Weird Harvest — Every rose has its thorn
Hello fellow jank brewers! Welcome back to another installment of Weird Harvest. Rivals of Ixalan is out and it's time to start brewing with some of the sweet pieces of cardboard it contains. There are some fantastic options for new generals, but only one sparked my desire for jank. Orzhov has always been a favorite color combination of mine since my days of high school. I ran black/white tokens in Modern for quite a while due to its ability to steal wins. It also didn't hurt that it was a low-cost build. I've always been saddened by the lack of a proper Orzhov token commander. That is until Rivals gave us an extremely quirky yet incredibly potent new option.
Every Rose Has Its Thorns
Just like every night has its dawn
Now this is a new commander that I can get excited about. I know you might be telling yourself, “But Chris, this is a four CMC 1/1 with Lifelink and the ability to make tokens. Why would we run this as our commander?” That's a great question. Let's analyze what we're working with.
- Built in removal deterrent: People are less likely to use non-exile effects when the target floods the battlefield with tokens.
- Ability to make it to the end: Lifelink is an excellent way to fight your way into the late game. This card has that AND the ability to produce several Lifelink tokens.
- Abusable triggered ability: Whenever she dies, she creates a number of 1/1 vampire tokens with lifelink equal to her power. This has the potential to be degenerate with the right mix of cards.
- Easily diminished: As a 1/1 we have the unfortunate problem of our commander costing a lot for what she offers if our opponents have ways to control our graveyard. Hey, speaking of that.
- Weak to graveyard hate: Graveyard hate is a common inclusion in many commander decks. Several EDH decks are focused on graveyard value, which in turn makes the meta adjust and build in answers to stop it.
- Restrictive ability requirement: She must die for her ability to trigger. This means she must hit the graveyard, which can be harder to accommodate than it sounds. That makes some our slots immediately spoken for to ensure that me mitigate this drawback.
Now that we have a proper understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, it's time to brew up a 99 that makes our opponents miserable.
Just Like Every Night Has Its Dawn
Fact: Vampires are prone to make sparkle fingers.
How do you kill what is already dead?
We know that we must run cards that ensure that Elenda dies on our terms. There are several obvious options to ensure this, but we do things differently here. Time to dig through our dusty boxes of misfit cards.
Fanatical Devotion: If there's one thing this deck will do it's create tokens. This card allows us to turn those tokens into a life insurance policy for our commander. As a bonus the ability doesn't require any mana to activate. It's used in 381 decks currently, and yes almost all of them are token based. Shocking right?
Circle of Despair: Early on in Magic, circles of protection were heralded as premier damage prevention. Over the years Magic players have improved to the point where they realize that they just aren't usually worth the slot. This is an exception, however, as it allows us to take our tokens and prevent damage to us as well as our commander. There's no restriction on the source of the damage, so that makes this one of the most flexible circle of protection ever printed. It's being utilized in 111 decks at the moment, and to be honest I'm not entirely sure why more Orzhov decks don't consider it an option for protection packages.
Righteous War: I ran this eons ago in my old Pestilence deck from high school. This card has aged exceptionally as the Orzhov color set has some of the most efficient targeted removal. This blast from the past nullifies some familiar format staples. At 118 decks on the books this card needs to see more play. There's just no reason why combat oriented Orzhov decks shouldn't be running it at all.
From Dusk till Dawn
Who cares about making our commander stick around for the long haul if we can't do some cool tricks, right? Ours is a format of form as well as function. We need a few lines of play that really generate some style points.
Animation Module + Ashnod's Altar/Phyrexian Altar + Tokens: We sac a token to either altar and then pay for the triggered ability to the Animation Module. This in turn creates more tokens that we then repeat until our commander is crazy huge.
Karmic Guide + Reveillark + Teysa, Orzhov Scion = Karmic Guide and Reveillark is pretty much the chocolate and peanut butter of white EDH combos. When you add it with Teysa, Orzhov Scion you can exile all our opponents' creatures.
Nim Deathmantle + Ashnod's Altar + Elenda, the Dusk Rose: We equip Elenda with the mantle, giving her +2/+2. Then we sacrifice her to the altar, which then nets us 3 1/1 tokens minimum. Then we sacrifice 2 of those tokens to the altar to pay for the mantle's recursion trigger. This brings Elenda back and automatically equips her with the mantle and the process starts over again.
When the combo kicks in and the solitaire begins.
There are some other interesting synergies in the deck, most of them are value oriented so that we can grind out wins. We have our protection suite, we have some sweet lines of play, now we just must finish out the rest of our 99.
All is Dusk
Final Nail in the Coffin
There's absolutely no point in running Orzhov if you don't run an efficient removal package. For that we leaned upon some all-stars that you've likely encountered in your battles. We also had to run some mana rocks as well as some mana fixing, most notably land search which is extremely light for our colors. Finally, we sprinkled in some card draw so that we can stay fueled up for the long game.
Well that's it for this week's venture into the deep end of EDH. Rivals gave us some cool new additions, like Vona's Hunger and Twilight Prophet, that really help spice up some archetypes. I'm personally cool with the Ascend mechanic, and I'm legitimately saddened by the idea that we may never see it again before it has an opportunity to get fully fleshed out. If you have any suggestions for the next article, or even just for this build, feel free to give a shout in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and keep Magic janky!