If there’s one thing I love doing, it’s attacking. It’s amazing the reactions you’ll get, especially early in the game. People complain! I’ve seen players roll dice to determine what player to attack just to avoid taking responsibility for their actions in the early game. I’ve done it too, when it’s clear that it’s the socially acceptable thing to do. But why go into Ruhan-mode? These people are your opponents! Now I’m not saying spread the love evenly over everyone, as unless you’re just bashing with a [card]Llanowar Elf[/card], that’s a sure-fire way to get yourself killed by the entire table. Identify your target by whatever means necessary and crush them!
Gatecrash has been kind to those of us who like to turn cards sideways. The draft format is very aggressive (just ask Ben Stark how many 2-drops you should have), and the cards we get in Commander are no less battle-oriented. One card in particular piqued my interest when I saw it spoiled very early on:
[draft]Aurelia, the Warleader[/draft]
What kind of chump wants to attack just once in a turn? If you’re interested in coming out of nowhere with a couple of creatures and just ending someone, Aurelia is your new best friend. Eric Froehlich showed us how effective she can be in Constructed in his fantastic run at the Pro Tour, but how is she as a Commander? Well, I think we can easily build a deck around her. After all, she’s not the only card that grants us the power to attack multiple times in a turn, and if I love one thing in a Commander deck, it’s a theme.
[draft]Fury of the Horde
Seize the Day
Waves of Aggression
World at War
Godo, Bandit Warlord[/draft]
Now there’s a collection of largely bulk rares! Godo is probably considered the best of the bunch traditionally, though in the deck we’re building, we’re happy to have him search up an equipment and bash two (or three, or four) times. The Commander battlefield is not exactly rife with Samurai.
[card]Waves of Aggression[/card] is probably my favorite in terms of sheer insidiousness—who decided to give this thing Retrace? Insane! I’m excited to hurl lands at it in the late game for extra combat phases. (And if you’ve been storing up lands, who says you can’t do this multiple times in a turn, given sufficient mana?)
The rest are just variations on the theme based on their particular set/block mechanics, but that doesn’t make extra attacks any less outstanding. On the contrary, beating down is always fantastic. But with whom will we be beating down? There has to be a way for us to leverage this whole extra attacks thing, and not just in terms of having great creatures. There are a few creatures that have effects when they attack—let’s find the best of them.
I often find myself shouting this card’s name at the top of my lungs, and not just because I’m sad that this guy can grow a freaking fire-beard when all I can manage is a neckbeard. [card]Arc Lightning[/card] whenever you attack is nice, and obviously more of that is better, so combined with extra attack steps, this guy is a house. Awesome!
[draft]Herald of War[/draft]
It grows, and when it does, it makes Aurelia cheaper along with our other Angels. I won’t say we’re playing a lot of Humans and Angels in this deck besides the Herald (7 of them), but the effect of making Aurelia cheaper, since she’ll get killed quite a bit, goes a long way with me. Growing it multiple times during a combat is awesome, and while a 4/4 for 5 on the first attack doesn’t sound impressive, think multiple combats and multiple turns down the line, and you end up with something much more enticing.
Woo! Multiple attacks mean lots more [card]Hellrider[/card] triggers, and you don’t even have to risk this little 3/3s life when you take advantage of its ability! Now, we’re not playing piles of tokens or anything like that, but we are going to be attacking multiple times per turn, and even that should contribute positively. Plus he sounds like a Judas Priest song, which I guess is probably okay. I’m more interested in creatures that sound like Die Antwoord songs, but Wizards hasn’t printed Invisible Sentinels yet. (Memoirs of a Clone? U Make A Ninja Wanna… oh, never mind.)
This Dragon is so ridiculous in multiplayer already. Everyone, contribute some mana so I can blow this player up! Join forces and give my Dragon +20/+0! Now think with
portals extra attack steps, and consider the implications. Thanks for tapping out to help me kill that player! Now that you’re tapped out, you’re useless to me, and you have so much mana that everyone else at the table will have no problem helping me kill you on the second swing!
[draft]Hero of Bladehold[/draft]
Who doesn’t love lots of angry Soldiers that cry in battle? I mean, that have a battle cry? The longer the Soldiers have been around this turn, the more battle cries they get. The card is already impressive enough, adding two extra attackers per turn, but with Aurelia or another way to turn sideways again, she’s absolutely nuts if you can keep her around.
[draft]Lord of Shatterskull Pass[/draft]
If you’re like most people, you were handed this card for the Rise of the Eldrazi Release Party, and you said “ehh” and hurled it into oncoming traffic. Or maybe you just hurled. Well, hurl no more, hurlers! Level this fellow up and start bashing and crashing! Seriously, 6 damage to all creatures the defending player controls? With multiple attack steps, you could turn this guy into a [card]Plague Wind[/card]!
Every time this thing attacks, you grab a gear. More attack=more grab more gear. More grab more gear=more good! Raaaar! Okay, you get the point. He hangs on to all the equipment until the turn is over, meaning that on the third attack, he’s a dual-wielding, armor-wearing murder machine. I’d be surprised to see him smaller than 8/8 most of the time, especially if you have friends who are Voltron aficionados.
There are only five other Dragons in this deck, but one of them grants extra attacks, and even just attacking with this one gives you a Dragon, which can later attack, which gives you even more Dragons, and then you just have a big old sky army. What’s not to like? Who cares about traditional tribal synergies? Just be happy with your extra Dragon, or Dragons, with multiple attacks.
Whoton Whatgald? Seriously, I have memories of casting this guy during summer camp. In 1995. So what’s he doing here? Well, when he attacks, he makes all of our creatures bigger. And when he attacks again, he does it again, and guess what? They’re already bigger! Sure, he’s a 1/1 for four, but that’s why we play [card]Dolmen Gate[/card], [card]Avacyn, Angel of Hope[/card], and [card]Darksteel Plate[/card].
Roll up some Myr into your Katamari and make it an 8/7, dealing 4 to the defending player. Then untap your creatures and attack again. Roll the Myr up again, make your Katamari a 12/7, and deal 4 more. See how this works? A big rolling ball of Myr accumulates momentum and gets more and more awesome, just like this whole deck.
It’s not a creature, but it bears mentioning because it has an attack trigger. How sweet is this one, right? One of my friends who got back into Magic recently saw this in a pile of cards, picked it up, and declared it broken. (My, how times have changed since Revised.) It was a Limited all-star, and with the power of Aurelia and friends, we get multiple Angels a turn—not something to scoff at, I think.
One of the strongest cards in the old White Weenie Quest deck (a sweet one if I say so myself,) [card]Argentum Armor[/card] is still rockin’ in Commander. By now you know I’m going to talk about how you can blow up multiple permanents a turn with multiple attacks, which is true, but man, +6/+6 is a lot of power and toughness. Slap that on Márton and he’s not going anywhere.
These creatures and their friends aren’t cheap, so we’re playing a whole host of mana accelerators:
Why so many? Well, we’re not a green deck, so our options are a little limited, and we really want to be throwing down big crazy stuff on turns 4 and beyond. We’ve got to be consistent, really. Loyal readers will know that I don’t play [card]Sol Ring[/card], [card]Mana Vault[/card], or [card]Mana Crypt[/card] in my decks because I think they’re enemies of fun, but if that’s how you and your playgroup roll, do what is fun for you!
We have to have some ways to draw cards, so I’ve thrown in a few choice options:
Beat up on someone and then draw 20 cards. Whatever. It’s crazy. Just make sure they don’t die before you get to profit from their misfortune. Schadenfreude Dragon here is great after multiple attacks—just make sure you have mana left to cast it!
[draft]Staff of Nin
Mask of Memory[/draft]
A few friendly artifacts to help us draw some cards. [card]Infiltration Lens[/card] is funny with Avacyn and so on. Slap it on your biggest non-trampler and watch your opponents writhe in agony! Explain the fun rules interactions when your Infiltration Lens’d creature gets double-blocked! (Yes, you get multiple triggers.)
One more card to mention now:
Tapping blockers is one thing to do with this, but casting it for X=the number of opponents you have and stopping them from casting noncreature spells while you mercilessly beat them with extra attack steps is a great way to win the game. Plus, it’s [card]Aurelia’s Fury[/card], and this is Aurelia’s deck! She’s in charge! She can be mad. It’s her party and she’ll beat the crap out of you if she feels like it. Plus, the card is way down from its initial price, so pick it up before someone plays it in Standard and it jumps back to $20 or something.
Enough chatter. Let’s see the list:
Commander: [card]Aurelia, the Warleader[/card]
[card]Avacyn, Angel of Hope[/card]
[card]Gisela, Blade of Goldnight[/card]
[card]Godo, Bandit Warlord[/card]
[card]Herald of War[/card]
[card]Hero of Bladehold[/card]
[card]Lord of Shatterskull Pass[/card]
[card]Patron of the Akki[/card]
[card]Mask of Memory[/card]
[card]Staff of Nin[/card]
[card]Return to Dust[/card]
[card]Emeria, the Sky Ruin[/card]
[card]Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep[/card]
[card]Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion[/card]
[card]Temple of the False God[/card]
And there we are! Fantastic. Join me next time when I talk about Magic: the Gathering and its effects on both Magic and Gatherings. Or something. I really have no idea what we’ll be talking about. Probably PAX East or something? Wait and see!