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 the week and try to be build a workable skeleton for a few possible strategies around it. This week I chose to look at a pair of generals with Partner out of the Commander 2016 expansion: Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix and Tana, the Bloodsower.

Normally, I will try to avoid cards with their original printings coming out of the current Standard window, as evaluation is still fresh with that card pool. But I am disregarding that restriction for this week, as I would like to spotlight the Partner mechanic on a duo that seems to be getting comparatively less attention than other tag teams I’ve seen being played. I will still admit to having zero experience with a deck build around these two and that I favor fun over proficiency in my play. And of course, Cyclonic Rift is not “secret tech.”

 

Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix & Tana, the Bloodsower

As always, the best place to start any rundown is to look at the general we will be tailoring our thoughts to, in this case plural generals this week. Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix had a bit of buzz around her when she was first previewed, something I feel died down a lot as Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice became the breakaway star hit of the set and by EDHrec’s judgments, the entire format. Nevertheless, I think she is a very powerful card and her ability to generate giant spikes of mana through card draw feels very appealing. As I worked to assemble this list, I found that she almosts stands on her own feet enough to be her own deck; though you’re leaving a lot of potential on the table not just pairing her with Thrasios, Triton Hero.

Tana, the Bloodsower on the other hand, I didn’t see much of any hype going around for this card and while I can understand that her ability might not be sparking a lot of inspiration at the moment, I think it can be worked with to create what undoubtedly is going to be filthy combo deck. My primary reason out of the gate choosing Tana was to allow Kydele access to Red, but as you’ll hopefully see, I think Tana gains a lot by dipping into Blue as well.

So, since we have the makings of combo deck, my goal today is going to highlighting the cards I would use to make combos work. It should be obvious, but since I don’t intend for this article to be as long as Dear Azam—I’m just not that guy—I will not be waxing longingly over the low hanging fruit that protect your combo like Counterspell and the alike or removal packages. This had the makings of a huge article though, as I generated nearly twice the list I normally do working on these articles, so I won’t waste any more time.

Honorable Mention—Zada, Hedron Grinder + Cantrips

Before we get into the heart of the article, I wanted to give a brief spotlight to a strategy I chased as I was coming out of the gates, but just wasn’t clever enough to make work for a build I was happy outlining. I believe there is a way of combining Tana’s saprolings filling the board with Zada, Hedron Grinder and the additional two colors worth of targeted spells that cantrip to create huge swaths of card draw to combo off with. While attractive, I think it might take up too much of a deck that is then dependent on drawing a non-general piece out of the deck to work. Maybe the answer is out there and someone will accept this challenge, let me know if you do!

Arjun, the Shifting Flame

Starting out, I knew that I was probably building towards such an ambitious deck that I was going to be constantly in the threat of drawing myself to death. So, short of using Reminisce, Loaming Shaman, or Feldon’s Cane avoid that fate, I opted to employ Arjun, the Shifting Flame as a way to generate a large spike of card draw for the purposes of turning it into mana with Kydele without reducing the size of my deck. This also does double duty as it allows you to filter through your deck very quickly for your answers and can be paired with Sphinx’s Tutelage to work on milling an opponent out.

The biggest lesson of Arjun is that you can’t get overly attached to your hand, you will be putting your faith into the heart of the cards while on this line of play. Though, with enough redundancy built into the deck, this can quickly become a game of  waiting until you’ve reached an appealing amount of cards drawn and firing off once you find a good X spell.

Overall, I can’t imagine a situation where even the mana Kydele would generate off you casting one spell and refreshing your hand won’t leave you with ample options.

Bulwark

Truthfully, this could be a huge hit or miss situation. The way I see it, in a Magical Christmas Land scenario you’re going to be looking at a full grip of cards a lot, possibly massive hand sizes. This will likely mean you’ve also got the entire table’s attention as they just watched you loop through your entire deck with Arjun, the Shifting Flame, but even a few activations of Bulwark could make enough difference that a smart player might sit back and let you take other players to within striking distance of taking them out once you’ve been dealt with. I think the often overlooked fact of massive hands is that those aren’t just fourteen blank pieces of cardboard—there should be interaction in there somewhere.

It is also entirely possible that this card is too slow and that by the time you’re making meaningful headway, an extra five damage didn’t really skim off too much of your endgame plans. I do like this card because during the earlier parts of the game where it’s hitting people for a few points every turn, especially now that Amonkhet is pushing Rakdos players to be nearly empty handed.

Saproling Symbiosis

I’ve now talked at length about Kydele and her want to see you drawing more and more cards, so it seems appropriate to touch on how Tana will be offering us. She not only opens us up into another good color, but offers us an ability that’s easy to overlook, as it may feel like too little for a lot of work. There isn’t a terrible amount of saproling synergies throughout the history of the game; but like Rapacious One, I think there is a lot of untapped potential here as a linchpin to some on-the-spot combos.

To me, Saproling Symbiosis fills in for a tokens package that will likely also contain cards like Sprout Swarm, Spontaneous Generation, and Avenger of Zendikar to create massive swarms of creatures in one turn. The former half even coming at instant speed. Combining this package should allow you to be able to cushion the blows received from enemy combatants, make for a good supply of devour targets (I didn’t have the space for Skullmulcher on this list, but there should be a slot made available), and be the catalyst for either of my next two cards.

Mana Echoes + Myojin of Seeing Winds

Those two are my favorite enablers for the kind of combo I want to pull off with the deck and they both are available to us because of the partnership between our two lovely ladies.

Mana Echoes came to my attention about three years ago when I was getting really deep into my build of Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician. I would commonly float a big chunk of mana, sacrifice a handful of lands to fill the board with goblin tokens and use the pool of available mana generated by my mountains and the Mana Echoes to quick kill an opponent with Comet Storm before turning the attention to any surviving opponents through combat damage. In this deck I would like to try to find a similar path to victory through a well timed Saproling Symbiosis or Sprout Swarm.

On the other side, through a similar strategy where I aim to generate a pile of saproling tokens, I want to pop the divinity off Myojin of Seeing Winds to synergize well with Kydele. This has the added bonus of allowing you to go into a turn without a route to victory and the hopes of simply drawing into it before you have to commit to tapping for the giant pool of mana. The big drawback being that you only get to do the trick once, so choose wisely. Or play with proliferate. Either one.

The only drawback I see in both of these cards is that they can act like glass cannons and rely on a bit of set-up that will signal to your opponents that you’re about to go off. But maybe the unlikely pair will let you float under the radar for a game or two before people get too aware of you, remember: perception is everything in Commander.

Instill Energy

Much like how Behind the Scenes was just the perfect card for Doran the Siege Tower decks, Instill Energy seems like the perfect include in a Kydele deck, as it allows for you to tap into far more mana than she was designed to. Paired with a draw a spell, Instill Energy not only allows you to draw into a win condition, but also fire it off for an even bigger X.

This is another example of a combination of cards that might act more like a glass cannon, simply for the fact that no one in their right mind would let you do this twice. But as the low cost of one single mana, it can come down with very little investment and make a huge splash. On the flip side, if you find yourself in need of haste on Tana to start your big turn with Mana Echoes, don’t overlook that “attack as though it had haste” ability. Strange old wording and all.

Illuminate

Every list I like to include at least one card that is just really far off the beaten path, but seems in flavor with what you’re trying to accomplish in the deck, Illuminate is that card today. Looking at this card; it actually is a little ridiculous to pay for, but I like it because it would not normally be available to you with either of the generals alone. Once you get past the massive amount of kicker cost associated with this card, you have a pretty stellar way to not only draw a great pile of cards, but also handle one big threat and its owner who is standing in your way to victory.

Having not played with the deck, I don’t know how viable this will be, but I have a feeling that paying for all of this and still having X be in the double digits might be more possible than I think.

Echo Mage

Echo Mage is the kind of card that I have seen very rarely, but always gets overlooked and ends up being the undoing of at least two people at the table. Usually it’s me, I talk big game with nothing to back it up constantly. But in all honesty, level-up creatures don’t get enough respect; and like an underplayed Planeswalker, people might not even look at this card until it’s too late. With all the spells running around this deck, even doubling a Divination spell can be worth more than the mana you paid for it all.

The real feat here is to double kick a reasonably sized Illuminate and fire it off at each opponent for the win with this fully leveled up. Rite of Replication kicked through Radiate, eat your heart out.

Fall of the Titans + Comet Storm + Clan Defiance

Finally, I wanted to answer one of the pieces of feedback I got regarding the lack of any reasonable win conditions in my articles. While I have on occasion kind of fell backward into mentioning a cool card that also works as a win condition, I haven’t blatantly looked exclusively for them during my research. In this case, even as low hanging fruit, it wasn’t hard to identify these three as powerful cards that were not allowed with Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix by default, but play into the game she wants to play with no questions asked.

While there are any number of cards that will work as an upgraded Fireball, I like these three for the instant quality in Fall of the Titans and Comet Storm or the ability to wealth of options with Clan Defiance. I feel confident saying that Comet Storm is likely the finisher of choice overall—if there is another spell like it, I didn’t see it over the entire history of Magic—but all of them are fun and go well with the rest of the cards on this list, especially Echo Mage.

But now I turn the attention back to the reader, anyone who wishes to be vocal and give their own two cents. What generals would you like to see get the Shattered Perspective treatment? What kind of cards would you have plugged in? You can find me on Twitter via @RyanSainio or yelling at Hipsters directly through the e-mail system at the bottom of the page.

Until next time, good luck and thank you!

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH, the story of Magic and the EDH community in his down time. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.
Pet Deck – Shattergang Eldrazi

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