My Commander is: Riku, the Biomancer
Double Masters is on the horizon, so this week we’re looking at a double helping of one of the masters of doubling that’s making a fresh appearance. Riku of Two Reflections solved that perpetual question of how to get more hours in a day by splitting himself in two with a powerful illusion spell, freeing himself up to research both life and arcane magics. If you want to check in his spellslinging alter ego, you can pop over here tomorrow for my next article, or you can stick around and see what the more rough and tumble of the reflections picked up in his studies.
The Biomancer Himself:
The more creature-centric version of Riku’s deck plays to the board much more than the spell version by its very nature. It looks to ramp using both mana dorks and creatures that hunt up lands on ETB to accelerate into big and powerful threats, and to fuel Riku’s ability to create token copies. After all, if one threat is good, two is even better.
Commander Riku, The Biomancer - Lee Livingston
While I do use mana dorks like Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise, the deck is so susceptible to having the board wiped that I also leaned on creatures like Wood Elves, Farhaven Elf, and Springbloom Druid to build out the landbase. That way, when that control player tries to keep our board under control, our mana isn’t also impacted too heavily. Unfortunately, that does come at the cost of a little speed compared to the spell-heavy version, as most of the creatures that help you ramp with lands start at 3 CMC. The manabase is also heavy enough on basics to make sure you don’t run out of them to pick up.
The Cuddly Critters:
It’s for this reason that playing the politics game may come in handy, and there are a few tools in the deck to help that along. Skullwinder is a nice piece of creature-based recursion, especially when it’s copied with Riku, but it can also be used to broker a deal with another player. Give them a key card back and they could be more likely to look elsewhere while you continue building board presence or sculpt your hand. Bramble Sovereign can be used as well, doubling up on Riku’s ability to create tokens of your creatures while also letting you pick and choose which opponents get extra copies of their creatures as well.
The Game Wardens:
Now, you can’t rely solely on honeyed words to keep your board alive, especially since you can’t exactly mask your current position with a deck that plays almost entirely permanents, or spells that give more permanents. Thus, you have a wide variety of ways to keep your creatures safe and sound. Voidgrafter can protect a single creature for a turn, while Plaxmanta can give your whole board shroud. Heroic Intervention and Wrap in Vigor can help you weather a board wipe, while Mystic Snake and Frilled Mystic just keep them from resolving in the first place. Asceticism functions as a middle ground, protecting all of your creatures from targeted removal while letting you keep key creatures around (mostly Riku, five-mana 2/2’s are just so squishy unfortunately).
The Main Attractions:
Now, what exactly are we protecting? Heavy hitters that do even better in multiples like Inferno Titan and Wurmcoil Engine, or alternate win conditions such as Biovisionary. Sure, it’s a little rough to get to four full copies, but Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer can pretty easily get the job done, or can be helped along by Doubling Season and Parallel Lives. Barring a quick Biovisionary kill with Brudiclad, Bramble Sovereign and Riku both generate plenty of tokens by doubling up on small creatures to maximize their ETB utility and create copies of the top end creatures. This makes Brudiclad a sneaky MVP in the list. Games end pretty quick when you turn a half-dozen token copies of your Coiling Oracles and Eternal Witnesses into an army of Inferno Titans swinging into the red zone.
The Extinction Event:
Sometimes, though, overwhelming board presence isn’t enough, and you need to do something truly degenerate to make sure the game just ends. Thankfully, there are a few ways to string together an infinite loop tucked away in the list. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker can be a value generator, certainly, but with Zealous Conscripts on standy, a classic Kiki Jiki win is in reach. Deadeye Navigator pairs up with Great Whale to generate infinite mana, and provided your opponents have enough artifacts and enchantments, Dockside Extortionist can do the same. Temur Sabertooth can also sub in for the Navigator, though you either need three more of the requisite permanents for the swindling goblin or a Panharmonicon for the whale to be able to go off. Once you do, it’s a matter of having a way to dig to one of your other win conditions and blinking it repeatedly to bury your opponents.
The Tour Guides:
Tying it all together is a suite of creatures that dig deeper into your deck or hunt up specific pieces. Mulldrifter and Tishana, Voice of Thunder pick up handfuls of cards at a time, while Sphinx of Uthuun pulls a pretty good Fact or Fiction impersonation while being stapled to a sizable flying body. Even the smaller cantripping creatures can stack up when combined with Riku and other ways to double up on their effects. Alongside the raw card advantage, Fierce Empath and Chord of Calling hunt up specific creatures, often two of them with Riku’s help. When they’re copied, you can even grab both halves of some of the combos discussed earlier.
If you’re looking to pick up this biological monstrosity of a deck, now’s a great time. With Double Masters coming out, Commander favorite Doubling Season is getting another reprint, alongside Wurmcoil Engine, Chord of Calling, and Riku himself. Let me know what you think of the list, and don’t forget to check out the spellslinger brew tomorrow to see what the other reflection picked up while this one was playing zookeeper.