Kynaios and Tiro: Love and Politics
So while last time we talked about aggressive commanders that sneak in pings to whittle enemies down, today we’re going another direction. Today we’re talking love and politics, the theme prevalent in Kynaios and Tiro, the non-black commander from Commander 16. The Meletis couple give us and our opponents card draw or land drops, ensuring everyone has a fair and fun game. The two commanders I bring you today exemplify politics and using the other players to do our dirty work, but can hold their own should no one fall for their tricks.
At first glance neither of these two aid the others at the table, but upon closer inspection, we see the dirty games they play. Let’s first talk about the Jhessian Balmgiver, a blue-white cleric that can prevent one damage to a creature or player, or make target creature unblockable. We can use the first ability to save one of our creatures or ourselves. But maybe we want to save someone else’s creature, or their life total. After all, if we save their life, they are now indebted to us. In keeping with this theme, we’re going to run clerics. Lots of clerics.
With this many clerics all doing their best to ensure no harm comes to anyone, we should be running some tribal support. Luckily, Commander 17 gave us a new land just for this purpose. Path of Ancestry gives us some color fixing, and even better, scry 1 whenever we play a human or cleric. Speaking of scry, why should we be the only one to get card advantage? We should share the cards with everyone else. Or maybe just a select an ally we can partner with.
Now that we’ve chosen an ally, and given them the cards they need to get back into the game, how do we keep them from winning? We are in blue, the color of “no.” Not only do we run counterspells, but we also run cards that tell our opponents what they can and cannot do. Is the scary Carnage Gladiator deck getting a little too aggressive? Is Cliffhaven Vampire gaining too much life from Soul Warden? Time to say no.
Well, we can stop other people from winning, but we still need to win ourselves. Far too many people build a political “group hug” deck without including a wincon. So, how are we going to win? We’re going to poke people quite hard with our commander’s second ability, “Make target creature unblockable.” Here’s a couple of bombs to do that poking with, and wow, they are big. Just remember, your commander can make anyone’s creature unblockable, not just yours.
Well, that about sums up Jhessian Balmgiver. The game plan here is to protect yourself, save some lives, and then backstab your newfound ally. Because that’s what politics is about. But what about commander number two, the Tattermunge Witch? How are we building this thing? To start a deck, I begin with a theme, and here, I see two obvious facets to play with. We’ll start with the first theme, goblins.
Goblins are notorious in Magic, heralding back to the roots of the game. For as long as red has been a color, goblins have been around. Here, we’re going to give all manner of boggarts, grots, and moggs a warren to call home.
These little buggers get out of hand quite quickly, overwhelming the battlefield with their sheer numbers. When we couple these numbers with our commander, we’re going to be dealing a ton of damage. The card above I really like is Caterwauling Boggart, as he gives all of our goblins Menace, an ability I talked about last time in Carnage Gladiator. In addition to menace, there’s an old keyword called Rampage that we’ll be making use of here. Rampage gives the creature a power and toughness boost when it is blocked by more than one creature. It even gets the boost for -each- creature blocking it beyond the first!
While we’re dredging up old mechanics, let’s take a look at another underutilized classic: Provoke. Provoke let’s us choose a tapped creature an opponent controls, untap it, and then force it to block. With our commander buffing our creatures, we should be able to trample over the blocker, removing it and a few life points.
With an aggro deck running as many small goblins as possible, we should look towards some enchantments to power up our raging army. Enchantments that boost power and toughness are ideal, but a few utility enchantments are great for tilting the odds in our favor.
So that’s our first deck theme down, how about the second one I mentioned? Looking at our commander, this one is little less obvious. But since we’re in green, we’ve got all the best cards for it: Ramp. Our commander lets us sink mana into her ability to grow huge creatures, so the more mana we have, the bigger things grow. Here we’re looking for two things: creatures that search for land, and spells that search and put the land into play.
What’s also so great about our commander’s ability is that we can use it on someone else’s turn to buff their creatures. We’ll mostly be doing this when they aren’t attacking us, and we could even bribe them with a little incentive to swing their creatures elsewhere. With this in mind, we should grab a few cards that untap lands.
The most important thing to keep in mind when playing politics decks to not use them to favor only one player. "Kingmaking" is not fun to play against, and creates some frustrating games to participate in. Additionally, try not to make any deals you don’t plan on keeping. This makes you look untrustworthy, and tends to make people team up against you. However, don’t let this discourage you from trying out this play style. With these decks, and some clever scheming, you can come back from a losing position by recruiting an ally, or making someone else out to be a threat the others need to deal with.
That wraps up our journey through Kynaios and Tiro: Love and Politics! Hope to see you all next time as I break down Breya, Etherium Shaper, the artifact combo queen!