Replacement Commanders — Dueling is the Cat's Meow
We are back (back again), readers! This is Replacement commanders, where we look at each of the eight new “other” legendary creatures released with the four tribal decks in the commander 2017 product. So far, we covered vampires, dragons and wizards, so there is only one tribe left…cats! I put up polls on Twitter for people to vote on which tribes and commanders they want the series to feature next. Since there was only one tribe left before we start over again, my poll was about whether to write about Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist or Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith and the public demanded the article feature everyone's favorite duelist. So today, we look at Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist!
This Kitty Has Claws
As a quick disclaimer, we use EDHREC.com data in this series to look at the commander in question and compile a decklist of the most synergistic cards. Since a lot of us are brewing decks for these new legendary creatures, we get to see many different strategies and unique card choices as time goes on. This results in a sometimes haphazard decklist for this series, almost as if we are building a precon based around Mirrir instead of Arahbo, Roar of the World. As we go through each strategy, we refine the list to be more concentrated and hopefully work more smoothly. With that being said, let us look at Mirri and the effect she can have on the battlefield.
For most of these replacement commanders, one of the first things we look at is the cost and stats of the legendary creature. Mirri is quite dangerous at 3/2 with first strike for only three mana in just two colors. This means we should be able to cast Mirri on turn three for most games, provided we build our mana base at least halfway balanced and can start swinging in for Blackjack either the next turn or that turn (thanks to, say, Lightning Greaves). Mirri's title of a duelist shines brightly with her ability to limit our opponents to only block with one creature and even more so when we limit attackers to just one creature per opponent while she remains tapped. Let us remember, Mirri does not have to attack for her Crawlspace-like ability, only be tapped. This can be a hint for some tap and untap strategies, or even something unique like a vehicle deck. Overall, Mirri feels like she can either be the leader of an army of tokens that she grants a huge amount of near-unblockability for or a Voltron-style build where we give her evasion, attack and find ourselves protected from a massive clapback because she is tapped. Before we break out different paths, though, we should look at what EDHREC.com gives us for our “precon” list:
The Cats Meow
Ironically, cats as a tribe tend to care quite a bit for Equipment cards, so the list above manages to keep some of the “cat tribal” feel from the Commander 2017 precon while having an impressive display of equipment to attach to Mirri to make her even deadlier. Strangely enough, EDHREC has calculated a -1% synergy for Path of Ancestry, hence why it doesn't appear in the list above. Still, I think we could make a good argument to pull out a basic land and substitute it back in, given how many cats appear in the creature portion of our list. Another interesting land for this deck could be Unclaimed Territory from the new Ixalan set, naming cats, of course.
Mittens and Hats for our Kittens and Cats
Since the list we generated from EDHREC.com seems to revolve around equipment, I think we can skip over talking about what cards to add or remove and instead just focus on the cards we listed. When it comes to equipment strategies, the three swords we included above are the ones I tend to favor the most. These are Sword of Feast and Famine, Sword of Fire and Ice, and Sword of Light and Shadow. The reason I pick these three first is because they collectively give protection from all colors and the two remaining swords, Sword of War and Peace and Sword of Body and Mind seem to either not do enough with most builds or are simply not great for EDH. When it comes to Body and Mind, while one of our strategies will revolve around tokens, I am very cautious to put cards into my opponent's graveyard unless my strategy revolves around mill and stealing things. There are simply too many ways to abuse cards in the graveyard for me to feel safe potentially giving my opponents a form of card advantage without ensuring that they are gone for good.
Recently, there has been some conversations about the idea of “hidden commanders” where you attempt to fool your opponents by having a false commander in the command zone and “hiding” your real commander in the 99 of the deck. I am still unsure how to feel about something like this, but in this deck, I can see Balan, Wandering Knight being the sleeper agent in the deck that ends games while Mirri provides evasion and protection. Hammer of Nazahn could also make a good argument for “hidden commander” since there are so many ways to tutor out an equipment in the list and it generates a lot of value, despite not being a legendary creature.
I mentioned in my last article that one of my first commander decks was a Selesnya token deck, led by Trostani, Voice of Selesnya. It is only natural that I would see a green and white legendary creature that makes blocking large amounts of creatures harder and immediately think “how many tokens can I fit on a single playmat with this deck?”
To make room for token generators, doublers, and other things, we start by taking out most of the artifacts and equipment. We should keep all the mana rocks and some equipment like Konda's Banner for the buff to our field, Sword of the Animist to fetch lands and both Herald's Horn and Vanquisher's Banner so our cats are cheaper and the other added benefits to each artifact. Toss in cards like Annointed Procession, Doubling Season, Parallel Lives and even Primal Vigor so that our field can get out of control quickly. Brimaz, King of Oreskos is a must-have, along with White Sun's Zenith. Waiting in the Weeds can be fun, especially if the table has more than one green player and Ajani, Caller of the Pride can create an army if he survives long enough or comes out after Doubling Season is on the field. Since we are talking about token strategies, Second Harvest and even Trostani, Voice of Selesnya and Rhys the Redeemed can turn a big army into an enormous one.
Token strategies can have issues when dealing with board wipes, so protect the army with cards like Teferi's Protection, or Rootborn Defenses, Heroic Intervention, and even Survive the Night. Since the strategy is to go wide, Jazal Goldmane, Mirror Entity and Craterhoof Behemoth can be powerful closers. With so many token creatures entering the battlefield, a pet card of mine from Amonkhet has been Anointer Priest for life gain, alongside Soul Warden, Soul's Attendant, or Auriok Champion. Mentor of the Meek can provide a decent amount of card advantage, since many of the tokens we generate are going to come in at 2 or less power. Referencing the initial list, I like the idea of keeping Basilisk Collar from all the equipment because coupling first strike with deathtouch can be a potent combination, especially when it rests on our commander.
In case you are wondering, Jazal was highly synergistic from EDHREC.com, but the list we generated at first seemed to be focused on Equipments and not tokens. Meanwhile, Craterhoof has a synergy rating of -6% while Entity is sitting at only +5% synergy, hence why they were not included in the original list.
Green and white decks are known for a special kind of strategy that I think could be both fun and interesting when led by our beloved cat warrior. Imagine, for a moment, that instead of equipment, we started casting enchantments and synergizing more and more with each one we play. Additionally, there are cards known as “enchantresses” that enable our shenanigans by allowing us to draw cards for each enchantment we cast. The interesting part that comes into play with this kind of strategy is that there are enchantments that use tapping a creature as an activation cost. This means we can tap Mirri without fear of losing her in a fight and she will keep us safe from being swarmed.
With this kind of a strategy, we can remove most of the equipment from the list above, along with the creatures that tutor them or even enchantments that emphasis that kind of strategy to make room for our new strategy. Starting with the enchantresses themselves, we add Mesa Enchantress, Argothian Enchantress, Enchantress's Presence, Verduran Enchantress, and Eidolon of Blossoms for card advantage. Sphere of Safety, Sigil of the Empty Throne, Ajani's Chosen, and Karmic Justice are additionally amazing supportive cards, giving us both defenses and an army of angels and cats. We can protect our precious enchantments with cards like Sterling Grove and Greater Auramancy. We can turn our enchantments into an army, but I will add a disclaimer up front that this is a risky strategy. A board wipe can completely erase nonland permanents from your field if you are not extremely careful. However, it can also close out a game, so cards like Starfield of Nyx and Opalescence will do the job. One of the biggest benefits of a build like this is that there are enchantments that allow us to tap our creatures to get effect. So not only do we benefit from that effect, but we can tap Mirri without having to attack with her, thus keeping her safe from dying in combat, while still locking opponents down from swarming us because she will remain tapped until our next turn. Some of these enchantments, which I found using the EDHREC.com powered Scryfall, are Earthcraft, Glare of Subdual, and Symbiotic Deployment.
Remember that EDHREC.com can provide you recommendations based on themes and enchantments is one of those themes. Rule out the colors that you cannot use in Mirri's colors and remember to fill all your necessary categories of draw, removal, board wipes and ramp and you should finalize a fun, smooth deck to pilot.
Cats Always Land on their Feet
One of the things I love so much about this format is that so many people can get together and have a good time playing some of the most out-of-the-norm things and still have a fun, interactive game. Or we can play to the strengths of a color, the stats of a legendary creature, or even just their abilities. Mirri is one of those commanders that gives us more flexibility than locks us into a linear strategy while still finding success. Then, EDHREC helps us find these kinds of fun strategies with an array of different views based on how everyone in the community is building all kinds of decks, from the jankiest of brews to the most cutthroat of metas. I could see myself having fun building Mirri enchantress, and I hope someone out there tries it and has a good time. Hopefully that person sees this article at some point and lets me know how it went and what their build looks like.
Do you plan on dueling your friends with Mirri? Did you try something even jankier than enchantress with her? Maybe +1/+1 counters? Hatebear Tribal? Flicker effects with ETB triggers? Let me know in the comments below! The next article, we start the tribal cycle all over again as we are now winding down to the end of the 8-part series. Follow me on Twitter if you want to vote for which tribe we look at for the second time first! Thanks for reading, see you next time.