The plane of Innistrad is filled to the brim with tribal goodies for one of my favorite tribes in Zombies and our visit during Midnight Hunt is no exception. Gisa, Glorious Resurrector and Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia both provide interesting options for Zombie decks, to say nothing of one of the Midnight Hunt Commander face card Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver. Yet it wasn’t a decaying corpse who caught my eye this time around. Instead it was a Vampire in Florian, Voldaren Scion.
This is another entry in the Prosper, Tome-Bound lineage of Rakdos commanders that can impulsive draw – that is, store a card in exile that can be played – each turn. Florian has less explosive potential than Prosper as it lacks the ability to generate Treasure tokens upon casting cards from exile. However, Florian has the upside of being able to dig deep and then select a card from a certain amount. How many cards? Equal to the amount of damage your opponents took before your postcombat main phase.
Florian recalls two very different commanders. The first is Rakdos, Lord of Riots, which translates damage dealt to a cost reduction for creatures. The other is Belbe, Corrupted Observer, who generates mana contingent on opponents taking damage. Both of these commanders provide a basis on some ways to build Florian.
To me, there are two distinct ways to build a Florian deck. The first is an aggressive strategy that runs cards like Night Market Lookout and Pulse Tracker – ones that damage all opponents regardless of who they are attacking – to help dig deeper with Florian. Heck, even Infectious Host can get in on the action. This style of deck might be able to make use of Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner as a way to sneak through damage and potentially draw more cards. Using small creatures means cards like Cavalcade of Calamity and Raid Bombardment go up in value, which make it easier to dig deeper.
The question then becomes what sort of cards are you looking for with Florian? In this build, the answer is pretty clearly Aggravated Assault and its ilk. Getting extra combat steps in a deck that wants to attack seems like a decent way to end the game.
That’s one way to build Florian, but the one that piques my interest is a bit less aggressive. Instead of seeking out small creatures to chip in damage, why bother attacking at all if you can simply hit your opponents directly? Cards like Plague Spitter, Subversion, Sanctum of Stone Fangs and Firebrand Archer all get around attacking. This build of Florian would want to stall its adversaries, using removal and cards like Imp’s Mischief to keep them under control, all while digging for more ways to spread the pain and accrue cards.
How would this build end the game? Since misery isn’t a win condition, it could use Florian’s ability to assemble a combo or find a series of game ending spells like say, Mana Geyser and Exsanguinate.
Florian, Voldaren Scion is the kind of Commander I love building around. While its ability is straightforward, the execution leaves the opportunity for self expression. How would you build Florian? Are you eager to get into the Red Zone or more willing to bide your time?