At first glance, I wasn’t terribly excited about Haktos the Unscarred. The random choice of his weak point felt a little rough, both from a feel-bad standpoint for opponents and for Boros’s usual tools to beat down opponents: Equipment and Auras. Sure, you can build a deck with a spread of tools costing 2, 3, and 4, but there will frequently be cards stuck in your hand that don’t help Haktos.
Then I started thinking more thematically. Haktos is unbeatable, or at least believes he is. He’s probably pretty arrogant, so he won’t work with other heroes. (Such are the consequences of near-invulnerability—you become quite toxic.) From a deckbuilding standpoint, that means no other legendary creatures or planeswalkers will be in the list. Maybe he’s so terrible to work with that almost no one wants to fight beside him, meaning all he can do is conscript soldiers or pay mercenaries. Translating that into mechanics, I decided to build a deck where Haktos was the only creature card, with only cards that create Soldier tokens to help him. After a little consideration, I decided Angel tokens were okay too—celestial forces care a lot less about what you type in chat and a lot more about what lands you conquer, after all, but you only get nameless, faceless Angels if you’re a jerk.
Repeatable token generation is the name of the game here, and these six cards get the job done at wildly variable rates. Assemble the Legion is the star here, with Recruit the Worthy at the low end being a consequence of our theme. Dawn of Hope and Mobilization both provide side benefits in the form of cards and vigilance, and Cenn’s Enlistment gives us something to do with extra land in the late game. Throne of Empires only makes one Soldier per turn, but it does have the fun side effect of working together with the Crown and Scepter in high-roll scenarios. Everybody, including Haktos, wants to rule the world, so we will be slotting the full Empires package into this list.
Here are our one-shot token generation effects. Well, mostly one-shot. Increasing Devotion and Nomads’ Assembly get two cracks at making an army for us, with Increasing Devotion being much more reliable. Entrapment Maneuver is one of those cards you forget about until you place serious deckbuilding restrictions on yourself, but as weird edict effects go, it’s not completely unplayable. Decree of Justice and Finale of Glory scale very well into the late game, as does the oddball enchantment Rise of the Hobgoblins, and cards like Omen of the Sun and Heroic Reinforcements give us something to do early on. You’ll notice most of these cards are mono-white. This has an unfortunate effect on our mana base since we generally want to cast Haktos on turn 3 or 4.
With all of these troops at his disposal, Haktos wants to attack, and when he’s done, he wants to attack again. Let’s make sure he can jam a few extra combat steps into the turn.
Aggravated Assault can act as a late-game mana sink when we have a creature advantage, but the first additional combat costs a full 8 mana. By contrast, World at War provides two combats for 5 mana, though board wipes tend to come out between the turn it’s cast and the rebound turn. Response // Resurgence doubles as mediocre point removal, and Savage Beating adds double strike when entwined.
If we’re going to attack over and over again, we might as well buff the team up to make it worth our while. Let’s see what we can do to bolster our squadron.
Double strike is very powerful alongside anthems, so we’re trying to make both happen at once. Berserkers’ Onslaught and True Conviction both help our tokens hit harder, but if they’re blocked and unbuffed they’ll just go down swinging. (Rage Reflection exists if you need more double strike, but it’s the worst of the three.) Cathars’ Crusade is, of course, the best token buffer/bookkeeping nightmare of them all, but Commander’s Insignia, Dictate of Heliod, and The Immortal Sun all have their upsides as well. We’ll be casting Haktos more than once, so Commander’s Insignia really shines here. Anointed Procession and Divine Visitation are great at multiplying and upgrading our tokens. Finally, In the Web of War is an underappreciated card, but it fits here for a couple reasons: first, our tokens want haste so they can get in right away, and second, it’s on theme—Haktos loves war!
If our tokens die, we’re in a little bit of trouble. That’s why we have a few defensive cards—ones that don’t target—to protect the team.
Giving the team indestructible at instant speed is wonderful, but phasing the whole team out is even better. Teferi’s Protection does work with tokens, so feel free to take your ball and go home for a few minutes in the face of wrath effects—unlike Teferi’s home of Zhalfir, those tokens will phase back in just fine when you return.
As mentioned above, Haktos wants to rule the world (in my made-up canon for this deck), so he needs some additional tools to help him do so.
We talked about the Crown and Scepter earlier, with the Crown being the stronger of the two even without the full combo. The Scepter is really just here to fulfill the requirements. Smothering Tithe is a strong card I’m shoehorning in because Haktos is taxing all the lands he conquers… okay, I really want treasures to amp up cards like Finale of Glory. Finally, Insurrection gives Haktos an out to win games he has no other claim on.
Haktos also has some battlefield experience, and despite his near-invulnerability, he has some tactical prowess. We’ll represent that with the following cards:
Deflecting Palm and Mirror Strike turn things back on their controllers, whereas Comeuppance can act more like Settle the Wreckage by sending damage back to their more direct sources. It’s important to remember that Deflecting Palm and Comeuppance deal damage themselves, whereas Mirror Strike redirects damage from the creature itself. This matters a lot if someone is attacking you with a Blightsteel Colossus.
Now that we’ve really nailed down the deck’s theme, let’s fill in the blanks—specifically, some categories we can’t really live without, starting with removal.
We’re decently well set up to deal with any kind of problem permanent. Chaos Warp and Scour from Existence handle indestructible noncreature permanents if those come up, and cards like Heliod’s Intervention and Vandalblast can wipe out artifacts and enchantments on a large scale. The rest are fairly common these days, but I don’t feel bad supporting a strange thematic deck with Commander stalwarts.
Let’s move on to wraths—yes, even a deck like this has some.
They’re not your traditional wraths, though. Both Divine Reckoning and Tragic Arrogance allow Haktos to demand a 1v1 with the best (or worst, in Tragic Arrogance’s case) your opponents have to offer. Winds of Abandon takes all the guesswork out and simply exiles opposing teams outright. Just watch out for the player who has a bunch of tokens, lots of basics in their deck, and a Retreat to Hagra on the battlefield. (Spoiler alert: it’s me, playing Lord Windgrace!)
You’ll notice we don’t have any real ways to generate card advantage so far. Let’s fix that.
Mind’s Eye lets us use spare mana (which we’ll have) to eke out card draws on the backs of other players’ draw effects, while Tome of Legends leans on Haktos’s propensity for pugilism… well, that’s not quite right, actually, he’s got a spear, but he probably does a punch or two sometimes. Outpost Siege can act either as a source of an extra card per turn or as a deterrent to destroying our tokens, and both can be very powerful in this deck. Finally, Land Tax does actual, measurable deck thinning and lets us hit our land drop every turn, which is huge for a deck that isn’t ramping much.
Speaking of not ramping much, let’s toss a couple of mana rocks into the mix.
Sol Ring is great at helping with our token generators but terrible at casting Haktos. The rest are more friendly to the Unscarred One’s casting cost—if you feel your version of this deck needs more, consider Fire Diamond and Marble Diamond, which were late cuts from my list.
Gotta have a little graveyard hate. I went light because the last cuts were hard, and indeed I might be too light on this category. I’m also wondering if I’m too light on token generation. It’s possible I should be adding cards like Sworn Companions, Captain’s Call, and even Raise the Alarm to this list. I’ll look into that when I record a video with this one!
I’ve done enough description. Time to show off the whole list—also known as every card I mentioned above plus some more land. I’ve been extra descriptive today! Send me your suggestions at @RagingLevine on Twitter, either for this deck or for future articles, and I’ll see you next time.