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Commander Top 10: Haktos The Unscarred

Get ready to roll the dice with Haktos the Unscarred! Bennie Smith builds a Commander deck worthy of Achilles!

Haktos the Unscarred, illustrated by Ryan Pancoast

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We now know all the cards included in the next Magic set Theros Beyond Death and wow!  There are a ton of great cards for a variety of formats, including lots of goodies for Commander fans.  There are a handful of interesting legends to build new Commander decks around, but one in particular looks super-sweet:

The mechanics on this card do a great job of capturing the flavor of Achilles from Greek mythology.  Legends say that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel because, when his mother dipped him in the river Styx as an infant, she held him by one of his heels.  Achilles was a formidable warrior who was nearly unstoppable on the battlefield.

Haktos is a Human Warrior with six power and attacks each combat if able.  The one toughness would be a huge weakness if there was no further text box, but being dipped in a mystical river imbues some sweet protection:

As Haktos enters the battlefield, choose 2, 3, or 4 at random.

Haktos has protection from each converted mana cost other than the chosen number.

What I like about the randomness of Haktos’s vulnerability is that it provides an interesting game when Haktos enters the battlefield.  Are there any blockers that are going to be able to block Haktos?  Are there going to be any pinpoint removal spells that can target him?  No one knows until the die is rolled.  Could be that opponents will have an easy answer to Haktos, or they could really struggle, depending on the roll—it’s up to fate!

From Theros Beyond Death’s release notes on Haktos:

If Haktos can’t attack for any reason (such as being tapped or having come under that player’s control that turn), then it doesn’t attack. If there’s a cost associated with having it attack, you aren’t forced to pay that cost, so it doesn’t have to attack in that case either.

Haktos has protection from each possible converted mana cost other than the chosen value, not just protection from the two options that weren’t randomly chosen.

For spells with {X} in their mana costs, use the value chosen for X to determine the spell’s converted mana cost. If a card or permanent in any other zone has {X} in its mana cost, X is considered to be 0.

The converted mana cost of a token that isn’t a copy of another object is 0. A token that is a copy of another object has the same converted mana cost as that object.

A number is chosen randomly for Haktos before it enters the battlefield. There’s no point at which players can target it before it has gained the appropriate protection abilities.

If Haktos somehow has no choice made for its ability, its last ability grants it no protection abilities.

There is a lot of cool stuff to unpack about Haktos’s protection ability.  First, he cannot be blocked by token creatures that typically have a converted mana cost of zero.  If someone wants to block Haktos they’re going to have to use an actual card.  It also synergizes nicely with red’s X-spells that deal damage to all creatures, since you can easily adjust the value for X so that the spell falls outside of Haktos’s vulnerability.  For instance, if you’ve rolled 4, you can Earthquake where X equals two for a total converted mana cost of three, so Haktos wouldn’t take any damage. 

Even though Haktos must attack each turn, odds are pretty good that at least one of your opponents won’t have a blocker of the converted mana cost that Haktos is vulnerable too.  We can play a handful of cards that can protect Haktos from those rare situations when he has no safe attack and protect him from non-damaged-based sweeper spells. 

Six power is formidable, but if we can figure out ways to increase Haktos’s power to at least seven, that means we only need to connect with him three times to defeat someone with commander damage.  If we can give Haktos double strike, that means we only need to connect with him twice. 

One interesting thing about brewing up a deck around Haktos is we can let go of playing Equipment cards.  Nearly all the previous Boros decks I’ve put together feature a lot of Equipment, which are very handy things to have in a typical game of Commander but could prove to be awkward in a Haktos deck since you could be unable to equip to Haktos depending on the die roll.  It’s a breath of fresh air to play without Equipment cards, and that frees up a lot of room for other spicy cards we don’t get to play with very often.

Okay, let’s get cracking with the Top 10 Commander cards for Haktos the Unscarred!

1. Iroas, God of Victory

Iroas is a great card to have with Haktos—since Haktos must attack each combat, it’s nice that even if all opponents have a creature that can block Haktos, he won’t take combat damage.  Iroas also gives your creatures menace, so opponents would need to have two creatures of the correct mana cost to block Haktos, and since Haktos has at least six power, odds are pretty good that at least one of those creatures is going to die from combat. 

Haktos is a devoted fellow, providing four of the seven devotion that Iroas needs to become a creature, so if there’s another permanent under your control that has at least one white or red, Iroas becomes a creature.

I’ve included some other cards that can help Haktos stick around:

2. Always Watching

I talked about how giving Haktos one more point of power would make a big difference, and Always Watching brings that along with a point of toughness (if that ever matters).  Also, giving Haktos vigilance is huge since he’ll make an incredible blocker against most ground-based attacks.

I’m running other cards to help enhance Haktos’s already formidable self:

I really love the exalted triggers from Sublime Archangel and Battlegrace Angel—since Haktos must attack anyway, why not give him a bunch of bonuses for doing so?  The rest of his adoring fans can sit back and cheer him on!

3. Smuggler’s Copter

In Commander the Boros color combination often struggles to keep cards flowing throughout the game, so I’m dedicating quite a few slots to that, but one of the best ones is Smuggler’s Copter.  I like that this is one way you can tap Haktos to prevent him from attacking in case there are blockers every where he could go, and the card filtering from Smuggler’s Copter is very helpful sometimes.

Here are some other cards to keep my hand flush with action:

I’m very excited to see how good the new card Tectonic Giant is for red decks in Commander!

4. Subterranean Tremors

Subterranean Tremors is a card I constantly look at for my red decks but always end up sitting it aside.  It’s a very cool Earthquake variant with “upside” – but only if you’re not really running all that many artifacts of your own.  Since this deck isn’t going to be running any equipment the density of artifacts is lower than normal, so there’s a greater chance that X being four or more is going to be just fine.  And if I can get a huge 8/8 red Lizard creature token too?  Sign me up!

I’m running some other mass damage spells that will pretty much always miss harming Haktos:

How exciting it is that Haktos can just shrug off a Star of Extinction?!

5. Chance for Glory

Since I’m not running a bunch of safe and steady Equipment cards, I’ve got room for a bunch of cards I’m calling “No Guts, No Glory!”  When I built my Valduk, Keeper of the Flame Commander deck, one weird card I added to the mix was Sundial of the Infinite.  This artifact lets me end the turn when something goes on the stack at the beginning of your end step that you’d rather not resolve.  For Valduk, this is one way of keeping your tokens around permanently.  Since I was running Sundial, I decided to toss in Final Fortune for kicks, since Sundial lets you take an extra turn without losing at the end of that turn. 

Over the weekend of SCG CON Winter, I never drew Sundial of the Infinite, but I did draw Final Fortune and cast it twice.  Once, I was able to dish out a ton of damage against a player who was going to kill me on his next turn, so I was able to get some “pre-revenge” and go out on my own terms.  And the other time I cast Final Fortune I was able to absorb a Cyclonic Rift with overload in the middle of combat, redeploy, take another turn, and then kill my two opponents on the extra turn.

That experience has me rethinking the value of some of these risky red cards.  Chance for Glory is like Final Fortune but with the added bonus of making your team indestructible, so it’s a combat trick in case your opponent thinks they have just the right answer for Haktos.  Then you can take your extra turn and wreak havoc.  Sometimes all you need is one extra turn to seal the deal… or at the very least, go out in a blaze of glory.  How very Boros!

Here are some of the other cards along this theme:

Sometimes players have ridiculous turns where the only solution is a Time Stop.  Or, if you’re playing red, there’s Glorious End!  Sundial and Gideon of the Trials let you get around the “you lose the game” rider but sometimes you just win the game with that extra turn!

6. Angelic Benediction

One way to make Haktos even more difficult to deal with is if potential blockers are tapped down, and Angelic Benediction seems perfect for this.  The exalted trigger gives Haktos that crucial extra point of power, and the attack trigger taps down whatever blocker might otherwise be able to block Haktos.

I’m running a couple other cards where newly deployed creatures enter the battlefield tapped:

These cards often overperform since many Commander decks that “go off” with creatures rely on generating a bunch of creatures and attacking with haste.  Krenko, Mob Boss—I’m looking at you!

7. Aurelia, the Warleader

If we’re going to get aggressive, let’s get really aggressive.  Aurelia is a great way to squeeze extra attack steps while also adding extra pressure. 

I’ll also add Aggravated Assault to the mix.

8. Generous Gift

I’ll want some interaction and I really do love Generous Gift here over something like Chaos Warp.  The 3/3 token creature created by Generous Gift cannot block Haktos so it’s a good way to deal with a permanent that is otherwise problematic.

I’ve also included three cheap artifacts like the new Soul-Guide Lantern that control graveyards and can be sacrificed to draw a card.  This increases the density of card flow cards while also keeping graveyard strategies from getting out of hand.  I would normally run a card like Dust Bowl to help take down a problematic land, but the color demands of Haktos had me reach for Memorial to War instead.  And Disrupt Decorum is just an incredibly powerful and disruptive card that is worth a card slot.

9. Seal of Cleansing

I’ll want a fair number of removal spells, and what I really like about Seal of Cleansing is that I can play it early and not have to hold up mana to use it later.

Here are some other usual suspects:

10. Neheb, the Eternal

Mana ramp makes the format go around, and we’ll want a fair number of it here.  I really like Neheb, the Eternal here since we’re likely to be punching through for six damage each turn, so that’s an extra six red mana each postcombat main phase.  I’ll round things out with these ramp cards:

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

Haktos the Unscarred
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 01-13-2020
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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