The Toolbox - Reconnaissance

(Reconnaissance | Art by Val Mayerik)

Doing Reconnaissance

Welcome back to The Toolbox! Here, we take a look at underplayed cards and evaluate where they ought to see more play. Today, we have a return of one-mana enchantments: Reconnaissance!

This is a card that I actually got turned onto by our very own Mason Brantley, and one that I wish I had known about earlier. At one point I changed my Iroas, God of Victory Soldier tribal deck into an Odric, Lunarch Marshal deck, and honestly what I missed the most is the ability to just turn creatures sideways with no regard for blockers!

If you're not familiar with this card, you might look at it and wonder what's so great about it. A neat little trick is that, after combat damage, there is an end of combat step in which creatures are still considered attacking; with Reconnaissance, you can remove creatures from combat that you attacked with, untap them, and essentially grant pseudo-vigilance to your creatures. All this for one mana, too!

Let's take a quick look at commanders that current use the card most often:

Starting off with a great one, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is known for being a formidable reanimating force in Commander. The "downside" is that you have to attack to take advantage of this powerful ability. However, aggressive decks can get out-scaled pretty rapidly by decks, such as Omnath, Locus of Rage or The Scarab God, who can get out quickly to block. This leads to what I call the aggro problem: not being able to profitably attack, which is necessary for an Alesha deck to win. This is where Reconnaissance comes in as a way to still get the attack trigger off Alesha, Who Smiles at Death while protecting her as well as the returned creatures!

Next up is Mason's favorite commander for this sweet piece of tech: Emmara, Soul of the Accord! She follows a pretty similar logic to Alesha, with Reconnaissance giving her the ability to make Soldier tokens regardless of any blockers on the board. This also lets you untap her from attacks and get additional tap triggers from Emmara.

Finally, there's Taigam, Ojutai Master, who is all about giving your instant and sorcery spells Rebound to gain value over time and eventually grind out the game. This also means that Taigam has to actually live through combat, which Reconnaissance is great insurance for! The pseudo-vigilance that Recon gives can also be extremely relevant in cases where a cheeky commander, such as a pesky Alesha, is trying to get in for damage.

Even with these diverse and powerful applications for Reconnaissance, I think that there are a lot of unexplored options, so let's get into it!

Enchantment Time

Not quite pizza time, but it'll do. Daxos, the Returned is a commander I always love having an excuse to write about! Daxos is an insane token-maker that benefits off casting enchantments, and one of my all-time favorite takes on the Enchantress archetype. Truthfully, Reconnaissance would be completely viable in Zur the Enchanter, Kestia, the Cultivator, or even Tuvasa the Sunlit. So let's get into why I think it's a good fit here!

Getting down to it, there is a floor for this card. At very worst, Reconnaissance is a one-mana enchantment that will get you an experience counter that buffs the Spirits from Daxos, the Returned. There is also the actual text on Recon that will protect your creatures in combat and let them stay up as blockers afterwards. This being the absolute worst case is something that I am perfectly happy with!

As far as best case scenario, any enchantment works well with Mesa Enchantress, Sigil of the Empty Throne, Doomwake Giant, and more. My point with this connection is that Enchantress decks are generically mana-intensive, but Daxos even more so because of his token engine. This makes having cheap, playable enchantments like Reconnaissance extremely valuable as a way to gain value without losing out on card quality. While some may think that this is a reach, I think that Recon can be invaluable for decks like this, so let's take a look at the decklist!

Not Quite Pizza Time

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Commander (9)
Creatures (89)
Enchantments (139)
Instants (24)
Sorceries (39)
Artifacts (44)
Lands (104)

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Obligatory Aggro Deck

It was really hard for me not to write about Odric, Lunarch Marshal, but I think that Winota, Joiner of Forces has to take the spot here. I joked about Winota when she was being previewed originally, so when I saw her list on the cEDH decklist database I had to see what the fuss was about. In Commander, she's a little less consistent, but I was honestly blown away still: the raw power of her snowballing attack trigger is just insane! So why do I think that she's a good match for Reconnaissance?

While my experience with this deck is somewhat limited, one thing I found is that keeping your non-Humans alive through combat. This can get very difficult with creatures such as Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh; while necessary for triggering Winota, they are quite vulnerable. There is also the fact that Winota is four mana on her own, and commander tax can add up very quickly. Let's be honest: Boros is not exactly known for its ramp capabilities.

This is extremely corner case, but you can also use Recon as a way to get in for chip damage with Mother of Runes or Giver of Runes while still holding up protection. This may seem like a minimal benefit overall, but I think that Reconnaissance is well worth it for the aggro decks in Commander.

Commander (1)
Creatures (36)
Instants (8)
Sorceries (5)
Artifacts (10)
Enchantments (5)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (34)

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Untap This Time

Cha cha real smooth, I know I'm not funny. You're reading the article, so I can't be doing that bad, though!

Samut, Voice of Dissent is a commander that I think has been pretty overlooked even with how sweet she is. The keyword soup is already a great start, but the untap ability is what gets me really excited! Let's get into why I think that Reconnaissance is a great fit for a commander like her.

Just imagine this: using Samut, Voice of Dissent's ability to untap Elvish Piper and activate them to put another creature into play. Finally, you untap both after combat damage with Reconnaissance to do it all again! Heck, even Fauna Shaman, or Mangara of Corondor fits perfectly in this role as well.

Reconnaissance also gives the ability to get in for damage with mana dorks and dump the mana into Shalai, Voice of Plenty after, or make it so Combat Celebrant can Exert every turn. I could keep going on with the countless interactions or just show you the decklist!

Reverse, Reverse

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Commander (1)
Creatures (33)
Instants (7)
Sorceries (8)
Artifacts (8)
Enchantments (6)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (36)

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It's Already February!

Holy crap, it's already February... Well, I hope that you enjoyed reading this installment and that you’ve found a new home for Reconnaissance. What other commanders do you think pair well with Reconnaissance? Do you think that 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 spotlight? Let’s talk about it in the comments below. 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.

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