Hello everyone and welcome to 2018! This week, I am wasting no time to talk about an exciting new general that really peaked my interest on Monday and derailed my original plans for this week: Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. Strangely, this will mean that both my installments into Simic are patterned after Merfolk generals, but I promise this will wildly divergent from my look into Prime Speaker Zegana aka Prime Speaker Eldrazi as we are looking to go full on Merfolk Tribal in new and different ways.

Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca

While I had known that Wizards would release spoilers for the upcoming Rivals of Ixalan starting this Monday, I didn’t think it would start with a card as inspiring as Kumena. I have yet to spotlight the deck, but for the last two years I have had a Sygg, River Guide deck that I built and have been tuning from time to time. For the most part I have been very happy having Merfolk be my token Azorius deck, but when Commander 2016 came out, I strongly consider injecting Green into the mix by pairing Thrasios, Triton Hero and Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa together. I eventually did and to be honest, the deck stopped being something I liked playing with.

All that that is a story for another day. Kumena heralds I believe I will be able to back two separate Merfolk decks, making them drastically different in gameplay. My first overview of this particular deck skeleton is best done by looking at each of the activated abilities Kumena has to offer and highlighting what can be done with each to create the best strategies possible. I think this deck has a lot of potential, hopefully you will agree.

Artfully Dodging

Right off the bat is the easiest of Kumena’s abilities to pull off, tapping one other merfolk to make our general unable to be blocked for a turn. This should not be a difficult feat to pull off on turn four—possibly earlier with Birds of Paradise or the risky Concordant Crossroads—and can set you up to remove at least one opponent from the game through commander damage early on. My bigger objective is find good things to do with an unblockable creature, as two damage a turn won’t be winning you the game unassisted.

My first recommendation would be cards like Dowsing Dagger or Rogue’s Gloves to start generating either a mana or card advantage respectively. Both of these cards can come out on turn four and since our general doesn’t require a mana investment to cloak itself, we’ll be using our mana curve to its fullest as we come out the gate. For more reclusive card choices, Mark of Sakiko and One with Nature are both good for mana ramping in different ways, one providing the mana for an Explore or Rampant Growth and the other being a Rampant Growth every turn. Lastly, Keen Sense and its objective reprint Sixth Sense do good impressions of the Gloves, but are marginally weaker due to their nature of being auras, so Shielding Plax is an good card to consider as well.

Tyrant of Scrolls

While not as efficient as Azami, Lady of Scrolls, the ability to use a collection of blockers to generate cards before the turn is passed to us is very appealing if used often enough. To beef up the pay off, Alhammarret’s Archive is an auto-include in a deck like this, but Fallowsage and Wake Thrasher are great additions for any of Kumena’s abilities that really shines here, netting us more cards and additional damage.

The additional draws also mesh great with Chasm Skulker, Horizon Chimera, and Lorescale Coatl if you’re not afraid to move outside the tribal theme with a few of your choices. This is the least useful of the three abilities to me, but seeing as I am not always the best at unplayed card interactions, it may prove to be used more than I imagine.

Trying to Thrive

I find Kumena’s last ability to be the most inspiring, especially since it lends itself to late game victories. If we have been utilizing Primal Vigor is combination with Deeproot Waters and/or a flickered Benthicore we should be able to activate this ability on the regular at least once a turn cycle. With a large enough board, we should be able to win very quickly in the twilight turns of the game. Truefully, this is where I would keep mana open for Inspiring Call once you get the gears turning.

But what can we do if we only have +1/+1 counters on a few creatures or even just one on each of our creatures? First off is Bred for the Hunt, a specialized Coastal Piracy that flavorfully fits what our deck is looking to do. Next I would pick-up Unity of Purpose, which will enable you to beef up your creatures twice in a turn or just have surprise blockers. Sage of Fables, Zameck Guildmage, and Shapers of Nature all do similar things in slightly different ways. And finally Avatar of the Resolute can be an end of game finisher or an impressive blocker, defending you even from dragons.

This is my favorite of Kumena’s abilities because it allows him to pivot between a “voltron” and “go-wide” strategy depending on the resources available. That kind of versatility is rare and often takes a lot more bending to try to accomplish; and honestly sometimes I just want the game plan to be easier to understand.


Overlaid Plans

Now that we’ve covered each of the abilities and cards that feed into them individually, I’d like to talk about a host of cards that have utility in a few of the themes established. Murkfiend Liege is going to pair well with all three of pieces of Kumena, acting as a solo Awakening while also being an anthem effect for our fish. Curse of Predation can help to shorten the clock when we’re looking to kill through commander damage, but also helps to turn on creatures for +1/+1 counters matter cards. Then there is Novijen, Heart of Progress and the more mana intensive Durable Handicraft which help to make our creatures bigger if we have extra mana laying around. The Simic color identity also has Give//Take, an often overlooked modal spell that can bulk up a creature before combat, draw us a new hand or both if we have the mana to invest. And lastly, Solidarity of Heroes can either kill someone with surprise commander damage out of nowhere, or act as an Overrun with a less assuming suite of creatures in play.


Cold-Blooded Killers

I have already listed off about half a deck’s worth of non-merfolk cards, and its impossible to know exactly what Rivals of Ixalan will have to offer—expect Dinosaurs and Pirates to get a higher ratio anyway. But that doesn’t mean we won’t need a healthy amount of merfolk, in many cases a lot of the choices are pretty by the books; Lord of Atlantis, Master of the Pearl Trident and Merfolk Sovereign being near-impossible to pass on. But both Merrow Harbinger and Stonybrook Banneret are going to help bring some consistency and momentum to the deck. Vorel of the Hull Clade is a pinpoint Solidarity of Heroes on a stick. And Kiora’s Follower must be good for something in this deck.

I would want to keep some consideration for what our counterspell package might look like to see if we can reasonably support Lullmage Mentor, a great card that I feel doesn’t warrant an auto-include status. Simic decks that I commonly see don’t lean that far in the direction of control, but I don’t want to discount it completely. We are looking to amass a far bit of creatures, so we may not even require a dedicated counter package here.

But in terms of the Ixalan spells; I really admire Vineshaper Mystic and River Herald’s Boon offering a permanent pump to up to two of our fish, Tempest Caller is a nice creature to help lock down an opponent for an alpha strike, and Herald of Secret Streams is a better fit than Deepchannel Mentor for the deck we are building.

Going Horribly Awry

So what is the downfall of this deck? Right off the bat, what I have assembled may lean towards versatile, but it is very general dependent. To get the maximum potential out of this deck, we need to envision a board state that has five merfolk on it to be able to function as desired. That is something we will have to be building towards from the moment we look at our opening hand and anything from Damnation to Evacuation to Wrath of God could undo our plans, especially since part of the strategy is to take creatures that on average have about two power and make them more akin to Craw Wurm.

Luckily, Dream Tides, Magistrate’s Veto, and Nature’s Ruin are infrequently slotted into decks. We are in colors with counterspells to keep us alive and Spreading Seas to help us if we attain islandwalk. Depending on the playgroup, we might fly under the radar if Simic has never had a good showing, but we’ll fold to disruption if the table turns on us.

Spoiler season makes a definitive deck list hard to firm up, but we’ve already seen some interesting new cards to fit into this deck and I will be excited for Rivals’ release. Having new creatures see print who can offer a new twist on an established deck is always exciting, seeing it migrate to a new color identity often can be even more exciting if the depth of the card pool exists. In the next few weeks leading to the Ixalan block completing I imagine all four of the major tribes will be going through some reshaping and while I can’t guarantee I will as inspired by any Pirates, Dinosaurs or Vampires, I will certainly keep my mind open to covering them as well. Let me know what you might put in this deck, I feel like I hardly covered some of the finer points of this deck, so there is still the chance for great change. Until next time, thanks all.

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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