Sometimes you play Commander to be competitive. Sometimes for fun with a deck that does big, silly things, but once in a while, you just want a deck that speaks to you on a fundamentally aesthetic level.
I’ve seen players with decks based on shirtless men, hat wearing creatures and just bears (looking at you Graham Stark). I wanted to build something that was cute and cuddly. I wanted a deck I could take out when all I want to do is relax and not think too much about the game I’m playing.
Enter: Rin and Seri.
This Dog-Cat combo creature pumps out tokens and can deal out some serious damage with their tap ability. You can build the deck to maximize the token potential, but I took a different route; straight up cute tribal.
The goal for my Rin and Seri build is simple: Cats and dogs and plenty of them. A deck that would make me smile every time I opened the garish pink deckbox I store it in. Despite that, the deck should still have some chance to win and some kind of gameplan, so let me introduce you to the adorable crew.
We start off with some powerful, but basic one-drops. Isamaru is a 2/2 for one white mana, Resolute Watchdog and Selfless Savior protect your more important creatures, or alternatively don’t have any rules text depending on how willing you are to sacrifice dogs. Finally, Wild Nacatl is basically a 3/3 pretty quickly.
Oreskos Explorer and Sakura-Tribe Elder help ramp out more dogs and cats. Qasali Pridemage and Enlightened Ascetic take care of problem permanents and Bronzehide Lion and Adorned Pouncer are resilient threats. Alpine Watchdog is just adorable, that’s it. Look at him though. LOOK AT HIM. He’s an absolute chunk of a dog. Love him. He looks a lot like the President of Ireland’s dog, Bród.
The three drop slot is crucial for the deck, with some excellent lords and tribal creatures in King of the Pride, Pride Sovereign, Pridemalkin, Taurean Mauler and Kaheera. Prowling Serpopard makes sure your creatures resolve and Bolt Hound gives a small buff on a hasty threat.
At four-drop we’ve got some very powerful effects, with Beast Whisperer for card draw, Leonin Warleader and Cubwarden making tokens, Marisi making combat tough for your opponent and Seht’s Tiger protecting your creatures.
We’re reaching the top of the curve already because this is a low-curve, aggressive tribal build. We hit five mana for Keeper of Fables, more card draw, Regal Caracal which is both lord and token generator, Arahbo for a big boost to a cat, Supply Runners to grow the entire board and Rambunctious Mutt because he’s just rolling around, having a great time and probably has text but LOOK AT THAT ART.
Topping the curve are Jedit Ojanen, a potentially unblockable token generator, and End-Raze Forerunners, to give that late-game punch and close things out. Plus it’s a big pig to be friends with all the cats and dogs. What’s not to love?
Creatures are the bulk of the deck, naturally, but there are some support spells here to protecc, attacc and uh, token… stacc? It’ll have to do.
Swords to Plowshares is the best removal spell in Commander. Make a Stand protects and buffs the team, with Shaper’s Sanctuary also helping to keep all these cuddly creatures in the game. Isamaru is cuddly, he’s just having a bad day, ok?
The win-cons are all based on creature combat, so to make that more effective we’ve got Overrun, Titanic Ultimatum, Shared Animostiy, Beastmaster Ascension and Coat of Arms to buff everything and strike down anyone attempting to harm our furry friends.
Release the Dogs and White Sun’s Zenith help to grow the board and give you even more creatures to crash in with, while Rhythm of the Wild offers haste or a counter to uncounterable creatures. Sorry blue players, we have the counters now.
To ramp everything out there’s Sol Ring, Mind Stone, Rampant Growth and the usual ramp spells. Add your own spice as needed. One ramp spell that I think is crucial is Song of Freyalise, which ends up being a creature buff after it does it’s job of ramping out a stronger board.
The manabase has some great utility lands to help make those creatures stronger too, with Animal Sanctuary and Gavony Township turning puppies and kittens into full-grown dogs and cats, Kessig Wolf Run to push through damage and Scavenger Grounds to take out graveyards. All dogs go to heaven, your bin goes to exile.
An assortment of Naya lands is needed to ensure all colors are available early. Jungle Shrine is a must, with any dual-colored land you can fit going in too. I’ve kept it pretty budget but if you have access to Taiga, Stomping Ground, Temple Garden, Gaea’s Cradle and the like, get them in there.
Rin and Seri Tribal Cats and Dogs - James Keating
Upgrading this to a more competitive list is possible – but bear in mind, it’s never going to be as good as tribal elves, humans or other more synergistic strategies, the support isn’t there just yet.
- Major upgrades include swapping End-Raze Forerunners for Craterhoof Behemoth, which gives an even bigger punch to finish things out. With a strong board it’s almost unstoppable.
- Hungry Lynx is a really strong cat in Commander. It can grow the board massively, but it does provide a reasonable drawback for your dogs, so be careful about including it.
- Brimaz is one of the strongest cat cards in the game, but he commands a price tag to match. I felt Leonin Warleader played the same role pretty well, but you may like having both.
- We’re not really searching the deck so Leonin Arbiter can provide an interesting angle to disrupt opponents.
- Speaking of searching the deck, Worldly Tutor and Eladamri’s Call are easy includes to find your best creatures.
- Changeling cards such as Chameleon Colossus, Irregular Cohort and Mirror Entity aren’t really right for this build that looks to be as cute as possible, but if you want to buff the deck, they’re quite strong.
- Alms Collector and Qasali Slingers are high-impact, high-value cards that fit perfectly in this kind of deck, and Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist can provide some protection for your life total.
- If you want to beef up token production, Purphoros and Impact Tremors are excellent threats, with Parallel Lives, Anointed Procession and Doubling Season assisting the damage output.
- Anthems are great in any tribal or token deck, so True Conviction, Glorious Anthem and Mirari’s Wake fit quite well.
- Growing Rites of Iltimoc and Smothering Tithe are extremely good ramp, Guardian Project offers card draw, Aura Shards is very strong artifact/enchantment removal and Fires of Yavimaya lets you attack even quicker.
- There are truly so many routes to take this deck, you can get even more tribal with Vanquisher’s Banner and Herald’s Horn, or go over blockers with Eldrazi Monument. Planeswalkers like Ajani in any of his recent forms fit in well, as does Domri, Anarch of Bolas.
- There are ways to create infinite mana involving Mana Echoes and Whitemane Lion , among other options, which can create infinite damage with Impact Tremors.
Rin and Seri is hugely customizable and almost as competitive as you want it to be. Almost. Cats and dogs are still being developed as tribes, so expect this to be a much better option in just a few sets time. We’ve already seen a boost from JumpStart – cats and dogs look like they’re here to stay.