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Commander Top 10: Kwain, Itinerant Meddler

Bennie Smith hops to it as he designs a Commander deck around the Rabbit Wizard of Commander Legends: Kwain, Itinerant Meddler.

Kwain, Itinerant Meddler, illustrated by Lucas Graciano

Commander Legends has an eye-popping 32 brand-new multicolor legendary creatures we can build new Commander decks around, and I’m diving into a lot of them here every Saturday for the foreseeable future. Bookmark my Star City Games archives right here and check back often!  I’ve covered a bunch of them already.

This week I’m hopping into Azorius with that kwascally kwabbit:  Kwain, Itinerant Meddler!

I have to admit to a strong urge to find room for the “Trix” combo in this deck:  Illusions of Grandeur and Donate.

But silly rabbit, Trix are for tournament players!  Giving one player a twenty-life hit isn’t really worth it when you have three opponents who each start at 40 life, even if you’re getting a twenty-life boost along the way.

So, what do we do with Kwain?  Well, first off, two mana for a commander is incredibly good—even if it dies multiple times, the cost with the commander tax is likely to be affordable for the entire game. Add to this the fact that tapping Kwain helps your opponents (if they want it) means that you can count on having your commander on the battlefield most of the time.

Now I know the more competitive-minded folks out there are already thinking about ways to break the symmetry with cards that I personally consider to be highly obnoxious and won’t be putting in this deck:

Instead, I’m just going to use Kwain as a way to ensure everyone’s cards are flowing and nobody is dying too quickly to an aggressive start so that everyone can have a good time. That’s not to say I won’t try to still win—in fact, thinking about the Trix combo gives me an idea:  why not leverage all the extra life and cards that Kwain provides to find and play cards that let me win the game outside of the combat step?

Let’s get brewing!

1. Alhammarret’s Archive

First off, let’s find cards that play nicely with drawing cards, gaining life, or both.  When it comes to both, Alhammarret’s Archive is an all-star!  Gaining twice as much life and drawing twice as many cards each time you activate Kwain is a much less obnoxious way of breaking the symmetry.

Dream Trawler and Drogskol Reaver are both heavy-hitting monsters that play on both sides of drawing cards and gaining life and I definitely wanted to find room for them too.

2. Body of Knowledge

We’ve come a long way since Maro, haven’t we?  Body of Knowledge from Commander Legends is a heck of a good payoff and enabler for card-draw strategies, potentially getting huge due to removing your hand size limitation. Just be careful you don’t accidentally deck yourself since Body of Knowledge draw cards trigger isn’t a “may!”

I’ve got a lot of other great cards that synergize nicely with card-drawing:

Tolarian Kraken is rather nuts with Kwain, letting you cash in any extra mana for extra untaps for your Rabbit. Also, you can use Kwain’s tap ability to tap down an opponent’s attacking threat or blocker at key moments along the way.  Sweet!

3. Heliod, Sun-Crowned

When it comes to life-gaining synergies, nothing tops Heliod, Sun-Crowned. Each time you gain life you get to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature or enchantment you control. This deck is going to gain a lot of life, so that adds up to a lot of counters along the way.  I envision Kwain getting big enough with those counters to actually be a threat!  Plus, giving one of your heavy hitters lifelink along the way will keep the lifegain party going.

I’m including most of the other usual suspects for life-gaining shenanigans available in Azorius:

I love that Ajani, Strength of the Pride can make tokens named Ajani Pridemate to go along with actual Ajani Pridemate to get swole while tapping Kwain and gaining life.

4. Atemsis, All-Seeing

When it comes to alternative win conditions, none is as cool as Atemsis, All-Seeing!  You gotta sculpt your hand, attack, and deal combat damage, and then that player loses if everything goes right. Do this for each opponent and you win!  With all the card-drawing in this deck I can’t imagine you won’t be able to sculpt your hand to have six cards of different converted mana costs.

I’m including some other ways to win the game outside of dealing damage:

I’ve included Thryx here because discounting some of these higher-cost cards and making sure they can’t be countered could be clutch.

5. Thousand-Year Elixir

Looking around for other sorts of goodies that play nicely with Kwain, I slammed Thousand-Year Elixir in the deck immediately.  Being able to tap Kwain the turn you cast it and then spend a mana to untap it will be awesome!

Riptide Laboratory is here to help protect Kwain from an untimely death since our commander is also a Wizard. Reconnaissance means that Kwain can attack if you want – say, if it’s equipped with Blackblade Reforged – and then at the end of combat untap so you can use the tap ability later.

Reveille Squad is a blast from the past, and something I try fitting into a lot of decks here and there, but it usually gets cut.  In this deck, though, it does so much work that I’m stoked to find room for it!

6. Sphinx of the Second Sun

Even though Kwain draws cards, we’re playing blue, so I want even more card draw, and I’m incredibly excited to play Sphinx of the Second Sun, another awesome card from Commander Legends!  Getting an extra untap for Kwain and all your other permanents, plus an extra draw step, all attached to a giant flying Sphinx?  Sign me up!

I’ve got a lot of other ways to draw cards too, which will help dig into the various alternative win conditions:

7. Time Wipe

Azorius has a bunch of great removal options and I’m playing a lot of them for sure, but one that I’m really excited to play is Time Wipe!  Since I’m planning on casting my commander early and often, it’s nice to have a creature sweeper where I can bring a creature I control to my hand instead of it shuffling off to the graveyard.

Here are the other awesome removal options in the deck:

8. Spellskite

I’ll also want some good ways to interact with my opponents’ spells, and I really like Spellskite here.  The Phyrexian mana cost will never be an issue, so even if you tap down, you can redirect pinpoint removal away from your more important creatures, and occasionally you’ll be able to snipe an unsuspecting Aura card with it. And if you haven’t looked at Spellskite’s price lately, check it out—reprints in Modern Masters 2015 and Double Masters brought the cost way down, so scoop up a couple of copies for your decks if you don’t have any.

Here are some other interactive cards:

Tower of the Magistrate in particular will help slow down Voltron strategies that rely on piling a lot of scary Equipment cards on one creature and attacking you. 

9. Fierce Guardianship

Of course, another way that Azorius has to interact with opponents’ cards is with counterspells, and I’m including a few of them here, not as a way to shut someone out of casting any spells but as a clutch way to protect me from losing or protect a win condition until I can win.  Fierce Guardianship is a great way to do that for free if Kwain is on the battlefield, since most worrisome spells are going to be noncreature spells.

It is rather expensive, so if you don’t have one, you can easily just slot in Negate or Counterspell instead.

Here are a few other counterspells I made room for:

10. Keeper of the Accord

Last but not least, I’ve made room for some ways to ramp mana, and Keeper of the Accord is another great card from Commander Legends that helps catch up with our opponents who are ramping hard. It can also generate a bunch of 1/1 token creatures if your opponents are flooding the battlefield with creatures.

I like having Terrain Generator and Walking Atlas in the deck since, with all the card drawing going on, odds are good that I can activate one of them to drop an extra land onto the battlefield here and there.

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

Kwain, Itinerant Meddler
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 12-19-2020
Commander


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 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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