Ikra Shidiqi & Prava, Part 2: The Updatening
I feel as though I am fully immersed in Commander. The love for the format is still in its infancy and grows with each build that I imagine constructing. I have a deep love for all things Izzet and I am a blue and red mage through and through, but I have a pet deck that is far from that color combination.
Last week I introduced you to my brewed-up from the floor up creation helmed by Ikra Sidiqi, the Usurper and Prava of the Steel Legion. I've been affectionately referring to this deck as “Big Booty Tokens”. Any labor of love is going to be a process, hence the labor part; building a Commander from scratch is no different. Commander decks are also a constantly evolving thing when being built. I don’t know how many times someone has mentioned a card that would be good in one of my decks and I just forgot said card existed, or something to that effect; more on that later. Throughout my games with the deck it has felt good, but not great. There is still room for it to evolve.
The most glaring issue that the deck faces is the lack of diversified removal in the original build. That is where we will begin. Originally I was leaning hard on cards such as Assassin’s Trophy and Swords to Plowshares; those are great, but I feel I need more. In light of this I have made the following changes.
Beast Within and Generous Gift are color shifted versions of the same card. Both of these spells allow you to remove any problematic permanent at the cost of giving the controller of said permanent a 3/3 token, whether it be a Beast or Elephant. That’s pretty good for a token strategy. These removal spells create tokens, so if need be, you can use them on your own permanents to get more tokens on the board. Board wipes are generally bad for token decks and creature decks alike. The card Hour of Reckoning changes that, but with a hefty mana cost of seven total mana (4 generic mana and 3 white mana). Wait there’s more! “Destroy all nontoken creatures,” that is possibly the most perfect sentence to read when building a token strategy. This spell also has Convoke, meaning that when we do go wide with tokens the spell will be made cheaper to cast by tapping untapped creatures to pay for part of the cost through Convoke. So not only do I now have a sweeper in my deck to serve as a pressure valve on the board state, that sweeper also doesn’t kill my tokens. What more could you ask for?
In the past few years, we have seen green become the second best (and in some ways the best) color at drawing cards. That being said, the Abzan wedge should have some powerful means of card advantage, my initial list was lacking in that department. The outliers to this are Abzan Charm and Shamanic Revelation, neither of which are a repeatable source. Idol of Oblivion will remain in the deck as a redundant source of card advantage.
Ohran Frostfang pulls double duty for this deck. First of all, “whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, draw a card,” and this deck makes a lot of creatures. Meaning you will regularly get to draw two to three extra cards a turn. This deck does win through combat most of the time, so you don’t want to just cash in all of your creatures in unfavorable combat to try to draw cards. That’s where this snake rears its head again. The first line of text on Ohran Frostfang is, “attacking creatures you control have deathtouch.” This ensures that any attacking that you do with your creatures will, at worst, result in a trade.
Another issue that arose during my testing with the deck is achieving victory in a timely manner and by extension getting damage through in combat.