Uncommonders - Battle Mages, Spellslingers, and Caster Tokens!
Hello again, all you lovely cardboard-slinging wizards and warriors! My name is Seth Cross (call me “DM”) and this is another installment of the Uncommonders series! For the past few months, we've been looking at the unique phenomenon of legendary creatures printed at the uncommon rarity rather than rare or mythic. The idea was inspired by the Dominaria set, which contained 20 uncommon legendary creatures. We've looked through the past as well, with uncommon legendary creatures that were printed years ago, and even commanders that were originally printed as rares and have been downshifted over time, like Zada, Hedron Grinder and Bladewing the Risen. For today's article, we are back to the new hotness that was the batch of Dominaria legendary creatures. As always, I asked my public Discord server for four new options for today's article, and I turned those options into a Twitter poll for you, the readers, to vote on! The choices this time were:
And the winner for this article, the one and only…
Adeliz, the Cinder Wind
When looking at all the legendary creatures printed in Dominaria, uncommon or otherwise, there is something of a Wizard tribal subtheme peppered throughout the set. We also saw tribal Wizards as the theme of one of the four Commander 2017 decks, helmed by Inalla, Archmage Ritualist. Adeliz is another member of this conjuring of Wizards, walking a fine line between tribal synergy and - like Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest before her - a reliance on spellslinging.
However, unlike Shu Yun, Adeliz gives the buff to all Wizards, so there is wiggle room between swarm tactics and Voltron-esque strategies. It is also important to note that Shu Yun only cares that the spell you cast is a noncreature spell. while Adeliz specifically needs an instant or sorcery. Finally, Adeliz has balanced stats as a 2/2 creature with flying and haste for only three mana. There have been worse conversion rates on commanders that see play at many tables, so overall, I think Adeliz is a well-done, uniquely designed card that looks fun to brew around.
Like all the past articles in this series, we want to look at the EDHREC page for Adeliz and generate a “precon”-like list. This list is generated using the percentage numbers of the card appearing in the total decks the commander has been brewed in, as well as the synergy percentage, which relates more toward how often a card appears in the specific commander, as opposed to similar deck types and colors. Opening EDHREC's page for Adeliz, the first thing we see are the “New Cards” for the commander and at first, I thought they painted quite the picture for what people are brewing for the Cinder Wind.
Looking at these cards, two stand out to me the most: Bonus Round and Sentinel Tower seem like the perfect new enablers for Storm synergies. It is important to note that copying spells does not help our Storm count, but doubling spells that generate mana or draw more cards for us will help increase that count. Sentinel Tower also does not get double triggers when copying spells on the stack, but it does strike me as something Spellslinger decks would like, rather like the way Throne of the God-Pharaoh works in decks like Rishkar, Peema Renegade and Seton, Krosan Protector. Also, I enjoy seeing both Wizard's Retort and Wizard's Lightning in the Signature Cards section. Overall, going through the entire page, I generated the following list:
Adeliz, the Cinder Winds WizardsView on Archidekt
NOTE: Look, I know. I listed Lightning Bolt in the deck and there is a large stigma that the card is not great in Commander. However, for the sake of this being a “precon” list generated by EDHREC, the card has a 29% synergy score, appearing in 47% of the sixty current decks with Adeliz at the helm, which is about twenty-eight of those decks. Blame the numbers, not me!
Cinder Wind? Try Storm Wind!
Despite what I said about Bonus Round and Sentinel Tower looking like great cards for a Storm deck, Adeliz's list sees very few cards that will take advantage of a Storm build. The last time I wrote about an Uncommonder with a Storm build was our first older legendary creature, Zada, Hedron Grinder, who is obviously mono-red. While there are some cards that we can borrow from that list, the extra blue here is amazing. Cards like Seething Song and Pyretic Ritual become twice as good when we have cast Bonus Round or have Swarm Intelligence on the battlefield. We can add High Tide into the mix too for another 'ritual' effect in blue.
We can get the incremental damage from casting spell after spell with Guttersnipe and even toss in Goblin Electromancer, as well as cards like Jace's Sanctum. With access to blue, we have all the Counterspells we could ever want, so Baral, Chief of Compliance both helps us cast our instants and sorceries and keeps our hand full of answers. Of course, no Storm build is complete without crazy combos like Paradox Engine, some mana rocks, Isochron Scepter, and maybe some cheap draw spells, to keep drawing into more gas. Even just the classic Scepter + Counterspell combo will keep our board pumped, our plan safe, and our friends moan and groan at the table. Speaking of counters, for Storm builds, I enjoy cards like Unwind or Rewind, because they tick up our Storm count, help prevent the table from stopping whatever spells we putt onto the stack, and give us lands back (including different colored lands than we used to pay for them, in the event we need specific colored mana to keep Storming off).
I used the Spellslingers theme page from EDHREC for some Storm-like staples and searched for specific Storm cards I think can be used as wincons to see what other cards work well with those. In the end, our list looks a little something like this:
The Cinder StormView on Archidekt
A Conjuring of Wizard Tokens!
When we began discussing Adeliz, I mentioned that it seems like the Wizard tribe has gotten very strong support cards over the past year or two. I could never forgive myself if I failed to bring that topic full circle and missed out on the chance to build a tribal Wizard deck with Adeliz. Before you say it, you are right; there are quite a few Wizards in both lists above, but I wanted to do something fun and brew a token-based Wizard deck. Very few cards make Wizard tokens, though, so while we are including Docent of Perfection, one Wizard-token-producing card does not a token tribal deck make.
Luckily, blue has access to two very similar cards that I think can get us where we need to be. Enter stage left: Arcane Adaptation and the O.G. version, Xenograft. These oddball cards make our entire battlefield an additional creature type. In Arcane Adaptation's iteration of the effect, it changes all of our creatures in our library as well! I am sure you can already guess what creature type we are going to pick.
That's right: Lizard!
Wait. What? … OH! No! Not Lizard! I meant Wizard! All our creatures can be Wizards!
With Arcane Adaptation effects in play, Adeliz gives a buff to our entire battlefield. We can also look at some other “creature type matters” cards, such as Vanquisher's Banner, Herald's Horn and even Kindred Discovery or Door of Destinies. If we want the game to devolve into mathematics equations, we can toss Coat of Arms; when played at the right time, you can just assume that if no one removes it, we are winning that turn. However, these inclusions are entirely up to you!
Since we have successfully found a way to turn our tokens into Wizards, we can load up on some effects that already do well in a deck helmed by Adeliz. Young Pyromancer can grant us some ground-based shock troop Wizards while The Locust God and Talrand, Sky Summoner will give us the aerial advantage with some flying Wizards. Of course, with Commander 2018's recent release, I would be remiss not to mention everyone's favorite new Izzet token commander, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, who has the added bonus of turning all of our tokens into the biggest and best token on our field (or perhaps turning our non-flying tokens into flyers) while even granting the token army haste!
Finally, sometimes we just want to go all-out and surprise the table with reinforcements. Clone Legion targeting ourselves is enormous. Kindred Charge will get insane, even with all the nontoken Wizards we'll have on our field when it is time to strike for the win! Behold… the Cinder Wind Academy deck:
A Scholary ArmyView on Archidekt
When Wizards of the Coast came out with Inalla, Archmage Ritualist during last year's Commander 2017 product, most people probably felt that Wizard tribal had been solved. That's also what most people have said about Vampire and Dragon tribal (though Cat tribal can sometimes be debated). I think that's what makes me like cards like Adeliz so much, though. We all expect something to be the “end” or the “best,” but then Wizards of the Coast find ways to make that same strategy or archetype into something new and different. Is Inalla stronger than Adeliz? With the right build, I am sure Inalla can win games Adeliz decks can't, at least some of the time. Still, the fact that we can brew Adeliz with a similar tribal concept and yet terrify the table in a completely different way than Inalla means that the R&D team has done a darn good job! I am excited to see what other kinds of new Wizard legendary creatures we will get in the future, and I hope you enjoyed my take on this one! Remember, you can join my public Discord server and follow me on Twitter to help me figure out which Uncommonder we will talk about next time. Until then…
Keep. Spellslinging. Bombs.