Monomania — Get to the Chopper!
(Blind Obedience | Art by Seb Mckinnon)
Greetings everyone, and welcome back to Monomania. In this article series we build mono-colored decks as a way to explore ramp and draw packages that are synergistic with our particular deck’s strategy, and to challenge staples and misconceptions about the color pie. Today, we’re masterminding our escape plan.
Mangara of Corondor looks very innocent, but his effect is surprisingly potent with the right support. Every turn, he can remove the most problematic permanent on the board at the low low cost of exiling himself in the process. Played fairly, this commander quickly becomes too expensive to cast from the command zone. However, take a close look at that ability. Mangara exiles himself as part of the ability, not as part of the activation cost. With ways to flicker or bounce Mangara back to our hand in response to his ability, we can still exile the worst permanent, and evade extra taxes on our commander, using our general as a powerful tool to control the board.
Looking through Mangara's EDHREC page, it is clear that people generally understand the power of this interaction—Cloudshift and Flickerform appear in 63% of Mangara decks, while Erratic Portal appears in 59%. Another EDHREC writer, Ben Doolittle, has already written a great article about Mangara and blink effects. Check it out here. However, Mangara still only leads 59 decks on EDHREC and deserves much more love, so I’ll examine another angle for this general.
While we’ll be running all of the typical flicker support in white, I’ve also decided to take this commander in a couple different directions, all of which affect how we will ramp and gain card advantage. Because Mangara is such a powerful control tool, I’ve included a lifegain package as added deterrence. The threat of crackback from Mangara sometimes isn’t enough to prevent aggression, but if we’re sitting at 80 life, our opponents will think twice before menacing us, especially if we can remove their most important permanents with our general. I’ve opted for a piecemeal approach—gaining life incrementally over the course of the game. We’ll be running Soul Warden, Leonin Elder, and Diamond Mare rather than big swings like Beacon of Immortality. I’ve also included a small creature strategy to maintain some board presence—things for us to flicker, protect our commander, or combo off with.
With all that in mind, let’s examine our ramp and draw packages. We'll be dropping Mangara into the heat of battle, gaining value from our troops, and then dropping a ladder from the helicopter for a quick escape.
Keep the Engine Idling
First, we have our card advantage package. While we do have the ability to draw cards with this set of effects, our package is more focused around deck thinning and putting cards from our deck into our hand.
These two cards are powerhouses with our style of life-gain package. If we were playing swingy, expensive lifegain effects, we would often be unable to take advantage of these card advantage engines. With a Soul’s Attendant on the table, though, paying a few mana during our opponents' turns to draw cards is exactly what we want to do. At its core, Mangara is a control general, and we’ll often leave mana open to respond to different board states. If we have nothing better to do, why not incidentally draw cards?
In my opinion, this set of cards, along with Gift of Estates, is an underrated package for mono-white. Everyone knows Land Tax is insane, but I wager that these deck-thinning effects are valuable for a few reasons. Each of them provides a stellar rate of cards-to-hand for their mana costs. What’s more, they give us a greater chance of drawing nonland cards afterward. Oreskos Explorer is perhaps the most underwhelming of the bunch, especially when compared to Boreas Charger, but the fact that this composite effect of deck thinning and card advantage is perfect for us—especially when attached to an ETB that can be easily abused by blink effects that we’re already running. While Land Tax and Oreskos are both limited by the condition of “if an opponent controls more lands than you,” it should almost never be a burden. How many times has the mono-white player controlled the most lands?
Finally, Endless Horizons is a very underrated tool in mono-white. It only appears in 986 decks total on EDHREC, but it should be a consideration for almost every mono-white deck. This is white’s answer to Phyrexian Arena—with the same power and shortcomings. With Endless Horizons, you draw one extra card per turn and receive the bonus of incredible thinning. Just don’t make the mistake of removing all the Plains from your deck early in the game. If an opponent removes it, you will be shut off from further land drops. Instead, think about what you want. How many cards do you think is fair for four mana? Eight? Nine? How many more turns before the game ends? Six? Seven? These are the questions that direct how you play Endless Horizons. In the late game, this card may easily be better than Phyrexian Arena—removing the rest of our Plains from the deck and ensuring playable draws for the remainder of the game.
Finally, we have two other cards that can thin our deck and gain us card advantage. These effects that search for creatures that cost one mana can fetch some of the most important creatures in our deck. The real benefit of these cards is that their effects are attached to ETB triggers—perfect targets to flicker.
Get This Thing Off the Ground
To ramp, we’ll be looking for similar types of effects—cards that thin our deck, gain us life, and put extra mana sources on the field.
These three cards each search out one land and put it directly onto the battlefield, the best form of ramp available. What’s more, each is attached to an ETB trigger. Second verse, same as the first: these are perfect targets for flicker effects. If we can take advantage of these triggers more than once, we will be able to keep up with most of our opponents on ramp and can even end the game with most of our lands on the battlefield.
Finally, we have a couple of mana rocks. While these are both suboptimal choices among their peers, they have the ability to gain us life, therefore synergizing with the strategy that underpins our deck. This, perhaps, is not necessarily the best reason to run them over better two-mana options, but we should also consider what we are ramping to. Our commander costs three mana, and is actually better on turn six than he is on turn two. With these two ramp effects, we can pace ourselves and hopefully take advantage of their lifegain with Well of Lost Dreams or Dawn of Hope rather than rushing to nothing.
With all this in mind, let’s put it all together with a deck list. With all of our packages, there is little room for extra tech, but there are still a few notable inclusions.
Among these, we have a suite of precision mass removal effects including Citywide Bust, Slaughter the Strong, and Dusk // Dawn. With our low curve, tiny creatures, and blink effects, these removal spells will disrupt our opponents much, much more than us. Scapegoat is an all-star in this deck. For one mana at instant speed, this is a potent way to protect our creatures from removal or double up on ETB triggers. This card only sees play in 136 decks total on EDHREC and it deserves consideration not only here, but maybe even in Brago, King Eternal or Roon of the Hidden Realm decks. Finally, I have included a combo to end the game that fits with our packages. Enduring Renewal combined with Memnite and Blasting Station can win us the game in a pinch and is easy to assemble for us. Take a look at the list below and, as always, season to taste.
Get to the Chopper!View on Archidekt
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What did you all think of this take on Mangara of Corondor? Is there anything I missed in the construction of this deck? I've had a lot of fun playing this commander over the years, and I circle back to Mangara every once in a while. Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Remember to EDHREC responsibly: always dig a little beyond the statistics. Have a good one, and I’ll see you on down the road.