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Atla Is An Eggcellent Commander!

Atla Palani, Nest Tender has Bennie Smith thinking Eggs, Eggs, and more Eggs! He’s serving his latest Commander deck sunny side up!

Commander 2019 hits the shelves this weekend and I’m incredibly excited to get my mitts on all the sweet new cards! How about you? I’m probably going to get each of the decks, and I’ve also put in pre-orders for multiple copies of cards I’m pretty sure I’m going to want for multiple decks: Ohran Frostfang, Scroll of Fate, and Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero among others.

Though I love all the new decks, I mentioned in my review of Commander 2019 last week that I thought the Naya deck – Primal Genesis – got the best bunch of new legends over the other three decks. The one that caught my eye the most was definitely Atla Palani, Nest Tender!

First, I just love Atla as the commander of a Naya Dinosaur deck—the flavor is through the roof! Making Eggs and cracking them open to find Dinosaurs from the top of your deck sounds amazing.

If you check out my deck database at the bottom of this article and click on Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, you’ve got most of the decklist right there outside of a few new Dinosaurs that have come along since 2017. So I’m not going to spend time rehashing a Dinosaur tribal list here.

Another thing I won’t be doing is putting both of these cards in the deck:

Equip Atla Palani, Nest Tender with Thornbite Staff—for free, since Atla is a Shaman – and then sacrifice your Egg to Ashnod’s Altar for two mana, you can untap Atla with the Staff and use the two mana to make another Egg. Rinse, repeat and you can basically put every creature in your deck onto the battlefield at instant speed. Which sounds pretty cool until you hear about the sort of creatures people have been talking about hatching from their Eggs.

I have to admit, hearing people talk about doing this sort of stuff with Atla dulled my enthusiasm just a little bit. Mostly because if I sit down with a stranger and reveal I’m playing with Atla, they’re going to be worried that I’m going to send a bunch of Eldrazi at their head in the first few turns of the game.

That’s a shame, because I like a lot of what you can do with Atla when you’re playing more fair. I like that you can crack open an Egg and not know what comes out. Maybe it’s something huge, but maybe it’ll just be a utility creature. Plus, what if you play actual Egg creatures in your deck, along with creatures with the changeling ability – they’re Eggs too!

That’s the sort of deck I want to build. Let’s get brewing!

Eggs/Synergies

The first order of business was to add actual Egg creatures like Dragon Egg, Roc Egg, and Rukh Egg. Next up, creatures with changeling like Irregular Cohort, Chameleon Colossus, Taurean Mauler, and Mirror Entity. One thing that’s interesting about Mirror Entity you can activate the ability for one mana and turn all of your creatures into Eggs in the face of a battlefield sweeper. You can do the same thing as a surprise with Shields of Velis Vel for one white mana.

I added Runed Stalactite here so that any creature in your deck can become an Egg, including Atla too.

Sacrifice Outlets

I’m avoiding unbounded sacrifice engines like Goblin Bombardment in favor of things like Evolutionary Leap and High Market. I also like Golden Guardian since it can fight an Egg for two mana and crack it open for you.

I went ahead and included Thornbite Staff here because being able to untap Atla in the face of a creature dying from combat or pinpoint removal and make an extra Egg or two sounds like too good of value to pass up, even though I’m not interested in going full combo.

Card Draw/Selection

I’ll want to include plenty of card draw and selection in the deck, and so I include many of the best ones here. Land Tax and Scroll Rack form an incredibly powerful card-drawing duo, and I like that you can do things like put a creature and then multiple lands above it on top of your library, and then when the Egg dies you can get rid of those lands, put the creature onto the battlefield, and have a fresh look at the top of your library with Scroll Rack. You can do similar things on a smaller scale with Sylvan Library.

Mana Ramp

While we’re not necessarily trying to power out expensive creatures by casting them, Atla’s ability does require mana, so it’s good to include a fair amount of mana ramp so we can use the ability while having mana to cast other spells too.

Interaction

The Naya color scheme gives us a ton of options for interaction and I’m including a bunch of them here. I love that we have a lot of graveyard control options with Stonecloaker, Deathgorge Scavenger, Angel of Finality, and Burn Away.

Mother of Runes and Cliffside Rescuer do a nice job of encouraging pinpoint removal to be pointed elsewhere, and I love that Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero can recover your team from mass removal… and maybe a few Eggs got cracked along the way so you ended up with a bigger battlefield state than before!

Good Stuff

I really love the God-Eternal creatures along with Ilharg here, since whenever any one of them dies, it can be put three cards deep on top of your deck. Thus, whenever an Egg dies, odds are you can crack open a God-Eternal.

Rhythm of the Wild seems cool since the only tokens we’re making don’t need to have riot. Oops, I think I accidentally included a bit of an engine in the deck if things work out just right! First, we’ll need Atla and Mirror Entity on the battlefield with either a +1/+1 counter on them from Rhythm of the Wild or equipped with Runed Stalactite. Activate Mirror Entity for zero so all of your creatures are 0/0 Egg creatures and the ones not boosted die. Atla triggers, you get more creatures. Each creature you want to keep on the battlefield, you give a +1/+1 counter with Rhythm. If you run into some actual Egg creatures or Irregular Cohort, you can get two creatures for one card to keep churning through your deck. I’ll toss in Loaming Shaman to shuffle creatures back in and keep going, and Purphoros so we can dish out some damage along the way.

Sweet deck! Let’s see how close we are to 100 cards.

Converted Mana Cost

Number of Cards

0-1

9 (including lands that don’t produce mana)

2

16

3

14

4

12 plus commander

5

10

6

5

7+ and X

3

70 total cards plus 38 mana-producing lands equals eight cards too many, so we need to make some cuts! Let’s see what we can trim, starting with the top of our curve.

Wrath of God and Rout cover the mass removal bases pretty well, so I think Blasphemous Act can be safely cut. Brutalizer Exarch is solid utility but I like the other six-mana creatures better. Of the God-Eternals I think Ilharg, the Raze-Boar is the least of the three, since I don’t think I have enough big creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers to get real value from it, despite the Bacon and Eggs flavor.

Okay, so I admit that I feel a little dirty playing Purphoros when I could potentially get an engine fired up that is constantly putting creatures onto the battlefield, so I’m going to cut it. Teferi’s Protection is a fantastic card, but there are so many great cards at three mana that the competition is fierce! In the end, I think Atla and the Eggs provide enough resistance to mass removal that I don’t think Teferi’s Protection will be missed too much.

I’ve got a ton of cards that take care of artifacts or enchantments in this deck, so I think cutting one of them is safe. I’m choosing to keep Allay over Shattering Pulse due to how backbreaking an early Rhystic Study or Smothering Tithe is, so leaning towards enchantment removal seems like the best bet. Riftsweeper and Thraben Inspector are nice utility creatures but would be pretty bad misses to hit with an Egg death trigger, so I’m giving them the boot to bring us down to 100 cards.

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

Atla Palani, Nest Tender
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 08-19-2019
Commander

What do you think? Are there any cards I’ve overlooked? If you see any new cards from Commander 2019 that should find a home here, let me know!

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I’ve been writing about the Commander format and Magic: The Gathering in general for nearly two decades. Visit the Star City Games article archives for tons of content dating back to January 2000!

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