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MTG Commander Deep Dive: Ratonhnhaké꞉ton

It’s time for an Esper Equipment revolution! Bennie Smith takes a Commander Deep Dive into Assassin’s Creed legend Ratonhnhaké꞉ton.

Ratonhnhaké:ton
Ratonhnhaké:ton, illustrated by Andreia Ugrai

The Assassin’s Creed Magic set is chock-full of new legendary creatures you can build Commander decks around. One that has grabbed my attention is Ratonhnhaké꞉ton due to it being a nifty Equipment Matters-commander in Esper colors.

Ratonhnhake:ton

Ratonhnhaké꞉ton (which is pronounced “Ra-doon-ha-ge-doon” according to Google) is a cool character of Mohawk and English ancestry, introduced in Assassin’s Creed III, set during the American Revolution. It’s super-cool to get a Native American character on a Magic card!

Ratonhnhaké꞉ton is the first Esper legend that specifically mentions Equipment, though Arna Kennerud, Skycaptain from the recent Modern Horizons 3 cares about modified creatures and could well be a dedicated Equipment deck. I did a deep dive on Arna a month or so back. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t read it yet!

I really like how Ratonhnhaké꞉ton’s abilities lead to a much different feel from other Equipment-themed Commander decks. The ideal line is to get a powerful Equipment card into your graveyard before attacking with Ratonhnhaké꞉ton unblocked, creating a 1/1 black Assassin creature token with menace, and returning that Equipment card from the graveyard to the battlefield and then attaching it to that token.

It’s neat that Ratonhnhaké꞉ton inherently makes the first attack pretty easy to accomplish, having hexproof and unblockability built right in until Ratonhnhaké꞉ton deals damage for the first time. Once those abilities are gone, Ratonhnhaké꞉ton is pretty easy to deal with by all sorts of removal spells, but the hope is that players will be a bit more concerned with the Assassin token that’s now equipped with something scary.

Okay, let’s dig in!

Giving Ratonhnhaké꞉ton Evasion

Whispersilk Cloak Rogue's Passage Access Tunnel Manifold Key Key to the City Whirler Rogue Open into Wonder Suspicious Bookcase Krydle of Baldur's Gate Sword Coast Sailor Midnight Pathlighter

Once Ratonhnhaké꞉ton loses his first abilities, you’ll still want to have him attack and deal combat damage to your opponents to keep the Equipment reanimation train a-rolling. Whispersilk Cloak feels like a slam-dunk, since it’s an Equipment card you can get back if it gets destroyed, and it will also give Ratonhnhaké꞉ton shroud so it can’t be targeted by removal spells. If you draw it early enough, you might even want to equip Ratonhnhaké꞉ton with it before his first attack, just so you can keep that protection ironclad.

Key to the City is nifty in that you can use it to discard an Equipment card that you can reanimate with Ratonhnhaké꞉ton’s ability, and later on it can even draw you cards. Midnight Pathlighter is just fine as the only dungeon-themed card in your deck—primarily you want its evasion-granting ability, which is especially good for your menace Assassin tokens unless an opponent is playing a heavy legends-themed deck; that combat damage trigger will be gravy as you make your way through Dungeon of the Mad Mage for all that value.

Open into Wonder was completely off my radar until fairly recently; making X creatures unblockable for the turn and giving them the ability to draw an extra card whenever they deal combat damage seems awesome for blue decks that want to be attacking, like this one.

Giving Ratonhnhaké꞉ton Double Strike

Kamiz, Obscura Oculus Duelist's Heritage Akroma's Will Fireshrieker True Conviction Halvar, God of Battle Flaming Fist

Since Ratonhnhaké꞉ton second ability triggers on combat damage it’s definitely worth looking for ways to give him double strike to double up on the triggers. Fireshrieker is an Equipment that does just that, so it seems like a slam-dunk inclusion. I also really like Duelist’s Heritage, since it doesn’t take any more mana to give target attacking creature double strike, and since it triggers on opponents’ attacks too, you can use it politically to help one opponent push damage through against another opponent.

I typically play the Sword of the Realms side of Halvar, God of Battle because it is so good, but in this deck, I can see playing actual Halvar more often. If a manabase can handle the triple white, True Conviction is a fantastic high-end card that can swing the game in your favor quickly.

Finding Equipment

Stoneforge Mystic Loyal Inventor Entomb Disciples of Gix Emry, Lurker of the Loch Stonehewer Giant Anchor to Reality Steelshaper's Gift Deadeye Quartermaster Fabricate

Esper has access to black, so you could run Demonic Tutor and its ilk, but there are also a bunch of other choices that search specifically for Equipment or artifacts to find just the right card for the job. You’ve got the expected cards, like Stoneforge Mystic and Stonehewer Giant, but how fun is it that Entomb can be an effective tutor for Equipment in this deck?  And I never even knew about Disciples of Gix before researching for this article, but it’s basically a Buried Alive for artifacts, so you can stock up on Equipment in the graveyard! 

Looting

Ledger Shredder Malcolm, Alluring Scoundrel Raffine, Scheming Seer Rona, Herald of Invasion Likeness Looter Faithful Mending Thirst for Knowledge Fomori Vault

Blue gives us access to a lot of “loot” effects that let you draw a card and then discard a card, which is an excellent way to get an Equipment in your graveyard to reanimate. The connive abilities of Ledger Shredder and especially Raffine, Scheming Seer will let you shred through your library and stock your graveyard with sweet Equipment.

I guess Fomori Vault’s ability isn’t technically looting, but it does let you discard an Equipment card and replace it with another card from the top of your library.

Blinking

Displacer Kitten Teleportation Circle Conjurer's Closet Ephemerate Essence Flux Sword of Hearth and Home Ghostly Flicker Soulherder Momentary Blink Abuelo, Ancestral Echo

Since we have access to white and blue, I think I’d like some number of “blink” effects to reset Ratonhnhaké꞉ton and give him hexproof until he deals damage again. The classic is Momentary Blink, and at instant speed it can respond to targeted removal. I might even want a permanent-based way to do it like Teleportation Circle, which can do it after Ratonhnhaké꞉ton has attacked, assuming no one has instant-speed removal in response to it.

Tokens Matter

Anointed Procession Mondrak, Glory Dominus Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation Curiosity Crafter Elder Arthur Maxson

In addition to giving Ratonhnhaké꞉ton double strike, we can use effects that increase the number of tokens created to get extra Assassin tokens, like Anointed Procession or Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation.

Curiosity Crafter is awesome with the menace built into the Assassin tokens and can potentially provide a nice infusion of extra cards each attack.

Equipment Matters

Puresteel Paladin Forge Anew Sigarda's Aid Sram, Senior Edificer Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist Codsworth, Handy Helper Danitha, Benalia's Hope Brass Squire Danitha Capashen, Paragon Battlefield Improvisation

I definitely want Sram, Senior Edificer for card drawing when I actually cast Equipment cards. Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist; Codsworth, Handy Helper; Puresteel Paladin; and Forge Anew can move reanimated Equipment cards that we might want equipped to something other than our 1/1 Assassin token.

Artifacts Matter

Nettlecyst Cranial Plating Etherium Sculptor Inspiring Statuary Urza, Lord High Artificer Shimmer Dragon

I really like Nettlecyst and Cranial Plating as Equipment that get better the more Equipment (and other artifacts) that might be accumulating on the battlefield. Inspiring Statuary and Urza, Lord High Artificer are fantastic with artifacts since you can use them for mana, and it doesn’t matter whether they are tapped or not.

Modified Matters

Arna Kennerud, Skycaptain Towashi Guide-Bot Envoy of the Ancestors

Arna Kennerüd, Skycaptain is great as a commander, but will do awesome work in the 99 of this deck. In particular, there might be circumstances where you can use Arna’s ability to copy a legendary Equipment card on your attacking creature, “legend rule” the original copy back into the graveyard, and then reanimate that Equipment back to the battlefield with Ratonhnhaké꞉ton’s ability. Towashi Guide-Bot should pretty easily be able to tap to draw a card for two, one, or even no mana.  The lifelink that Envoy of the Ancestors provides to your modified creatures can really help race other aggressive decks.

Okay, we’ve talked a lot about Equipment in general. Let’s take a look at actual Equipment cards we might want to fill out the deck with!

White Equipment

Caduceus, Staff of Hermes Lion Sash Robe of Stars Glimmer Lens Cloudsteel Kirin Deconstruction Hammer Krovod Haunch Wrench

Caduceus, Staff of Hermes is an exciting new Equipment from Assassin’s Creed that will be tough to move around due to the double white equip cost in a three-color deck, but luckily for us, we’ve got ways to reanimate it and attach it to an Assassin – having a 6/6 indestructible Assassin with lifelink and menace sounds awesome!  Robe of Stars is excellent in an Equipment deck, since phasing out a creature and all Equipment attached to it will be quite a bit better than blinking it in the face of battlefield sweepers.

I’ve never been overly excited to play Cloudsteel Kirin in Commander decks because its ability to keep yourself from losing seemed clunky and not very reliable, but in this deck where your commander can bring back Equipment from the graveyard over and over again, it totally seems worth it. 

Cheap Equipment that sacrifice for profit seem worth using in this deck to help ensure that we get an Equipment in the graveyard early enough to get full value from Ratonhnhaké꞉ton, so I’d include cards like Deconstruction Hammer and Wrench in the deck. I also love Krovod Haunch – a Food Equipment! – because it can bring two 1/1 Dog token creatures when it’s put into the graveyard.

Blue Equipment

Assassin Gauntlet The Reality Chip Cryptic Coat Blade of Shared Souls Candlestick

I’m excited about using Ratonhnhaké꞉ton to bring back The Reality Chip equipped to the Assassin, letting me start to play cards from the top of my deck! And Blade of Shared Souls seems super-fun too.

Black Equipment

Vorpal Sword Phantom Blade Mask of Griselbrand Wand of Orcus Poet's Quill Lead Pipe

Mask of Griselbrand and Wand of Orcus are powerful Equipment with appropriately expensive equip costs, so they make for excellent candidates for reanimating and equipping for free. Poet’s Quill is notable thanks to its learn ability, which will let you discard a card – hopefully a juicy Equipment – to draw another card when it enters the battlefield.

Other Equipment

Excalibur, Sword of Eden Colossus Hammer Kaldra Compleat Hammer of Nazahn Blackblade Reforged Assimilation Aegis Mithril Coat Helm of the Host Heirloom Blade

Excalibur, Sword of Eden is a wild new Equipment from Assassin’s Creed, with a very expensive mana value that can be discounted with enough historic permanents on the battlefield, but let’s just toss it in the graveyard and reanimate it with Ratonhnhaké꞉ton, right?  Kaldra Compleat is another powerful Equipment card we’d love to cheat onto the battlefield.

Assimilation Aegis is a cool new Equipment from Outlaws of Thunder Junction that can exile something powerful and turn that 1/1 Assassin into a copy of the exiled creature. This is another card that might be a little fragile for its effect normally, but Ratonhnhaké꞉ton’s reanimation ability makes me much more likely to play this.

Which other cards might go great with Ratonhnhaké꞉ton?  Which legendary creature from Assassin’s Creed are you most excited to build around?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and start conversations about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl, and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!

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