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Commander Top 10: Charix, the Raging Isle

Bennie Smith’s Charix, the Raging Isle deck makes Commander opponents face a giant enemy crab that attacks their weak points for massive damage.

Charix, the Raging Isle, illustrated by Viktor Titov

During Zendikar Rising previews, when I first saw Ashaya, Soul of the Wild I knew it was likely the coolest, most interesting legendary creature in the set.  I eagerly dove into building a decklist that could maximize all the cool interactions with it and wrote about it last week here.

But dang if Wizards of the Coast (WotC) didn’t make another cool and interesting legendary creature:  Charix, the Raging Isle!

Just look at this thing!  First, the art is beautiful and terrifying.  It’s a Leviathan Crab (Leviathan Crab?) and it has a whopping seventeen toughness that immediately takes the record away from Impervious Greatwurm as the largest toughness ever printed on a Magic creature, and for only four mana!  Even if it dies several times, it’s still going to be reasonable to keep casting it from the command zone. Thankfully, it has some built in resistance to spells your opponents cast that target it, insisting on a two-mana tax.

And that activated ability, which increases Charix’s power and reduces Charix’s toughness by the number of Islands you control—that has the potential for making Charix hit incredibly hard and scales nicely the longer the game goes.  It encourages us to play a lot of basic Islands in our mono-blue deck, so I’ll have to scale back on the number of nonbasics that I’d typically play in a single-color Commander deck.

Okay, let’s get brewing!

1. Merfolk Thaumaturgist

Even though Charix, the Raging Isle’s activated ability will more or less reverse its power and toughness given enough Islands and/or activations, blue has a very clean way to do this each turn in Merfolk Thaumaturgist.  Of course, before you do that, make sure that Charix has gained at least one point of power or you’d kill Charix upon resolution. Though if someone is trying to lock away your commander with something like Oubliette or Imprisoned in the Moon, maybe you’d want to kill Charix so you can recast it from the command zone.

Twisted Image is a nice way to switch power and toughness at instant speed for a surprise, and you get to draw a card for your trouble! 

Training Grounds cuts Charix’s activation from three mana to just one, which is nuts if you think about it.

2. Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive

Another home run for a Charix deck is Tetsuko Umezawa.  Attack with Charix, and since it has zero power your opponents can declare no blockers. After no blocks are declared, go ahead and activate Charix once or twice and smash face.

Minamo Sightbender can tap for zero mana to make Charix unblockable until the end of the turn, and then you can activate Charix to your heart’s content.  I like that in the late-game you can potentially use Minamo Sightbender to make a large creature unblockable, and it isn’t limited to targeting your own creatures, so you can use it for some political maneuvering.

Skeleton Key’s skulk ability can potentially get you by most blockers, though if you’re playing against a Wall deck you might be a bit stymied.  Luckily, one activation by Charix is probably enough to chew through a Wall. 

3. Engulf the Shore

I was today years old when I realized that Engulf the Shore was an instant.  Wow, that makes this card super-obnoxious in a deck with a lot of Islands!  But since Charix is going to easily ride out this wave due to its big booty I just had to find a spot for it.  Note you can even use this defensively in case an opponent casts a battlefield sweeper and you have creatures you don’t want to lose.

There are some other cards that take advantage of Charix’s large backside.  Profaner of the Dead can exploit Charix to reliably bounce just about every creature your opponents control.  Miren, the Moaning Well and Witch’s Oven can sacrifice Charix at instant speed in case a fate worse than death awaits your trusty Crab Leviathan.

Scourge of Fleets doesn’t care about Charix’s toughness per se, but it does play nicely in a deck with a high density of Islands, and its creature type of Kraken plays nicely with our Leviathans and some other cards.

4. Whelming Wave

Speaking of Krakens and Leviathans, Whelming Wave bounces all creatures except your favorite large sea monsters.  Luckily this card is just a sorcery, so the annoyance factor is mitigated a bit.

Serpent of Yawning Depths is another card that cares about big sea monsters, but I can’t help but wonder: what it is about deep water that evokes yawns? 

I thought Heirloom Blade would be a nice inclusion in this deck.  It’s cheap to equip to Charix, and if you have a way to flip power and toughness liked we talked about above Charix would be a 20/1 creature—just a smidge shy of a one-shot death by commander damage!  Also, if Charix dies you can go find another one of the big Leviathans I’ve included in the deck.  I did look around for big Crabs but didn’t find any that were really worth the slot.

5. Shadowspear

Shadowspear is a must-run in any Commander deck with creatures in large part because the activated ability to remove indestructible and hexproof from all creatures your opponents control can unlock the stickiest wickets you may find on your battlefield, but its function as Equipment is fantastic here.  The +1/+1 boost also makes it safe to swap power and toughness, and the trample and lifelink can be a huge swing if Charix connects. 

Since this is a blue deck, I’m including some fun and tricky blue spells to interact with our opponents.  Narset’s Reversal and Sublime Epiphany can be gigantic game changers when cast at the right time, and a well-timed Fumble on a well-equipped creature can load Charix up with some choice Equipment cards at instant speed.

Turnabout is a fun old-school card you can use to tap down an opponent’s blockers or lands at instant speed, or untap your own creatures or lands at instant speed.  This is one way you could potentially float enough mana to activate Charix’s ability more times than your opponent calculated you could when they tapped down. 

6. Fierce Guardianship

We are a blue deck, so we’ll want to have a fair number of counterspells to keep shenanigans in check or to protect your own shenanigans. Which is why Fierce Guardianship is so amazing: you’d hate to tap all the way down with activations on Charix for a lethal attack, only to have your opponent aim a Terminate at your cute Crab.  No worries, Fierce Guardianship is free if you control your commander!

I’ve got a fair number of what you’d expect in a solid counterspell suite:

7. Blackblade Reforged

Since we’re going to want to be dropping lands early and often—especially Islands—one card goes hand in claw with Charix and that’s Blackblade Reforged.  Let’s say you untap with Charix on the battlefield and then play a fifth land, cast Blackblade Reforged, and equip it to Charix.  That’s a 5/22 Crab Leviathan you have on hand, and your opponents are going to be sweating if you also have your favorite Merfolk Thaumaturgist chilling over there in the corner.

Since we’re playing a high density of Islands, I thought that Explorer’s Scope, Tempest Djinn, and Floodgate were worthy inclusions. 

8. Blue Sun’s Zenith

As a blue deck that wants to make land drops each turn, we’re going to want to have a steady flow of cards, and nothing fits that bill quite like Blue Sun’s Zenith.  You can burn it for five or six mana for two or three new cards, shuffle it back into your library, and then late-game cast it for a huge number of cards. You could even potentially kill someone if they’re playing a self-mill deck and don’t have too many cards left in their library.

I’ve got lots of other ways to keep the cards flowing too:

9. Sword of the Animist

Since we’re not playing green, we’ve got to scramble for mana ramp where we can get it, but luckily for us Sword of the Animist is colorless Equipment and one of the best in the business.  Ramping Islands specifically helps make Charix’s ability more and more fierce, and even if your opponent has blockers for your commander you can pretty much attack with impunity to get the attack trigger since it’s rare Charix will die in combat.

I’m including just about all the ones we can find for a mono-blue deck below:

10. Guardian of Tazeem

Blue isn’t all that great when it comes to removal options, but you can find some if you dig deep enough.  I like Guardian of Tazeem since it can tap down blockers with deathtouch that might otherwise give your rampaging Leviathan Crab pause. 

Pongify, Reality Shift, and Imprisoned in the Moon are mono-blue staples for removal.  I also like Warkite Marauder as a way to turn off an otherwise problematic blocker, and Polymorphist’s Jest can do that sort of thing at instant speed en masse.

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


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 Zendikar Rising 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 a deckbuilding stream every Monday evening, and pepper in some other Commander-related streams when I can.  If you can 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.