One quick note before I get into this week’s deck. If any of you have tried looking me up on social media you know that I don’t have much of a presence there. Until very recent the @deckmasterjotun tag under my name lead to a dead account that I hadn’t done much of anything with. In the past week or so that’s changed, and while I won’t be posting every day I will be active. If anyone wants to talk about Magic, Overwatch, or anything else feel free. It’s also a great place to suggest topics for future articles, although it’s best to head over to [email protected] if you have a full decklist to submit.

Now, let’s see what we’ve got to work with this week.

The Deck

Dear Azami,

I play Magic down at That’s E in Fitchburg, am a friend of Kate’s. I have a pet project group hug EDH deck that she wants me to talk to you about potentially making an article on.

We have a very competitive EDH meta. Competitive EDH in it of itself is a bit counter-intuitive, and as a whole scares away a lot of the new players. This deck started as a leveling ground against decks such as combo and white enchantment lockdown.

Angus was meant to be a one-hit wonder, specifically designed to piss off the competitive players while delighting the newer less refined EDH crowd. 2 years later, it is still one of my pet projects. It has earned two pet names from the EDH crowd I play in. Kingmaker, i.e. I pick the player who is going to win, or my favorite iteration of the deck, ‘The Intimate Stranger’, the hug that lasts a little too long.

Everything in the deck is designed to ramp all players equally. Take a look, and let me know what you think.

Deck: Angus McKenzie, the Intimate Stranger.dec

Creatures (14):  Dakra Mystic, Magus of the Vineyard, Veteran Explorer, Gaea’s Herald, Kami of the Crescent Moon, Tempting Wurm, Jace’s Archivist, Laboratory Maniac, Orzhov Advokist, Selvala, Explorer Returned, Questing Phelddagrif, Kruphix, God of Horizons, Seedborn Muse, Avacyn, Angel of Hope

Spells (49): Hypergenesis,Spellbook, Collective Voyage, Concordant Crossroads, Eladamri’s Vineyard, Elixir of Immortality, Enlightened Tutor, Exploration, Feldon’s Cane, Library of Leng, Minds Aglow, New Frontiers, Prosperity, Sol Ring, Anvil of Bogardan, Azorius Signet, Cyclonic Rift, Eladamri’s Call, Helm of Awakening, Howling Mine, Lightning Greaves, Oath of Druids, Selesnya Signet, Simic Signet, Sylvan Library, Weird Harvest, Wheel of Sun and Moon, As Foretold, Blue Sun’s Zenith, Chromatic Lantern, Day’s Undoing, Jace Beleren, Rhystic Study, Rites of Flourishing, Temple Bell, Windfall, Words of Worship, Aluren, Awakening, Ghirapur Orrery, Jace, Architect of Thought, Tempt with Discovery, Vedalken Orrery, Bring to Light, Dictate of Karametra, Doubling Season, Dual Nature, Forced Fruition, The Great Aurora

Lands (36): 4 Forest, 4 Island, 4 Plains, Alchemist’s Refuge, Blighted Woodland, Botanical Sanctum, Breeding Pool, Canopy Vista, Cascading Cataracts, Command Tower, Flooded Strand, Glacial Fortress, Hallowed Fountain, Hinterland Harbor, Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, Minamo, School at Water’s Edge, Misty Rainforest, Polluted Delta, Prairie Stream, Razorverge Thicket, Reliquary Tower, Seachrome Coast, Seaside Citadel, Sunpetal Grove, Temple Garden, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Windswept Heath

We’re going all the way back to Legends for this one, with a hilarious group hug deck. I love the pitch that James gave for this deck, both for its weirdness and the way that it approaches the game.

And yes, it’s a great alter.

Normally you see group hug decks built around Phelddagrif or Zedruu, generals that actively give your opponents resources in one form or another. Angus Mackenzie lets you take a different take on the archetype, by blunting the biggest attacks and preventing people from overcommiting with an Overrun or similar effect. Additionally, because you control when to activate Angus Mackenzie instead of it being a static effect, you can barter with your opponents to either let them attack your other opponents unhindered or to save them from an alpha strike. He also does a good job of making sure that you can survive the 1v1 stage of the game, which is where group hug decks typically fall flat or even just plan to concede.

The Changes


Cuts: Laboratory Maniac

The list that James sent to me effectively has two ways to win: draw your whole deck with various X spells and use Laboratory Maniac to win, or assemble the engine of Wheel of Sun and Moon, Doubling Season and Jace, Architect of Thought to infinitely ultimate Jace, casting every spell out of your opponent’s decks while using the ultimate to recast Jace from your own deck. Of those two win cons, Laboratory Maniac is fragile and the Wheel/Season/Jace engine is needlessly convoluted. I’ll be cutting both for a more compact and consistent wincon. More on that later.

Additions: Braids, Conjurer Adept, Shizuko, Caller of Autumn, Edric, Spymaster of Trest

Braids and Shinzuko both fall into the category of powerful group hug effects. Shinzuko gives everyone free mana, which is what this deck is all about. Braids gives everyone free stuff in general, and while you don’t have anything too insane to cheat into play she does let you effectively make an extra land drop each turn, which is crucial to you ramping into your X spells.

Edric is a fear Commander in his own right, but his role here is a little different. It’s crucial to this deck’s plan to direct aggression elsewhere, and Edric does so by rewarding your opponents for warring with each other.


Cuts: Eladamri’s Call, Bring to Light

Eladamri’s Call is rather subpar given that you have very few creatures, and with the exception of Avacyn, Angel of Hope they’re mostly interchangeable. This is especially true since I cut Laboratory Maniac earlier. As for Bring to Light, you only have two ways to get up above three colors for converge, and even with those in play you have few useful targets. And given that most of your card draw is either permanent-based or on X spells that don’t work with Bring to Light, you’d mostly be overpaying for a ramp spell or a small utility creature.

Additions: Approach of the Second Sun, Alliance of Arms, Life from the Loam

Let’s start with the big one: Approach of the Second Sun. Out of all of the alternate win conditions out there this is the least reliant on having the game go a specific way. All that’s really required to make it good is mana and card draw, and you have both in spades. Now, you will telegraph that you’re going for the win when you first cast Approach, but seven draws is long enough in multiplayer that people will probably sometimes lose track of how close you are to redrawing it, and in the worst case scenario you have enough fetchlands that you can offer to randomize your deck as a way to stem the aggression against you.

There is the concern that you’ll be left without a route to victory if Approach gets countered, milled or discarded, but that was true of Laboratory Maniac and the Jace combo anyway, and they were also weak to conventional removal. Also, unless Approach is actually exiled you’ll eventually be able to retrieve it. More on that soon.

Alliance of Arms   seems like a generic group hug card, but it also serves a vital purpose by clogging up the board with chump blockers that you can use to buy time. Sometimes it’ll benefit one player more that the rest of the table (anthems and the like) but if there’s a deck like that in a game you can use the Alliance politically to gain their favor.

Life from the Loam is a bit of a roundabout inclusion, but you’re running multiple Exploration effects and fetchlands, so this can be a powerful one-sided ramp spell in a lot of situations. I also suspect that you’ll be discarding to hand size a fair amount in the early game, so this can let you easily retrieve any lands you toss during that stage.


Cuts: Doubling Season, Wheel of Sun and Moon, Concordant Crossroads, As Foretold, Words of Worship

The cuts of Doubling Season and Wheel of Sun and Moon shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as their only interaction with the rest of the deck was to be part of the combo I’m getting rid of.

Concordant Crossroads is a cute little on-theme card, but your main goal is to slow the game down. Giving everything haste runs counter to that, especially since Angus has a rather steep activation cost and you’ll rarely be able to use him the same turn you cast him.

As Foretold is just far too slow to be worth running. It’s interaction with Hypergenesis is cute, but when we’re talking about one card cute isn’t worth eating up a card slot for.

As for Words of Worship, while it’s a useful anti-aggro card and a decent backup plan if Laboratory Maniac got removed when you went for the win, gaining five life isn’t worth not drawing cards in the vast majority of situations, especially since a lot of your card draw come from symmetrical sources that would be giving your opponents real cards while you gain life.

Additions: Heartbeat of Spring, Oath of Lieges, Dictate of Kruphix, Burgeoning

Heartbeat of Spring, Oath of Lieges, and Dictate of Kruphix are pretty self-explanatory. They’re just getting added to round out themes you already had in place. The one interesting addition in this category is Burgeoning. Usually this card is useful for creating hugely explosive starts but becomes almost useless after turn three to five. But this deck will almost always be drawing multiple cards every turn, and you want as many ways to deploy extra lands as possible. Add in cards like Life from the Loam and you should be getting value out of Burgeoning well into the lategame.


Cuts: Jace, Architect of Thought

He’s no longer our avenue to victory, and he doesn’t do enough to justify including without that.


Cuts: Feldon’s Cane, Elixir of Immortality, Chromatic Lantern, Library of Leng

Feldon’s Cane and Elixir of Immortality were intended as ways to make sure that pieces of the winning combo wouldn’t wind up stuck in the graveyard, but that plan was always awkward and we can do better.

Chromatic Lantern is getting cut for another mana rock that’s on-theme, and Library of Leng is getting swapped for Reliquary Tower to free up a spell slot.

Additions: Spectral Searchlight, Codex Shredder, Font of Mythos

Spectral Searchlight is objectively less powerful than Chromatic Lantern, but your manabase is very consistent on its own and Spectral Searchlight fits the theme of your deck by letting you tap it to give other players mana. That might be too cute, but I had to mention the card here.

Font of Mythos comes in as a supercharged Howling Mine, here to make sure nobody ever runs out of cards. When talking about cards that will make the whole table leave you alone, this is way up there.

The last addition to this section is Codex Shredder, which is an odd card to include when we’re in the color of Eternal Witness and Regrowth, but was chosen for a very specific reason. I wanted a way to make sure the deck had a way to win if Approach of the Second Sun hit the graveyard because of counters, milling or discard. But I wanted more than that. Having Eternal Witness is great, but if the Witness gets binned or you need to use it on something else then you’re out of luck, especially in a deck without black. Codex Shredder is here to get back Approach of the Second Sun, and I’ll be adding Buried Ruin to the lands section so that you can rebuy Codex Shredder when needed. Given that I already added Life from the Loam, you can theoretically recover your win condition from any board state, given enough time.

That’s a narrow application to be sure, but well worth one card slot.


Cuts: Urborg, Tomb to Yawgmoth, Island, Plains

You don’t have Bring to Light anymore, so Urborg, Tomb to Yawgmoth is effectively a colorless land that will sometimes help you opponents. That’s on-theme, but given I wanted to make room for three utility lands I’d rather keep as many colored sources as possible. The two basics are simply being trimmed to make room.

Additions: Reliquary Tower, Buried Ruin, Rogue’s Passage

I’ve spoken about Reliquary Tower and Buried Ruin already, so I won’t go into too much detail there. Rogue’s Passage is a little different though. This fits the theme of ‘helping’ opponents out of the game, as a trick that you can sit on and hide in your pile of lands until needed. Crucially, Rogue’s Passage doesn’t need to target a creature you control, so you can decide to make any attacker going at any player impossible to stop. This isn’t something you’ll want to overuse, but rather keep as a surprise for when you need it.

Putting it all together, here’s the finished decklist:

Angus McKenzie, the Intimate Stranger

Creatures (16): Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Braids, Conjurer Adept, Dakra Mystic, Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Gaea’s Herald, Jace’s Archivist, Kami of the Crescent Moon, Kruphix, God of Horizons, Magus of the Vineyard, Orzhov Advokist, Questing Phelddagrif, Seedborn Muse, Selvala, Explorer Returned, Shizuko, Caller of Autumn, Tempting Wurm, Veteran Explorer

Spells (47): Alliance of Arms, Aluren, Anvil of Bogardan, Approach of the Second Sun, Awakening, Azorius Signet, Blue Sun’s Zenith, Burgeoning, Codex Shredder, Collective Voyage, Cyclonic Rift, Day’s Undoing, Dictate of Karametra, Dictate of Kruphix, Dual Nature, Eladamri’s Vineyard, Enlightened Tutor, Exploration, Font of Mythos, Forced Fruition, Ghirapur Orrery, Heartbeat of Spring, Helm of Awakening, Howling Mine, Hypergenesis, Jace Beleren, Life From the Loam, Lightning Greaves, Minds Aglow, New Frontiers, Oath of Druids, Oath of Lieges, Prosperity, Rhystic Study, Rites of Flourishing, Selesnya Signet, Simic Signet, Sol Ring, Spectral Searchlight, Spellbook, Sylvan Library, Temple Bell, Tempt with Discovery, The Great Aurora, Vedalken Orrery, Weird Harvest, Windfall

Lands (36): 4 Forest, 3 Island, 3 Plains, Alchemist’s Refuge, Blighted Woodland, Botanical Sanctum, Breeding Pool, Buried Ruin, Canopy Vista, Cascading Cataracts, Command Tower, Flooded Strand, Glacial Fortress, Hallowed Fountain, Hinterland Harbor, Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, Minamo, School at Water’s Edge, Misty Rainforest, Polluted Delta, Prairie Stream, Razorverge Thicket, Reliquary Tower, Rogue’s Passage, Seachrome Coast, Seaside Citadel, Sunpetal Grove, Temple Garden, Windswept Heath

Additions, sorted by price:

Rogue’s Passage            0.25
Spectral Searchlight            0.25
Codex Shredder            0.29
Buried Ruin                0.75
Dictate of Kruphix            0.99
Approach of the Second Sun    0.99
Alliance of Arms            1.49
Edric, Spymaster of Trest        1.49
Shizuko, Caller of Autumn        1.49
Oath of Lieges            1.49
Braids, Conjurer Adept        2.99
Reliquary Tower            2.99
Burgeoning                3.49
Heartbeat of Spring            6.49
Font of Mythos
Life from the Loam            24.99

Total                    58.93

The changes add up to $58.93, although almost half of that expense comes from Life from the Loam, which is far from an integral part of the deck.

Next time, I think it’s time for a topic I’ve wanted to cover since I started writing: planeswalkers in commander.

If you want your deck to be featured in a future Dear Azami, send the decklist to [email protected], along with a brief description of what issues the deck is having and what budget you want me to work with.

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