Partner Up!

Aaron Durbin Commander

Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of significant others, we’re going to be analyzing a few of Commander’s most popular partners, as well as a few of Magic’s most interesting character couplings and the decks we build around them.


The “High School Sweethearts” of Commander, Tibor and Lumia have always brought a warm, youthful spirit to the casual-competitive kitchen table. In true Izzet fashion, the typical T&L build likes to assemble a compelling-yet-risky “Spells Matter” deck with deathtouch equipment and cheap cantrip spells.

Much like their relationship, the Tibor and Lumia build has gotten much stronger over time. Archetype of Imagination and a flipped Docent of Perfection do well to protect T&L from their own red spell triggers, while the influx of Zada-friendly red cantrips like Expedite, Renegade Tactics, Rile, and Crash Through can be used to clear the board, build high Storm counts, and grow Enigma Drakes and Spellheart Chimeras to formidable sizes.



In Theros, it’s said that the couple that battles together stays together, and that’s entirely due to Akros’s favorite power couple. Together, their Heroic feats inspire token strategies and go-wide combat plans to attain victory.

The best Anax and Cymede lists tend to play some nice tricks from Magic’s past and present. Flickering Ward, Crown of Flames, and Gryff’s Boon are great examples of the recursive, protective, and clever tactics the deck employs to push Anax and Cymede’s added damage through, while powerful token makers like Hanweir Garrison, Assemble the Legion, Secure the Wastes, and Hero of Bladehold are powerful “Army-in-a-Can” style cards that escalate combat pressure. Ideally, the best versions of this deck fortify themselves with recursion over redundancy, favoring these threats over similar alternatives, while also leaving room for removal, disruption, and whatever card draw they can muster.



Meanwhile in Meletis, Kynaios and Tiro are forging a different plan for victory. Some parts political, most parts aggressive card advantage expansion, their overwhelming positive impact and hearty eight toughness make their deck a veritable stronghold in casual Commander.

This Commander 2016 precon was my personal favorite to play straight out of the box. Despite being a hodgepodge of misfit cards, what made the deck fun was that it’s difficult to size up your options against it. Kynaios and Tiro’s ability slows the game down while also offering opponents the opportunity to play more lands and slam bigger spells. Unlike Atraxa, players were generally reluctant to use any kind of removal with Kynaios and Tiro in play, for fear of losing this ability. At the same time, Kynaios and Tiro wall out most creatures, providing an all-too-convenient excuse for your opponents to attack everyone else. I look forward to taking the precon off my shelf and working toward a Voltron build with some fun tricks like Inside Out, and compelling obstacles like Ankh of Mishra.




You don’t get to be the most popular four-color group on EDHREC by accident. After recently edging Thrasios out of their long time spot at the top, it’s easy to see that Kydele’s mana makes her more compatible with Vial Smasher. Fortified with Wheel of Fortune effects and recursion, it’s essentially a stronger version of the Yidris Commander 2016 precon, playing into its natural inclinations, but with significant spell improvements.

The biggest is Paradox Engine, which is a general nuisance in any deck, but especially a list that employs a lot of card draw. Kydele can potentially cast it for free if she Wheels into it, casts another spell, and continues on with proper mana fixing, or a Gemstone Array in play to filter the colorless mana. Combined with Vial Smasher, these Kydele synergies turn big X draw spells like Blue Sun’s Zenith into surprise lethal damage while potentially drawing your whole deck (hopefully, with Laboratory Maniac) or milling another opponent out at the same time. For more fun and best results, add Sakashima the Impostor to copy either one.




Commander 2017 brought us a ton of additions to Tribal archetypes, but we also got great support in Commander 2016 too, the best of which were Ravos and Tymna. Possessing incredible, value-driven abilities, the Orzhov twosome helm a deck full of Clerics. Tymna’s often the aggressor, dealing damage and drawing cards, while Ravos balances out the aggression, coming in after a board wipe or two to retrieve any other lost creatures. With the help of other Cleric cards – like Mother of Runes, Rotlung Reanimator, Leonin Relic-Warder, Celestial Gatekeeper, and Weathered Wayfarer – this deck is packed with perpetual advantage that is very difficult to stop.




With her Lady Gaga aesthetic and general awesomeness, Breya may still reign supreme in her Etherium world, but you best not sleep on Silas and Akiri. With a low curve and some cheap artifacts, this pair make a particularly formidable aggro front, the likes of which has never been seen before, much less in a sleek “Artifacts matter” shell.

What makes this pair so great together is their tie to Modern Affinity. While they don’t need Inkmoth Nexus, cheap value cards like Ornithopter and Memnite can do a lot of work to power up Akiri. Obviously, Sol Ring, Mana Crypt and its ilk are killer value, but so are under-appreciated equipment like Shuko and Flayer Husk, the latter of which can also go infinite with Grinding Station and Salvaging Station.

While Cranial Plating is a boon for Akiri, nothing is quite as good as Glaring Spotlight – which, aside from his color identity, makes Silas Renn such a good partner. Protecting and ensuring Akiri damage through Spotlight recursion means that this aggro deck’s still got gas left in the tank late in the game, which is a rare quality for any deck turning sideways.


Do you have a favorite Partners deck? Be sure to share it with us on Twitter at @Card_Kingdom!


Header design: Justin Treadway
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