Collected Company - Keruga
(Keruga, the Macrosage | Illustrated by Dan Scott)
Time to Make a New Friend
Companions are a game-changer: they give us access to a free card from the start of the game in exchange for some deckbuilding retrictions. Here on the Collected Company, we’re going to take a look at all of them and see how can build around their quirks.
With the 06/01 Update, the Companion mechanic got changed to the following:
Once per game, any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty), you can pay 3 generic mana to put your companion from your sideboard into your hand. This is a special action, not an activated ability.
But what does that mean to our format? To be fair, not all that much. EDH isn't as tempo-oriented as other formats, and games tend to go longer, so we'll probably have three mana to spare on a single turn.
With that out of the way, in this article take a look at Keruga, the Macrosage. For the price of having no card with converted mana cost less than three, we get a powerful ETB effect.
Quick notes on Keruga, the Macrosage as a Companion:
The lack of Sol Ring and Cyclonic Rift is certainly a big price to pay, but luckily for Keruga, the Macrosage, its color combination provides a lot of ramp and ways to dig for it.
There are two main ways that a deck can use Keruga, the Macrosage, either by being a one-shot effect or as a recurring source of card draw. Both of them are effective, and each has advantages over the other. The first one provides less overall value, but it requires less support to be effective. The second strategy is more powerful, but it depends heavily on a strong support structure, and it's slower.
Pay close attention to the essential parts of the deck as you're brewing, because the loss of the one- and two-mana slots is pretty huge for most decks. A higher-than-average land count is advised to circumvent some of the early game clumsiness. Combining Keruga, the Macrosage with early mana sinks, such as Cycling and ramp effects like Myriad Landscape, or alternative casting costs like Force of Negation, is a good way to get around the awkward early game.
- Sol Ring
- Cyclonic Rift
- Rampant Growth
- Reality Shift
- Birds of Paradise
- Heroic Intervention
- Nature's Claim
Keruga, the Macrosage fits naturally with Muldrotha, the Gravetide and her powerful value engine; after all, not only do we get to keep replaying Keruga, the Macrosage, we also have the benefit of playing more cards to fuel Keruga, the Macrosage's ETB. The obvious downside is that Muldrotha loses a lot of flexibility when confined to 3+ drops, and we also lose some of the better support suite.
- Viscera Seer
- Spore frog
- Animate dead
- Baleful Strix
- Assassin's Trophy
- Caustic Caterpillar
- Seal of Primordium,
- Vessel of Nascency
- Apprentice Necromancer
Unlike with Muldrotha, the Gravetide, who tries to accrue value across multiple turns, the combination of Keruga, the Macrosage and Roon of the Hidden Realm is extremely explosive, especially with untapper effects like Seedborn Muse and Murkfiend Liege. Many of the more powerful ETB effects aren't affected by Keruga, the Macrosage's restriction, and there are plenty of bounce effects attached to three-mana-and-up permanents, which we can use to get even more value out of our creatures. The biggest problem with the build is its reliance on getting "online", which makes the early game even more awkward.
- Mistmeadow Witch
- Watcher for Tomorrow
- Charming Prince
- Wall of Omens
- Coiling Oracle
- Swords to Plowshares
Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder is the secret winner of the Companion rule change! Now we get to play our Companion from our hand, thus taking advantage of Yidris's Cascade trigger. Keruga's restriction isn't that big of a deal with Yidris because the deck tends dislike having lots of cheap spells getting in the way of the value. Remember that when we Cascade, the Cascaded spell resolves before Keruga, the Macrosage, which means that if it's a permanent we also get to draw another card! Sure, we lose some of the zero-cost cards that Yidris loves to Cascade into, and the loss of cheap mana-fixing will put a heavy burden on the mana base, but overall it can be an interesting addition in some lists.
- Wheel of Fate
- Sylvan Library
- Mystical Tutor
- Arcane Signet
- Sensei's Divining Top
Keruga, the Macrosage is free value, but as easy as it is to slot it in some decks, we need to consider that, to unlock its true potential, we need to have a permanent-based list. I think that choosing a pure Simic commander is interesting as a testament to Keruga, the Macrosage's power and versatility.
One area where Keruga, the Macrosage performed admirably during testing was utilizing Partner commanders, especially ones that curve out on turns three and four. The consistent curve allows us to have lots of early plays and, in the worst case, gives us two potential draws on turn five or six. Enter Pir, Imaginative Rascal and Toothy, Imaginary Friend, a pair that not only let us maintain this curve, but actively rewards us for doing it!
The Simic Partners from Battlebond are a quite powerful combination, especially Pir, Imaginative Rascal which is an extremely versatile commander with many interesting build-around synergies. Superfriends seems like a nice archetype that is benefited by the extra counters that Pir, Imaginative Rascal provides, and planeswalkers are the type of permanents that can stick around just long enough to give Keruga, the Macrosage an appreciable number of permanents to trigger our draws. With Pir, Imaginative Rascal out, many of our planeswalkers threaten to ult the turn after we play them: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is a silly card, especially with the added utility of being able to wipe up to seven-mana permanents and living to tell the tale. Ulting Jace, Unraveler of Secrets won't make us any friends, but it's a great tool to have nonetheless. Nissa, Vital Force can ult right after hitting the board, which is great for games where we need to grind.
The best part of the combination of Keruga, the Macrosage and Superfriends is that we don't lose relevant support pieces. The Chain Veil and Doubling Season are powerful staples in Superfriends lists in general, but in a deck that's so quick to ultimate their planeswalkers, they operate on a whole different level. Many constant sources of Proliferate also work well, especially since they have the added benefit of growing some of our threats like Avenger of Zendikar and Toothy, Imaginary Friend.
One of the biggest challenges in building a Simic Superfriends deck is the lack of good creature removal, particularly when we remove both one- and two-drops. Our planeswalkers have us covered on the single-target removal front, but we start lacking as the board starts getting crowded. Nevinyrral's Disk is probably our best piece of board wipe, which pretty much proves my previous point. The rest of our wipes mainly consist in bounce effects like Aetherize and Evacuation, which can buy us some time but aren't permanent solutions.
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This is the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
The guaranteed draw from Keruga, the Macrosage feels really powerful on Simic, but it seems like the more competitive the meta, the less it'll be useful, since we lose a lot of the more powerful staples.
That’s it for this Collected Company! What do you think about this article? What are your thoughts on Keruga, the Macrosage? Which Companion do you want to see covered next? Share your opinions in the comments.