Commander Top 10: Toski, Bearer of Secrets

How could Bennie Smith resist a legendary card-drawing Squirrel? Check out his latest Commander deck starring Toski, Bearer of Secrets.

Toski, Bearer of Secrets, illustrated by Jason Rainville
Toski, Bearer of Secrets, illustrated by Jason Rainville

The full Kaldheim Card Image Gallery is out and I’m super-excited about so many cool new cards!  Of course, this isn’t surprising to anyone who’s followed my Magic adventures over the years: my favorite set of all time is always the most recent set because new cards and mechanics basically reinvent the game and recontextualize so many cards that have come before. As a Commander fan who enjoys a wide variety of deck styles, I get to play so many of these new cards that folks who just play competitively will just gloss over.

I particularly love the flavor and depth of world-building that’s obviously been poured into this set. While I don’t typically build decks for flavor reasons, I love any “coolness” factor infused into cards I’ve picked for my decks. And a rich world setting often leads to really interesting and cool legendary creatures that inspire creative deckbuilding.  One such card is Toski, Bearer of Secrets!

Toski, Bearer of Secrets

A legendary Squirrel is all kinds of cool, and this one is chock-full of abilities.  It can’t be countered. It’s indestructible. It has to attack each combat if able, and whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, draw a card. All for just four mana!

Oh, and it’s a 1/1.  Which presents a challenge, doesn’t it?  Because you really want the ability in that last paragraph to trigger, but it’s on a creature that has to attack each turn and is so easily blocked by any creature with toughness greater than one. 

So, there are a few angles to explore.  First is a way to boost Toski’s size so it’s not so easily blocked with no trade-off. Another angle is to give Toski evasion to bypass blockers.  And another angle of course is to play a lot of creatures that have some sort of evasion inherent in the card.

Okay, let’s get brewing!

1. Sawtusk Demolisher

Sawtusk Demolisher

Last year the world of Ikoria brings a mechanic that’s perfect for boosting our little 1/1 Squirrel—mutate!  Mutating over top of Toski will change the name but not the fact that it’s our commander so commander damage will still accumulate, and it keeps all of Toski’s abilities too. Most of the ones available in mono-green are worth playing but the best of the best is Sawtusk Demolisher since it turns your 1/1 into a 6/6 with trample.  Oh, and the mutate trigger is pretty good too—you get a free Beast Within that can hit any noncreature permanent for your trouble, all for just four mana!

I’m including some other creatures with mutate too:

Glowstone Recluse Gemrazer Migratory Greathorn

Gemrazer is particularly nice because it gives your commander trample and a sizeable body, as well as destroying an artifact or enchantment.

2. Commander’s Plate

Commander's Plate

Toski’s indestructible is a potent ability, but savvy Commander players build ways to deal with indestructible creatures with spells that exile them or other effects. Commander’s Plate shuts down a lot of those spells and effects by giving Toski protection from red, black, blue, and white, which also happens to make Toski impossible to block in those colors. Oh, and a +3/+3 boost is welcome too!

Here are some other cards that can help protect our Squirrel friend:

Snakeskin Veil Heroic Intervention Canopy Cover Sword of Light and Shadow

Canopy Cover and Sword of Light and Shadow provide both protection and evasion, a potent pair in our deck’s plan.

3. Aethersphere Harvester

Aethersphere Harvester

If our primary plan of boosting Toski doesn’t come together, another option is to tap Toski for some other benefit—such as crewing a Vehicle!  An evasive Vehicle like Aethersphere Harvester is the best option since you’ll likely be able to draw a card when it deals combat damage to your opponent.  Gaining some life along the way can help too!

Smuggler's Copter Sky Skiff Funeral Longboat

I like adding the new Kaldheim Vehicle Funeral Longboat to the mix. While it doesn’t have evasion, it comes down before you cast Toski and is big enough to often find a good unblocked attack in.  Vigilance is also nice if you need to have a blocker available.

4. Bear Umbra

Bear Umbra

Looking for various ways to boost Toski I was pleased to run across Bear Umbra. An indestructible creature makes for a pretty good target for an Aura, and you will rarely need to utilize the totem armor side of it, but what’s nice is the attack trigger—since Toski has to attack anyway, why not untap all your lands along the way?  If you’re drawing a few cards from Toski’s trigger, this gives you fuel to use all that mana to advance your game.

I’ve included quite a few awesome cards that will boost Toski in a variety of ways:

Tyrite Sanctum Pendelhaven Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers Blackblade Reforged Beastmaster Ascension Loyal Guardian Creeperhulk Revenge of the Hunted Kamahl, Heart of Krosa

Tyrite Sanctum is a nifty new Kaldheim card that for two mana taps to add a +1/+1 counter on target legendary creature and makes it a God—so we’ll have a Squirrel God!  How cool is that?  And since our Squirrel God already has indestructible, we don’t need to sacrifice Tyrite Sanctum to make it indestructible; we can just keep adding counters to Toski.

I’m really looking forward to equipping Toski with Blackblade Reforged and then casting Revenge of the Hunted to decimate all of someone’s blockers while likely still getting in commander damage and drawing a card.

Late-game, Kamahl, Heart of Krosa will end things in a hurry with Toski drawing you a bunch a cards if you also require a “still had all these” flourish in victory.

5. Thunderfoot Baloth

Thunderfoot Baloth

Having other creatures with evasion or providing multiple creatures evasion is another path of success with Toski, so I went hunting for cards to help with that goal.  Thunderfoot Baloth is a great card for this. So long as you control your indestructible commander, it’s a 7/7 trampler that gives all your other creatures +2/+2 and trample.

Shadowspear Rancor Basilisk Collar Narnam Renegade Rhonas's Monument Bow of Nylea Ohran Viper

Shadowspear is another awesome way to grant evasion and has a lot of other utility besides, but I also really love Rhonas’s Monument since it shaves mana off the cost of green creature spells and also provides a nice boost to Toski or whatever creature you’re attacking with this turn.

While deathtouch isn’t evasion, it can act as such if your opponent doesn’t want to lose a valuable creature in blocking—equip Toski with Basilisk Collar and attack someone who has just one creature they don’t want to lose and you’ll ensure you get that card draw trigger. And if you can give one or more creatures deathtouch and trample while having power larger than one, you hit that sweet spot of pushing damage through just about any blocker.

6. Bladegriff Prototype

Bladegriff Prototype

Creatures with flying are also a great way to get past blockers, and Bladegriff Prototype is a good one for a monogreen deck.  Since you need to deal combat damage to an opponent anyway to get Bladegriff’s trigger, might as well draw a card from Toski while we’re at it! 

I’m including some other fliers or ways to give creatures flying:

Cliffhaven Kitesail Hope of Ghirapur Bayou Dragonfly Scryb Ranger Matsu-Tribe Sniper Hangarback Walker Power Matrix

Hey, check it out—Bayou Dragonfly all the way from Tempest!  It has two forms of evasion, so you’re bound to sneak in some damage and draw a card with Toski. Power Matrix is a card I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of lately, and it does all sorts of good work here providing flying, trample, and a size boost, and first strike is great in conjunction with deathtouch.

I made room for Matsu-Tribe Sniper since it can tap down any problematic flier that might otherwise keep you from attacking.  And if you’ve also got Power Matrix, you can target your opponent’s biggest threat with Power Matrix and tap it down with the Sniper.

7. Hornet Queen

Hornet Queen

Since Toski wants you to attack, often with more than one creature, it can leave you vulnerable to a damaging crack-back by opponents alarmed by all the cards you’re drawing. So, I found some room to help mitigate that and nothing shuts down a big crack-back as good as Hornet Queen and her four 1/1 flying insects, all sporting deathtouch!  And if you don’t need the defense, Hornet Queen and her children are perfectly capable of swarming a player with no air defenses and drawing you a bunch of cards with Toski’s trigger.

Maze of Ith Hornet Nest Obscuring Haze Questing Beast

Maze of Ith is a fun card in this deck; not only can it prevent an attack by some giant threat from coming your way, but you can use it to give your Toski virtual vigilance. A creature is considered to be attacking all the way to the end of combat after it deals damage, so you can untap Toski to have an indestructible blocker available on your opponents’ turns.

Questing Beast can quickly get outclassed by creatures on the battlefield, but its deathtouch means that it will likely always trade one for one. I also like its ability to force through damage if your opponent tries to cast a card like Fog to neutralize Toski’s card drawing trigger.

8. Winter Blast

Winter Blast

Some cards don’t fall into an easy category, so I just group them here under “mono-green good stuff” and I think the best of the bunch is Winter Blast!  This literal blast from the past hasn’t been printed since Fifth Edition but I think it’s well worth a slot in this deck. Tapping X creatures can mean getting X creatures past blockers and drawing X cards with Toski. 

Not to mention flat-out killing any fliers with toughness two or less you target.  Depending on which opponent you tap down, you could clear the way from another opponent or two to also get in a big attack and take down the table’s big threat.

War Room Oran-Rief, the Vastwood Helm of the Host Acorn Catapult Bellowing Tanglewurm Pariah's Shield

Pariah’s Shield equipped to your indestructible commander is obviously going to put your opponents in a pickle until they draw some interaction to break up that combo. And speaking of expensive Equipment, how about equipping Toski with Helm of the Host and spitting out non-legendary copies of Toski?  A swarm of indestructible Squirrels sounds delightful. Just be careful you don’t accidentally deck yourself!

And speaking of a swarm of Squirrels, I added a fun-of Acorn Catapult—hit your own commander with an acorn and get a baby Squirrel token for your troubles.  Spawn of Toski, y’all!

9. Old-Growth Troll

Old-Growth Troll

Mana ramp is going to be a vital part of our deck since our commander’s mana cost is middling at four mana, and we’re going to want plenty of mana to cast all the extra cards we’ll be drawing. I’ve got a lot of the cards you’d expect, but one that I’m particularly excited is the new Kaldheim goodie Old-Growth Troll

Sure, it doesn’t start out as ramp, but when it dies, you get to return it to the battlefield as an Aura on a Forest that lets you tap the Forest for two green mana. In the meantime though, it’s a potent 4/4 trampler for just three mana, and if you cast it on Turn 3 and then Toski on Turn 4 odds are pretty good you’ll be able to crash in for damage to an opponent’s life total and snag a card for your trouble, which is not a bad way to start a game. And of course, later on if you need to cash in the Forest and Aura for a 4/4 green Troll Warrior token creature with trample you can.

Blighted Woodland Myriad Landscape Castle Garenbrig Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx Sol Ring Joraga Treespeaker Rampant Growth Nature's Lore Three Visits Sakura-Tribe Elder Wood Elves

I focused much of my mana ramp spells at two mana since casting them on Turn 2 means you’ll likely be able to cast Toski on Turn 3. I’m playing a Wood Elves here rather than Cultivate because I want to have a creature that can potentially attack and draw cards with Toski.

10. Broken Bond

Broken Bond

Last are card slots for removal and interaction for things our opponents bring to bear. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Broken Bond of late as a removal spell, and I think it’ll really shine here since Toski increases the odds that you’ll have an extra land to put onto the battlefield.

Tower of the Magistrate Sanctum of Eternity Scavenger Grounds Dust Bowl Nature's Claim Return to Nature Scavenging Ooze Broken Wings Glissa Sunseeker Force of Vigor

Tower of the Magistrate is a nice tool against the Voltron decks that rely on piling a bunch of Equipment on one creature, a strategy that’s gotten a lot of great cards lately, including the absurdly good Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist. In a pinch if your opponent only has artifact creatures for blockers you can give an attacker protection from artifacts and crash on through.

Sanctum of Eternity is protection from an opponent stealing Toski or trying to neutralize it on the battlefield with something like Imprisoned in the Moon

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

Toski, Bearer of Secrets
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 01-21-2021

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 Kaldheim 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 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.

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

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