The Toolbox - Helm of Possession

(Helm of Possession | by Janet Aulisio)

Volrath's Shackles

Welcome back to The Toolbox! Here, we take a look at underplayed cards and evaluate where they ought to see more play. Today we’re taking a look at an underrated version of Vedalken Shackles: Helm of Possession!

The most obvious comparison to this card is the infamous Vedalken Shackles, which has caused many a player to utter a groan. The problem with Shackles is that playing it outside of mono-blue decks is pretty much impossible, but Helm of Possession does not have this downside; the downside it does have is that, to get this effect, you need to sacrifice a creature. As we've seen many times, though, this can be an upside!

Let’s take a look at Helm's most common commanders to date:

This is one of the times that the EDHREC page is not very helpful for the analysis of Helm. With two of the commanders being Skyfire Kirin and Yasova Dragonclaw, it's clear that this card is pretty definitively played in decks that just want to steal opposing creatures. Then there's Norin, who can leverage tokens from cards such as Genesis Chamber, to borrow opposing creatures.

There is more to this artifact than just pure theft strategies, though. This artifact can be used defensively, aggressively, or just to mess with people! It has a wide range of applications in a format as diverse as Commander, so let's get into it.

The Master

Sai, Master Thopterist is the first commander I thought of when I saw this card. Sai, as a token-generator, along with all the artifact synergies you could want, is the perfect commander to wear the Helm.

While Sai could just play Vedalken Shackles, I think that there are some very good reasons to run Helm, instead. This is not an issue with Helm of Possession, though; the only downside is that you have to sacrifice a creature, but Sai conveniently generates those on his own.

While most of the time you want to be sacrificing tokens, there are some times where you can use the cost of sacrificing a creature to get a pretty strong advantage. With a deck like this you're able to recur sacrificed artifact creatures with Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Scrap Trawler, or Myr Retriever.

There's also the fact that Sai runs Unwinding Clock, Clock of Omens, and Manifold Key, each of which will let you use Helm of Possession to steal a creature attacking you to block another, for the low price of a Thopter, multiple times. Artifact tutors, like Whir of Invention and Inventor's Fair, also allow you to find it whenever you need it.

If you've ever played an artifact deck, you know how many interactions are possible that I can't cover here, so here's the decklist.

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A Lavish Crown

Gonti, Lord of Luxury is the epitome of opulence, and what's more opulent than Volrath's Helm? I'm sad that there's no foil printing of Helm of Possession for it to be fully on-theme, but the fact that Gonti likes to steal is enough to make it worth it.

In talking with several Gonti players over the past, one of the best ways to maximize value in a Gonti deck is to include a sacrifice outlet that actually impacts the game. Including Ashnod's Altar is a given, but the next most-played sac outlet is Fleshbag Marauder at 47%, and that's only a one-time effect!

With Helm of Possession, you could not only have a harder-to-remove Rubinia, Soulsinger, but you'd also have a way to sacrifice Gonti and steal a creature just before your turn. If you have another sac outlet, you could sacrifice anything you steal, as well, so you don't have to give it back!

While I know some will protest, I do think that Helm is a good fit with Gonti, so take a look at the decklist and see if you agree.

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Not actually, but if you'd like to read more on Curses, I have a great article on Curse of Opulence which can be found here. This time, though, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King is the focus. A lot of people brought up Korvold in response to my last article with Pattern of Rebirth, which I liked, but I wanted to let him wear the Helm of Possession, instead.

Korvold already wants tokens to feast on from cards like Awakening Zone, so why not use some of the spare tokens to borrow your opponents' creatures? This deck is all about sacrifice, using Mayhem Devil, Moldervine Reclamation, and Phyrexian Altar to maximize every death from your board to grind your opponents down.

This has gotta be one of my favorite commanders for Helm of Possession because of the sheer versatility. It ties into the main game mechanic of sacrificing but also allows you to use your opponents' creatures. You could just use Helm to borrow and attack with them, as a Maze of Ith, or to sacrifice them to the Fae-Cursed King, himself!

The amount of interactions to go through is endless with a deck like this, so just take a look at the decklist to see for yourself.

Commander (1)
Creatures (29)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (9)
Artifacts (9)
Enchantments (8)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (37)

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Until Next Time

Thank you all for your continued support of the series! I hope that you all enjoyed reading this installment, and I hope that you’ve found a new home for Helm of Possession. Do you think that these commanders pair well with Helm of Possession? Do you think I’m overestimating this card, or do you agree it’s highly underrated? What other cards are you hoping to see get their place in the limelight? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

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.