Commander Top 10: Ashaya, Soul Of The Wild

Who wants Forests? The Zendikar Rising Commander hits continue as Bennie Smith builds around the quirky Ashaya, Soul of the Wild.

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild, illustrated by Chase Stone

Zendikar Rising has been fully previewed, and there are a ton of goodies for Commander fans.  I’ve put in my preorders and I’m eagerly awaiting release so I can get some of these in my decks.  One of the coolest new legends from this set is a weird, five-mana green creature:

Grothama, All-Devouring

No wait, this is another weird, five-mana green legend that’s been one of my favorite commanders in years.  I have a feeling this new one may give it a run for its money:

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild

Has there ever been a rarity upgrade as dramatic as Ashaya?  We first saw this elemental as a token creature made by the planeswalker side of Nissa, Vastwood Seer from Magic Origins.

Ashaya, the Awoken World token

Nissa, Vastwood Seer Nissa, Sage Animist

Ashaya has awoken, and now Ashaya has gone wild… with soul!

But Bennie, you may be thinking, why would you call this card weird?  Isn’t this just a souped-up version of some other cards like this we’ve seen?

Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar Ulvenwald Hydra

It’s true the first paragraph is something we’ve seen several times on green creatures and even on a long ago Esper creature:

Dakkon Blackblade

But the really weird part comes in that second paragraph!  Before we get much farther, let’s take a look at the Zendikar Rising release notes for this card for some clarity:

The ability that defines Ashaya’s power and toughness applies in all zones, not just the battlefield.

As long as Ashaya is on the battlefield, it’s affected by its second ability and thus its first ability counts itself.

Because damage remains marked on a creature until the damage is removed as the turn ends, nonlethal damage dealt to Ashaya may become lethal if lands you control leave the battlefield during that turn.

You can’t play creature cards as lands; you’ll still have to cast them as spells, and they’ll enter the battlefield as lands (in addition to their other types).

A land that’s a Forest has the intrinsic mana ability “{T}: Add {G}.”

What’s so weird and awesome about Ashaya’s text box’s second paragraph is, once Ashaya enters the battlefield, all your creatures are also Forests, which makes them land creatures. 

Any nontoken creatures that were already on the battlefield can now tap for green mana like a Forest, and any creature that you cast will cause triggers that look for lands entering the battlefield like landfall.  This also means that Ashaya’s size is determined by the number of actual land cards on the battlefield plus the number of nontoken creatures since they count as lands now too. So, if we assume three other creatures on the battlefield plus five lands when you cash Ashaya, it will be a 9/9.  Plus, you could tap those creatures for three mana you could use to cast another spell.

What this tells me is that, when building an Ashaya deck, we’ll want to look for cards that care about lands in general, Forests in particular, and lands entering the battlefield.

By the way: if you run across a monster who loves to jam Blood Moon in their Commander decks, it will kill Ashaya dead. If you want to dig into the reason why, you can find Wizards of the Coast (WotC) rules guru Matt Tabak’s explanation here on Twitter

Okay, let’s get brewing!

1. Ley Weaver

Ley Weaver

You like infinite mana?  Ley Weaver plus Ashaya has you covered!  With Ashaya on the battlefield, you can tap Ley Weaver to target itself and one actual land card or another creature that’s also a Forest you can tap for mana and boom, infinite green mana.  Or if you’d prefer to target a creature or land that taps for some other effect you can do that over and over too. 

As you’ll see, I have a fair number of creatures and lands that tap for effects other than just mana, so there are bound to be some wild plays ahead!

There are a number of other cards that untap lands that can be used to untap creatures with Ashaya on the battlefield:

Arbor Elf Magus of the Candelabra Voyaging Satyr Sword of Feast and Famine

I particularly love how Sword of Feast and Famine basically untaps all your lands and creatures with Ashaya!

2. Oblivion Stone

Oblivion Stone

Oblivion Stone is well-known as a battlefield sweeper that usually leaves nothing but lands in its wake, but when we have Ashaya on the battlefield, our own creatures – which are land creatures – will remain behind too!  How awesome is that?  Also, since Ashaya makes all our creatures be able to tap for mana, it’ll be pretty easy to cast Oblivion Stone and activate it right away.

On a side note:  Ashaya does a pretty good job of taking a lot of sting out of this heinous and popular Commander card:

Cyclonic Rift

Ashaya says my creatures are land permanents, friend!

(but not really)

There are a few more artifacts that “blow up the world” by getting rid of nonland permanents, so we’ll add them too:

Boompile Perilous Vault Karn, Silver Golem

I’ve also added Karn, Silver Golem to the list since it can make an artifact into a creature for just one mana, and with Ashaya it’s also a Forest so it could then tap for green mana to make another artifact into a creature, and basically save all your artifacts from “nonland” removal spells and effects.  If you’ve got Boompile, Karn, Ashaya, and Ley Weaver on the battlefield, you can keep tapping and untapping Boompile until you win the coin flip, keeping the battlefield swept clean of any nonland nuisances that your opponents might want to cast. 

Just make sure you end the game quickly because that sort of lock is pretty obnoxious.

3. Tireless Tracker

Tireless Tracker

Tireless Tracker is already a great card, generating a Clue token each time a land enters the battlefield.  With Ashaya, each creature you play is also a land, so you’ll get extra Clues from them.  And since all your Forest creatures can tap for mana, it should be trivial to crack all your Clues for cards right on time.

I’ve made room for other cards that do fun things when you play lands or Forests:

Field of the Dead Lotus Cobra Baru, Fist of Krosa Rampaging Baloths Ancient Greenwarden Avenger of Zendikar

Field of the Dead usually takes a while to get online in a monocolor deck, but with Ashaya on the battlefield each of your creatures will count as lands with different names!  And how about another sweet card from Zendikar Rising, Ancient Greenwarden?  Playing lands from the graveyard is nice but getting extra triggers from lands entering the battlefield is going to snowball advantages in a hurry!

4. Timber Protector

Timber Protector

When looking for cards that care about lands and Forests, I found a ton of great cards that just get absurd with Ashaya on the battlefield, and one of the best of them is Timber Protector

This basically makes all your other creatures indestructible, which is a pretty nice thing to be in a format that’s defined by sweepers that destroy all creatures. The trick of course is to keep Timber Protector alive!

Thespian's Stage Sylvan Advocate Blackblade Reforged Dungrove Elder Nissa, Vastwood Seer Manascape Refractor Nissa, Who Shakes the World Titania, Protector of Argoth Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar

How about Sylvan Advocate as a double Anthem effect for your team?  How about Nissa, Vastwood Seer triggering from casting a creature; transforming into Nissa, Sage Animist; and you can make an Ashaya token to achieve Ashaya-ception?  If your opponents destroy all your creatures, Titania, Protector of Argoth will replace each of them with a 5/3 green Elemental token!  Manascape Refractor could tap for any activated ability of any of your creatures!  Thespian’s Stage could copy one of your creatures!

I told you Ashaya is a weird and awesome card.

5. The Great Henge

The Great Henge

Since Ashaya will ensure we have plenty of mana, we’ll want to have plenty of ways to keep drawing cards, and for my money The Great Henge is the best of the bunch. It’s already an amazing card in Commander, but I think it’s even better in this deck. Consider the scenario I mentioned above where you control three creatures and five lands when you cast Ashaya.  Ashaya is a 9/9, which discounts The Great Henge’s mana cost to just double green, which you can get by tapping two of your creatures immediately and now you’ve still got three mana available to cast a creature and get immediate value from The Great Henge (not to mention two life).

Green has no shortage of good card draw and I’ve made room for a lot of those cards here:

Mikokoro, Center of the Sea Desert of the Indomitable Slippery Karst Tranquil Thicket Skullclamp Magus of the Library Elvish Visionary Lifecrafter's Bestiary Greater Good Harmonize Guardian Project Rishkar's Expertise

Greater Good is another awesome card that gets even better in this deck since Ashaya will reliably be gigantic for most stages of the game and can be cashed in for cards when needed. Similarly, Rishkar’s Expertise is going to draw a bunch of cards too.

6. Beanstalk Giant

Beanstalk Giant

Green has no end of options for ramping mana, but one card that really jumps out at me is Beanstalk Giant. The Adventure side Fertile Footsteps can ramp you from three mana to five mana, which just so happens to be Ashaya’s mana cost. And once you actually cast Beanstalk Giant, its power and toughness will swell to huge proportions just like Ashaya if Ashaya is on the battlefield.

Blighted Woodland Myriad Landscape Castle Garenbrig Sol Ring Joraga Treespeaker Sakura-Tribe Scout Sakura-Tribe Elder Farhaven Elf Wood Elves

Instead of Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach I decided to go with Farhaven Elf and Wood Elves. Like Fertile Footsteps, they should help ramp from three to five, and once you cast Ashaya they can tap for mana right away or be there as a creature should you need that.

7. Scryb Ranger

Scryb Ranger

Scryb Ranger is such a sweet little card that’s a cool riff on another sweet card, Quirion Ranger, but I rarely find it useful enough to warrant a slot in Commander decks, so when Ashaya came along and I started researching cards, I was super-stoked when Scryb Ranger popped up on my radar!  Normally, activating Scryb Ranger’s ability sets you back a land drop, but with Ashaya on the battlefield that ability becomes a great way you can dodge targeted removal spells by returning the targeted creature to your hand since Ashaya makes it a Forest.

Just remember, you can only use the ability once per turn, but you can use it once on each of your opponents’ turns too if you need to.

I’ve got a couple of other cards that do stuff with lands that could apply to your creatures:

Quirion Ranger Elvish Reclaimer Sylvan Safekeeper

Sylvan Safekeeper lets you potentially sacrifice a land creature to give another creature shroud until the end of the turn. And how about sacrificing a land creature to Elvish Reclaimer to search up a land from the deck, especially nice since it can tap for mana first to help pay for the activation cost?

8. Gaea’s Liege

Gaea's Liege

When I realized how many sweet ways I’d have to untap “lands” in my deck, I started looking for interesting creatures with activated abilities, and one I ran across was a huge blast from the past: Gaea’s Liege!  The artwork is super-weird, and the text box is super-weird, which makes it a perfect card for this deck.  Since green is such a popular card in Commander, it will likely be able to attack someone for a decent amount, but really where it earns its keep is the tap ability, which can turn problematic lands like Maze of Ith, Gaea’s Cradle, Cabal Coffers, or Rogue’s Passage into plain, old ordinary Forests.  Of course, if you’ve got Ashaya and Ley Weaver on the battlefield, you can turn every single land into a Forest, including those of your mono-blue opponent who thought they were safe with Cyclonic Rift

I’m including other ways of interacting with our opponents too:

Scavenger Grounds Dust Bowl Shadowspear Heroic Intervention Nim Deathmantle Scavenging Ooze Questing Beast

Nim Deathmantle is an old favorite that’s fallen out of favor lately because its triggered ability is so mana-intensive, but I gleefully put it back in this decklist because I don’t think mana will be an issue and bringing back creatures when they die is quite helpful in this creature-heavy deck.

9. Craterhoof Behemoth

Craterhoof Behemoth

Where’s the Hoof?  There’s the Hoof!  I’m including several ways to severely disrupt my opponents’ plans and we need a way to finish the game, and nothing says “Finish it!” as well as Craterhoof Behemoth.

I’ve found room for some other mono-green “good stuff” cards too:

Miren, the Moaning Well Mirrorpool Oran-Rief, the Vastwood Crashing Drawbridge Eternal Witness Finale of Devastation

Crashing Drawbridge seems like a great way to give your team haste if you have a big explosive turn like I think this deck is capable of, and in the meanwhile it can tap for mana as a Forest. I’m also looking forward to occasionally using Quirion Ranger to return a Forest named Eternal Witness to my hand so I can cast it again and enjoy that sweet, sweet trigger.

10. Inscription of Abundance

Inscription of Abundance

Last but not least I want to include some removal spells in addition to cards like Oblivion Stone, and I really love the new card Inscription of Abundance!  It’s an instant, it’s cheap, it’s got three nice modes, and if you have five mana you can pay the kicker and get all three modes. 

It’s even kind of neat that you can use it to give someone else X life, so it can be used politically in multiplayer.

Ulvenwald Tracker Return to Nature Glissa Sunseeker Force of Vigor Acidic Slime

A particular shout-out to Glissa Sunseeker here since I’ve got several ways in the deck to untap Glissa: you can add one mana to your pool, tap Glissa to blow up someone’s Sol Ring; untap Glissa, add a second mana, and tap Glissa to blow up Lightning Greaves; untap Glissa, add a third mana, and tap Glissa to blow up Sunforger…and then use the mana to cast something!

Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 09-11-2020

Here’s how the deck looks graphically, thanks to our friends at Archidekt:

What do you think?  Are there any cards I’ve overlooked?  If you see any new cards from Zendikar Rising that should find a home here, let me know! 

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do a deckbuilding stream every Monday evening, and pepper in some other Commander-related streams when I can.  If you can join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.

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

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