudstone Curio for the new Animar deck. We have Deadeye Navigator for getting reuses out of our guys anyway. It’s either play Genesis, one of the great cards from the format’s founding days, or Elixir of Immortality. I’m going to go with Elixir because I’m simply not playing it in any other deck. I think we’ll draw enough cards that we’ll be able to reuse the Elixir a few times during a game anyway.

Now we’re down to the last card. I’m slightly worried about the limited amount of enchantment removal, especially since it’s on the expensive end with Terastodon and Woodfall Primus. I don’t want to default to playing Acidic Slime in every green deck. Let’s take a quick exploration of Tranquility effects.

There is obviously the original. For two more mana, we can draw a card with Tranquil Path. Spring Cleaning has some merit, but I’m not confident in our ability to win too many clashes. Root Greevil, with LSV / Rich Hagon-worthy awful flavor text, can target stuff of a color, meaning we get to keep our own should that be an issue. I’m not sold on Reverent Silence at all. Primeval Light can take out everything from a single player, once again leaving us with our own—a relatively small concern since we have only three. Multani’s Decree costs one more than Tranquility but gains us two life for each. Hush is also in that 3G spot but has cycling, certainly worth considering. Calming Verse has some interesting flexibility. We don’t have so many instants that we can’t tap ourselves down if we’re really desperate.

Back to Nature is the reason I did the list in inverse alphabetic order. It renders Tranquility obsolete since it’s one cheaper AND it’s an instant. I didn’t want to steal its thunder by listing it first. There’s also the really techy choice of Tranquil Grove, which is repeatable Tranquility. I’d put this on my Hidden Gems list. I think it really comes down to either that or Back to Nature. Let’s give Tranquil Grove a try, and if we don’t like it down the road, switch to Back to Nature.

Getting down to the end of the list, I go back to Gatherer to make sure I haven’t missed any evolve cards. It turns out that I have. I missed Simic Manipulator. I really want to give him a try. Eternal Witness is pretty boring anyway, so she’s out and the Manipulator is in. This search leads me back to if I’ve missed anything desirable with the graft mechanic. I see three significant choices: Cytoplast Manipulator, Cytoplast Root-Kin, and Novijen Sages. I think that we’re drawing enough cards otherwise that we can afford to lose Tezzeret’s Gambit and discount the Sages (although I’m going to keep that one on the back burner in my mind in case one of the other cards underperforms). The Root-Kin is definitely my first choice. I think we can lose Thragtusk since it will probably go into the new Animar with its Cloudstone Curio trickery.

At the assembly point, as always happens, there are a few cards that I don’t have a handy copy of. Hinterland Harbor becomes Simic Guildgate to show some love to the Gates, which I haven’t been all that high on but other folks love. Reflecting Pool becomes Ancient Ziggurat. As I’m flipping through the Gatecrash cards, I realize I haven’t scheduled Biomass Mutation in any deck, so I lay it aside. I can’t find a Cyclonic Rift, so that’s what goes into that slot. Finally, I realize that Llanowar Empath isn’t thematic, so I put it back in the “to be put into Animar” pile. I grab one of the Grixis Exchange gifts (a secret Santa thing we ran on the mtgcommander.net forums) I got, Mighty Emergence. We’ll see how it runs.

The full list is below. It turned out that we changed a good deal more than I had thought going into the process. I’m happy with the way it turned out, and I think it’s going to be a Chaos-Embracing load of fun to play. I’ll do my best to assemble all the pieces and get it together as quickly as I can so that I can bring back to you the report on how it ran. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the ride. If you think I’ve missed something, feel free to bring it up. I’m always listening.

Prime Speaker Zegana
Sheldon Menery
0th Place at Test deck on 02-17-2013