Conditions Allow - Lieutenant Kirtar

(Lieutenant Kirtar | Art by Paolo Parente)

If You Desire Peace, Prepare for War

Hello! Welcome back to Conditions Allow. In this article series we talk about legendary creatures with a drawback, and try to turn it into a strength. This week, I'm building around a seriously unpopular commander on EDHREC. Yes, this mono-white legend has zero decks on the site. Meet Lieutenant Kirtar.

Lieutenant Kirtar can exile opposing creatures, a very strong control effect. His effect does not require tapping, making it very versatile, although it does come with two major limitations: first, it can only target attacking creatures, making it a simple task to outmaneuver; second, Kirtar must sacrifice himself to activate it, making it difficult to use repeatedly. 

This means our deck will need to focus heavily around resurrecting our commander. Lieutenant Kirtar doesn't have any decks on EDHREC, so we're going to have to take inspiration from a couple of other mono-white commanders. For example, Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle is a revival engine, and Major Teroh also has a removal effect that requires sacrifice. Before diving into those pages, let’s go over Lieutenant Kirtar’s effect a little more, and a couple ways we can support it.

Walking Before You Fly

Kirtar can oust an oncoming attacker, but is that enough? We will always have access to one removal effect in our command zone, but one card does not a deck make. We’re going to want a selection of additional control effects to really put pressure on our opponents. Lieutenant Kirtar can only remove one creature at a time, so some of the most important cards to support this strategy are board wipes.

I'm including Descend upon the Sinful and Austere Command. Austere Command is really flexible removal, allowing us to deal with artifacts and enchantments. I'm also including Fumigate, and you could probably benefit from finding space for even one or two more.

It's also smart to plan for when our commander becomes impossible to cast. White is famous for its powerful removal options, like Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares, but also has access to a lot of cards that temporarily impose limitations on our opponents.

Hallowed Moonlight will exile any creature entering the battlefield that wasn’t cast, while Due Respect causes all permanents to enter the battlefield tapped for a turn. Both of these cards are excellent at stopping another player from comboing off, whether that be through various infinite mana combos or by generating hordes of hasty tokens all in one turn. While these cards are more situational than Swords to Plowshares, they have the advantage of being cantrips, helping us to dig for more permanent solutions to our problems.

Birds of a Feather Stick Together

We don’t want to get confused about the all-star of this deck. Our focus is on getting the best use of our commander as possible. Lieutenant Kirtar will need some support, and white has plenty of cards for that. From old cards, like Breath of Life and Resurrection, to more recent cards, such as Brought Back and Sevinne's Reclamation, white is actually pretty good at bringing creatures back from the dead. 

Resurrection has always been a secondary ability in white's section of the color pie. Bringing back the dead, however, isn't always as simple as casting a single spell. Order of Whiteclay is much more complicated to activate, requiring you to untap it to revive a single creature. Pulsemage Advocate makes you choose three creatures from an opponent’s graveyard to return to their hand in order to resurrect one of your own creatures. This could be a downside, but it can also act as a form of graveyard hate. 

Much more strange is Enduring Renewal. This four-mana enchantment requires us to reveal any card we would draw. If that card is a creature card, it's put into our graveyard. Otherwise, it goes into our hand. Additionally, we play with our hand revealed. In return, however, any time a creature goes to our graveyard from play, it's returned to our hand. This ensures we can keep casting Kirtar, as well as the other creatures from our deck. If any do end up in our graveyard, we can always use one of the many reanimation effects to get them back into play, at which point they join the cycle of reanimation as well. We’re also mitigating the risk of Enduring Renewal, discarding any creatures we may draw, by running as few creatures as we can.

Some creatures are just too good for us to leave out, however, such as the ever-popular Sun Titan and the previously mentioned Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle. Both of these cards only target permanents which cost three mana or less, which conveniently includes Lieutenant Kirtar. Teshar does come with another stipulation, however: to trigger his effect, we need to cast historic spells. So let's find some!

Teshar's Trinkets

Lieutenant Kirtar's historic spells of choice are artifacts, because there are a lot that do exactly what we want: replace themselves. Card advantage is very important in a control deck, as is the ability to filter through your deck to find the answers you need.

Revival effects help us get actual card advantage by recycling low-cost artifacts like Chromatic Star, and can give us the necessary forward velocity to see as much of our deck as possible. There really are a lot of artifacts like Chromatic Star: Golden Egg, Chromatic Sphere, Mind Stone, Guild Globe, and Elsewhere Flask.

There are also more reliable advantage engines, like Endless Atlas. In addition, Liar’s Pendulum is a fun card that introduces a small bluffing element to each of your turns. Choosing what to name can be difficult, since it needs to be something that could be in your deck. In the later game, naming Plains is a great option.

Finally, Tome of Legends has awesome synergy with this deck’s strategy. We are hoping to have our commander enter the battlefield constantly, which will refresh the page counters on our Tome and let us continue to draw cards. 

All of these cards help us activate Teshar’s ability, but can also help us dig to find Teshar, or other revival effects in the early game. Cards like Remember the Fallen, Auriok Salvagers, and Emeria Shepherd also help return those artifacts to our hand, so we can recast them to draw more cards and continue to trigger Teshar's ability. There are also several three-mana creatures that put artifacts back into our hand. Treasure Hunter and Junk Diver are revivable by Teshar and Sun Titan, letting us continually cast our cantrip-tastic artifacts.

A Token Win Condition

How will those cantrips push us towards victory? By driving us towards a couple of powerful cards to try and finish the game. Luminarch Ascension is a natural fit for a control deck, especially one that is as good at deterring attacks as this one. We're often holding mana back, and if we don't need to use it, Luminarch Ascension can help us develop a threatening board presence to close out the game. Heliod, God of the Sun works in the same way, and is much less vulnerable to removal. 

We're also expecting to cast our commander fairly often. Oketra's Monument makes this easier, and also lets us generate smaller tokens as we do so. These aren't threatening, but the beefier tokens from God-Eternal Oketra create a very real clock that our opponents must deal with.

To round out the deck, we've got a pretty simple package of mana rocks and a couple of really good utility lands. Arcane Lighthouse and Detection Tower will ensure we can target anything we need to, and Emeria, the Sky Ruin is part of our revival package. Buried Ruin grabs an artifact in a pinch, while Inventors' Fair fetches one from our deck.

Let's see what this deck looks like once we put it all together:

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This deck tries to play to white's strengths as a color, encouraging a slow game where our slower advantage engines can keep up. Lieutenant Kirtar is a big part of this, discouraging attacks from all players. We're also leveraging cantrips combined with recycling effects for card advantage, while pressuring the board with efficient threats like Luminarch Ascension and God-Eternal Oketra.

Have I overlooked anything that would make this deck better? If you've tried to build Kirtar, what approach did you take? Let me know what you think. As always, thanks for reading.

Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.

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