Hello everybody and welcome to another installment of my never-ending saga to create a Commander deck for every legendary creature in Magic: the Gathering. I think I’m getting close to the 1% mark.

This week’s deck is something special that offered a good lesson in how a deck can come to you when you least expect it. Since seeing the card, I wasn’t intending on building around Vega, the Watcher. In fact, I thought that the card was interesting, but only as something to be used in the other 99 as a fringe staple. But after some happenstance and some honest-to-god pure excitement, I discovered this deck and wanted to see it out in the world.

Vega is a fairly simple general that doesn’t ask a lot of you but with enough understanding of the myriad of different mechanics throughout Magic’s history, you can do some interesting things and I think the most exciting part is that this deck isn’t scratching the surface on what you can likely do with it. I’m choosing to take Vega in one direction, whereas somebody else will fill their version with less than half of the cards I’ve selected and still make something dynamic and fun for them.

So I want to get into what happens when you take a few spells-matter cards and a bunch of cards that leverage your opponents’ cards to create something special.

General: Vega, the Watcher

Creatures: Augury Raven, Chancellor of the Spires, Daxos of Meletis, Diluvian Primordial, Drannith Magistrate, God-Eternal Kefnet, Jace’s Mindseeker, Jubilant Skybonder, Knacksaw Clique, Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper, Prescient Chimera, Sage of the Beyond, Taigam, Ojutai Master, Thada Adel, Acquisitor, Ulamog’s Reclaimer, Vexing Scuttler, Wall of Denial

Artifacts: Darksteel Ingot, Fellwar Stone, Muse Vessel, Ornate Kanzashi, Talisman of Progress, Uba Mask

Enchantment: Mind’s Dilation, Shared Fate, Teferi’s Ageless Insight

Instants: Arcane Denial, Behold the Multiverse, Commit // Memory, Emerge Unscathed, Ephemerate, Farm // Market, Fervent Denial, Leadership Vacuum, Mission Briefing, Momentary Blink, Ojutai’s Breath, Oona’s Grace, Remand, Saw It Coming, Think Twice, Unsubstantiate

Sorceries: Aminatou’s Augury, Artful Dodge, Cenn’s Enlistment, Deep Analysis, Divine Reckoning, Dusk // Dawn, Gitaxian Probe, Knowledge Exploitation, Mind’s Desire, Nomads’ Assembly, Psychic Theft, Recurring Insight, Rise from the Tides, Sevinne’s Reclamation, Silent Departure, Spelltwine, Stolen Goods, Talent of the Telepath, Time Wipe

Lands: 15 Island, 5 Plains, Azorius Chancery, Command Tower, Exotic Orchard, Forbidden Orchard, Gateway Plaza, Glacial Floodplain, Glacial Fortress, Halimar Depths, Hallowed Fountain, Hengegate Pathway // Mistgate Pathway, Mana Confluence, Meandering River, Prairie Stream, Reliquary Tower, Sejiri Refuge, Temple of Enlightenment, Tranquil Cove, Transguild Promenade

I have always been a fan of creature-based strategies. As such, it has been a long time since I have built a deck where I felt secure dedicating so much space for non-creature spells. It’s just something that I’m not that well equipped to handle, especially in Commander.

I can remember times when in Standard or Modern, I would lean more towards the spellslinger archetype, but it came with a lot of trust in myself and even more understanding of the deck. I would enter a tournament with just Hedron Crab and Snapcaster Mage for my creatures, confident in my own abilities. All to say, returning to this archetype, especially in Commander, is something that had me very excited from the get-go with this deck.

Sampling from the Table

The building blocks of this deck came while I was brewing an upcoming deck, looking through rares that I had set aside from old decks. Two of the cards I stumbled upon were Muse Vessel and Ornate Kanzashi, which both played into a deck design space that I admittedly had not personally considered for Vega.

When I first saw Vega, I did some brainstorming of all the intersecting mechanics I could think of that would play well with the legendary bird spirit. Obviously foretell came to mind; suspend, flashback, and rebound all felt like potential spaces to mine as well. But I kept having the mental blind spot that I was going to be resigning Vega to a slot in an Elsha the Infinite or Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest deck—probably because they play so well with red’s impulsive draw. After seeing Muse Vessel and Ornate Kanzashi, along with the Uba Mask, I realized that not only could all of my cards essentially trigger Vega, but I could also be using my opponents’ spell to my advantage.

From this initial idea came the core of the deck, intended to leverage not only our own cards, but the advantageous options around us. From that point of inspiration came a deck that very strongly leans into using our opponent’s resources as our own.

Honestly, looking over the deck, I don’t know that there is enough space to go over all the ways we can leverage our opponents’ stuff. The theme manifests itself in our ability to play cards precisely out of our opponent’s decks with Knowledge Exploitation or Thada Adel, Acquisitor and more indiscriminately with Daxos of Meletis or Mind’s Dilation. But we can also mine their graveyards with cards like Jace’s Mindseeker, Diluvian Primordial, or Spelltwine. This has added a degree of excitement to games, as the pressure of us to have all the answers housed in a our deck is gone, allowing me to play more wacky spells meant to wow the table.

Leaving the Table Off-Centered

Obviously casting borrowed spells from exile will result in Vega drawing us a card. But the fact is, in an uncommon move for myself, our general is not essential to a winning or losing.

This attribute is really what pushed Vega over the edge for me. Most of the effects that I am taking advantage of could have gone into any deck that happened to have a Blue color identity. But I think the intermingling of these effects that take advantage of what our opponents are doing, combined with the benefit of drawing a card in an approachable way means that the deck has a level of card advantage that should be refreshing without being overbearing.

I don’t know if I’ve developed a deck that draws its power level from the rest of the table like Vega does in a long time. Short of stacking the deck with Clone effects, clearly signaling that you plan to draw your best spells from the rest of the table is not always easy. It takes a certain politically friendly bend to really move out of the cross hairs of the table.

For this deck, it seemed best to do this by using counter magic that wouldn’t provoke ill-feelings like Arcane Denial, Remand, and Unsubstantiate. This was an effort to allow us to not only see threats coming, but also get other players to train their eyes on the spells that could matter to them and forget about me.

Cast from Exile

Of course, the legacy of a deck can often be how it plays cards that twist the rules enough for everyone to often feel intended for symmetrical game play, whereas a deck built knowing this twist is coming can take advantage of it and not lose nearly as much ground. This dates back to including Uba Mask in the deck, but I think another excellent example is Shared Fate.

Besides turning off niche spells that care about being cast from your hand—such as Breaching Leviathan or Myojin of Infinite Rage—it deprives our opponents of their own cards, makes discard spells useless, and plays so strongly Vega, because we will be drawing more cards than our opponents likely will be. Overall, this is meant to finally reveal ourselves as the threat at the table, after a long game of playing the nice guy.

On a more socially acceptable note, rediscovering Aminatou’s Augury and how well it plays with our general was an inspiring revelation. While paying eight is admittedly a high cost, getting a land and three spells at the right time has proven to bust games wide open in the past. And now, we’ll be drawing cards for each spell we cast from exile as well.

Lastly, turning spells into creatures is going to be essential for this to function. An easy choice for me was Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper, but I also discovered that in this deck Rise from the Tides plays like Spider Spawning does in other decks. Bonus points if we can follow the spell up with Nomads’ Assembly for maximum creature presence.

Sometimes the best deck ideas come when you’re not expecting them and that was really the case this week. For a card that I assumed would only be a role player in a different deck, Vega has really impressed and inspired me to build a pretty interesting and fun experience. It’s uncommon to find a deck where you are leveraging your opponent’s cards that doesn’t feel unrelenting and I don’t honestly think that that’s how this deck will play once it is in a wider ecosystem. I am genuinely excited to tune this deck, find what doesn’t work, and try out some of the cards that didn’t make the cut. If nothing else, having a spellslinger deck in rotation is refreshing. Until next time, thanks for reading.

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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