The Toolbox - Virtus's Maneuver

(Virtus's Maneuver | Art by Tomasz Jedruszek)

Sacrifice! Sacrifice!

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 a pretty great recursion and sacrifice blend that I think folks have overlooked: Virtus's Maneuver!

This is a card I rediscovered when building an aggressive Thraximundar deck—which I'm doing because of how sweet the new Secret Lair art is—and it struck me as not only a great way to force opponents to sacrifice creatures, but also recur a fun beater like Archfiend of Depravity. One of the most immediate comparisons to the Maneuver is the suite of creatures like Plaguecrafter and Fleshbag Marauder that cause sacrifice across the whole table.

Now, I'm not saying that Maneuver should be played over these creatures. Quite the opposite, actually. Using Virtus's Maneuver to get back a Plaguecrafter is an amazing play in a deck like Thraximundar, especially since it can get him buffed by up to seven counters!

Before we get into the commanders that I think should play Maneuver, let's get into the commanders that already do. It certainly shows up in decks for the namesake pair of Gorm the Great + Virtus the Veiled, which is a little on the nose, but still a good example of how Virtus's Maneuver can even fit into a non-sacrifice-focused deck. Maneuver is a great way to thin out blockers while also recurring a Dire Fleet Ravager!

Next up we have Thraximundar, who I've talked about a little bit already, and for very good reason. Virtus's Maneuver is a perfect inclusion as a card that disrupts opposing creatures, pumps up Thraximundar, and recurs your own important monsters, all in one!

Finally, we have the extremely controversial Negan, the Cold-Blooded. While I may not agree with the printing of this card, Virtus's Maneuver is a genuinely good pair with Negan for much of the same reasoning as Thraximundar. This deck has a lot of kill-on-sight threats, such as Tergrid, God of Fright, which Maneuver can recur while enabling the deck's main gameplan at the same time.

While these may seem like obvious places to include Virtus's Maneuver, there are definitely a lot of other decks that could use it effectively, so let's get into it!

Til Death Do Us Interest

I always love bringing some Orzhov to the table, so who better than Teysa Karlov herself? For those that have been living under a rock, she took over the Aristocrats archetype almost immediately when she was spoiled due to her death-Panharmonicon ability. So why would such an aristocratic powerhouse want something like Virtus's Maneuver at her disposal?

Not everyone will agree with me here, but I think most Aristocrats could make very good use of Virtus's Maneuver because they constantly have a graveyard filled with creatures. As far as Teysa Karlov specifically goes, she wants as many triggers to double as possible. This means that she leans hard into the Blood Artist, Yahenni, Undying Partisan, Elenda, the Dusk Rose, Falkenrath Noble, and Syr Konrad, the Grim side of Aristocrats.

The important thing to note here is that all of those creatures will trigger off the deaths of opposing creatures, and Teysa Karlov doesn't just double the triggers when our own creatures die, she doubles triggers from our permanents whenever any creatures die. This works well with the 'foe' mode on Virtus's Maneuver. With Teysa and a Blood Artist in play, Maneuver helps us deals six damage, gain six life, and can get back a Syr Konrad, the Grim, for just three mana! This just seems too perfect of a mix.

Food, Glorious Food

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Commander (1)
Creatures (32)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (7)
Artifacts (9)
Enchantments (9)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (35)

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Angels and Demons and Dragons, Oh My!

Next up is Kaalia of the Vast. While she's not quite the scourge of EDH tables she used to be, she is still a powerhouse! Her stats may not be that impressive, but her ability to Sneak Attack in any of the three most potent creature types in Magic's history is game-altering. So why should she want something like Virtus's Maneuver?

In the early game, Kaalia just wants to get in the red zone to cheat in a Rune-Scarred Demon. A quick combat and early value helps her secure additional combats, bigger creatures, and lets her snowball to take over the game. What really stops this deck in its tracks, however, are random fliers, such as Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, or even the odd Containment Priest. Virtus's Maneuver can eliminate those pesky problems while also getting back a random Vilis, Broker of Blood from the graveyard, ready for Kaalia to cheat right back into play.

While this may not be a slam-dunk combo (we'll get to one of those in the next section) I think that it is definitely worth consideration. I've played a lot of aggro Commander in my time, and there is nothing worse than just getting stonewalled by an early Pramikon, Sky Rampart. I think having a spell that not only functions as removal for combat disruption like Pramikon, but which also primes our commander to cheat more creatures into play (and even helps us push through discard disruption) can be well worth it!

The Wonderful Cleric of Mardu

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Commander (1)
Creatures (29)
Instants (9)
Sorceries (9)
Artifacts (12)
Enchantments (5)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (34)

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Fear Itself

Tergrid, God of Fright has been one of my favorite card designs in the past year, both for the command zone and for the 99. This is due to her devastating ability, which is comparable to It That Betrays. Tergrid turns every discard or sacrifice spell into a devastating effect that not only grinds opponents to dust, but advances our own board at the same time.

Tergrid wants what I like to refer to as "mass impact" cards, which aim to affect as many permanents, hands, and players per spell as possible. These can be anything, such as Plaguecrafter, Fleshbag Marauder, Death Cloud, Dark Deal, and even Burglar Rat. So why does this deck not play Virtus's Maneuver? I honestly cannot find a reason why. There's just so much upside!

Virtus's Maneuver acts as another copy of Fleshbag Marauder, one that can also recur the actual Fleshbag. That interaction alone gives you up to six new toys to play with for the low cost of six mana! There's also the added benefit of Maneuver being a political tool to give an opponent back a timely Reclamation Sage if needed. There are so many other creatures in Tergrid's list that want to be brought back with Virtus's Maneuver, and we get them back while pilfering from our opponents' hands. The floor for this effect is so low, and only goes up once this deck gets going!

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Maneuvering Out of Here

I hope you enjoyed reading this installment and that you’ve found a new home for Virtus's Maneuver. What other commanders do you think pair well with this card? 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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