60 to 100 — Animar With The Rewind
Greetings my bodacious mutli-format loving associates! Today, on this Monday of seeing the entirety of the Master 25, we get down on some fun from the set that celebrates our beloved game throughout the years. What could be more far out than a whole article celebrating stuff from the early 90's? Some puns and casual references built in? Well, if you insist! I'll take these boys and turn them into men!
The Good Son: Animar, Soul of Elements
So Masters 25 is out soon, you're pumped to play this sweet old/new mythic you pulled that you've heard so much about. Protection from white AND black!? Nice. +1/+1 counters? Sweetness on a stick. But this gnarly and cheap legendary also makes your fatties cheaper to cast, meaning you can do a slew of different things in an Animar, Soul of Elements deck. If you're an Animar player you're probably the type that would play Maelstrom Wanderer but that's too mainstream, too hip. You're Lindsay Buckingham, you're all about going your own way.
So based off the top 5 it seems that we have a pretty combo focused route on the average deck. Ancestral Statue Statue becomes a free spell VERY quickly, so it's understandable that you'd play lots of colorless/artifact creatures. Add a little ramp, the above mentioned Cloudstone Curio to get a little more out of hand and you're casting 10+ creatures like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and other monsters faster than you can pull the metaphoric crisscrossed pants off your buddies at the table.
With all that said, we can deduce that you like casting big dumb things ahead of the curve. While everyone else is playing 2-drops on turn two, maybe a 4-drop on turn 3 and so on, you're about moving those steps ahead a turn or two...or more. Tapping your lands for only one mana seems insane in your brain.
The Jurassic Zoo...or Park
I'm thinking of a deck. It's oversized and gets out of hand quickly. Not quite dinosaurs, but they're big nonetheless. I'll give you a hint: there is a legendary one in Animar's top-5 played cards. Need a hint?
Whoomp, there it is! The tag-team is back again. When you're in the Modern format, you always need to worry about those pesky eldrazi fatties. Eldrazi Temple acting as a tribal Ancient Tomb is quite the powerful thing to do when everyone else is only getting one mana for each land(usually...). I guess it would only make sense that we get to play a format full of lands that make our creatures easier to cast ahead of the curve!
Some people might say you're a creep, maybe even a weirdo for playing a deck like this. But we know that these cards definitely belong here in the 100-card world. It's no ordinary world, but they're welcome nonetheless. Let's dig in!
Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme
One of the great things about the Commander format is you're not limited to just the most efficient way to do things. If you're a one-trick pony you might get the reputation as Mr. Vain, so you really shouldn't rely on just one card to do everything like you may in a smaller deck. Eldrazi Temple is great and all, but we get so much redundancy here too! Temple of the False God, the Urza lands in Urza's Tower, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Mine pluse Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx all act as "Sol Lands," or a Sol Ring effect on a land producing more than one mana. Green decks specialize in creatures that make mana as well, so very rarely will this Animar eldrazi deck have to let linger on the resources front.
The fact that these numbers aren't the same is...concerning
Lands that create extra mana is just one part of our multi-faceted machine here. Animar's built-in cost reduction can lead us to some explosive starts, but what's an explosive start without an explosive finish? That's when we feel a tap on our shoulder and Fierce Empath asks "Why don't you show me love?"
Two Tutoring Princes
Well you know what? I would do anything for love. Conduit of Ruin and Fierce Empath are the buddies that aren't really that cool themselves but they always seem to bring a friend to every party who are just out of your league, so you figure "why not, right?" Tutoring is a very powerful effect, and while I'm not big on Diabolic Tutor in lots of decks, conditional and on theme tutors are A-OK in my book. Getting played in over 4,000 decks reporting to EDHREC is no small task, and getting played in over 7,000 means that it's probably something you should be doing as well.
Finding Our Huckleberry
This is when we really get to go above and beyond what any of our opponents are doing at any time. Since Fierce Empath and company to find our haymakers it frees us up to play almost any finisher we want. The new elder dinosaur legendaries from Rivals of Ixalan all qualify as high-costed game changers that many players are excited about, and I'm no different. It just happens that in a Temur color deck we get to play the best three as well! It isn't terribly hard to imagine casting Ghalta, Primal Hunger using a mere two green mana, which is enough to make anyone come undone. Etali, Primal Storm to come down and really cause some headaches? I feel you. And Nezahal, Primal Tide to draw fistfuls of cards? Now we're living on the edge!
Three dino-Musketeers I'm happy to search for
Also, what's an eldrazi themed deck without those big fat legendary titans everyone is so scared of? Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is one of my favorite game-ending threats that also happens to be able to pick off some pesky permanents we wouldn't be able to otherwise. Casting a Kozilek, the Great Distortion for next to nothing and drawing up to a fresh seven cards in hard feels like walking through fields of gold. Card drawing, face beating, spell countering gold. The impact that even casting any of the eldrazi titans can have on a game is worth the price of admission, resolving and the after effects make the deck turn into a runaway train that will make sure you NEVER going back to paying full price for your vanilla creatures.
And now since I don't want to leave this article with a cliffhanger ending, let me be your informer on what the final list looks like. Presenting Animar's Nightmare Before Christmas!
Falling Down to the ending
- You may look at the decklist and wonder why I don't play any card draw spells despite being in blue. Well my friend, a good portion of our creatures have some sort of card draw built in. Whether we're casting Mulldrifter for cheap to draw a couple cards or activating a Shaman of the Great Hunt there are plenty of ways for someone to go from "I've Got Nothing," to "It Was A Good Day!"
- If you follow the Modern format much outside of these articles, you'll notice the Humans tribal deck that has risen lately is all about creatures with some sort of spell effect on them. This deck has the same motiff as well, using Animar instead of Aether Vial to cheat the mana costs. Whether it's more removal in Acidic Slime, ramp in Farhaven Elf, or disruption in Mystic Snake there are plenty of ways to turn the table into a bunch of grumpy old men despite playing mostly creatures
- When you're playing a deck that is as commander-centric as this deck you need ways to protect your legendary leader. Don't walk away from the table never really getting to do much since your commander was essentially priced out of the game. Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots are the gold standard for protection in Commander and their numbers on EDHREC show that. Playing some key protection like these artifacts help make sure Animar is able to be a menace to society much more often than otherwise.
And there we go, our rousing and cheaty-faced Animar, Soul of Elements pile. Don't walk away from any of the legendary creatures getting the Masters 25 treatment, the set looks absolutely incredible to draft and I'm hoping to do a couple myself. I would even walk five hundred miles for a chance to draft it, but I wouldn't walk five hundred more. I mean, it looks sweet but not THAT sweet. I would fall down at someone's door if that were the case, and strangers are scary. Let me know what you think and how you would build Animar in the comments! Would you go full combo or a slower approach?
Also, feel free to give me some suggestions for decks to bring over! I'm always welcome for a challenge, just not quite Death's Shadow in Commander type challenge. I'd rather try to free a whale and have it jump over me than try that...