Conditions Allow - Mageta the Lion
(Brom)| Art by
King of the Jungle
Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow, the article series where I take a legendary creature with a drawback and build a deck to turn it into a strength.
Lions may not appear to have many weaknesses, but this one runs out of steam very quickly, so let's sit in the shade and take a break while we build.
belongs to a long tradition of commanders that function as board wipes in the command zone. Like every other Spellshaper, Mageta lets us transform extra cards in our hand into a spell. In this case, we can trade in two cards to cast a that will leave our commander in play. This means we'll always have a creature in play to take advantage of the now-empty battlefield.
The fact thatsurvives his own wrath is a big advantage. Graveyard and reanimation decks only become more popular, and most other colors can draw enough cards to rebuild from a board wipe relatively quickly. We're going to need a plan to keep our own threats in play while also ensuring we always have cards to discard for Mageta's ability.
Drawing a Blank
Looking through's EDHREC page, we can see that players have dug straight to the bottom of the barrel for draw effects in white. The most effective cards, however, aren't always the draw spells.
One of the advantages ofis that he can turn any two cards into . This makes one of the best cards in our deck, if not the best. We can always ensure we get three lands every upkeep, keeping our hand full even if we activate Mageta every turn. provides a one-time burst of cards, but I'm most interested in trying out . Usually, is simply too cumbersome to be effective, but we can play it early to ramp or discard it to later on.
Ifisn't the best card advantage engine in our deck, then is. Every time we discard cards to activate , they will be exiled under . When we run out of cards, we can sacrifice the Bag to put every card in it back into our hand. This lets us discard valuable cards that we can't cast yet and give us a surge of cards to stay strong in the late game. The looting effect on is also surprisingly useful, letting us see more cards. Even if we're empty-handed, looting with the Bag puts an extra card into our hand when we sacrifice it.
For a more steady source of card advantage, we can turn to planeswalkers.is perfect for this deck. The tokens he produces are great fodder for , and they activate . When we do have to wipe the board again, each token we've created will replace itself. And while the 2/2 Spirits aren't impressive attackers on their own, we can use them to Crew Vehicles, like and , virtually increasing their power and drawing us an extra card.
The more I think about it, the more I like Vehicles in this deck. They're only creatures when we want them to be, so they avoid's effect, and can be used to scale up our smaller creatures, sometimes by quite a bit.
, for example, effectively lets a 1/1 Soldier token attack for four damage, or even more if the Express has already attacked a few times. Our tokens don't even need haste to crew Vehicles, so we can destroy all creatures with , recreate tokens with our planeswalkers, and still attack with Vehicles. does show up on Mageta's EDHREC page, but more Vehicles definitely should. In particular, and can deal big chunks of damage and really pressure our opponents to play blockers, only for to clear them away.
Speaking of cards that are only sometimes creatures, let's talk about. Most versions of Gideon have the ability to turn into a creature on your turn, providing you with an attacker (or Crew member) that dodges our commander's effect. doesn't turn into a creature, himself, but he can make one of our creatures indestructible on our turn. The +1/+1 counters from shouldn't be discounted either. Mageta will make the game go long, so and can put a significant amount of power on the board, especially if has had a few turns to tick up.
As long as we're talking about tokens and +1/+1 counters, let's not forget. is very good at protecting the Monarchy, so we can usually rely on to be drawing us cards and producing a 4/4 Angel on each of our upkeeps. is a slightly stronger version of this effect, since it can make tokens during the end step before our turn, allowing them to attack right away. Finally, if the 1/1 Soldiers from didn't impress you, a little will make them much scarier.
Finding a Friend
Planeswalkers really form the core of this deck, so we're going to want to find them as often as possible. White may not be able to draw many cards, but it has a surprising number of ways to search for planeswalkers directly. Aside fromfiltering for historic cards, we'll play as a creature to find and protect our 'walkers. Let's also add and to grab the 'walker we need when we need it.
The core of our deck may be planeswalkers, but we also have plenty of artifacts and enchantments, and Commander Legends conveniently gave us a card that can return all planeswalkers, enchantments, and artifacts from our graveyard to play. Much like, lets us discard our most powerful spells to deal with creatures early before bringing them all back to take over in the late game.
Nothing is Unbreakable
With most of the list in place, we can round out the deck with cards to accentuate our core plan. We want to useaggressively and pressure life totals with Vehicles and tokens. Indestructible creatures will throw a wrench in those plans. and help, but let's include as well. Most decks want it for the trample or lifelink, but we're most interested in its ability to remove indestructible.
is also going to invite a lot of removal. is a hard counter for any targeted removal, as are and . and are more limited as counterspells, but still very worth playing. Finally, is useful as a protection spell and an offensive finisher, absolutely deserving a spot in this deck.
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When I sat down to brew withI expected it to be a bit of a slog. Playing with in the command zone seemed like it would really lend itself to slow games of attrition that would leave everyone tired. What I ended up with is a reasonably aggressive deck that I think really leans into white's strengths in Commander. Having to discard two cards to use Mageta's ability is slightly offset as long as you're destroying more than two creatures. Planeswalkers and Vehicles also let you play around your own wraths and keep extra cards in your hand to discard.
But what do you think? Is there any hope for mono-White? Have you tried to build around? What cards stood out for you, and which ones underperformed? Let me know, and thanks for reading!