Commander Deep Dive: A New Legendary Phoenix, Otharri, Suns’ Glory

Magic’s second legendary Phoenix is ready to light up a Commander table near you! Bennie Smith shows how to build around Otharri, Suns’ Glory.

Otharri, Suns' Glory
Otharri, Suns’ Glory, illustrated by Marta Nael

Last year, New Capenna Commander brought Commander fans their very first legendary Phoenix: Syrix, Carrier of the Flame. It was very much designed as a Phoenix tribal card and cared about having a bunch of Phoenix cards in your deck. 

This year, Phyrexia: All Will Be One Commander brings us our second legendary Phoenix that notably cannot be played in the 99 of a Syrix deck, since Syrix is Rakdos and the new Phoenix is Boros.  Behold Otharri, Suns’ Glory!

Otharri, Suns' Glory

Although Otharri doesn’t mention the Phoenix creature type in its text box, since every Phoenix card ever printed besides Syrix is red, you could conceivably make Otharri leader of a Phoenix tribal deck in Boros if that was your inclination. But that’s not really the story that Otharri wants you to tell: Otharri wants you to attack early and often, accumulating experience counters and creating 2/2 red Rebel tokens.

Since Otharri has haste, you can potentially get that ball rolling the turn you cast it, though you’ll want to be careful with the newly creating Rebel tokens not getting blocked and killed immediately if you want to use them later. For instance, you can tap an untapped Rebel you control to return Otharri from the graveyard to the battlefield tapped for one generic mana less than it costs to cast. It might be nice to include other Rebel cards in the deck to help use that last ability!

Okay, let’s dig in!

Experience Counters

Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas

The first thing I went to look for were other ways to generate experience counters, and the only one currently available in Boros is Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas. Kalemne wants to be in a deck with as many higher-cost creatures as you can rustle up, but at a bare minimum our commander’s mana value is five, so we’d get an experience counter immediately from Kalemne there, which makes including Kalemne worth a slot in an Otharri deck. When Kalemne is drawn later in the game, presumably you’d have been accumulating experience counters with Otharri, which will make Kalemne quite formidable with double strike and vigilance.


Norn's Choirmaster Grateful Apparition Karn's Bastion Sword of Truth and Justice Contagion Engine Volt Charge Staff of Compleation Martyr for the Cause

Proliferate is making a comeback with Phyrexia: All Will Be One due to the return of poison counters, and you can also use the ability to increase your experience counters. Norn’s Choirmaster is an impressive new card that seems perfect for this, since it will proliferate each time your commander enters the battlefield or attacks; Otharri has haste and wants to attack, and it should be entering the battlefield from the graveyard a few times too. I like the new Volt Charge too. Three damage to any target can be surprisingly useful in Commander, and the proliferate ability is gravy.

Staff of Compleation might be fun to try here, especially since Otharri itself has enough lifelink to offset the proliferate activation. It would be easy enough to add other ways to gain life in a Boros deck too, cards like Soul Warden, Suture Priest, or even Angelic Chorus.


Goldwardens' Gambit Jor Kadeen, First Goldwarden Rhuk, Hexgold Nabber Leonin Lightbringer Oxidda Finisher Resistance Skywarden Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero Cho-Manno, Revolutionary Reveille Squad Bound in Silence Defiant Vanguard Whipcorder Ramosian Revivalist

I’m not sure that I’d play with Rebel cards that search your library for other Rebel cards outside of Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero, but there are a surprising number of other choices too, including Reveille Squad, which will untap your team when you’re attacked; that can be handy since Otharri comes back from the graveyard tapped. Bound in Silence is a tribal enchantment that’s also a Rebel; Otharri’s activated ability doesn’t specify you have to tap a Rebel creature!

There’s also the new card Jor Kadeen, First Goldwarden, which I did a deep dive on a few weeks back. We might even consider Rhuk, Hexgold Nabber if we want to dip into Boros Equipment synergies—don’t forget, Equipment with the new mechanic For Mirrodin! makes Rebel tokens attached to the creature. If we lean into that, Goldwardens’ Gambit seems worth a slot.

For Mirrodin!

Glimmer Lens Bladehold War-Whip Hexgold Halberd Hexgold Hoverwings Hexplate Wallbreaker Kemba's Banner Vulshok Splitter Mirran Bardiche

This isn’t all of them, but I think I’ve got most of the Commander-playable ones. Hexplate Wallbreaker stands out since it can produce extra attack steps, which works nicely with Otharri’s attack trigger. I also really like Glimmer Lens since it’s got a cheap equip cost and can potentially draw extra cards.

From the set’s Release Notes on the For Mirrodin! mechanic:

The Rebel enters the battlefield as a 2/2 creature, then the Equipment becomes attached to it. Abilities that trigger when a creature enters the battlefield see that a 2/2 creature entered the battlefield.

If the Rebel is destroyed, the Equipment stays on the battlefield. Similarly, you may pay its equip cost to move it from the Rebel token to another creature you control.

If the ability causes two Rebel tokens to be created (due to an effect such as that of Mondrak, Glory Dominus), the Equipment becomes attached to only one of them.


Skyfire Phoenix Rekindling Phoenix Everquill Phoenix Warcry Phoenix Ashcloud Phoenix Immortal Phoenix Kuldotha Phoenix Shivan Phoenix

Even though Otharri doesn’t reward us specifically for playing a bunch of Phoenix cards, it’s not a bad idea to throw some Phoenix cards into this deck just to help cover the skies for attacking and blocking. I often put Skyfire Phoenix in my decks, though the fact that Otharri might be cast fewer times from the command zone than is typical might make it a little less awesome.

Everquill Phoenix is neat because you can mutate onto a Rebel token to get that Feather token you can sacrifice to bring back a Phoenix card. Generally, I tried to pick Phoenix cards that could either attack or block, and avoided the Phoenix cards that deal damage to creatures, since I wouldn’t want to accidentally kill off all the Rebel tokens.

Tribal Support

Maskwood Nexus Mutavault Faceless Haven Heirloom Blade

If I added both Rebel and other Phoenix cards, I’d definitely want to run Heirloom Blade so that, when the equipped creature dies, I could search up a replacement from the deck. Maskwood Nexus makes all of our creatures Rebels that can bring back Otharri from the graveyard. Mutavault can bring back Otharri from the graveyard from an otherwise empty battlefield since it’s a Rebel, and if you happen to have a bunch of Snow-Covered Plains and Mountains you want to put in your deck, you can do the same with Faceless Haven.

Tokens Matter

Mondrak, Glory Dominus Anointed Procession Prava of the Steel Legion Anointer Priest Intangible Virtue Divine Visitation Rabble Rousing

If you’re fortunate enough to already own an Anointed Procession or crack a pack of Phyrexia: All Will Be One to find a Mondrak, Glory Dominus staring at you, either or both fit quite nicely in a deck that should be cranking out Rebel tokens on a regular. Prava of the Steel Legion does a great job keeping those Rebels alive that Otharri makes with experience counters; 3/6s should survive blocking a lot of the time.

Divine Visitation turning those Rebel tokens into Angel tokens might make it clunky to bring back Otharri from the graveyard, but I think 4/4 Angels with flying and vigilance are worth it.


Halo Fountain Patriar's Seal Drumbellower

Otharri’s activated ability produces two tapped creatures on the battlefield, which just happens to be the magic number you need to activate Halo Fountain to draw a card.  With enough experience counters accumulated, it’s at least conceivable we could untap fifteen tapped creatures with Halo Fountain to win the game!

Patriar’s Seal is another way we can untap Otharri when it comes back from the graveyard if we need to do that on our turn and still attack, or we need an emergency blocker.  Drumbellower is another card we might consider, letting us make use of the experience counter Rebels that survive combat as blockers in subsequent turns.

Attacking Matters

Dragonrage Iroas, God of Victory Dolmen Gate Blade Historian Jazal Goldmane Berserkers' Onslaught Windbrisk Raptor

Otharri is all about attacking, so we might look for cards to support that. Iroas, God of Victory and Dolmen Gate prevent attacking creatures you control from taking combat damage, so all those 2/2 Rebel tokens should be okay. Iroas even gives attacking creatures menace, which can really push through damage. If we’re not playing many lands that only tap for colorless mana, we might consider Blade Historian, which gives all our attacking creatures double strike—boom! You could even layer in the activated ability of Jazal Goldmane, which could kill someone in a hurry.

Extra Attacks

Relentless Assault Seize the Day Aggravated Assault Port Razer

Otharri has an attack trigger, so we should definitely consider all the various ways red has to squeeze in extra attacks. Just think of Norn’s Choirmaster plus multiple attacks from something like Port Razer?  That will spit out a Rebel army so fast it would make Darth Vader’s helmet spin!

Lifegain Matters

Well of Lost Dreams Aetherflux Reservoir Archangel of Thune Ajani's Pridemate Nykthos Paragon

When your commander has lifelink, it’s worth considering turning that consistent source of lifegain into something profitable. Well of Lost Dreams can give you extra cards, while Aetherflux Reservoir can potentially take out an opponent with a big 50-point life hit. Archangel of Thune and Nykthos Paragon can help you pump your team, which is particularly nice when we’re going wide with Rebel tokens.

Sacrifice for Profit

Ashnod's Altar Phyrexian Altar Trading Post Fanatical Devotion

With an increasing stream of creature tokens getting made by our commander, it’s easy to throw in a few ways to sacrifice creatures for profit, such as mana from Ashnod’s Altar or regenerating a creature with Fanatical Devotion. Trading Post can sacrifice a creature to bring back an artifact from the graveyard, and if that artifact is an Equipment with For Mirrodin! you’d get to replace the Rebel token right away.

Three-Mana Rocks

Cursed Mirror Strixhaven Stadium Scuttlemutt Commander's Sphere Skyclave Relic

Otharri offers built-in mana sinks, so we’ll want a fair amount of the usual mana ramp, but I’d like to call out three-mana rocks here since they allow you to ramp from three to five mana, assuming you make your fourth land drop, which lets you cast your Commander ahead of curve. Cursed Mirror’s ability to copy something huge if you draw it late makes it a fun card to have in your deck, and I really like Strixhaven Stadium in an aggressive attacking deck like this.

Scuttlemutt is an old favorite of mine since the early days of EDH; being able to change the color of a target creature can be surprisingly useful.

What other cards would you want in a Otharri, Suns’ Glory deck?  Would you be tempted to add any tribal elements to it?

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