Since the release of Ixalan last fall, Admiral Beckett Brass and her Dire Fleet have been fulfilling their most dire needs in Commander: pillaging, plundering, and getting tons of Treasure. While pirate decks have been out in full force these past few months, I’ve been much more interested in the unsung story of Revel in Riches and how it combos with Mechanized Production. Today, in true pirate fashion, we’re going to take what’s been good for these decks (their Treasure), and make it even better for us!
WHY LUDEVIC AND TYMNA?
Truth be told, I’d been wanting to build a Tymna the Weaver/Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist Partner deck for some time, mainly because I really loved the idea of pairing Commander 2016’s most and least popular Partners together. Although the pairing seemed fun and exciting, I wanted to make sure it was the right choice from a functional standpoint. I would need both full access to Grixis Treasure-makers and additional enchantment support, so the decision to add another color was obvious and natural. But how do you choose between Green or White?
Both colors had serious reasons for consideration. In the realm of recursion, White’s splashier Replenish effects tended to be just as good as Green’s Reclaim, in that we’d always be re-casting our win conditions at sorcery speed. White’s enchantment tutors offered more consistency to our plan, while Green’s enchantment suite of Doubling Season, Primal Vigor, and Parallel Lives meant we could crank out serious amounts of Treasure. Green also gave us access to Vraska, Relic Seeker for the flavor win, as well as a smaller “Super Friends” package for additional support.
Because our options were so close, it really came down to which Commander(s) would fit logically. Of the Green options, Ludevic + Ikra Shadiqi edged out Yidris by having more of the feel of a Control deck, but the pairing seemed too linear for my taste and not worth the investment in their board presence. While we get cards from Ludevic and some life from Ikra for a later stage in the game, it costs a combined eight mana to cast the pair, not counting Commander tax. In a deck where there will be Wraths, we needed to have some Commanders who could keep coming back.
Pairing Tymna and Ludevic not only solves almost all of these problems, but creates an unparalleled sense of value. The flexibility of their leadership is great. Because both have ties to damage and card draw, we can play them interchangeably without relying on one to get to the other. If we want to cast them both in quick succession, we have the opportunity to double down on card draw. And because they’re cheap to cast, and we play a lot of Wraths, we won’t have trouble mapping out grindier games where we bounce back and forth, laddering their casting costs.
As mentioned, the deck is designed to win with Admiral Beckett Brass’s backdoor win-cons: Revel in Riches and Mechanized Production. At face value, this is a combo deck, but that’s just the part that ends the game.
I would actually consider this more of a resource-based control deck, which means trying to win right out of the gate is not going to help. Our deck’s strengths come from our ability to make, manage, and protect Treasure. As an additional source of mana, our Treasure is an important resource that can help us continually invest in more favorable board states until we have enough to get to our end game.
The new creatures from Rivals may not look that impressive on their own, but with all of our board wipes, they aren’t that much of an investment, and they really make the deck move. Forerunner of the Coalition is a Lorwyn-style Harbinger that can find our bigger hitters in Ruthless Knave and Deadeye Plunders, all while punishing players who may try to disrupt our swashbuckling. Similarly, Pitiless Plunderer rewards us for letting our creatures die, accelerating our plans by a few extra Treasure tokens. And because our deck does some early game attacking, Protean Raider can either become another Treasure-maker or the best creature our opponents have to offer. The best part? All of these cards make for great Alesha targets, should it come to that.
Typically, I favor more removal and fewer counterspells when I play Control, and the best part is that Revel in Riches and some of our Rivals cards reward us for doing so. Slaughter the Strong and Vona’s Hunger are affordable board wipes that play to our deck’s strengths. With low-powered creatures and Commanders, Slaughter easily creates reasonable board states in the later parts of the game and spares Tymna and/or Ludevic, paving the way to connecting in combat damage to re-establish our draw engine. Similarly, our Treasure can get us the City’s Blessing quickly, allowing Vona’s Hunger to clear paths through token-wide strategies and other cluttered battlefields.
While we didn’t get another Spell Swindle, Hornswoggle is an important part of our counterspell arsenal. Many Green decks will look to find a Reclamation Sage or Caustic Caterpillar to deal with our win-cons; we just have to say one really funny word, and all those problems go away. Bonus points if you Hornswoggle for the last piece of Treasure you need to win.
Strangely enough, the best Rivals card for this list is a utility card: Brass’s Bounty. It’s a tap-out, race-to-the-finish spell we can cast in the later part of the game to fill our table up with Treasure, and put pressure on our opponents to try and stop us. While we have plenty of instants and sorceries we’ll want to play, I have a feeling our Flood of Recollection may have a relatively specific target.
FIELD TEST RESULTS
One of the first things to note is just how quickly the deck gets off the ground. Tymna and Ludevic are great ways to unlock a strong mid-game, but the secret is the manabase. While it’s not nearly as optimized as it could be, the success of this deck sits squarely on its extreme lack of lands that enter play tapped. Opting for a basic package of Shocks, Vivids, and Battle for Zendikar lands is just enough conditional tap lands to pace ourselves properly. Of the “any-color” lands, Forbidden Orchard is one of the niftiest tricks, giving extra 1/1’s to our opponents in order to yield a bigger return once we get a Revel in Riches in play and resolve a Wrath.
One of the things I thought I’d be doing is solving a recursion/protection problem, which is why we added White. What I found is that once we removed the exclusivity of the pirates theme, we were able to improve on some of these designs. Clever Impersonator and Copy Enchantment aren’t necessarily pirate-related, but they are more flexible than Doubling Season or Anointed Procession, and they do the same work. I don’t know if we’ll need Greater Auramancy or not, but I know after testing I won’t need to do much more to protect the Revel in Riches–Mechanized Production combo.
Some of the cooler tricks involve our Wrath effects. Bontu’s Last Reckoning is actually really good when you have Treasure tokens available to pay for emergency counterspells. March of Souls and our sideboard consideration, Mogg Infestation, can effectively remove troublesome creatures and replace them with other, smaller creatures that we can deal with later, creating even more Treasure.
And last, but certainly not least, is our backup plan, Marionette Master. The Treasure output in this list is good enough that we can actually eliminate a single player at 40 life, or multiple players when the game inevitably goes long.
Overall, this deck is definitely an exciting, spicy brew that I believe will make for some very compelling games for you and your playgroup!
Header design: Justin Treadway