Since they’ve dropped, I’ve done several articles talking about the Commander 2014 preconstructed EDH decks. I’ve looked at individual cards, made budget changes to the decks out of box, and I’ve even played around with a few of the alternate generals. But I haven’t yet spent time discussing the updates I made to each of these decks; my changes weren’t budget, and for the most part they weren’t particularly reigned in. That’s what I am going to be sharing with y’all for the next few weeks: Nahiri, Teferi, Ob Nixilis, Daretti, and Freyalise. When I first got my hands on these format-breaking generals, this is what I did.


I found it unclear whether or not she was the first Stoneforge Mystic, or merely the best one.

We’ll start with Nahiri, the Lithomancer, since I’m a fan of going in WUBRG order. For Nahiri, I kept about two thirds of the deck intact, although when you discount the manabase I basically changed up half of it. Nahiri wasn’t a particularly difficult build, though. I brought in practically all the cards that said “equipment” in their text box, and switched up the balance of the included equipment to be a more effective toolbox. For the most part, I focused on keeping persistent threats. I kept in cards like Mobilization and Sacred Mesa, even though I wasn’t planning on going wide, because they’re tough-to-eliminate permanents that allow me to put a body on the field for cheap. This is important, as my equipment is going to survive most wrath effects, and even the weakest creature is going to be strong post-wrath when they’re wielding armor, hammers, and swords.

I’ll admit, even seeing the image I’m a little unclear on the exact role the Jitte plays in combat. Is it a swordbreaker?


Generic swords, that is; I chose not to include any of the obviously overpowered equipment like the Sword of X and Y cycle (Sword of Feast and Famine, Sword of Body and Mind, Sword of Light and Shadow, Sword of War and Peace, and Sword of Fire and Ice, for the uninitiated). I find them boring in Commander. They’re that generic type of powerful, and it’s in no small part due to how their color protection abilities, something that’s been often ancillary to their purpose in other constructed formats, can completely blank a deck. Similarly, I kept out Umezewa’s Jitte. It’s a bad enough card in a format like Legacy, where it’s the go-to piece of equipment against any deck that’s running small creatures, but in Commander, where proliferate mechanics regularly see play? It’s unpleasant.


And no, the addy wasn't hipstersofthecoast

Back in dickety-oh-eight (ish?) they released a promo version of this card with a web address on it. It looked AWFUL!

Instead, I decided to take advantage of the steep mana discount that Nahiri, the Lithomancer provides on equip costs. Argentum Armor, a card included in the base model of the precon, is a strong card with the one major drawback of requiring twelve mana to cast and equip. In fact, when it was in Standard, there was a silly deck that manipulated Quest for the Holy Relic with Kor Skyfisher and Memnite to cheat it out early in the game. While I didn’t have the creature count to support Quest for the Holy Relic in this deck, Nahiri synergizes super well with cards like Argentum Armor. On turn six, or sooner if you have a Sol Ring, you can use Nahiri’s minus ability to cheat Argentum Armor into play from your hand, and then equip it to the token you made the turn before and swing. Then, even if they deal with that individual token, you can always just plus Nahiri and save six mana on the reequip.


Here’s the list, and then I’ll talk some more about the individual synergies:


Nahiri, the Lithomancer


Creatures (19): Auriok Steelshaper; Leonin Shikari; Stoneforge Mystic; Armament Master; Puresteel Paladin; Mentor of the Meek; Kemba, Kha Regent; Auriok Windwalker; Custodi Soulbinders; Loxodon Punisher; Steelshaper Apprentice; Catapult Master; Stonehewer Giant; Adarkar Valkyrie; Sun Titan; Sunblast Angel; Twilight Shepherd; Eternal Dragon; Serra Avatar

Non-Creature, Non-Equipment Permanents (12): Sol Ring; Commander’s Sphere; Phyrexian Vault; Armistice; Mobilization; Sacred Mesa; Spear of Heliod; Ajani Steadfast; Marshal’s Anthem; Cathars’ Crusade; Loreseeker’s Stone; True Conviction

Equipment (18): Paradise Mantle; Basilisk Collar; Masterwork of Ingenuity; Skullclamp; Mask of Memory; Nim Deathmantle; Swiftfoot Boots; Darksteel Plate; Loxodon Warhammer; Sword of Vengeance; Godsend; Assault Suit; Bonehoard; Haunted Plate Mail; Heartseeker; Batterskull; Pariah’s Shield; Argentum Armor

Spells (12): Brave the Elements; Enlightened Tutor; Steelshaper’s Gift; Gift of Estates; Divine Reckoning; Return to Dust; Fell the Mighty; Open the Vaults; Phyrexian Rebirth; Mass Calcify; Martial’s Coup; Decree of Justice

Lands (38): Arcane Lighthouse; Drifting Meadow; Emeria, the Sky Ruin; Flagstones of Trokair; Ghost Quarter; Karoo; Kor Haven; Mistveil Plains; Secluded Steppe; Temple of the False God; 28 Plains


The deck could obviously be tighter, most glaringly in its manabase, but it still turned out to be quite overpowered when I took it for a whirl. Because Nahiri does such a good job defending herself from terrestrial attack, it’s not all that hard to get out the Stoneforged Blades, and they represent a particularly brutal form of inevitability. And that’s not even one of the more powerful things the deck can do.


Also, may have been in WoW?

Turns out Heartseeker is pretty brutal with anything that reduces or removes equip costs.

The most powerful card in any Nahiri build (that focuses on equipment, and not tribal or token themes) is going to be Puresteel Paladin. Its absence is confuzzling, as it’s such an obvious inclusion. It’s good because it draws you cards while you advance your game plan, but it gets truly amazing when you can trigger metalcraft and equip your weapons for free. I locked down one game combining Puresteel Paladin with Heartseeker. Since Heartseeker’s only real drawback is the equip cost, being able to bounce it around my team for free let me machine gun down all my opposition. Even just combining Heartseeker and Nahiri usually lets you kill about a creature per turn, without having to expend any meaningful amount of mana.


Can you imagine this card getting printed now?

When it comes to accessing your toolbox, the deck has several different ways to get the piece of equipment you need for each situation. I’m usually not a huge fan of tutors, but toolbox decks basically require tutors. And sometimes you want a toolbox! Enlightened Tutor can get you all your equipment as well as your artifact and enchantment draw engines, although technically at the cost of card disadvantage. Steelshaper’s Gift is a one shot, but it gets you the piece of equipment you need. Stoneforge Mystic is a one-shot tutor, but it also lets you drop equipment into play at instant speed, and that’s pretty useful with two living weapons (Bonehoard and Batterskull) and two other means of instant speed equip (Leonin Shikari and Auriok Windwalker). Steelshaper Apprentice is the priciest of your tutors, but it’s also reusable, if super slow. Finally, there’s Stonehewer Giant, complete all-star. It can swing, wait for the blocks, and still tutor and equip whatever piece of equipment lets you win your combat.


Now this is a card I could see being reprinted at some point in the not-so-distant future. Remember, you don’t need to control the target creature!

Even the wrath effects are all on plan. Each one is included with the goal of clearing away most opposing forces while leaving you with something to hold your weaponry. Diving Reckoning leaves you with your best creature, Fell the Mighty can be used as a surgical strike against opposing fatties or can be targeted at a 1/1 token for a more general board wipe. Phyrexian Rebirth leaves you with a large token, something that’s going to wear the Stoneforged Blades particularly well. Sunblast Angel is a wrath tied to a 4/5 body, and it flies! Martial’s Coup leaves you with a bunch of tokens to equip as you will, and Mass Calcify is going to be almost a totally one-sided wrath in your favor.


In my preliminary testing, Nahiri has been fairly brutal in one on one, although I have some concerns about her viability in multiplayer games. She’s basically an aggro deck, and I worry that it may be difficult to bleed your threat profile when your primary threats are wrath-resistant pieces of equipment.


Moving forward, I want to cut some cards, like Ajani Steadfast and Serra Avatar. It turns out that Nahiri doesn’t really need the extra help hitting her ultimate, and once she does ultimate having a double striking Serra Avatar isn’t a particularly fun way to win a game. Either your opponent can handle this in the brief window, in which case it’s a lot of mana for no lasting effect, or they can’t, in which case they’re dead. Adding in Raksha Golden Cub and bringing back White Sun’s Zenith allows for another subtheme, specifically equipped cats, without diluting the rest of what the deck wants to be doing.


That’s it for this week. Tune in next week, when I talk about how irritatingly powerful it is when you combine Teferi, Temporal Archmage with The Chain Veil.


Jess Stirba had the flu on Thanksgiving this year, and it was miserable.

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