When Chulane, Teller of Tales was first previewed, I think there were two main reactions. First was “Whoa! That’s a serious value engine!” The second was “That value engine is too easy!” Basically, Chulane is built to generate value for just playing creatures and lands, something that most Commander decks generally play plenty of, so it felt like Chulane was just a generically powerful – or even over-powered – Bant commander that didn’t really point you to build your deck in any particular direction. You could just toss in a bunch of powerful creatures across green, blue, and white, and Chulane would pay you back in replacement cards and mana ramp for free.
To me, Chulane looks like a card designed for Commander players who don’t necessarily want to dig too deep into synergies and arcane interactions with a commander that has weird and unusual abilities. If you just want to play a bunch of your favorite creatures in Bant, Chulane pays you handsomely for doing just that. So that’s not the sort of deck I’m going to be presenting this week. Instead, I wanted to do something a bit different, and look at Chulane as the leader for a tribal deck.
We could certainly build a Human deck around Chulane, but I feel that tribe is already plenty strong, and plenty represented across the Commander community. Instead, I’d like Chulane to lead off a Druid tribal deck. There aren’t too many big payoffs to playing Druids, particularly outside of one very powerful and probably controversial card, but if ever we’re going to go that route, I feel like Chulane is the sort of deck to do it in. Chulane also does a nice job of just naturally protecting against sweepers when you’re wanting to play a fair number of creatures to the battlefield. And since Chulane has vigilance, it’s very tempting to figure out ways to get Chulane to battle, and a tribal deck has ways to boost Chulane’s two power to respectable levels.
So, let’s get into it—the Top 10 cards for a Chulane, Teller of Tales Druid Tribal Commander deck!
This card’s effect makes me just a little bit uncomfortable playing in Commander, but I’m viewing the ability as a way to end the game once you’ve established a solid battlefield presence. Seven creatures are quite a lot, and it’s not like your opponents won’t already have incentive to keeping your tribal deck under control anyway. If you do somehow play this when you have six other Druid creatures on the battlefield, your first order of business is stealing the lands from anyone who might have access to a way to sweep away all your creatures. Then use that huge mana advantage to deploy more Druids, take more lands, and quickly end the game.
Even if you only have a couple of Druid creatures on the battlefield, Gilt-Leaf Archdruid does a nice job of drawing more cards whenever you play a Druid spell. Just be prepared that your opponents will move to destroy Gilt-Leaf Archdruid as quickly as they can, as well they should!
I’m including other great tribal cards to support our all-Druid deck:
Since Druids are generally small, Door of Destinies is going be awesome if you get it down early. I also really like Stoneforge Masterwork as a great way to make Chulane into a formidable threat. Harsh Mercy is fantastic here and should knock down any sort of large force your opponents may be accumulating so long as they aren’t playing tribal as well.
It may surprise some of you to realize that Kamahl, Fist of Krosa is a Druid! Kamahl does a lot of heavy lifting in this deck, not only as a great mana-sink for late-game attacking (like we mentioned above with Gilt-Leaf Archdruid stealing lands), but also providing some protection from mass removal by threatening to animate your opponent’s lands if they cast something like Wrath of God.
I’m also including some other Druids that do cool stuff:
Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury isn’t a Druid, but it churns them out with its +2 ability when you don’t otherwise need to destroy an enchantment or artifact.
#3: Noble Hierarch
Of course, the bread and butter of Druid creatures in general is making mana, so I’m going to include many of them in the deck. The best of the bunch is Noble Hierarch, which can tap for any of your Bant colors and give you the occasional exalted trigger. But even if you don’t have a copy of this powerful creature, the main thing is that there are any number of one-mana Druids that tap for a mana, and they’re all quite good in a Chulane deck. Drawing an extra card and putting a land onto the battlefield is rather insane for just one mana.
I’m including quite a few cheap Druids that can generate mana one way or the other:
I just wanted to take a moment to think about the value from Coiling Oracle cast with Chulane on the battlefield. Nice, ain’t it?
It’s always a nice idea to check in with the Shapeshifters with changeling since they count as part of your tribe and many of them have cool abilities. I particularly like Shapesharer since it can copy some huge threat that someone else has on the battlefield when it’s not playing the role of a nice little Druid.
I’ve got a fair number of other cards that sacrifice for profit:
Turns out Bant has some awesome creatures with changeling. Mirror Entity and Chameleon Colossus make fantastic mana-sinks for your end-game, and the Modern Horizons gem Unsettled Mariner can put the squeeze on an opponent’s mana if they’re trying to target Chulane or one of our other creatures.
I was thrilled to see Tatyova, Benthic Druid pop up on my tribal search. With this on the battlefield, each time Chulane’s trigger lets you put a land onto the battlefield means yet another card drawn with Tatyova. Not to mention the nice little life boost. That extra card will help ensure that each time you cast a creature with Chulane you’ll also get that extra land drop.
I’m also including other cards that like the fact that Chulane is putting more lands on the battlefield:
Maze of Ith takes up a spell slot, but since it doesn’t tap for mana, it’s sometimes tough to want to play it when you need more mana. Chulane’s extra land drops make the choice easy. The Karoo lands like Azorius Chancery can be a bit dangerous if you play too many of them since the loss in tempo can set you back, but Chulane’s ability makes it easy.
Sylvan Advocate is an interesting Druid that certainly likes all those extra land drops; a 4/5 with vigilance that can also benefit from tribal boosts is a solid battlefield presence. But there will also be some corner cases where the ability to boost your land creatures comes in handy— Mutavault for instance, or a few of your lands animated with Kamahl.
Casting Rashmi the turn before you cast Chulane just feels like cheating. Wizards R&D was smart enough to ensure Rashmi’s triggered ability can only trigger once each turn, but it’s still going to generate some insane value.
Not that we need too much more value-generators outside of Chulane, but I’ve included a few more to help get through some rough patches:
Yes, Beast Whisperer is a Druid too—how cool!
#7: Training Grounds
Chulane has an actual activated ability that could definitely be better utilized in a deck that was stuffed to the gills with creatures that have enters-the-battlefield triggers, but even in this deck it’s a nice way to protect your creatures from some pinpoint removal spells or protect just one of your creatures from mass removal. Three mana is a lot to hold up, though, so I really like Training Ground to reduce that cost to a mere one mana. There are other creatures that certainly appreciate the activation cost reduction too, like Chameleon Colossus or Kamahl’s Overrun ability.
I’m including some cards that do fun things with Chulane:
Chulane’s small power means he won’t be doing much in the way of commander damage in most decks, but in a Druid tribal deck his power could be boosted significantly to the point that I really wanted to lean into that. Finest Hour and True Conviction help push Chulane into being an actual physical threat and I like having that added angle in this deck.
Leyline of Abundance just recently got banned in Pioneer for doing some crazy things with early mana creatures, so I figure why not add that to Chulane and his Druids? I’m living the dream of having this in my opening hand and having enough mana on Turn 3 to cast Chulane and a creature the same turn.
Let’s not overlook the mana sink capability of Leyline’s activated ability to push towards our end-game, growing our Druid army to formidable size.
I’ve included other, more mundane mana ramp cards too:
Even though many of our Druids already tap for mana, I do like having Cryptolith Rite here to ensure that all of them can tap for any color mana we might need.
Once you reach a critical number of creatures you are going to be considered a threat that needs to be dealt with, so Opposition is a great tool to turn those creatures into controlling measures. Lock down white or red mana to make casting battlefield sweepers more difficult or use a lowly Elvish Mystic to tap down a giant trampling creature your opponent would like to attack you with.
Bant gives us pretty good options to help control the flow of the game, so I’ve made room for these:
With Chulane’s draw ability, the relatively few blue counterspells are going to show up when you need them, but I also made room for Heroic Intervention, which will save your battlefield presence from a sweeper spell.
#10: Nantuko Vigilante
Tribal decks don’t often leave too much room for removal spells, but I wanted to make sure I squeezed in a few. One I’m happy to include is Nantuko Vigilante, which can turn face up from its morph state to destroy an artifact or enchantment. With enough mana you could return this to your hand with Chulane, cast it face down, get your Chulane triggers and have it available to destroy something else. When it’s face-up it’s a Druid, so it can benefit from any tribal synergies too.
I’m also including these Bant removal staples:
Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:
- 1 Llanowar Elves
- 1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Nantuko Vigilante
- 1 Citanul Hierophants
- 1 Coiling Oracle
- 1 Mirror Entity
- 1 Seedguide Ash
- 1 Shapesharer
- 1 Chameleon Colossus
- 1 Gilt-Leaf Archdruid
- 1 Devoted Druid
- 1 Farhaven Elf
- 1 Bloom Tender
- 1 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Elvish Mystic
- 1 Voyaging Satyr
- 1 Sylvan Advocate
- 1 Rashmi, Eternities Crafter
- 1 Metallic Mimic
- 1 Tatyova, Benthic Druid
- 1 Elvish Rejuvenator
- 1 Beast Whisperer
- 1 Incubation Druid
- 1 Paradise Druid
- 1 Unsettled Mariner
- 1 Leafkin Druid
- 1 Faeburrow Elder
- 8 Forest
- 1 Plains
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 5 Island
- 1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
- 1 Maze of Ith
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Azorius Chancery
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 Simic Growth Chamber
- 1 Mutavault
- 1 Bant Panorama
- 1 Seaside Citadel
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Sunpetal Grove
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Hinterland Harbor
- 1 Cavern of Souls
- 1 Temple of Mystery
- 1 Temple of Enlightenment
- 1 Temple of Plenty
- 1 Prairie Stream
- 1 Canopy Vista
- 1 Lumbering Falls
- 1 Path of Ancestry
- 1 Unclaimed Territory
- 1 Bountiful Promenade
- 1 Sea of Clouds
- 1 Force of Will
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Arcane Denial
- 1 Opposition
- 1 Harsh Mercy
- 1 Aura Shards
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Door of Destinies
- 1 Finest Hour
- 1 Training Grounds
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 True Conviction
- 1 Supreme Verdict
- 1 Swan Song
- 1 Reality Shift
- 1 Stoneforge Masterwork
- 1 Cryptolith Rite
- 1 Sylvan Reclamation
- 1 Heroic Intervention
- 1 Kindred Discovery
- 1 Kindred Summons
- 1 Herald's Horn
- 1 Heirloom Blade
- 1 Dovin's Veto
- 1 Leyline of Abundance
- 1 Icon of Ancestry
And here are two handy charts courtesy of Archidekt, including that sweet, sweet mana curve broken out by color.
What do you think? Are there any cards I’ve overlooked? If you see any new cards from Throne of Eldraine that should find a home here, let me know!
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Also, come play Commander with me! This weekend, November 14-17, is the always spectacular SCG CON! Their Commander Celebration has set the standard for incredible Commander experiences and I’ll be returning as a special guest so I’ll be in the Command Zone all weekend playing Commander!
But that’s not all—Star City Games will be putting on #CommandFestDC December 13-15th and I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be one of the special guests there. Stay tuned for more details as they become available!
I’ve been writing about the Commander format and Magic: The Gathering in general for nearly two decades. Visit the Star City Games article archives for tons of content dating back to January 2000!
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