Partners came into being in the wildly popular Commander 2016. They allowed Commander decks to have two generals, and also enabled four-color Commander decks. From the moment the mechanic was previewed, I was in love with the potential it had within Commander, as it added an extra layer of strategy to picking your pairing. And I loved how Battlebond took the concept and gave it an interesting, balanced twist by pairing creatures together, allowing for pairs of generals that could be pushed into a specific theme—see Okaun, Eye of Chaos and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom as enablers for the long-sought-after coin flipping deck.

The mechanic is so fantastic in fact, that it often leaves me wishing more legendary creatures could have partner retroactively added to them, like Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade. As someone who sifts through cards on a pretty regular basis, I have compiled quite the list of potential pairings that I would like to see in the Battlebond mold. Today I would like to highlight some of my favorite pairings that allow for specialized decks that I believe would be fun in their archetype, if not allowing for an archetype that doesn’t have a solid option at present. I hope that these ideas may inspire others with their own ideas to pitch them to an open-minded play group.

Brothers Yamazaki

My first pick is a bit of a pet peeve: people disrespecting the Brothers Yamazaki and not allowing me to play with both in my deck or command zone. People say that allowing me to have both would be too powerful, which is a weird claim, as they are a pair of 4/3s with haste if both are in play together. In my personal circles I have had these two unofficially given partner with each other, and the world didn’t end.

The funny part is that the deck is pretty standard fare for a mono-red deck, just with two generals that are skewed towards an aggressive strategy and aren’t optimal to block. The next level tech is using Mirror Gallery to enable Heat Shimmer, Flameshadow Conjuring, and Flamerush Rider to make the deck especially potent. As nuts as the deck can be under perfect circumstances, it never felt unfair because you’re winning through combat rather than suppressing soft locks or infinite combos.

Tetsuko and Kamahl

This is likely the least broken of the decks I’ll present today. I have been playing the game for quite a while; so when I saw Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive, one of my first thoughts was her interaction with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. The ability to turn your lands into 1/1s may seem innocuous, but once they are unblockable you can follow that up spamming Overrun effects to victory. The possibilities with Tetsuko becomes a lot more interesting once we have access to Green—a similar space to Ezuri, Claw of Progress, looking to make small creatures dangerous.

The simplest version of this deck will get both generals in play with mana doublers like Mana Reflection and Zendikar Resurgence on hand to animate unblockable lands. But as a backup plan, this deck could use cards like Sprout Swarm and Scatter the Seeds to stream tokens and build to Mycoloth and Sporemound. From there we utilize our mana doublers to power out Verdant Force and Living Hive at the higher parts of our curve, continually going wide.

In our optimal board state, we’re winning with some combination of Kamahl’s ability or Craterhoof Behemoth. In many respects this deck isn’t doing anything new, though I think that this partnership creates an interesting style of deck: attacking with small creatures and having an outlet to win through combat. In Simic.

Hidetsugu and Rakdos, Lord of Riots

As somebody who is a fan of all things Eldrazi, I have looked at Heartless Hidetsugu and Rakdos, Lord of Riots, wanting so badly for them to come together so I can cast giant eldritch horrors. They already share a color, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to just port them into a deck that has both a color identity of black and red. But this two-card combo is so compelling to me that it’s the kind of thing I would want to build an entire deck around and not have to depend on a Rakdos deck that finds Heartless Hidetsugu at some point.

The game plan is pretty straightforward. With a Vanquisher’s Banner in play, hit everyone for half their life total and start chaining together the meanest of all the Eldrazi, drawing another card with each creature spell. Could I be patient and cast Artisan of Kozilek, Desolation Twin, a huge Endless One, and Pathrazer of Ulamog all on separate turns? Sure, but this sounds more fun. While the combo is certainly powerful, I feel it is partially handicapped by the fact that it really can’t go off until the fifth or sixth turn. Drop a Cyclops of Eternal Fury or Mass Hysteria and close out games in style. And if that plan doesn’t work out, I can promise that a hasted Rapacious One and Vicious Shadows can make for a wonderful rattlesnake effect.

Gitrog and Borborygmos

This is the lands matter deck that we all deserved from Commander 2018. There is no question that this deck would need to die on sight as soon as the generals are revealed. Borborygmos Enraged with access to Shadow of the Grave and Archfiend of Ifnir is a very dangerous combination. I have tried to make this happen in real life, within the confines of the format, but it never really pays off when I test it out.

When The Gitrog Monster and Borborygmos Enraged partner up, our deck will have a higher ratio of lands than most decks—around 45 to 50—and a high amount of cards that can move lands from our library to our hand, graveyard, or battlefield. Add in Storm Cauldron and World Shaper to help maximize landfall triggers and properly recycle our lands. I would also recommend Creeping Renaissance and Praetor’s Counsel as powerful combo pieces to circumvent drawing through our deck to get the win. On second thought maybe it’s good these two can’t be partnered together. This deck sounds too good, but I want to play it so badly.

Raff and Reki

The technology of batching that created historic is an interesting space to focus a deck. The interaction of Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage and Kamigawa block had me scouring through the set looking for fun interactions. It was once I saw Reki, the History of Kamigawa that I realized that there was a historic deck, mostly focusing on legendary spells, that could be done in Bant to great effect.

Taking the popularity of Leyline of Anticipation into account, the flexibility of having flash and the possible upside of our spells cantripping means that we should be able to play the game on our terms with lots of card advantage. We could consider a Super Friends deck, focusing on Djeru, With Eyes Open and Call the Gatewatch to tutor out a toolbox of planeswalkers. Or maybe a legendary creatures matters deck is more your style, using Thalia’s Lancers, Time of Need, and Heroes’ Podium to find utility creatures like Kira, Great Glass-Spinner to protect our creatures or Venser, Shaper Savant as countermagic.

The most exciting part for me is how differently this deck would play. In either form, the existence of cards like Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and Board the Weatherlight make this deck to be better for a legendary theme than other viable decks like Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain’s Izzet strategy or even an Atraxa deck, which is more skewed towards solely planeswalkers.

One of the most appealing parts of Commander is its ability to adapt into whatever form you may see fit, as long as it fits within the guidelines of your playgroup. I am fortunate that my group is fairly open to allowing house rules for deck construction. My hope is that we see partner come back, likely in its Battlebond incarnation. I think that twist was good and that it is for the best to have those more specialized generals. What type of legendary creatures would you like to see partnered up to create an archetype that you don’t feel is currently getting attention? Until next time, thank you.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH, the EDH community, and streams on Twitch 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. Join him for a stream at on Tuesday nights.

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