The second week of Wilds of Eldraine previews is done, and there are a ton of sweet cards for Commander fans to get excited about, including lots of new legendary creatures you might want to build Commander decks around. Last week, I did a deep dive on one of the heroes of the new Eldraine story, Kellan, the Fae-Blooded. This week, I’m pivoting to one of the villains of the story—Agatha of the Vile Cauldron!
It’s super-sweet that each of the three Witches has her signature artifact also in the set, with Agatha’s Soul Cauldron playing quite well with Agatha’s abilities while also just being a pretty cool Magic card that you can slot into other decks where it fits. I especially see Agatha’s Soul Cauldron being incredible in a deck with a lot of +1/+1 counter synergies.
Agatha of the Vile Cauldron cares about activated abilities of creatures you control, and reduces the activation cost by X generic mana, where X is Agatha’s power (though notably this effect won’t reduce the cost to less than one mana). Agatha starts at one power, so we’ll likely want a variety of ways to increase Agatha’s power to really leverage those reduced activated abilities.
So what creatures might we want to reduce those activated abilities assuming we can boost Agatha’s power large enough? The first things I thought about are the Invoker creatures that Magic has printed for years, which tend to be small creatures with large activated abilities designed for Limited play as ways to finish out games that have gone on a while.
Let’s dig in!
At eight mana to activate, the Invokers are clearly Limited filler cards but what if they only cost one mana? I imagine I’d find room for a couple of these in an Agatha deck just for fun because of the coolness factor of going off with an Invoker. I think I’d lean towards Bhaal’s Invoker and Wildheart Invoker. Being able to dome each opponent for four damage for one mana several times with Bhaal’s can just end games, and Wildheart can make several large trampling attackers, and can even boost Agatha’s power. I also think Silvanus’s Invoker is spicy tech, and not only for the 8/8 trampling land beatdown; if you animate a land with an activated ability Agatha could discount its ability as well.
Permanent ways to boost Agatha’s power will be useful, so I’d definitely make use of Rancor and Blackblade Reforged, and maybe even Power Matrix. But permanents boosting Agatha’s power can raise alarm bells for your opponents and might draw removal or other interaction before you can do bonkers things with Invokers or other creatures’ activated abilities.
That’s why I likely run some cheap spells to boost Agatha’s power, and there’s none cheaper than Invigorate, so long as you control a Forest—zero mana, and Agatha gets +4/+4 to discount your activated abilities by (at least) five mana? Sign me up! Might of Old Krosa can do that for one green mana if it’s your turn, and then of course there’s the classic Giant Growth! If you happen to own a sweet Beta Giant Growth or a textless Player Rewards version, or are lucky enough to snag a Secret Lair version given away at CommandFest and are bold enough to play with it, this would be a cool deck to play it!
Activated Abilities for Two
These are creatures that will benefit from Agatha without any fancy power boost, and while most of these are still basically fair even with the discount there’s one that gets busted in half, one of my all-time sleeper cards, Soulbright Flamekin! With Agatha out, spend three mana with Soulbright Flamekin to give three creatures trample and get a whopping eight mana in return! You can only do this once each turn, but it’s a huge rush of mana that can really get things going for your deck.
Creeperhulk is a fun choice too. For one green mana, you can make Agatha be a base 5/5, and if you follow that up with a way to boost Agatha two more power, you’re off to the Invoker races.
Activated Abilities for Three
Here are some fun creatures that benefit from Agatha gaining two pips of power, and I especially love Duskwatch Recruiter here, since it can “draw” you more creatures for each green mana you can spend. It is annoying, though, that you have to track spells to see if you have to transform it into Krallenhorde Howler, which doesn’t really help the Agatha plan.
Activated Abilities for Four
These creatures benefit from Agatha gaining three pips of power, and if you’re playing a bunch of artifact creatures, Scarecrone will be a slam dunk. Captivating Crew will set off alarm bells for your opponents, so use at your own risk. If you happen to have a bunch of Snow-Covered Forests and Mountains, you might consider running Conifer Wurm, since its ability gets absolutely bonkers for just one green mana.
Den of the Bugbear is a fun card to consider; the first time it’s activated, it becomes a creature, so Agatha’s discount will apply to subsequent activations, and each time you activate it will provide an extra attacking 1/1 Goblin when you attack with it. Might be a sweet way to sink all that Soulbright Flamekin red mana! Style points if you’re playing the Dungeon Module style for Den of the Bugbear.
Similarly, once you activate Crawling Barren, if you decide to make it a creature, subsequent activations will take advantage of Agatha discounts to load it up with +1/+1 counters.
Activated Abilities for Five
At five-mana activations discounted by Agatha, we might actually consider playing the “Soul of” cards like Soul of New Phyrexia or Soul of Shandalar. We might even consider playing Kird Chieftain, which shows us the meaning of trample (head nod to Shadowfax, Lord of Horses and Gandalf, White Rider).
Activated Abilities for Six
At six-mana activations, the choices were pretty slim outside of Agatha herself, but I’m happy to play Radha, Heart of Keld in Gruul decks anyway, so letting her activate for just two mana each time will be awesome. For style points, we might consider running the original Scarecrow from The Dark and shut down flying damage for hopefully a lot less than six mana.
Activated Abilities for Seven-Plus or X
Outside of the Invokers, here’s where we can really push the power of Agatha’s discount. Steel Hellkite has two abilities that will benefit from Agatha’s ability. I like potentially deep discounts for transforming Etali, Primal Conqueror; Vorinclex; and Ulvenwald Oddity, or activating the formidable ability of Shaman of Forgotten Ways.
Svella, Ice Shaper is another creature with two abilities that benefit from Agatha’s discount, and I’m looking forward to activating that second ability for just two mana. Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink also has two abilities, with that second ability being normally super-expensive, but I would swoon to activate it for just three red mana!
Don’t leave home without Magus of the Candelabra in your Agatha deck, which can turn Agatha’s discount ability into extra mana for your big turn; note this is a sweet way to wash some of that red mana from Soulbright Flamekin into green mana from your untapping lands.
Since some of the creatures with activated abilities have to tap to activate, we’ll likely want a few ways to give all of our creatures haste, like Anger and Urabrask the Hidden. Halana and Alena, Partners is a consideration too, since its triggered ability can boost Agatha’s power.
Activated Abilities Matter
Thousand-Year Elixir is another way to give “haste” to tapped activated abilities, and sometimes untapping them can do some wild things. Lithoform Engine can copy activated abilities, and its other abilities can be quite useful too. Say, what if we animate Lithoform Engine into an artifact creature that can benefit from Agatha’s discounts?
Gruul isn’t known for having a bunch of Humans matter cards, but I do like Kogla, the Titan Ape here as a way to protect Agatha from removal spells while giving Kogla indestructible until the end of turn. Silver-Inlaid Dagger might also be a sweet Equipment card that can boost Agatha’s power by three.
If you want to dig a little deeper and get a little weirder, why not add in some ways to animate land or artifact cards with activated abilities that can benefit from Agatha’s discount? Destiny Spinner and Spike Tiller benefit from Agatha’s discount too!
Which lands or artifacts with activated abilities do you think would be great in an Agatha deck? What other cards did I overlook that would be sweet with Agatha?
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