Conditions Allow - Triad of Fates
(Triad of Fates | Art by Daarken)
Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow, the article series where we build around legendary creatures with a drawback and try to turn it into a strength. This week I'm talking about an underappreciated legend from the original Theros block. Or rather, a legendary trio, since Triad of Fates works best as a team. In homage to the three Fates of Greek mythology, Triad of Fates has three activated abilities. The second two rely on activating the first, and all three require the Fates to tap. This makes the cadence of the Fates naturally very slow and easy to predict. But just because our opponents can see their future coming doesn't mean that they'll be able to avoid it.
There is no removal more permanent than exile. Having the ability to remove any creature on the board, especially when it's found in the command zone, is powerful, and your opponents will likely be wary of your commander, no matter how slow it is. I don't want to focus on flickering our own creatures, either, since there are better commanders for that. I think Triad of Fates's true potential lies in its third ability, but not necessarily from the exile. Letting other players draw cards is the foundation of a the Group Hug archetype in EDH. I've never seen an Orzhov Group Hug deck, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Before diving into free hugs, however, we're going to need a way to speed up Fate, or we'll be left behind.
Foresight is 20/20
That is, of course, assuming we don't have access to any other Magic cards. But we have access to 99 of the best ones we can find. First on my list are Thousand-Year Elixir and Magewright's Stone. Both of these let us untap Triad of Fates for a single mana, once a turn. Thousand-Year Elixir even gives our commander pseudo-haste, letting us use their ability as quickly as possible. This is extra valuable for Triad of Fates since it is naturally slow.
Another valuable effect for our commander is Panharmonicon. We can only flicker one creature at a time, and usually not even every turn. Doubling the effect that creature has when it enters is extra important to help us keep up with the rest of the table. Creatures like Plaguecrafter and Ravenous Chupacabra make sure we don't get left behind by faster decks, while Wall of Omens and Gonti, Lord of Luxury ensure we find all the answers that we need.
We can also take a page from Seedborn Muse's book and try to untap our commander during every turn. Unwinding Clock makes this possible, either paired with Thousand-Year Elixir or Mycosynth Lattice. Mycosynth Lattice actually does turn Unwinding Clock into Seedborn Muse, as all our lands will be artifacts, as well. This ensures that we have the mana to activate Triad of Fates every turn, and really puts our strategy into motion.
Keep Your Friends Close
To play Group Hug, we're going to rely on Triad of Fates' third ability to let other players draw cards. Rather than try to mitigate the card disadvantage with effects like Oppression and Kambal, Consul of Allocation, I want to lean into it. Besides, Triad of Fates naturally embodies that sort of give and take. In order to let a player draw cards, we're going to have to exile a creature they control.
But exiling our opponents' valuable creatures is decidedly not in the spirit of Group Hug, so we're going to need to give them something a little more expendable. Genesis Chamber is great in this role. The extra Myr tokens Genesis Chamber creates are perfect fodder for exiling with Triad of Fates, and the Chamber provides us with plentiful chump blockers if any aggression comes our way. Forbidden Orchard is another way to give away tokens, but the real powerhouses are Hunted Horror and Hunted Lammasu. Whenever these creatures enter the field, an opponent gets two 3/3s or a 4/4, respectively. These are not only free creatures to exile and provide card draw, they are relevant in combat. Playing politics and setting our opponents against each other is an important ability for a Group Hug deck to have, and both Hunted creatures do exactly what we need.
While we're giving players 4/4s to throw around, we can make sure that no one has to die from combat damage. Arbiter of Knollridge seems like a great way to keep important players alive. Enslaved Horror can revive everyone's favorite creatures, and it keeps the game moving at a decent pace through the most egregious of creature removal. Finally, Blinkmoth Urn helps ramp everyone at the table, but should ramp us the most. Smothering Tithe creates a lot of artifacts, especially when you are giving other players extra chances to draw cards.
Speaking of Smothering Tithe, I also want to mention Alms Collector. This Bird Cleric is a superstar in mono-white decks, and it makes sure that we get to draw cards with Triad of Fates's ability too. Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted, on the other hand, is a mini version of our commander. It helps us trade creatures for cards, but more explicitly punishes our opponents for those cards. Normally, this damage should stack up slowly, but as we begin to activate Triad of Fates more and more, it will start to stack up. If we can exile enough creatures at once with Triad of Fates, Ob Nixilis might even become a win condition.
And Your Enemies Closer
I've already mentioned Village Bell-Ringer and Panharmonicon, both of which help kick our commander into gear. They also form the core of a combo that mills our opponents out. First, though, we're going to need the rest of the pieces. Restoration Angel and Felidar Guardian are key pieces, as well as either Thousand-Year Elixir or Crashing Drawbridge.
With Village Bell-Ringer in your hand, and all the other pieces in play, you can tap Triad of Fates to put a fate counter on Restoration Angel, then cast Village Bell-Ringer to untap Triad of Fates and use them to flicker Restoration Angel. As Restoration Angel reenters the field, it will exile Triad of Fates and Village Bell-Ringer. When they reenter, use Crashing Drawbridge to give Triad of Fates haste, and activate it before each of the untap triggers from Village Bell-Ringer, flickering Restoration Angel to continue the loop.
As described, this combo will get you infinite enters-the-battlefield triggers which allows you to win with a Corpse Knight or Altar of the Brood in play. By adding in Felidar Guardian and Hunted Lammasu, as well, we have the ability to mill our opponents with Triad of Fates' exile ability. This works by having Restoration Angel instead target Felidar Guardian and Hunted Lammasu. Felidar Guardian will then target Triad of Fates and Village Bell-Ringer, while Hunted Lammasu provides the creatures for our commander to exile.
Each loop gives us the chance to activate Triad of Fates three times: once before the first Village Bell-Ringer trigger, once before the second, and once after the second. That is exactly enough to place a fate counter on Restoration Angel, a fate counter on the token created by Hunted Lammasu, and then flicker Restoration Angel to continue the loop. Once each opponent has enough tokens with fate counters, we can then instead exile them and mill each opponent as they draw through their deck.
The final piece of the loop is the mana to pay for all those Triad of Fates activations. The solution is simply to play artifact creatures that tap for mana. Myr are excellent candidates, as they feed into our backup win condition, Myr Battlesphere. The damage potential from Myr Battlesphere can take opponents off guard, especially in conjunction with Panharmonicon and Anointed Procession. We're not playing many other token-producers, but I think Smothering Tithe and Myr Battlesphere are good enough reasons to include it.
Facing the Unavoidable
A few final cards I want to mention are Daxos, Blessed by the Sun and Authority of the Consuls. Both of these cards help pad our life total against the tokens we give out. This helps Arbiter of Knollridge always have a good target and ensures that we survive long enough to put our combo together or to find an Eldrazi Displacer and realize that there is a much simpler way to get infinite Triad of Fates activations with Village Bell-Ringer and a couple of mana dorks.
We also need to be prepared for whatever our opponents are doing. Letting them draw cards means that they'll be trying to win the game quickly. Wraths are our best friend, so we're playing the best we can find. Wrath of God and Toxic Deluge are both cheap to cast, while Austere Command presents extra flexibility. Despark and Anguished Unmaking are both additional sources of exile if we need to hit non-creature permanents.
Season to taste with card draw, a couple tutors, and ramp, and we get a final decklist.
Triad of Fates
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Triad of Fates really took me by surprise while building it. I expected them to be slow, unwieldy, and uninteresting. Instead, I found a fun commander with unique options in their color combination. The Group Hug EDHREC Theme page is dominated by Blue and Green cards. Of the few White and Black cards present, I included almost none. I think my favorite cards for this deck are Hunted Lammasu and Hunted Horror. They're what really make the Group Hug strategy work, and they are both strong creatures in their own right. A two-mana 7/7 with trample should never be underestimated.
But what do you think? Have you thought about building Triad of Fates before? Let me know how you would play them in the comments, and thanks for reading!