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Commander Top 10: Athreos, Shroud-Veiled!

Get your coin counters ready: Athreos, Shroud-Veiled is money! Bennie Smith builds a Commander deck around the Theros Beyond Death preview.

We were recently treated to a holiday gift, some sneak peeks into the upcoming Magic set Theros Beyond Death!  I was particularly excited about the new spin on the god Athreos and instantly began thinking about building a Commander deck around it:

Pay the ferryman.

This Athreos costs twice as much as the original version, Athreos, God of Passage, but has much deeper strategic implications on deckbuilding.  The old Athreos brought your creatures back from the graveyard after dying unless a target opponent payed 3 life.  The new Athreos takes the choice away from your opponent and parcels out the get-out-of-the-graveyard-free coin in a more measured and much more powerful way.  Let’s dig into it!

First, the ability has “haste” – you put a coin counter on a creature at the beginning of your end step after you cast Athreos.  Second, the coin counter can be placed on any creature, not just your own .  And third, the trigger happens not just if the creature dies, but also if it’s exiled—no matter if it dies to Terminate or get exiled by Swords to Plowshares, the trigger will happen and the creature will be returned to the battlefield under your control.

So you can use Athreos to save creatures you don’t want dying or being exiled, to reuse creatures that have a useful ability when they enter the battlefield or are sacrificed, or to steal valuable creatures your opponents may control in conjunction with your own removal spells. 

That’s a lot of cool things to think about, so let’s get into it—the Top 10 cards for an Athreos, Shroud-Veiled Commander deck!

#1: Mangara of Corondor

Mangara of Corondor is a super-cool utility card that has seen play in Legacy, mostly in conjunction with Karakas since the exile is part of the activated ability’s effect not a cost.  You can activate Mangara and then respond by bouncing it back to your hand.  Being able to exile any permanent is a powerful ability and is worth jumping through some hoops to get to use it multiple times.  It feels to me that Athreos was designed with Mangara of Corondor specifically in mind—put a coin counter on it, and then when you activate Mangara to exile a permanent and Mangara, you get Mangara right back on the battlefield to do it again next turn.  Mangara also supplies two pips towards Athreos’s seven devotion needed to become a creature. 

Mangara isn’t the only card that’s a super-spicy combo with Athreos:

Magus of the Disk is like Mangara with a wider range of destruction but unable to deal with permanents outside of artifacts, creatures or enchantments.  Athreos has indestructible so the Magus activation won’t destroy it, and if you keep putting a coin counter on it you can keep getting it back to use it again. 

If you put a coin counter on a creature with a powerful enters-the-battlefield ability, you can use Endless Sands to essentially blink the card and get the trigger again.  Striotic Resonator lets you copy Athreos’s triggered ability during your end step to put coin counters on two different creatures.  Put a coin counter on Salvager of Ruin and then you can use it to save any permanent that is put into your graveyard this turn. 

Whip of Erebos brings a creature card back from the graveyard during your turn, but during your end step you’ve got to exile it.  No problem, Athreos can bring that creature back from exile by putting a coin counter on it.

I really like Sword of Feast and Famine in an Athreos deck since Athreos costs a whopping six-mana, and if you want to put a coin counter on a creature you don’t control after your end step you want to have mana open to kill it at instant speed.  Cast Athreos, attack with a creature equipped with this Sword, and you get to untap all your lands if you damage your opponent. 

#2: Chromatic Lantern

When your commander costs six mana you’re going to want plenty of mana ramp, but what makes Chromatic Lantern so awesome in Athreos is that it unlocks all colors of mana for you.  This means you can use Athreos to steal an opponent’s creature that has activated abilities that cost colored mana to use, giving you its full potential.

I’m also including bunches of other mana ramp too, since opponents will no doubt be very motivated to stopping Athreos if they can:

#3: Necrotic Ooze

We’re often going to want to save creatures that have awesome activated abilities with coin counters (see Mangara and Magus of the Disk above), but sometimes those creatures will end up in the graveyard before we get Athreos on line.  Necrotic Ooze to the rescue, which can copy the activated abilities of any creatures in any graveyards!

I’m including some other creatures that have very useful activated abilities:

#4: Selfless Spirit

If we want to hit devotion seven to turn Athreos into a creature, we’ll need to commit permanents to the battlefield, and this means opening up our creatures to the danger of a sweeper spell.  If we keep Selfless Spirit equipped with a coin counter, we can save our team by making them indestructible in response to a sweeper. 

I’ve included some other cards that sacrifice for profit or enter the battlefield for a useful effect and are quite good targets for Athreos’s coin counters:

Ranger Captain of Eos keeps giving both coming and going, letting you search for a cheap creature when it enters the battlefield and letting you sacrifice it to shut your opponents down from casting noncreature spells this turn. 

#5: Profane Procession

With enough mana, Profane Procession offers a reliable and repeatable way to exile creatures, and if you use the ability to exile creatures with coin counters on them, you won’t ever need to transform Profane Procession into Tomb of the Dusk Rose

Black and white have a bunch of fantastic spells that can kill or exile a creature, and in this deck we get even more utility from them thanks to the coin counters, in particular ones we can cast or use at instant speed:

#6: Sun Titan

Sun Titan’s triggered ability is incredibly powerful for bringing back resources from the graveyard, so it makes a very worthwhile target for coin counters.

I’m including other cards that are keep things coming back from the graveyard:

God-Eternal Oketra and God-Eternal Bontu have triggered abilities that remind me a lot of Athreos’s ability, and while you won’t really put coins on them that often, I do like having some more sticky and powerful threats that are resistant to your opponents’ efforts to deal with them.

#7: Anguished Unmaking

I mentioned how good instant-speed removal is with Athreos above, and flexible spells like Anguished Unmaking are nice too since they can double as creature-kill to combo with Athreos or you can instead target an applicable noncreature permanent that needs to be dealt with.

I’m including a few other cards like this:

#8: Massacre Wurm

Pinpoint removal is good with Athreos, but sometimes you need something that can sweep the battlefield of a bunch of creatures.  I really like Massacre Wurm since it puts a hurting on any small token swarm strategy and can potentially kill an opponent by the life loss.  Since it’s a creature, it works really well with Athreos’s coin counter trigger.

I’ve included other ways take care of creatures at sorcery speed:

#9: Arcane Lighthouse

Sometimes your opponents don’t want you to interact with their plans, and one popular way is to give their own creatures hexproof or shroud.  Arcane Lighthouse is a nice way to get through that; it’ll feel pretty good to steal someone’s hexproof creature with your Athreos!

I’ve got a few other cards for interaction outside of just destroying creatures:

Don’t leave home without your graveyard hosers!

#10: Skullclamp

Athreos is a value-engine but we’ll want some draw power to keep the gas flowing.  Skullclamp is an auto-include in nearly all decks with creatures but it does extra work here where we have a bunch of creatures we’ll be sacrificing for profit anyway.

Here are some other cards that will help us dig for action:

Putting coin counters on Gonti, Lord of Luxury just seems like the epitome of an Orzhov party, doesn’t it?

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

Athreos, Shroud-Veiled
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 12-16-2019
Commander

What do you think?  Are there any cards I’ve overlooked?  If you see any new cards from Throne of Eldraine or 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!  I’ll also be putting up links to the decks I brought with me to #CommandFestDC this past weekend, so keep your eyes peeled!