These Cards Do WORK - Hinata, Dawn-Crowned
(Hinata, Dawn-Crowned | Art by Alexander Mokhov)
Hitting the Target
Hi there! I’m Jeremy Rowe, AKA J Ro, the Unsummoned Skull, a former Judge, Tournament Organizer, and Pro Tour competitor. I’m also a current teacher, college professor, streamer, community leader, and content creator. In this series, we examine the big EDH questions: What makes a card good? What’s the difference between popularity and synergy? What even is that synergy thing anyways? My intention is to differentiate between high- and low-synergy cards, describe in what ways the cards work with the commander, and explain why high synergy is such a good thing. For a deck to be powerful and consistent, each card needs to do a job, and these cards do WORK!
This week, I, an intrepid mad scientist, will attempts to harness the power of a popular new commander that puts the “Nasty” in “Neon Dynasty”! While the Kami of old seem to have calmed a bit since their warring days, Hinata, Dawn-Crowned embodies the primal rage of the plane, bubbling beneath the glitz and glamor of the Neon Dynasty.
Hinata was met with a tremendous amount of hype as soon as it was previewed, and with good reason. A 4/4 flying trampler for four mana is already a solid rate, and it comes with what essentially amounts to Ward 1 for our team, plus a significant cost reduction effect for our own spells. These abilities and stats work well for either offensive or defensive builds. Hinata is an extremely versatile commander, just as suited for Heroic strategies as it is for slinging Fireballs… so which will it be? How do we make the best use of Hinata?
It is my belief that all Commander decks are midrange decks, needing the same jobs done in order to switch cleanly between offense and defense, as well as to combat a variety of threats from around the table. Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is a special commander, so let’s find the right tools for these jobs!
Most decks need ramp to play high-impact spells at a time when they are still relevant. Hinata has a decently high mana value, indicating a more defensive or protective playstyle. With spells that want to target multiple permanents, Hinata can be a mana-hungry deck, and, with a decent number of unique cards, the deck needs to be able to cast our commander multiple times a game.
Jeska's Will is a fairly ubiquitous red sorcery, one of the more powerful and popular cards to come out of Commander Legends. Since the mana-creation mode targets an opponent, Hinata can reduce the cost of the spell, making it even better than usual. The additional card draw is gravy, as the burst of mana helps with the numerous cards in the deck that require large amounts of mana, with or without our commander in play.
Battlefield Thaumaturge provides a similar cost reduction effect to our commander, and it can double up the effect to further reduce any pressure on our mana. This is a unique card to our commander, showing up in more than half of Hinata decks, and not really seeing much play in any other Jeskai decks!
Goblin Electromancer is another static cost reduction that further increases the deck’s functionality even if Hinata isn't out. Hinata is a magnet for removal spells, even if they do cost one more for our opponents to play, so I like extra mana reduction.
In addition to being able to cast spells on time (or early enough in the game to still be relevant), decks need removal to be able to deal with the threats opposing decks present, as well as to be able to protect their own threats from opposing removal. In Hinata’s case, both forms of removal will benefit from the cost reduction, which is part of what makes our commander so scary!
Swords to Plowshares is a classic removal spell for white decks, and it works decently here. About half of all Hinata decks run it even though it doesn’t get any cost reduction because it’s just a cheap piece of removal. Cards don’t have to directly or uniquely synergize with our commander if they're good enough.
Rewind, in conjunction with Hinata, actually nets us mana, because our commander makes it cost three to cast! Rewind and Unwind perfectly encapsulate the small advantages needed to take a deck from 'powerful' to 'broken in half', and I’m here for it.
Crush Contraband hits two targets, which means Hinata makes it cost just two mana. Two mana to exile two permanents is just too good to pass up, and we need exile to handle tricky indestructible threats out there.
Most decks need plans for what to do if things get out of hand, and Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is no different. Quite a lot of decks are capable of making a big or wide board, and they can make them awfully quickly. As a result, Hinata needs to be able to knock them all down in one swing.
Heliod’s Intervention is a powerful board wipe with Hinata, who reduces the mana cost for each thing we target, and that includes X spells. For WW, we destroy every artifact and enchantment we want. The spell is plenty playable enough on its own already, but that's incredible!
Curse of the Swine is also ubiquitous with Hinata; both it and Heliod’s Intervention are in over 80% of Hinata decks, and for good reason. Like the Intervention, it's a board wipe that targets a bunch of stuff. Granted, it leaves a 2/2 Boar behind (which is quite adorable), but that's worth it to exile every single creature we don't like!
Distorting Wake bounces every nonland permanent our opponents control. In this deck, this card is a three-mana sorcery-speed Cyclonic Rift.
Every deck needs card draw, selection, tutoring, or advantage, to help find the pieces it needs to transition between the phases of the game. There are always going to be spells that are better early than late, or better from ahead, or better from behind. Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is a mana-hungry commander that makes efficient use of its mana, but we can run out of things to do if the setup isn’t there.
Whirlwind of Thought is particularly useful in a deck that has a cost-reduction effect in the command zone. We cast a bunch of spells! This card helps us churn right through the deck!
Archmage Emeritus functions similarly to the Whirlwind, currently seeing play in over 65% of Hinata decks. I'd say this is one of the more important cards from Strixhaven. If you're playing any Heroic effects, it's nice to have another body on the field here too, and don't forget that HInata helps protect it a little form single-target removal effects by taxing our enemies if they try to take it down.
Paradoxical Outcome is a card draw effect that's more unique for Hinata than for other Jeskai decks. For usually just one mana, we bounce anything we want (which is great to do to help save them from removal) and draw a whole new hand while we're at it!
The last major job that most decks need is a way to actually close out the game. Ramping allows you to play spells out, but can be dead draws late game. removing threats works for a while, but with three opponents, someone’s going to stick something, and games can either stall out or develop into arms races. Card draw helps, but what are you looking to actually draw? The answer is... win conditions!
Comet Storm is a solid big boom for a deck looking to ramp mana and decrease spell costs. The Multikicker increases the number of targets for this spell, so the X gets the reduction and the spell can do more damage! This is the one of the mana sinks we're looking for all game.
Crackle with Power is the sort of card that gets me salivating. It deals five times X damage to X targets, and Hinata effectively gets rid of one of the X's in the cost! This is a board wipe, mana sink, and big smack, all at once!
Metallurgic Summonings is an amazing spellslinger finisher, creating some truly enormous Construct tokens. If we're playing spells that've had their costs dramatically reduced, that may change the amount of mana we pay, but it doesn’t change the mana value of that spell when it's on the stack. If our spell has X in the converted mana cost, we calculate however much mana went into that X, whether or not we actually had to pay any of that mana. Metallurgic Summonings makes our spells better, and can get even them back in a pinch!
Just Try to Get out of this in One Piece!
Let's round it out with a sample Hinata decklist! We're focusing on doing the jobs a deck needs to function, in a way that capitalizes on the commander’s unique characteristics. We’re taking this in a different direction: making a lot of Treasures, a la One Piece!
Hinata, Pirate Kirin of Kamigawa!
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
Hopefully, this guide helps you to evaluate cards and use the data at hand! Results may vary, as playgroups, deck choices, and the luck of the draw can impact how games go.
Which cards overperformed for you? Which cards were overrated? Join me next time as we explore which cards are dead weight, and which cards do WORK!