March of the Machine, Magic: The Gathering’s latest set, has dropped dozens of sweet Commander cards into the format. I did cover most of the cards in the MoM 1 and 2 installments, but I omitted one in particular.  Today, it’s the highlight.

If you’re a big fan of Streets of New Capenna, you might remember Jaxis, the Troublemaker. I’ve enjoyed Jaxis in the 99 of various creature decks looking to get extra triggers from entering the battlefield or attacking. The biggest drawbacks are that Jaxis requires a hefty mana investment to keep around, and requires discarding a card to activate. Today’s highlight is a cool new spin on Jaxis with a significantly higher ceiling.

Welcome back to the Commander Corner, and today’s highlight is…

Orthion is a creature that has a lot of similarities to Jaxis, but there are some key differences. First, Orthion’s ability doesn’t loot. While it might make it more difficult to churn through your deck like Jaxis, the Troublemaker allows, it also means you don’t have to have cards to discard in the first place.

The second big difference is Orthion has an expensive second activated ability which can easily end games. Imagine creating five copies of Utvara Hellkite with haste. That’s gonna move some life totals pretty quickly. Of course, it also costs a backbreaking nine mana.

From here onward I’ll describe the general strategy I’m trying to aim towards with Orthion, and the various aspects of the deck I focus on while deckbuilding. Further below, there will also be a decklist. I’m not aiming to play the absolute best cards and disregard the budget of a given player completely, but I am certainly not looking to create a weak deck.

Mono-Red Blues

Every mono-color Commander has two important facts to contend with, when it comes to deckbuilding. The first is you only have access to one color, which is limiting for obvious reasons. This tends to make decks more expensive. The second is your mana base is significantly more simple. This tends to make decks cheaper.

While mono-red excels when it comes to ritual-effects like Seething Song, the color struggles to deal with enchantments. It also lacks many ways to recover from boardwipes. As you might expect, Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink requires a hefty amount of setup to use to its fullest potential, but that’s true of basically any mono-red deck. However, rather than focusing too hard on the weaknesses of mono-red, I think trying to play towards the cool stuff this Commander can achieve is the best pathway forward.

Nine Mana

If you’ve been a fan of the Commander Corner for some time, you might know that I really enjoy casting discounted spells, particularly with Saheeli, the Gifted and Alaundo the Seer. Unfortunately, Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink has no such discount and no great ways to cheat on the restrictive second activated ability. If you want the big effect, you probably have to pay full price for it, which is six generic and three red mana.

That’s okay. I like the idea of reaching nine mana being a kind of ‘doomsday clock’ for the table. Yes, if I reach nine mana with my Commander in play, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll find some way to ruin someone’s day, or at least their life total. It’s not like Orthion doesn’t have anything else to do. You always have the first ability, and that’s really the focus of the deck. There’s plenty of creatures who will go wild if you copy them five times, but the mana cost is too high to be the sole consideration. Keep that in mind going forward.

Orthion, Piracy Enthusiast

This might be shocking, but there’s a lot of creatures in Magic which weren’t designed to be copied multiple times across a single game, or within a single turn. With a little work, you’ll be doing so much unauthorized reproduction your bootlegging operation can grow into an organized crime ring big enough to inspire a creature-themed DMCA. Perhaps you wouldn’t download a car, but I’m sure you’d love to copy an Inferno Titan. Am I reaching a bit with this metaphor? I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

Two mana isn’t much, and we can use common play patterns to understand how we’ll be able to use the ability while still developing our board state. Since Orthion costs four mana, some of the same deckbuilding guidelines we used with Saheeli, the Gifted in my build of that deck (Insert link to: Commander Corner Original: Saheeli, the Gifted) will apply, particularly in regards to two-mana rocks which enable your Commander on turn three.

If you can routinely play your Commander on turn three, you’ll be untapping with it on turn four often enough in most casual games. Bonus points if you can justify purchasing a Deflecting Swat to keep him safe while your shields are otherwise down. Once you untap on turn four, you’ll have either four or five mana depending on whether or not you’ve drawn a land. This means your best bet for activating Orthion as early as possible is to play lots of impactful two or three-mana creatures.

I’m Trying (Hard) Not To Mention Dockside Extortionist

So, with the explicit goal of copying impactful two or three-mana creatures, there’s a few cards that really tend to excel. Priest of Urabrask not only pays for itself, but also subsidizes your activation of Orthion, to say nothing of using The Big Ability on it for combo value. Basically any creature that costs five or less mana, as long as it produces or leaves enough mana to activate Orthion, also fills this role, such as Rapacious Dragon.

Along similar lines, cards like Professional Face-Breaker, Wily Goblin, and Impulsive Pilferer can also build up your mana by creating treasures with Orthion as early as turn four. If you’re in the market for card advantage, Skyscanner, Imperial Recruiter, and Skittering Surveyor are all fine cards which will accomplish this task.

Going Big

Aside from the cards mentioned above that can perhaps generate the requisite mana to let Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink pop off, there’s only a few select ways you can reliably make it to nine mana. The first of which is Treasonous Ogre, which is an all-star in almost any red deck. If you can manage to shell out for a Jeska’s Will you might be able to get there as well. There’s also Staff of Domination that, while it doesn’t necessarily enable the initial activation, earns you infinite red mana when combined with Orthion and Priest of Urabrask.

If you do make it all the way to nine mana, there’s quite a few powerful cards that, while they don’t go infinite, will probably end the game. Besides the previously mentioned Utvara Hellkite, you can do some good work with Devilish Valet, Inferno Titan, Witty Roastmaster, and quite a few others. Goblin Chainwhirler, Plundering Barbarian, and even the classic Solemn Simulacrum all fit perfectly in this deck as well.

The Deck

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to red interaction, from Pyroblast and Reverberate to Chaos Warp, Lightning Bolt, and Blasphemous Act. But, I’ve spent enough time talking about cards, and I’m sure you’re craving a decklist by now. While the list below isn’t the final authority on what a Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink deck should look like, I do think it’s a pretty good one.


Creature – 27
Wily Goblin, Impulsive Pilferer, Circuit Mender, Solemn Simulacrum, Rapacious Dragon, Plundering Barbarian, Professional Face-Breaker, Humble Defector, Shrapnel Slinger, Red Dragon, Goblin Chainwhirler, Devilish Valet, Inferno Titan, Witty Roastmaster, Utvara Hellkite, Treasonous Ogre, Filigree Familiar, Priest of Urabrask, Mindclaw Shaman, Patron of the Arts, Imperial Recruiter, Goblin Welder, Goblin Engineer, Cathodion, Meteor Golem, Duplicant, Bladegriff Prototype

Artifact – 17
Fellwar Stone, Thought Vessel, Ornithopter of Paradise, Liquimetal Torque, Patriar’s Seal, Arcane Signet, Sol Ring, Mind Stone, Fire Diamond, Prismatic Lens, Panharmonicon, Mimic Vat, Skullclamp, Ashnod’s Altar, Staff of Domination, Swiftfoot Boots, Lightning Greaves

Enchantment – 6
Determined Iteration, Outpost Siege, Visions of Phyrexia, Court of Ire, Descent into Avernus, Fires of Invention

Instant – 7
Wild Magic Surge, Tibalt’s Trickery, Reverberate, Red Elemental Blast, Chaos Warp, Chef’s Kiss, Seething Song

Sorcery – 6
Faithless Looting, Burning Inquiry, Irencrag Feat, Gamble, Blasphemous Act, Seize the Spotlight

Planeswalker – 1
Daretti, Scrap Savant

Land – 35
32 Mountain, The Mycosynth Gardens, Terrain Generator, Forgotten Cave

That’s the list. I’ll be honest, I cut out a whole lot of high power level cards because the prices are a bit outrageous. This extends to Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Ruby Medallion, Terror of the Peaks, and a few others. If you can afford those, more power to you. For those on a budget or those who want to play more casually, you’ll find that Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink has a lot of potential with the list above. You should feel free to experiment, as there’s tons of cards in red that a lot of people have probably never considered, including me. I really hope you’ve enjoyed this new deck! I’ve been Luka “Robot” Sharaska, and this has been the Commander Corner!

Luka V. Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a talent for calculating odds, and a perfect poker face. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011.

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