Challenge the Stats – Rienne, Angel of Rebirth
(Rienne, Angel of Rebirth | Art by Kieran Yanner)
Just Call Me Angel
Hello, and welcome to the EDHREC series Challenge the Stats, based off of the wonderful segment on the EDHRECast. In this series, we’ll challenge the inclusion rates of 10 cards in a deck on EDHREC. Our goal is to highlight cards that we think are seeing too much play, or too little play, and classify them as overplayed, underplayed, or sleeper picks (not showing up at all on the commander’s page, but really should).
Keep in mind that these suggestions are meant as considerations to accompany EDHREC’s data. However, inclusions made on account of flavor, budget, art, or anything important to you as the deckbrewer are always valid and are what keep our format unique.
Last week, readers voted on five commanders with a sacrifice theme, and the clear winner was Rienne, Angel of Rebirth with nearly 30% of the votes. Rienne was also featured in an EDHREC article by Mason Brantley, but the people have spoken, and who am I to deny them?
Rienne, Angel of Rebirth is a neat design from Core Set 2020 that was, for the most part, overlooked as a commander. She is the 11th-most built Naya commander, with less than 250 decks to her name at time of writing. She loves multicolored creatures, giving them an anthem and returning them to hand when they die. These are powerful abilities; why does she have so few decks? There are 403 multicolored creatures in these colors, which is quite a few, but how well do they synergize with her penchant for death, sacrifice, and rebirth?
I think we may have our answer: there are only 25 multicolored Naya creatures with the word "sacrifice", and only 12 with the word "dies". The combination of these colors doesn't typically do the aristocrats and sacrifice shenanigans. Even if white, red, and green dabble in this area on their own, the color identity of Naya embodies explosive growth and big creatures (thinkGodsire and Ghired, Conclave Exile.
We're in new territory, so we're going to have to get creative both with the deck and how we look at the data. Rienne's EDHREC page shows us Angel tribal and sacrifice themes, and there are only five Rienne sacrifice decks at time of writing, which is not enough to challenge the stats. However, by looking at Rienne's overall page, it's apparent that sacrifice is a sub-theme in most of her decks. Many of the most popular cards on her page have powerful death or sacrifice triggers, such as Dauntless Escort (73%), Saffi Eriksdotter (52%), and Brion Stoutarm (50%). Since Angel tribal is our only other competing theme, let's use EDHREC's Advanced Filters to create our own theme page. Looking at the Angel tribal page, Lyra, Dawnbringer seems to embody that theme, especially since she's in 96% of Rienne Angel decks. We are going to filter out all decks with Lyra and voila, 211 decks! Now that's just enough to challenge some stats. You can see how often a card is played in our 211 Rienne custom-sacrifice-sub-theme decks on EDHREC in parentheses after its name.
1. Multicolored Gods: Klothys, God of Destiny (19%) and Karametra, God of Harvests (39%)
Okay, I'll admit that the Gods are very strong cards. However, I don't think we need them just because they're multicolored; think critically if they help our gameplan. They won't often benefit from Rienne since they aren't always creatures and they rarely die. Klothys and Karametra don't help with our strategy besides ramp. Xenagos, God of Revels (22%) and Iroas, God of Victory (36%) can help with an aggressive strategy, so put them in if you have them, but I don't think they're necessary to make our deck good. Take a look at Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded (39%), who works much better for us, despite being mono-red, since the creatures that are snuck in with his activated ability just go back to our hand at the end of turn with Rienne.
2. Hero of Precinct One (43%)
This may be a controversial one, but I think that this is an overplayed card simply because "multicolored creatures" are mentioned in the rules text. I'm not a huge fan of this card in this deck because it doesn't get any benefit from Rienne: the 1/1 Humans it creates don't get any benefit and neither really fit our plan. This isn't the kind of sacrifice deck where we're looking for cheap fodder; we're looking for specific multicolored creatures with abilities that will give us incremental value from repeatedly dying and casting. Also, I think that there's a much better option in Oketra's Monument. The Monument gives us the token for any creature as well as giving us phenomenal ramp. I'll discuss the Monuments more below (spoiler alert!).
3. 4-mana ramp: Skyshroud Claim (22%), Explosive Vegetation (16%), and Circuitous Route (12%)
The ramp we include in our decks should depend on the CMC of our commander if we want them out as soon as possible. For example, if we ramp on turns 1-3, we can get Rienne out on turn 4 since she costs 5 mana. However, if we can't ramp until turn 4, we aren't able to get Rienne out any earlier. For our deck, we want Rienne on the battlefield as early and often as possible, so we should keep the ramp at or below 3 CMC, with classics like Cultivate and Rampant Growth. The exception to this rule is Urza's Filter because it's so darn good.
3. Fanatical Devotion (16%)
Fanatical Devotion is a fantastic card in general, and we need sacrifice outlets in our sacrifice deck. We can see Greater Good being played in 39% of Rienne decks. Fanatical Devotion provides great utility and is free to activate. If an opponents tries to destroy Rienne, we can sac a multicolored creature to protect her and we get the creature back! In the worst case scenario, if Rienne isn't out, we get to keep half of our board in most board wipes. Another similar one (and a sleeper!) is Martyr's Cause (4%).
4. Atla Palani, Nest Tender (16%)
On top of being multicolored, Atla is a phenomenal way to get our big creatures onto the board for just 2 mana. Most of the multicolored creatures we want to put in this deck are powerhouses that cost more than 2, so she acts kind of like card draw and ramp all in one. I'd feel really good with one of our sacrifice outlets out to hatch those Eggs right away. At the very least, it's board wipe protection and blockers that turn into large threats. I'm also very excited to use leftover Easter candy as tasty Egg tokens for Atla.
5. Asmira, Holy Avenger (2%)
Here's an oldie from Mirage that fits really well into this theme. She grows bigger for all of the creatures we sacrifice, and she has flying so she might just sneak in a big hit. She also grows at the end of each turn, which allows us some flexibility to sacrifice creatures during our opponents' turns and pump her up for the next opponent's turn or right before our turn if we need to. Rienne decks are already running creatures that get bigger over time, like Voice of Resurgence (34%) and Juniper Order Ranger (20%), and Asmira fits right in.
6. The Monuments: Hazoret's Monument (1%), Oketra's Monument (1%), and Rhonas's Monument (1%)
The Monuments give us that 3-CMC ramp we want with added value when we cast a creature! But the real reason I like them is that we're going to be finding our creatures coming back to our hand quite often, and reducing the casting cost makes it easier to redeploy more creatures at once. The downside is that they don't fix our mana, so we're going to have to be careful about making sure that we get all of our colors, especially considering how color-hungry a lot of our creatures are. If we're running into that problem, we can swap one of them for color-fixing ramp.
7. Stalking Vengeance (1%)
I wish that this was an enchantment, but the near-reverse of Warstorm Surge (17%) is exactly what I want to do in this deck. We're sacrificing creatures, so let's punish our opponents when we do it! This is also board wipe protection as we may have enough power on board to knock out a player with a board wipe. Our opponents will quickly realize that this is a kill-on-sight card if we have a full board, or it might be game over for them. We have plenty of ways to protect this win condition, even though Rienne doesn't, such as Dauntless Escort, Loxodon Hierarch, Saffi Eriksdotter, and more!
8. Luminous Broodmoth (0%)
Speaking of things that will save our Stalking Vengeance: the brand new Luminous Broodmoth! Since our deck is relying on Rienne, I like to have a few redundant effects. Luminous Broodmoth, or Mothra, does a really nice imitation since most of our creatures don't have flying. Rienne and the moth don't save each other, but the moth does have the upside of returning creatures that die right to the battlefield as giant flying beaters. That powerful effect could be game-ending. On a similar note, I also like Whisperwood Elemental as a way to replace most of our creatures with more creatures in a board wipe. The Elemental also Manifests us a card on our end step, which is almost as good as drawing a card, and any creatures it Manifests can be turned up as a special action at any time! Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero might be another great redundant effect for Rienne, and he's a multicolored creature, too!
9. Praetor's Counsel (0%)
Despite Rienne's best efforts, sometimes our creatures will end up in the graveyard. Praetor's Counsel is a powerful way to get all of that back and eliminate our hand limit. The latter is especially good in this deck because Rienne may return more creatures to our hand than we can play in one turn, and Reliquary Tower is another key inclusion to help with that problem.
10. Rupture (0%)
Sure, I could challenge Chandra's Ignition, but wouldn't you rather see a more obscure card? I stumbled across Rupture, and it fits really well in this deck. It has some ups and downs when comparing to Chandra's Ignition. It doesn't hit flying creatures, which is kind of a bummer, but, as an upside, it avoids Rienne. Needing to sacrifice a creature isn't a big hurdle for us, and it's cheap, so we can redeploy after wiping the board. It also deals damage to us but we have some lifegain effects so it shouldn't be hard to be ahead of our opponents. In the right circumstances, Chandra's Ignition is a powerful board wipe and win condition played in nearly 8,000 decks on EDHREC, so we're happy to have (close to) another copy of it. To compare to another similar card, Earthquake is played in nearly 7,000 decks on EDHREC, and Rupture has the potential to do a lot more damage for a lot less mana.
There you have it! As you may have guessed, the direction I want to go with this deck is using Fling effects to demolish our opponents' life totals. In addition to Stalking Vengeance, I'm running Brion Stoutarm and Bloodshot Cyclops. Rienne will pump those flung creatures' power to do more damage, then return them to hand to do it all over again! Here's a decklist:
Go Away or I Shall Taunt You a Second Time
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Thanks for joining me for another Challenge the Stats! Let me know what you thought of this article in the comments below. You can find me on Twitter @jevin_mtg, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hang in there everyone, stay home, and if you're itching to play Commander, this discord server is a great place to do it and has instructions on how to get started.