Justice League Commander Decks - Son of the Land, King of the Seas
(Thrasios, Triton Hero | Art by Josu Hernaiz)
New Sleeves for the Seven Seas
To properly introduce the slickest new card sleeves in the DC Universe from Dragon Shield, we need to celebrate with a deck worthy of Aquaman and his aquatic brethren. If you want all the power of the oceans at your fingertips while playing your game of commander, look no further.
Here are the Aquaman's newest card sleeves!
In this article we'll dive deep into the cards and combos with that salty ocean flavor that will bring out the Atlantean in all of us. I promise there will be more water puns as well, so even if you aren't an Aquaman fan you can read on to get your daily dose of eye rolls and disappointed sighs.
The King and Queen of Atlantis
He's got a trident, he's an excellent swimmer, and he's exceptionally powerful: Thrasios, Triton Hero is our Aquaman, commanding the seven seas with the help of Queen Mera, played by Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix. These two provide us with all the tools we need to win the Aquaman way: giant sea creatures, multi-pronged magical utensils, and control of the tides.
We want every card that's going into one of these Aquaman sleeves to make sense in the context of his domain: the oceans. All of our creatures will be water-related, and our noncreature spells will either relate to the sea or with a little imagination we should be able to connect them to the sea or Aquaman's story. Yes, Seedborn Muse is super strong in a deck like this, but we won't be including surface-dwellers unless they have a water tie-in. And of course, no Pirates allowed!
Learning What it Means to Be King
This is Not the Ocean
Arthur Curry is a reluctant hero, and conflicted about his supposed belonging to a place he's never really known. He was raised on the surface by his human father, and despite Vulko and Mera's influence, he resists his royal birthright well into adulthood. After a few defeats along his journey, he begins to doubt his worth, at one point even telling Mera, "I'm no leader, I am no king. I do not work or play well with others." Mera responds thoughtfully, "You think you're unworthy to lead because you're of two different worlds, but that is exactly why you are worthy. You are the bridge between land and sea. I can see that now. The only question is, can you?" Arthur has to learn a lot about himself and the role he was born into.
Gaining knowledge, even if it's just learning about ourselves, has always been symbolized by drawing cards in Magic. Our early gameplan is built around card advantage and card selection. We're playing green and blue, so we should be able to out-value our opponents with cards like Mystic Remora, Merfolk Looter, Cold-Eyed Selkie, and Sea-Dasher Octopus. With all of those extra cards, we want to be ramping and setting up our mid-game pieces. In this stage we're just growing and learning how to be Aquaman.
There are fewer sea-based mana dorks than I thought there would be when I started this project. Sea Scryer and Weaver of Currents are good early game plays to keep us a step ahead. Sea birds meet our criteria but I recommend the original printing of Birds of Paradise for the most appropriate art.
Just as Vulko trained Arthur as a child, we want to find Training Grounds early and often to help supercharge Thrasios's ability. Dizzy Spell helps us tutor for the Grounds or Amulet of Vigor reliably. There is another one-mana spell we'll often target with Dizzy Spell, but we'll get to that later on.
The Student Becomes the (Ocean) Master
When we're ready to kick things up a league, we'll take our draw and ramp strategies to the next zone.
Windfall is Kydele's good friend, and Tatyova, Benthic Druid works swimmingly with both of our commanders. One way to develop repeated card advantage in this creature-heavy deck is with ETB effects like Cavalier of Gales. When we add in some blink tech, we can make the Cavalier go a long ways and build value for Kydele at the same time.
Luckily we have some maritime options for blinking, with the newest Thassa, Deep-Dwelling and the classic Deadeye Navigator. The Navigator can be a value piece with any of our ETB creatures or a combo piece with Great Whale for infinite mana. With Thrasios at the helm, infinite mana means we can draw our whole deck, so we'll include Thassa's Oracle as a tertiary win condition. We can similarly use infinite mana to Capsize all of our opponents' permanents.
In addition to drawing cards, we'll need to amp the ramp. Thrasios's ability costs a lot of mana, and our primary end game strategy will (spoiler alert) involve expensive giant sea creatures.
Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle provides utility through the midgame and beef in the endgame. Thada Adel, Acquisitor will take back all of those Atlantean trinkets that should belong to us anyways. Arthur and Mera spend half of the movie on their own Path of Discovery, and we'll include the merfolk Jadelight Ranger for extra explorative blinking synergy.
Pictured: What We're Going For
Sea Creatures have their own EDHREC theme page, which I found very helpful for this part of the deck where we want to start dropping giant monsters. We're running classics like Tromokratis and Stormtide Leviathan, but there are fresher faces in this group like Nadir Kraken, too. I like the fraternal meta-tribe these creatures represent, and the unique meta-support they get (hello, Whelming Wave). Even though they lose out on some singular tribal synergy cards like Kindred Discovery, they don't really care, because, well, why would they? They're giant sea creatures!
Aquaman crashes through the bottom of the ocean floor riding an enormous Kraken, and that might be the most epic way to finish a war. We will feel similarly epic riding sea monsters like Nezahal, Primal Tide, Serpent of Yawning Depths, and Lorthos, the Tidemaker to smash our opponents and finish the game. If we can get Quest for Ula's Temple going, we'll be dropping these bombs (other than Nezahal) for free at the end of each turn. We have twelve creatures on our list that qualify for the Quest.
Aquaman's most unique power is his telepathic connection to all marine wildlife, so wherever possible we'll use creatures for noncreature-like effects. Kederekt Leviathan can save a game and his Unearth ability sneaks up on many players. Scourge of Fleets is a more one-sided board wipe that can clear the way for our monsters to sink some ships. Sunder, in the world of Magic, tells the story of the drowning of Tolaria, a semi-Atlantean story. It'll prompt your opponents to scoop if you've just played a Scourge, Whelming Wave, or cranked out infinite mana with Thrasios on board.
I couldn't write an Aquaman article without acknowledging his super cool magical fork. Bident of Thassa represents the trident of Atlan in our deck, which Aquaman pulls from dead Atlan's grasp in a truly Arthurian moment of destiny. Ours is missing a prong, which might be upsetting until you realize that Atlanna's trident has five prongs and yet they called it a trident for the whole movie (Is Qui-dent a thing?). Apparently words don't matter anymore and we should just be happy with this glorified pitchfork. My only other option is Surestrike Trident, which looks like it's being restrained by seatbelts.
The splashiest way for us to finish the game is to douse our opponents' faces with a bunch of giant, pumped sea creatures. We've got to go big or go... well, back to the earth's core I guess. A Finale of Devastation where X=10 is not out of the question for this deck. The new Serpent of Yawning Depths is a great target for this spell, provided you have one or two other sea monsters on the battlefield, as all of your creatures will have haste, +10/+10 and be essentially unblockable. The flavor of this aligns perfectly with the climax of Aquaman emerging from the earth's core riding the Karathen. If we've gone a bit wider, Return of the Wildspeaker is another spell that says "Surprise, I've got the Trident of Atlan, and now I command all sea life!" I like that Biomass Mutation is an instant, too, as it can easily become a surprise kill.
I mentioned we'd have another one-mana heavy hitter that we'd target with Dizzy Spell, and Concordant Crossroads should not disappoint. I think the art looks quite similar to the Hidden Sea where Arthur meets his mother, Atlanna. A creature-heavy deck like this needs haste sources, since our opponents will not typically let us untap with a stable of sea monsters on board.
Like everything else in the deck we're going to handle our interaction Aquaman-style. He can't send a counterspell halfway around the ocean to rip a baddie in half, but he can send a shark! Voracious Greatshark will always have targets, and Frilled Mystic's frills seem aquatic enough. Sea snakes are definitely a thing, so we'll permit the use of Mystic Snake. Draining Whelk is particularly fun, especially in the late game when you counter someone's 20-CMC Exsanguinate and then smash them with a 21/21 flier on your next turn.
Maritime creature removal is hard to come by, but add Ichthyomorphosis to the growing list of enchantments that make life really tough for an opponent's commander. The only thing more humiliating than being Darksteel Mutationed into useless oblivion is being turned into a useless fish. Colossal Whale quickly becomes a problem for opponents if it sticks around a few turns, and Man-o'-war is a classic piece of seafaring removal that works harmoniously with our blink tech.
Two Worlds, Reunited
My favorite Aquaman character, Atlanna, is represented in our salty brew by Kiora. Atlanna is the queen of Atlantis and, though she doesn't summon any krakens in the 2018 Aquaman movie, we know she tangled with the Karathen more than once. More importantly, she is Arthur's mother, and her love for Thomas Curry is where Aquaman's story begins and ends.
Atlanna and Thomas Curry's forbidden relationship shows how the power of love can cross barriers and overcome challenges as brutal as the sea. In his closing words, Aquaman explains, "My father was a lighthouse keeper, my mother was a queen. They were never meant to meet. Their love saved the world. They made me what I am."
At the beginning of the film, when Atlanna leaves Thomas to save his and Arthur's lives, she tells him that she'll return to his lighthouse dock at sunrise one day when it's safe. He goes to the end of the dock every dawn looking for her, even as he becomes advanced in years. It's a beautiful ending when they are reunited, and they steal the final shots of the film.
Which leads me to the last card choice we'll discuss: the only Human in the 98, a loyal man looking out over the sunrise, counting the days until his queen returns.
The art and flavor are picture perfect, with the leveling up representing Thomas waiting all those years for Atlanna to return. We even get a little sunrise in the distance. I'm not crying, you're crying.
Sentiment aside, Lighthouse Chronologist is quite powerful in our multiplayer format provided you can sneakily turn on its ability. Seven blue mana is not asking too much of this deck, especially if we play a High Tide on our opponent's end step.
Protectors of the DeepView on Archidekt
The World is Your Oyster
I had a whale of a time putting together this list, but there are so many other possibilities for bringing the spirit of Aquaman to your next EDH deck. Would you build a Merfolk deck with Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca at the helm? Or perhaps use Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy to call forth some sea monsters directly from your library? Maybe go the Arthurian route with Emry, Lurker of the Loch? Who would you put at the helm of a Black Manta deck? I'd love to hear your thoughts on these questions and our aquatic journey in the comments below. Be sure to check out the new Aquaman card sleeves from Dragon Shield. Thanks for reading!