Singleton Shmingleton - Commune with Nature

(Commune with Nature | Art by Jodie Muir)

Wanna Join My Commune?

Welcome back to Singleton Shmingleton, where I bend the singleton rules of Commander by building decks with as many functional reprints of a certain card as possible. This week we're talking about the bluest card in green, Commune with Nature! Cheap spells that replace themselves and offer card selection have provided consistency for strategies in every single format, letting you cut down on lands, play a wider sideboard spread, and always have the right answer in hand. In this light, Commune with Nature seems unreal. For one mana, this cantrip lets you look five cards deep. Blue can only dream of such a range. For a long time, Impulse was the standard for selection spells, and that looked four deep for two mana. Even in today's Legacy, Ponder only lets you look at up to four cards if you shuffle. But Ponder is restricted in Vintage, and Commune with Nature is unplayable in competitive formats. What gives?

Well, there are several problems, all stemming from the card type restriction of what you are allowed to put in hand. Unlike blue selection spells that allow you to take any type of card, Commune with Nature doesn't let you trim lands. If you build a deck around Brainstorm or Preordain, you'll have so many looks to find enough lands to cast your spells, and trimming them will help you topdeck better in the late game. Another important drawback, especially in Commander, is that Commune with Nature can't find more copies of itself or its functional reprints. Many Spellslinger decks look to chain together a ton of instants and sorceries to fuel Storm, Magecraft, or other payoffs. Blue cantrips help that strategy by looking deeper into the library to find more of themselves to cast. Green cantrips vary in what they can put in hand, but instants and sorceries are never on the list.

There are twenty-three one or two mana spells in green that look at some number of cards and put a card of a specific type in hand. Here they are:

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The most played of these cards is Satyr Wayfinder in 34,713 decks. It puts cards into the graveyard, and is easily recyclable as a creature. Next most popular is Green Sun's Twilight, in 23,264 decks, followed by good old Mulch in 13,446 decks. The least played card is Seek the Wilds, in 1179 decks, beating out Gather the Pack by one decklist. The two-mana versions of this effect are not usually very desirable without considerable upside, and these two cards do not have that.

Green's design space for cantrips is pretty constrained, but despite that fact, these cards dig for a lot of different things. Many can select a creature or land, some can select any permanent, Ancient Stirrings can select any colorless card, Mulch can get all lands, Commune with the Gods can get creatures or enchantments. If we want to use all of these, we'd need to pack our deck full of cards with multiple card types, like Dryad Arbor. But we have enough options that we can be selective. For each permanent type, how many cards are there that can select that type? For enchantments I got seven, creatures seventeen, and lands eighteen. So we've got a couple options now: build a deck aiming to use these cards to get creatures, or build one aiming to get lands. The creature aspect is a cool thought: a toolboxy deck that replaces spells with utility creatures and sees a lot of cards each game to find the right ones. But I have always wanted to build a deck that wins using its lands (not spells profiting off of lands, lands themselves) and this seems like the perfect opportunity. Seeing Modern Tron decks cast Ancient Stirrings has awakened my desire to look five cards deep for a land.

How To Land a Threat

But how do we create winning plays with our lands? Well, there are some classic powerhouse lands that we've got to include. Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage combine to create a Flying, Indestructible 20/20, so that's in. Glacial Chasm makes us nearly impervious at a high cost, but combines well with a couple other cards in the deck. The Tron lands have to make the cut, even if finding all three in a singleton deck is harder than in Modern. I mean, we'll be seeing so many cards, right?

For other ways to win, Field of the Dead can pump out an army of Zombies, especially if we can copy it with Vesuva. And sometimes Lair of the Hydra can take out a chunk of life all on its own. That's not the longest list of win conditions in the world, but finding a way to turn an engine into a win is usually the least important part of the game. Plus, once we throw in a couple can't-pass-up creatures like Titania, Protector of Argoth and Scute Swarm, our threat suite is rounding out nicely.

The real meat of the deck is going to be all the utility lands we get to run. Cards like Boseiju, Who Endures and Ominous Cemetery function as removal, Blast Zone can control the board, War Room and Arch of Orazca can draw cards. New lands get printed all the time, and by now we're getting to a critical mass such that it's possible to do without spells for our gameplan.

Lets Speed Things Up

As for commanders, there was only ever one choice. This whole deck's purpose is to find lands and put them into our hand, and so Azusa, Lost but Seeking compliments the strategy perfectly. For some redundancy, we can add in Exploration, Burgeoning, Gaea's Touch, and absolute powerhouse Manabond. Manabond is a doozy, but I honestly think it's underplayed, in only 2,184 decks. A lot of lands strategies will end up with a whole lot of lands in hand, and this lets you dump them all at once. Who cares about those spells you have to discard? If you didn't play them already, they weren't worth it.

In terms of speeding up our combos, there are plenty of very efficient land tutors. Crop Rotation is the best, but Sylvan Scrying and Expedition Map are also great. Realms Uncharted offers a fun take on Gifts Ungiven (which itself is a fun take on Intuition), and it combines especially well with effects that get back lands from the graveyard. And all of our card selection really does dig us deep enough that assembling Tron or creating Marit Lage isn't as far-fetched as it might sound.

The Decklist

Once Upon A Time

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Commander (1)
Artifacts (6)
Enchantments (8)
Instants (5)
Sorceries (17)
Creatures (10)
Battles (1)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (51)

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This strategy feels so close to powerful enough. The cantrips work like a charm, and we really do get to play a toolbox land game. The limiting factor is nothing more than the power and flexibility of the lands themselves. We've gotten a few incredibly powerful lands in the last few years, from Boseiju, Who Endures to Field of the Dead, but the density isn't quite there to have interchangeable pieces like a creature deck might. This deck can absolutely win games, but most of those wins come from specifically Field of the Dead or Scute Swarm. I wouldn't be surprised to find this deck running like a well-oiled machine in a few years, as more and more utility lands see print, and I will be looking forward to that every day. I just love decks that operate on a completely different axis from a normal game of Magic, and this deck, where the spells are all replaceable and the lands are where the power lies, definitely scratches that itch for me.

Until Next Time

This card falls at the intersection of many of my favorite things: +1/+1 counters, sacrifice strategies, and cheap dorky creatures. What's not to love? There's a lot of room to explore with this creature, which sees play in less than 2,000 decks despite being reprinted in every Innistrad block to date. How big can this angry little dude get? Find out next time on Singleton Shmingleton!

Read more:

Singleton Shmingleton - Elvish Visionary

Brew For Your Buck - Forests Through The Beats


Jesse Barker Plotkin started playing Magic with Innistrad. He was disqualified from his first Commander game after he played his second copy of Goblins of the Flarg, and it's all been uphill from there. Outside of Magic, he enjoys writing and running.

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