As new captain of Sisay’s old ship, the Weatherlight, Jhoira is drawing one of the most nostalgia-inducing parallels in our long-awaited return to Magic’s home plane. Connecting history with a storied crew and the stories of old has put her at the center of the new era of Dominaria – but what does Jhoira look like at the helm of her own Commander deck?
Originally, I’d planned on steering Jhoira in a more theme-y direction, favoring historically cool Magic spells and legendary creatures as a way to accrue value in a design similar to a Reki, the History of Kamigawa deck. Islands and Mountains have long been mortal color pie enemies, and uniting them together with old artifacts seemed like the best way to parallel Jhoira’s narrative.
However, my early brainstorming sessions kept bringing me back to a handful of cards and combos that I’d wanted to transfer from competitive play into Commander: Crackdown Construct and Wandering Fumarole; Paradoxical Outcome; Grand Architect and Pili-Pala. They kept popping up in my head, and I couldn’t get them to go away, so I went with it!
Putting together many of the pieces I’ve seen in Standard, Modern, and Legacy over the last several years, I began to assemble a competitive-inspired, historical tome masquerading as a Commander deck.
A few years ago, I built a Saffi Eriksdotter Combo deck. The structure for this deck was something unique to the archetype, in that it was a “pure Combo” deck. Every card in the deck aligned with a handful of other cards, creating a strong map and a difficult disguise for our opponents. Every spell furthered our game plan; no one card was more powerful than the next, making it difficult to suss out when the game was over.
This plan works well when we have “concentric” combo pieces, i.e., cards we can pair together that have congruency in another combo interaction. In Jhoira, our combos branch out more than they did in Saffi, but are united by their artifact identity, and supported by Jhoira’s incremental card draw. Part “Enchantress,” Jhoira acts as a conduit, perpetuating motion when one or two pieces might get tripped up. Building added purpose into already-useful cards allows us to craft significantly stronger Combo decks. Ultimately, this lends the deck some dimension – instead of playing Control until we draw our pieces, we’re actively affecting our board and contributing to the game. For me, this is the best version of a Combo strategy.
We’ve talked about the theory and plan behind what we’re doing, so let’s get more specific.
Mainly, this plays like an Aetherflux Reservoir deck. We have ways to generate infinite mana, ranging from Grand Architect and Pili-Pala at its simplest, to a combination of Paradox Engine, Sensei’s Divining Top, Jhoira, and mana rocks at its most complex. Semblance Anvil is one of the more surprising helpers, often imprinting an artifact creature to offset Junk Diver and Myr Retriever costs, which give us more Aetherflux life or help us draw our deck with Jhoira out. (See also: Comet Storm, should Aetherflux be destroyed.)
Paradox Engine is our best counterweight, allowing us to make plays when the deck gets caught with things to do and no mana. Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient can also help, triggering a draw off Jhoira, and then doubling a Basalt Monolith untap trigger.
Similarly, Paradoxical Outcome and its ilk can help protect our combo pieces and net us more spells to cast. We can even reset cards like Semblance Anvil and Everflowing Chalice, hopefully drawing more cards with Jhoira in the process.
My personal favorite is a little budget number that involves Flayer Husk. When thrown in between Salvaging Station and Grinding Station, our little germy Equipment powers up an instant milling machine!
Overall, I think this deck is ready to compete at a decent level in most playgroups. With local meta knowledge, slotting in counterspells or extra disruption should be a snap. Most of the combo cards are clear, so decisions aren’t going to be tough.
I can see people taking this list and customizing it, too, favoring the more streamlined Paradox Engine and Aetherflux Reservoir parts, as opposed to the more creative Wandering Fumarole/Crackdown Construct combat pump. Dualcaster Mage could slot in nicely, adding another infinite mana combo with Ghostly Flicker.
The best recommendation I have if you want to play this deck? Practice! Experience with Storm, Cheeri0s, Karn Combo, and other Paradox Engine decks will help, but manipulating the puzzles that land into all the different combos takes just as much know-how. Having playtested this deck for about a week, I can tell you that the lines of play and possibilities are vast, and taking the time to familiarize yourself with keeping track of spell counts and mana will not only help make you a better player, but will also enhance the fun of playing this deck!
Do you have a favorite Commander combo? Share it with us on Twitter at @Card_Kingdom!
Header design: Justin Treadway
Header image: “Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain” by Brad Rigney