If there is anything I have learned over the last year making content on a weekly basis, it’s that you have to always be thinking about where the next story might be. I stay especially vigilant because I know that I don’t have the time to react to a breaking story on Wednesday for a hot take the next morning. This often causes me to live a week in the future, thinking about what might be timely to write about that will entertain my small readership. This week, it was less about finding something timely and more about how to make that timely topic relate in some way to Magic.

Tomorrow, Marvel unleashes Black Panther to the masses, the film has been a storm brewing on the horizon since the trailer went viral last Summer/Fall. For the most part, I didn’t think I would work this film into my column, but recent events involving a grassroots campaign to tear this film’s Rotten Tomatoes score down really got to me, because the notion seems petty on one level and vindictively hurtful on another. I have faith in this film, not because I think its targeted at me—though I have my tickets for opening weekend—but because representation matters and the excitement I have seen on Twitter—especially from mutual FUXer, Eddie Francis aka @yourboyeddie —has been nothing short of electric.

The film looks fantastic. Chadwick Boseman has already proven that he brings a great performance to the role after Captain America: Civil War. Michael B. Jordan looks like he’s bringing everything he can to his performance as the film’s antagonist. But most importantly, the film has been putting strong women (the Dora Milaje) at the forefront of its media push. Admittedly the DCEU beat them to it by a year with Wonder Woman’s Amazons; but from a personal perspective, for the betterment of my son and any daughter I might have one day, the two can and should coexist.

So how do I bring this all around to Magic? My first inclination was to spotlight a literal mono-black legendary cat, but that fell through. Mirri the Cursed felt possible, but more as a variant Vampires deck, and Purraj of Urborg felt more like a bad Toshiro Umezawa deck. Then I remembered a past Commander variant, Tumblr/Twitter’s Flavoracle’s Quantum Commander.

You can read through his post, but here are the basic guidelines (sans Q&A):

  • Players still have a 100-card singleton deck (except for basic lands)
  • Instead of one legendary creature for a commander, QC decks have up to two commanders, as long as both creatures flavorfully represent alternate versions of the same character
  • QC decks may contain cards that match the color identity of the combined commanders
  • Players may only have one of their commanders on the battlefield at a time (we don’t want any paradoxes, after all)
  • If a player has one of their commanders on the battlefield, casting their other commander results in exiling the first, and sending it to the Command Zone (regardless of who controls the creature at the time)
  • When a commander is in play, its owner may not cast any spells from their hand in colors outside of that commander’s color identity
  • A player can only win the game when one of their commanders is on the battlefield (though not necessarily under their control)

I’m going to be treating the rules established by Flavoracle as a suggestion aimed at establishing house-ruled pairs of Partner generals that you have a personal sense of honor playing a prescribed way. For today’s article, I will be diving into Mirri Quantum Commander utilizing Mirri the Cursed and Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist to achieve a deck tentatively titled “Abzan Panthers.”


The Case of Mirri

Mirri is a character that dates very far back into the story of Magic—kind of a trend this month I suppose—to what is commonly referred to as the Weatherlight Saga, a multi-block story beginning with the set Weatherlight and continuing through to Apocalypse. As a member of the crew of the ship, she is a deadly warrior who helps to assemble the pieces of the Legacy Weapon. She is along for the ride throughout much of the story, slain at the hands of Crovax (in his Ascendant Evincar form) as a fulfillment of an earlier prophecy. This is what Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist represents: a formidable warrior not easily bested in combat.

During Planar Chaos we saw a dark reflection of Mirri. As indicated by the card Keen Sense, the events depicted on Death Stroke went differently, Mirri slaying Selenia, Dark Angel instead of Crovax and eventually rising to the title of Evincar. Mirri the Cursed is a powerful legendary creature that is likely deserving of her own article one day, but today she will open us up to black while also being a troublesome creature for your opponents as well.

I envision this deck as a cat tribal deck, pushed in the direction of caring about the art to capture the leonin as opposed to the more wild felines. I’m looking to include cards that play into each version of our general’s talents as well, but since – by the self-imposed rules – both can’t be in play, it should not be an element we rely on.

Dora Milaje

The first place to start is the analog to Wakanda’s sweet female warriors, the Dora Milaje. Since we’re motivated more by the art than the actual power level of the deck, cats like Leonin Iconoclast, Blade of the Sixth Pride, Oreskos Swiftclaw, Jedit’s Dragoons, and Ajani’s Sunstriker are early includes in this deck. We will also be taking to the sky with the suite of Skyhunter Cub, Skyhunter Patrol, Skyhunter Prowler, and Skyhunter Skirmisher, which will play well with cards from our next section. Bonus points all around as many of these cards depict female leonin.

While the art of Qasali Slingers doesn’t feature prominent leonin, this recently printed card can be a workhorse in this deck and has seemingly flown under the radar since last Summer. It’s also wise to remember that Tarkir featured Cat Demons, though sadly Rakshasa Deathdealer never made the impression on the format I might have hoped for.

Finally, I would also be remiss to exclude the on-theme Panther Warriors, Cat Warriors, and Elite Cat Warrior, even at the cost of raw power level. And if we want to break from the theme a little bit, Hunting Cheetah is a fantastic card for the deck, as well as Regal Caracal. Keep the mana fixed and the life total high.

Competitive Advantage

One of the progressive parts of Black Panther—going back to the origins of the character—is Wakanda being a highly advanced nation in the Marvel universe, disguised as a primitive society for much of its publication history. This deck likewise has more under the hood than meets the eye when it comes to gaining competitive advantages. This description alone makes Privileged Position on theme while also just being a good card.

In terms of tech, Godsend is a must include in this deck with either version of Mirri, though the Weatherlight Duelist would get the greater value out of it, as she is a Dueling Grounds/Familiar Ground/Silent Arbiter when attacking. I realize that Cursed Mirri is a “non-bo” with Godsend in that she will not gain +1/+1 counters while holding it, but I don’t see us often winning though commander damage without our next card, so I am willing to take the hit on synergy.

To play into Mirri the Cursed, I would recommend an overlooked gem, Kusari-Gama, which can wipe out a board very quickly and allow Mirri to grow in one giant leap. The interaction she has with this equipment is phenomenal and makes for the case that you might be able to win through commander damage pretty handily if people are completely afraid to block. Blade of the Bloodchief also has a lot of value for any of our creatures, but gains a lot of value with black Mirri.

Ultimately, seeing as our both of generals have first strike any buff to power or saboteur effect is going to be valuable. Additionally, if I have learned anything from Phyrexian Crusader, it’s infect and first strike coexist rather nicely. Don’t be afraid to explore technology like Aim High, Instill Energy, Colossal Heroics, or Mobilize to maximize your board presence with or without Mirri. This should go without saying, but with this healthy equipment strategy, be sure to include Taj-Nar Swordsmith, Leonin Shikari, and Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith along with any staples of the Cat Equipment decks.

Abzan Pride

Closing out for today I wanted to highlight some of the gems of Abzan. Hardly secret tech, but I have gotten feedback that would lead me to believe that not everyone reading these articles has a history with a game spanning even a half dozen years.

Duneblast is a favorite mass removal effect of mine, which doesn’t have a lot of availability in most other decks. Here it is debatably weaker than it might be a Voltron deck, but once you’ve reached the required mana for this spell, you might only be using it when you have one or two creatures left anyway. Additionally, this combos nicely with Blade of the Bloodchief.

True Conviction and Always Watching are great enchantments to upgrade your team and give you more combat prowess. In a deck like ours they do a great job of making our generals, who already command respect, very hard to interact with.

Lastly, in Abzan decks, gaining card advantage through Phyrexian Arena is very typical. I like to insure that strong turn three with Lay of the Land, Farseek, and Nature’s Lore to grab extra lands—possibly of the dual variety—to keep my mana smooth. We’re in green, so it should be no surprise we can fix our mana. Since we’re playing into flavor, I would recommend Forest (#276) from Ixalan, Plains (#231) from Shards of Alara, and Swamp (#181) from Fate Reforged.

Cats have gotten a lot of attention this last year, from tribal elements in Amonkhet block, to the full on spotlight in their own deck during Commander 2017. While I am admittedly a dog person, I hope for all the fans of cats out there that the tribe gets more support as time goes on and that the deck can be what they want out of the format. As for tomorrow’s release of Black Panther, I am very excited for another outing in the Marvel universe. I am overjoyed for the representation in brings for billions of people around the world. The character is completely deserving of this film and I hope that it will bring joy to the audience that so badly wanted it. The next time I will stop all forward motion is Infinity War, because guys, I have been waiting since May 4, 2012 for this. Until next time, have some fun out there.

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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