The Kitchen Table: Momir Vig’s Identity Crisis

Abe introduces the Identity Crisis variant of Commander with a deck built around Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. Let him know what you think in the comments!

What happens when you are forced to build a Commander deck where every nonbasic card must match the color identity of the general? In other words, every card in the deck must have all of the mana symbols of your commanding creature somewhere on them.

Obviously, such a challenge is virtually meaningless for a monocolored general—it would basically exclude artifacts and lands that just tap for colorless. That’s not a major obstacle to overcome. Therefore only multicolor commanders are allowed.

And that is the rules for the Identity Crisis variant of Commander. I was introduced to it by a playgroup from Canton and specifically by Dale Lawver, who sent me an email with several variants that are used by a league that plays there. So allow me to thank them for exposing me to this idea.

Doing a two-colored general with allied colors should have a lot of options. There are a massive amount of cards that qualify. For example, Selesnya could include Loxodon Hierarch (since it’s gold), Privileged Position (hybrid card of both colors), Wax // Wane (counts as both colors), Ray of Revelation (white spell with green flashback), Avacyn’s Pilgrim (green creature with white in ability), Selesnya Signet, or even Crown of Convergence. You could not play something like Quirion Elves, Thornscape Familiar, or Windswept Heath.

Can we do a three-color deck? I started to see if Naya would even work—would we have enough cards? We had around 30 or so on Gatherer. Then I could add in good cards like Thornscape Battlemage, Thornscape Apprentice, Thornscape Master, Mirrorwood Treefolk, Obelisk of Naya, and even Granger Guildmage. But it was too hard to reach to the required number. Plus the mana base on that would be awful.

Therefore it seemed like the two-colored enemy color deck would be the right project for me. It’s tighter, which will create difficult decisions. Some color combinations looked laden with removal—Vindicate, Mortify, or Unmake versus Pernicious Deed, Petrify, or Maelstrom Pulse are great options. Plus Boros has Lightning Helix, Orim’s Thunder, Aurelia’s Fury, and even Order // Chaos. It seemed like Simic and Izzet were the weaker combinations, so below I built a Simic deck around Momir Vig. It has a weaker set of utility cards and therefore needs some work. I decided to run a potent commander to make up for it—imagine the Momir Vig triggers this sort of deck is going to have!

And there is your Momir Vig Crisis deck! Like you would expect from any Simic-heavy deck, there are a few cards here and there that use or give +1/+1 counters. Obviously I’d love to have more, but that’s not a bad start.

Where Simic shines is in some of its non-removal utility cards. For example, we have some card-drawing all-stars. Urban Evolution is a powerful midgame drawing spell because you can accelerate your land as well. Biomantic Mastery is downright nasty later on. You can target yourself as one of the players, so you can control the card a bit. People are always holding onto extra cards in multiplayer, so you often net ten-plus cards from the spell. Then we have cards such as Vigean Intuition and Tracker’s Instincts. Since using Momir Vig will often pull creatures from your deck and reshuffle it regularly, you can either set up a big draw or dig and get some new cards on top.

We also have some great counterspells in Simic. Not only do we have the new Mana Drain (Plasm Capture), but we have the versatile Voidslime, Mystic Snake’s enter-the-battlefield madness, and Mystic Genesis also-making-a-token body. Those are all worthy counters you might find in any powered Commander deck.

Because of a lack of hard removal, Illusion // Reality is included as the sole contender for artifact removal. Other than that we have little removal. We can steal a creature with Yavimaya’s Embrace. We can also tap a creature with Evolution Vat or drop Krasis Incubation on it. We could even Spitting Image a creature in order to make one of our own to keep parity. But that’s about it. We have a few awkward ways here and there (cast Snakeform when combating with a big beater, hit with Trygon Predator, etc.), but they require some hoop jumping. So this is not a deck based around killing your stuff. We even have little tempo to keep you down for a while.

Now, we do have a lot of nifty creatures and a ton of triggers and abilities. From Coiling Oracle to Fathom Mage to Edric, Spymaster of Trest, a lot of creatures can draw cards in one or more ways. Note that both Cold-Eyed Selkie and Vedalken Heretic both can draw you a card when they hit an opponent, and the Selkie in particular is good in case we give it some counters with Novijen or Evolution Vat.

Fable of Wolf and Owl is a classic card that shines in a Simic-colored deck. When virtually every spell played is both blue and green, you produce double tokens for the stuff you play. That’s a passel of creatures gathered quite quickly. It’s definitely a powerhouse for the deck.

Despite the smaller amount of +1/+1 counterage that the deck contains, we have a few ways to help things out. Vorel can tap to put another of those counters on something. Plus Novijen, Zameck Guildmage and Master Biomancer can help amp up counters when creatures hit the battlefield. Experiment Kraj can tap to put a counter on something. Don’t forget Vigean Hydropon and Plaxcaster Frogling’s ability to use graft or Simic Guildmage to move them about. That’s a fun sampling of counter addition.

Once they start arriving you have some effects that use them. The Frogling can spend two mana to enshroud a beefed up critter. But Bred for the Hunt is downright abusive even outside of a deck with dedicated counters. With creatures like Nimbus Swimmer, Lorescale Coatl, and Fathom Mage in the deck, you can easily smash someone for a card.

And as mentioned above, this deck just loves to draw cards. That’s what Simic does. Consider Overbeing of Myth. If it weren’t so hard to cast outside of a U/G deck, it would be a standard in Commander. You draw an extra card each turn, and you have a good creature of size to go along with it. Plus as your card drawing, such as Momir Vig triggers, coalesce into massive hands, the Overbeing gets better and better.

We have some ways to abuse extra cards. Prophet of Kruphix is Momir Vig’s best friend. Consider this—every player’s turn you untap and can play creatures with flash. Every time you play a creature that is both green and blue, you can basically tutor your deck for a creature and put it into your hand. So you play that creature with flash, grab another, play it, grab another, pass the turn to Bob, do it twice more, then Stacy, twice more, then Keith, and once more with a big fatty. Then you untap with seven newly minted creatures all ready to smash. In a deck where almost every creature is both green and blue and with the reliable Momir Vig as your commander, the Prophet breaks things. (And for a lesser card, consider Murkfiend Liege.)

A few creatures here and there were considered in order to round things up. First, I wanted some defense. Jungle Barrier was rocked to draw a card and block for us. Then Living Airship was included—yes, I know the regeneration is stupid expensive, but it’s there and can contribute. There was little else of value though. I had already put in the obvious cards like Simic Sky Swallower, Prime Speaker Zegana, and Progenitor Mimic.

I liked Horizon Chimera because of the card-drawing trigger (see also: Lorescale Coatl). With all of the card drawing the Simic deck includes, that’s a lot of life gain. Plus you can flash it to tutor for a creature instantly with Momir Vig, and that’s cool. In fact, flash is so important that Alchemist’s Refuge is not only able to be included but downright scary, as seen above with the Prophet description.

After that the final cards to make the cut were a few tricks and fun cards. Memory’s Journey can be used either to restock your deck with goodies or to have at least one tool to fight some recursion battles. Shielding Plax draws a card and hexproofs the creature—a decent combination. Beetleform Mage provides another body. Biomass Mutation is a neat trick that can win the game a la Overrun. Temporal Spring and Aether Mutation will bounce stuff to prepare for one of your four counters (or just to slow things down). Finally, the Leafdrake Roost provides a way to make an army after mass removal or to supplement the current forces.

And that is my take on a Crisis Identity deck built around Momir Vig. If you want another Simic-themed deck, you could use Edric, Experiment Kraj, Vorel, or Zegana.

So if you are thinking about the Crisis Challenge, take a look at some options and build yourself an Identity Crisis Commander deck! And let me know what you think in the comments. Would you like more alternate formats of Commander like this one? If so, just let me know; perhaps you might have some suggestions!

Until later,
Abe Sargent