Hey folks! I’m enjoying being back in the swing of Magic—I’ve been brewing a lot since I returned. Over the next few weeks I want to share some of my new brews with you. I’m going to be building some decks with the new Magic 2015 commanders, and I’ll be building them on Magic Online for two reasons: first, so I can introduce myself to the new interface, and second, so I can record videos and stream with my new decks. I’ve already covered Yisan in a previous deck, so I suppose I’ll go backwards around the mana wheel and start off with… what’s that creature’s name again?
My complete inability to store the name of this creature aside, this is going to be a fun one. It’s certainly not the normal infinite-combo artifact bonanza that something like Sharuum is, but at the same time, I’m sure we’re going to be getting tons of value. There are certainly a few infinite combos possible (Voltaic Key + Gilded Lotus, anyone?) but I’ll be leaving those out in favor of the aforementioned value cards. Let’s see some of them!
This was the very first card I thought of when I looked at Kurkesh. I can pay R to copy an activated ability, or I can pay 2RR to copy it twice. Depending on how powerful the artifact’s ability is, it could be a good deal. We’ll see some of those artifacts soon, don’t worry.
So what if we just want to get a little value? Perhaps we need some extra land? Well, we have a few options:
Both of these cards will do a good job of digging Mountains out of our deck. Journeyer’s Kite is great because it means we’ll never miss a land drop, and if that’s not enough, we’ll be digging land out of our deck like we’re playing Land Tax. An early Burnished Hart plus Kurkesh means we can have quite a lot of mana to work with when turn six comes around, and honestly, this deck is going to be plenty mana-hungry as it is, so we’ll need the Mountains no matter what turn it is, most likely. Everyone’s favorite magical messenger bag might give us land, Saprolings, or life. Honestly, land is probably the best outcome.
Lands are great, but what if we want to draw cards? Red isn’t exactly known for its card-drawing power, so how will we get past that?
What’s better than drawing two cards off one Mind Stone? Drawing six cards off three Mind Stones taped together, of course! Usually these will be more important as mana rocks, but once in a while I’m sure I’ll need to draw cards when I have these on the battlefield.
Originally I had Staff of Nin in this spot, but only the pinging ability of the Staff can be copied, and obviously what I like to do is draw cards. I’m glad this card, which I’ve had in my physical collection since Revised, is finally doing something for me. Damn you, Jayemdae Tome.
Now this is card draw! With just Kurkesh (I had to scroll up to remember his name) to help, I can draw eight cards a turn off of this assuming I have nine mana available. (Did I mention we’ll be needing a lot of mana to make this deck work? I hope I did.) A powerful tower indeed.
Since you’re probably wondering where all this mana is coming from, I’ll give you a rundown:
Just one or two of these—especially the Gauntlet of Might variants—should keep us well-covered as long as we control said artifacts. Plus, if cards like Journeyer’s Kite are keeping us from missing land drops, we should be able to fund all of these expensive endeavors.
So what if we need to blow stuff up—our opponents, or their permanents, maybe? Well, let’s see what we can do:
Brittle Effigy will be a nice one-time shot of creature removal for this deck, especially since it exiles the creature(s) it hits, but Lux Cannon is the real star here. It’s a card I’ve never really had the right shell for, but I think this is the best commander to take advantage of it. Not only do I get to power the Cannon up faster, but I also get to fire it twice for every three counters I remove as long as I can pay the Kurkesh tax.
Lux Cannon loves charge counters. What else do we have that needs counters, and how can we continue to enable our counter-related cards to perform better for us? Well…
We can certainly do some work with these and Kurkesh, especially Contagion Engine. Doubling it means we’ll proliferate four times, so as long as there’s even one counter on something like Lux Cannon, we’ll be gaining a significant number of counters. I mentioned we need counters for other cards—what cards are those?
Hopefully with the amount of mana we have this will be cast for a large enough value that we don’t necessarily need to upgrade it, but if we want our opponents to wonder why it had to be Snakes, we can turn up the heat. Even if we cast it for X=3 initially and don’t upgrade it, paying the activation cost and doubling it with Kurkesh will net us six Snake tokens—not a bad deal.
I was talking about cards that blow stuff up, and I guess I got sidetracked. Luckily there is an overlap between that and cards that need counters. This card is well-known for being a stupidly powerful damage engine all by itself in Cube, and I think in a red deck (albeit one that might not have tons of red cards) that can add counters to it and copy activated abilities, this could be quite explosive.
I can’t copy the mana ability, but I can copy the ability that adds counters… meaning I can pile on the extra mana when the time is right!
Just like Lux Cannon, I can double up on both abilities, meaning that I’ll end up with a lot of 9/9 creatures when the dust settles. Again, the Contagion Twins will be very helpful in making more enormous creatures for me.
Again, a chance to upgrade the creature tokens I create, except in this case, I will be making bigger creatures instead of more creatures. It’s important to note that sometimes bigger creatures is better than more of them, and vice versa. Titan Forge is probably better some of the time, but honestly, some redundancy won’t hurt me.
I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but we won’t have too much trouble wishing for more wishes by proliferating. Since each of our wishes will count as two wishes, we’ll be getting whatever we need for quite a while after we cast this.
So how am I going to win the game? All this value is nice, but beyond Snake and Golem tokens (and whatever we make in the Replicator) this deck doesn’t seem to have much offensive potential. To some degree that’s true, and to others it’s not. Here are a few ways I can close things out:
Flavor judge! How does Kurkesh’s ability work with Bosh? I mean, I’m only throwing one big artifact after I’m done with it (Ring of Three Wishes, anyone?) but it seems to have split into two piles of damage in mid-air. I will have plenty of artifacts to throw, so Bosh should be able to crush my enemies.
One Dragon token? I think you mean *two* Dragon tokens! And if one of them dies, well, I get Tatsumasa back, which obviously means I’ll be making two more Dragon tokens. Or maybe I’ll equip Tatsumasa to the Dragon token for extra flavor-confusion. What fun! Of course, bookkeeping matters here, as only the most recent Tatsumasa-created Dragon token or tokens will be able to return Tatsumasa to the battlefield.
So what does the deck list look like? Well, let’s see the finished product:
Commander: Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient
Okay! That’s it. Join us next time when we visit the realm of Ob Nixilis and figure out how to tempt our opponents into searching their libraries!
-Eric “Raging” Levine
@RagingLevine on Twitter