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Commander Focus — Wasitora, Nekoru Queen
Some people like cats. Some people like dogs. Some people like both cats and dogs, so there’s a bit of overlap on that Venn diagram. But what, you presumably ask, about the people who like both cats and dragons?
Wasitora, Nekoru Queen is a hard-working mother who just wants to feed her litter of cute baby kitten monsters. Those kittens are finicky and will only accept the flesh of other players to eat. If some lowly creature is in the way, then Wasitora gets distracted and claws them up instead of bringing home the player-meat bacon. But if the path is clear, then one of her kids gets to eat and grow strong enough to leave the Nekoru nest.
She’s a 5/4 with flying and trample. That makes it highly likely that she can do some damage to an opposing player. With only 5 power, however, it would take 5 hits to kill a player with commander damage. Boosting her power by one or two reduces the number of hits by an equal amount. If she gets damage through, then either the defender chooses one of their creatures to die or you get a flying kitten. Unfortunately, it’s not really up to you which option you get, or which creature is sacrificed, which makes Wasitora somewhat chaotic to play.
Wasitora has only 60 total decks at this time, which is remarkably low in my opinion. For comparison, Edgar Markov was released at the same time but gained 50 new decks in just the past week alone. That’s probably due to a surge in popularity caused by my last article. Yeah, that must be the reason.
Let’s pick some individual words from Wasitora’s card, and brainstorm some of the possible themes that a Wasitora deck can use…
If we want to make a Jund dragon tribal deck, then look no further than Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund. No seriously, you don’t need to look further than that because at this time the Top Cards and Signature Cards between Karrthus and Wasitora are different shufflings of practically identical decks. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, on the other hand, is a special case that relies on combos involving large numbers of tokens briefly coming into existence before being immediately thrown into a fiery sacrifice pit. We could add some dragon-focused Advanced Filters to Prossh or Darigaaz, the Igniter, such as filtering with Dragon Tempest, but then we get practically the same list as an unmodified Karrthus.
Why let Selesnya have all the feline fun? There are also some grumpy cats in black or red. A very few of them are just barely playable in commander. If you want a thematic but low-power evil cat tribal deck then you can do it, but you probably won’t win many games. Shifting the deck toward the green cat candidates will give better options. And thus Selesnya gets (most of) the feline fun.
We’ve looked at the “dragon” and “cat” aspect, so now let’s look into cards that have the word “sacrifice”. This happens to be one of the specialties of red/green/black. While Shattergang Brothers is the Jund sacrifice king, their page has many special case cards that return themselves from the graveyard, create expendable tokens of various types, or have triggers on both entering and leaving the battlefield. Most of these are not particularly relevant to Wasitora’s interests. Adding red to Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest may be more along the lines of what we want here, if we can filter out the cards that focus on +1/+1 counters.
A corollary effect of Wasitora’s forced sacrifice is the activation of triggers when opponents’ creatures die. For this, we can look to Kresh the Bloodbraided for a few cards that would enhance the effect.
Wasitora can theoretically make (adorable) token creatures, but it will be a relatively rare event. In many games she’ll have trouble creating any tokens at all because every opponent has at least one creature on the board. Sure, in some uncommon situations you could attack the one player who somehow doesn’t have any creatures on turn 6, but in that situation the creatureless player is probably not the biggest threat, so an attack in that direction would tilt the balance of the table in the wrong direction. It often takes some special wrangling to make even one cat dragon token, along the lines of Crux of Fate, Fault Line, or Earthquake to wipe the board of creatures in a one-sided manner right before Wasitora attacks. So, searching for cards with the word “token” isn’t going to create as much synergy with Wasitora as you might expect.
Searching through cards that have black, red, and green (but not white or blue) in their mana costs, the hint of yet another theme can be found. This section may be a bit controversial.
Read the card Earthlink, pictured above.
Hold that effect in your mind.
Did you just make an involuntary noise? If it was a manic giggle, sardonic chuckle, or mad cackle, then keep reading. If you made a groan or other utterance of disgust instead, go ahead and skip to the next section.
Yes, land destruction can raise the ire of many a playgroup who conspire to punish and ostracize anyone who dares play cards that remove their lands from the board. Often these same playgroups tend to wonder why, in their perception, mono-red (and red/white) decks don’t seem to be very powerful in the commander format. There is irony there, if you can find it.
For land hate, there is a “nice” way and a “mean” way to do it. The nice way causes damage to players based on the lands they have. The mean way removes those lands from the board. These strategies are somewhat mutually exclusive, because if you are removing your opponents’ lands with the “mean” cards then they won’t be taking as much damage from the “nice” cards. For your perusal, here are some examples.
Nice Land Hate
Mean Land Hate
Note that within this theme there is the hands-down sexiest bearded dwarf available. His name is Donald.
“Netflix and chill?” – Donald, Rutabaga saboteur
There are a couple more themes I’m cramming into the deck. I wanted to play Dire Fleet Ravager somewhere, which also implies things like Havoc Festival, Heartless Hidetsugu, and Pox. Luckily, Wasitora’s colors can accommodate all of these. I’m already using mass burn spells that do damage to all non-flying creatures and often players as well. If players have only half of their maximum life total, then burn spells that hit players become twice as effective.
To fill out the deck, I took the words “sacrifice”, “token”, and “flying”, then searched for cards in our colors that preferably have more than one of those words on the same card. For example: flying tokens (hornets), sacrifice tokens (eldrazi spawns/scions), flying sacrifice (select demons). Bonus points for all three words on Dragon Broodmother, another hard-working dragon mom.
I’m choosing to use the “mean” approach to lands, specifically against nonbasic lands. To protect myself against these effects, the deck doesn’t use many nonbasic lands itself, except for those that can self-sacrifice to either fetch a basic land or destroy another opponent land. This has a side effect of making this a relatively budget deck, since swapping in only a few nonbasic dual lands can easily triple or quadruple the price of a deck. Also, as someone who has been the keeper of multiple kittens, I find destruction of property to be very thematic to a cat-related deck.
I’m also using several graveyard exile effects. This not only helps get rid of the creatures that are sacrificed, it also exiles the opponent lands that are destroyed. Then in the mid to late game I can sacrifice From Beyond to tutor up Oblivion Sower and take a swath of those lands for myself. As an alternative, I could tutor It That Betrays and take the creatures that Wasitora condemns to sacrifice.
If the deck draws too much hate, we could swap out some cards to use the “nice” approach instead. This could work well with Dire Fleet Ravager and the other cards that maim player life totals.
Wasitora : Bad Kitty