Commander with Nick Wolf: Five-Color Oath of Druids


Hey there, everybody. Man, have I got a treat for you. It's that awkward time between releases again, where we're a few weeks removed from new cards and a few weeks away from the next set of spoilers (not counting a certain sixth basic land). Over in the land of Magic Online with Digital Objects, you can experience the joy and horror that arises from smashing Cube and Commander together, with the new and bizarre Legendary Cube. It's a lot of fun, and I recommend it if you're ever in need of trying to rationalize playing Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. And just like that I've realized I forgot to eat lunch.

This week, we're going all out. Every color is represented here.  So if you like a color, this is the deck for you.

child of alara

Child of Alara

Our commander is Child of Alara, but that's not the focus. Child is here not as a leader, but as a deterrent. It explodes on death, and it's the sort of thing that we like when we're playing roughly 281 colors in what is ostensibly a combo deck. So don't cast Child of Alara thinking you're going to get there with commander damage. That's not our life, guys.

Did I say combo? That might have been a bit misleading. A combo implies there are two or more cards working in unison to accomplish something broken, but in this deck, it's all about one card in particular: Oath of Druids.


Oath of Druids

As much fun as it is to build decks around particular legendary creatures or tribes, it's even more fun to build a deck around a symmetrical enchantment. Most Oath decks in Commander are "group hug" in nature, trying to help the opponents cheat out their giant monster of choice for no other reason than to create interesting and enjoyable board states that destroy the integrity of the game. There's nothing wrong with that of course, but I wanted to see if we could use Oath for more sinister reasons. To that end, we've only got two creatures in our deck that we can put into play with Oath: Progenitus and Blightsteel Colossus. Both are extremely difficult to deal with and will win games very quickly, especially if we can Oath them out on turn three. This deck isn't the sort that will make you friends, but at least it isn't Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + Triskelion, right? If we could Oath out Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, we would, trust me. Maybe in the not so distant future we'll get a new Emrakul that won't be banned in Commander? Time will tell. But for now, we've got a giant hydra that has protection from most things (read: everything) and a poisonous robot that is probably not voiced by Vin Diesel.

If we're building a deck that's devoted to finding and playing one card as quickly as possible, we're going to need tutors, and luckily there are several options available for us to dig out Oath of Druids and get it going as fast as we can. Of course, we've got all the stuff that has the word "tutor" right there in the name (it's like Magic decks build themselves) like Demonic Tutor, Enlightened Tutor, and Vampiric Tutor. But we've got a few other ways to find Oath as well. The ability "transmute" is helpful here, as in cards like Muddle the Mixture and Shred Memory, the latter of which serves no real purpose other than to find Oath. Transmute cards also come with the handy side effect of being uncounterable by all but the most Stifle-ing of permission, since it's technically an ability. And if we need to tutor for a tutor so we can tutor, we can always cast Merchant Scroll to find Muddle the Mixture to get Demonic Tutor for Shred Memory into Oath of Druids. You get extra points if you do that. Don't ask a judge, just trust me. Merchant Scroll is also handy because it can get important cards like Pongify. Wait, what?

merchant scrollVampiric Tutormuddle

We have all sorts of tutors to help us find Oath of Druids, now or eventually.

As I mentioned a minute ago (or a year ago, depending on when you're reading this) Oath of Druids is a symmetrical effect, meaning it benefits all players equally. That's why it's so appealing in group hug style decks, since in those decks we want to help everybody out. But this is NOT a group hug deck. We need to break the symmetry, so we need to control the amount of creatures people have to ensure that we get an Oath trigger, but no one else does. Cards like Pongify do that, sort of. It turns an opponent's scary good creature into a non-scary less-good monkey, which is more manageable. But what if the opponent wises up to our tricks and refuses to play a creature to give us a crack at Oath-ing? Well, we have to solve that issue ourselves. When we talk about Oath we almost always include Forbidden Orchard in the conversation. The Orchard does everything we need it to in a deck like this. It fixes our mana, and if you've ever played five colors you know that no amount of color fixing is enough. And arguably even more important than that, it forces opponents to have a creature. It's one thing to get rid of an opponent's creature, but if one is hoisted upon you, it's often even more difficult to rid yourself of it. Just ask anyone on the wrong side of a Zedruu the Greathearted-gifted Rust Elemental.

So we give our opponents creatures. There are several ways to do so that work out well for us, like Forbidden Orchard, Beast Within, or even Swan Song. Now it's our turn, we made it around the table with Oath in play and it's yet to go off for any of our undeserving opponents. Now it's our upkeep, and surprise, someone's got more creatures than us. And just like that, we've got a Progenitus or a Blightsteel Colossus in play. (And there are ways to dictate which one gets Oath-ed in of course, like using Enlightened Tutor on upkeep to put Blightsteel Colossus on the top of the library, for instance). Our work is not done, of course. Now that we have a creature, we need to get rid of Oath so it doesn't keep shooting off like an illegally-purchased black market Roman candle. But we don't want to kill it, because we may need it again. That's where bounce comes in, featuring one of the most feel-bad cards in the history of Limited: Capsize. In a perfect world, we can't afford the buyback on Capsize because all this is happening on turn three, but if there's ever a delay, using Capsize on every turn can crush decks that rely on big expensive plays.

Since our creatures both come equipped with a on-death shuffle clause, we don't have to worry about not having a creature to Oath out. Unless someone gets us with Merciless Eviction. Always kill the guy that can cast Merciless Eviction first. Don't mess around against that annoying exile-happy B/W player. And if Progenitus-forbid someone manages to exile our tag team duo of face punching, we've got a few tricks to employ in the event they're sent uncontrollably through the Blind Eternities. Pull from Eternity drags our exiled friend back to our corporeal plane and plops it back into our graveyard, where its shuffle trigger fires and it's sent back into the library to be Oath-ed once more.


They won't be denied.

There are a few cards that I wish we could play in this deck, since it's not often I sleeve up a deck featuring every color in the magical rainbow. Maelstrom Nexus is an excellent card and cascade is one of the most fun mechanics ever invented, but sadly, with all the counterspells and other reactive things that comprise our deck list, cascade is going to be largely underwhelming. A few of the various Ultimatums, like Cruel Ultimatum or Violent Ultimatum, are good in multicolor decks, but since our color restrictions are going to be a challenge as it is (ignore the fact we're playing Necropotence), I wouldn't risk playing a card with so many mana symbols in its cost unless I absolutely had to. But, that said, if you want to play Clarion Ultimatum, you'll earn a high five from me.

So let's say the unthinkable happens and our opponents manage to get rid of both Progenitus and Blightsteel Colossus forever. Like, forever forever, in super duper exile, or they spilled coffee on them or something. We're not completely ruined after that, because we've got a Plan B. It involves doors. Door to Nothingness is the sort of card that sits in your binder for years, never seeing the light of day. Are you ever going to build a deck specifically for Door to Nothingness? I might, but most people wouldn't. But when the time comes and you're building a five color deck, you bet your bottom dollar I'm going to try killing somebody with a door. Knock knock. Who's there? DOOM.

And if instead of super duper exiling our pair of creatures, the opponent gets rid of Oath instead? That's where Polymorph comes in. A few of our Planeswalkers, like Garruk Wildspeaker can supply us with a token creature on which we can experiment. Just make a token and turn it into a multiheaded cloud-scraping demigod behemoth. It's easy, and all the cool kids are doing it. And speaking of planeswalkers, of course we're playing Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. We're allowed to have fun -- it's in the rule book.

As for lands, this week I've given you a mana base to work with, specifically the actual collection of lands I use. Five color decks are tricky, and there's no guarantee that my assortment of lands is correct, but I'm pretty sure the aforementioned Forbidden Orchard needs to be in there, along with Command Tower, City of Brass, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. I just couldn't rationalize playing Cabal Coffers this time around, unfortunately. Trust me, I tried.

I hope you've all been having a great December so far. It's like 50 hours old at this point, so it's ancient history in internet-time. Have you guys signed up for Puca Secret Santa? If you haven't, why do you hate the holidays? Until next time, guys and gals. Signing off.  

Five Color Child of Alara Oath of Druids Commander, by Nick Wolf

Prism Array
Oath of Druids
Prismatic Omen
Mirari's Wake
Pernicious Deed
Sylvan Library
Rhystic Study
Phyrexian Arena

Child of Alara - COMMANDER
Blightsteel Colossus

Demonic Tutor
Kodama's Reach
Bring to Light
Supreme Verdict
Explosive Vegetation
Brilliant Spectrum
Blasphemous Act
Wrath of God
Painful Truths
Mizzix's Mastery

Pull from Eternity
Enlightened Tutor
Rapid Hybridization
Beast Within
Path to Exile
Cyclonic Rift
Merchant Scroll
Mystical Tutor
Muddle the Mixture
Shred Memory
Swan Song
Vampiric Tutor
Krosan Reclamation

Commander's Sphere
Chromatic Lantern
Sol Ring
Darksteel Ingot
Fist of Suns
Door to Nothingness
Legacy Weapon
Mox Diamond
Coalition Relic

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Sarkhan Unbroken
Garruk Wildspeaker    
Liliana Vess
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Jace, Architect of Thought
Forbidden Orchard
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
City of Brass
Mana Confluence
Command Tower
Exotic Orchard
Reflecting Pool
Sacred Foundry
Watery Grave
Breeding Pool
Overgrown Tomb
Steam Vents
Hallowed Fountain
Godless Shrine
Temple Garden
Stomping Ground
Blood Crypt
Underground Sea
Sunken Hollow
Volcanic Island
Prairie Stream
Smoldering Marsh
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Verdant Catacombs
Bloodstained Mire

Nicholas Wolf is a writer who lives in Flint, Michigan. He's been playing Magic: The Gathering since Tempest and still doesn't consider Urza's Saga to be broken at all. He prefers building decks that have either have 40 cards (Limited), 100 cards (Commander), or 50 cards (Tiny Leaders).

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