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Commander Top 10: Vega, The Watcher

A Commander deck helmed by Vega, the Watcher foretells lots of fun, and Bennie Smith’s build is a real hoot!

Vega, the Watcher, illustrated by Paul Scott Canavan

Kaldheim is just chock-full of goodies for Commander fans, with a deep pile of interesting legends to build decks around, including a whopping twelve uncommon ones too!

Fynn, the Fangbearer Koll, the Forgemaster Aegar, the Freezing Flame Harald, King of Skemfar Svella, Ice Shaper Vega, the Watcher Inga Rune-Eyes Kardur, Doomscourge Firja, Judge of Valor Maja, Bretagard Protector Moritte of the Frost Narfi, Betrayer King

I could easily see building cool Commander decks around most of these, but today I’m going to build around our owl friend, Vega, the Watcher!

I really love this design. It’s very clearly but quietly built to support the foretell mechanic without coming right out and saying so.  It’s perfectly priced at three mana since the turn before you’ll likely be foretelling a card from your hand. But it’s not strictly a foretell support card, since there are all sorts of ways to cast spells other than from your hand, which makes Vega into quite a card draw engine.  And there are few colors that appreciate free card draw as much as Azorius does.

So, let’s get brewing!

1. Ranar the Ever-Watchful

Ranar the Ever-Watchful is the leader of the foretell-themed Kaldheim Commander deck, though I actually think Vega is better.  But Ranar still rocks as one of the 99, as you can cast it the turn after you cast Vega and still get to foretell again and get a 1/1 white Spirit token with flying. 

Between the main set and the Commander deck, there’s a ton of cool support for foretell and I’ve included most of them here:

Depart the Realm Doomskar Oracle Niko Defies Destiny Ravenform Saw it Coming Behold the Multiverse Cosmos Charger Glorious Protector Starnheim Unleashed Stoic Farmer Doomskar Ethereal Valkyrie Spectral Deluge Alrund's Epiphany Sage of the Beyond

I particularly love Ethereal Valkyrie since when it attacks it lets you foretell a card from your hand that doesn’t necessarily have foretell.  Oh, and it draws a card too! 

2. Chaos Wand

When I went looking for other ways to cast spells from other zones than my hand, one card that jumped out to me as super-fun is Chaos Wand!  You can hold onto mana in case someone casts something you want to react to with one of your own spells, and if you don’t need to cast anything, you can spin the wheel by activating the Wand and seeing what pops up from an opponent’s library.  Sure, sometimes you’ll hit something you don’t want to cast right then, but I imagine most of the time there will be a removal spell or some other interaction that you can benefit from.  Casting it from exile meets Vega’s trigger so you can draw a card too.

Windbrisk Heights Daxos of Meletis Precognition Field Ice Cauldron Primordial Mist

Is Vega the commander that finally makes Ice Cauldron awesome?  Well, I wouldn’t say it’s awesome, but I do think Ice Cauldron can do some good work in the deck.  Here’s how the ability reads in the current Oracle wording:

{X} , {T}: You may exile a nonland card from your hand. You may cast that card for as long as it remains exiled. Put a charge counter on Ice Cauldron and note the type and amount of mana spent to pay this activation cost. Activate this ability only if there are no charge counters on Ice Cauldron.

{T}, Remove a charge counter from Ice Cauldron: Add Ice Cauldron’s last noted type and amount of mana. Spend this mana only to cast the last card exiled with Ice Cauldron.

The main things to remember: even if Ice Cauldron gets destroyed, you can still cast the card(s) you exiled with Ice Cauldron later in the game; you get a charge counter on Ice Cauldron even if X=0; and you can’t exile another card with Ice Cauldron so long as there’s a charge counter on it.

3. Taigam, Ojutai Master

Taigam is fun because instant and sorcery spells can’t be countered by spells or abilities, and a lot of our foretell cards are instant and sorcery spells.  If you attacked with Taigam this turn, whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell from your hand, that spell gets rebound, which puts the spell in exile and during your next upkeep you can cast that card from exile without paying its mana cost. This is a nice way to still get some Vega value from your foretell cards even if you didn’t get a chance to foretell the card before you needed to cast it.

I went looking for more rebound spells and the only one that made the final cut was Distortion Strike.

Giant Killer Distortion Strike Brazen Borrower

I also made room for a couple of Adventure cards since once you cast the Adventure the card goes to exile and you can cast the creature from exile later.

4. Epochrasite

Another nice way to cast spells from exile is the suspend mechanic, and one of the best cards for this is Epochrasite.  It can come down for two mana as a chump blocker, and when it dies you exile it with three suspend counters. As a bonus, it enters the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters on it if you didn’t cast it from your hand.

I’ve included a bunch of other suspend cards too:

Ancestral Vision Riftmarked Knight Aeon Chronicler Chronomantic Escape Reality Strobe Ith, High Arcanist Deep-Sea Kraken

I especially love Chronomantic Escape and Reality Strobe since they each exile upon resolution with three suspend counters, so they keep getting cast from exile periodically to cause shenanigans and draw cards with Vega.

5. Prismatic Strands

The graveyard is another zone you can cast spells that draw cards with Vega, so I went looking for a few cards with flashback.  Prismatic Strands is a little pricey on the front end for three mana, but it can prevent a huge attack or damage spell so it’s going to be worth it sometimes.  The flashback cost is a very easy one — just tap an untapped white creature you control, which includes Vega, who will draw you a card for your troubles.

Here are some other nice spells with flashback:

Purify the Grave Think Twice Divine Reckoning Echo of Eons

6. Bastion Protector

While Vega is a powerful card draw engine, the owl is a bit squishy, so I went looking for some ways to protect our commander and Bastion Protector fits the bill.  Since Vega has flying, giving it indestructible makes it a pretty fine blocker while you’re grinding out card drawing value.

Esior, Wardwing Familiar Blackblade Reforged

Esior, Wardwing Familiar is the perfect little owl buddy for Vega, coming down the turn before you cast Vega and making it very difficult for your opponents to target Vega with spells.  And sometimes Vega will need to slay someone with commander damage, so have it pick up Blackblade Reforged in its little owl feet and bash!

7. Karfell Harbinger

When searching for good mana ramp cards for nongreen decks, the choices are going to look familiar, but one card that jumps out uniquely for a narrower range of decks is Karfell Harbinger, a solid common from Kaldheim. A 1/3 for two mana makes it a decent early blocker, and it can tap to generate a blue mana you can use to foretell a card or to cast an instant or sorcery spell.  It will be quite handy in our deck!

Here are the other mana ramp cards I’m including:

Myriad Landscape Sol Ring Wayfarer's Bauble Arcane Signet Thought Vessel Talisman of Progress

8. Time Wipe

I’m including removal spells in some of the categories above, but Azorius gives us a lot of fine removal options and I wanted to find room for a few more.  Time Wipe is nice because you get to return one of your own creatures to your hand before destroying the battlefield, and since Vega is relatively cheap you should be able to bring it back from the command zone pretty easily too.

Below are the other removal spells I’ve slotted into the deck:

Reality Shift Generous Gift Cleansing Nova

9. Thryx, the Sudden Storm

Filling out the decklist, I wanted to make room for some “good stuff” cards, and one of the best of the bunch is Thryx, the Sudden Storm!  Thryx is a great card to have in a reactive deck that wants to hold open mana, and if you don’t need to use five mana to react to something your opponents have done, why not flash out a 4/5 flying Elemental Giant?  Many of our spells have a converted mana cost five or greater, so you can shave a mana off the cost and make sure they can’t be countered.  It’s a win-win! 

War Room Mirrorpool Skullclamp Wall of Omens Sunscorch Regent Dragonlord Ojutai

Sunscorch Regent and Dragonlord Ojutai are just solid creatures for Azorius, but the fact that they’re Dragons squeezes a little extra value from Taigam, Ojutai Master.

10. Swan Song

Last but not least, a few extra slots for interaction, and since we’re blue, that includes counterspells.  Swan Song is such a great spell for Commander: for just one blue mana you can counter an enchantment, instant, or sorcery spell for the low, low price of giving them a 2/2 blue Bird token with flying in exchange.  Awkwardly, the 2/2 can trade with your commander, so hopefully that won’t end up biting you in the butt.

Here are the final few slots in the deck to interact with your opponents’ shenanigans:

Tectonic Edge Shadowspear Arcane Denial

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

Vega, the Watcher
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 02-12-2021
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 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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