Commander Deep Dive: Vadrik, Astral Archmage

Vadrik, Astral Archmage is your ticket to casting cheap MTG instants and sorceries. Bennie Smith explores the cards to surround Vadrik with for Commander.

Vadrik, Astral Archmage
Vadrik, Astral Archmage, illustrated by Kieran Yanner

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt previews are complete and there are all sorts of goodies for Commander fans to get excited about.  Last week I did a deep dive on a new mono-green legend with Saryth, the Viper’s Fang, which I think is awesome as either your commander or in the 99 of other green Commander decks. This week I want to shift gears and dig into all the cool things you can do with our new Izzet legend Vadrik, Astral Archmage!

Vadrik, Astral Archmage

If you ever wished that Goblin Electromancer could be your commander, then you’re jumping for joy over Vadrik, Astral Archmage. As an Izzet legend, that means you’ve got access to all sorts of spellslinger shenanigans that Vadrik’s text encourages and supports. Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has really been supporting this theme quite a bit lately leading up to the introduction of the Prismari school from Strixhaven: School of Mages. You’ve got no shortage of spice to add to your 99 if you want to build a deck around Vadrik, and I’ll show you the cards that jumped out to me below.

Vadrik discounts your instant and sorcery spells by an amount of generic mana equal to his power, which starts out as one but Vadrik has a very Innistrad way of increasing that power built in.  Whenever day becomes night or night becomes day, you put a +1/+1 counter on Vadrik, and since Vadrik himself makes it day when he enters the battlefield, you can help ensure that daylight status will start changing through the course of the game even if nobody is playing Werewolves.

But let’s not stop there!  We can certainly play cards that will increase Vadrik’s power to further discount our instant and sorcery spells further.  Okay, let’s dive in!

Night/Day Synergies

The Celestus Brimstone Vandal Component Collector Firmament Sage Obsessive Astronomer Sunstreak Phoenix

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt gives us a handful of other day to night to day payoffs in addition to Vadrik, and we may very well want to take advantage of them in our 99.  The adorable Component Collector lets you tap or untap target nonland permanent each time day or night switches, which can tap down a creature your opponent controls or untap one of your creatures.  In particular it combos nicely with The Celestus if you have a bunch of extra mana for multiple activations. Firmament Sage lets you draw extra cards, which every good spellslinger deck can use.


Fangblade Brigand Reckless Stormseeker Spellrune Painter Tavern Ruffian Village Watch

We can also make use of the creatures that have daybound and nightbound sides to fill out our creature ranks, and in the Izzet colors of Vadrik they’re all red Werewolves.  Reckless Stormseeker is nice for our gameplan since it can boost Vadrik’s power, particularly on the nightbound side.  The nightbound side of Fangblade Brigand is Fangblade Eviscerator, and it has an activated ability that boosts all of your creatures by +2 each time, so with enough mana you can really pump up an alpha strike and surprise people with your otherwise spell-heavy deck.

Old-School Transforming (Werewolves)

Afflicted Deserter Breakneck Rider Geier Reach Bandit Instigator Gang Kruin Outlaw Mondronen Shaman Reckless Waif Village Ironsmith Village Messenger

Old-school Innistrad Werewolves didn’t have the daybound/nightbound technology of this newest batch of lycanthropes, but they do transform from day side to night side to day side the same way, so we may want to pepper them into the deck as well. I really like the utility of destroying artifacts when Afflicted Deserter transforms. Instigator Gang can boost Vadrik’s power if you attack with it, and if it transforms into Wildblood Pack it gives a whopping +3 boost to attackers, which can really set off Vadrik’s spell discount.

Turn to Night

Discontinuity Time Stop Glorious End Mana Short Turnabout Tidal Barracuda

The rules on the cards offer ways to turn from day to night and back again, and since when Vadrik enters the battlefield it becomes day, the first thing we’ll want to know is how to turn day to night.

If a player casts no spells during their own turn, it becomes night next turn.

Since Vadrik is pretty cheap to cast, odds are pretty good if you cast Vadrik on Turn 2 or 3, at least one of your opponents may just play a land and pass the turn, but later on you may need to help the situation along if you don’t want to just skip through your next turn without casting spells. Izzet offers three instant spells that say “End the turn” that can be cast during an opponent’s upkeep, and unless they respond with an instant spell, the turn ends and day becomes night. Of course, if you cast Glorious End, you’d best have plans to win the game during your next game or otherwise have a way to deal with that “you lose the game” trigger on your next end step!

Mana Short or Turnabout during an opponent’s upkeep can potentially shut down an opponent’s ability to cast spells if they don’t have both lands and artifacts providing mana. I also think that Tidal Barracuda can do some good work here since it gives the ability to cast spells as though they had flash (except during your turn). So why not just pass their own turn without casting spells and wait until the last possible moment to cast spells at instant speed like a clever Magic mage and let the day turn to night?

Turn to Day

Jeska's Will Mana Geyser Seething Song Desperate Ritual Pyretic Ritual Frantic Search Birgi, God of Storytelling Snap Rewind Unwind Cloud of Faeries Peregrine Drake Mizzix's Mastery Electrodominance

It’s night, so how about bringing in the dawn?  The rules show us the way:

If a player casts at least two spells during their own turn, it becomes day next turn.

In the normal course of a typical Commander game every player is going to cast multiple spells a turn at least a few times, but we can do better than that in the cards we put in the deck. Vadrik encourages us to be a spellslinger deck, discounting our spells so we can more easily have double-spell turns.

Red gives us all sorts of “Ritual” spells that provide mana to use on a second spell, from Desperate Ritual to Jeska’s Will, and shaving a generic mana or two from their cost makes them ridiculous.  Birgi, God of Storytelling gives you a red mana each time you cast a spell, which definitely helps enable multi-spell turns. Blue gives us the “untap lands” mechanic on spells like Frantic Search, Snap and Rewind, which also makes it easy to have the mana for a multi-spell turn. Then of course there are Mizzix’s Mastery and Electrodominance, which are spells that let us cast another spell.

Instant/Sorcery/Spells Matter

Search for Azcanta Guttersnipe Talrand, Sky Summoner Primal Amulet Young Pyromancer Goblin Electromancer Baral, Chief of Compliance Murmuring Mystic Jace's Sanctum Thousand-Year Storm Storm-Kiln Artist Archmage Emeritus Electrostatic Field Curious Homunculus God-Eternal Kefnet Pyromancer's Goggles Thermo-Alchemist Epic Experiment Sentinel Tower Mizzix of the Izmagnus Deekah, Fractal Theorist Rionya, Fire Dancer Lier, Disciple of the Drowned

Okay, next up let’s take a look at all the payoff and synergy cards that play well with a spellslinger deck casting lots of instant and sorcery spells.  Young Pyromancer; Talrand, Sky Summoner; Deekah, Fractal Theorist; and Murmuring Mystic can churn out creature tokens to build a battlefield presence out of your spells. Make extra copies of your spells with Thousand-Year Storm, Pyromancer’s Goggles, and God-Eternal Kefnet. Chain a few Rituals together and cast a huge Epic Experiment if you’re leaning heavy into the spellslinger deck style. Archmage Emeritus and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned can really help keep the spell fuel going.

Increase Power

Hero's Blade Invigorated Rampage Wizard Class Runechanter's Pike Skullclamp Sword of the Animist Blackblade Reforged Sword of Feast and Famine The Immortal Sun Teferi's Time Twist Tyrite Sanctum Tenza, Godo's Maul Empyrial Plate Bonesplitter Darksteel Axe Bloodsworn Steward Titan's Strength

Next, let’s look for some ways to increase Vadrik’s power.  While there are spells like Invigorated Rampage that can do it, I prefer peppering in ways that increase the power over the course of several turns or longer, especially Equipment. Hero’s Blade is perfect here since it auto-equips to a legend when it enters the battlefield and provides a sizeable +3 power boost. Runechanter’s Pike is another good one that increases power more by each instant or sorcery in your graveyard. In the mid- to late-game Blackblade Reforged can provide a massive boost in power that can even threaten commander damage victories with Vadrik while giving a huge mana discount to your spells.

Teferi’s Time Twist is a fun way to protect Vadrik from removal and then bring him back with a +1/+1 counter. Tyrite Sanctum can stack up multiple +1/+1 counters over a few turns, and then you can sacrifice it to make Vadrik indestructible.  If you give up planeswalkers, The Immortal Sun is particularly awesome with Vadrik since it discounts your spells, boosts Vadrik’s power, and draws you an extra card.

Spells with a Single Blue Mana

Mystic Speculation Whispers of the Muse Cyclonic Rift Stroke of Genius Arcane Denial Reality Shift Treasure Cruise Aetherize Impulse Chemister's Insight Into the Roil Ravenform Behold the Multiverse Supreme Will

There is no end to big, splashy haymaker spells you’d love to discount with Vadrik, but I’m going to leave those choices to your own preferences. I’d rather explore spells where incremental discounts from Vadrik can really shine in the earlier parts of a Commander game, and for those I took a look at spells that have just one colored mana in the mana cost.

Spells like Arcane Will, Reality Shift and Supreme Will are going to be awesome for just one blue mana. I really like the buyback spells Mystic Speculation and Whispers of the Muse since it’s going to be easy to discount the buyback costs to nothing with Vadrik and this ensures you’ll have a hand full of spells to turn night to day when you need to. Of course, living the dream would be able to cast a huge Stroke of Genius with a big enough discount from Vadrik to refuel your hand for a huge turn.

Spells with a Single Red Mana

Shattering Pulse Seething Anger Chaos Warp Vandalblast Thrill of Possibility Valakut Awakening Wheel of Misfortune Past in Flames Empty the Warrens

For red we’ve got some buyback spells too, including the awesome Shattering Pulse, which always comes in handy during a Commander game. Seething Anger does cute things with our Vadrik deck—the first time you cast it with buyback, targeting Vadrik pays for the buyback cost, and each +3 you give Vadrik gives you back three mana on your instant and sorcery spells.  I really love shaving one or two generic mana off cards like Chaos Warp, Valakut Awakening, and Wheel of MisfortuneEmpty the Warrens seems like a perfectly respectable payoff to a flurry of spells, especially if you’ve got a way to give them haste and increase their power.

Tribal Synergies

Docent of Perfection Riptide Laboratory Sage of Fables Adeliz, the Cinder Wind Kaza, Roil Chaser Diviner's Wand Rockslide Sorcerer Silver-Inlaid Dagger Heirloom Blade

Vadrik is a Wizard, so we can keep an eye out for valuable cards that can take advantage of that. Docent of Perfection seems like a slam dunk here, giving you Wizard token creatures each time you cast an instant or sorcery. When it transforms it boosts the power of all your Wizards by two, and with Vadrik that discounts your spells even more. Adeliz, the Cinder Wind is a perfect companion to Vadrik since it boosts your Wizards for each instant or sorcery you cast.

So, what do you think of Vadrik, Astral Archmage as a Magic card?  Are you going to play it as a commander or in the 99 of some other Commander deck?  What other cards work great with it?

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.  You can also find the lists for my 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. 

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