By Nat Wilder

Editor’s Note: Meet Nat Wilder, our fifth contributor to the new, rotating Scrub Report! Nat’s articles will appear over the next four Fridays, so stay tuned as they detail getting into competitive MTG and finding their place in the community. If you’d like to write for The Scrub Report, send an email to [email protected]

Hello cleaning fans! It’s time for more stories of being a scrub. Join me as I make a Commander deck that goes against my usual philosophies in the format while indulging my love of [casthaven]Alesha, Who Smiles at Death[/casthaven]—both as a character, and as being visibly transgender within the Vorthos realm of Magic. If Alesha being transgender is news to you, then you should read her story. Done reading (or rereading? Or, if you’re me, rereading and bawling)? Good! Now let’s examine Alesha as a commander. Let’s look at her colors: Red, White and Black. These colors in my experience are great at what I love in Commander: board wipes. I’m going to avoid just using board wipes in this deck because my other decks are wrath heavy and I want to force myself out of that niche. So what else are they good at? Tokens and sacrificing for profit. Unfortunately, as you’ll see, I don’t own a lot of good sacrfice outlets but I’m working with what I have and this is draft one of the deck. Hopefully when I return to the deck I’ll have traded for some new pieces. Now let’s look at Alesha again because a Commander deck does best when it synergizes with the commander. Alesha is reasonably priced at three mana with only one colored mana requirement and is a 3/2 first striker. She could be a voltron commander if we want but that isn’t the direction I’m taking her at moment. Next let’s look at her ability, the real reason we are here for her: whenever she attacks we pay hybrid white/black twice, if so we may take a creature from our graveyard with power two or less and put it into play tapped and attacking. This is how I want to focus on Alesha. This ability, if uninterrupted, is an endless train of value that you can exploit by purposely attacking the players who can defend, or rather quickly you can tear through a weak opponent by picking the correct things to use.

Image.ashx-2

So let’s explore the packages I’ve made for Alesha in this deck. The first I’m going to explore are these value targets to bring back:  [casthaven]Solemn Simulacrum[/casthaven], [casthaven]Siege-Gang Commander[/casthaven], [casthaven]Pentavus[/casthaven], [casthaven]Akroan Horse[/casthaven], [casthaven]Kytheon, Hero of Akros[/casthaven], [casthaven]King Macar, the Gold-Cursed[/casthaven], [casthaven]Relic Seeker[/casthaven], [casthaven]Abbot of Keral Keep[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sandsteppe Outcast[/casthaven], [casthaven]Tuktuk the Explorer[/casthaven], [casthaven]Precinct Captain[/casthaven], [casthaven]Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh[/casthaven], [casthaven]Priest of the Blood Rite[/casthaven], [casthaven]Knight of the White Orchid[/casthaven], [casthaven]Beetleback Chief[/casthaven], [casthaven]Pia and Kiran Nalaar[/casthaven], [casthaven]Vulturous Aven[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Triskelion[/casthaven]. All of these cards either produce value, are actually more powerful than 2 power or can take over the game. The more questionable choices here are probably the walkers. Kytheon however is easily made indestructible and incredibly easy to turn into his planeswalker side, Chandra after combat is 2/3 of the way to transforming and represents an incredibly quick clock if you focus an opponent. If you don’t want to raise the table’s ire, selectively shock creatures to keep her out of ultimate range.

Image.ashx-3

So we have our army. How are we using them? Next let’s explore my admittedly lackluster sacrifice outlets: [casthaven]Tymaret, the Murder King[/casthaven], [casthaven]Call to the Grave[/casthaven], [casthaven]Anowon, the Ruin Sage[/casthaven], [casthaven]World Queller[/casthaven], [casthaven]Merciless Executioner[/casthaven] (I lament his 3 power so much), [casthaven]Butcher of the Horde[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Corpse Traders[/casthaven]. First up Tymaret was not as good as I thought when I put him in because he only shocks players. I thought I could use him to shock creatures. He is currently at the top of my to replace list. The other cards excepting Butcher are very Staxy effects. We have a lot of tokens to sacrifice for removing creatures and World Queller lets us exhaust opponents and curry friends by forcing people to give up enchantments the rest of the table hates (like, say, [casthaven]Aura Shards[/casthaven]). We also have another way to use our forces and that’s with mass buff effects: [casthaven]Dictate of Heliod[/casthaven], [casthaven]Marshall’s Anthem[/casthaven], [casthaven]Spear of Heliod[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury[/casthaven] all add to our power and at least double many of our tokens’ damage outputs, to further help us get in there we also have [casthaven]Mirror Entity[/casthaven], [casthaven]Anger[/casthaven], [casthaven]Whip of Erebos[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Master of Pearls[/casthaven] as either one shot effects or static upgrades to the team.

Image.ashx-5

Next there’s a drawback to Alesha: She has to attack and we need to do what we can to keep her alive so we have a suite of equipment/an aura to put on her that will help with that in various ways: [casthaven]Swiftfoot Boots[/casthaven], [casthaven]Shield of the Avatar[/casthaven], [casthaven]Blade of the Bloodchief[/casthaven], [casthaven]Basilisk Collar[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Eidolon of Countless Battles[/casthaven]. The boots need no explanation for how they help keep Alesha alive but the shield and collar might. It’s fairly easy to block Alesha with a big creature in Commander, but with first strike/deathtouch she’ll kill them first and with shield and your army in a can cards she will be incredibly hard to kill with blocking. The blade and Eidolon help her quickly become lethal with commander damage and Eidolon gives you the tiniest wrath insurance. We also have a few effects to help rip away our opponent’s life totals: [casthaven]Havoc Festival[/casthaven], [casthaven]Mob Rule[/casthaven], [casthaven]Master Warcraft[/casthaven], [casthaven]Dictate of the Twin Gods[/casthaven], and [casthaven]War Cadence[/casthaven]. Havoc Festival if untouched will end games very quickly and will make your Oloro opponent cry, Mob Rule is a “more fair” [casthaven]Insurrection[/casthaven] that still isn’t very fair, Master Warcraft will make you able to hit one opponent with no blocks and kill them, Dictate will cause someone to die the turn it hits most likely and War Cadence makes your opponents be unable to block repearedly and can be used politically.

Image.ashx-5

My last proactive package are effects I just like/synergize with the non Alesha parts of the deck: [casthaven]Sepulchral Primordial[/casthaven], [casthaven]Resolute Archangel[/casthaven], [casthaven]Wurmcoil Engine[/casthaven], [casthaven]Outpost Siege[/casthaven], [casthaven]Heliod, God of the Sun[/casthaven], [casthaven]Krenko, Mob Boss[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Mardu Ascendancy[/casthaven]. These are all armies in a can, value engines or cards that are just plain good when you’re in a format that hits 7 mana easily. The ramp package of this deck for those seven drops is pretty simple: [casthaven]Sol Ring[/casthaven], [casthaven]Mind Stone[/casthaven], [casthaven]Wayfarer’s Bauble[/casthaven], [casthaven]Armillary Sphere[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Pristine Talisman[/casthaven]. Nothing too fancy.

But Nat! What happens if they’re doing things and you have to interact! Well we have a package for that: [casthaven]Tragic Arrogance[/casthaven], [casthaven]Wear//Tear[/casthaven], [casthaven]Chaos Warp[/casthaven], [casthaven]Crackling Doom[/casthaven], [casthaven]Kolaghan’s Command[/casthaven], [casthaven]Tragic Slip[/casthaven], [casthaven]Darksteel Mutation[/casthaven], [casthaven]Nihil Spellbomb[/casthaven], [casthaven]Stranglehold[/casthaven]. These are all pretty fair and political ways to interact with opponents and will help not draw the whole table’s ire when you use them. Doom usually only hoses one player and the others will like that you knocked a king down, Spellbomb because every deck needs grave hate, Slip and Warp are great for indestructible nonsense, Command and Wear//Tear can hit two players with either of their effects, Mutation stops really nightmarish commanders, Arrogance can be a king maker card and is the only wrath because of the sacrifice clause, and Stranglehold will stop your Narset player from using the effect I find most obnoxious in commander: take an extra turn. Seriously take an extra turn cards when you don’t have an actual kill in hand to use immediately are like masturbating at an orgy: you’re doing your thing and that’s great but you aren’t really participating and making the whole thing weird for everyone else. Stop taking an extra turn today! Now that the deck tech is over I managed to get a few games in with my baby since making her.

Image.ashx-6

My first game was against an Oloro and Feldon player in a free for all. I started off by playing [casthaven]Relic Seeker[/casthaven] on two, getting her renowned and searching up [casthaven]Basilisk Collar[/casthaven]. I then followed up with [casthaven]Mardu Ascendancy[/casthaven] and slowly pushed up my token army. I was keeping the Oloro player in check until our Feldon Obliterated and set everybody back to the stone age. I eventually got up to four mana and played Beetleback chief (Alesha cost five at this point), but the Oloro player played [casthaven]Test of Endurance[/casthaven] and because of Obliterate he was back above 50. I didn’t draw a way to interact and promptly Oloro won. Moral of the Story? Kill Oloro faster.

Image.ashx-6

“Moral of the story? Kill Oloro faster.”

Game two was against Tasigur and Ghave. The person playing Tasigur borrowed the deck from me so I knew it was going to have problems with my deck unless it combo’ed out. Ghave though was explosive from the start. Token armies kept popping up from him but key returning of [casthaven]Toxic Deluge[/casthaven] to Tasigur player from me kept things in check. Eventually Tasigur got down to 1 life and I had Siege-Gang Commander on board to threaten Tasigur into helping me try to chip away at Ghave who had meanwhile jumped up to 104 life. Tasigur managed to lock the board down by Body Doubling his [casthaven]Stormtide Leviathan[/casthaven] which I also stole the turn after with Sepulchral Primordial. Using Heliod and Eidolon I helped increase my clock with Stormtide on Ghave. Eventually though boards were wiped. Tasigur then got Necrotic Ooze down. And that’s where things pretty much ended because neither Ghave or I managed to find removal. Ooze went infinite and exiled all our libraries and the game was over.

Game three was against Tasigur and Seton this time. For some spice we added in my stack of Planechase cards. Unfortunately the deck hated me. Fortunately though it didn’t seem to matter. Even after several turns on Lllanowar for my mono green opponent and an attempt to kill me with Craterhoof later I was solidly ahead on board. I played and flipped my Chandra twice the second time flavorfully using her parents to get the last untap. From there I chipped away at Seton while using my artifact destruction to slow Tasigur down. Chandra hit ultimate loyalty and soon after my opponents were warm for the rest of their very short lives. The board at the end for me was a Solemn Simulacrum that had been sacced to vulturous Aven three times, mom and dad with their toys, Alesha, and Chandra ticking towards ultimate again. A victory for Alesha!

This week was a bit better about pronouns mostly but I was also playing with the same people and knew some of them a bit better. Or it might have been the fact I was wearing this outfit:

Screenshot 2015-08-27 18.37.11

If you can’t tell: the top says “Trans Voices Matter.” If you’re looking for your own, I’m sorry but I found this at our local Pride event and didn’t get a business card.  Just because I wore this shirt doesn’t mean I wasn’t misgendered, but it was less. Which was nice! However we were playing at a coffee shop and the other patrons sometimes were jerks about how I was dressed (but I’m kinda used to that).

Every game I felt I had a puncher’s chance but I definitely need a few more ways to interact with combos. I think I need a second piece of grave hate because in my Ghave game I had to use mine on Ghave so Tasigur had a little too much free reign. Building up some insane token armies in my games was great. I cannot comment on a few cards and how they played yet but I will say reanimating Abbot off Alesha feels real good. Tune in next week to hear my clean up a limited table (hopefully)! As always you can find me on Twitter @transcrois. Thanks for reading!

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.