Hello all and welcome to Shattered Perceptions, a weekly series where I will be looking for the overlooked gems through the lens of a general of my choosing and try to be build a workable skeleton for a few possible strategies around it. This week’s commander is Jareth, Leonine Titan, an oddly overlooked general—seriously, only 25 EDHrec decks—with a special place in my heart. I tried my best to steer away from cards listed in the general’s EDHrec profile page, meaning nothing listed in more than 5% of the general’s decks.
Jareth, Leonine Titan
First off, let’s talk about Jareth and few of the strikes against him. As I just said earlier, this guy only has 25 EDHrec decks built around him, but he does show up in the other 99 of just shy of 750 decks. In Jareth I see the chance to play a very strong Voltron game or a strong defensive strategy, as Jareth works as a very good rattlesnake, keeping players from casually swinging into you.
On the flip side, I think our buddy doesn’t get too much love because he’s six drop with a pretty dismal color identity in Commander. But seeing as he comes with a pretty thick body and built in protection against single-point removal naturally, I feel that people really haven’t given him chance to wow them. We are going to need to work a little harder than other decks to answer the holes we have in mana ramp and card draw. Beyond that, Jareth wants to be on the offensive and defensive; so we’re going to need to be prepared to suit him up and keep him safe from removal. Some of these elements will be easier to obtain than others, but I’m up for the challenge!
Oath of Lieges & Surveyor’s Scope
I want to start with the low-hanging fruit, as this will help to enable the strategies I will outline throughout the rest of the article. The biggest challenge facing most monocolored decks that aren’t Green and possibly Blue has to be mana acceleration. In Commander the last thing you want to be doing on turn five is casting a four-drop due to lack of consistent land drops. These cards—along with cards like Gift of Estates and Kor Cartographer—help to bridge the gap between you and your opponents, hopefully meaning you will have a better time since you’ll actually be in the heat of the game.
Additionally, I think both of these cards are underrepresented in the format. Oath of Lieges is a good group hug card overall that keeps the game progressing at a solid pace, and Surveyor’s Scope acts as a quick burst of mana as soon as you fall too far behind the rest of the table. Both of these cards also seem fit for Jareth, as we can get away with playing 30+ basic lands, meaning our supply will not dry up quickly and we can reap the rewards at just about any point in the game.
Well of Knowledge & Spiritualize
The next category to bulk up is card draw. White is notoriously incapable of getting good card advantage by itself. In my eyes, both of these cards are symbolic of a subset of cards with similar effects, but to that end I recommend having a good suite of cards that can supply you with an extra card or two every turn, especially in the late game.
In Well of Knowledge we get a stellar group hug card—White seems to employ a lot of them—that can leave the table with decisions early on: card draw vs casting spells. By limiting the access to extra cards exclusively to the draw step, most decks may not be sufficiently prepared for the choice and might pass up on extra cards in exchange for keeping mana up or casting their Wrath of God effects. This is where Jareth can happily sit under the radar, feeding some of the people at the table extra cards and hopefully allow them to draw into any answers to threats your deck might not have been ready for. If you’re like me and a little bit more greedy, I recommend Seer’s Sundial for a similar effect.
Turning our attention to Spiritualize, this is going to be the marquee card for the subset of cards that cantrip while also driving your strategy forward, think of cards like To Arms! or Shelter. I picked Spiritualize because I think that not only is this card underplayed, but it is a versatile cantrip both offensively or defensively that works well with our general. We’re the color that’s best summed up as having good life gain and small creatures, we need every chance we can get for effective card draw.
Alarum & Defiant Stand & Nacre Talisman
Now that we’ve gotten our deck primed to be playing competitively with the rest of the table, let’s go off the deep end and explore some strategies tailored to Jareth. While we can supply our board with vigilance pretty easily, that is an effect I would rather have stapled on with other effects and frankly, you’ve probably already mentally outlined a few cards that do just that upon seeing Jareth.
Aside from the early Magic jargon, Alarum and Defiant Stand are the same card. I am pleased with this as it gives our deck more consistency while also including cards that most people have never seen. This is perfect ground to tread on Shattered Perspectives. The main goal here is to have combat tricks and utilize Jareth’s +7/+7 ability as often as possible. Coupling either of these cards with Spiritualize can result in an extra twelve life out of nowhere and likely a dead creature that your opponent was hoping to have around long term in the future.
Nacre Talisman is admittedly a weird pick the surface, even for the purposes of giving your general or team pseudo-Vigilance. But that’s not all this card does, read it again. “Target permanent.” That permanent could be anything, even a boat!
It’s possible in this exact deck that leveraging the untap ability might not blow away your playgroup, but the power of a rogue strategy is that your opponents can’t plan accordingly for it. No one is going to expect the white deck to be packing a card granting a kicker ability like this to every white spell. It should also be remembered that your deck means to cast a six drop general, so you’ll likely have the mana to use this effectively.
Brave the Sands & High Ground
I’ve mentioned that I didn’t want to use up a slot in my deck solely for a Serra’s Blessing effect, unless it was stapled onto another ability. Enter Brave the Sands. I have had a lot of success with this card, as it throws blocking into a spiral of chaos for your opponents. The added touch of vigilance is what puts High Ground on a slightly lower rung on the power ladder, but the ability to block additional creatures is very important to Jareth.
I suppose this is a good time to give a rules clarification for cards like Jareth and Samurai toting Bushido. A creature only enters the “state” of blocking once per combat. See 410.9a – An ability that reads “Whenever [this creature] blocks, . . .” triggers only once each combat for that creature, even if it blocks multiple creatures.
In the case of this subset of creatures, the ability to cover more of the board each combat is immensely powerful, just don’t get yourself blow out when all your creatures start dropping like flies because you didn’t heed my warnings.
A complex board can result in a lot of passed turns, which we find a very tempting offer in this deck. The other cards that fit this mold were common enough in the typical Jareth build that they were out of contention based on my self-imposed rules, but I suggest digging deeper if these two strike your fancy.
Aurora Griffin & Cloudchaser Kestrel
Maybe these are more of a metagame call against the Eldrazi and artifact-heavy decks that have cropped up in the last year. Maybe this is just because I’ve lost to Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle enough times that I’m on high alert. Whatever the reason, I am a simple man who favors redundancy over mising and wouldn’t mind making my combat and blocking a little easier.
Riding on the coattails of Eight-and-a-Half-Tails with a slightly tempered version of one of her abilities, both of these birds supply you with the ability to repaint the world to your own design. Not only can their abilities allow Jareth to gain protection from a card like Maze of Ith, but it can only turn off auras like Fists of the Demigod or Favor of the Overbeing.
The Kestrel is the better of the two, as it has the added value of blowing up an enchantment when it comes into play, because sure birds do that for some reason. As fliers they hold equipment and get in for some damage, all while being a part of the larger plan.
Capping off my list is a planeswalker I don’t feel gets enough play in Commander to begin with, and single-handedly checks off several boxes I have tried to handle with some of my prior picks. Ajani’s +1 ability can make for an awesome addition to what Jareth is trying to accomplish by not only granting him vigilance for the turn, but also first strike and lifelink. Our general is already working hard to protect you, but he stands in the way of any damage being hurled at Ajani as well.
The other lucrative aspect of playing a planeswalker that gets less attention is that it allows for his ultimate—an emblem minimizing all damage to you to one—to be reached and fired off before some players may take the time to read him. If you do happen to go wide with this deck, Ajani has always been a man of the people and he can help to bulk up your team when he comes down as well. I think he makes a stellar addition to the deck.
So I turn the mic to you, dear reader, what would you do with this mono-white titan? How off base am I? And what generals do you feel are too far off the radar? Until next time, thanks for your time and may you find few new routes to victory.