Hello everyone! I’m Literally a Ghost that Pushes Over Candles and welcome back to The Spirit of EDH. Today we’re going to haunt a smithy and talk about some equipment, as well as discussing a bit about land and bugets with our Mardu (R/W/B) deck featuring a pair of powerful partners.
Decks that have an equipment or aura theme have the tendancy to load up one creature to make them amazingly big and impossible to remove to send your opponents to the crypt in a few swings. However, strategies like this often run weak to the right type of removal and often feel very one-dimensional gameplay wise. For this reason, Akiri and Tymna tend to spread their equipment out. With multiple sources to generate creatures and access to two creatures from the command zone from the get-go, this deck can go wide and suit up its tokens as easily as it can go tall.
We should also talk about the color choice. Why Mardu as opposed to mono-red, or Red-White as would be the traditional equipment decks might be. With the addition of black we have access to more card draw, something that Boros tends to lack, as well as a few fun cards such as Elbrus, the Binding Blade and Herald of Anguish. In addition to that, we’re playing Tymna in the command zone! Now, I’ll admit a bit of geistly bias. Tymna is my favorite of the partner commanders. The ability to have card draw like hers from the command zone is so refreshing. It feels so much harder to brick absolutely when you have access to cheap card draw in your opening hand!
So, for our breakdown (besides the mortar of this mausoleum in card draw, ramp, and removal) we’ll be looking at the Equipment, the Wielders of these weapons, and the supporting cast for this. I’m going to gloss over obvious inclusions, like Sram, Senior Edificer, Puresteel Paladin, and Steelshaper’s Gift, to talk more about the additions to this deck in specific.
Bloodforged Battle-Axe — This equipment replicates itself a la Spawnwrithe every time the wielder deals combat damage to an opponent. Since Akiri counts the number of artifacts you have, as well the number of tokens you’re capable of producing, it isn’t difficult to spread out and quickly amass a ton of these cheap equipment.
Forebear’s Blade — When you need to get in damage with a disposable creatures, nothing does it better than Fourbear’s Forebear’s Blade. Letting you swing in with a token to connect with trample damage, perhaps replicating your Bloodforged Battle-Axe or triggering a Sword of, then reattaching itself to save you the equip cost from the next body down the line.
Sword of Body and Mind Et. Al. — The most powerful of equipment, each one is a great boon to have as quickly as possible. The protection effects can draw a lot of ire from certain playgroups but always remember, the swords are just swords. They’re not protected like the creature holding them is. Despite that, protection is still an amazingly powerful effect, able to let you get in unblocked often to take advantage of their abilities. I did include all five Swords-of as a personal choice, especially as Body and Mind generates a body that can pick up the Swords if their wielder dies.
Hammer of Nazahn — This is a powerful equipment from the Commander 2017 series. The equipped creature becomes indestructible, which is doable with other equipment as well, and gains a moderate power boost. However, the real draw is the ability to get a free equip when you first forge a weapon. The mana you save is quite helpful. You also gain the ability to craft several equipment in one stroke and alpha-strike, which can catch a lot of players off guard.
Elbrus, the Binding Blade — While the casting cost and payoff in stats for this equipment is disappointing, what it turns into certainly isn’t; A massive flying demon in the form of Withengar Unbound. This one is more of a pet card than anything, but as you will generally hold this until you can play it, equip and swing in immediately, it becomes more of a question of removal. The demon of Innistrad will quickly end the game otherwise.
Adorned Pouncer, Champion of the Flame, Danitha Capashen, Paragon, and Balan, Wandering Knight — These creatures fall into the same idea: They hold equipment well and offer some other benefit. Adorned Pouncer can come back later in the game as a bigger threat, Champion grows for each equipment he’s holding, Danitha makes your Equipment cost less to cast, and Balan can pick them all up at once. They all tend to play similarly, though, in that they’re efficient creatures that can hold weapons well.
Aryel, Knight of Windgrace and Oketra the True — Both of these powerful cards can hold equipment in their own right but have a secondary function as well. They both can produce bodies to hold additional equipment, allowing you to spread your strength rather than put it all in one basket.
Stillmoon Cavalier — A card that doesn’t get much attention from Eventide, this Knight comes pre-made with Protection from White and from Black. This makes him a nightmare to get rid of once he’s suited up and has some extra toughness under his belt. In addition, he can give himself First Strike, Flying or an additional power for an additional investment.
Heavenly Blademaster — If ever there was a go-wide Equipment strategy payoff, this would be it. Allowing you to pick up all your equipment to put on her is a strong ability, but she additionally buffs your team for each equipment she’s holding. Even when she’s holding the armory in her hands, your token force is still very deadly. As well, never discount a Flyer-with-Double-Strike’s ability to instantly kill someone.
Karn, Scion of Urza — The main ability we want from Karn here is the ability to make scaling Constructs. Similar to Akiri, he can produce robots that grow in size for each of your artifacts. This isn’t to discount the powerful ability to draw cards, which is pure gravy, but he is a reliable source of powerful attackers as well.
Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer — While he holds equipment just as well as Heavenly Blademaster can, the lack of Double Strike and the passive nature of his buff lends him more as a support card. As well, an 8/4 can swing in for damage very often, but he can have an impact the turn he comes down, even if he doesn’t pick up all the equipment you have in doing so.
Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker — This unassuming angel can hold equipment just like any other creature but in the case of an artifact specific board wipe, she will be there to restore them to your hand. Importantly, she will see equipment that is destroyed at the same time as her, tossing them back to you as she dies.
Cards to Consider
Hangarback Walker — This construct doesn’t wield a sword particularly well, but the ability to burst into a swarm of Thopters is just too good to pass up. Making Akiri a more deadly commander while also being able to carry Swords-of in the air after it dies is something that people will be afraid of.
Sigarda’s Aid — If the ability to equip for free can be a massive boon, being able to drop equipment and attach them for free at instant speed is amazing. The ability to make sure you get in with a Sword-of or connect for Tymna’s card draw makes a deadly game of blocking. Its as though all of your arsenal has ninjutsu!
The Spice Market
Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor — Her ability to incite war into your opponents is astounding. They can’t block with the Survivors she makes, they don’t want to leave them passive in case she leaves and you scoop up an army of Survivors, and your equipment makes sure she creates her trail of Survivors faster and faster. The sub-game of trying to manage your vengeful Survivors but not leaving too many for Varchild to sweep up in her disappearance is fun and powerful. Exactly what you want from Commander.
Herald of Anguish — No combat stats besides Flying means that he seems an odd inclusion at first. Keep in mind, however, that you can improvise off of Equipment without affecting it in any way. Even Equipment that is attached can be used to play this demon without harm to the creature holding them. A cheap evasive body that slowly drains your opponent’s hands, with the added bonus of being able to throw away artifacts to kill problem creatures makes this a worthy inclusion.
Daretti, Scrap Savant — This version of the goblin inventor does play well with artifacts, we don’t need his looting and Trash for Treasure-like ability in order to draw cards. That’s what we added black for! He has been less impactful that other card-draw type effects might be.
Darksteel Plate — Giving indestructable is a powerful ability, to be sure, but since our creatures rely more on abusing the stats and effects that the equipment gives them, the fact that the plating doesn’t give any abilities often fails to impress me in this build of the deck. Couple that with the amount of exile in our playgroup and you’re better off with Hexproof, Shroud or Protection to stave off death.
Brass Squire — Not a lot of our equipment is so expensive to equip that we would dedicate a slot to doing it once per turn cycle, especially not on a stat-inefficient body such as this.
Helm of Kaldra, Sword of Kaldra, and Shield of Kaldra — While assembling Kaldra may be difficult (Just ask Tomer of the MTGGoldfish crew) the cards are certainly fun to play with. Having a large, recursive body that can’t be dealt with easily and dismantles anything in his way is certainly fun!
Valduk, Keeper of the Flame and Kemba, Kha Regent — If you wanted to double down on the token sub-theme of the deck, or perhaps wanted to take out black for a different color, both of these legends are good at flooding the board with creatures.
Grafted Exoskeleton — A powerful way to make enemies, this equipment can end games in a single swing. Requiring only 8 more damage, or 3 more if the creature has double strike, it is amazing how fast people die to a single attack if you choose to include this card. As well, Tainted Strike can preform a similar role, if that’s what you’re into!
The last thing I wanted to discuss was lands. While my first article had more of a budget land base, a three-color deck will certainly run you a pretty penny more. If you’re looking to adapt this deck for your budget, I implore you to upgrade the land base first, even if it doesn’t look quite like mine. Lands are so easy to include and versatile enough to include in every deck you make in their colors. A budget land base is easy to craft, but very often it will frustrate you how many of your lands come into play tapped.
If your playgroup has a slower game plan, then, by all means, shave off some money on the land base. If you’re starting to feel the drag of your guildgates on your tempo, however, a powerful land base is an investment you won’t regret.
So tell me, what did you think? Did I offer information you thought was helpful, raise some insights you might not have thought of, miss stuff you thought I should mention, or any other thoughts I didn’t call out? Leave a comment below to let me know, or you can haunt me directly on Twitter (@FrigglishTGhost) or spook my email (AMillionDifferentColors@Gmail.com).
Make sure you join me next week, where I’ll be talking about Will and Rowan Kenrith!
Until then, may the Spirit of EDH possess you with creativity.
— Literally a Ghost that Pushes Over Candles
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