A Love Letter to Umori

(Umori, the Collector | Art by Jehan Choo)

Not My Type!

Since the Companion mechanic was spoiled, I’ve heard many people muse out loud that they weren’t sure who the mechanic was actually for. Constructed is in shambles, Commander has largely shrugged and said the restrictions are too much, and Limited just first picks them whenever possible.

Well, wonder no more, friends. Companion was for me. Me personally.

More specifically, me and my oldest Commander deck. I’ve had Sapling of Colfenor “Oops, All Creatures” since I started playing Commander in 2010. I sometimes feel that my entire EDH build and playstyle has evolved from this one deck, as the plan was always to start creature-heavy and have “an indestructible Phyrexian Arena in the Command Zone” (that was the kind of thing you strived for back in 2010).

This often caused me to dabble in other arbitrary restrictions with my other decks, especially once I had tried to make “Oops, All Creatures” actually accurate. Imagine my delight, then, when an entire ten eight-card cycle was printed with the arbitrary restrictions right on them! It was music to my brewing ears, and so I immediately leapt into action and…

Ignored every Companion but Umori, the Collector, instead making a deck for every possible card type it could discount, which, it turns out, is all of them!


Creatures

Obviously, the place to start was with my existing deck. I imagine creatures is where most Commander folks will go with Umori, at least as a Companion, and I would be interested to know what your builds look like!

Regardless of how other people did it, though, this deck is and has been for quite some time solidly in the Aristocrats strategy. At this point, it’s too far in to change, and I’m too stubborn to consider anything else.

The deck has always struggled with getting up and going, however, so Umori’s cost reduction could really be a boon. I’ve also borrowed some Mutate effects to combine with my indestructible commander since the last time I published this decklist, along with picking up a second Viscera Seer in the form of Woe Strider, and the best Aristocrats finisher ever, Syr Konrad, the Grim. The best new addition aside from the purpose-printed Umori, however, has to be Crashing Drawbridge. If you’ve seen a Whisper, Blood Liturgist do work, you know to kill it as soon as possible. That’s all well and good, but if it has haste, it’s not really an option!

Ent-titled Aristocracy

Commander (1)
Companion (1)
Draw (9)
Finishers (7)
Other (2)
Mana Acceleration (10)
Mass Removal (5)
Recursion (9)
Removal (13)
Sac Outlets (6)
Tokens (4)
Lands (34)

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The All Creatures version has proven to be much less good than including engines like Lifeline and Birthing Pod, and missing top-of-the-library manipulation such as the likes of Sylvan Library and Sensei’s Divining Top has definitely hurt. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? When playing casual EDH, we all consciously made the decision to not play the best Magic possible. Restrictions like this just move that scale, which only means we have more flexibility when it comes to matching the table.

As for other options, there are a ton. Unlike some of the other card type combinations, going all creatures gives you basically every Commander that includes the colors black and green that’s ever been printed in Magic (96 by my count), so there is definitely room to brew here!


Artifacts

Artifacts was much more restrictive, however. Total, there are only three possible commanders which Umori allows with her Companion restriction. While we’re being restricted in our leader choices, however, our total options have been expanded quite a bit with the requirement that we play five color.

Of the options, Golos, Tireless Pilgrim bored me the most. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very good, there are artifacts that allow blinking, which makes it even better, and having a mana sink to just play your entire deck is very strong with accompanying mana rocks from every color. A Golos build would, at its heart, just be good stuff, however, which is really not what you’re looking for when building under restrictions to begin with.

Reaper King, on the other hand, is pretty interesting. Scarecrow tribal is fun and has a lot of pieces that can come together and be quite powerful. With that said, though, I know all of that because it’s an established archetype, and while exploring that through the lens of all artifacts could be fun, I think ultimately we have a much more interesting choice here.

Ramos and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Commander (1)
Companion (1)
Artifacts (25)
Lands (33)
Creatures (39)
Enchantments (2)

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Ramos, Dragon Engine is also a very established commander that has had some very scary builds of it made. This is not that. This is noticing that you have an opportunity to play all five Borderposts and that there are enough colored artifacts out in the world now to tighten down our restrictions even further and only use colored artifacts that will get counters on Ramos.

Is it good? No. But it does have that mad scientist feel where every time you do something it makes something else happen, and people will actually believe you when you tell them that you’re not playing that Ramos, Dragon Engine deck.


Enchantments

If you thought the commander selection for artifacts was restrictive, though, may I introduce you to Pharika, God of Affliction, the only commander you can play with Umori as Companion? Widely regarded as the worst God out of Theros, Pharika makes Snakes. That’s it. That’s all she does. And she has to exile creature cards from graveyards to do it, and, if you do it to an opponent’s graveyard, they get the Snake instead of you.

So, yeah. Not the best starting point here for our “Oops, All Enchantments” pick. There is one saving grace, however: the Snakes are enchantments, and they have deathtouch. In other words, we can trigger our enchantress effects multiple times a turn with tokens, we can hold them up as rattlesnake, or we can attack with them being fairly confident that our opponents won’t sacrifice actually useful assets to stop a few damage from coming through.

Pharika Pestilence Tribal

Commander (1)
Companion (1)
Mana Acceleration (16)
Buffs (10)
Draw (10)
Removal (10)
Tokens (11)
Finishers (6)
Other (1)
Lands (36)

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What’s maybe more interesting, however, is that our commander is a mana sink that can make creatures at instant speed. Given that we’re in green, there are a lot of options that can help us gather an army of mana to pump into that mana sink, and, with black to help, we should be able to get some creatures in the graveyard. Another key part of the puzzle that helped me decide on which direction to go was that our commander, along with several other creatures that were good options in the enchantment deck, is indestructible. In other words, if we can repeatedly wipe the board in ways that keep our commander around, then we have an advantage, especially since the creatures that do die can be exiled to make Snakes.

So what wipes the board repeatedly and cares about us having access to creatures at all times? Pestilence! It will also keep life totals low so we can finish things off quickly with a horde of tokens with pseudo-haste from being created on the last player’s end step. Not to mention that if we have non-creature enchantments on the board (likely), then our commander will be online as a creature, keeping Pestilence on the board along with swinging in for five every turn. As a companion to Pestilence is our excuse for playing snow lands, Withering Wisps, and I’m also taking some artistic license to pretend Hecatomb is in the same vein. That may not actually be true, but being able to throw out six or seven damage a turn to any target is something that takes over games quickly, even if the initial risk factor is very high.


 Planeswalkers

Back before the release of War of the Spark, I made an article asking if “Oops, All Planeswalkers” would be viable in various color combinations (in summary, yes in three color, but not in mono- or dual-color yet.) I also mused what commanders I would play for Superfriends in each color combination. Luckily, that musing turned out to not all be for naught, as there is only one commander option available that meets Umori’s planeswalker only stipulation, and it just so happens to be the commander I suggested for the Jund color combination: Lord Windgrace.

Jund Em Up

Commander (1)
Planeswalkers (60)
Lands (38)
Creatures (2)

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If you’ve ever played a Superfriends deck, you’re probably aware of the main problem when it comes to planeswalkers: closingout the game. Granted, I’ve only goldfished around with this one for a little bit, but it honestly doesn’t feel like it’s going to have that problem. “When in doubt, Jund ’em out” seems to be much more the mantra of this random pile of green, red, and black planeswalkers, and I personally am here for it. While the deck does start off slow, Umori comes down on turn four and feels great as a 4/5 blocker to protect your planeswalkers, and then allows you to drop your commander the next turn with a mana untapped, often to downtick Lord Windgrace to get two fetch lands back into play to then play a four drop planeswalker.

Once you get that far, it’s a blistering mass of tokens, value, and removal. While it would take some time to get used to options to figure out how much mana you actually have, how many ‘walkers you can play, and whether that translates into three tokens with haste that also have +1/+1 counters that allow them to tap for mana, at which point you could get on with it or cast yet another planeswalker… It feels good, is what I’m saying, and I wouldn’t be amazed to find that it often translates to much more direct wins than most Superfriends experiences you may have had.


Bonus Decks

Your commander counts against Companion restrictions, which means that, technically, you can only have Umori as a Companion for the permanent types: artifacts, creatures, enchantments, and planeswalkers. But I wouldn’t be the mad completionist I am without at least throwing out some shout-outs to the other card types in the game, would I?

You might also be wondering why each of these is Golgari only. The reason is is that if you were to play these at a table, you would have to ask ahead of time if you could play your commander/Companion pairing under Rule Zero. If so, then great! If not, then you can say “Okay!”, and just shove Umori in as your direct commander, easy peasy!


Instants

Grismold Draw-Go

Commander (1)
Companion (1)
Buffs (7)
Card Advantage (10)
Mana Acceleration (5)
Mass Removal (14)
Protection (9)
Spot Removal (9)
Tokens (11)
Lands (34)

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The instant build is a strange mix of swarm and Voltron, allowing you to constantly be pumping out tokens while simultaneously slaughtering them to make Grismold, the Dreadsower larger. Interestingly, however, you can do all of this at instant speed, meaning your opponent pretty much always has to play around you having all of your mana open, and therefore the threat of protection. Throw in a Not of this World, and you’ll even have opponents worried when you don’t have mana….


Sorceries

Nath of the Stax-Leaf

Commander (1)
Companion (1)
Discard (9)
Life Gain (5)
Other (4)
Poxes (9)
Ramp (9)
Recursion/Draw (16)
Sacs (10)
Lands (37)

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Our final deck is much less friendly than its compatriots, being a discard deck that feeds you tokens, which you can then sacrifice to Pox effects to keep yourself ahead on parity. This is known as Stax, and is not always welcomed at every table. That said, people will hardly be able to complain. You’re only playing sorceries, for goodness’ sake!


Companion Conclusion

So what do you think of the builds? Are you planning on tweaking one of your existing decks to be able to use a Companion, or building a whole new deck around one? If you were to build Umori, the Collector, what card type would you choose to discount?

Let us know in the comments, and we’ll see you at the little Companion card table we had to set up to have enough room for everyone to fit around the dining room table.

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.