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Commander Top 10: Aegar, The Freezing Flame

Bennie Smith’s latest Commander deck is hot, cool, and big fun all in one. See how he built around Aegar, the Freezing Flame.

Aegar, the Freezing Flame, illustrated by Chris Rahn

Like a good Viking feast celebrating treasures plundered, Kaldheim is the proverbial Commander land of plenty!  So many cards have spawned so many brand-new decks, and we’re not even scraping the bottom of the barrel.  In fact, this week we’re living particularly large with Giant tribal commandeered by Aegar, the Freezing Flame!

Something about Kaldheim’s take on the Giant tribe really appeals to me. Not only are they physically imposing creatures, they’ve also got mystical powers as icing on the Magic cake.  Blue and red both have gotten a lot of goodies lately and bringing old red Giant support and mixing in all the cool new stuff from this set, and Izzet Giant tribal just looks like oodles and oodles of fun.

First, let’s take a look at Aegar’s abilities in depth from Kaldheim’s release notes:

Whenever a creature or planeswalker an opponent controls is dealt excess damage, if a Giant, Wizard, or spell you controlled dealt damage to it this turn, draw a card.

A creature has been dealt excess damage if one or more sources deal more damage to it than the minimum amount of damage required to be lethal damage. In most cases, this means damage greater than its toughness, but consider the damage already dealt to it that turn.

A planeswalker is dealt excess damage if it’s dealt damage greater than its current loyalty.

Even 1 damage dealt to a creature from a source with deathtouch is considered lethal damage, so any amount greater than that will cause excess damage to be dealt, even if the total amount of damage isn’t greater than the creature’s toughness. Note that a source of damage having deathtouch has no effect on damage dealt to planeswalkers.

It doesn’t matter whether a Giant, Wizard, or spell you control deals the excess damage, only that excess damage was dealt and that one of those three things dealt damage to the creature or planeswalker at some point during the turn. For example, if a 4/4 creature an opponent controls is dealt 2 damage by a spell you control and later that turn is dealt 3 damage by a spell another player controls, Aegar’s ability will trigger.

If a permanent is both a creature and a planeswalker, the minimum amount of damage to be considered lethal damage is used to determine if excess damage has been dealt. For example, if a 5/5 creature that’s also a planeswalker with three loyalty counters on it is dealt 4 damage, it’s been dealt 1 excess damage and Aegar’s ability may trigger.

I think it’s cool that Aegar’s ability is flexible enough that you could also build a Wizard deck or a spellslinger deck and still take advantage of Aegar’s trigger.  But let’s be real:  Giants are huge and scary, and chances are pretty good that if our Giant doesn’t have trample, most opponents won’t want to take the damage and chump block it, which will draw you a card with Aegar.

We can still take advantage of the spell part of Aegar’s ability with burn spells that can smash down smaller creatures and then let your Giants crash in for big damage to life totals.

Okay, let’s get brewing!

1. Sunrise Sovereign

The first thing I went hunting for were cards that specifically played nice with Giants, and the first windmill slam into the deck was Sunrise Sovereign. Boosting all the other Giants and giving them trample is super-scary with even just a couple of other Giants on the battlefield. I particularly like this since Aegar’s unassisted stats are rather wimpy by Giant standards, so with Sunrise Sovereign on your battlefield Aegar becomes a very respectable 5/5. 

Giant's Amulet Crush Underfoot Giant's Grasp Calamity Bearer Thundercloud Shaman Cyclone Summoner

I really love the flavor of Giant’s Grasp; the huge monster reaches down and just picks up something you find interesting. I’m also stoked with Calamity Bearer since doubling the damage that a Giant deals is likely to be very, very big game.

2. Galecaster Colossus

Next on my search list were creatures that did cool things and also just happened to be Giants, and one I was surprised to run across was Galecaster Colossus.  Even if there were no other Wizards in the deck, I’d still want this in here: 5/6 is a respectable size, and its activated ability can be used immediately to bounce a problem permanent that an opponent controls. But a few other Giants from Kaldheim are also Wizards—including our commander—which just makes this better and better.

Here were some other “utility” creatures that happen to be Giants:

Bonecrusher Giant Tectonic Giant Quakebringer Thryx, the Sudden Storm Frost Titan Inferno Titan

Thryx, the Sudden Storm is particularly nice here since it can be flashed out for five mana, letting you untap and take advantage of its cost reduction ability to cast a large Giant ahead of curve and uncounterably to boot.

3. Reflections of Littjara

Commander has a lot of generic tribal support, so when I went looking for some that might fit, this Kaldheim gem jumped out at me: Reflection of Littjara!  I can’t imagine a better tribe to take advantage of this enchantment’s ability to copy spells since there’s so much power tied up in each individual Giant. The fact that the ability triggers on the casting of the spell means you even get some built-in resistance to individual counterspells. Just imagine the turn after you cast this casting Sunrise Sovereign and getting a copy of it!  That’s big game right there.

Path of Ancestry Bloodline Pretender Herald's Horn

Path of Ancestry may not be worth the slot in some tribal decks that are only two colors, but in a deck that’s relatively top-heavy, the scry trigger to help smooth your draws is going to be quite helpful.

4. Borderland Behemoth

I also went looking for Giants that can bring the beatdown, that are so big and terrifying your opponents will break into a sweat and be eager to make deals to spare them turning your attacks in their direction, and the scariest of the bunch has got to be Borderland Behemoth. With just two other Giants on the battlefield, this fellow is a whopping 12/12 trampler!

Crystalline Giant Surtland Flinger Surtland Elementalist Hamletback Goliath

I also love Surtland Flinger, another sweet Giant from Kaldheim!  Not only can it pick up and fling a creature just by attacking, but if the creature flung is a Giant, it deals twice that much damage instead.  Imagine this in conjunction with Calamity Bearer pitching a Surtland Elementalist at someone’s life total?  If my math is correct, that’s 8 x 2 x 2 for 32 points of damage!

5. Starstorm

Circling back to Aegar’s ability, I went on a hunt for some Commander quality burn, and the hottest of the bunch has got to be Starstorm. First, it’s instant-speed, and it also hits all creatures unlike some global X-spells that only damage non-flyers. So even if Aegar dies in the comet strike, chances are pretty good you’ll be drawing a fair grip of cards.  And in a pinch, you can just cycle it away for three mana if you’re trying to draw another land to cast some huge monster.

Kazuul's Fury Basalt Ravager Storm's Wrath Chain Reaction Bloodshot Cyclops Fiery Emancipation Blasphemous Act

Kazuul’s Fury was made to be in a deck like this: if you draw it early, play Kazuul’s Cliffs to ensure you’re making land drops.  Draw it in the late-game, and you could be chucking a massive Giant to take out one of your opponents.  Fiery Emancipation is an incredibly powerful card that’s just going to be frightening in this deck given the size and damage output of so many creatures.

6. Stinkdrinker Daredevil

If there’s one thing we know it’s that Giants will by nature be relatively expensive to cast, so we’re going to want to have plenty of ways to ramp our mana and help get Giants onto the battlefield as soon as possible. The best of the bunch is a Goblin that’s a Giant tribal card: Stinkdrinker Daredevil! Shaving a whopping two mana off all your Giant spells is quite nice; just try to not squash the little fellow in random infernos until you no longer need him.

Sol Ring Wayfarer's Bauble Invasion of the Giants Treasure Map Sword of the Animist Izzet Signet Darksteel Ingot Worn Powerstone

Invasion of the Giants actually takes a little bit of planning and isn’t something you just always slam out there on Turn 2. The first two chapters provide relatively minor abilities for your mana investment, so you’ll really want to ensure you take advantage of the third chapter’s mana discount to get a big Giant onto the battlefield ahead of time.

7. Fire Giant’s Fury

Every good Commander deck has card draw, and I’ve dedicated some slots to just that but one card in particular really caught my eye here:  Fire Giant’s Fury!  This gives a Giant you control +2/+2 and trample until the end of the turn, and whenever it deals combat damage to a player this turn, you get to exile that many cards from the top of your library.  Until the end of your next turn, you may play those exiled cards.

I like that there are a lot of variables built into this card. How many potential blockers does your opponent have? How big is your Giant? Does anyone have instant-speed removal that could just blow you out of the water?  And keep in mind that you’re only going to be able to play only so many of those exiled cards, at most two lands, and if you exile too many high-cost Giants, you’ll only get to cast one or two of them and the rest will be gone forever.

Mostly I’m looking to cast this the turn after I cast Aegar to attack for five points of commander damage with some value attached, but the fact that this card has so much to consider the later the game goes really makes this a cool card.

War Room Skullclamp Glimpse the Cosmos Valakut Awakening Behold the Multiverse Sea Gate Restoration

Glimpse the Cosmos is a really neat card draw spell that gives a little extra to Giant decks. Cast it early to dig for a land drop, and cast it from the graveyard later to dig for some huge haymaker.

8. In the Web of War

The more Giants you get on the battlefield, the more alarmed your opponents will be, and it’s going to be a huge bummer to have a battlefield sweeper kill off your Giant before you even got a chance to attack with it, so I added In the Web of War.  Whenever a Giant enters the battlefield under you control it gains haste, and it also gets an extra two points of power to hit just a little bit harder.

I dug up some other ways to help the deck better interact with your opponents:

Endless Sands Miren, the Moaning Well Encroaching Wastes Field of Ruin Homeward Path Soul-Guide Lantern Shadowspear Confounding Conundrum Skullcrack

Homeward Path was a land I definitely wanted to find a spot for, since I can imagine one way your opponents might try to cut you down to size is stealing your huge Giants from you.  I also found a slot for Skullcrack to keep someone from trying to stop your Giant-size beatdown with a Fog effect.

9. Crush the Weak

While there are some creature control elements built into some of the Giants in the deck, along with the big sorceries in the burn section above, I also wanted to find room for some other removal options. Crush the Weak is another Kaldheim card that I think does some nice work in this deck, in particular it sweeps away small chump blockers so that rampaging Giants can crash into life totals. I also love the foretell ability to help keep your opponents guessing what you have sitting over there in exile ready to go.

Vandalblast Pongify Shattering Pulse Reality Shift Ravenform

10. Swan Song

Last but not least I wanted to pepper in a few counterspells to keep your opponents honest. While we won’t have a lot of mana open due to casting big Giants on our own turn, we might be able to snipe a spell we don’t like for one mana with Swan Song.

Arcane Denial Negate Tale's End

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 Kaldheim 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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