Getting more for your mana is a time-honored Commander tradition. So, when I saw this Theros Beyond Death card spoiled, I knew we’d be seeing it at the multiplayer tables for years to come. If you’re looking to crash in for big damage or get some deep discounts on creatures with effects upon entering the battlefield, leaving the battlefield, or attacking, all rolled into a Commander that’s both indestructible and part of the “Three Hit Club,” look no further than this one:
When I say “Three Hit Club,” I’m of course referring to the seven power on Purphoros here. That means three hits to a player will trip the Commander damage alarm and cause elimination. Founded by Lady Orca in June 1994, somehow well before Commander was even a thought, the Three Hit Club welcomes all Commanders who can accomplish this feat (or do better, in some cases.)
The stat line isn’t the selling point, though – it’s that Sneak Attack ability tacked on at the bottom of the text box. Let’s focus on that and see what kind of value we can extract from it, starting with creatures that bring value when they attack.
Obviously this is a wild list of high casting cost creatures, but they’re all heavy hitters that add some extra heat when they turn sideways. Ilharg is almost certainly the best given that it adds a second creature to combat which can be used again with Purphoros later and makes its own way back to the library after being sacrificed. I’m also quite partial to Utvara Hellkite because it hints at a larger Dragon theme.
There are many more creatures with powerful enters the battlefield abilities, though, and we should do our best to capture that lightning and bottle it up… and give it back to the gods? Well, that seems a little anti-mythological, but, all the same, let’s see what we can do – starting with some other cards from Theros Beyond Death!
These two new entries provide a lot of power. Usually when I talk about Oxen in Magic I’m talking about Yoked Ox, or as I refer to it, “the Ox that Blocks.” This one is a reusable draw 3 as long as you’ve emptied your hand of cards (or useful cards) beforehand. Terror of Mount Velus can be a game ender when it sneaks in – I’m not including Blightsteel Colossus in this list, so this is the closest we’ll get to something like that.
1 Bedlam Reveler 1 Bogardan Hellkite 1 Combustible Gearhulk 1 Duplicant 1 Fanatic of Mogis 1 Meteor Golem 1 Mindclaw Shaman 1 Molten Primordial 1 Myr Battlesphere 1 Sandstone Oracle 1 Solemn Simulacrum 1 Spawn of Thraxes 1 Tyrant of Discord 1 Widlfire Devils 1 Zealous Conscripts
Again, a long list, so let’s highlight some favorites. Sandstone Oracle is underappreciated but tends to over-deliver in decks like this that blast through cards in hand lightning fast. Same goes for Bedlam Reveler. Mindclaw Shaman and Wildfire Devils both do a great job of letting us cast what doesn’t belong to us.
There’s not a lot of love for dies triggers in red, but I’ll highlight two cards you can’t miss for this deck:
These two cards mean that, with the arsenal of creatures above, you can hit your opponents hard when creatures enter, attack, and leave. Red’s not really the color you think of when you try to maximize value from creatures, but, well, here we are, right?
With all of these powerful creatures entering the battlefield, there’s some untapped potential for us here. Remember, red loves that kind of thing and has some very powerful cards that key off it. Observe:
1 Electropotence 1 Flameshadow Conjuring 1 Mirror March 1 Panharmonicon 1 Purphoros, God of the Forge 1 Strionic Resonator 1 Warstorm Surge 1 Where Ancients Tread
There’s an obvious theme here – deal damage when creatures enter. The others might be even stronger, though – Flameshadow Conjuring provides consistent amplification to our ETB creatures as well as extra attackers, and Mirror March does the same more inconsistently but, as the Arena Boys once showed us, with explosive potential. Panharmonicon and Strionic Resonator also do a good job of pumping up the volume on triggered abilities.
Before I drop the decklist off and leave to build more decks with all these new cards we keep seeing, I want to highlight some other winners that should make the cut, including some more new cards!
I know paying full retail for a creature to have it for one turn doesn’t seem like the best idea, which is why you won’t be doing that with Combat Celebrant. Remember, Purphoros grants haste to your team independent of its activated ability, so you don’t need to doom this to being sacrificed at the end of the turn. It probably will die in combat though.
With all these creatures making their way to the graveyard, there’s no reason not to take some advantage of that. Underworld Breach lets a select few escape at the expense of others, while Feldon brings them back over time for one last ride.
Of course, you could avoid the whole trip to the graveyard altogether. If you stack Conjurer’s Closet’s trigger above the sacrifice trigger from Purphoros, you’ll get the creature you target back forever – and if it has a beneficial trigger, so much the better. Sundial of the Infinite should also be used with the sacrifice triggers on the stack – that’ll end your turn, exiling the triggers and leaving the creatures on the battlefield for a more natural life.
I just couldn’t resist adding this one to the deck. I love this kind of card, and we’ll be needing plenty of mana to hard-cast our creatures if Purphoros gets countered or otherwise removed, so this will be one of many mana rocks.
Here’s the first draft of the decklist. I’ve been building a lot of these lists on Magic Online for further play, but this one might make it to paper. Let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time!
Commander: Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded
1 Creatures 1 Bedlam Reveler 1 Bogardan Hellkite 1 Combat Celebrant 1 Combustible Gearhulk 1 Dockside Extortionist 1 Drakuseth, Maw of Flames - Promo Pack 1 Duplicant 1 Etali, Primal Storm 1 Fanatic of Mogis 1 Feldon of the Third Path 1 Flameblast Dragon 1 Flamerush Rider 1 Generator Servant 1 Ilharg, the Rage-Boar 1 Inferno Titan 1 Mana-Charged Dragon 1 Meteor Golem 1 Mindclaw Shaman 1 Molten Primordial 1 Myr Battlesphere 1 Ox of Agonas 1 Purphoros, God of the Forge 1 Sandstone Oracle 1 Scourge of the Throne 1 Solemn Simulacrum 1 Spawn of Thraxes 1 Stalking Vengeance 1 Terror of Mount Velus - Theme Booster Exclusive 1 Tyrant of Discord 1 Tyrant's Familiar 1 Utvara Hellkite 1 Wildfire Devils 1 Zealous Conscripts 1 Noncreature Spells 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Blasphemous Act 1 Caged Sun 1 Chaos Warp 1 Conjurer's Closet 1 Electropotence 1 Extraplanar Lens 1 Flameshadow Conjuring 1 Hazoret's Monument 1 Hedron Archive 1 Helm of the Host 1 Minion Reflector 1 Mirror March 1 Nyx Lotus 1 Panharmonicon 1 Ruby Medallion 1 Sneak Attack 1 Sol Ring 1 Strionic Resonator 1 Sundial of the Infinite 1 Sword of the Animist 1 Thran Dynamo 1 Underworld Breach 1 Unstable Obelisk 1 Vandalblast 1 Vicious Shadows 1 Warstorm Surge 1 Wayfarer's Bauble 1 Where Ancients Tread 1 Worn Powerstone 1 Island (335) 26 Snow-Covered Mountain 1 Ancient Tomb 1 Desert of the Fervent 1 Forgotten Cave 1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx 1 Reliquary Tower 1 Scavenger Grounds 1 Scrying Sheets 1 Strip Mine 1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle 1 Wasteland