Achievement Unlocked - Building around "Living Weapon" Creatures
( | Art byMarta Nael)
Is Nahiri Equipped to Cut It In Commander?
Have you ever made a Commander bucket list? Welcome to Achievement Unlocked, where we take a look at the cool and unique things you can do in this format other than just winning.
Much of March of the Machine: The Aftermath has gotten lost in the shuffle between poor decision making from Wizards of the Coast as well as spoilers from Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth already starting to fill the timeline. However, in looking back at this mini-set, there's one card catching my eye that I completely overlooked at first.
I'm pretty sure I saw a six-mana Boros Nahiri card and assumed this must just be another over-costed Equipment commander. I am always drawn to Equipment commanders that encourage you to build out a board of equipped creatures rather than a Voltron strategy. For me, they tend to be less explosive but much more fun to play, and I find that Voltron strategies tend to lead to a lot of third place finishes. However, this new 's text box is pretty sick. I love the Affinity mechanic, and Affinity for Equipment is a great way to balance it. It's a particularly great mechanic for a commander. Equipment are inherently resilient to many board wipes. You might lose your board but this card could still cost just two mana.
Second, I had to triple check that this card did not say “one or more creatures”. This card can come down and immediately provide huge amounts of card advantage and even mana advantage if you have some Equipment. One of the nice things about the Voltron strategy is that you can play next to no creatures in the 99. Decks that are looking to equip multiple creatures have to find a balance between creatures and Equipment, which can be difficult to get just right.
This commander is the perfect excuse to build around one of my favorite mechanics, or rather a series of mechanics. For Mirrodin!, Living Weapon, and Reconfigure allow us to play creatures that we can still cast for free with our commander. The first two even trigger our commander and allow us to add token synergies to our deck! This is territory that Wizards of the Coast seems to keep exploring, which is the perfect excuse to build out a deck around these cards before that becomes the “popular” thing to do.
Okay, so if you have read any of my articles in the past, you know I've been known to put some absolute stinkers in my decks to make a theme or restriction work. I want to build this as a truly viable deck rather than shoving all these cards in, so cards like won't make the cut, but neither will borderline cards such as . A fine Limited two-drop, but way too low-impact for Commander.
That doesn't mean some other Limited all-stars won't sneak in, though. is a solid card in any Equipment deck. Most of these cards have dreadful re-equip costs, and cost-cutting cards like these are essential to make re-equipping a viable part of a strategy. Also, a slight power boost makes this card hit hard and this is frequently a card you will want to equip to a bigger creature to close out the game. is another uncommon that makes our entire strategy way stronger. This is our Equipment lord. Many of our creatures will be on the smaller size so the power bump and evasion is crucial to pushing through damage. It also pairs deliciously with the War–Whip.
The preconstructed Commander decks for this set were not short on goodies for us, either. is slightly unexciting, but it provides much-needed card advantage and is a cheap effect that brings down the cost of our commander. It also has one of the more reasonable re-equip costs. This allows us to move it as needed to our creatures with evasion to make sure it gets through and survives. , on the other hand, is much flashier. Our creatures need that extra bit of damage from a second attack to close out the game and, more importantly, this lets us effectively double up on Nahiri's second ability and spit out more Equipment.
Equipment Tech and Secret Sub-themes
There are a few important notes about the For Mirrodin! mechanic and the yet-to-be discussed Living Weapon mechanic. These mechanics create tokens that these Equipment attach themselves to. The creature itself is just a token. This becomes relevant when we pair these cards with or .
Things really start to synergize when we add to the list. I love this card, but I haven't ever been able to make it work elsewhere. There is a strange disconnect between the ability that cares about non-tokens and the one that cares about tokens. The token ability works great with the aforementioned mechanics that create tokens. However, the first ability works well, too. We will almost always have spare Equipment lying around that we can attach to our commander or utility creatures, and this gives us a bit of resiliency.
As you will see on the theme page, there's no shortage of Equipment support cards. You can mix and match and choose which you like to play the most, but I like to focus on cards that help with card advantage, and more importantly, cards that help with equip costs. The gold standards for the first category are and . and help us better equip our team. ? Well, does a bit of everything.
One last piece of tech I want to shout out before I move on is another new card that I glanced right past. looks so clunky, but it is devastating in this deck. It protects your important cards from sorcery-speed interaction, such as board wipes, but it leaves your tokens behind to block. Best part is that you get an entire new set of tokens when the cards come back next turn. Pauper taught me the power of treating these cards as token-making machines, and I don't think that upside should be slept on in Commander either.
0/0 Germs Can Be Scary, Too
Unfortunately, Living Weapon tokens are just 0/0, which makes the flicker strategy harder to pull off without a little extra work. However, that doesn't significantly detract from the power level of some of the cards here.
and are the classic targets, and they're still strong here. They're on the expensive side, but our commander can potentially play them for free, which makes them significantly more viable.
However, there are a number of other cards here that are a much better rate for what you get and are not catastrophic to hardcast. is the newest addition to the bunch. I've never been a fan of cards that need to attack to ramp, but this is one of the stronger ones. Even if the small creature dies, you can reequip to the next creature. Additionally, you don't have to hit like with cards such as .
and just get huge. Generally, I am not a big fan of these creatures, but in this case the Equipment they leave behind is the selling point. They can trade off with something bigger, and with a quick re-equip you don't actually lose any power on the board.
Before we move on to Reconfigure, which is another beast altogether, I wanted to touch on a variety of cards that have a pseudo-Living Weapon ability. A variety of Equipment enter the battlefield and immediately attach themselves to the token they create. The textbook example of this is . However, the most relevant of this bunch is . The Crowbar can slot in to our deck where we would otherwise need a . This helps us have the necessary removal in a card slot that advances our strategy even with no artifacts to blow up.
Reconfiguring How You Think of Equipment
Reconfigure does not have the same token/blink synergies as the last two, and, more importantly, they do not count as equipped creatures when attacking. However, we can still dump them into play off Nahiri's second ability and they offer an array of effects that the other cards do not give us.
is sneaky good if we equip it to our commander and give Nahiri hexproof and/or indestructible. Our opponents will need an artifact removal spell to kill her or even combo off.
will often find itself equipped to another creature, and it can be a legitimate way to end to game in a hurry. Note: even though this is not a Voltron deck, that doesn't mean we can't suit Nahiri up as an alternate win condition.
and are a little more defensive-minded. helps us negate any graveyard strategies, while the Battle Armor can stop our opponents from hitting us at all and give us more freedom to swing out at opponents to trigger our commander's ability.
How Do We Actually Win?
This deck can win the game by grinding out our opponents, but that's not always a reliable solution. I prefer to throw in a couple win conditions to ensure the game ends. is a weird card that can do a really solid impression of . Alternatively, we can blow everything up! All our creatures are also artifacts (except our commander), but this means we can use to clear the way for an alpha strike. White also gives us options to put all our artifacts back into play with , , or .
I can't wait to fill this deck with even more variants of this mechanic as they are released. This is the first Equipment commander in a while that has me really excited to build it, but I want to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below!
Check out the full deck below!
Equipped to FightView on Archidekt