Now that we have the full Kaladesh block, the new energy mechanic is a certified hit in Standard. For many of us, that begs the question—is the mechanic deep enough to make a go of it in Commander? Singleton copies of Longtusk Cub, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, and Aethersphere Harvester are only going to carry us so far, especially since we can only play one Winding Constrictor to bump up the energy.
Looking at all the cards that either make or consume energy, a handful of cards jump out as big and splashy enough to make waves in Commander.
In my mind, these two cards go together quite well. Aetherwind Basker has the potential to generate a ton of mana with enough creatures on the battlefield, and if we get enough to kick-start Lightning Runner, we can potentially keep attacking for as many times as necessary. It takes eight energy to get the extra attack step, and Lightning Runner provides two energy. So we just need four other creatures for Aetherwind Basker to provide the other six energy. Any extra energy we can dump into Aetherwind Basker to make it bigger and bigger, and it starts as a 7/7 with trample, so that is some serious beats.
These are the other cards that are capable of becoming an energy engine. Aetherworks Marvel generates an energy whenever a permanent you control is put into the graveyard, and Demon of Dark Schemes gives you an energy whenever a creature dies. Aetherstorm Roc gives you an energy when a creature enters the battlefield under your control, and Gonti’s Aether Heart does the same thing but with artifacts.
Let us look at some cards that can rev up our energy engines.
The first combo to come to mind is Saffi Eriksdotter and Crypt Champion, the combination at the heart of the old “Project X” deck from years back. The key is Crypt Champion hitting the battlefield without pay a red mana, so it is going to sacrifice itself. Saffi Eriksdotter can sacrifice itself to bring Champion back to the battlefield. When Crypt Champion returns, it can return Saffi to the battlefield. Rinse, repeat and you have an unlimited supply of energy from Aetherworks Marvel, Demon of Dark Schemes, or Aetherstorm Roc. Another two-card combo is Nim Deathmantle and Composite Golem, only this time we could get unlimited energy from Gonti’s Aether Heart as well, since Composite Golem is an artifact.
There are other options that are not so open-ended but can generate a fair amount of energy too. Two of the Module cycle play nicely with energy, and if you have all three, you can turn any extra mana you have lying around into energy, +1/+1 counters, and an artifact Servo token. Speaking of, I like that Era of Innovation can let you cash in an extra mana for two energy whenever an artifact enters your battlefield, and once energy is limitless, you can cash it in for three cards.
Winding Constrictor, Strionic Resonator, and Panharmonicon can provide extra energy from our cards that are less engines and more just good energy cards. Eerie Interlude and Brago, King Eternal are other ways to “blink” your energy-producing cards so they produce more energy when they come back to the battlefield.
Mirrorweave is a fun card that is horribly underused. In this case, I have visions of turning all my little Servo tokens and energy creatures into copies of Aetherwind Basker and then attacking for some massive amount of damage.
Okay, so what about the other energy cards? Combing through the list, I was surprised to find enough that I could leave some on the cutting room floor. I decided mostly not to include the cycle of energy creatures that require attacking to use their energy. Attacking is not always a good choice in Commander! I divided them into energy producers and energy sinks, even though some are both.
I think these are mildly good to amazing energy producers. Thriving Turtle made the cut by providing more energy than it costs to cast. Gonti’s Machinations almost did not make the cut because the effect is so small, but I figure it could potentially provide a decent amount of energy over the course of a game. Architect of the Untamed provides a good energy sink too, but eight energy is a lot for just a vanilla 6/6 token creature, so for the most part I am playing it for turning landfall triggers into energy.
I have great hope for some nice synergy between Aetherwind Basker and Peema Aether-Seer. Soak up all your energy to boost Aetherwind Basker and then play Peema Aether-Seer to replace it all, plus seven. Strionic Resonator or Panharmonicon to double it, perhaps?
When energy is no object – we have fired off our engines and generated an arbitrarily large amount of it – all of these cards become turbo-charged. From being perpetually annoying like Deadlock Trap, Consulate Surveillance, and Aethersquall Ancient to just game-ending like Whirler Virtuoso, these are some more payoff cards for all the effort we are going through.
Added Utility Might Be Nice!
Okay, so a Commander deck cannot always thrive off theme alone, so I made some room for utility cards to round things out.
Since we are going five colors Fellwar Stone and Chromatic Lantern are a must. I also added in Reveillark and Karmic Guide to help get back critical creatures that die along the way, and they happen to work great alongside Saffi Eriksdotter and Nim Deathmantle.
Wait a minute—I just realized I have not picked our actual Commander yet! Looking over my decklist, I realize that I didn’t have too much room for utility cards that can handle lots of problematic permanents, so that tells me I ought to pick Child of Alara. When Child of Alara dies, it tends to clean up a lot of messes, and since my deck is not built around Child of Alara, I have no problem letting it actually go to the graveyard rather than putting it back into the Command Zone.
So, without further ado, here is my Big Energy deck. Maybe I should call it Red Bull?
- 1 Composite Golem
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Crypt Champion
- 1 Saffi Eriksdotter
- 1 Reveillark
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Blood Artist
- 1 Brago, King Eternal
- 1 Architect of the Untamed
- 1 Aetherstorm Roc
- 1 Multiform Wonder
- 1 Demon of Dark Schemes
- 1 Longtusk Cub
- 1 Bristling Hydra
- 1 Thriving Turtle
- 1 Electrostatic Pummeler
- 1 Whirler Virtuoso
- 1 Aethersquall Ancient
- 1 Spontaneous Artist
- 1 Servant of the Conduit
- 1 Aether Theorist
- 1 Sage of Shaila's Claim
- 1 Empyreal Voyager
- 1 Winding Constrictor
- 1 Aetherwind Basker
- 1 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
- 1 Rogue Refiner
- 1 Aethertide Whale
- 1 Lightning Runner
- 1 Peema Aether-Seer
- 4 Forest
- 3 Plains
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 4 Swamp
- 4 Mountain
- 3 Island
- 1 Arcane Sanctum
- 1 Bant Panorama
- 1 Crumbling Necropolis
- 1 Esper Panorama
- 1 Grixis Panorama
- 1 Jund Panorama
- 1 Jungle Shrine
- 1 Naya Panorama
- 1 Savage Lands
- 1 Seaside Citadel
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Rupture Spire
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Transguild Promenade
- 1 Nomad Outpost
- 1 Mystic Monastery
- 1 Sandsteppe Citadel
- 1 Opulent Palace
- 1 Frontier Bivouac
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Sylvan Library
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Mirrorweave
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Tragic Slip
- 1 Chromatic Lantern
- 1 Strionic Resonator
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Eerie Interlude
- 1 Aetherworks Marvel
- 1 Woodweaver's Puzzleknot
- 1 Live Fast
- 1 Panharmonicon
- 1 Animation Module
- 1 Decoction Module
- 1 Fabrication Module
- 1 Glassblower's Puzzleknot
- 1 Consulate Surveillance
- 1 Deadlock Trap
- 1 Glimmer of Genius
- 1 Era of Innovation
- 1 Paradox Engine
- 1 Gonti's Aether Heart
- 1 Inspiring Statuary
- 1 Aethersphere Harvester
- 1 Consulate Turret
- 1 Gonti's Machinations
Have I missed anything obvious? How would you build an energy-focused deck differently? Do you have any questions about my choices?
New to Commander?
If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
Commander Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2
(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
Commander Starter Kits 1
(kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 2
(kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 3
(kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):
• Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)
• Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)
• Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)
• Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)
• Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)
• Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)
• Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)
• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)
• Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)
• Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)
• Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)
• Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)
• Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)
• Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)
• Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)
• Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)
• Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)
• Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)
• Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)
• Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)
• Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)
• Karona, False God (God Pack)
• Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)
• Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)
• Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)
• Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)
• Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)
• Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)
• Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)
• Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)
• Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)
• Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)
• Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)
• Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)
• Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)
• Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)