Thursday, November 17, 2011

From Rhys to Jenara: CommanderCast Crossover Special!

(Today's article is part of the CommanderCast crossover month, and is brought to you by 'Line in the Sand' columnist Brionne, aka Fork of Doom. Enjoy!)

It's Crossover Month at CommanderCast. Luckily my crossover partner already had an article in mind. One of his friends wants some suggestions for his current deck. The whole experience has been especially enjoyable for me, because I got the opportunity to write something a little different from my normal material. I'm the “community issues” girl, so deck doctoring is something I only get to do in my local community.

The deck in question is Rhys the Redeemed tokens. The deck’s pilot wants to try adding a third color. He's tried Ghave, and now wants to explore the possibility of adding either red or blue. I'm much more familiar with blue than red, so I opted for trying Jenara, Asura of War. My normal tactics of helping people with a deck won't work, because I've never met the player in question. I know that he has a bit of a budget (no Mana Drain here), and that he wants to keep the token theme. With that bit of guidance in mind, I'm going to do my best to lay out some suggestions for some Bant token beatdown.

I chose Jenara to be the general because, let's be honest, none of the Bant generals really contribute to a token theme. Jenara is a great beater, she's cheap, and plays well with Doubling Season, so she seems like the best choice. The addition of blue gives this deck one highly important thing—draw power. G/W tokens are great, but adding blue helps keep your hand stocked, which in turn helps keep pressure on the board. No more running out of fuel or getting blown out by a wrath.

This is the current decklist:

Rhys the Redeemed

Soul Warden
Mentor of the Meek
Twilight Drover
Geist-Honored Monk
Sun Titan

Essence Warden
Elder of Laurels
Sporeback Troll
Prized Unicorn
Ant Queen
Acidic Slime
Seedborn Muse
Hornet Queen
Woodfall Primus

Selesnaya Guildmage
Juniper Order Ranger
Phantom Nishoba
Chorus of the Conclave

Adaptive Automaton

Elspeth, Knight Errant
Garruk Wildspeaker

Sensei's Divining Top
Minion Reflector
Lightning Greaves
Whispersilk Cloak
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sol Ring
Everflowing Chalice

Tangible Virtue
Sacred Mesa
Words of Wilding
Beastmaster Ascension
Raking Canopy
Parallel Lives
Defense of the Heart
Doubling Season
Perilous Forays
Mana Reflection

Armadillo Cloak
Glare of Subdual
Priviledged Position
Pollenbright Wings

Hour of Reckoning
Gaea's Blessing
Nature's Spiral
Reap and Sow
Gelatinous Genesis

Path to Exile
Swords to Plowshares
Worldly Tutor
Strength in Numbers
Chord of Calling
Eladamri's Call

Command Tower
Elfhame Palace
Sunpetal Grove
Stirring Wildwood
Saltcrusted Steppe
Temple Garden
Selesnaya Sanctuary
Razorverge Thicket
Oran-Reif, the Vastwood
Reliquary Tower
Plains x8
Forest x16

The Subtractive Method

In order to make room for a third color, some cuts will have to be made. Here's what I felt were the weakest cards in the deck:

Geist-Honored Monk: She does make tokens, and can get huge, but has no evasion.

Elder of Laurels: He's amazing when you have a board full of tokens, but I'd rather add another token producer.

Sporeback Troll: He works well with Jenara and Doubling Season, but is simply too much of a mana investment for such a small effect.

Skullmulcher: When you're in G/W, having any drawpower is good. The addition of blue just opens up too many better options.

Phantom Nishoba: Phantom Nishoba is awesome, but he has no synergy with the deck, other than Doubling Season. This deck values more smaller bodies over one big one.

Adaptive Automation: There are many tokens that share the same creature type, but an unconditional anthem would be much better.

Lightning Greaves: Yes, boots are always good with Jenara. However, the deck needs to worry more about wraths than spot removal.

Whispersilk Cloak, Sword of Feast and Famine: Once again, great with Jenara. This deck just needs a way to make all its creatures bigger more than it needs to buff its general.

Everflowing Chalice: With the green-based ramp, I feel like mana rocks that aren't Sol Ring are unnecessary.

Tangible Virtue: Like Adaptation Automation, this would be better as an anthem effect for all creatures.

Sacred Mesa: This can make a lot of tokens, but only in a late-game situation with tons of excess mana available. It's a dead draw early game.

Words of Wilding: Although blue will give this deck more draw power, I don't like the idea of trading cards for 2/2 bears.

Raking Canopy: Jenara can handle just about anything that flies.

Armadillo Cloak: It's awesome, but also comes with the downside of all auras.

Harmonize: When the deck was G/W this was amazing, but the addition of blue just gives better draw power.

Strength in Numbers: It's only a blow-out if you have a board full of creatures.

The Additive Method

With the cuts out of the way, it's time to make some additions. They fall into three categories: token production/buffing, draw power, and miscellaneous utility.

Token Producers/Buffing

Kamahl, Fist of Krosa: Overrun on a body. Also wrath insurance. Nobody wants to lose lands.

Gaea's Anthem: Replaces Tangible Virtue, since it makes all creatures bigger.

Decree of Justice, Leafdrake Roost, Rite of Replication, Meloku the Clouded Mirror, Mirror-Sigil Sargent, Rhys the Redeemed, Sharding Sphinx, Notorius Throng: All of these are great token producers, and this decks needs all the dudes it can get. Notorius Throng does bother me from a flavor standpoint (the tokens are black), but more than doubling your amount of dudes in one turn seems great.

Draw Power

Shared Discovery: There is no way that this won't be Ancestral Recall in this deck.

Coastal Piracy: Assuming you don't go overboard drawing cards, this is a great way to refill you hand using the deck's most abundant resource.

Honden of Seeing Winds: A pet card of mine. Having an Arena that doesn't cost you a life every turn is great, as is a one-time mana investment to draw what can be a good amount of cards.

Opportunity: This would be Blue Sun's Zenith, but sometimes even the most expensive three color mana bases have a hard time producing UUU. I didn't want to put unnecessary strain on a budget mana base.

Miscellaneous Utility

Supply//Demand: One half is a tutor, and the other half makes tokens.

Bant Charm: Mostly to take care of those pesky generals.

Wargate: I'm not much one for auto-includes, but Wargate is such great utility that I can't ever bring myself to pass up putting it in a deck.

As for the mana base, adding a few U/W and U/G duals, along with a Seaside Citadel and a Treva's Ruins would probably do the trick.

 More Power!!

I thought about adding a countermagic suite, but I know that a lot of people dislike countermagic. If that isn't the case with deck, then a few counterspells (Hinder, Counterspell, and Spell Crumple come to mind) would be great, to keep from being blown out by a wrath. Some other cards I thought about but couldn't find room for are:

Mirari's Wake
Triumph of the Hordes
Centaur Glade
Ajani Goldmane
Aura Mutation
Caller of the Claw
Fresh Meat
One Dozen Eyes
Parallel Evolution
Rampaging Baloths
Sprout Swarm
White Sun's Zenith
Blue Sun's Zenith/Stroke of Genius

That's my take on making this Rhys deck into Jenara. It was really fun looking for all the token-related cards, as I've never tried making a token deck. I tried to make sure all my cards choices were budget and from newer sets. For a look at the red draft of this deck, head over to CommanderCast to see DarkThaumaturge's take on Rith the Awakener.

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