Battlebond: Pir and Toothy EDH Decktech.

Out of all of the duos from Battlebond, my favorites are probably Pir and Toothy. Their colours are nice () and their abilities seem very interesting, with their focus on +1/+1 counters and carddraw. In this pairing Toothy really is the teeth of the deck, offering a potentially large beatstick and tons of carddraw. Pir is more of a support character, acting more like an enchantment, but his ability to add extra counters does fuel some of the synergies of the deck, creating ever greater returns on the carddraw Toothy enables.

The Strategy

So, what if a Brainstorm acts like a cantrip version of Giant Growth? Or even better: Essence Flux acts like an (sometimes even better) Ancestral Recall? That’s awesome, right? It seems like Toothy has really great synergy with two types of effects: Blink and clones. So how does this work?

Blinking Toothy makes him leave play, setting up a trigger that allows you to draw cards for each +1/+1 counter he had when he left. Before you draw the cards, the blink effect returns toothy so he sees the draws and regains all the counters. With Pir in play, he even gains more than he had before.

A similar thing happens with clones: Once you make a copy of Toothy, as a state-based effect you have to choose one and sacrifice the other. You draw cards of the original, and the copy gains the +1/+1 counters of the draws. Even though the copy doesn’t deal commander damage, you can play the original again from the command zone, sacrifice the copy and draw a bunch of cards again, all the while Pir doubles the amount of counters gained.

Everything hinges on Toothy to live long enough to get a few counters. The blinking cards at least double as spot removal, and even against mass removal often you’ll draw a bunch of cards, gaining some advantage in the process.

So, how do we blink Toothy? Well, there are some instants that remove him and return him in time to see the draws, like Displace, Essence Flux, Ghostly Flicker and Illusionist’s Stratagem. With exeption of Essence Flux, these cards blink two permanents, so you can set up cards like Archaeomancer to return the instant to your hand again, to keep blinking and drawing lots of cards. Yet another blinker that’s more permanent is Nephalia Smuggler. The ultimat blinking guy is probably Deadeye Navigator, but maybe that one is too cheesy to put in a deck. Then again, once they see you blink things, opponents might think you have one anyway, so why not? Ultimately you may draw so many cards you may concider Laboratory Maniac as an alternative wincondition.

So What About Pir?

As I said, Pir feels more like an (important) enchantment. His ability to add extra counters to things seems good with Planeswalkers. Another use is using cards like Druids’ Repository so he’ll help ramping out, which is good concidering the amount of carddraw we hope to have.

A pet card of mine is Mindless Automaton, which happens to be great with Pir. This can be a huge beater in itself and basically “store” superfluous cards to be cached in for extra cards later, or at cycle things for just .

Furthering the +1/+1 counter theme are Herald of Secret Streams and Tuskguard Captain making Toothy, Automaton and the additional Toothy-alikes Lorescale Coatl and Chasm Skulker difficult to chump block.

Send In The Clones

Clone effect have some good synergy with Toothy as mentioned, and also go a long way to autobalance the deck against your playgroup. There are numerous ones to mention, and they fit the illusion theme well. A special shout-out to Altered Ego though, for supporting the +1/+1 counter theme. Also a notable clone is Stunt Double. Flash is great, and he also supports the blink theme a little by being an extra backup for Draining Whelk and Mystic Snake, countering a spell in a pinch.

So What Else?

Battlebond has some fun cards to use, to promote interaction and sometimes even make some allies. Let’s begin by looking at that other team fighting in the great Arena, that offers a little ramp and carddraw, and due to being partners help finding the other half when being played:

I can’t say they are the greatest cards ever, but they help. If we can find ways to make lands produce more than one mana, Ley Weaver can add a lot of mana. Fertile Ground is in the set, as is Peregrine Drake to go with the blink theme. Another good addition is Simic Growth Chamber, as always. All this put together offers the option to draw ánd play your entire deck.

All in all Pir & Toothy seem to make a fun team, with a deck that can beat down, but also have big combo turns and the ability to win out of nowhere on occasion. They probably need some time to get the ball rolling, both staring out as mere 1/1 creatures that spin out of control easilly if left unanswered. Pir is a bit dull by himself as he stays out of the action mostly, but having a combo piece in the command zone as a big plus. I can’t wait to swing with a gaint, imaginairy monster with double digit power and toughness, with combo and mill backup for the win.

Posted under Commander / EDH

Battlebond First Impressions

Two-headed Giant. I’ve played a lot of it actually. Mostly because of Duels of the Planeswalkers on the Playstation 2. The first couple of iterations of that game had very limited deckbuilding options. You choose a deck, maybe switched in some cards from a limited sideboard, but there wheren’t really great options to tweak the deck you where playing. By playing Two-headed Giant, at least there was the strategical option of mixing and matching decks, and soon it became appearant that it was the only true way to play that game.

I liked having access to a free-to-play way to play Magic. I wasn’t interested in MTGO and have a seperate, online collection of cards. I found a friend online to play Duels with online, and we became a great team, tweaking our decks to become a little overpowered when put together in Duels. We where unstopable and we generally had a good time listening to people shouting in frustration over the headset. Yeah, playing online does make it easier for people to be toxic, but it’s not like they could actually beat us.

After all the good times, things went a little south. Newer versions of Duels of the Planeswalkers came out, and they had really crappy netcode. It couldn’t really hande four-player games and we saw ‘connection lost’ more than we could actually launch games. Then, newer versions of Duels didn’t came out on PS2 anymore, and we where forced to play on PC. That wasn’t really my thing, and I couldn’t get used to the interface, which handled timing differently in multiplayer than in the offline, vs AI game. It became a frustration handling the interface, instead of just playing the game. I also gained some responsibilities over a new human wonder, which meant my entertainment needed things enjoyable in short bursts, and things that I could pauze or drop when I was needed elsewhere.

Still, I know 2HG can be great, but it’s also a logistical nightmare. You need another person, with a compatible deck, somehow get together on- or offline and find people who jumped through the same hoops. It’s far more easy to find some games where you’re on your own. So it won’t happen as much nowadays. Maybe Magic Arena will offer a good way to pick up 2HG. There is just so much more focus on execution, and talking through the options really helps finding and evaluating lines that I couldn’t really find on my own. Different perspectives and all.

So, it’s great to see a summer set to focus on this format, and so far also making sure the cards are useful in other formats – Commander, mosty although some cubes may also find interesting stuff. Oath of the Gatewatch also technically was a 2HG set, but it wasn’t executed that well.

I liked the Conspiracy sets for the things they do for multiplayer, and Battlebond also features some “political” cards: Cards that help forge temporary alliances that encourage players to work together. And even though the logistics generally make 2HG impractical, some options to play a tag team on your own with partner commanders. Just take a look at the first pair that was spoiled:

In Commander, having partner commanders is great. At the very least, you’ll have an extra card at your disposal from the beginning. Initially, these Pir & Toothy didn’t look very impressive, but they did look fun. But after some rereading, they’re actually great. Sure, Pir looks like an expensive Hardened Scales, but it’s one that’s right there in the command zone, so you will have access to the effect more often.

Toothy seemed okay, but initially I missed the ability to draw cards when he leaves the Battlefield and that part opens up a lot of trickery. It makes Toothy more than just a legendary Lorescale Coatl. There is some great synergy with Zameck Guildmage, Sage of Fables and Shapers of Nature, but the big splashy moves involve clone effects:

So, you have Toothy out and you decide to copy him. As a result, you have to choose one copy to stay. Sending the original to the command zone causes him to leave play and you’ll draw a card for each +1/+1 counter, powering up the copy and end up with extra cards. The copy won’t deal commander damage, but you can always repeat the process by replaying the original. With Pir in play you’ll get ever greater returns (and Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix can make a turn like that even bigger!)

Pir also works well with planeswalkers like Kiora, the Crashing Wave. Talking about planeswalkers, there is also a tag team of those showing up in Battlebond.


Now this is a flashy team. I know it’s going to be hard in commander to get this duo of planeswalkers in play; together they are a whopping 12 mana, so it’s going to be difficult to find a window of opportunity to get them going, but when it happens it going to be really cool.

Alternatively, they might be part of a Jeskai () or Temur () or even 5 colour superfriends deck. Even outside the command zone they can find each other due to the partner with… ability, and the extra colour allows for some extra protection in fog-like effects or wraths. Will can even make other Planeswalkers cheaper with his -2 abillity. And on their own they don’t have access to Oath of Teferi, which seems crazy with them on the table.

The assist spells seem really cool; They’re tools to make deals accross the table and team up with people. How often does it come up that one player is so far ahead, and someone asks if anyone has a solution? Play of the Game is right there, you get to work together and create a sense of friendship (while it lasts.) Or you can help someone dig for an answer with Huddle Up. It reminds me a bit of Words of Wisdom, which I am running in Shu Yun. In theory it could be a cantrip for just , with the additional possibility of drawing someone out when I go off with Eye of the Storm. Maybe.

The Friend or Foe mechanic also looks nice. Extending the hand of friendship, and let people know where they stand. Pir’s Whim looks like a sort of Tempt with Discovery that doubles as removal. seems like a lot for a ramp spell, but it can find any land, not just basics and in some situations it can deal with a couple of troublesome enchantments or artifacts. Friends let friends not play pillowfort decks, so there goes a Propaganda, while you let other people ramp. They might get their Wasteland out, but if they use it on you, they are foes forever.

Battleborn also has some allied-colour lands that should often enter the battlefield untapped in 2HG and commander. All teams are enemy coloured, so in 2HG you’re encouraged to share your partner cards with your partner. Still, they are good in the decks that want them.

In additional to all the cool political cards, it seems Battleborn also has some spicy reprints, like Doubling Season, Land Tax, Greater Good, Seedborn Muse… All in all it seems like a great set, both for drafting and commander.


Posted under Commander / EDH

It’s Elementary, My Dear Valduk

One thing I haven’t done so far is to make a voltron-style deck. This means focussing on one creature, and suit it up with all kinds of auras and equipments, and try to win with that, typically through commander damage.  One option I had in mind is Hope of Ghirapur, transforming the little legendary ornithopter into a giant battleship. Another is to use Danitha Capashen, Paragon, who starts out as a decent body anyway, and suit her up as an ultimate warrior.  But I think that the one card that truly makes me happy is Valduk, Keeper of the Flame.

I mean, the art alone is fantastic and badass, and reminds me of classic fantasy art like that of Frank Frazetta. And then there is the promise of tokens, lots and lots of tokens. Something tells me that with Valduk at the helm, opponents are in for a Savage Beating! And then there is the dream:

How awesome would it be to have a couple of elementals, then use the Dragon Throne of Tarkir to make them even bigger than a fully suited up Valduk? Even more dreamy: Then use the Umbral Mantel to untap Valduk, and boost the elementals again with Throne. I also like how Umbral Mantel has an equip cost of so, in the case that Valduk dies, I can bring him back from the command zone and get at least one elemental out of him for free. Because the downside of a Voltron-style deck is that it’s putting all the eggs in one basket, and sometimes it’s hard to get back into the game once your commander gets shut down.

Part of living the dream is making sure I find the Throne often enough. Godo, Bandit Warlord is the goto man to find a specific equipment. As a bonus, there is the extra combat step he provides. Sure, any elemental token stays tapped unless I somehow give them vigilance or turn them into samurai, but the extra combat ensures Valduk makes new tokens, so that’s covered as well. Angel’s Trumpet and Akroma’s Memorial do fit the bill in making sure my elementals stay ready to attack a second time though.

There are many cards that give extra combat phases, and they should be nothing less than great here. Mono doesn’t get to deal with some of the problems, so promising opponents a swift and fiery death seems like the best way to succeed. I think Valduk does have it in him to make that happen.

Posted under Commander / EDH

Slimefoot Improvements

I finally had a test run of my Slimefoot deck. I didn’t quite win, but it was a fun learning experience. One of the most important lessons: Always have Slimefoot on the table.

This means I should probably look for a Journey to Eternity for this deck. It should be easy enough to flip it into Atzal, Cave of Eternity with all the sacrifice effect I’m running (Lesson number two is always have sacrifice effects on the table) so it can even replace a land and work as a sort of ramp effect. Even a one shot effect like Memorial to Folly worked well for me, so why not a more permanent reanimation effect?

Since I also get to exile things from the graveyard (with cards like Fungal Plots) I shouldn’t be too afraid to let Slimefoot go to the graveyard every once in a while to get extra value, then get him to the command zone from there. With Cave of Eternity up, I get to skimp on commander tax often, and keep Slimefoot affordable.

On that note, the Thallid plan is a bit slow, and even though there is value to be had, Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat seem to be neccesary backups/additions to the drain plan. One of those doubles the effect of Slimefoot. Even a few poison options will help close out games quickly with Slimefoot. Grafted Exoskeleton is a relative persistent way, Tainted Strike is an instant version for the oops I win scenario and Triumph of the Hordes also works with Saproling armies. Typically, you’ll want to use these options in one explosive turn which brings us to the next thing.

So, the one thing that happened during testing was that someone was playing Muldrotha. At some point I got Necrogenesis in and I wanted to use it to at least remove all creatures from the graveyatd of the Muldrotha player.

This is where another player played Dictate of Karametra, to boost my mana and get all the creatures out. I was impressed with the card. Sure, it could help other players as well, but I already run some summetrical effect like Fecundity and Saproling Cluster. Timed well, and it’s just one explosive turn that’s all I really need. The deck is very, very mana hungry, so I always can make good use of all the extra mana I can get.

All in all the deck worked pretty well, even in the face of infinite Nevinyrral’s Disks coming of Muldrotha. The deck may only need some tiny changes to help turn the tide in overwhelming odds. I do like the Thallids and other fungi in the deck, but it’s really more important to always have enough Saprolings, and there are quicker ways to do that than to count on some of my Fungi to make them. At the very least, Overgrown Armasaur is on the bubble, as it makes only any real sense with Pestilence. Verdant Embrace is probably a much better option anyway.

Posted under Commander / EDH

Fungus Among Us

I nearly completed my Slimefoot deck, and there is another gameplay loop that is interesting to use. Since the deck is all about eating Saprolings, and other ways to kill them, there are a couple of cards that can use this to our advantage, even buying us some time when we’re not ready to go infinite. So, step one is to send opponents creatures to the graveyard.

This being a Golgari deck, killing things is just the beginning. Now we’ll have some compost to grow our Saprolings from. There are a couple of cards that help with our gardening efforts:

As long as opponents have creatures, and we have a sacrifice outlet (preferably Ashnod’s Altar, since it makes the cycle completely free) we can repeat this and keep clearing the board of creatures. As for getting rid of other permanents, there is one card I’m eager about trying, that should work relatively well with the token strategy.

I like how she is a toughness 4 blocker, and she needs just a few Saprolings to get rid of an artifact or enchantment. Even better, she lacks the in the activation cost, so the ability isn’t held back by summoning sickness. Having repeatable, instant-speed removal is yet another way for the deck to grind for cardadvantage. And tapping Saprolings I was going to sacrifice anyway makes it a free effect most of the time. And the Thallids can keep doing their thing while tapped, too.

I don’t own a Spontaneous Generation, but it looks really interesting. Concidering I have quite some card draw, this could potentially outshine Saproling Migration. The latter is better in topdecking mode, and a good way to get started early on, but Spontaneous Generation could be a finisher once I set up. Even so, playing a land a turn in the beginning, then going turn 3 Slimefoot, turn 4 Generation is already great, and that’s without token doubling.

All in all I’m close to having what I think is the ideal deck. I hope it checks out in testing, because it looks really fun.

Posted under Commander / EDH

Putting The Fun In Fungi

Of all the colour combinations I think I enjoy Golgari () the most. Mostly because it can create tokens, and use sacrifice effects so I can set up some kind of ecosystem and grind out value. So, when I got a promo Slimefoot at the prerelease I was quite pleased. It does everything: Make tokens, and offer a way to win the game by sacrificing these tokens. It’s a cheap commander at and it finally pushed me to make a Saproling commander deck, something that Thelon almost, but not quite, succeded doing. (But Thelon will be likely part of the 99.) Given the nature of the deck, it’s also (mostly) budget friendly, with only Doubling Season being an expensive card, but even that one has some options for budget replacement. Even the commander itself is a mere uncommon!

While the deck is good at creating an army of Saprolings and sending them sideways, Slimefoot also lends himself well to various combos. Even an opposing Wrath effect usually results in some positive gain, but left alone it can prepare for some big turn, killing everyone at once.

The beauty is that many combo components will fill multiple roles within the different combo options. Most of them involve ways to make mana, turn these into Saprolings and sacrifice the Saprolings for more mana for more Saprolings, al the while Slimefoot gains you life and drains everyone else. These are some basic setups:

The first combo is easy: Having a token doubler like Doubling Season (Parallel Lives or Primal Vigor will do as well.) For you create 2 Saprolings, and you can sack them to the Altar for , setting up an infinite loop. While this is effective, it’s not the coolest option. But there is more:

Again, being able to sacrifice Saprolings for mana fuels a loop, where Fecundity draws you cards, and the draws can be turned into Saprolings, this time using Saproling Cluster. Again, we’re not looking to create a large army, but just a way to steal away life with Slimefoot. Even when going “infinite” or at least large, the lifegain component of these combos is not entirely irrelevant.

Cadaverous Bloom is part of an early combodeck, the infamous Pros Bloom deck. Bloom has fallen out of favour in the years, being too slow for the legacy and vintage formats, but Commander is a good place to give the card another go. Turning cards into mana allows for explosive turns. And using Lich’s Mastery probably requires an explosive turn, because of the danger involved in using it. Exiling one card with Cadaverous Bloom is already half a Saproling with Slimefoot, and Slimefoot’s build-in life gain already gives an extra card with Lich’s Mastery. With a token doubler out, that’s enough to go large, but other options are extra life gain with Blood Artist or a sacrifice outlet and Fecundity to close the loop. Just to show how reduntant some of the components are. Then there are some strong synergies to be found:

Again, Bloom can generate lots of mana, and Verdeloth likes to use lots of mana. Extra cards (and maybe sacrificing a few creatures to Ashnod’s Altar) can go a long way into creating a large for Verdeloth, leaving a lot of 2/2’s behind. A natural fit here is Song of Freyalise, to provide additional mana and eventually making the Saprolings even larger.

Another combo card of old is Saproling Burst. This was part of the Fires of Yavimaya deck, capable of suddenly bringing 12 power to the table out of nowhere. Sadly, we don’t have access to so neither Fires of Yavimaya nor Pandemonium are options, but at least we can emulate the haste granting of Fires by using Vitaspore Thallid. Burst also is 7 Slimefoot triggers right there and is simply ridiculous with Doubling Season.

All in all there are some pretty cool things to do with a simple, uncommon fungus commander.


I forgot to mention Smothering Abomination and Fungal Plots as important potential combo pieces, as well as being means to dig for your combos. Even together they turn 2 Saprolings into 3 cards. Mazirek can be another payoff for eating Saprolings en masse, and thus potentially interesting, even though it’s not directly part of an engine. At least it offers an alternative to the drain kill.

Posted under Commander / EDH