Forgotten Harvest - Non-Combat Feather

(Feather, the Redeemed | Art by Wayne Reynolds)

Return of the Sorcery

Welcome back to your bi-weekly installment of Forgotten Harvest, where the name of the game is utilizing cards that see play in 300 decks or less on EDHREC. This time, we're tackling one of the more popular commanders to come out of War of the Spark: Feather, the Redeemed. Since she was spoiled, Feather has proven to be an excellent alternative for Boros brewers looking for a non-combat-oriented commander. Her unique and powerful ability works best in Spellslinger builds, recurring instants and sorceries back to your hand at the beginning of the end step. Being able to do this with cantrip spells solves one of the biggest challenges for Boros: card advantage. The Force is strong with this one, I tell you!

But, wait... Feather will only return instants and sorceries that target one of your creatures. Of course, pretty much all of the red and white spells that target your own creatures are combat-based, either by giving the creature buffs, evasion, or both. So Feather, the Redeemed is essentially another Boros commander revolving around turning creatures sideways. *Sigh!* I guess when you're red and white, there's just no escaping it.

"That's Not True! That's Impossible!"

I refuse to fall into this trap (thanks for the warning, Ackbar). There has to be a way to make Feather function like a true Spellslinger, relying on spell damage instead of combat damage to earn that big win. What if we look at damage spells that can hit multiple targets? That way, we can throw a single damage at Feather, and toss the rest into someone else's face. The spell would meet the minimum requirement for Feather to recur it, allowing us to sling damage around turn after turn. Let's see what a quick search turns up...

Red is overflowing with damage spells that can pick multiple targets, and a great deal of them see very little play right now on EDHREC. Take, for instance, the duo of Arc Lightning and Flames of the Firebrand. These nearly identical spells can get us two damage for three mana (subtracting off the one damage for a creature on our side). Not a great return on investment, except that this ability becomes repeatable turn after turn. Compare these cards to Hammer of Bogarden or Flame Jab, and it seems like a steal. They see play right now in 163 and 106 decks, respectively.

If you're willing to invest even more mana into the spell, consider Pyrotechnics (26 decks) or Spreading Flames (28 decks) instead. With cost reducers like Primal Amulet helping out, along with a slew of mana rocks, even a card like Spreading Flames can become a capable damage-dealer. If mana cost is still a concern, then Pyrokinesis offers an option to cheat its cost instead of paying the six mana. It's only in 243 decks, but that versatility in casting with no open mana makes me think this number should be higher.

We're just getting started on damage dealers. The newly printed Sundering Stroke is an excellent spell in this kind of deck, giving you six damage to split up amongst up to two targets (after pinging one of your own, of course). If you can scrounge up the seven red mana when you cast it, this card can really bring down the house! I can understand the low deck count of 92 for this card, as it's really only best played in mono-red decks. Even there, I see other damage options as being more favorable (Earthquake, Fireball, and the like), but in this deck, I love it!

Since we want creatures around to ping with one damage off these spells, there are a fair number of token-makers in the deck. Darien, King of Kjeldor and Young Pyromancer keep us on the themes of damage and spellslinger while still providing tokens. Ghired's Belligerence gives us the multi-targeting option while also generating even more tokens. Volcanic Wind is the damage-dividing spell that's going to capitalize on our growing army. In only 39 decks right now, this feels like a one-sided Blasphemous Act in decks like Krenko, Mob Boss or Purphoros, God of the Forge. I really think this is a gem of a card waiting to be discovered.

Speaking of tokens, Splicer's Skill from the recent Modern Horizons can help us bolster our token numbers even further. It can get a little pricey to tack this onto a Fists of Flame each turn, but the payoff is pretty good, all things considered. If you couldn't tell from my article on God-Eternal Kefnet, I'm a big fan of Splice. I'd love to see more cards like this, and bumping its numbers up from the measly 48 decks that run it now will only help the cause.

Preventative Medicine

With a theme that relies upon dealing damage to our own creatures, there are ways we can make the most of this, leaning into the unconventional theme. Including some Enraged Dinosaurs like Trapjaw Tyrant certainly helps, as can the aforementioned Darien, King of Kjeldor if we want to turn some of that damage onto ourselves. There's also the option of preventing the damage. Note that even if the damage is prevented, the target was still named, so Feather's recursion will still trigger. If this were Protection, it would be a different story, as it makes the target illegal.

I'll be honest, when I first saw Feather, the Redeemed, I did not think "Prevent Damage Tribal," but here we are! First things first, we should look at the classics. Samite Healer, Femeref Healer, and Clergy en-Vec are as simple as it gets. In 13, 4, and 10 decks respectively, these Clerics are going to provide just enough protection to our 1/1 Elemental token to keep it in play when it's dealt a damage from Arc Lightning turn after turn. Should you feel the need for a more defensive option, there's Alabaster Wall from Mercadian Masques, played in only 13 decks. Then, of course, there's the queen of prevention tribal, Orim, Samite Healer (54 decks total), preventing a whopping three damage with each activation.

But none of these cards are as underplayed as this wonderful Aura from Prophecy. Flowering Field has the second-lowest deck count ever featured in one of my articles. Just two decks play it in the 99 right now, and it's a shame. I like the whole series of land Auras from the set, and this one particularly works well. This deck will be weak to mass creature destruction, so having an unaffected source of damage prevention will come in handy. Next time you're looking for something really off the wall, give the "Field" cycle from Prophecy a look.

Making damage prevention a bit more spicy, Field Surgeon can turn our token army into an invulnerable force. This can be especially helpful when we want to supercharge a multi-pronged Fireball each turn, but need one of our creatures to survive it. Alternatively, its ability can be used when withstanding a barrage from an opponent's creatures. The card sees play in only 35 decks right now, and while it can't prevent damage to players, I do like it more than the generic healers listed above.

However, the honor of being my favorite cleric falls to Hallowed Healer. Given all the spells we're slinging, even with recursion from Feather, it shouldn't be hard to get to Threshold with this deck. Once the Healer is tapping to prevent four damage instead of two, pair it with Selfless Squire to create a giant creature worthy of some standard Feather, the Redeemed cards like Fists of Flame or Shelter. The Healer's only in 16 decks, but I see it as an auto-include for any Cleric deck.

Lastly, if you want to kick damage prevention into overdrive, consider Purity (300 decks). Coming in right at the cutoff, this Elemental can turn the damage from a Fireball or Talisman of Conviction into lifegain with ease. Plus, the ability is baked into a large, evasive body, which plays well with the other non-damage-related cards we're rocking. If you don't have a Purity, or don't want to run one, then I highly recommend Firesong and Sunspeaker instead. Either will help this deck significantly!

Here's a look at the final build:

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She Protec, She Attac, But Most Importantly She Bring Bac

Thanks very much for clicking on this Forgotten Harvest. Love or loathe this Feather brew? You can leave your questions, comments, and snide remarks in the comments section below. I'll be down there discussing all the great ways we could bring Splice back, the best ways to deal damage to yourself in Boros, and how we can make Cleric tribal a reality. Do you have any other ways to build Feather that I didn't discuss? Are there other commanders which seem to force the deck in a specific direction, yet can be steered away into new territory? How about some hyper-underplayed cards you think need some love? Let me hear about it below, and I'll see you all next time!

Midwest transplant to the Pacific Northwest, Kyle has been playing the jankiest of decks for nearly 20 years. He loves non-lethal combos, obscure deck themes, Cloudstone Curio, and winning with Coalition Victory. When he's not tapping lands or brewing decks, Kyle is enjoying his other ridiculously expensive hobby: building with Lego.

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