Wow. This was the selling point of Commander 2016. The Wizards of the Coast put out five brand new decks, each with a four color general And because designing four-color cards is such a difficult task, they created a new “partner” mechanic, that lets you mix and match a pair of two-color commanders, for some new EDH ideas.
If you have been reading the SpartanNerd Blog for awhile, you know I recently picked up Kaalia of the Vast, a three color “mardu” general. I did this because I really like casting Angels, Demons, and Dragons. But also…this is one of those cards serious EDH players should have. And at this point, I do consider myself a little bit serious about Commander. I think the “Breed Lethality” deck, with Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice will be the next deck along the same line as the Kaalia thing. You can’t find it anywhere! I have been looking patiently at the big box stores, knowing that they will stock it at MSRP. But all I ever see are “Open Hostility” and “Stalwart Unity.” Luckily, at the SC Comic Con I saw Atraxa’s deck…and in Japanese no less!
Because it is in Japanese, (Kanji I assume), I thought it a good idea to wait awhile and get some experience with the deck. This was a great decision. I feel like I have a thorough review for you today, chock full of experience!
This week has been Spring Break, and I spent a great bit of time playing Commander. I saw “Breed Lethality” quite a few times…almost exactly the stock version. I took my own baby out, the almost totally foiled out Liliana Tribal to a few tournaments this week. There was one time that in a five player match, two players had Atraxa! She’s good! But there is also a little bit of sadness when a deck gets so popular “everyone is playing it.”
Well anyway. Here’s my review!
We get the same sort of box we always get. This time, though, the writing is all in Japanese.
The window shows you a real clear view of the oversized foil general, Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice. Flying. Vigilance. Deathtouch. Lifelink. At the end of your turn, Proliferate. That is…add another counter of any kind on the board…on as many different permanents as you want. This general is so good…, it’s no wonder people want to play it. It is almost like a challenge for you to figure out how to use it! Proliferate Poison Counters…Experience Counters. Abuse cards that look for +1/+1 counters. Suspense counters. Time counters. On and on.
Here’s the back. It shows off some other cards.
These three are the “Partner” generals. You can mix and match them. In fact, if you did buy the other Commander 2016 decks, you would have fifteen different cards to interchange all together!
Here’s the contents of the box. This time I am going to complain a little bit about the box.
This is the first time that I have DOUBLE SLEEVED an EDH deck. This deckbox can’t accommodate Dragon Shields double sleeved. It CAN hold Dragon Shields without the double sleeved system if you side load them into the box. But not the double sleeved. (Why did I double sleeve? To write the english text in Sharpie on the card as an aid as I tested out the deck.)
The other items in the box are…The deck. The General. The box, along with a plastic tray that can double as a swimming pool for Lego Mini-Figures, a how to play reference guide, which is probably just as unsuitable in Japanese as in English for EDH, and then the insert which contains story, art, how to play the deck, and the all-important decklist. But it’s all in Japanese, so I can’t tell you what it says!
This week while playing, I heard the Atraxa’s story. Basically, four of the Praetors, Elesh Norn, Jin Gitaxias, Sheoldred, and Vorinclex each decided to transform an angel into a Phyrexian Horror. Urabrask, the red Praetor, decided to stay out of it. This is why Atraxa is all four colors except red.
This is a pretty cool story. I don’t really know that much about the Praetors. I do have Elesh Norn for my Gifts Ungiven deck in Modern. And I have a foil Sheoldred coming in the mail to add to Liliana’s deck. But really, neither would be all that great added to this deck…that’s not really how this deck wants to play out.
So…On with a review of the cards!
First of all, here are the generals.
Atraxa, Who I already explained. You get this smaller card to shuffle and be discreet with in your hand, in case someone out there was wondering.
Inkra Shidiqi, the Usurper…this person lets you gain life equal to the toughness of your creatures when they deal combat damage to a player. I find this an odd ability in the colors Green and Black. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to play or play against this card yet.
Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker. He flies, and lets you put counters on him whenever your opponents play a spell. (And since this game is titled MAGIC….)
Reyhan, the Last of the Abzan. This character gains the +1/+1 counters of other creatures when they are put in the graveyard.
I have partnered Ishai and Reyhan….they are an incredible combination! I was able to 132 +1/+1 counters on Reyhan!
Here are the tokens…next in the deck. How cool is it to have a Japanese “Germ” token!
Now for the main deck. As before…I will really only comment on cards that I find to be really significant through my experiences. But this time the deck is terrific, so…
Thrummingbird. A 2/2 flyer that lets you proliferate. This is getting you there! Abzan Falconer. Do you like fliers? I thought you did! Tuskguard Captain…everyone gets trample if they have a +1/+1 counter on them! Juniper Order Ranger. Everyone deserves a counter! Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, they get a +1/+1 counter, and so does the Juniper Order Ranger!
The Signets. And Darksteel Ingot. One thing about this deck…if you are playing Atraxa, and you can’t get all of your colors, you might just be behind everyone else. The Wizards wisely reprinted the signets and Darksteel Ingot to help you fix your mana. (Commander’s Sphere is practically the same thing as Darksteel Ingot. It isn’t indestructable, however.)
Mortify and Putrefy. This deck doesn’t have that much targeted removal. These two do nicely, if not as well as Fatal Push, Path to Exile, or Vendetta.
Crystalline Crawler, Deepglow Skate, and Duelists Heritage…these are all new cards. They all work really well. You get to load counters on the Crystalline Crawler, who is colorless herself. So you can play that without all of that fixing. Deepglow Skate lets you double the counters on a permanent, and then Duelists Heritage helps you play politics, as you can choose an attacking creature to give double strike too! Forgotten Ancient…He gets a counter whenever anyone casts a spell…even you!
Kalonia Hydra…double counters every turn! Ghave, Guru of Spores. I remember the first time I ever saw this guy as a general…wow. He can make a ton of Saprolings. Scavenging Ooze. Need I say more about that card!
Of the cards on the bottom…Fathom Mage lets you draw a TON of cards. Merciless Eviction and Spitting Image. Merciless Eviction is almost the only sweeper in the deck. Spitting Image…It is frustrating to see this card across the table. Not pictured…Treasure Cruise…
There are plenty of basic lands, but here are the fixers. You need the power of ALL OF THESE!
Command Tower AND Opal Palace. Bounce lands. Tri-Lands. And Evolving Wilds.
As I have played against this deck this week, I have noticed one of the most striking modifications is to add Fetch Lands and Shock Lands to help with the fixing. This is something I have rarely seen in Commander…but it makes sense for these four color decks.
Playing the Deck
All week I have played this deck, and played against it. In different places. So I have a varied look at it.
The deck is great as is. And I have seen it played like that some. When I have played it, I like Forgotten Ancient/ Ishai Ojutai Dragonspeaker combo. The Mana Fixing has to be right…But I haven’t had any trouble myself. I have seen other people have trouble assembling the necessary mana base, however.
You want to be sure to get some creatures on the battlefield, and then to have some counters on those creatures. Besides not assembling the colors you need, the other way to lose is to have “counter screw.” This actually has happened to me, and it’s frustrating. But it was all about the luck of the draw that time.
You want to get cards like Corpsejack Menace, which doubles the counters. You have to be careful about the order of the triggers in order to maximize your value, however.
When playing against other people who play this deck, I have seen one standout strategy for a custom deck: infect. In EDH, you still are dead with ten poison counters. Not twenty as you would hope. I saw one guy kill everyone at his table in one turn. I was holding an excellent mono-black hand, and that guy ruined my game!
SpartanNerd’s Rating of “Breed Lethality” Magic the Gathering Commander 2016
I’m going to give this product a 5/5. It’s goodness all around. The Wizards were able to give us a functioning deck with cool new game play. They didn’t have to reprint fetches and shocks, (which would have wrecked the product availability and after-market price even more.) The four color commander Atraxa is great, and promises a future of creative deckbuilds.
I’m not sure how the “infect” problem should be handled, though. Atraxa is well loved, and so a ban probably isn’t going to happen. But getting killed off frequently by infect isn’t fun. So there’s a problem for the EDH rules committee.
THE SPARTANNERD RATES “BREED LETHALITY” 5/5. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!