Hey folks! In my limited free time, I’ve been brewing some lists up on Magic Online, and I’d like to start sharing them with you. These bounce between new and old cards, but I’d like to start with something on the new side. You’ve probably seen these Commanders in other decks, but I’m taking these cards in a different direction, starting with Atraxa.
Don’t get me wrong, Atraxa’s most basic use-case is very attractive and allows for plenty of customization. The rarely used Death’s Presence and Necropolis Regent lead the charge for a +1/+1 counter theme, alongside the more familiar Renegade Krasis and Cathars’ Crusade, and it’s not too hard to slot in a -1/-1 counter, energy counter, or charge counter theme alongside that. A deck like that will be plenty powerful and provide lots of entertainment—but let’s face it: we can do something new, and that’s not new.
I saw the proliferate ability on Atraxa and immediately knew what I wanted out of her as a headliner. There are plenty of types of counters that don’t get enough love in Magic, and I wanted to feature those counters in an Atraxa deck and fill the board full of interesting cards that we don’t see too often. Proliferating some of the counters won’t be too useful, but some of them will help you out, and since my goal is to get as many types of counters as possible onto the battlefield in large quantities, you’ll still have plenty of fun. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting cards in the deck, starting with three from Commander 2016:
Who knew Commander 2016 would bring one of the most entertaining types of counters? Spite counters will grow naturally as the game goes on, but if proliferated with Atraxa and other similar cards, the spite level will grow to a point where other players might even join in and kill the enchanted opponent just to see the curse go off. (They might kill you next, but who cares? Look what you did!)
One of the strongest offerings in the set, Deepglow Skate fits right in with what you want to do—get ridiculous with tons of counters. Doubling up on counters is normally pretty powerful, but in this deck it will be a little less powerful and a little more entertaining. Still plenty powerful, though.
I didn’t say there wouldn’t be any powerful cards in here, did I? Usually you’ll be killing your own creature with this for a quick Skeletal Scrying-type hit, but there will be ample opportunities to use this as a one-shot Necropotence-turned-removal spell.
As far as non-C16 cards, I have a few you probably haven’t seen in a while. Let’s talk about a few:
Yes, in an Atraxa deck, it’s conceivable that Azor’s Elocutors could actually win you the game. It would take a specific set of circumstances, but theoretically it could happen. Between how cool it would be to win a game like this and the fact that it creates filibuster counters, it’s one of my favorite cards in the deck. Just make sure to give a ridiculous and lengthy speech if you do manage to win the game with filibuster counters.
Yes, it’s one of those blue Innistrad flip cards that isn’t Delver. On the plus side, you’ll never see it flip faster than it does in a deck like this. One minute it’s got a single hatchling counter on it, the next it’s a 13/13 trampler. I don’t know why the counters are called hatchling counters since it’s not a hatchling, it’s an egg. Regardless, it’s the only card that makes hatchling counters, which is yet another reason it’s in here.
Game going badly? Let the intervention counters fall off. Game going well? Keep proliferating until things get worse, and then let the gods take care of the outcome of the game. Feel free to swap in Celestial Convergence in favor of this one if you prefer omen counters or if you can’t find a copy. Also, feel free to swap this card out if it isn’t fun. It’s the kind of card that is probably funny the first time but gets old quickly afterwards, so find a backup before you unleash this. Myth Realized got kicked to the curb in this build, but it could easily take this slot.
This card seems a lot better if you only have to skip one draw step, and I think you can make that happen in this deck. The obvious downsides of this card are the time it takes to reap the rewards and the lost investment in the case that the card gets destroyed. Hopefully with the number of proliferate cards in the deck, it’s easy enough to get this off the turn after it’s cast.
This card doesn’t generate a strange counter type, but it does have a pretty powerful effect. In a more laser-focused Atraxa deck, this card would be an insane source of mana. I wanted to make sure this card was highlighted because I’m guessing it’s going underutilized. I certainly don’t see it much.
This is easily my favorite card in the deck. It’s a shame that Rasputin can only have seven dream counters on him because the amount of mana you can generate with him is staggering. Sure, you can prevent damage to him, but what’s the point of involving him in combat when he has the mana output of an industrial power plant? Urza probably would have liked this guy. (Okay, yes, you will probably have to prevent damage to your 4/1 occasionally…)
You can generate a lot of different types of counters in this deck. Specifically, you can generate 37 types of counters. Here’s the full list of what you can make:
I don’t know of any other decks that do that! Some of these counters are even useful when they’re proliferated or otherwise increased in number. (Some aren’t, but you’ve got a card for that circumstance.) Ever had a Ring of Three Wishes? How about a Ring of Seven Wishes? You’ve got quite a few cards besides Atraxa that can juice up the number of counters kicking around, and here are some of my favorites:
I take for granted that everyone knows this card, but realistically that’s just not true. Gilder Bairn has some of the best art you’ll ever see, and beyond that, the effect is spectacular. It’s no Deepglow Skate, but it’s a repeatable effect that doesn’t require outside support. You’ll have to find a way to tap it, but sometimes you can find an open opponent. I always thought that was part of the flavor—Gilder Bairn takes a dangerous stroll through the forests of Shadowmoor, but it’s fully oblivious to that, doing whatever bizarre mixed-up Halloween ritual it’s doing. (Plus it’s adorable.)
So, yes, Vorel is just Gilder Bairn II: Zoda’s Revenge, but that’s fine, isn’t it? It doesn’t need to put itself in danger, it costs less to activate (albeit with more color restrictions), and it has an extra point of toughness. Sadly, that comes at the cost of flavor. I’ll take it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
This is one of the best proliferaters around. Combine it with Rasputin Dreamweaver and you’ll be firing off that activated ability a ton of times. It’s gotten much more popular since Atraxa’s release, and that’s not terribly surprising, but if you’re not already sleeving this up, I definitely suggest it.
Finally, there’s one card I want to mention that sort of ties the deck together. It won’t necessarily win you the game, but it’s sort of a game in itself. What’s the game? Well, to see how large you can make this:
Thief of Blood is this deck’s version of watching the world burn. With all these useless flood counters, awakening counters, bribery counters, and so on kicking around, Thief of Blood can be pretty huge in the late game. I’m going to put in some time and see just how swollen this Vampire can get. Expect screenshots.
I know this high-concept approach isn’t fun for everyone, which is why I’ll be releasing another Atraxa deck as a postscript to my next article. It’ll be more focused on creating a powerful board and attacking for a large amount, so if that’s your bag, then you’ve only got a brief wait. This time around, though, you’re getting the sillier version. Note that I kept the land base in check this time–I will not do the same for the victory-focused version. Enjoy the list, and see you next time!