The Knowledge Pool - Triad of Fates
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Choosing Your Fate
Hi everyone! Welcome back to The Knowledge Pool!
Having played Commander for so long, I sometimes hit mental blocks that make me feel as though I've seen all that the Commander format can offer. When this happens, I'll scan EDHREC for hours looking for a new commander that does something different, or I'll search certain cards or strategies in an attempt to ignite a creative spark. If these tactics don't work, I'm forced to take a step back and take a break from the game. Since deckbuilding is one of my few sources of escapism and stress relief, an inability to brew can be exceptionally frustrating.
What finally broke me out of my rut? I was finally able to get excited about EDH again by exploring a commander that has intrigued me for a long time, and then approaching it with a different lens. This week we'll be looking at an under-explored commander, Triad of Fates.
Building an Underdog
I remember wanting to building Triad of Fates when it was first spoiled during Theros block. Unfortunately, with limited funds and a primary focus on the Modern format, I never gave Triad a fair shake. Over the years I've revisited Triad on several occasions, but it always felt lacking. Let's be honest, if we're playing Triad of Fates, we probably won't be the strongest deck at the table. As a player that prefers efficient and powerful decks, the inefficiencies of Triad always turned me away.
More recently, however, I've found myself desperate for new decks that aren't as overwhelming. Finding the time to play Commander is a luxury for me, and more often than not, it involves playing around the kitchen table with friends. In these cases, stomping out a few victories is amusing, but playing cutthroat Magic can take a toll on the table in no time. Not only that, but funky, off-the-wall commanders often give you the chance to play with cards that wouldn't make the cut in most other decks. Thus, I ended up back at Triad.
Let's talk a bit about whatlets us do. We can put a Fate counter on a creature, and then blink that creature, or exile it to let its owner draw cards.
The first thing that has always jumped out at me about these abilities is how they can be used politically. Got a friend controlling creatures with potent enter the battlefield (ETB) abilities? Help them out and blink their dudes. If those dudes ever get turned against you, make them go away permanently. The best part is that your opponents can't even be too upset when you exile their creatures, because they'll be drawing cards as compensation. The possibilities are endless, and the fact that we can build our own deck around creatures with powerful ETBs gives a way to use Triad's ability more selfishly.
With these ideas in mind, I approached the EDHREC writing staff in search of other black or white cards that facilitated political game play, and came away with not only card suggestions, but a fantastic idea for the deck's subtheme: Fiend Hunter. One of Triad's primary issues is that it's slow. Each of Triad's abilities requires it to tap, meaning that without some help, we won't be distributing Fate counters and abusing them in the same turn. However, if we use abilities like Fiend Hunter's that temporarily eliminate enemy creatures, we can then hold those creatures for ransom while threatening to blink our Fiend Hunter to capture another problematic dude. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this isn't just the first Triad of Fates article on EDHREC, it's the first BW Politically-inclined Blinking Fiend Hunter tribal deck. Strap in, we're in for a wild ride.
Triad of Fates PBFH
Anyone familiar with my recent articles is likely aware of my focus on balanced deck building. When I pick up one of my Commander decks, I want to have a pretty good chance to play my lands on time, destroy the things in my way, and execute my intended game plan. As a result, Triad has ended up with a fairly balanced suite of cards. We have eight draw spells, seven pieces of enchantment and artifact removal, nine ramp spells, and eleven ways to dispatch creatures. These are the typical categories that concern me while constructing a deck, but Triad also has a handful of unique categories more focused on our particular strategy. One of these categories is Blink Spells, which are intended to get us the greatest value from our creatures even if we can't get Triad going, and there are ten of these cards in the deck. Another category is Fiend Hunters - creatures that temporarily steal things from our opponents until they're removed from play. We have seven of these to abuse in our deck.
In addition, this deck has a handful of other cards sprinkled in. We have a few ways to deal with graveyard shenanigans, ways to make dudes for pushing damage through, and a handful of recursion options for when our creatures inevitably hit the bin. Our average CMC is centered at 3.61, which is high for a BW deck, but hopefully not too cumbersome.
Before we dive into these categories in detail, I want to make a brief note about my card selection process. In the interest of building this deck with a political slant, I've opted for cards that give our opponents options in lieu of some more traditional spells. For instance, this deck will be using Fortunate Few as a removal spell in place of Cleansing Nova. If this isn't your speed, edit to taste.
As usual, we'll begin our exploration of Triad by looking at thematic cards, and our first stop will be our blinking options.
Now You See Them...
There are a handful of cards in this grouping that I've been itching to try out in Commander. Kaya, Ghost Assassin is a unique BW planeswalker because of her ability to blink creatures and draw cards, and she can even target herself to reset her loyalty counters. Aside from the obvious blinking synergy Kaya offers, I like that she's fairly innocuous. Kaya doesn't sport an overwhelming ultimate ability, and while some players may take umbrage with you drawing extra cards each turn, if we're generous with her blink effect our opponents are likely to let her stick around. If we can keep her onboard, Kaya becomes an additional copy of Conjurer's Closet with more utility.
Lumbering Battlement is one way we can blink our entire board while generating a giant beast who demands an answer. I'm curious to see how Battlement performs, given that we'll need to blink it to recover our dudes, but this is one creature in particular I could easily see cashing in to draw cards using Triad's abilities.
I also stumbled onto Planar Guide, and it wasn't until recently that I began to appreciate its utility. Guide's activated ability is costly and telegraphed, but it gives us a lot of power over the board. Anyone sending too many dudes our way can expect to see them blinked out of existence, or we can protect our board or an ally's board from a Wrath, or we can simply use him to blink dudes for ETB value. For such a small initial investment, Planar Guide offers a lot of potential utility.
Beyond these, the majority of our blinking choices are tried and true. Flickerwisp, Angel of Condemnation, and Conjurer's Closet are standard fare for a Commander blink deck, and we'll be happy to have their consistency. Naturally, Triad will be another option for blinking our dudes, so we should always have ways to manipulate creatures.
So what will we be targeting with our blinkers? Our legion of Fiend Hunters is a good starting point.
Ransom for the Damned
This small suite of Fiend Hunter and Leonin Relic-Warder. These two give us a clean answer for creatures and artifacts or enchantments respectively, forcing our opponents to think twice before committing to the board. Should our opponents present us a good case why we should ignore the powerful permanent they're about to play, we can potentially even make friends.s gives us flexibility to steal from our opponents in a variety of ways. The most basic options here are
"I'm going to cast Blightsteel Colossus, but if you don't exile it I won't swing it at you".
"Sure. Just know that if it comes my way I'll be forced to make it disappear."
Normally temporary removal isn't my speed, nor is telegraphing my plays, but I think the Fiend Hunters will add a neat wrinkle to this equation since we can reset them with our pile of blink spells. For instance, once we have Brain Maggot on board, our opponents will need to deal with it before they can safely tutor, and worst case, we can blink the Maggot to sneak a peak at enemy hands. Blinking Palace Jailer will return us to our status of Monarch, while resetting Angel of Serenity will give us significant creature and graveyard control. With Angel of Serenity we can even help our opponents by returning creatures from their graveyards to their hands. Isn't that nice of us?
The Fates Foresee Value
Beyond our Fiend Hunters, I've tried to select creatures with potent ETB abilities.
The bulk of these creatures have abilities that serve as removal, draw us cards, or ramp. We won't go into a ton of detail with these because most of them are known quantities in the Commander format, like Ashen Rider and Disciple of Bolas.
As I mentioned previously, I tried to skew my choices to allow for political play. Creatures like Magister of Worth offer a potentially game-altering effect, and if we're clever we can ensure we come out ahead when playing her. In the course of controlling the politics of our game we're bound to make enemies, and for these situations I've included Selfless Squire and Stonehorn Dignitary to give us control over combat.
Our deck has a hearty top end to help us make a final push once we've ground down the enemy forces. Sun Titan and Grave Titan both offer tons of value and pack a solid punch. It's worth noting that if you're worried about closing power, including a couple sac outlets and a few Blood Artist effects will open up a slew of combos with , , Karmic Guide, and Reveillark. Combos weren't the direction I wanted for this deck, so I opted for other choices.
One of the few creatures I've included without an ETB ability is Emeria Shepherd. Since we skew so heavily towards white and our manabase includes over fifteen Plains, Shepherd offers too much value to be ignored, and protecting her late game will likely give us the grinding power we need to win a game.
Now that we've taken a look at the primary strengths of our deck, let's briefly go over our options for draw, ramp, and removal.
Draw, Ramp, and Removal
Most of these selections are fairly straightforward for a deck like ours, but I want to highlight a couple cards I'm particularly excited about.
Wretched Confluence is underplayed. There. I said it. I was looking for a "big" draw spell, and Confluence hits that goal and more. Let's start with a few comparisons. Ancient Craving is a card often seen in black Commander decks, and Confluence offers the same ability for one more mana at instant speed. This makes Confluence a black Jace's Ingenuity. Not bad, but Confluence can also recur our creatures and kill off some dudes in our way. That's a heck of a lot of modes, and ton of potential value. In a creature-centric deck like this one, recovering our dudes may be more valuable than drawing cards, and on an instant spell, our opponents won't even see it coming.
I also like Oath of Lieges a lot here. We should almost always net a land from each Oath activation if there's a green player at the table, and any other nongreen players will likely be quite thankful for the boost in ramp as well. We might even be able to use this favor to our advantage. I often hear people complain about the massive advantage green has in the ramp category, and this is one way to even the playing field.
Lastly, it's worth pointing out Oblivion Stone. Given that most people aren't incredibly familiar with Triad, it could be easy to miss that O-Stone also distributes Fate counters. This means Oblivion Stone can increase our counter output and potentially act as a one-sided Wrath... though we can also give our opponents Fate counters to protect their permanents if we're feeling generous.
The Cut List
I've tried to cover a few of my cuts along the way. Cleansing Nova and Merciless Eviction both could easily be in this deck, but I opted for the political options of Fortunate Few and Magister of Worth.
Council's Judgement fits our political theme and does an excellent job of removing problematic permanents. This is one area where I went off-theme in favor of the instant speed Anguished Unmaking. I think having some instant speed options is crucial for breaking up combos, or removing a lethal creature you didn't see coming. However, Council's Judgement is one card I would love to fit in at some point.
Cathars' Crusade was a late cut for this deck. If we have a board dense with creatures, blinking a couple dudes with Crusade on board can help us reach lethal damage. I've decided to rely on my top end creatures to get the job done, but if they don't prove to be enough, Crusade could fit back in.
Thank you all for taking the time to read my article! I'm excited to demo a few of my more recent, quirky brews for you all in the coming weeks. Let me know what you think of decks like this one that focus on a less efficient, under-appreciated commander. Should I do more articles like this one?
Until next time, I wish you all the best and happy brewing!