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Commander Top 10: Archelos, Lagoon Mystic

Bennie Smith builds his latest 100-card creation around the latest legendary Turtle: Archelos, Lagoon Mystic from Commander Legends.

Archelos, Lagoon Mystic, illustrated by Dan Scott

Commander Legends has a whopping 32 brand new multicolor legendary creatures we can build new Commander decks around, and I’m going to dive into a lot of them here every Saturday for the foreseeable future. Bookmark my StarCityGames.com archives right here and check back often; as of this writing I’ve covered Gor Muldrak, Amphinologist and Obeka, Brute Chronologist so far. This week I’ve got a spicy Sultai brew featuring the very first legendary Turtle!

Oh wait, we’ve already had a legendary Turtle, but that’s okay—today we’re going to dig into the second legendary Turtle, and let’s keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race!

I just love the design of mechanics on this card. So long as it’s untapped, permanents enter the battlefield untapped. Many cards, especially lands, are balanced in part by entering the battlefield tapped, so Archelos removes that impediment. In a way, he speeds some things up, but then once it attacks and is tapped… everything else… slows… down…

Of course, Archelos isn’t very large, so attacking can sometimes be problematic, but that’s okay—there are plenty of other ways we can tap Archelos without attacking so we can keep an eye out for those while we’re looking for cards to add.  Making sure Archelos is tapped by the time our end step rolls around is vital to taking the sting out of so many of our opponents’ cards: Treasure tokens that come into play have to tap in order to sacrifice for mana. Creatures with haste can’t tap or attack the turn they enter the battlefield. Slowing everything down to Turtle speed ensures that our long, slow Sultai value grind will win out in the end.

Okay, let’s get brewing!

1. Reshape the Earth

One of the first thing I did when researching cards for this deck was to look for the words “the battlefield tapped” and a brand-new powerhouse card from Commander Legends jumped out at me: Reshape the Earth!  This sorcery costs a whopping nine mana, but I’m already planning on ramping hard in this deck, so nine mana should be doable.  Reshape the Earth lets you search up to ten lands from your deck and put them on the battlefield tapped—but if Archelos is on the battlefield untapped, you get to put those lands on the battlefield untapped!  You’re paying nine mana and getting back ten mana – at least!  Obviously, you can grab lands that tap for more than one mana.

Speaking of which, Simic Growth Chamber and Golgari Rot Farm usually enter the battlefield tapped, but Archelos can let you access the two mana immediately.  Similarly, Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle normally enters the battlefield as a land that can tap for two mana once you’ve untapped it, but Archelos lets you tap to use the mana immediately. 

2. Aethersphere Harvester

When looking for ways to tap Archelos without attacking, among the first things I thought of were Vehicles.  Aethersphere Harvester gets top marks here since it comes down for three mana, which means the very next turn you cast Archelos and you can tap Archelos with the crew ability right away.  Plus, it flies, gains a little bit of life, and makes a pretty good blocker. 

I’ve included some other ways to tap Archelos outside of the attack step:

3. Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait

While slowing down my opponents’ mana development with Archelos, I wanted to simultaneously lean into the mana ramp power that green and blue can give us to cement my advantages and one of the most absurdly powerful cards for this was printed in the Reap the Tides Commander deck: Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait. This card takes the best part of Tatyova, Benthic Druid’s ability and staples it on the best part of Wayward Swordtooth’s ability for just one more mana. The one downside to this card is potentially running out of land drops once you’ve gotten to six mana to cast Aesi, but I’m including lots of lands and  Zendikar Rising‘s modal DFCs.

I’m including a bunch of other cards that care about lands:

Blackblade Reforged or Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar lets us go tall, while Scute Swarm or Avenger of Zendikar lets us go wide.

4. Tangled Florahedron

Of the modal DFCs, I like the simple utility of Tangled Florahedron best. If you have this early, you can cast it on Turn 2 to potentially let you cast Archelos on Turn 3. Later in the game with Archelos on the battlefield untapped you can just play this as a land untapped.

I’ve got all of these taking “spell slots” in my deck, with the idea that eventually they’ll end up in my graveyard where I can play them as lands with cards like World Shaper, The Mending of Dominaria, or Ancient Greenwarden.

5. Nevinyrral’s Disk

The Disk is as old as Magic: The Gathering and is a powerful battlefield sweeper, but one check on its power is that it enters the battlefield tapped, giving everyone time to prepare for its eventual activation. But with Archelos on the battlefield untapped, you can cast Nevinyrral’s Disk untapped and ready to rock.

I’ve also included lots of the usual suspects when it comes to quality removal spells in Sultai:

6. Sea Gate Restoration

Here’s another great modal DFC, Sea Gate Restoration!  I’ve got this as a land slot in my deck, anticipating using it as Sea Gate, Reborn early on but eventually returning it to my hand with Simic Growth Chamber or Golgari Rot Farm so I can cast the Sea Gate Restoration side later in the game to draw cards and remove my hand size limitation.

I’m including other card-drawing cards to keep digging into the deck and making land drops every single turn:

7. Villainous Wealth

One of the best reasons to play Sultai is the amazing sorcery Villainous Wealth!  It’s a fantastic payoff spell for all the mana ramp this deck will be doing.  One of my all-time favorite cards, I’ve been loath to play it in remote games on Spelltable or Discord this year since you can’t cast the actual physical cards when the spell resolves, but luckily for us Infinitokens has created affordable dry-erase token cards that make stealing stuff from your opponents a snap!  So, play Villainous Wealth like a boss and have some fun.

I’m including some other Sultai goodies too:

I love that something as simple as Reassembling Skeleton gets better when Archelos is untapped, letting you bring it back from the graveyard untapped to chump block if needed.

8. Fierce Guardianship

While Archelos isn’t overtly threatening, its abilities will no doubt annoy your opponents enough that they’re going to point removal spells in its direction on occasion, so you’ll want to have some cheap countermagic handy to protect your Turtle Shaman, and nothing is cheaper than free! Which makes Fierce Guardianship the perfect way to protect our commander.

Here are some others I’ve sprinkled in the deck:

9. Blighted Woodland

I’m including a lot of what you expect in terms of mana ramp, including Blighted Woodland, but what makes this really cool is that with Archelos on the battlefield untapped you get those two fetched-up basic lands untapped to use immediately!

Bosk Banneret snuck into the list since it discounts Archelos (who’s a Shaman!) and helps cast it on Turn 3 sometimes. 

10. Shadowspear

I’m always looking to make room for ways of interacting with our opponents’ plans and one of the best is Shadowspear! One of the most frustrating situations to deal with is when an opponent has a threat that’s hexproof or indestructible, so being able to use Shadowspear’s activated ability to remove that from all permanents your opponents control can be incredibly clutch.  It’s especially nice to be able to get rid of indestructible enchantments like Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling.

Oh, and it also cheaply equips to give a creature +1/+1, trample, and lifelink. It still baffles me that I don’t see this being run in more decks; I know it’s not particularly cheap, but the card is incredibly good in almost any Commander deck.

I’m rounding the deck out with some other ways to interact with our opponents’ moves:

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

Archelos, Lagoon Mystic
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 11-14-2020
Commander


Here’s how the deck looks graphically, thanks to our friends at Archidekt:

What do you think?  Are there any cards I’ve overlooked?  If you see any new cards from Commander Legends 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!  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.

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

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