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Lord Windgrace In Commander

Bennie Smith turns his Commander-casting eye to Lord Windgrace! What will he do with the panther planeswalker?

Commander 2018
is the gift that keeps on giving. There are so many cool new legendary
creatures to build Commander decks around!

I’ve written about
Xantcha, Sleeper Agent
and
Aminatou, the Fateshifter
so far. Which one should I dig into next? Generally my guiding principle
over the years has been to lean towards the oddballs or ones that have
gotten less attention because I wanted to show people they might be missing
something cool in their first impressions. But sometimes people get excited
about certain commanders for a reason, so why not start a conversation
around a topic people want to talk about?

For my next Commander 2018 legendary choice I went to the
fantastic website EDHREC.com, which is a
fantastic resource for Commander fans. The website hosts a large database
of Commander decks which is used to generate recommendations for cards to
use with whatever Commander deck you may be interested in building. If you
click the Commanders drop down at the top of the page and select Top
Commanders, it shows you which commanders had the most new deck submissions
over the past week, month, and all time. Click on one of the displayed
commanders and it will give you even more info.

For the past week, Lord Windgrace has hovered near the top of the heap,
which isn’t surprising to me, given it’s a cool planeswalker that does a
lot of powerful things people want to do in Commander. “Land matters” was
definitely one of the favorite themes from the set.

Let’s dig deep into this card, shall we? I’ll start with the abilities.

+2: Discard a card, then draw a card. If a land card is discarded this way,
draw an additional card.

This is quite a strong plus ability. For a whopping two extra loyalty you
get to discard a card and draw a card. If you discarded a land card, you
get to draw an extra card, so we’re incentivized to play a pretty large
number of land cards so odds are good you’ll have extra in your hand you’ll
be okay with tossing aside. Also, cards like Cultivate are valuable as ramp
spells, since they give you a land in hand you could use to discard for
extra value.

-3: Return up to two target land cards from your graveyard to the
battlefield.

This synergizes perfectly with the first ability, letting you turn lands
you’ve discarded into mana ramp for the cost of just three loyalty. The
other nice thing to remember is that one activation of this ability each
time you cast Lord Windgrace will usually give you enough mana to pay the
commander tax if it gets destroyed by your opponents.

-11: Destroy up to six target nonland permanents, then create six 2/2 green
Cat Warrior creature tokens with forestwalk.

I feel like the “ultimate” on Lord Windgrace is a bit of a let-down. Sure,
destroying six nonland permanents is nice, but quite a few battlefield
sweepers in Commander do as much if not more. The six 2/2 green Cat
Warriors added on aren’t going to have your opponents trembling in fear.

It feels like this ultimate was chosen for flavor reasons, but then the
activation got ramped up extra high due to Lord Windgrace getting to play
alongside Doubling Season, and you shouldn’t have that sort of ultimate
available immediately upon casting your commander planeswalker. Honestly, I
can’t imagine the line of play where I’m going to want to +2 Lord Windgrace
three turns in a row and then cash it in to ultimate on the fourth turn.
No, Lord Windgrace is going to ramp, loot, ramp, loot, loot, and ramp, as
long as my opponents let me.

The mana cost is perfect for a card that obviously is meant to be played
with Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach, which will guarantee that you have all
three colors and can cast Lord Windgrace on Turn 4. What a great design!

Before I dig into building my own Lord Windgrace deck, I thought it might
be fun to see what the EDHREC database cooks up as an average list based on
the decks that have loaded this week (68 decks as of this writing). Here’s
the list:

Average Windgrace
EDHrec Average
0th Place at Test deck on 08-28-2018
Commander


I can certainly see a lot of holdovers from the Nature’s Vengeance deck
that I probably wouldn’t play in my build, like Retreat to Hagra,
Lavalanche, and of course Temple of the False God. I mean, if any deck
could maybe, maybe justify playing Temple of the False God, it
would be a Lord Windgrace deck, but
seriously, don’t play Temple of the False God
. The manabase definitely has a lot of holdovers that we would ideally
upgrade for better options.

There are plenty of cards that I’ll want to add to my deck as well! Think
Realms Uncharted, Courser of Kruphix, Wayward Swordtooth, and of course The
Gitrog Monster.

There are also some choices that I think may some amount of sense, but upon
further reflection I’m not going to go with. Cards like Burgeoning,
Exploration, and Azusa, Lost but Seeking are great for ramping hard and
land-centric decks, but they also tend to empty your hand of lands very
quickly and then the +2 ability of Lord Windgrace gets a little worse. The
way I see Lord Windgrace operating is a back-and-forth dance between the
first and second ability, and for that I want to try to keep lands in my
hand to discard to the first ability and then ramp out with the second.

The average deck runs 41 lands. While that’s above the norm for most
Commander decks, I can see this sort of deck quickly running out of lands
to fuel Lord Windgrace’s draw engine. I would want to run more.

Let’s also take a look at the mana curve:

I know this is an average of many, many decks, but whoa. That’s a whack
mana curve! Of course, this exemplifies a big problem with Commander: just
way too many great three-mana spells to choose from. It takes great
restraint to cut a lot of three-mana spells that would go great in your
deck in service to a disciplined mana curve.

Okay, so let’s get building on my version of Lord Windgrace!

Landfall

Like I mentioned, the play pattern I see with Lord Windgrace is to ramp,
loot, ramp, loot, loot, and ramp. This means landfall triggers will be
plentiful, so let’s take advantage of that here. We’ll want plenty of
fetchlands too, even ones that are off-color, though all of them are able
to fetch Forest cards so we can cast cards like Farseek and Cultivate. I
love the new landfall card Nesting Dragon because it provides you some
resistance to battlefield sweepers.

Mana Ramp/Land Search

A little bit of pre-Lord Windgrace ramp is always welcome. I also like that
there’s a real chance to flip Budoka Gardener to be able to churn out green
Elemental creatures that are 10/10s or bigger. Crop Rotation, Realms
Uncharted, Hour of Promise, and Ulvenwald Hydra let us unlock all sorts of
great specialty lands.

Lands Matter

Outside of landfall cards, there are plenty of other cards that synergize
nicely with our land themes. Courser of Kruphix and Tireless Tracker are a
match made in land heaven. Dragonmaster Outcast and Crash of Rhino Beetles
get turbo-charged quickly when we’re ramping so much. And who hasn’t been
waiting for the chance to activate Lord Windgrace’s +2 ability, discarding
a land with The Gitrog Monster on the battlefield?

Creature-Lands

I’ve been waiting for a deck for Sylvan Awakening to fit into—might this be
the one? Embodiment of Insight, Embodiment of Fury, Sylvan Advocate… they
all play nicely together, plus creature-lands too!

Cool Lands

Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage seem like the exact two cards you want to
be putting onto the battlefield with Lord Windgrace, right? And I can’t
imagine a better home for Command Beacon than this one.

Crystal Vein is an interesting idea. Assuming we’ve got green, red, and
black mana, play Crystal Vein as your fourth land and sacrifice it to cast
Lord Windgrace one turn earlier, use the -3 ability, and get Crystal Vein
back.

Cycling Lands

I want to run enough of these that the odds are pretty good to have one in
the first eight or nine cards and so we’ll have one in the graveyard to
bring back with Lord Windgrace. We definitely want the Deserts to increase
the odds we can get a pair of 2/2 Zombie tokens with Hour of Promise.

Removal

If there’s one thing that black, red, and green can do, it’s remove
permanents from the battlefield. I’m including most of the best ones,
including the brand new Windgrace’s Judgment. Deadly Recluse and Thornweald
Archer help persuade fliers that might otherwise want to peck away at Lord
Windgrace to flap somewhere else, at least until Whiptongue Hydra sweeps
the skies clean.

Vampire Hexmage is a combo with Dark Depths, but I’m pretty high on the
card’s utility as planeswalker removal now that we’ve got four new
planeswalkers people can play as their commander.

World Breaker is a fantastic card, and the ability to buy it back from the
graveyard at the cost of sacrificing a land is practically a benefit with
Lord Windgrace, letting you get another use from something like Bojuka Bog.

Jund “Good Stuff”

Let’s round things out with some generic good stuff we may put in any Jund
deck. Bloodline Keeper can churn out flying blockers that help keep Lord
Windgrace from harm, and if we’re lucky enough to accumulate enough
Vampires it can turn into quite the threat all its own.

Sweet deck! But wait… there are too many cards! Let’s figure out where to
make out cuts.

Let’s start by looking at our mana curve:

68 total cards plus 45 lands equal thirteen cards too many. I want to play
a whopping 45 lands to ensure plenty of fodder for Lord Windgrace’s first
ability so we’ll have plenty of lands to ramp with the second ability.

Let’s look at the top of our mana curve. I like all of the big splashy
spells at the top of the curve, so we get down to the six-mana spells and
the first of the hard cuts.

I have a good amount of pinpoint removal plus a few good fliers of my own,
so I think this is okay to cut.

The Sylvan Awakening package takes up a fair amount of room, and I’m not
entirely sure it’s worth the slots. When I look at other cards at the same
mana cost, I find that I value the other cards more. Sorry, Sylvan
Awakening—maybe next time!

Zendikar’s Roil doesn’t technically have the landfall keyword but it’s
definitely a landfall card. And of all the landfall cards, I think it’s the
weakest of the bunch. Retreat to Kazandu is better but has the misfortune
of being a three-mana spell and there’s just too much competition there.

Splendid Reclamation is a great card in a deck built around The Gitrog
Monster, but my plan is to be much less graveyard-focused here than The
Gitrog Monster would be. I expect to be using Lord Windgrace to put lands
from the graveyard to the battlefield two lands at a time.

I can see where Malicious Affliction might be tough to cast due to the
double black in our three-color deck, so I think it’s a safe cut from our
plentiful removal suite. Thornweald Archer and Deadly Recluse are basically
the same card, so I’ll keep the slightly more durable Spider. Last,
Scavenging Ooze wants lots of green mana to do its thing, and that might
not be so plentiful in our three-color deck. Bojuka Bog does a bang-up job
nuking graveyards and can be easily fetched up and reused.

The last two cuts were tough and I’m not entirely sure they’re the right
ones to go, but they seemed a little less vital than other choices.

Here’s how the deck ended up:

Lord Windgrace
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 08-28-2018
Commander


Just take a look at that mana curve!

So, what do you think? Do you agree with the cuts, or would you have gone
another way? Are there any great cards I overlooked?

Deck Database

Below I’ve got links to decks I’ve written about going back to January
2017. If you want to read the associated article, just put “Bennie Smith”
and the commander name into the Google and it should pop right up. I’ve
written a lot about Commander – and Magic in general – so if you want to
explore further, the

StarCityGames.com article archives

have my articles all the way back to January 2000!

Commander 2018


Aminatou, the Fateshifter

,

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

Core Set 2019


Sai, Master Thopterist

,

Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

,

Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire

,

Chromium, the Mutable

Battlebond


Grothama, All-Devouring

Dominaria


Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle

, Grand Warlord Radha
, Arvad the Cursed,

Muldrotha, the Grave Tide

,

Slimefoot, the Stowaway

,

Yargle, Glutton of Urborg

, Squee, the Immortal
,

Firesong and Sunspeaker

,

Jodah, Archmage Eternal

Masters 25


Hannah, Ship’s Navigator

Rivals of Ixalan


Azor, the Lawbringer

, Etali, Primal Storm
,

Nezahal, Primal Tide

,

Zacama, Primal Calamity

,

Tetzimoc, Primal Death

,

Zetalpa, Primal Dawn

,

Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Unstable


Grusilda, Monster Masher

,

Dr. Julius Jumblemorph

Ixalan


Vona, Butcher of Magan

,

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

,

Admiral Beckett Brass

,

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Commander 2017


Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith

,

Inalla, Archmage Ritualist

,

Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist

,

O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami

,

Mairsil, the Pretender

,

Taigam, Ojutai Master

Hour of Devastation


Razaketh, the Foulblooded

, Zur, the Enchanter
(Mummy’s Curse),

Djeru, With Eyes Open

, The Locust God, Karona, False God
(All the Deserts),Nicol Bolas, Neheb, the Eternal

Amonkhet

Oketra the True
,

Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun

, Atogatog
(Cartouches and Trials),

Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons

,

Samut, Voice of Dissent

,

Rhonas the Indomitable

, Hazoret the Fervent

Kaladesh Block


Yahenni, Undying Partisan

, Nicol Bolas, Child of Alara
(Five-Color Energy),

Rishkar, Peema Renegade

,

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

,

Sram, Senior Edificer

Commander 2016


Breya, Etherium Shaper

,

Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice

,

Tymna the Weaver // Ravos, Soultender

Other Commander Decks


Momir Vig, Simic Visionary

(no green creatures),

Kytheon, Hero of Akros

(Tribal Gideon)

Commander Strategy

Let’s Talk About Lands

Who Should I Attack?

Targeted Removal in Commander