Beyond the various Doctors and their companions, there are a ton of other legendary creatures in Doctor Who Commander that are really cool designs to build Commander decks around. Last week’s deep dive featured Me, the Immortal, so make sure to check that out if you missed it. This week, I’m diving into one of the cards from the Masters of Evil deck—Ashad, the Lone Cyberman!
Traditionally, Magic’s three-color shard that cares the most about artifacts has been Esper, so it’s nice to have a Grixis commander to step outside that paradigm and get access to red spells rather than white spells for building your deck. Ashad’s got a really cool design by giving the first nonlegendary artifact spell you cast each turn casualty 2. The designers very wisely limited this ability to once each turn, though there are certainly ways to cast artifacts at instant speed with cards like Shimmer Myr and Liberator, Urza’s Battlethopter, so you can break that limit to some degree if you want.
Being able to cash in a creature to copy a nonlegendary artifact can really be a big game depending on the artifact you’re copying, but most of the artifacts you’re playing in Commander will be worth copying at least sometimes. We’ll just want to look for those that give us immediately value, because if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing twice! We’ll also want to put in a bunch of cheap creatures with power two or greater that we’d be willing to sacrifice to the casualty ability.
Lastly, don’t forget that Ashad will accumulate +1/+1 counters as your creatures die, so we’ll want to include some evasion so that Ashad can punch into opponents’ life totals when it’s not holding down the fort on defense.
Okay, let’s dive in!
If possible, I imagine we’d want to hold off casting Ashad until we’ve got a creature to sacrifice on the battlefield, plus a nonlegendary artifact we can cast and copy the same turn. At zero mana, Mishra’s Bauble is the cheapest, and obviously Sol Ring is an incredible one-mana artifact to copy. Baleful Strix is another fantastic card to copy the same turn you cast Ashad.
Later on, there are a lot of higher-mana artifacts that we’d love to copy, such as Wurmcoil Engine, Noxious Gearhulk, Thought Monitor, and Combustible Gearhulk. Phyrexian Metamorph and Auton Soldier let you copy whatever big bad creature is on the battlefield, and then with Ashad you can make yet another copy.
Weeping Angel has flash, so you can use it on an opponent’s turn, potentially ambushing two attackers if Ashad’s ability lets you make another copy.
Creatures to Sacrifice With Power 2 or Greater
Circuit Mender, Filigree Familiar, and Solemn Simulacrum play both sides here: not only are they artifacts that are awesome to copy with Ashad’s casualty ability, they also make solid sacrifices for future casualty triggers. Triarch Praetorian might be a good creature to round out the early mana curve; if it ends up in the graveyard to pay for casualty or chump blocking, you can unearth it later to get the Dynastic Codex ability to draw two cards.
Bloodghast and Bloodsoaked Champion are classic black cards that feed into sacrifice strategies, and both of them have the requisite power to pay for casualty. Creatures with undying, like Hound of Griselbrand, or creatures with persist, like Puppeteer Clique, make good bodies to sacrifice to casualty too.
If you want to make this an Aristocrats style of deck, there is no end of cards you can fill out your list with, like Blood Artist and Bastion of Remembrance. I wanted to point out Pawn of Ulamog and Sifter of Skulls, which make Eldrazi Spawn and Scion creatures when one of your creatures dies, which can either be chump blockers or cashed in for mana later on.
Also, don’t leave home without Skullclamp; with its cheap equip cost, it’ll be easy to equip whatever creature you’re planning on sacrificing to casualty, so long as it’s got higher than one toughness—and if it does have one toughness, well, it’s there to draw you cards to Skullclamp on its own!
Kappa Cannoneer’s improvise ability means it can hit the battlefield a lot cheaper than six mana, and it makes a pretty good copy target for Ashad. Ward 4 gives it solid protection, and each time an artifact enters the battlefield under your control, it gets a +1/+1 counter and can’t be blocked this turn. With enough artifacts in your deck, this will be a constantly growing, unblockable threat!
Shimmer Dragon, Trading Post, and Canoptek Spyder provide some awesome card-draw utility, while Foundry Inspector and Enthusiastic Mechanaut make it cheaper to cast your artifacts. If you’re playing some number of non-artifact creatures, Biotransference is a nifty enchantment to play, generating 2/2 Necron Warrior tokens each time you cast an artifact spell, and they’re exactly the right size to sacrifice to casualty.
Cryptek is a sweet card that lets you sacrifice another artifact creature to casualty and then get it right back to the battlefield tapped to serve your nefarious schemes further.
Since copies of artifacts are tokens, we might want to keep an eye out for token synergies. Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer is exciting since we can turn all of our tokens into copies of the best token copy of an artifact we have. An army of Wurmcoil Engines? Don’t mind if I do!
Mirkwood Bats provides another “Aristocrats” piece here that likes the token copies you’re creating with casualty and any of them you’re sacrificing to casualty. Junk Winder loves tokens, becoming cheaper to cast and tapping down problematic creatures each time you create a token. The bargain ability lets you sacrifice tokens in addition to artifacts and enchantments, so you can get the extra juice from Beseech the Mirror, Farsight Ritual and Back for Seconds. And then there’s Determined Iteration’s populate ability that can make a copy of a token creature you control that you’ll have to sacrifice at the beginning of the next end step, which means you can sacrifice it to casualty after combat if you’d like.
I know Ashad is supposed to be the Lone Cyberman, but if you’d like to keep it from being lonely, you can tap into other Cyberman cards from the Masters of Evil deck. Cyberman creatures are artifacts, so you can copy two of them with Ashad’s ability: Cyberman Patrol and Cyberman Squadron. Both of them are awesome in multiples! You can’t copy The Cyber-Controller since it’s legendary, but it definitely plays well in an artifact creature-heavy deck.
Once we’ve pumped Ashad up to threatening levels, we’ll want to send it on attacks, and giving it trample is an excellent way to do that. There are a ton of great ways to do that in Grixis, such as Soulbright Flamekin; Shadowspear; Tenza, Godo’s Maul; and Embercleave. Cyberdrive Awakener and Akroma’s Memorial will give your artifact creatures flying, while Skorpekh Lord gives your other artifact creatures +1/+0 and menace.
What other cards would be awesome in this deck? Which is your favorite villain from the Masters of Evil precon deck?
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