Epic Experiment - Tolsimir
(Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves | Art by Ryan Pancoast)
Hello, EDHREC fans! I’m Bernardo, and this is Epic Experiment, a series where we throw all common sense aside and experiment with some unusual strategies, changing how we normally build our deck. Is it going to work? Who knows?! We’re making science here. When you’re an Izzet mage, blowing things up is half the fun.
Let's take a look at Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves!
Tolsimir is an all-time favorite commander of mine. This card is just awesome, from its concept to its art and abilities.
Tolsimir is a versatile commander who's a bit of a mid-range king. From the get-go, we have a five-mana creature that gains us life and comes with a removal stapled to it, but that's only the beginning. For each Wolf that enters the battlefield afterward, we get those triggers again and again, which makes controlling the battlefield an easy task. This impressive kit allows Tolsimir to capitalize on different strategies: Wolves entering the battlefield can be abused by blink effects, the lifegain can be used for life-matters payoffs, and Wolves' natural token synergies play into the classic green-white tokens archetype.
However, there are still two main issues that need to be addressed when building Tolsimir. First, a five-mana commander is a bit on the expensive side, which can quickly lock us out of playing him if he's removed too often. The second issue is that without proper support, it's pretty hard to get value out of the fight trigger and keep our creature, which means that we need to do a lot of set up before getting full value from our commander.
Out of the many ways to have a constant flow of creatures to trigger our commander, Cycling seems to have fallen under the radar. Astral Slide and Astral Drift are both amazing engines that allow us to keep triggering our commander while also digging us for more action.
As a tribe, Wolves have a surprisingly good number of solid ETB creatures to blink, so much so that we have the luxury of selecting mostly for their effect instead of having to fill in with beefier creatures for the fight ETB. Cemetery Prowler is a graveyard hate effect that has the added benefit of giving us a slight discount on some of our spells. Ferocious Pup and Irregular Cohort are versatile cards since they give us two triggers to play around with. Howling Giant, Tovolar's Huntmaster, and Somberwald Beastmaster are our top-end targets that flood the board with more tokens.
We have every one-mana Cycling card available at our disposal, but as a two-colored Cycling deck, we quickly have to rely on more expensive ones, which isn't too bad, since we also have Fluctuator. One nice thing about Cycling strategies is that we can pack a myriad of different card effects among the different Cycling cards. We've got Forsake the Worldly and Wilt for artifacts and enchantments, Radiant's Judgment for creatures, and Akroma's Vengeance takes care of anything barring planeswalkers.
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There are plenty of great support cards for Tolsimir, although since we're a bit slot-starved between our Wolves and our Cycling cards, we have to be choosey with them. Mark of Asylum and The Wanderer are ways to avoid losing our Wolves to our fight triggers, for instance. In a deck with so many token-generators, Anointed Procession and Parallel Lives quickly put us over the edge. Primal Forcemage's pump is a really efficient way to both protect from and rip apart our opponents' threats.
We need to find our Astral Drift/ Astral Slide as fast as possible, and while we have some drawing power with our Cyclers, we still need to have a few tutors. Enlightened Tutor is a cheap tutor that can be used either before our draw step or together with our Cyclers to get one of our enchantments. Idyllic Tutor is a bit expensive, but it gets it into our hands, and Sterling Grove is versatile and can either find or protect our key enchantments.
Our early game is a bit slow, with a few turns dedicated to setting up our board. This means that we're either digging for the Cycling enchantments or playing some of our support cards. It's also worth keeping in mind that since we lack the sheer number of Cycling cards as most of our decks usually have, it's good to consider holding out some Cyclers so that we have them available for when we start going off.
While our game plan revolves around those the Cycling enchantments, we're no slouches if we don't find them. Our commander is a strong mid-range threat and, together with our Wolves, he can help us control the board and give us some breathing room to find what we're looking for.
If we get to keep our board, then by the late game we're pretty well set. The advantage of having a lot of cards that cantrip is that we can redraw and get ahead on board at the same time. We're a bit lacking in the bombs department, so to win, we'll need to do a bit of grinding. At that point, though, even just casting our beefiest can also be a pretty decent gameplan if we need a board state! The benefit of a grindy strategy is that it's slow to build up, but just as difficult to completely dismantle!
That’s it for this Epic Experiment! What do you think of this list? Do you have any questions about the deck? Which cards did you like? Which did you not? Was this experiment a success? Please let me know in the comments below!