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Conditions Allow – Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner
The Wheels on the Caravan
Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow, an article series where I choose a commander with a drawback and try to turn it into a strength. Last time, with, I explored a strategy usually outside of red’s wheelhouse, Aristocrats. This time, I’m leaning into red’s conventional strengths, aggression and fast damage, with another commander from Core Set 2021, .
is a new take on an ability we have already seen on a couple of mono-red legends. Similar to , Subira is a pseudo- in the command zone. comes with two important restrictions that set her apart as a unique commander. First, you have to discard your hand as an extra cost to activate her draw ability. This can leave you empty-handed if an opponent casts or removes your creatures in response. In contrast, ‘s draw effect has the discard and draw as part of the same trigger, so there’s no risk of being left Hellbent. This also means, however, that if your hand is already empty, Neheb won’t draw you any cards, while Subira can.
is a great support commander for an aggressive deck precisely because she can function like a in the command zone. Her EDHREC page is full of creatures that produce hordes of tokens, letting you draw tons of cards when they deal damage. is a literal one card army, and should need no introduction. We can check out the EDHREC pages for and to find any cards that haven’t appeared for Subira yet, and if we plan to empty our hand every turn to mitigate the downside of discarding cards, it may be worth looking at ‘s page for some strategic inspiration.
Going Over Your Head
Comparingto might be a little hyperbolic, but it does reflect the best way to play with Subira. Much of the Top Cards on Subira’s EDHREC page are creatures and enchantments that make small nuisances into bigger threats. , , and take the place of and in Edric decks. In order to make those cards do anything, though, we’re going to need creatures to attack.
Mono-red doesn’t have access to the same number or quality of cheap flyers that Edric does, but there are still some decent options.is probably the best of these, producing a flying Thopter token every turn, as long as Subira is in play. This is also an opportunity to run obscure cards like and , if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. I’m also going to include and as optional flying creatures that can survive board wipes.
While the flyers may be somewhat lackluster, red has some excellent token cards. You can’t look for much better for Subira than. This card is a great no matter when you draw it, quickly flooding the field with Elemental tokens to recover from a board wipe or to press an early advantage. can do something similar, along with and .
All of our tokens still come from creatures, so we can still make full use ofto get two bodies for every creature we cast. makes sure that our army survives early board wipes, letting us keep the pressure going. is another great insurance policy against , leaving behind a platoon of Thopter tokens when it dies. These tokens will continue to draw cards with Subira and finish the game quickly, before concentrated removal becomes a problem.
Making a Mountain Out of a Mole Hill
Nearly all of the creatures in this deck will have one or two power, so they’re going to need a little help to be as dangerous as we want. Luckily, that also means we can take full advantage of, , and . can amplify that extra damage into a real threat, especially when combined with . Finally, is the perfect card for this deck. Even if we don’t go all-in on tokens, an extra five or six damage a turn won’t be something our opponents can ignore.
I’m also adding inand as extra sources of damage. These are usually used as win conditions on their own, and can act as bait for removal if we draw them early enough. Even if we draw them late, we should have enough creatures to deal a decent amount of damage. You might also consider for its ability to clear away small blockers, but I’m leaving it out of this initial list.
No Blocks, Only Attacks
Even with every damage amplifier, our deck won’t do anything if our creatures can’t deal combat damage. Luckily, there are plenty of cards that make sure blockers won’t be an issue.demands a tax for every blocking creature. Our opponents may be able to pay for one or two, allowing the rest of the army to attack unopposed. is even better, stopping creatures from blocking altogether. This could easily backfire, though, as it stops us from blocking as well. Aggro decks tend to draw a lot of attention, so we’ll also need to be able to protect ourselves.
is perfect for this, keeping opponents’ creatures tapped so they can’t attack or block. is less broadly effective, but neatly handles any opposing token decks. It also rewards us for including plenty of flying creatures, while still letting us pay to untap key creatures. obviously falls into this category, but can quickly take over a game if left unchecked as well. Lastly, Goad may not seem like a defensive ability but it is, and it’s a very good one. Making creatures attack elsewhere keeps our life total safe, while also furthering our own plan. Plus, if Subira is removed, can provide the extra card advantage we need to stay in the game.
If you can’t outright stop your opponents from blocking, the next best thing is deciding how they block for them.does force all creatures to block, but lets you decide how those blocks are stacked. Make all of your opponents’ creatures block a Thopter token from and have the rest go unblocked. Finally, Menace is not the same as unblockable, but it can certainly help, especially since most of our creatures already have flying. You could even include to make creatures with menace truly unblockable.
And don’t forget thatcan make your creatures unblockable as well. And if you’re worried about having enough mana to make creatures unblockable and cast the spells you draw, add in . also works, providing mana for Subira to make creatures unblockable during your upkeep, while keeping the deck’s curve lean and aggressive.
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I was genuinely surprised at how fun this deck was to put together.is a very cool commander that asked me to think in a way that I usually don’t. I certainly wasn’t expecting to compare her to , but I think the comparison stands to scrutiny. With a token army at her back, Subira can draw you a lot of cards, which you can then play out before your next turn. The creature slots are also highly flexible, letting you play your favorite red aggro creatures from Standard formats of the past.
Would you play Subira with? If you’ve played with Subira, what have your favorite cards been? Let me know what you think in the comments, and thanks for reading.