*edh

Topi’s Daily Card #1061:  Varchild’s War-Riders

After a whole lot of Hour of Devastation cards, how about something a little bit older.  Varchild’s War-Riders is a creature that is super powerful for two mana for back in the day, but has a huge downside of giving your opponent a growing number of 1/1 creatures.  Now, there are things you can do with this guy that can lead to some cool things.  It’s a hug card and you get to choose who gets how many of those little 1/1 creatures.  Now, you can’t do cute things like warp worlding them away to your advantage, but anything like Aether Flash can kill the 1/1 outright, or use things like Blood Seeker, Suture Priest, Authority of the Consuls, and probably others I’m forgetting can lead to those creatures creating life advantage one way or another.  It’ll make people really confused when you play it, but with the right cards this old rare can be a nightmare to your opponents.

10

With the new card Annointed Procession being spoiled, there are now four different enchantments with replacement effects that double token creation. This sets up the following scenario in my Rhys the Redeemed commander deck: 

I control all of the permanents shown above, with the Illusionist’s Bracers equipped to Rhys.
I activate Rhys’ second ability, which will create a copy of the single Elf Warrior token I control.
This ability causes both the Bracers and Rings of Brighthearth to trigger, making two copies of the ability. 
The first copy resolves, and tries to create 1 token. This creation is replaced by an effect of one of the four enchantments (say, Parallel Lives), so instead we attempt to create 2 tokens. Rather than make those, another replacement from another enchantment (say, Annointed Procession) takes place, and would create 4 tokens. However, Doubling Season instead tries to create 8 tokens, and Primal Vigor will finally replace that and create 16 tokens total. Whew! 
Now, the second copy of Rhys’ ability will resolve and try to create another 17 tokens, but again there will be a chain of replacement effects, going from 17 to 34, 34 to 68, 68 to 136, and 136 to 272, giving us a new total of 289 tokens.
Finally, the original ability resolves, and another series of replacement effects take place, trying to give us 289 but doubling to 578, then doubling to 1156, and again to 2312, and at last to 4624 tokens. 
This means that, starting from a single token, we will end up with a grand total of 4913 tokens. That’s seventeen cubed! Hopefully I will get the opportunity to pull this off in a few weeks when Amonkhet is released!

By popular demand, here’s an extensive multicolor land list for budget deckbuilding

Dual

Orzhov - Orzhov Basilica, Orzhov Guildgate, Scoured Barrens, Foresaken Sanctuary, Tainted Field, Salt Flats

Isolated Chapel, Godless Shrine, Shambling Vent, Concealed Courtyard

Dimir - Dimir Aqueduct, Dimir Guildgate, Dismal Backwater, Salt Marsh, Submerged Boneyard, Frost Marsh, Jwar Isle Refuge, Dreadship Reach, Tainted Isle, Waterfall Cavern, Rootwater Depths

Drowned Catacomb, Watery Grave, Choked Estuary, Sunken Hollow, Fetid Pools

Golgari - Golgari Rot Farm, Golgari Guildgate, Foul Orchard, Jungle Hollow, Tainted Wood, Pine Barrens

Woodland Cemetery, Overgrown Tomb, Hissing Quagmire, Blooming Marsh

Rakdos - Rakdos Carnarium, Rakdos Guildgate, Urborg Volcano, Cinder Barrens, Bloodfell Caves, Akoum Refuge, Molten Slagheap, Tainted Peak, Lantern-Lit Graveyard, Cinder Marsh

Dragonskull Summit, Blood Crypt, Foreboding Ruins, Smoldering Marsh, Canyon Slough

Boros - Boros Garrison, Boros Guildgate, Stone Quarry, Wind-Scarred Crag, Scabland

Clifftop Retreat, Sacred Foundry, Needle Spires, Inspiring Vantage

Azorius - Azorius Chancery, Azorius Guildgate, Coastal Tower, Meandering River, Boreal Shelf, Sejiri Refuge, Tranquil Cove, Calciform Pools, Cloudcrest Lake, Thalakos Lowlands

Glacial Fortress, Hallowed Fountain, Port Town, Prairies Stream, Irrigated Farmland

Selesnya - Selesnya Sanctuary, Selesnya Guildgate, Elfhame Palace, Tranquil Expanse, Arctic Flats, Graypelt Refuge, Blossoming Sands, Saltcrusted Steppe, Tranquil Garden, Vecc Townships

Sunpetal Grove, Temple Garden, Fortified Village, Canopy Vista, Scattered Groves

Simic - Simic Growth Chamber, Simic Guildgate, Woodland Stream, Thornwood Falls, Skyshroud Forest

Hinterland Harbor, Breeding Pool, Lumbering Falls, Botanical Sanctum

Izzet - Izzet Boilerworks, Izzet Guildgate, Highland Lake, Swiftwater Cliffs, Caldera Lake

Sulfur Falls, Steam Vents, Spirebluff Canal, Wandering Fumarole

Gruul - Gruul Turf, Gruul Guildgate, Shivan Oasis, Timber Gorge, Highland Weald, Kazandu Refuge, Rugged Highlands, Fungal Reaches, Pinecrest Ridge, Mogg Hollows

Rootbound Crag, Stomping Grounds, Game Trail, Cinder Glade, Sheltered Thicket

Triple Lands

Shards - Seaside Citadel, Crumbling Necropolis, Arcane Sanctum, Savage Lands, Jungle Shrine

Khans - Sandsteppe Citadel, Frontier Bivouac, Nomad Outpost, Opulent Palace, Mystic Monastery

Multicolor

Any - Command Tower, Transguild Promenade, Rupture Spire

Any with Stipulations - Exotic Orchard, Forbidden Orchard, Reflecting Pool, Pillar of the Paruns, Primal Beyond, Mana Confluence, Ancient Ziggurat, City of Brass, Grand Coliseum, Haven of the Spirit Dragon, Ally Encampment, Rainbow Vale, Sliver Hive, Spire of Industry

Charge Counters - Vivid Grove, Crag, Creek, Marsh, Meadow, Mirrodin’s Core

Fetches

Basic Land

Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse, Myriad Landscape, Panoramas

Land Type

Bad River, Flood Plain, Grasslands, Krosan Verge, Mountain Valley, Rocky Tar Pit

Cryptic Commander #9: Why Did it Have to Be Snakes

Don’t you just love it when a new Legendary Creature gets spoiled and you know it was meant to be? I got to experience that yesterday when a certain Commander-to-be got spoiled over Twitter, and man am I head-over-heels for this card. Let’s cut to the chase:

(You see what I did there? The card was spoiled by Elaine Chase over on Twitter. You know what? It isn’t funny anymore. I had to explain it. Forget I said anything.)

So, brief personal aside on my experience with BG in Commander. I’ve tried to build a couple of different decks with the color combo, and I ultimately end up with what feels like the same deck. Graveyard Shenanigans.dek. There’s nothing wrong with graveyard decks, I’m just really tired of how the BG ones play out. Jarad and Meren did their best, but I could not be convinced to play BG after I finally took them apart. None of the other BG generals really appealed to me, from Nath of the Gilt Leaf to Sapling of Colfenor. Then they spoiled Hapatra, and the gears started turning immediately. I started playing Magic just before Scars of Mirrodin came out, so -1/-1 counters were part of my formative Magic experience. It has been too long since we had -1/-1 counters, and now they’re giving us a Commander in BG that cares about -1/-1 counters. Thank you based Wizards for bestowing this gift upon me and all the other lovers of -1/-1 counters in this game. We are truly #blessed.

So, what sort of things can you do with Hapatra? I suppose you could attack with her, suiting her up with a Whispersilk Cloak so she can get in unopposed and slowly build up counters and snakes for you. You could do that, and it’s probably a decent thing to include in whatever deck you build, just to have a back-up plan; but, I like to dream big. There are a handful of very playable Commander cards that like to throw -1/-1 counters around to every creature. Thanks to the wording on Hapatra, you won’t be rewarded for placing a bunch of -1/-1 counters on a single creature as part of the same affect (see “Whenever one or more” wording), but putting one counter on a bunch creatures means an army of snakes in the making. The following are some of the best at this:

Black Sun’s Zenith for one has never been so rewarding! Paying three mana to weaken the entire board and make a bunch of snakes seems like a great plan. You could also just wrath the board and be the only one left with creatures at the end of it. Even if Hapatra dies in the process, you’ll still get all the snakes because she’ll see the counters placed on everything before hitting the bin. Carnifex Demon gives you another good, recurring source of -1/-1 counters. If you have a way to get counters on it besides the ones it comes into play with (like Hapatra’s ability or something like Gnarled Effigy), the demon can be a real problem. Contagion Engine kind of speaks for itself. Putting a counter on each of an opponent’s creatures and then proliferating twice will get you three separate triggers from Hapatra for three times the snakes. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg, the most obvious thing you can do.

Alright, we’re starting to get somewhere now. Crumbling Ashes insures that you never have to commit too many counters to the same creature. It’ll die sooner or later anyway. Blowfly Infestation lets you recycle some of the counters from dying creatures for another Hapatra trigger and more value. Necroskitter makes those sweet creatures your opponents have work for you after they die with a counter on them. It’s finally time for Necroskitter’s day in the sun! However, you don’t just have to put counters on your opponents’ creatures. Have you considered putting counters on your own creatures?

There are a couple of creatures that like to have -1/-1 counters on them for utility purposes. Blow up more artifacts by keeping your Wickerbough Elder fully stocked. Beat down hard with a resilient threat in the form of Deity of Scars. Grim Poppet lets you pinpoint the counters you want to disseminate and take out problematic creatures. You also have the option of throwing Quillspike into the deck for what can only be described as shenanigans. Quillspike will let you remove counters from any of your creatures, which means Persist creatures are gonna get to come back for multiple go-arounds. Puppeteer Clique and Woodfall Primus say hi! And that’s only the fair thing you can do with Quillspike. Turns out Quillspike goes infinite with Devoted Druid. Put a counter on Devoted Druid to untap it, tap it for a Green mana, use the Green mana to remove the counter with Quillspike’s ability, repeat ad infinitum. If you have Hapatra in play, this means infinite snakes. Seems pretty good to me, but treat infinite combos with care. It isn’t fun to lose to them, or win with them, all the time. Be nice about, huh?

Considering how few sets have featured -1/-1 counters in the history of Magic, there are certainly a lot of cool things you can do with them. There’s even an Enchantment that basically has Hapatra’s ability, except it makes Elves instead. Flourishing Defenses. There’s all sorts of things you can do with a Hapatra deck, and I am really excited to try them out!

So, what do you think of the newest BG Legendary? New hotness or soon to be forgotten? Let me know what you think! Any cool interactions I might not have noticed? I would love to see them! Until then, enjoy the rest of spoiler season for Amonkhet and hopefully there will be even more Commander goodies to discuss.

Robert Burrows