Seer And Sage

Bennie was bound to love Nissa, Deepwood Sage at first sight, so much to the surprise of absolutely no one he’s hoping to crack her at the Magic Origins Prerelease this weekend and put her at the helm of this brand-new Commander deck!

It’s Friday and like many of you I’m really looking forward to hitting a Magic Origins prerelease tournament this weekend. I’ll be going to a midnight prerelease Friday night into Saturday morning, so if you’re a night owl check my Twitter account for tweets about my pool and how I do in the wee hours of the morning. With any luck I’ll be cracking open a copy of one of favorite cards from the new set: Nissa, Vastwood Seer! I plan on playing four copies of her in my Standard decks for as long as she’s in Standard, but I also think she’ll make a dynamite Commander for a monogreen deck so fingers crossed I might actually open a prerelease foil Nissa I can use to lead the charge.

Death And Taxes

There are quite a few things I love about Nissa, Vastwood Seer as my Commander, and first on the list is how cheap she is. As a legendary pseudo-Borderland Ranger, she comes down early and helps to keep the mana flowing. What’s really cool about that triggered ability is that you can think of it as a down payment on paying half of the next Commander tax — once she dies, she’s already paid towards the next time you want to cast her, and since that’s a land you put in play it’s permanently available until the end of the game barring some land disaster. In many games once your Commander has died three or four times they are often way out of reach of ever playing again in the near future, but Nissa – assuming she doesn’t get countered or her triggered ability shut down – might as well only have a Commander tax of one mana rather than two, so she is much easier to remain castable throughout the game.

Land Ramp

Exploration, Burgeoning, Veteran Explorer, Gaea’s Touch, Sword of the Animist, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Viridian Emissary, Nissa’s Pilgrimage, Kodama’s Reach, Wood Elves, Oracle of Mul Daya, Skyshroud Claim, Into the Wilds, Solemn Simulacrum, Nissa’s Expedition, Perilous Forays

Commander is the format of big, splashy haymakers and a popular strategy is to focus a lot of your deck on ramping your mana so you can cast those big, splashy spells earlier than normal. A deck built around Nissa doesn’t necessarily want to ramp mana, but rather ramp lands — seven lands is the magic number Nissa needs to ignite her spark so she can transform into a Planeswalker. So instead of things like Sol Ring or Fellwar Stone, I want Exploration and Gaea’s Touch. How fun it will be to equip Veteran Explorer with Skullclamp! A close second might be sacrificing Viridian Emissary to Perilous Forays. The new Sword of the Animist is a fantastic inclusion here, and lets you do the sweet storyline play of equipping Nissa with the Sword, attacking, and fetching up the seventh land to ignite her spark. Into the Wilds is an enchantment that I’ve been looking for a good place to play, and this deck is a perfect spot for it.

Land Matters

Adventuring Gear, Scute Mob, Lotus Cobra, Vinelasher Kudzu, Courser of Kruphix, Dungrove Elder, Beacon of Creation; Baru, Fist of Krosa; Realm Seekers, Rampaging Baloths, Primeval Bounty, Avenger of Zendikar, Howl of the Night Pack

With all the extra land drops we should be making it makes perfect sense that we should make generous use of cards with Landfall from Zendikar like Adventuring Gear and Rampaging Baloths. Then there are cards that get better the more lands we play: Scute Mob, Vinelasher Kudzu, Dungrove Elder, Beacon of Creation and Howl of the Night Pack. Primeval Bounty and Courser of Kruphix can net a lot of life with those extra land drops. Baru, Fist of Krosa can provide a huge boost to your army (and Trample!) if you can drop multiple lands in a single turn.

Mana Sinks

Mikokoro, Center of the Sea; Scavenging Ooze, Jade Mage, Druidic Satchel, Yavimaya Elder, Masked Admirers; Kamahl, Fist of Krosa; The Great Aurora

With all the lands hitting play you certainly want some good ways to use the mana other than just casting Nissa over and over. With enough mana Scavenging Ooze can come into play and immediately start pillaging graveyards to stop reanimation shenanigans, and I like Jade Mage for cranking out little 1/1 Saprolings for chump blocking duties until you want to swarm an opponent. All three of Druidic Satchel’s abilities are nice, and the land ramp in particular plays perfectly here. I’m not entirely sure about The Great Aurora — but I see it as a way to “clean up” a messy battlefield, and I imagine a lot of the time my board will have a distinct permanent advantage so that I should hopefully come out ahead. Keep in mind that tokens count as permanents! I’ll also get first crack at casting spells from this fresh hand of cards and likely a whole lot of new lands that got put into play. With the new “anti-tuck” rule, if Nissa is on the Battlefield when I cast it I can choose to put her in the Command Zone, replay her and very likely get to transform her right off the bat.

Igniting The Spark

Terrain Generator, Thawing Glaciers, Bant Panorama, Jund Panorama, Naya Panorama, Myriad Landscape, Sakura-Tribe Scout, Budoka Gardener, Walking Atlas, Khalni Heart Expedition

I initially had some of these — particularly Terrain Generator, Sakura-Tribe Scout, Budoka Gardener, Walking Atlas and Khalni Heart Expedition — grouped under the land ramp section because they can certainly help you ramp up to seven lands in play… but what I think they’re best served as a way to transform Nissa at instant speed in case you want to try and dodge some removal, or maybe chump block something huge and then transform so you don’t lose a card. They can also be used to provide you Landfall triggers at instant speed too. Budoka Gardener’s alter-ego Dokai, Weaver of Life is a fantastic late-game mana sink that is not at all difficult to turn on in this deck, and churning out 10/10 (or bigger) Elementals is a great way to spend six mana. Thawing Glaciers is one way to extend the number of lands in play until the end of the turn, perfect for igniting that spark.


The Chain Veil, Nevinyrral’s Disk, Doubling Season; Garruk, Primal Hunter; Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury

Having a virtual Planeswalker as your Commander means you definitely want to rock The Chain Veil, and if you’re rocking The Chain Veil you naturally want to consider other Planeswalkers too. I thought about playing the other two versions of Nissa, and while that would certainly be a flavor win, I didn’t want any awkward draws where I already have one Nissa in play and drew another version of Nissa that I couldn’t play without sacrificing the first one. I decided Garruk, Primal Hunter and Freyalise, Llanowar Fury work fine in the deck. Of course Doubling Season is just silly with Planeswalkers, and it turns out that there are a lot of cards in this deck that make token creatures (though sadly Nissa, Sage Animist’s -2 ability makes a token that’s Legendary so we can’t double our fun there).

Nevinyrral’s Disk is a great card to include in any Planeswalker-focused deck, and this one in particular is much less vulnerable to our own Disk activation since I’m not using a lot of artifact mana ramp that would otherwise get swept aside and instead just putting extra lands directly into play. What’s even cooler is that the ultimate on Nissa, Sage Animist animates a bunch of lands that are unaffected by a Disk activation — blow away all potential blockers and send those 6/6 lands rumbling on in!

Similarly I think I finally found a home for the awesome and scary Wave of Vitriol — again I have fewer than normal enchantments and artifacts that will get destroyed, and sacrificing all my non-basics to put that many basic lands into play can provide a huge cavalcade of land triggers.

So here’s what I’ve got cooked up, just ready to slide in a copy of Nissa, Vastwood Seer:

I’m not entirely sure I have enough good large creatures to profitably run Nissa’s Revelation here, but come on — this is a Nissa deck, I feel like I should give it a shot! I’m hoping with some ways to manipulate the top of my library I can set things up to fire it off when I have something like a Terastodon or late game Dungrove Elder floating on top.

Check out the Wirewood Lodge technology, which can bounce Nissa to use again each turn to fetch more lands if need be!

If you have any questions on any other card choices feel free to ask. What cards would you be running in your Nissa, Vastwood Seeker deck?

Have fun at your prerelease this weekend, I hope you open some sweet stuff and have a great time!

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)