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The Case for The Prismatic Piper

The Prismatic Piper is obviously not a Constructed all-star, but is there a case for playing it in Commander? I didn’t think so until this past weekend at CommandFest Online 3, where we saw Benjamin Wheeler pilot a Tormod, the Desecrator / The Prismatic Piper Zombie deck to a victory on Sunday. Of course, that’s one Commander game and the results were affected by all of the generous donations from chat to No Kid Hungry, but I think he showcased the concept reasonably well. This otherwise fairly ordinary Zombie deck got to splash green for cards like Evolutionary Leap, Moldervine Reclamation and even Finale of Devastation in order to add a dimension it would otherwise lack. 

So why play The Prismatic Piper instead of, you know, a partner commander with a better text box and stat line than your average Invasion block common? Well, Benjamin spoke briefly about it on stream but I think his recent tweet best sums up his use case for what, as Alli Steele pointed out in her article detailing Commander Legends draft on MTGO, amounts to a glorified Sea Snidd in the command zone.

At this point, you might be saying “this is what the Familiar cycle is for!” and sure, that’s true. The familiars mostly want you to attack with your commander, with the exception of Esior, Wardwing Familiar. If you’re not interested in focusing on that though, you might pick the Piper. Honestly, choosing The Prismatic Piper as a partner isn’t a choice one makes with winning games as the main focus – it’s fun and silly and while you can use other partners as side characters to help you zoom in on the one you really care about, it’s an amusing, if suboptimal, intentional choice.

So where do we go from here with The Prismatic Piper? Well, let’s scan through the available partner commanders from Commander Legends and see who needs a new best friend with sweet Seb McKinnon artwork and sweet horn skills!

Alena, Kessig Trapper

While Alena seems geared toward a pairing with Halana, Kessig Ranger, she might enjoy a bit of musical accompaniment once in a while! Green seems like the obvious color to pair with Alena, but if you’re looking to abuse blink and untap effects with Alena’s ability, perhaps blue or white would be more exciting additions. Perhaps The Prismatic Piper would enjoy using that extra mana to play a Citanul Flute and search up the next heavy hitter.

Gilanra, Caller or Wirewood

Sure, you could pair Gilanra with Brinelin for six converted mana cost or more value, but what if you’re looking for a fun way to draw extra cards when you cast huge Dragons? In this case, I think the splash would likely be the green, with The Prismatic Piper playing hits such as Drakuseth, Lathliss and Tyrant’s Familiar. Bonus points if you add in Elvish Piper to drop Dragons into play. While The Prismatic Piper is often a solo act, everyone loves a collab.

Livio, Oathsworn Sentinel

I see Livio paired with Kodama of the East Tree a decent amount in order to take advantage of the Kodama’s absolutely crazy ability, but what if Livio could hang out with red cards and blink Ball Lightnings or other cards that die a lot? How much fun would Livio be with a Terror of the Peaks? Perhaps a Panharmonicon is in order – that thing is a huge, weird instrument and I think The Prismatic Piper would have fun with it.

All that said, I think The Prismatic Piper has a little bit of a wackier destiny than being a simple sidekick. What if we intentionally made our flute-tooting friend the focus of our deck? How would we even do that? Well, I’ve got an idea that I think you’ll enjoy, or perhaps be confused by.

Jeska, Thrice Reborn

If The Prismatic Piper is our lead horn player, maybe Jeska is the singer of this band. Maybe this is a weird noise band where Jeska hits that dagger she’s holding with the scepter she has in her other hand while The Prismatic Piper plays the solo from Baker Street. Whatever the specifics of this justification, I think we can have The Prismatic Piper be our commander damage threat, augmented by Jeska’s zero-loyalty ability. Let’s do this with a theme, focusing on cards that feature instruments, music, and loud screams and howls. Will this deck be winning game after game? No, but it has already won my heart, so here’s what we’re working with.

Jeska, Thrice Reborn / The Prismatic Piper by Eric Levine

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So, you might notice a commonality among most of the cards in the deck: they’re screaming or at least their mouths are open in what could reasonably be interpreted as a scream. I figured we’d lean into the screamalong theme to give this deck some extra fun, as it turns out there’s not a lot of instrumentation in Rakdos colors. We do have some instruments, though I’ve decided to take some charitable views of various objects as percussion instruments. That’s basically what I did in my 20th Century Music class in college – you do not want to hear the piece I wrote for pencil and doorknob (I wish I was kidding). Let’s highlight some of my favorite cards from the list.

Howl from BeyondEndless ScreamFatal Frenzy

We have a few different ways to pump up the power of The Prismatic Piper for a huge hit. Between these and Jeska’s effect, if our tooting friend can sneak across the battlefield, one of our opponents is going to experience a grand finale.

Whispersilk CloakProwler's HelmHot Soup

The Piper has to avoid the paparazzi and I’ve developed a few disguises to make it easier for this famous musician to go out in public. Hot Soup… uh, maybe it came from catering? The others are a little easier to explain. Daft Punk wears those helmets, you know, so that kind of works.

Captain's HookColossus HammerDemonspine WhipLoxodon WarhammerMeteoric Mace

These are our various percussion instruments – they don’t fit the scream theme but they do work in the overall theme of “weird noise band.” Demonspine Whip fits the Howl from Beyond theme quite well, which is a nice bonus, while Captain’s Hook adds some much needed evasion.

Angrath, Captain of ChaosFearGoblin War DrumsProfane Command

Evasion is going to come at a premium and it’s hard to find cards that provide that while still working with this fairly restrictive, often art-based theme. It turns out my ability to remember the text of most cards doesn’t really help with this sort of thing so I spent a lot of time in the Scryfall Tagger looking at cards that had  the “loose lips” tag. Thank you, Knight of the Kitchen Sink (C) for giving us a filter for this at least. 

Bloodlust Inciter

Getting The Prismatic Piper moving a little faster is a big win, especially when this shouting person is providing the extra impetus.

Battle-Rattle Shaman

This Goblin is both shouting and playing a rattle – an absolute flavor win – and it pumps up the power of a chosen creature, which means we get a mechanical victory as well!

Dire Fleet Ravager

A little screaming to lower life totals won’t go amiss. 

Massacre Wurm

Once in a while it’s nice to find a card that both fits the theme and has a positive impact on the battlefield. Enter Massacre Wurm, which might just be opening its mouth to eat something but you can’t prove that, nor can you prove that it isn’t screaming along with the music. Levine out!

Okay, I don’t think I’m actually allowed to drop the mic in the middle of an article, nor do I think that really translates, but that’s what I’ve got for you today. I hope you enjoyed this exploration into the unnecessary and I’ll see you next time with something that’s probably at least a little more powerful!

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