Information in Commander is one of the greatest resources we have. When new cards are spoiled, players take off to build around them in optimal ways. With new cards like The Locust God and The Scorpion God, this can be exciting as the community sifts through endless cards to find the best fits.
But what about some old rusting cards that have been neglected over time?
In my herd of EDH decks, I’m lacking a mono white deck. White decks have a few very clear holes to fill in deckbuilding, and this limitation has generally kept me from pursuing a white deck. However, while evaluating my Commander color spread, I decided to take another crack at making a white deck. Hoping for some inspiration, I went to EDHrec to see what were used as common white commanders.
What interested me was the commanders with zero decks built around them.
Myojin of Cleansing Fire immediately caught my eye. I guess I’m either a glutton for punishment, or going to make this work. I couldn’t understand how there were zero decks listed (at the time of writing this; it could change!) – all the other Myojin have decks. To make this deck work requires a few things: indestructible creatures to survive Myojin’s effect, bounce effects to allow Myojin to reset, That Which Was Taken because it’s too awesome not to use, ramp because Myojin is really expensive, creatures with death triggers to profit more from Myojin, and card draw because the deck will need to reload.
Easy Peasy Additions
Starting with lands is easy – 38 lands is classic, so that should work (and it can always be bumped up after some games.) In white, the ramp options are limited; Land Tax, Gift of Estates, Weathered Wayfarer, Knight of the White Orchid, and Kor Cartographer are all places to start for ramp, and help with at least catching up to some other decks. Solemn Simulacrum and Burnished Hart are artifact creatures that can help find more lands.
After those cards, the remaining ramp pieces will need to be mana rocks. With an eight-mana commander (who will likely get wrecked by opponents periodically), running about sixteen ramp pieces looks like a good starting place. I usually prioritize two-mana artifact spells, but with such an expensive commander, cards like Worn Powerstone and others that make more than one mana could be of much more use – even with a bit of tempo loss. The artifact mana doublers are definitely of value in a monocolor deck.
Indestructible creatures are another step in making sure that activating Myojin of Cleansing Fire doesn’t backfire. Darksteel Colossus is the biggest baddest creature I’m comfortable playing (Blightsteel Colossus crosses a line for me). Darksteel Juggernaut hits hard and is usually a big beefy creature. Darksteel Sentinel has flash and vigilance to play offense and defense. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is huge and terrifying. Seraph of the Suns is a flying indestructible creature along with Darksteel Gargoyle. Adding the two white gods, Heliod, God of the Sun and Oketra the True gives more options and some more mana curve-friendly options.
Cards Dying to Join
But the effective indestructible creatures start getting thin quickly. Luckily, there are some good creatures with death triggers to help fill in. Archon of Justice can exile any permanent, Epochrasite can keep coming back, and Filigree Familiar gains life for showing up and draws a card for dying. Perilous Myr deals a little damage, and it’s big brother Scuttling Doom Engine can deal a lot of damage to finish of a planeswalker or opponent. Treasure Keeper is kind of like cascading into a new spell on its death, Wurmcoil Engine makes babies, and Yosei, the Morning Star can tap down an opponent for a turn. Having some death triggers can make sure the deck never loses value for using Myojin to wipe the field.
Of course, with dying creatures and players using sacrifice effects to get around indestructible, the deck will need some recursion. Sigil of the New Dawn isn’t always the easiest to trigger, but getting cards back to hand is very helpful. Resurrection and Breath of LIfe will bring a creature right back to the battlefield, and Emeria, the Sky Ruin and Reya Dawnbringer can bring creatures back every upkeep. Emeria Shepherd expands on the theme by bringing back any nonland permanent, and Angelic Renewal can bring back any dying creature – and is best friends with Sun Titan.
If the deck can spare the mana, Faith’s Reward can return everything that died that turn.
Normally, blink effects like Restoration Angel would be helpful for cards that need to reset counters, but Myojin of Cleansing Fire (and the cycle) need to be cast from the hand to trigger. Command Beacon is the first step on this path. Dust Elemental is huge, evasive, cheap, and will return multiple creatures with ETB triggers, but it’s a little unwieldy. Whitemane Lion is much more feasible. Another creature with flash that can bounce a creature is Jeskai Barrier but I think I would prefer to forgo flash for Kor Skyfisher. Emancipaton Angel is a solid-sized creature for a three man investment a to return Myojin, and Stonecloaker costs the same but can also act as graveyard hate. Finally, we can get old school with Scapegoat[/cast], which requires probably the most work.
The best way to reset Myojin is likely [card]Erratic Portal, which is cheap, easy to activate, useful on offense and defense, and also importantlywon’t get killed by Myojin. As a bonus, white can actually tutor for this with Enlightened Tutor.
While Myojin of Cleansing Fire provides virtual card advantage, it doesn’t put cards in hand. White is generally poor at drawing cards, so artifacts will need to do the heavy lifting. Skullclamp is a broken card with the ability to make 1-toughness creatures into plenty of cards that will die, so it fits right in. Mind’s Eye and Staff of Nin are expensive, but provide a nice stream of cards given enough mana or time. Seer’s Sundial needs lands to trigger card drawing, but with some good ramp options this should work well.
White has oodles of cantrips and cycling cards which can help dig for something better as well. Shelter is particularly good, but Second Thoughts is hysterical to use. For repeatable draw, Armistice may be the best thing in this color.
I’m planning to build this in the next couple weeks as I dig to find some cards and order a couple missing ones (like That Which Was Taken). Of course, the deck needs a couple sweeper cards itself, and likely odd mana costs to beat Void Winnower, which keeps showing up randomly at my LGS. Artifact and enchantment removal will be needed in solid numbers, but white has a lot of Disenchant effects and I can play the original here. Despite Myojin of Cleansing Fire, the deck will need some spot removal – but white is no slouch there. Oblation and Oblivion Ring provide some catch-all answers, and maybe a planeswalker and the deck is good to go.
This is just a walk through of how I would go about tackling this Myojin; how would you build it? I’ll write up my list when it’s done, so stay tuned for the follow up. But I want to know – what do you think the deck needs?
I also want to know what other unused or underused commanders catch your eye and almost call out to be built. I love tackling these sorts of challenges.