Red Bull Gives Me Wings

No, Bennie Smith is not getting energy drink endorsements. But he is full of energy! Because this Commander brew is high voltage! Stay back!

Now that we have the full Kaladesh block, the new energy mechanic is a certified hit in Standard. For many of us, that begs the question—is the mechanic deep enough to make a go of it in Commander? Singleton copies of Longtusk Cub, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, and Aethersphere Harvester are only going to carry us so far, especially since we can only play one Winding Constrictor to bump up the energy.

Looking at all the cards that either make or consume energy, a handful of cards jump out as big and splashy enough to make waves in Commander.

In my mind, these two cards go together quite well. Aetherwind Basker has the potential to generate a ton of mana with enough creatures on the battlefield, and if we get enough to kick-start Lightning Runner, we can potentially keep attacking for as many times as necessary. It takes eight energy to get the extra attack step, and Lightning Runner provides two energy. So we just need four other creatures for Aetherwind Basker to provide the other six energy. Any extra energy we can dump into Aetherwind Basker to make it bigger and bigger, and it starts as a 7/7 with trample, so that is some serious beats.

These are the other cards that are capable of becoming an energy engine. Aetherworks Marvel generates an energy whenever a permanent you control is put into the graveyard, and Demon of Dark Schemes gives you an energy whenever a creature dies. Aetherstorm Roc gives you an energy when a creature enters the battlefield under your control, and Gonti’s Aether Heart does the same thing but with artifacts.

Let us look at some cards that can rev up our energy engines.

Engine Cards

The first combo to come to mind is Saffi Eriksdotter and Crypt Champion, the combination at the heart of the old “Project X” deck from years back. The key is Crypt Champion hitting the battlefield without pay a red mana, so it is going to sacrifice itself. Saffi Eriksdotter can sacrifice itself to bring Champion back to the battlefield. When Crypt Champion returns, it can return Saffi to the battlefield. Rinse, repeat and you have an unlimited supply of energy from Aetherworks Marvel, Demon of Dark Schemes, or Aetherstorm Roc. Another two-card combo is Nim Deathmantle and Composite Golem, only this time we could get unlimited energy from Gonti’s Aether Heart as well, since Composite Golem is an artifact.

There are other options that are not so open-ended but can generate a fair amount of energy too. Two of the Module cycle play nicely with energy, and if you have all three, you can turn any extra mana you have lying around into energy, +1/+1 counters, and an artifact Servo token. Speaking of, I like that Era of Innovation can let you cash in an extra mana for two energy whenever an artifact enters your battlefield, and once energy is limitless, you can cash it in for three cards.

Winding Constrictor, Strionic Resonator, and Panharmonicon can provide extra energy from our cards that are less engines and more just good energy cards. Eerie Interlude and Brago, King Eternal are other ways to “blink” your energy-producing cards so they produce more energy when they come back to the battlefield.

Then there is Paradox Engine, which is just absurd. I cannot wait to see what I can do with it alongside Inspiring Statuary.

Mirrorweave is a fun card that is horribly underused. In this case, I have visions of turning all my little Servo tokens and energy creatures into copies of Aetherwind Basker and then attacking for some massive amount of damage.

Okay, so what about the other energy cards? Combing through the list, I was surprised to find enough that I could leave some on the cutting room floor. I decided mostly not to include the cycle of energy creatures that require attacking to use their energy. Attacking is not always a good choice in Commander! I divided them into energy producers and energy sinks, even though some are both.

Energy Producers

I think these are mildly good to amazing energy producers. Thriving Turtle made the cut by providing more energy than it costs to cast. Gonti’s Machinations almost did not make the cut because the effect is so small, but I figure it could potentially provide a decent amount of energy over the course of a game. Architect of the Untamed provides a good energy sink too, but eight energy is a lot for just a vanilla 6/6 token creature, so for the most part I am playing it for turning landfall triggers into energy.

I have great hope for some nice synergy between Aetherwind Basker and Peema Aether-Seer. Soak up all your energy to boost Aetherwind Basker and then play Peema Aether-Seer to replace it all, plus seven. Strionic Resonator or Panharmonicon to double it, perhaps?

Energy Sinks

When energy is no object – we have fired off our engines and generated an arbitrarily large amount of it – all of these cards become turbo-charged. From being perpetually annoying like Deadlock Trap, Consulate Surveillance, and Aethersquall Ancient to just game-ending like Whirler Virtuoso, these are some more payoff cards for all the effort we are going through.

Added Utility Might Be Nice!

Okay, so a Commander deck cannot always thrive off theme alone, so I made some room for utility cards to round things out.

Since we are going five colors Fellwar Stone and Chromatic Lantern are a must. I also added in Reveillark and Karmic Guide to help get back critical creatures that die along the way, and they happen to work great alongside Saffi Eriksdotter and Nim Deathmantle.

Wait a minute—I just realized I have not picked our actual Commander yet! Looking over my decklist, I realize that I didn’t have too much room for utility cards that can handle lots of problematic permanents, so that tells me I ought to pick Child of Alara. When Child of Alara dies, it tends to clean up a lot of messes, and since my deck is not built around Child of Alara, I have no problem letting it actually go to the graveyard rather than putting it back into the Command Zone.

So, without further ado, here is my Big Energy deck. Maybe I should call it Red Bull?

Child of Alara
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 02-17-2017
Magic Card Back

Have I missed anything obvious? How would you build an energy-focused deck differently? Do you have any questions about my choices?

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, Visionary 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)

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)

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)

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)

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)

Konda, Lord of Eiganjo ( The Indestructibles)

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)

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius ( new player-friendly)

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!)

Progenitus (

Fist of Suns and Bringers


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)

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)

Uril, the Miststalker (my “more competitive” deck)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

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