Hello all and welcome to a special holiday edition of Shattered Perceptions. For Valentine’s Day last year, I looked at different legendary creatures I wish could have the partner mechanic as we had seen it in Battlebond. As I was preparing to write something for the holiday this year, I wanted to return to the topic; but instead focusing on a list of pairs, this time focus on one deck under the same theme. While it took some thinking, I eventually realized that the perfect pair was already established in Magic canon and could really use more love: Chandra and Nissa.

Of course, if I’m going to feature this pair, it means I will be stepping outside of Commander and into Oathbreaker. While I am not an authority on the topic, Oathbreaker is a wonderful format because it not only feeds the demand for planeswalkers having a place in casual formats, while allowing for different expressions of similar ideas. My hope is that publicly presenting ideas that are outside of convention can help people feel empathy for others who want to try new ideas.

Chandra and Nissa

I probably don’t need to explain that within the story of Magic over the last three and a half years, readers witnessed the relationship of Chandra Nalaar and Nissa Revane slowly blossom into something significant. I appreciated that Wizards was bringing visibility to kind of relationship we don’t see enough of and with two of their most prominent characters. They teamed up to fight the Eldrazi and the Consulate, got split up by Nicol Bolas during the events of Hour of Devastation, and came back together for War of the Spark. As the story went on, Chandra was becoming a little more level-headed and Nissa was gaining a greater sense of the multiverse as a whole. But as the events of War of the Spark came to a close, Chandra’s personal issues soured their relationship, leaving the duo in shambles.

I understand that the choice to separate these two was not likely done to be completely malicious. But I feel now the Magic canon is faltering, in a time when other intellectual properties look to be more diverse and inclusive. That’s why, for me, these two are still partners, even if as a special house rule variant of Oathbreaker.

The hardest part of giving this deck form was trying to decide which of the planeswalkers I wanted to headline the deck. I wanted the two of them to compliment each other since they were going to unofficially get partner. That’s how I landed on Chandra, Awakened Inferno and Nissa, Vital Force, who together enable an Elemental Tribal theme for the deck. That led me to the following deck:

Generals & Signature Spells: Chandra, Awakened Inferno + Tempt with Vengeance & Nissa, Vital Force + Animist’s Awakening

Creatures: Avenger of Zendikar, Bane of Progress, Brighthearth Banneret, Cloudthresher, Fertilid, Flamekin Harbinger, Forgotten Ancient, Incandescent Soulstoke, Ingot Chewer, Lotus Cobra, Omnath, Locus of Rage, Rakka Mar, Scampering Scorcher, Titania, Protector of Argoth, Wilderness Elemental, Zendikar Incarnate

Land: 5 Forest, 5 Mountain, Cinder Glade, Flamekin Village, Forgotten Cave, Game Trail, Ghost Town, Gruul Guildgate, Gruul Turf, Kessig Wolf Run, Mosswort Bridge, Raging Ravine, Rootbound Crag, Rugged Highlands, Sheltered Thicket, Skarrg, the Rage Pits, Stomping Ground, Temple of Abandon, Timber Gorge, Tranquil Thicket

Enchantments: Elemental Bond, Perilous Forays, Zendikar’s Roil

Sorceries: Devastating Summons, Pir’s Whim, Rampant Growth, Shamanic Revelation, By Force

Planeswalker: Chandra, Flamecaller, Nissa, Worldwaker

Artifact: Gruul Signet

Instant: Nature’s Claim

Chandra, Awakened Inferno was a pretty easy choice here. While other incarnations of Chandra care about Elementals or create them at the very least, this version has the option of either applying pressure to the whole table with her emblem or being a much needed board wipe immediately. Nissa wasn’t as easy to narrow down for me; but as the importance of landfall triggers started coming into focus, I realized that making them into attackers was going to be a useful route to victory. Nissa, Vital Force seemed like the best choice because she works on the curve with Chandra and her first two abilities can be situationally awesome with little set-up requirements.

Elemental Fever

As a Commander player vetern, a hard part of deckbuilding in Oathbreaker is trying to slim the deck down to sixty cards. That’s why I wanted to find a solid theme to focus the deck’s identity. Luckily, Nissa and Chandra had versions that both complemented an elemental deck. While there is a five color elementals deck that I would love to plot out one day, the ability to get a healthy use out of Brighthearth Banneret, Flamekin Harbinger, and Titania, Protector of Argoth all in one deck is rather exciting. The important part of making this deck really thrive was not discriminating against spells that are exclusively elementals, remaining inclusive of ones that create tokens like Rakka Mar and Chandra, Flamecaller.

Oathbreaker has been a pretty fast format whenever I have had the chance to play it. This means that unlike Commander, we can’t get away with our average spell costing four or five mana. By bringing the average spells down to just above three and half mana, we’ll be looking to stay competitive throughout the entire game. This is another place where the Elemental tribe thrives, as they can be very low to the ground and also stock lords like Brighthearth Banneret and Incandescent Soulstoke to make them even more impressive.

Elementals have the benefit of being additional removal as well, most famously through Evoke on Ingot Chewer and Cloudthresher. Bane of Progress also acts as a huge late game removal spell that then becomes a must answer threat. Overall, the tribe is very versatile and I think this deck can have a lot of fun figuring out the exact right tool box it needs.

Crumbling Landscapes

With the color identity we have, it was not going to be much of a stretch to look at Omnath, Locus of Rage and other landfall engines. Funnily enough, while Omnath creates a lot of gravity around itself, I found myself gravitating less and less to cards that had landfall outside of Avenger of Zendikar and Omnath. Quickly, I found myself caring more about lands in general through Zendikar’s Roil, Wilderness Elemental, Zendikar Incarnate, and Perilous Forays. Which just goes to show that you need to keep an open mind during deck construction.

This deck is looking to go wide, possibly target one of the unblocked creatures with our Kessig Wolf Run as the dust is settling. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some other interaction I’m just overlooking. Regardless, when I was testing out this deck, I found that if I can reach the point of having Omnath, Locus of Rage hit the battlefield, the game could quickly spiral out of control with something like Tempt with Vengeance.

Concluding Thoughts

While it might not seem like it, each general can do a lot of work by themselves. I’ve already touched on Chandra as more of a control card element here; but Nissa does a great job of creating a blocker or attacker depending on the situation, while also getting back any permanent we might have used up over the course of the game. Additionally, if Nissa is able to launch off Animist’s Awakening, you can find yourself so far ahead of the rest of the table.

It cannot be denied that Chandra and Nissa make for a powerful couple, and that’s why I wanted to highlight this thought experiment deck today. The future of these two planeswalkers is admittedly murky as we move into 2020, but I have hope that they will find themselves together again soon. So here’s to Valentine’s Day and the Magic couple I realized too late held a special place in my heart.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH and the EDH community. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.

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