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Commander Top 10: Hans Eriksson

Hans Eriksson has the potential to put big creatures onto the battlefield in a hurry. See how Bennie Smith uses him in Commander.

Hans Eriksson, illustrated by Ryan Pancoast

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 Star City Games archives right here and check back often!

As of this writing I’ve covered Gor Muldrak, Amphinologist; Obeka, Brute Chronologist; and Archelos, Lagoon Mystic so far. This week I’m going Gruul with a legend that’s old-school — Hans Eriksson!

Hans first showed up on the flavor text for Lhurgoyf in Ice Age, attributed to his sister Saffi Eriksdotter with her last words:

Presumably Saffi’s sacrifice saved her brother from that fearsome beast, since Hans shows up in the flavor text for Revenant from Exodus:

Years later during Time Spiral, as holes opened up across time, Saffi Eriksdotter was pulled from the timestream where she gets eaten by the Lhurgoyf, leaving her brother behind:

Which begs the question—if Saffi isn’t around to save Hans from the Lhurgoyf, what happens to Hans?

What indeed?  Now that Hans has his own legendary creature card, we can build a Commander deck to answer that very question!

One approach would be to play it safe: if Hans doesn’t have his resourceful sis around to keep him safe, perhaps he’d be more cautious?  Following this notion, we could fill our deck with utility creatures that don’t have power greater than three and hopefully have more toughness than one—this way, whenever Hans discovers one of those creatures on the top of the library, it’s just a play fight and nobody gets hurt (outside of any pesky blockers your opponents might put in the way). Everyone’s smiling and happy, you with the card and mana advantage Hans is churning out, and your opponents that they aren’t taking damage from a huge creature that’s suddenly joined the combat.

But honestly, how fun is it just playing it safe?  There’s no end to midrange Commander decks that just slowly grind out value. Plus, this is a Gruul deck!  Let’s take a different path—without Saffi around, Hans has no one else to protect him from all the big, nasty monsters lurking around every corner, so he either needs to toughen up or get eaten. Now that sounds like a haymaker-worthy Commander deck!

Before we get brewing, let’s take a quick look at the Commander Legends release notes on Hans to keep in mind:

  • The defending player is the player Hans Eriksson is attacking or the controller of the planeswalker Hans Eriksson is attacking.
  • Putting a creature card onto the battlefield this way causes a second reflexive triggered ability to trigger. Players may respond to this ability before it resolves.
  • If the creature card you put onto the battlefield isn’t on the battlefield or isn’t a creature as the reflexive triggered ability resolves, neither that creature nor Hans will deal or be dealt damage. The same is true if Hans isn’t on the battlefield or isn’t a creature at that time.

Got it?  Got it.

Okay, let’s get brewing!

1. Lhurgoyf

The first cards we want to add to the deck are big scary monsters, and the first on the list is Lhurgoyf!  Sure, it’s not always going to be the biggest, baddest creature around, but we can’t have a Hans deck without Lhurgoyf!  Even if Lhurgoyf is one of the first creatures Hans reveals and it pops out as an 0/1 baby monster, the imagery of Hans killing it and saying “Well, shoot, Saffi—that wasn’t so bad” is going to be hilarious!

Luckily for us, the Gruul color combination has no shortage of giant monsters we can stock in our deck and I put a ton of them here:

I really like having Ilharg, the Raze-Boar in here since it’s a very resilient threat that can be relatively easy to cast, and when it attacks, you can “sneak” out a huge monster in your hand.

2. Radha, Heart of Keld

As fun as it will be to be surprised by a giant monster on the top of your library when Hans’s attack trigger resolves, it would be silly not to include a few ways to stack our deck so that we know that Hans is going to spring out something good.  Fortunately for us, Gruul happens to have one of the best ways to do this with Radha, Heart of Keld! 

Radha’s static ability lets us keep the top of our library a secret to everyone else, yet lets us play lands off the top of the deck to increase the chances of hitting something good.  Also, it’s still not bad to use Hans’s attack trigger to just draw the top card of the library to potentially reveal a land if you missed the land drop for the turn.  Plus, Radha’s power and toughness are such that if she hits the battlefield from Hans’s trigger, neither of them will die from the fight.

I’ve got some other cards that manipulate or care about the top of the library:

Lurking Predators is already a solid card, but in a deck that’s so full of huge monsters like this one it’s going to put in some serious work!

3. Yidaro, Wandering Monster

One thing that’s going to be a little bit of an issue is timing—you draw the huge monsters before you have a chance to put them onto the battlefield with Hans. I’m going to play a fair amount of ramp so I can end up casting them if need be, but I also thought I could increase the density of Hans hits by playing good-sized monsters that also have the cycling ability, so you can discard them to draw a card. The best of these is Yidaro, Wandering Monster (also known as Godzilla, Doom Inevitable) since you can cycle it away to draw another card, but then shuffle it back into your deck to potentially get put onto the battlefield by Hans – or by itself if you happen to cycle it four times!

Here are some other good cycling monsters:

4. Kogla, the Titan Ape

Without Saffi around to protect him, Hans needs to look out for his own safety, so I’m making room for some cards to protect Hans from an untimely death at the hands, claws, or jaws of a giant beastie.  The best of the bunch is a creature that Hans could find with his trigger: Kogla, the Titan Ape!  Since Hans is a Human, Kogla’s activated ability can be used to bring Hans back to your hand before the fight trigger resolves, while making Kogla indestructible until the end of the turn. And in subsequent turns Kogla and Hans can team up to protect each of them from a battlefield sweeper like Wrath of God.

I’m including some other great ways to help protect Hans from untimely death:

Vigor is another great choice here—I have it in my Grothama, All-Devouring deck where it does some seriously crazy stuff, and it can do similar things here on a slightly smaller scale—if Vigor jumps onto the battlefield from Hans’s trigger, Hans will fight Vigor and Vigor will prevent that damage and put six +1/+1 counts on Hans, making him quite buff and ferocious!

5. Xenagos, God of Revels

Your opponents likely won’t be too keen to let Hans sit untouched waiting for your next turn so you can attack with him, so let’s add in some ways to give Hans haste.  One of the best is also a creature: Xenagos, God of Revels!  Xenagos can be put onto the battlefield with Hans’s trigger, and since it’s indestructible it can sit around to be used turn after turn. First, give freshly cast Hans haste, and then the following turn you can use Xenagos’s ability to double the power of whatever huge monster you have on the battlefield—hopefully one that has trample!

Here are some other ways to give Hans and other creatures you control haste:

6. Greater Good

We’ll want to keep our hand stocked while making land drops each turn, so let’s ensure that with plenty of card draw. The best of the bunch is Greater Good when you have monsters as huge and plentiful as what we have going on.  It’s great protection too from your opponents trying to steal your biggest threat: just cash it in for more cards.

Here are some other great ways to keep the cards flowing:

Tome of Legends and Myth Unbound are both great here since odds are pretty good Hans will be attacking, dying, and being recast quite a bit.  I’m also excited about the new card from Commander Legends War Room, reusable card-draw attached to a land for a reasonable mana and life cost.

7. Reincarnation

Sometimes Hans is just going to die, either from finding a huge monster with his trigger without protection, or from an opponent’s removal spell, but we can have a few ways to take advantage of Hans’s dying. I’m super-excited about Reincarnation here since odds are pretty good that your opponents will kill off your most fearsome monsters, so how fun would it be to have Hans die and then be reincarnated as a giant monster?

I found a few more ways to benefit from a creature dying:

I’ve had Verdant Rebirth in my mind as a card to try out in Commander ever since Ixalan but haven’t really felt like it fits in anything until now. If Hans is going to die, why not bring it back to your hand and draw a card for your trouble?

8. Sweltering Suns

For creature removal options I was going to reach for the usual red suspects like Blasphemous Act or Chain Reaction.  But then it occurred to me—I can take advantage of red sweepers that deal with hordes of smaller creatures, while leaving behind higher-toughness creatures, of which my big monsters would be dominant.  So Sweltering Suns jumped to the top of my list since three damage is just shy of Hans’s four toughness.

I also tapped Anger of the Gods, and then plenty of removal spells for artifacts and enchantments:

9. Sword of the Animist

I’ve included some of the usual ramp suspects in our green deck but decided to make room for a ramp all-star card usually found in nongreen decks: Sword of the Animist!  The reason I like this is because it’s reusable, which is handy with cards like Radha, Heart of Keld, Scroll Rack and Sylvan Library.  Also, the +1/+1 boost could mean that Hans is a little more durable.

Here are some other ramp options, included a fair number of two-drop ramp spells that will let me cast Hans on Turn 3!

10. Burn Away

Last but not least, I want to make room for some other ways to interact with my opponents, and one that I want to remind everyone about is Burn Away!  This is a great instant-speed burn spell that will kill most creatures, and then, assuming the creature dies, you get to exile that player’s graveyard.

I’ve included a few other ways to deal with graveyard shenanigans, and also Shadowspear!

Shadowspear is fantastic at taking away hexproof and indestructible from your opponents’ permanents, and it also is a great way to give one of our huge creatures trample and lifelink.  Huzzah!

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

Hans Eriksson
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 11-21-2020
Commander

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

I just love how the mana curve goes all the way to twelve thanks to all the huge monsters we’re hoping to cheat out with Hans!

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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