Nearly Identical - Adeline or Myrel?
(Goldnight Commander | Art by Chris Rahn)
Hello! Welcome back to Nearly Identical, a series where I take a look at two commanders with similar designs and archetypes, find out what separates them, and help you find your next commander! Today, we're looking at two mono-white commanders that overwhelm the board with an army of tokens: Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Myrel, Shield of Argive.
Mono-white is known for its ability to make a ton of small tokens. Before the influx of stronger white cards, simply making one token a turn, like Brimaz, King of Oreskos, wasn't strong enough to survive at a multiplayer table. Today, we're getting commanders that can scale with the game and make multiple tokens a turn to keep pace with our opponents.
Adeline, Resplendent Cathar makes a white Human creature token for each opponent that we have. She may not look like much, especially compared to other value engine commanders, but churning out three creatures a turn can quickly get out of hand. And this was just the introduction to even more powerful white commanders.
Myrel, Shield of Argive became an instant favorite as she not only helped lead an unpopular creature type, but also locked out your opponents from interacting with you on your turn.
Based on data provided by MtGDS, Adeline and Myrel have a similarity coefficient of 84%, meaning that there's an 84% chance that a card found in an Adeline deck is also found in a Myrel deck. This actually surprised me, because Myrel wants to lead a Soldier Tribal deck, so you'd think a deck that needs a focus on a specific creature type wouldn't align with a deck like Adeline that doesn't care about Soldiers at all.
But as it turns out, when looking through Adeline's page, there are a lot of Soldiers sprinkled in the deck that we want. The new Coppercoat Vanguard gives all our Humans ward and +1/+0, plus Cathar Commando is an excellent piece of removal. There's much more that I'll get to in just a moment. Between these two and all the good mono-white cards we've been getting in the past two or so years (Deep Gnome Terramancer, Archivist of Oghma, and Esper Sentinel), that 84% actually starts to make sense. So how am I planning on making these two commanders more distinct from one another?
For Adeline, I'm looking to build a token theme that cares about creatures entering the battlefield and having ways to pump them. Plus, I'll be baking in synergies that care specifically about tokens. And for Myrel, I'll be building a Soldier deck, but I also want to include as many artifact-centric synergies as possible since the Soldier tokens are artifact creatures. But first, what do we want in our mono-white decks?
Bastion Protector will keep our commanders safe during combat, as both of them have to attack. We'll want multiple effects in the deck that can protect our commanders since they only have four toughness and must attack to get their effects. Tocasia's Welcome will draw us a card each turn whenever we make our creature tokens. Most of our card draw will care about small creatures coming into play, such as Mentor of the Meek and Symmetry Matrix, which can draw multiple cards if we have the mana to pay into them.
Goldnight Commander is often found in precons as a cheap way to buff up creatures. It's decent in decks that casually make tokens, but the effect can be inconsistent if you can't put enough creatures into play. That being said, with Adeline and Myrel, we'll be able to buff up all of our creatures each turn. Now those 1/1 Humans Adeline makes will turn into 4/4s, making it harder for our opponents to chump them with a 2/2.
Sharpen Your Swords
Let's see what else we're putting in our Adeline deck!
Reconnaissance gives us the freedom to attack with everything and not have to worry about blockers. It's great in both decks, but it's especially needed here as it allows us to untap and save our attacking 1/1s that would otherwise die in combat.
Maul of the Skyclaves gives us two keyword abilities that we want on Adeline. The evasion on Adeline is great, and having first strike means we won't even have to worry about facing any Dragons or Demons in the air. Having ways to get through in combat is important for this deck to win. Consequently, having a creature like Court Street Denizen that'll tap down our opponents' creatures can be very powerful. At the very least, we'll be able to tap down three of the scariest creatures on board, or at least the ones that could potentially kill Adeline in combat. If that's not enough, then we might already be in serious trouble.
Now that we know how to get Adeline through combat, what are some ways to get value off of the tokens that we make?
Rumor Gatherer is a neat budget card that can sometimes be difficult to draw cards from if we're not consistently playing two creatures a turn, but with Adeline, we'll get to scry, draw, and scry again. Speaking of scrying, Norn's Wellspring will allow us to scry whenever a creature dies. We may not be doing any aristocrat shenanigans, but the odds of our attacking 1/1s dying is fairly high. It's an artifact that'll sit around and collect oil counters as we face removal and board wipes, and the value we'll get over time from the scry and draw will help smooth out our games.
We'll also want to include effects like Soul Warden and Daxos, Blessed by the Sun that will gain us life when our tokens come in. This will pad out our life total and help us survive the long game. But how do we plan to close out games?
Mono-white has some scary ways to close out a game, and Dragon Throne of Tarkir might be the best one. It's heavily costed, but given that Adeline's power increases the more creatures we have out, we'll be able to turn her into a Craterhoof Behemoth that we can trigger each turn if we don't somehow win on the first combat step.
Divine Visitation turns all those small 1/1s into 4/4 Angels that'll fly over our opponents' creatures. If this is allowed to stay out, it won't be long before we've amassed enough flyers to knock everyone out. If that's not enough, white now has one of the best Overruns in the form of Akroma's Will, making all our creatures essentially unblockable and have double strike. We can swing Adeline at one opponent and send everything else at the other two, hopefully killing everyone at once.
Now let's take a look at the decklist!
Adeline, Power in NumbersView on Archidekt
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Moving onto my Myrel, let's see how we can add some artifact flare!
Myrel, Shield of Argive looked like a straightforward Soldier commander to me at first. I wanted to add in all the best Soldiers I could find to get the most out of Myrel's ability. Then I realized she makes artifact creatures. That got me thinking. What kinds of artifact support could we run here?
My first thought was Losheel, Clockwork Scholar, which will protect our Soldier tokens by preventing damage dealt to them when they attack. Just like with Reconnaissance, being able to freely attack with our creatures is a huge advantage, and Losheel can enable that while also drawing us cards. Tempered Steel turns all our artifact tokens into 3/3s. This along with Inspiring Leader will be powerful buffs that'll be difficult for our opponents to manage.
Sadly, there aren't as many white cards that care about artifacts that would make sense for this deck. There's no Reckless Fireweaver, but I did find a rather spicy card from The Brothers' War: Thopter Architect. We see uncommon white creatures that can grant temporary flying all the time in Standard sets, but I think Thopter Architect is worth a second look for Myrel. When we attack, Myrel will make a number of artifact Soldier tokens equal to the number of Soldiers we already control, meaning we can give all our Soldiers flying each turn. If nothing else, this just gives Myrel the ability to attack a creature that doesn't have flying, but I think giving our team flying each turn is strong enough to give this uncommon a spot in our deck. Now let's move on to ways we get the most out of Myrel's ability.
I don't think enough people are running Strionic Resonator in Myrel. Only 13% of all Myrel lists run it, and this card is absolutely terrifying here. We already know that Resonator is bad news, but considering that when we copy Myrel's ability, the second trigger that resolves will see the Soldiers we made from the first trigger, since it counts the number of Soldiers at the time it resolves. It's not an expensive card at the moment, and I think more Myrel players should take a look at it.
Folk Hero isn't our best card draw option, and that's actually pretty cool for white. While we have better draw spells, like Esper Sentinel, it's nice to see options like Folk Hero crop up that work for specific strategies. Finally, I want to give the new Wand of the Worldsoul a mention here. Unlike Adeline, which makes tokens that come in tapped, Myrel's tokens come into play untapped. Typically, this means they'll be good blockers, but with Wand of the Worldsoul, we're essentially able to cast a free spell each turn. I'm enjoying these new white cards that can really take advantage of white's strong suits.
Now let's take a look at the list!
Myrel's Army of AutomatonsView on Archidekt
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The Dust Settles on a New Day
Myrel, Shield of Argive currently leads at around 2,600 decks, about 300 more than what Adeline, Resplendent Cathar has (around 2,300). Even though Adeline was printed just a year before Myrel in Midnight Hunt, players quickly took to Myrel. Having a Grand Abolisher in the command zone was too good to be true. This and her ability to snowball very quickly led her to be the fifth most popular mono-white commander in EDH.
Adeline is a strong contender, but I believe she's more powerful as a card in the 99. I think most players would agree, given that she's currently in 61,500 decks. She's powerful, but it's hard to beat a commander that has built-in board protection, especially in a combat-focused strategy.
What do you think of our commanders? Would you rather make a more aggressive token deck or one that can sit back and snowball itself into a win? Let me know in the comments below!