Weird Harvest — I've been you
Hello fellow janksters and welcome back to Weird Harvest. In this installment we're going to continue along last installment's idea of running a hybrid Voltron commander. Rather than running Stax like we did with Hope of Ghirapur, we will focus on a traditional control strategy. There were many options available for running a control-centric commander, but my column likes to routinely take the road less traveled. I wanted to choose a commander that would immediately catch our opponent off-guard. Mommy always said we could be anything when we grew up, and this week we are going to be Mistform Ultimus!
All or Nothing
Mommy always said I could be anything when I grew up.
What in the world is going on with this card? Seriously, I don't even know why they felt the need to make a card like this. Not even given the fact that the Onslaught block was extremely focused on the tribal strategy. It's not too terribly expensive at 4 CMC, and at least three of it can be generic mana. Its 3/3 body puts us on curve, at least considering how things were over 10 years ago. The real reason I choose Old Misty is its abilities. Mistform Ultimus is every creature type and may attack even if it has defender. We could take this the easy route and just build it to employ all the tribal lords on its color, but where is the fun in that? Instead I think we'll build it to make use of some quirky cards.
Be All, End All
The Voltron elements will be the easiest to piece together, so I feel it's most beneficial to lock down the control package first. We're mono-blue, so luckily, we have access to most of the best control cards in the format. Traditional control usually threatens on the vectors of denial and removal. Since we are building with traditional control elements, it makes sense to leverage this across both spells and creatures. This will allow us to mitigate an issue that I see in a lot of Voltron builds, lack of board presence (i.e. putting all your eggs in one basket). Let's look at our denial package.
Computer says no
Notice that I chose to forego the typical counter magic in favor of creatures that have counter magic stapled onto them. This is a deliberate effort to ensure that we have both bodies to keep our opponents off of us as well as resources we can return to our hand to re-use for value. We also run Equilibrium to ensure that we can bounce and reuse our enter the battlefield (ETB) tricks as well as control our opponents' fields. These elements should give us the advantage we need to control the flow of the game without becoming the person with a deck full of counter spells. Trust me, people get less salty when your counter magic is stapled on to a creature, and I don't much care for the thought of making a blue deck that quickly earns an unplayable reputation within a meta.
Everything to Everyone
The first card that came to mind as I considered the Ultimus as my commander was Spy Kit. The idea of wielding a commander that had all creature types and all non-legendary creature names just seemed hilarious. Unfortunately, I can't win Magic on just humor alone. Okay, so maybe I can if I play silver-bordered cards since they are legal for a little while, but I'm not going to do that. This means that we must brew specifically to take advantage of this card if it is to ever have any impact upon the game. If only there were some cards to help abuse it….
The spy who slugged me
So here' a quick overview of the interactions that these have with Spy Kit. Bazaar of Wonders works with the Kit to ensure we lock down the creatures that our opponents cast since the Ultimus will have every non-legendary name. Note, that this isn't a hard lock, as our commander doesn't have legendary names and it doesn't have non-creature names. Now, that doesn't mean that if there is overlap in our opponents' decks that it doesn't work. If someone in the game puts Swords to Plowshares in their graveyard then it absolutely will shut it down. That makes this card a bit better than just a one-trick combo pony. Now someone summon the Internet for I demand a picture of a one-trick combo pony, preferable in Lisa Frank's art style. Next, we have Echoing Truth, which acts like Cyclonic Rift when we have the kit equipped. Outside of the kit being online it's also a playable card as there is frequently some overlap with popular nonland permanents in EDH. Bouncing multiple Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite for 2 mana seems good. Mask of the Mimic gives us a Green Sun's Zenith on blue, only without the annoying X casting restriction. This is powerful, so we will run it. It gets bonus points for interacting effectively with clone creatures, although this will happen far less often than we would like and isn't reliable enough for us to consider. As such, it mostly needs the kit to be truly effective so expect it to be a dead card in hand from time to time. Mitotic Manipulation is another card that doesn't really do a whole lot for us without the kit equipped unfortunately, but it works great once it's online since we can grab the best of the top seven and put it directly on the battlefield for only 3 CMC. Finally, we have Retraced Image, again this is only effective with the kit equipped, but slamming something onto the battlefield for one mana is just too good for me to pass up.
Behold the one-trick combo pony! Gaze upon its many splendor.
Until All is One
Now that we've sufficiently janked out the deck, it's time to put some business in it. Besides, what good is building a janky deck if it can't win? This is where the Voltron elements come into play. I'll admit, this part of the deck is mostly because I like the idea of beating my opponents with all their creatures. It amuses me to no end. Let's make that punchline come true with a potent brew.
Where do you get those wonderful toys?
I know what you're thinking. It's probably something along the lines of, “Bruh, half of those aren't even equipment, my dude!” Before you take to your keyboards and roast the above list until it is “well lit” consider the non-equipment cards in said list. We have cards that can become cards of equipment on the field, of which there are several that I can think of that are great when doubled. Also, we have Thada Adel, Acquisitor and Armory Automaton which can outright snatch equipment with ease. This seems far more interesting than jamming a bunch of Swords of X and Y into the deck. Besides, why should you pay for those expensive pieces of cardboard when you can just take someone else's. Doesn't that sound more fun?
An Army of Anyone
Without further explanation, let's just tear into the full 99 and check out what some of the other nuts and bolts that comprise this makeshift loadout.
The Illusion of Progress
Ok, I'll admit that at first glance this list looks like hot garbage. But look a little closer at some of the subtler things happening in this heap. We have land searching in the form of Sword of the Animist, Dreamscape Artist, Burnished Hart, and Solemn Simulacrum. We've a nifty set of tricks with Tradewind Rider when we pair it with Perplexing Chimera, Stratus Dancer, Silumgar Sorcerer, Kheru Spellsnatcher, and Voidmage Husher. Those same cards also play well with Equilibrium, which we are also running. We have some rather unorthodox control in the form of the previously stated creatures, on top of cards like Imprisoned in the Moon and Perplexing Chimera. Overall, we just could be disruptive and keep our opponents off balance, which is exactly what I aimed to accomplish with this build. There are several other angles to take this commander as well. Illusion tribal is totally viable, if not entirely viable depending on your meta, due to the wealth of recently printed tribal cards. Changeling and Shapeshifter focus can also be expanded upon to go for the all-in copycat approach. You can also forego any Voltron leanings and just go for the “that guy” blue deck of nope spells. It's also completely possible to just go all in Voltron with some cool blue enchantments like False Demise, Auramancer's Guise, Fool's Demise, and Infiltrator's Magemark.
Now You See Me...
I hope you all enjoyed this build. I admittedly have very trace amounts of love for blue, especially as a mono-colored deck. This deck was different though. It gave me hope. It restored my confidence that this loathsome color was capable of so much more than run of the mill denial. It was capable of run of the mill denial stapled onto creatures, and that somehow made it unique. Now all we must do is wait for some kids to come sit at our lunch table to affirm our social status. Until next time cool kids. If you can't beat them, be them and then beat them mercilessly.