Archetune-Up - Odric's Anthems, Angels, and Soldiers

(Odric, Master Tactician l Art by Michael Komarck)

Tactics Require Observation

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, an article series devoted to using the Theme pages on EDHREC to help tweak a reader-submitted deck!

This week we are tackling a mono-white list sent in by Joe Bankowski (@anoldalias)! White is often laughed at in EDH, where it is often referred to as the "sixth worst color" of the format due to a lack of card draw, mana ramp, and general ways to transition into the late game. But what if we were able to leverage those weaknesses to our advantage? What if we were able to subvert our opponents' expectations and use their "knowledge" of white against them? Today we are looking at a commander who can give us blue's unblockability, green's Lure effects, and red's aggression:

On the surface, Odric seems like he facilitates a blatantly aggressive strategy, but when you dive a little deeper, you begin to see how interesting his deck can be. Once his simple three-creature requirement is met, you can play politics with the table, removing opposing threats or bothersome utility creatures in exchange for favors. After you've garnered enough goodwill and your board is at an appropriately large size, you can swing for the fences and tell your unfortunate opponent that they can't block this turn.

Let's look at Joe Bankowski's list:

Anthems, Angels, and Solders

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Commander (9)
Creatures (179)
Instants (19)
Sorceries (29)
Artifacts (54)
Enchantments (54)
Planeswalkers (29)
Lands (55)

When talking with Joe, he said that he was having issues with the deck that prevent him from piloting it. The biggest issue he mentioned was that the deck tends to fall behind rather quickly, and that it's tough to catch back up.

Just taking a quick glance at the list, 31 lands is far too few for the deck to run optimally. Additionally, the deck is sorely lacking solid ramp and draw options, and it probably includes a few too many creatures. While this is a creature-based deck, even the most hardcore of tribal decks only run about 27-30 creatures. 35 is just a bit too much here, especially once you add in the token producers.

I won't go too deep into how I fixed up the card draw and mana ramp packages in the deck since, you can see it in the finished list. (If you want a refresher on my process, take a peek at my first article featuring Neheb, the Eternal.) Rather, let's focus on some of the other details, the nuanced card selections that will add up to even more improvement beyond just the basics.

Master Tactician, Master Politician

Odric has the potential to be a powerful political tool with the right setup, so looking into the Politics theme seemed like the logical first step.

Protector of the Crown and Throne of the High City are useful tools in any white deck. Becoming the Monarch gives you a much-needed way to draw cards, and since you are planning on being the aggressor at the table, you are likely to be the Monarch more often than not. Not only that, but with Odric's ability to prevent creatures from blocking, you will be able to take the crown back easily and often!

Benevolent Offering looks like a strange inclusion at first, but it was the catalyst for quite a few cards on the list. In white, unless we are playing cards like Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, or Sword of Vengeance, we do not have access to the haste creatures that are found in red. Benevolent Offering, along with other instant token makers and creatures with flash can all perform similarly to creatures with haste. Offering gives us exactly three creatures which allows us to trigger Odric on our next combat, rendering the tokens you give to your opponent moot. Additionally, incidental life gain is never a bad thing!

Hate is the Cinder of Affection

When I looked over Joe's deck, I saw that he had included a bunch of hatebears (cards that "hate on" certain strategies while also being efficiently-costed creatures). I did end up cutting a bunch of the more narrow ones in the final list, but I decided to take a peek in the Hatebear theme just to see if there were any more widely-applicable cards, and I was quite pleased with the results.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence and Selfless Spirit are two efficiently-costed creatures that hamper our opponents' strategies. Linvala stops your opponents from taking advantage of their creatures' activated abilities (26 out of the top 100 creatures, for the record), while Selfless Spirit makes casting board wipes much less effective for your opponents. You can also combo it with your own board wipes for a nice tempo swing. Spirit can even be brought back with Sun Titan!

Rest in Peace should always be included if you have access to it and it does not conflict with your strategy; one-fourth of the top 20 commanders of all time are hindered by Rest on Peace. That isn't even including the graveyard recursion effects that a lot of decks make use of, like Eternal Witness, Snapcaster Mage, Finale of Promise, Phyrexian Reclamation, are all widely played cards that get shut off by Rest in Peace.

The final inclusion may be a bit contentious, but I stand by it. I look to build at least one alternate way to win in every deck, and in this deck, Armageddon is it. If you cast it with Odric and a good enough board state, you can swing, choose the worst blocks possible for your opponents, and then close out the game in the subsequent few turns. This can also be used with Teferi's Protection if you would like to keep your lands safe.

Please Armageddon responsibly.

A Handful of Soldiers > A Mouthful of Arguments

It's taken til my third article to finally break into the second section of EDHREC's Theme tab: Tribes! Joe had mentioned that he wanted a loose tribal theme in the deck, mixing Soldiers and Angels, especially the Soldiers. After much internal debate, I only ended up using suggestions from the Soldiers page; the cards and synergies I found there worked better with what the deck is trying to accomplish.

The two Ravnica sets prior to War of the Spark gave Soldier decks three new toys to work with. The first is Bounty Agent. Agent is an early-game creature that can help trigger Odric and also destroy opposing commanders or problematic legendary enchantments and artifacts. Dawn of Hope is perfect for a deck like this. It is able to create Soldier tokens at instant speed while also allowing us to draw cards whenever we incidentally gain life or when those same Soldiers attack or block. The final card to include is Unbreakable Formation. Formation can be used either offensively or defensively, pumping your team and allowing them to swing with impunity (especially if Odric isn't attacking with them), or saving your creatures from a board wipe. Versatility is important and very welcome.

Two staple creatures I added from this section are Mirror Entity and Selfless Squire. Mirror Entity acts like an Overrun in our deck. Forcing our opponents not to block while also making our creatures huge with Mirror Entity will often be enough to off one or two opponents in one swing. Selfless Squire, on the other hand, is used defensively, saving us from an opponent's crackback and setting the stage for a supremely large creature. Since it has flash, that also means that it can swing with Odric the following turn!

Our last two cards are all about making tokens, but they do so in vastly different ways. While Oketra's Monument makes Warriors, not Soldiers, the ability to summon two creatures instead of one is incredibly important for this deck. The Monument also has the added bonus of making all of our white creature spells cost less! Martial Coup is a token maker that can also double as a board wipe. Clearing the table while reestablishing your board presence is a very strong play, especially if you already have a Cathars' Crusade or Dictate of Heliod out on the field.

The Toll of WAR

For this lightning round I thought I'd touch on these seven inclusions from War of the Spark while the set is still fresh on everyone's minds.

  • God-Eternal Oketra was the first card I put in the deck. Her ability mirrors her Monument, but instead of a 1/1, you get a 4/4. That ability is also attached to an incredibly-difficult-to-remove 3/6 double striker. She is perfect.
  • Gideon Blackblade, along with all of his other versions, really shines in this deck. Since every Gideon is able to come down, use an ability, and then attack with Odric the following turn, it really ups their usefulness. It both provides keywords and removal, which is the kind of versatility we're after.
  • Ugin, the Ineffable does everything we could ever want. Ugin creates creatures to swing with, draws us cards when they die, and can also destroy a pesky colored permanent. *Chef's kiss*
  • While we aren't a planeswalker deck, Ignite the Beacon is an important inclusion. It can fetch us one or both of our card advantage walkers (Karn, Scion of Urza or Ugin) or a more threatening walker when we need it (Elspeth, Sun's Champion).
  • Finale of Glory is a bit all-in, and can be dangerous since it's a sorcery, but it is thematic and can rebuild your board in a pinch. Even casting it where X = 4 is well worth it.
  • Emergence Zone gives our spells flash for a turn, ready to blow a game wide open when people least expect it.
  • Our final inclusion is Mobilized District. In a similar vein to the Gideons, I added a few lands and mana rocks that can animate themselves, like Guardian Idol and Thunder Totem, to help us trigger Odric in a pinch.

Every Battle Needs a Good Tactician

Going into this article, I did not expect Odric to be as nuanced a commander as he turned out to be. White is often passed up in favor of other colors, but there is a depth to white if you choose to lean into its many offerings. Many commander tables are sorely lacking an aggressive deck, and with a deck with a bit of resilience and the ability to break games wide open could be just what your group needs.

If you'd like to submit a deck that you'd like me to look at from a thematic perspective, please shoot me an email at or on Twitter @thejesguy!

As always, thanks for arche-tuning in!

Anthems, Angelos, and Soldiers

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Commander (1)
Creatures (110)
Instants (51)
Sorceries (24)
Artifacts (69)
Enchantments (44)
Planeswalkers (34)
Lands (116)

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Angelo is a Connecticut resident who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. Along with Commander, he loves Limited, Cube, and Modern, and will always put his trust in counterspells over creatures. He is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation's rotation out of Standard.

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