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Challenge Accepted: Commander Sagas!

Has the time arrived for a dedicated Saga deck in Commander? Bennie Smith takes on the challenge and starts stacking lore counters!

Elspeth Conquers Death, illustrated by Ryan Yee

During their Commander review of Theros Beyond Death, Josh Lee Kwai and Jimmy Wong of The Command Zone show on YouTube mentioned that there might be enough Saga enchantments now to build a Commander deck around this interesting enchantment type, and challenged their viewers to try to build one. 

Well, fellas, challenge accepted!

What I think is interesting about this challenge is that focusing on Sagas gives the deck a decidedly different flavor from other enchantment-focused decks.  Right now most of those decks are in the Bant colors and built around Estrid, the Masked or Tuvasa the Sunlit.  There are enough playable Sagas across all the colors to warrant going five colors, so it’s awesome to get access to black and red in addition to the enchantment-themed goodies in Bant.

When thinking about how games are likely to play out, this reminds me of a planeswalker-heavy “Superfriends” style of deck, but without the vulnerabilities that planeswalkers have in Commander.

Okay, let’s get brewing!

Sagas!

So yeah—each draw step is going to be busy with triggers!  When cooking up this list I originally included all available Saga enchantments, but I did end up trimming a few when I went over each of them to ensure that each one I played could be useful enough in an enchantment-heavy themed Commander deck.  The eighteen I ended up with are all at least good and several of them are truly great.  They provide tons of interaction and card advantage, especially when you take into account the various cards I’m going to add that interact with them.  Speaking of which…

Interact with Sagas

I think the best of the bunch is Power Conduit.  During your upkeep, you can remove a lore counter from the Saga of your choice and add a +1/+1 counter to a creature.  Remember, lore counters get added after your draw step!  Constantly revisiting Chapter I of Elspeth Conquers Death, The Akroan War, The Eldest Reborn, or Kiora Bests the Sea God will feel quite potent. 

Of course, if you can get Brago, King Eternal to survive to attack and deal combat damage, resetting all of your Sagas is going to be a cascade of Chapter 1 effects that is going to create some serious advantages.  Brago will justifiably have a big target on his head, but several Sagas (such as The Mending of Dominaria) can bring creatures back from the graveyard.

Enchantresses

Since we’re playing a bunch of Sagas, we might as well lean hard into cards that synergize nice with enchantments, and the cornerstone of any good enchantment-themed deck are the “Enchantress” cards that let you draw a card when you play an enchantment.  The new card Setessan Champion joins an already impressive lineup of card-drawing engines for enchantment decks.

Enchantments Matter

In addition to the “Enchantress” cards, there are other good cards that synergize nice with enchantments we’ll want to include.  The new card Destiny Spinner is particularly nice since it only costs two mana, has a decent-sized body, protects your creature and enchantment spells from being countered, and is itself an enchantment.  As if that weren’t enough, it has a formidable ability to sink mana into later in the game to potentially create some very large creatures with trample.

I really like how Estrid’s Invocation works with Sagas.  At the beginning of your upkeep it triggers, and you may exile it, and if you do return it to the battlefield.  If you copy a Saga, you immediately get the Chapter 1 ability, and then after your draw step you get Chapter 2.  This is a great way to squeeze extra juice out of a Saga that will be firing its last Chapter at the end of your draw step. 

It’s awesome to get to play Zur the Enchanter as one of the 99 in an enchantment-themed deck.  While Sagas that cost three or less you can fetch with Zur aren’t nearly as strong as the higher-cost ones, there are a few spicy numbers:  The First Iroan Games churns out some nice value, and Medomai’s Prophecy can set up card selection and extra card draw.

Constellation

Cards with constellation are something to keep in mind when playing a heavy enchantment theme.  Since our deck is five colors it’s nice to get Agent of Erebos to keep graveyard shenanigans under control, and Doomwake Giant to sweep away hordes of small token creatures that often get out of hand in Commander.  Eidolon of Blossoms is another “Enchantress” card that triggers itself and is an enchantment. 

The twist on constellation for Theros Beyond Death is that the ability shows up on non-enchantment cards this time around, which makes it synergize less with our theme than the enchantments it showed up on the first time .  The only one that really jumped out at me is Protean Thaumaturge, since it’s cheap to cast and being able to copy the best creature on the battlefield is going to be huge sometimes.

Mana Ramp

For mana ramp, I want to lean into Auras we can attach to lands to increase our mana production while also playing into our enchantment synergies.  Casting a Wild Growth and being able to immediately recoup that green mana while drawing a card off Eidolon of Blossoms and setting off a constellation trigger is going to feel amazing. 

Cryptolith Rite is already a great card to have in a five-color deck with a fair amount of creatures, so it’s a slam-dunk choice here.  The new card Dryad of the Ilsyian Grove is here mostly for its mana-fixing, but if I draw a couple of “Enchantress” cards it’s very possible the extra land drops will come in very handy.

Removal

The Sagas themselves provide a bunch of interaction, especially removal of creatures, but I wanted some other removal spells too, particularly if they were themselves enchantments.  Aura Shards is a powerhouse card and is going to do really good work in this deck since many of the Sagas generate token creatures.  Another thing that’s particularly awesome about Aura Shards in this deck is how strained your opponent’s enchantment removal is going to be.  In most games of Commander, getting rid of Aura Shards as soon as you can is a no-brainer, but in this deck there are going to be a bunch of targets.  Not to mention ways of getting enchantments back…

Recursion

Speaking of, we’ll run some of the typical ways enchantment decks get enchantments back from the graveyard like Sun Titan and Replenish.  From Throne of Eldraine Dance of the Manse looks pretty awesome too, and with enough mana we can even beat down with our Sagas!  If we have The Mirari Conjecture in the mix, we can keep casting Dance of the Manse over and over again for a never-ending march of living Sagas—medieval bards would be so stoked!

Having access to all colors unlocks Muldrotha, the Gravetide, which will let us cast an enchantment and a creature that might be lurking in our graveyard. 

Interaction

Of course, the downside to leaning so hard into an enchantment deck is being vulnerable to mass enchantment removal—something like Fracturing Gust is a nightmare.  Counterspells like Arcane Denial and Swan Song give us a cheap way to stop disaster from happening.  Heroic Intervention is another way to mitigate the damage from sweepers.

I’ve taken to putting Sigarda, Host of Herons in any of my Commander decks with access to green and white, primarily for shutting down effects from my opponents that would force me to sacrifice permanents.  Yes, I’m eyeballing you, Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos.  I’m shrugging at you, old-school Eldrazi with annihilator triggers.  Spread the word, folks—put Sigarda, Host of Herons in all your decks with white and green.

I’m super-excited about Shadowspear, soon to be ubiquitous at Commander tables around the world.  It’s a cheaper-to-use Loxodon Warhammer with extra upside that just so happens to solve two huge issues in the format—locking out interaction with hexproof and indestructibility.  Note that this will not turn off shroud, so Lightning Greaves is still a pain, but at least we can kill Avacyn, Angel of Hope with mass removal!

Theros Beyond Death provided another one-mana artifact that’s fantastic for Commander, Soul-Guide Lantern, which does an excellent job of stopping a player’s graveyard shenanigans without having to exile your own graveyard. 

So now all we have left is to choose our five-color commander!  For me, the choice is easy…

When looking at the color slant of my cards, I’m leaning quite heavily towards green and white, which makes sense. My mana ramp and color fixing are heavily in green, there are some awesome Sagas in white, and all of our “Enchantress” cards are in white and green.  Even if we don’t have all colors of Magic accessible, we should still be able to cast Kenrith, the Returned King early in the game.  And I particularly love the political implications of Kenrith, since all of the abilities can be activated to help out any player. 

Kenrith is a Human, and I’ve got quite a few Human cards in the deck given that most of the “Enchantress” creatures are Humans.  Path of Ancestry is fantastic as a five-color land already, but being able to get some additional scry triggers along the way is going to help keep the deck flowing nicely throughout the game.

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

Commander


What do you think?  Are there any cards I’ve overlooked?  If you see any new cards from Theros Beyond Death 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! 

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