It can honestly be a little exhausting trying to build a Commander deck that is optimized to a general’s full potential. And because Magic the Gathering is infinitely mutable, I really love embracing the deck building restriction to meet the power level of a preconstructed deck. We get so many legendary creatures nowadays, that you can likely find a worthy candidate for this practice in every set, but I especially find that uncommon legendary creature cycles are a great place to start.

Ever since Dominaria in 2018, I have had a bit of a thrill when Wizards gives us a cycle of uncommon legendary creatures from time to time. Going into The Brothers’ War, this was not something I necessarily anticipated, thinking that the conflict between Urza and Mishra would just take up too much of the set. To my surprise, Wizards fittingly had a partial cycle of uncommon legendary creatures in highlighting the three “paths” within the titular war. While it is obvious that groups of people formed behind Urza and Mishra’s ideologies, a group of people decided not to align themselves with either of the two sides but to form the Third Path.

Today, I wanted to highlight the white member of this uncommon cycle, Loran, Disciple of History, as I view her inclusion to be not only a good place for someone to become better equipped to pilot an artifact recursion deck, but also simply because the commander jumped out at me for its simplicity of form. In this exploration of Loran I want to really put a focus on a simple deck that can be upgraded over time, but works at a pretty reasonable budget and understandable power level.

Commander: Loran, Disciple of History

Creatures: Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, Angel of the Ruins, Brass Secretary, Copper Gnomes, Crovax, Ascendant Hero, Daring Archaeologist, Daxos, Blessed by the Sun, Foundry Inspector, Hollow One, Hope of Ghirapur, Ironsoul Enforcer, Jhoira’s Familiar, Konda, Lord of Eiganjo, Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”, Liberator, Urza’s Battlethopter, Loran of the Third Path, Losheel, Clockwork Scholar, Oswald Fiddlebender, Rebbec, Architect of Ascension, Reveillark, Salvage Scout, Sigrid, God-Favored, Sojourner’s Companion, Spirited Companion, Steel Seraph, Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle, Treasure Hunter, Yomiji, Who Bars the Way, Zetalpa, Primal Dawn

Artifacts: Avacyn’s Memorial, Cloud Key, Commander’s Sphere, Conjurer’s Closet, Dispeller’s Capsule, Hedron Archive, Hero’s Heirloom, Ingenuity Engine, Inspiring Statuary, Mind Stone, Platoon Dispenser, Semblance Anvil, Sword of the Chosen, Tenza, Godo’s Maul, Thran Temporal Gateway

Enchantments: Day of Destiny, Flickerform, Teleportation Circle

Planeswalker: Ugin, the Ineffable

Instants: Astral Confrontation, Banishing Stroke, Mana Tithe, Path to Exile, Swell of Courage, Your Temple Is Under Attack

Sorceries: Akroma’s Vengeance, Austere Command, Board the Weatherlight, Mine Excavation, Refurbish, Search for Glory, Sevinne’s Reclamation, Urza’s Ruinous Blast

Lands: 27 Plains, Ancient Den, Darksteel Citadel, Desert of the True, Drifting Meadow, Guildless Commons, Inventors’ Fair, Reliquary Tower, Secluded Steppe, War Room

Loran, Disciple of History, the deck’s commander. Additionally, Angel of the Ruins and Treasure Hunter, thematic examples of the purpose of this artifact recursion deck.

Loran Recursion for Beginners

One thing that I certainly value in a Commander deck is when they can play the role of an introduction to a specific archetype. In this case, I feel like the artifact recursion that is so central to what Loran, Disciple of History is trying to do also helps to create a deck that at its core is artifact-focused in a way that isn’t just about amassing a giant pile of tokens and trying to take the opponents out as quickly as possible.

When comparing Loran, Disciple of History to Loran of the Third Path, it’s funny how the rare provides utility, but not the base for a Commander deck. When building this deck, I took a lot of influence from Oswald Fiddlebender and Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero, tuning the list to be able to search out, sacrifice, and recur artifacts. By the end, the list started to feel like a stellar introduction to how toolbox decks can work and taught me a lot about the power of threats that just won’t stay dead.

In my mind, the artifacts are where the card advantage is going to be coming from when piloting this deck; searching out lands with Angel of the Ruins or Sojourner’s Companion, drawing cards with Commander’s Sphere and Hollow One, and removing problems with Dispeller’s Capsule.Then, we can recur them back to our hand with one of our legendary creatures or the other cards that were specifically curated as artifact recursion effects to buy back any artifacts we may want back. It all seems so simple, but the test games with the deck have found this to be a resilient combination.

Strong Enough to Make Sacrifices

Very early on in the design of this deck I knew that I wanted to try to play up the power of artifacts that can be sacrificed for an effect, because recurring them was going to be as simple as having a legendary creature enter the battlefield. The most basic version of this is Brass Secretary, who essentially cycles from the battlefield, but I was also interested to see if a card like Ingenuity Engine was going to have more potential than it was letting on. Additionally, in my attempts to find more cards like Thran Temporal Gateway, I stumbled upon Copper Gnomes, which admittedly has a steep cost for a one-time effect, but is mitigated by our general’s ability to simply get it back immediately. The Gnomes started out as a thematic inclusion, but when you realize you can get Angel of the Ruins or Avacyn’s Memorial into play at instant speed, you begin to see that there are a lot of issues you can address with zero notice to your opponents.

At the core of all of this is the major goal of the deck, using and recycling resources in the hope that we can accrue the card advantage needed to outplay our opponents and move towards the endgame of our deck. This is why cards like Mine Excavation, Refurbish, and Treasure Hunter can be seen in this deck, substituting for our general and allowing us the extra reach.

Keeping it Legendary

I think it’s fair to say that legendary creatures are pretty awesome and this deck really allows us to stack in a whole host of them not only for their unique abilities, but as extra Loran triggers. Oswald Fiddlebender is the prime example of this, acting as a sacrifice outlet and artifact tutor. Once you start viewing a lot of the legends in this deck as enchantments, it becomes clear why we purposefully only have three straightforward enchantments in the list. Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon” is our Glorious Anthem. Rebbec, Architect of Ascension is maybe one of the coolest twists on Earnest Fellowship for artifacts out there. And I’m not even sure what to compare Yomiji, Who Bars the Way to, because it’s just a unique effect that synergizes so well with this list.

But the legendary creatures also act as our main damage based win condition. Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Konda, Lord of Eiganjo, and Zetalpa, Primal Dawn are the endgame threats here and everything else is designed to help me stay afloat long enough to dig for them. In truth, all three of them have some Achilles’ heel, but I’d like to think that the diversity of what they’re capable of means that our opponents will likely be unprepared when we finally do cast one of the three and start to close out the game.

What started out as just a simple deck that I wanted to build around an uncommon legendary creature turned into something that I think absolutely has the potential to be iterated on in the future. This list could work as a great first step into mono white recursion and also plays up two card types that can be so appealing to a new player: artifacts and legendary permanents. Next time, I hope to take a look at one of the legendary creatures coming out of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, because I have no doubt that the set will offer strange and interesting designs, beyond anything we’ve gotten used to. Until then, thanks for reading.

Ryan Sainio (he/him) is a Graphic Designer exploring the Commander format and Magic history on a regular basis. Notable decks that value flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks include Shattergang Eldrazi, Doran Soul Sisters, and Chatterfang ProsBloom.

MTG Content Creator Awards 2022 nominee: Format Specialty Writing & Excellence in Writing Overall

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