In October, I did a little bit of a thought experiment – was it possible to build a Commander deck with only double-faced cards? It turned out the answer was almost yes, with the only missing ingredient being the Commander. Here’s a link to the original article if you’d like to take a look, but for expediency’s sake, I’ll show you the deck list:
Modal Double Faced Commander by Eric Levine
As you can see, the overall message was “You can, but… why?” Well, questions like that have never stopped me before, and with Kaldheim dropping even more double-faced cards on us, I figured it was time for an update. I expect them to keep showing up, so this may even become a quarterly feature.
Let’s take a look at the important double-faced cards Kaldheim introduced, starting with something very exciting: an eligible commander.
Esika, God of the Tree is the perfect commander for this deck, and had I known she was on her way, I would have postponed the initial article. If you’re operating on a surfeit of green mana and need to branch out, the God of the Tree is just what the deck doctor ordered.
That said, with just seven legendary creatures in the original deck list, I have a feeling she’ll be working on her own. That’s okay, because as long as you have access to WUBRG, casting The Prismatic Bridge seems like the right play. Keep in mind that it’ll only put things into play front side up! So, Morophon, the Boundless is out and Esika’s in. We’re 100 percent of the way there on theme, but we could still make some upgrades.
You might also have noticed that the original deck list sports just seven cards with the “land” typing on the front face. Kaldheim was good news though– it brought the four remaining Pathways!
What does this mean for our deck? Well, initially I considered cutting some of the worse Zendikar Rising modal double-faced cards (hereafter MDFCs because I’m not typing all that again), but then I realized that trying to play this deck with just 37 lands is beyond foolish. Instead, I’d like to cut some of the older, more terrible double-faced cards and bring our land count up. I’m cutting these:
Wait, the first thing I do after talking about land count is cut a land? Yes, really. Let’s be honest – this card isn’t good here. This is not a token deck. I can’t afford to sacrifice five creatures. I can’t afford to pay all this mana to rent Westvale Abbey, and since I’m not Prince Charles, I can’t monetize the building by giving tours. Plus, it makes colorless mana? I would say “let’s make like Monopoly and mortgage this property,” but if I turn this card over, there’s no monetary value, just a very scary Demon, and I don’t need that in my life.
You don’t need me to explain this card’s awfulness to you, so instead I’ll just say that I never want to say “I’ll cast Skin Invasion,” because that’s gross.
I was pretty clear about this in the original article, but this card is not strong for this deck. The deck isn’t going wide in any reasonable way, so the odds of ever getting there are low, and even if you do, there’s not a commensurate payoff.
This deck is not full of evasive creatures, and for seven mana, I’d really like to cast a card that does something for the mana cost. Elbrus is not mana well spent.
So I’ve made one upgrade already – more Pathways mean more access to different types of mana, even if I’m not addressing the color balance issue. Thanks to all the Werewolves, the mana symbols on our cards are 52 percent green and red, yet we have no way to adjust for that. That’s not a problem we’ll be able to solve, so let’s ignore it and instead look at some other double-faced cards that will fit well in this list.
We have precious few ways to draw more cards, and that’s where Alrund, God of the Cosmos comes in. I’m almost more excited about Hakka, though – a two-drop that helps you set up future draws and have a productive early game? I’m signing up for this one.
With the increased land count, Cosima, God of the Voyage makes a better card draw engine than she would have a few paragraphs ago. The Omenkeel is a secondary consideration here, and it barely merits that distinction – Cosima adds an element this deck sorely needs.
I actually don’t care much about Halvar, God of Battle – instead, I’d much prefer to play this as Sword of the Realms. This deck’s creatures need help, and they need it badly – the Sword provides some assistance in combat along with a strong recursion effect.
The front side is a decent rate, sure, but this deck is pretty short on removal. With that in mind, I find Toralf’s Hammer much more enticing than the 5/4. The deck’s creatures may be pretty bad, but imagine those Hammer Brothers from Mario without their hammers. Not so tough, right? It’s the hammers that are dangerous, and if this metaphor makes sense to you, then it’s nice to know someone else besides me is sleep-deprived enough to see the sideways logic of this one. Anyway, throw hammer, deal damage, repeat. Got it? Great.
This deck badly needs good cards, and Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor is here to help with that. See, the good cards are in your opponents’ decks, and Tibalt’s going to help you find and play them. What if Tibalt dies or gets countered? Well, okay, you got me there.
With five cards coming in, we’ll have to make some cuts. I’ll be leaving the Werewolves alone, since they’re the closest thing this deck has to an overarching theme. Maybe after the Innistrad Werewolves set comes out we’ll be able to build a full-on Werewolf DFC-only deck, but I worry about the mana.
There are no Forests for Nissa to find, and the low cards-that-look-like-land count doesn’t make the planeswalker side look great either. I’m not too unhappy about this cut, as I called out Nissa last time for being pretty terrible here.
The mana investment is just too high for this to be good. Have you ever seen anyone play this card outside of Bat tribal? Me neither, and I’ve also never seen Bat Tribal. There are 21 Commander-legal Bats, and some of them are worse than this card. Can you imagine?
A four-mana 2/2? What a great deal… in Invasion Block Draft. With few sac outlets to speak off, my heart’s not Thraben for this one (and if that’s supposed to be pronounced “THRAY-ben” then pretend I didn’t make this joke).
Sure, Equipment is nice, but for something of this quality, you’re doing too much work. Harvest Hand won’t survive the reaping. It’ll lay fallow? I’m not full of farm wisdom here.
Most of our creatures do not kill Golden Guardian. This is widely considered to be pretty awkward and, as such, is easily rectified by simply taking this bad card out of our deck and putting it where it belongs: a box marked “cards with almost the same name as eSports teams.” Not a big box, but there we are.
Out of the whole list, I’ve changed 10 cards. That may not sound like a lot, but that’s a full 10 percent of the deck. Kaldheim had a huge impact on this list, and I can’t wait to see what the sets from the rest of this year bring for my favorite double-faced disaster. I’m not sure if I ever really want this deck to be good, but now that Esika’s here and the gimmick is complete and absolute, I know it’ll be my favorite meme deck for a long time. Here’s the full deck list for the February 2021 version – enjoy, and with any luck, I’ll see you in a few months with an update!