Too-Specific Top 10 - Are You Okay, Allies?

(Kasla, the Broken Halo | Art by Martina Fačková)

Allies, Are You Okay?

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Mirror Entity is the only Ally that can make all your Allies all creature types?)

Huh, Kasla is an Ally?

Seems like as good a reason as any to make a deck!

Top 10 Jeskai Allies

This seems a bit too obvious, but at the end of the day, what do Convoke effects want? Creatures. And what are Allies, by definition? Creatures. Seems like we've got a real winning score here, if I'm not mistaken.

Okay, I begin to see a problem. Convoke wants creatures, but what good are creatures that "tap" for one if they cost four or five mana themselves? What we're looking for, are cheap Allies. Not only that, but we also want to lean into the synergy of Allies for our non-Convoke spells, meaning we ideally want Allies that trigger on Allies. So let's make this a bit more specific, shall we?

Top 10 Cheap, Synergistic Jeskai Allies

Look guys, I'm not gonna lie to you. After the crazy in-depth research of last week's Splinter Twin combo article, I needed a break. So, really, there's not too much to this one. Let's dig in!

Criteria: Jeskai Allies which cost two or less mana with abilities that interact with Allies. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

10. Stoneforge Acolyte

(209 Inclusions, 0% of 1,372,845 Decks)

Stoneforge Acolyte is a one-mana Ally, so we're kind of on board no matter what, but given that this is not the only Ally that cares about Equipment or artifacts, this is a great excuse to look into the options a little deeper.

Top 10 Jeskai Equipment That Care About Allies or Convoke

  1. Captain's Claws
  2. Ramosian Greatsword
  3. ...

Well, that's not gonna do it. What about generically decent equipment that might go with one of our strategies?

Top 10 Jeskai Equipment That Care About Allies, Convoke, Untapping, or Casting Stuff

  1. The Reality Chip
  2. Umbral Mantle
  3. Thornbite Staff
  4. Sting, the Glinting Dagger
  5. Captain's Claws
  6. Leering Emblem
  7. Ramosian Greatsword
  8. ...

I mean, all that and an Embercleave wouldn't be enough to keep a regular Equipment deck going, but given that every Ally gets to look at four cards whenever we don't have anything else for them to do? We have more than enough room to throw some select examples from this list in.

9. Zada's Commando

(253 Inclusions, 0% of 1,444,900 Decks)

This might be my favorite creature on this entire list. The ground is eventually going to get bogged down, and after you've cast Kasla, what are they supposed to do? Well, cast more spells. But if you run out of those, hello direct damage!

8. Highland Berserker

(820 Inclusions, 0% of 1,444,900 Decks)

If there's one thing being around for Dominaria Limited taught me, it's that people wildly underestimate how good first strike is. Where you usually see it, on the occasional little 2/1 Knight, it's just kind of annoying. As it gets on more and bigger creatures, however, it becomes a force that no one wants to reckon with, immediately pointing attacks in other directions. Unfortunately, that's only if you can manage to make some Allies at flash speed however, as on offense you're likely to just turn some combat that would normally be about attrition into some chump blocks instead. In other words, Highland Berserker is going to drive some damage through, but probably isn't going to be a revelation at two mana.

7. Akoum Battlesinger

(1,018 Inclusions, 0% of 1,444,900 Decks)

If you are looking to end games, however, then you could do worse than the Ally that's going to end up routinely pumping your team to ridiculous power levels.

Akoum Battlesinger is more efficient than it appears at first glance, coming down as a 2/1 with haste for two, and I've routinely seen it give the Ally player's team +10/+0 when they're having a turn. With us also having the likes of Return to the Ranks and Burning Sun's Fury to work with, there should be no issue making this two drop into a must-remove threat for the table.

6. Kazandu Blademaster

(1,268 Inclusions, 0% of 1,372,845 Decks)

There are also some more selfish Allies that care more about making themselves bigger, rather than the team. Kazandu Blademaster is on that list, only with more keywords. And if you thought first strike was annoying with Highland Berserker giving it to your creatures on offense, just wait until you have a 5/5 first striker that plays both sides of the field.

5. Hada Freeblade

(1,414 Inclusions, 0% of 1,372,845 Decks)

Still, if we're being honest, you probably just want the large creature more than you want the keywords, and Hada Freeblade is happy to be that. Combine that with how good one mana creatures are with Convoke, and this might be the best Ally we've seen yet for our purposes.

4. Kor Bladewhirl

(1,527 Inclusions, 0% of 1,372,845 Decks)

Man, Allies sure do seem to like them some first strike, don't they? Sure, we'll take the extra aggro.

3. Halimar Excavator

(1,739 Inclusions, 0% of 1,492,650 Decks)

There is another deck that is wild about this... somewhere. For us, this is a cheap Ally, which is fine, and it feeds Return to the Ranks, which might come up. If I'm being honest though, this is already on the edge of the 99 without me even having looked into all of our available options for our two strategies.

2. Ondu Cleric

(2,123 Inclusions, 0% of 1,372,845 Decks)

We're no more a life gain deck than we are a mill deck, but unlike Halimar Excavator, Ondu Cleric has a bit more of a general purpose in just keeping us alive. The ability to keep on the aggro gameplan because your life total can take the impacts that are going to come on various crackbacks is not to be underestimated.

1. Jwari Shapeshifter

(2,140 Inclusions, 0% of 1,492,650 Decks)

Jwari Shapeshifter isn't quite as much of a slam-dunk as it is in most Ally decks, given that we're going to be stressing the cheaper versions. With that said, there are more than a few of the creatures we've already seen on this list that I wouldn't mind having a second copy of.

Still, we're not going to play just the small Allies, so why not take a quick peek at the more expensive options?

Top 10 Expensive, Jeskai, Non-Legendary "Allies"

  1. Mirror Entity
  2. Taurean Mauler
  3. Bloodline Pretender
  4. Irregular Cohort
  5. Valiant Changeling
  6. Avian Changeling
  7. Changeling Berserker
  8. Mistwalker
  9. Sea Gate Loremaster
  10. Tuktuk Scrapper

With the Changelings also in the mix, there's quite a few good targets to copy, much as it would be nicer if Zada, Hedron Grinder or Orvar, the All-Form were on that list. Have I mentioned how terrifying the prospect of Orvar and Convoke spells is, by the way?

Honorable Mentions

There's still a ton of Convoke to go over, not to mention our decklist, but I wanted to make sure we got the cheap Changelings in addition to the more expensive ones we already covered.

Top 10 Cheap Jeskai Changelings

  1. Universal Automaton
  2. Mothdust Changeling
  3. Unsettled Mariner
  4. Amoeboid Changeling
  5. Impostor of the Sixth Pride
  6. Shapesharer
  7. Fire-Belly Changeling
  8. ...

So there aren't so many of them, ensuring that this will remain an Allies deck rather than a Changeling deck. Still, the ones we do have all look like they'll be great at improving the team and tapping for spells, so about half of this list probably makes the cut!

The other thing that's going to keep this deck humming along is of course cheap token creation to consistently proc our Ally triggers.

Top 10 "Ally" Token Makers

  1. Maskwood Nexus
  2. Irregular Cohort
  3. Retreat to Emeria
  4. Oath of Gideon
  5. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
  6. Birthing Boughs
  7. Captain's Claws
  8. Unified Front
  9. Allied Reinforcements
  10. Join the Ranks

While both Maskwood Nexus and Birthing Boughs look a little pricey, they're also at instant speed, which could be a big deal. We probably also throw in an Arcane Adaptation to make sure that some of our Convoke spells that make tokens of other types are pulling their weight. As far as consistent token generation goes, though, I don't think we're going to beat Retreat to Emeria or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.

Sounds like we've hit the highlights, then, so let's take a look at the decklist!

Broken Allies

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Sorceries (5)
Creatures (32)
Artifacts (12)
Enchantments (4)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (34)
Instants (11)

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The deck does feel slightly divided, with some hands feeling like you're going to aggro the whole table out by turn five and others feeling like you're not even going to get going until turn four. Surprisingly, however, no matter which you get the result feels pretty good. With great card draw and aggro both in the command zone, and enough little creatures to get said commander out early with Convoke, it's fairly easy to start some life totals rapidly declining while also drawing significant portions of your deck to keep the whole thing going through a possible board wipe.

Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion…), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.

What Do You Think?

If I'm being honest, both Allies and Convoke feel like half-formed strategies. There aren't enough impactful cards utilizing either of them to really feel like you've got a slam dunk, even if you're just taking the best of both strategies. Which is really what I like about them. Personally, there's nothing that's likely to make me want to build a deck less than the feeling that someone is holding my hand through it, but I realize I might be in the minority there.

And finally, what do you think of Kasla as an Allies commander? It's obviously not the intent of the card, but they did give her the creature type!

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table we're all propping up with our knees. No, you can't go get another drink, Steve. We're supposed to be in this together!

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Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.

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