My Commander is: Riku, the Spellweaver
Double Masters is just around the corner, 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. You can see what kind of biological nonsense his other half is up to over here, or read on to discover what a real master of the arcane takes the time to learn.
The spellslinger version of this pair of decks looks to play a slightly more controlling game. You aren’t a hard control deck, per se, but by leaning heavily on spells and leaving the non-land permanents to a minimum in favor of doubling up on impactful spells, you do your best to keep yourself safe before ending the table all in one fell swoop.
Commander Riku, the Spellweaver - Lee Livingston
The Power Source:
The crux of the deck is casting and copying as many spells as possible. With Riku, there’s an extra cost for each copy, so there’s a robust ramp suite in this deck starting with Explore, Growth Spiral, Nature’s Lore, and Farseek at 2 CMC, curving up into Commander staples like Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach. Explosive Vegetation is supplemented by the new Migration Path, and we even hit an explosive amount of mana production by copying these spells. Landing Riku even a turn early and curving that into a copied Explosive Vegetation leaves you with almost double the mana of each of your opponents. Topping that off is Mana Reflection, a lovely enchantment that truly doubles our mana, with Wilderness Reclamation making a pretty good impression of its older brother. One or two turns with these in play are usually enough to bury most opponents. The manabase has plenty of basics as well as lands with basic land types for Farseek and Nature’s Lore.
Once you have all that mana, it’s time to find spells to use it on. The suite of cheap cantrips help ensure you are always finding your land drops early on, and can be surprisingly effective at digging through your deck once you begin copying them once or even multiple times in a turn. They also fill the graveyard for Dig Through Time or to power up your Immolating Gyre. Fact or Fiction and Opportunity can turn a near empty grip into a full one at the end of your opponent’s turn.
The Bargaining Chips:
The lack of non-land permanents in this deck leave you unfortunately open to aggression early on. For that reason, it’s important to play to the table, making deals and doing your best to minimize your appearance as a threat. Pir’s Whim is a nice card that can help you develop your manabase while also making some friends. Beyond that, judicious usage of removal and countermagic to protect yourself is important, but deterring aggression with the threat of removal is just as important. Why use a Chaos Warp to take out a problem permanent when you can just direct it somewhere else and reap the benefits of its existence?
Sometimes just making the deal isn’t enough, though, and for those times we have the interaction to back up our threats. Chain Reaction and Immolating Gyre keep creatures off the board, while Evacuation and Commander all-star Cyclonic Rift bounce them all back to the hand. Evacuation even plays nice with a full half of the creatures this deck plays. A few cheaper pieces of interaction also make the cut. I typically leave the hyper efficient but small spells like Lightning Bolt out, but in a deck like this that both needs to survive the early game and can maximize spells in the late game, it more than pulls its weight. Electrolyze makes the cut for a similar reason, while Beast Within, Chaos Warp, and Reality Shift make a full trifecta that can handle creatures of any size (or permanents, in the case of the former two).
While the arcane minded half of the Riku split favors spells over other creatures, there are a few that piqued his interest. Melek offers some amount of card advantage and doubles spells in its own right, even allowing for some tricky plays with Mystical Tutor. Snapcaster Mage and Torrential Gearhulk go into overdrive in this deck. For instance, if you have twelve mana and Riku in play (not a difficult feat in this deck, at all), then a single Torrential Gearhulk, copied by Riku’s ability, results in two different instants being cast from your graveyard, both of which can also be copied by Riku. Snapcaster doesn’t offer the discount on the cost of the spell that Gearhulk does, but can make up for it with early efficiency or the ability to allow for a flashback on one of the big X-spells the deck includes.
In addition to the creatures, Riku does pick up a few implements to help channel the mighty magics he brings to bear. In addition to the aforementioned Mana Reflection and Wilderness Reclamation, Primal Amulet offers a discount for a few spells before becoming yet another way to copy a spell. Swarm Intelligence and Double Vision join the ranks of copying effects at a discount, and Twinning Staff gives you an extra copy every time you copy a spell, while also being an outlet for all that mana you have lying around. Sphinx-Bone Wand serves as one of the deck’s win-cons, and it grows out of hand at an alarming rate in a deck packed so densely with instants and sorceries across all CMCs.
The Big Guns:
Once you’ve assembled all your tools, drawn all the glyphs, and put in the time hitting the books, it’s time to do what you came to the table to do: cast big spells, and then cast them again on the cheap. You might not be playing many creatures, but your opponents probably are. Why not just copy a Rite of Replication and have ten of the best one on the table? Fall of the Titans and Comet Storm end games quickly when pumped full of mana and then copied (a rule of thumb on spending mana to copy X-spells: if you subtract the cost of the copy effect from the maximum you can put into X, and X is still bigger than the cost of the copy effect, it’s worth doing). A card I’ll admit is a bit of a pet card, but that still has so many applications, is Radiate. Have you ever done the math on what happens when you Radiate a kicked Rite of Replication, and then copy the Radiate to do it again? Without accounting for any other copies of the original Rite, you end up with 30 copies of every creature in play, plus an extra 5 of whatever the rite is originally targeting. Sure, it costs 14 mana just for the two spells, plus whatever you may be paying to copy the Radiate, but trust me, it’s worth it. Just resist the urge to Radiate a Chaos Warp or Beast Within, please, for your own sake.
The Grand Finale:
Wrapping it all up are a few of the ways this deck can just go infinite to end a game. While plenty of tables frown on infinite combos, I’m a firm believer that games need to end so you can shuffle up and start another. Sometimes the only way to do that is with a big red button with that sideways eight on it. The deck can generate infinite Red mana off of a sufficiently large Mana Geyser and a Reiterate, paying in for the initial Mana Geyser and Reiterate, and then using the Reiterate’s copied mana to repeatedly cast and buyback it until you decide to shift gears and dump that mana into an X-spell. It also just forms an endless machinegun with Sphinx-Bone Wand or Ral, Storm Conduit. Alternatively, as long as you’ve cast Riku once, Fury Storm and Ral go infinite. All Fury Storm needs is a different spell to target to be initially cast, and then the copy from its trigger can target the original, which will make a copy targeting the original, over and over, until Ral’s passive removes all those pesky opponents from your lab. It can also be done with Expansion with a little help to get the first copy made.
So, if you’re looking to sit back on piles of mana and fling spells at your opponents, this is the deck for you, and now is a great time to pick up some of the bigger, flashier cards that the deck leverages. Any Blue deck can use a Cyclonic Rift, and the mana production that a Mana Reflection offers is downright explosive. Luckily, both are getting reprints (and some fancy new treatment in some cases) in Double Masters, alongside Riku himself. Let me know what you think of the list, and don’t forget to check out the creature-based brew over here to see what the other reflection picked up while this one was toiling away in a library.