The Toolbox - Attunement

(Attunement | Art by Randy Gallegos)

The Bazaar of Attunement

Welcome back to The Toolbox, where we take a look at underutilized cards and evaluate new ways to play them. Today, we have an enchantment that I think is very underplayed in Commander: Attunement!

Attunement is an Urza's Saga enchantment that's been on my mind for a while, and I think it's time for it to shine. A three-mana 'draw three and discard' spell is nothing new. Thirst for Knowledge has been a mainstay in Commander since it was first printed. This enchantment is a much heftier discard, of course. However, its repeatable nature, not to mention its similarities to Bazaar of Baghdad, make me think there's something really special this card could tap into.

So let's get into it! Let's first take a look at the commanders that currently make some use of Attunement. It only shows up in about 500 decks total, so there aren't many!

Rielle, the Everwise's second ability turns Attunement into a one-sided Wheel of Fortune, one where you get to pick which cards to discard, and it's repeatable every turn! Even with this synergy, Attunement only appears in 16% of Rielle decks, which is absolutely insane to me.

Next up is Hanna, Ship's Navigator, who doesn't play Attunementton, but she's a good fit for the card. Hanna wants enchantments in the graveyard for her to recur or to pull back into play en masse with an Open the Vaults and Dance of the Manse. Not only is Attunement an enchantment she can bring back, it also loads the graveyard very quickly and digs down for those big spells.

As long as we're talking graveyard value, Muldrotha, the Gravetide has to be in the conversation. Honestly, though, I'm unsure about this card for Muldrotha. On one hand, this deck already has so many other ways to gain card advantage by piling things into the graveyard, like Gravebreaker Lamia and World Shaper. On the other, Attunement is a virtual 'draw seven' with Muldrotha's ability that synergizes very well with other cards in her deck, such as Underrealm Lich. Muldrotha encourages a lot of personal preference from deckbuilders, so I wouldn't be surprised to see players either enjoy Attunement in her deck or argue it's better to omit it.

Clearly there are a lot of directions to take a card like this, and even more that haven't been explored, so let's find some other potential homes for this wacky card!

All Hail Bolas!

The Scarab God is a solid, fan-favorite commander. He pseudo-Reanimates creatures for four mana, drains life totals, provides useful card selection with the scry ability, and even recurs himself! What more could you want in a Dimir commander?

You might call me crazy on this one, but I'd like to pitch Attunement as an underplayed card for our Scarab friend. Think of Attunement as a buffed-up Bazaar of Baghdad (one that isn't more expensive than my entire collection). It may cost some more mana each turn, but a repeatable discard outlet is hard to ignore, especially in a Reanimator build. While most of the EDHREC data for The Scarab God points him toward a Zombie Tribal theme, I think this is a good opportunity to take a look at the ways a toolbox card can open up other possibilities for a commander.

For example, The Scarab God has access to a multitude of insane creatures, such as Consecrated Sphinx, Rakshasa Debaser, Sire of Stagnation, and even the new Archon of Cruelty. Often for Reanimator decks, the act of discarding the creatures from your hand is one of the more awkward hurdles that holds your plan back. A repeatable method of drawing cards and putting a bunch of juicy reanimator targets in the bin is well worth the cost. It doesn't hurt that ol' Scarab God will scry to help find even more awesome targets. I'm highlighting The Scarab God here, but other Reanimator decks like Araumi of the Dead Tide might want to take a gander at this effect, too.

Let's take a look at a decklist, and at all those beefy creatures we can't wait to discard!

Attuned Scarab God

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Commander (1)
Creatures (30)
Instants (8)
Sorceries (11)
Artifacts (12)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (34)

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Shark Bird Best Creature Type

There's something about Shabraz, the Skyshark being a Shark Bird that makes me so happy, and with Partner commander Brallin, Skyshark Rider, Shabraz is quite the package deal. Each of these commanders wants us to draw and discard cards over and over. Brallin pings our enemies, which goes crazy with Curiosity effects, and the deck often doubles up on the pain train by adding cards like Glint-Horn Buccaneer to generate a steamroller of value. So what can this powerful duo do with a card like Attunement?

This one is a little more straightforward: Attunement has the words 'discard' and 'draw' on it. It grows each commander very quickly. Even if we don't have a ton of cards in hand, this effect is repeatable, so we don't have to depend on our deck to hopefully find us another wheel spell. Plus, since this effect costs no mana to activate, we can cast it early, then activate it later on the turn we cast one of our commanders. We can even use it after a long chain of wheel spells has used up all our mana, or to make sure we don't run out of gas, in the event that one wheel didn't quite find us another, and we needed to dig down just a few more cards.

Not only that, but this effect works very well with the aforementioned Glint-Horn Buccaneer and lots of other cards that commonly appear in Shabraz & Brallin decks, like Ominous Seas, Psychosis Crawler, and Surly Badgersaur. These commanders also love to play Teferi's Ageless Insight and Rielle, the Everwise, which double up the draw so that we can keep casting and activating Attunement over and over again. It honestly does not take a lot to turn Attunement into a powerful engine for this deck, so let's take a look at the list to see all the wheel-and-deal insanity!

Wheel and Deal

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Commander (2)
Creatures (18)
Instants (14)
Sorceries (10)
Artifacts (11)
Enchantments (10)
Planeswalkers (2)
Lands (33)

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Behind the Mask

As a planeswalker commander, Estrid, the Masked has a bit of intrigue associated with her. What could she do with a little Attunement?

First, let's acknowledge that Estrid, the Masked is sometimes built as a Stax commander with Stasis cards, since her untap ability can make those Stax effects one-sided. That's not really the kind of Estrid deck I'm talking about. I think that the more traditional Enchantress Estrid would enjoy the help of Attunement. With cards like Sythis, Harvest's Hand, Enchantress's Presence, and Eidolon of Blossoms, she can draw lots of cards, but these run out of steam if we don't draw enough enchantments.

Enter Attunement, an enchantment we can repeatedly return to our hand to keep proccing Enchantress triggers. We'll never run out of cards in hand, because each activation and recast will still leave us net positive on cards. Attunement is a great way to sweep away all those excess lands that always get stuck in Enchantress players' hands, and instead find the important enchantments we need.

For the decklist, I'm inspired by the Hanna, Ship's Navigator we discussed above, and Estrid's ultimate reminds me a lot of those Open the Vaults cards Hanna likes, too. Since Estrid already wants to hide behind pillow forts like Sphere of Safety, we can use that time for Attunement to load the graveyard with all-out excess enchantments while we build up to our planeswalker's ultimate. After just a short time, we can pull an immense board state out of nowhere, and put ourselves firmly in the driver's seat of the game. This isn't the traditional Enchantress plan, but I think that it adds a fun spin to a well-known strategy.

Commander (1)
Creatures (17)
Enchantments (29)
Instants (3)
Sorceries (10)
Artifacts (3)
Planeswalkers (2)
Lands (35)

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Attuning the End

I hope you've enjoyed reading this installment of The Toolbox, and that Attunement has found a place in your toolbox. What other ways would you use Attunement? Do you think that I'm overvaluing this card, or do you agree that it's highly underrated? What other cards do you think are missing from players' toolboxes? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

If you have any suggestions for the series or things you'd like to see in the future, I would love to hear them as well. Thank you all once again, and please stay safe!

Elijah is a mildly obsessive EDH player from Georgia. He started playing during Battle for Zendikar with Green/Black Eldrazi Aristocrats and still pays tribute to the plane with his Omnath, Locus of Rage storm brew. He is always excited to innovate and try new things in Magic and Life. Elijah is currently a full time student looking to go into Computer Engineering but also has a bit of an artistic streak.