Uncommonders - Tiana, Boros Enchantress
(Tiana, Ship's Caretaker | Art by Eric Deschamps)
What a Boros
Hello once again, all of you fine readers out there on the interwebs! My name is Seth Cross and welcome back to Uncommonders, the series that explores underappreciated commanders printed at the uncommon level. Having visited the history of Magic: the Gathering in the last installment, we are back to the set that started this series: Dominaria! The last two articles have been about black decks, so let's switch things up! There's been a lot of hype around Feather, the Redeemed lately, but there's a different Boros Angel I want to discuss this week:
Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker!
One of the things that makes Feather so interesting is that Boros did not previously recur cards like instants and sorceries for value. Given that so many combat tricks and other cantrips in Boros colors draw cards, this was a huge factor. For Tiana, it is basically the same thing. There are white enchantress effects, such as Sram, Senior Edificer and Mesa Enchantress, which draw cards when you cast enchantment or Aura spells. Whenever our Auras hit the graveyard, Tiana will recur them right back to our hand... so how do we send our Auras to the graveayrd, to recast them with Tiana and get even more Mesa Enchantress triggers? Well, I have an idea:
Cards like Auratog or Faith Healer allow us to get value from the enchantments and effects that trigger when they enter the battlefield, sacrifice them, bring them back to our hand, and recast them for a “rinse and repeat” style of play, rather like what Feather wants to do with cantrips. I wanted to go a step further and decided to run Sigarda’s Aid and everyone’s favorite value card, Vedalken Orrery, so that we could be even more tricky and reactive with our Auras. This also opens the ability to cast defensive Auras like Pacifism effects at instant speed, giving us the chance to play some politics as our opponents move to their combat phase.
The Art of Auramancy
Alright, so we know we want to have instant-speed Auras, ways to sacrifice them so Tiana will bring them back, and things that give us value when our Auras enter and leave the battlefield. We just need to figure out what that value is. Drawing cards is always good, so that we can keep moving forward with our plans. Mesa Enchantress, the previously mentioned Sram, and Kor Spiritdancer are all ways to draw cards. Sigil of the Empty Throne, Ajani’s Chosen, Brood Keeper, and Valduk, Keeper of the Flame will all supply us with an army. With the 'rinse and repeat' strategy, this is not too bad, but it is still on the lesser side of our power spectrum.
We mentioned a few Auras that give us value just for entering the battlefield. These are especially useful if we don't have effects like Mesa Enchantress to give us extra value when the enchantments hit the field. Dragon Mantle, Chosen by Heliod and Angelic Gift are all cheaper Auras but their effects are mostly not that interesting outside of drawing a card. Unquestioned Authority, Pentarch Ward and Sage’s Reverie are much more interesting Auras. Capashen Standard is extra fun, providing a consistent way of drawing cards if Tiana stays on the battlefield.
Putting Them in (Enchanted) Chains
While placing Auras on our own creatures is certainly a major part of the deck, locking down the most threatening pieces of the enemy’s board will also help us out. I mentioned Pacifism before, as it is one of the more stereotypical, famous pieces of Aura lock-down strategies, but there are several other such effects. Weight of Conscience becomes repeatable exile removal thanks to Tiana. Choking Restraints is similar, but a bit more mana-intensive. Faith’s Fetters helps lock down those pesky creatures with activated abilities, as does Suppression Bonds.
I almost forgot it when I was making this deck, but Curses are Auras as well. The important thing to remember is that locking down one creature per Aura can be slow, and sometimes we just will not have enough Auras for the creatures on the other side of the field. With that in mind, I looked at Overwhelming Splendor to shut down the scariest player, while Curse of Opulence can help us with ramp. Curse of Exhaustion can help us slow down whoever else is spiraling out beyond our reach.
Taking Care of Tiana
Finally, I'd like to highlight a few cards that are unique to Tiana or are extra thematic because of her abilities. While our focus for this deck has been Auras, Tiana also works well with Equipment cards. Sword of the Animist gives us ramp, and is hard to remove thanks to our commander. Winds of Rath can keep some of our creatures around, thanks to our enchantments. We have seen Sunforger do amazing work in Feather decks, and while our strategy will not be recurring cantrips, it's great to tutor up important spells like Swords to Plowshares or the blowout that is Teferi’s Protection when the time is right.
In terms of ramp, we will be running Smothering Tithe and Burnished Hart and a few other classics, but there's another path to take for ramping. A good portion of our ramp package are cards that make our cards cheaper. Danitha Capashen, Paragon and Hero of Iroas can help us quite a bit by reducing the cost of our Auras. Most of our Auras and spells in general are white, too, so Pearl Medallion should have a bigger impact than the red version.
If we load up with our standard removal, Wraths, ramp, and whatever card advantage we can get in Boros, the deck should look like this:
The Enchanting Angel
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It's odd, but I think I took a Boros deck and turned it into Golgari, sacrificing, recurring, and playing things repeatedly for value. Still, this is what I have been waiting for in Boros commanders. I hope to see more of this kind of design in the future for my least favorite color combination! Who knows, it may even become a new favorite.
Last week’s article on Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed got quite a few good comments between both the article and Reddit, so it was difficult to pick out my favorite. This one from /u/sir_timotheus on Reddit did catch my eye, though:
I felt exactly the same. I immediately slammed the Citadel into my Aminatou deck and the value is honestly unbelievable. The thing is I haven't even been able to take advantage of the sac ability because she isn't built for that. I can only imagine how crazy it is in a deck that could take full advantage of the card and use it to its true potential.
I am also working on an Aminatou, the Fateshifter deck, so I was excited at the possibilities of playing cards from the top of our library with Bolas’s Citadel that we put there with Aminatou’s ability. I also think the “sacrifice permanents to deal lots of damage” part of Citadel is good, but the real power comes from playing your library with your life.
With that, we have completed twenty articles of Uncommonders! Since this series was inspired by the twenty uncommon legends from Dominaria, this is still a major milestone! I cannot wait to start counting down the rest of this series with you, so until next time, find me out on Twitter, join the public Praetor Magic Discord server (or follow us on YouTube for our gameplay content) or check out one of our weekly streams on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays! And as always, you know what to do…
Keep enchanting those bombs!