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BMoor's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
Deck Fix: Animar Commander
January 29, 2014
 

Part of what makes the Commander format great is the sheer combinatorial explosion. There are just so many cards out there, and you get to choose a whopping 99 of them to play in your deck-- with that kind of option menu available, there's bound to be doubt and indecision. That said, it can be hard to fix a Commander deck for the same reasons... and the sheer length of the resulting article. But I'm giving this one a try, even though Tyler has clearly put a whole lot of thought into this deck already. Is there even room for improvement with all this in the deck? Let's see!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
I've been building Commander decks for a while-- I'm actually working on an idea to create one for each of the twenty-seven legal color combinations for Commander-- so when I found your garage and started reading through it, I knew I had to submit something. Of my decks, this is the one that's currently troubling me the most. I've poked and refined it a lot, but it has a few glaring flaws. Before anything else, though, the decklist:
 
Animar, Soul of Elements
Copper Myr
Silver Myr
Iron Myr
Palladium Myr
Solemn Simulacrum
Elvish Piper
Fathom Mage
Wonder
Brawn
Anger
Mulldrifter
Genesis
Wolfir Silverheart
Keiga, the Tide Star
Soul of the Harvest
Progenitor Mimic
Consecrated Sphinx
Inferno Titan
Vigor
Jugan, the Rising Star
Intet, the Dreamer
Prime Speaker Zegana
Balefire Dragon
Palinchron
Utvara Hellkite
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Lorthos, the Tidemaker
Maelstrom Wanderer
Jin-Gitaxias, the Core Augur
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Blightsteel Colossus
Primordial Hydra
Apocalypse Hydra
Savageborn Hydra
 
Sol Ring
Lightning Greaves
Time of Need
Coalition Relic
Chromatic Lantern
Darksteel Ingot
Worn Powerstone
Izzet Keyrune
Gruul Keyrune
Simic Keyrune
Izzet Cluestone
Gruul Cluestone
Simic Cluestone
Sword of Fire and Ice
Helm of Kaldra
Cultivate
Kodama's Reach
Fires of Yavimaya
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Shield of Kaldra
Sword of Kaldra
Soul's Majesty
Red Sun's Zenith
Mind Spring
 
Mountain (x6)
Island (x6)
Forest (x6)
Hinterland Harbor
Cascade Bluffs
Breeding Pool
Fire-Lit Thicket
Stomping Ground
Rootbound Crag
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Raging Ravine
Reliquary Tower
Llanowar Reborn
Command Tower
Maze of Ith
Strip Mine
Yavimaya Hollow
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Flooded Grove
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Okina, Temple to Grandfathers
Minamo, School at Water's Edge
Academy Ruins
 
Commander, Deck Philosophy, and Alternate Commanders:
 
The deck's primary Commander is Animar, Soul of Elements. Animar's three abilities are all incredible. The first-- protection from White and Black-- makes him immune to a lot of removal. Cool. The second is a super-evolve, picking up a +1/+1 counter every time you cast creature. And the icing on the delicious elemental cake is the ability that makes all of your creatures cost 1 less for each counter on him.
 
So the basic plan is clear. Build to three mana, summon Animar, spam creatures until the game ends. Pretty much every non-creature in the deck exists to build mana, support the creatures once they're summoned, or draw/search for more creatures. The creatures were selected because they had abilities I found useful, either for one of the above or handling the enemy's creatures. Straightforward enough. The win conditions should be obvious enough: either Animar and his thirty-five friends show up to beat face, or Animar gets killed and his friends go on without him. I have a fairly heavy predilection toward Haste, with three cards (Anger, Maelstrom Wanderer, and Fires of Yavimaya) that can grant it to the entire board. With a decently-sized Animar I can blitz an army out to run over opponents immediately.
 
The details of the plan are when things fall apart a bit. The most glaring problem I'd like to solve is the "build to three mana" aspect, because summoning Animar on turn three can be harder than it looks-- you need RUG, so if you get screwed out of one of those it can be a quick game in their favor. The artifacts are sufficient to usually ensure that I can summon him on turn four if not three, which is often enough. However, I'd still like to solve that if possible. On the other hand it's entirely possible I'm worrying over a minor issue that can't be resolved. But that's why I'm asking the expert.
 
Protection is my other major problem. I've debated a couple routes to cover myself against both mass removal and targeted destruction of Animar, but I haven't come across a solution I like yet. Most of them require mana and, well, I need my mana to spam the board with creatures.
 
 If, for whatever reason, I can't use Animar, two alternate commanders are possible. Intet, the Dreamer, can effectively make any of my cards cost 2U if she can get a hit through on their life. It's easy for her effect to whiff on a land or mana stone, but dropping a giant creature for cheap can be extremely effective. Maelstrom Wanderer is sickeningly expensive for a commander, but if I could survive to cast him, the double-cascade and board-wide Haste can turn the game around in a hurry. He can't cast the absolute biggest monsters in my deck, but when you're looking at "only" being able to cast a Titan or Dragon, you're in pretty good shape. If I have to go to another commander, usually I'll bring out Maelstrom and just try to keep my head down, but Intet can serve if I'm being targeted. That said, neither one is anywhere near as effective as Animar.
 
Meta:
I play strictly two-player right now, though I'm interested in expanding to multiplayer. The two most frequent decks I play are an Izzet deck with a rotating Commander lineup (Nin, Dracogenius, Jhoira, or Melek as the mood takes him) and a Jund deck that uses but isn't centered around Kresh. The Jund deck is by far the greater threat, because it carries a handful of removal spells and does its best to race creatures with me-- it carries almost as many creatures and even more mana stones than I do. While my biggest creatures are much more powerful than his, that deck has a midrange game that's about as strong but with much more removal. Fortunately Animar is immune to virtually all of his removal thanks to the Protection from Black, but if I can't draw enough creatures to match his and his removal, things can go badly.
 
The Cards:
 
For each card (save Lands), I tried to give a couple sentences explaining its purpose in the deck, though I wound up lumping a lot of the similar cards together.
 
Creatures:
 
Animar, Soul of Elements
As the Commander, Animar's place in the deck should be obvious.
 
Copper Myr, Silver Myr, Iron Myr
The little Myrs serve a couple of roles depending on the stage the game is in. As turn-two drops, they can help ensure that turn three Animar by fixing your mana. After that, they basically exist to be cheap little creatures to put a counter on Animar. It's pretty easy to get them down for free, really. In the late game they should have both access to easy haste and no mana cost, effectively turning them into pocket Moxes.
 
Palladium Myr
The slightly-bigger Myr can't help get Animar out, but he still does important jobs. Tapping for 2 isn't very useful late-game, when Animar is cutting your creatures down to only the colored costs, but early acceleration into a big creature can still be priceless for board control. Unless I have one of the real giants on hand by mid-to-late game I wind up using him to cast artifacts and pay equip costs, or just chumping with him, but even at worst he's a cheap or free counter for Animar.
 
Solemn Simulacrum
Sadbot is straightforward. He comes down (possibly for free), gives Animar a counter, searches a land to fix any mana issues you might be having, chumps something, and dies to give you a card. Not complex, but that's four useful roles packed into a cheap little creature.
 
Elvish Piper
Piper's one of the cards I'm on the fence about. On the one hand, dropping an Eldrazi for one mana is incredible. On the other hand, it's not casting, and over time the loss of that counter on Animar can actually cost more mana than it saves. At the moment she's largely in the background, a card that I'll play to give Animar another counter and then leave up until he dies (or if mass removal is the issue, leave in my hand).
 
Fathom Mage
A 1/1 body isn't exactly threatening, but that's what Evolve is for. Fathom Mage is a handy little evolver if she hits the board early, since I have a lot of big guns in this deck. While I'm missing the truly awesome combos she can pull off in a dedicated Simic deck, the ability to be a four-mana version of Soul of the Harvest is worthwhile. Her biggest downside is that if I'm rolling in the lategame she's close to a dead draw, and one that Animar can only cover half of the cost of instead of two-thirds or better like most of my creatures.
 
Wonder, Brawn, Anger
The three Incarnations do similar things, and they play a lot like the Simulacrum. Come down, give Animar a counter, chump and die, make all your creatures more threatening. Board-wide Trample is only mildly less frightening than board-wide Haste, and a Flying Blightsteel Colossus is just terrifying. Should the opponent refuse to attack for fear of activating their abilities they can start chipping away at people little by little, but one way or another they tend to die.
 
Mulldrifter
Thanks to Animar, Mulldrifter's Evoke cost is usually only U by the time I want to cast him, and it's very possible that I can cast him the normal way for U as well. Then he gives you two cards and either serves as an evasive little attacker or a chumper who's funny with Genesis. Draw 2 is basically always welcome, especially for U.
 
Genesis
My favorite answer to kill spells. Genesis is fairly threatening on the field at 4/4 but even more threatening in the grave, where he can act as a constant creature-Regrowth. If Animar gets rolling, you can usually spare three mana for his effect. And if Animar gets killed a lot, after the second cast it's more mana-efficient to send him to the graveyard and let Genesis bring him back than it is to recast him from the Command Zone.
 
Wolfir Silverheart
For five mana, Wolfir represents a total of twelve power. That alone is enough to include him in any stompy deck that can pay his mana costs. Here he also serves to pump Animar, making him that much harder to kill. Or to pump whatever else you feel like-- dialing a Balefire Dragon up to 10 power is usually a game-winning play, for example.
 
Keiga, the Tide Star
The name in attack deterrents, Keiga's an incredible punisher. Stealing a creature when she dies can scare many an opponent away for fear she'll chump their big gun and steal it, and on offense her Flying evasion is supplemented by the evasion her mind games provide. And if nothing else, she's a 5/5 flyer that you could potentially drop for U. What's not to love?
 
Soul of the Harvest
The Soul is a card I was iffy about for a long time, but now I'm sold on it. 6/6 and Trample for 4GG is solid on its own, but the big advantage is in the ability. With so many creatures, it's not too difficult to chain plays together to drop creature after creature and turn Animar into a monster.
 
Progenitor Mimic
One of my favorite cards in the game, the Mimic has so many options to explore. On the obvious end, you have plays like copying your Inferno Titan for a divisible Lightning Bolt each turn and a rapidly growing army of 6/6 firebreathers. Or copy Soul of the Harvest and proceed to draw out your entire deck as you spam out creatures, or Consecrated Sphinx and forever maintain hand advantage over the opposition. Utvara Hellkite is another favorite target. Cast Utvara, then Mimic, and if you have haste you can immediately produce four Dragon tokens. If you don't have haste, wait until next turn and make six.
 
The Mimic also has hilarious interactions with the new legend rule and the Kamigawa Dragons. Copy Keiga and use the Legend Rule to kill Keiga, steal a creature. During your upkeep, make a token, use the legend rule to kill it, steal a creature. You can do similar things with Jugan, pumping your creatures to sky-high stats. The best part about this is that even if the Mimic is killed immediately, you're still stealing a creature or dropping five counters. Damned if they stop it, damned so much harder if they don't.
 
Really, Mimic is one of those cards that has more interactions and synergies than I could possibly name. I've never been disappointed to draw it.
 
Consecrated Sphinx
Drawing two-- or more-- extra cards a turn is fantastic. The 4/6 flying body is also nice, but mostly we're here for the draw. The Sphinx is one of my premier cards in that regard, fueling my hand for more shenanigans later.
 
Inferno Titan
I rarely use the Titans in my Commander decks-- only the Green and Black ones have effects that I like for the format, with White occasionally getting a word in if I'm running the right deck. But here, Inferno Titan can shine, because I badly need the ability to kill creatures that aren't willing to come to battle with me. Titan can snipe smaller creatures or weaken the big ones enough that blocking is suicide, or simply be a 9/6 for 6 as the case dictates. Pile Firebreathing on top of that and he gets really nasty. Especially amusing is using him in conjunction with Haste, to double-tap an enemy Titan or similar creature and kill them off before they can block.
 
Vigor
As a rule I don't like creatures whose colored costs make up half or more of their total costs for a deck built around Animar. Across the thirty-six creatures there are four who are at half and one at two-thirds, and all but Fathom Mage are in the six drop slot. But all of them are so incredible that I haven't been able to make myself drop them. Vigor is the first of these. 3GGG for a 6/6 trampler-- one who makes your creatures the lords of the battlefield. Every one of them but Vigor (and sadly it's "Vigor" instead of "this card"; I was primed for Mimic shenanigans) are immune to damage, and get bigger the more you try to hurt them. This is an incredible ability in general, but it really shines when used with Fathom Mage and Animar. If Animar can block a mere 2/2 creature, he'll get two more counters and drive your mana costs down hard. If Fathom Mage can do it, you'll draw two cards. And this is Commander, where 2/2 is a less common stat spread than 6/6. The only real problem I have with Vigor is that unless I can make him Indestructible I often have to hold him back from combat, or every creature they have will chump the big scary Elemental.
 
Jugan, the Rising Star
The second of the half-cost six drops, Jugan's a card that I've overlooked in every other Green deck I've built. But here I've come to appreciate him. Five counters is a tremendous edge, accelerating Animar into the big leagues immediately. Or, if Animar is big enough for your tastes, you can use him to pump Fathom Mage for more cards, or just whatever big creature you want to slap the other guy around. Or all of the above, since you can divide the counters. He's not my favorite creature by any means, and I'm still not totally sold on him, but he's made the cut for now.
 
Intet, the Dreamer
The Dreamer is here as a way to cheat out more stuff when you're low on cards. If I have a loaded hand I'll usually ignore her ability, tap out, and just use her as a 6/6 evasive flyer, but if I have extra mana laying around she's a useful way to drop more onto the field when you need it. And, of course, as I noted earlier she's a possible alternate commander.
 
Prime Speaker Zegana
Zegana is the only card in the deck whose colored costs exceed her noncolored costs. But there's an excellent reason for that. Not only is she always going to come down as the biggest creature on your field, she'll draw you six or seven cards with laughable ease. That's worth paying four to six mana for.
 
Balefire Dragon
A board-killer par excellence. The ability to sweep in over an army's head, smack the opponent once, and completely destroy their board is fantastic. An opponent that doesn't have flying basically loses when Balefire is dropped. He also has a few nifty synergies to exploit. Giving him Haste can let him ambush a tapped-out opponent. Trample from Brawn or the Helm lets you eke damage past chump flyers to kill off their smaller creatures. Used with Inferno Titan or Sword of Fire and Ice he can take on bigger creatures-- the Sword in particular lets him deliver eight damage to their board and three more to a target of your choice. And, of course, with a big boost-- from the Sword of Kaldra, Wolfir, or Jugan-- he can take down even the biggest giants.
 
Palinchron
The body's decent and flying is cool, but what's most notable is the land fixing. Since he should be coming down for less than seven mana, he can temporarily extend your mana base to let you play out a few more cards. It's also possible to use him with Animar to go infinite-- with four or more counters on Animar, you can perpetually cast and bounce Palinchron, and each time (or each time after the first, with four counters) you'll untap one more land than you have to tap. However, this is fairly difficult to do since four of those lands have to tap for U. I've yet to actually pull it off, but it's fun in theory and even using his ability once can let you flood the board with creatures.
 
Utvara Hellkite
The deck only has a handful of dragons-- Keiga, Jugan, Intet, Balefire, and Utvara. So the Hellkite usually starts slow, creating only a single dragon off the first attack phase. But after that the number of dragons increases exponentially into a horde that can rapidly sweep the board clean. The ability to be a single-card killer in the late game is more than enough to warrant his eight mana price tag in my mind-- not that you should ever actually pay that, with Animar.
 
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
7/6 trampler? Useful. Doubling your land base? Incredible. Halving the opponent's land base? Just as incredible. Vorinclex is a game-winner at any stage in the game, simultaneously slowing opponents down to a crawl and ramping you to absurd speeds.
 
Lorthos, the Tidemaker
Lorthos has two basic roles. The first is to be the largest body short of a huge Hydra or one of the Big Three that the deck has to offer, beating face off the 8/8 alone (though possibly supplemented by Haste, Trample, or Flying. The latter of which amuses me to no end). That's solid on its own. But even better, he can serve as a mana sink to let your creatures get a free shot in at their life totals. Frankly the don't-untap effect rarely matters; if Lorthos' effect gets paid they should be dead or crippled.
 
Maelstrom Wanderer
The Wanderer is one of the best cards in the deck and more than worth his 5RUG price tag. 7/5 is a decent stat spread, though not as tough as I would like. But board-wide haste is fantastic and double-Cascade is every bit as good. What's particularly cool about Cascade is that it counts as casting, so the Wanderer can easily accrue two counters on Animar. More likely he'll wind up grabbing at least one other spell-- usually a mana stone-- but even one extra creature is good. Unfortunately he doesn't play nicely with the Hydras and handful of X spells, but it's a trade I'm willing to make.
 
Jin-Gitaxias, the Core Augur
Ten mana for a 5/4 is terrible, and leaving ten mana up is telegraphing "I have a play" to the world so Flashing him isn't always viable. But with Animar to grind that cost down it can actually work-- and even if you play him straight, he'll draw you at least seven cards. Usually while destroying their hand. I haven't been disappointed by dropping him yet, because while he rarely wins games, another seven cards often does.
 
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
I could talk about how the Eldrazi are in this deck for their anti-mill capabilities or Kozilek's draw and Ulamog's Indestructible and ability to snipe a permanent. I could, and really it'd all be true-- I like the draw, I like the creature that just won't die, and I like being immune to mill. But honestly? They're Eldrazi, in a deck where I can actually reasonably hardcast them (with enough shenanigans, for free!).
 
Blightsteel Colossus
The ability to one-shot a player is something I appreciate. Infect is a solid answer to Massive Life Gain, Indestructible is solid, and it's hard to argue with stats that big. He's not a card I fanboy over like the Eldrazi duo, but he's got enough to be useful.
 
Primordial Hydra, Apocalypse Hydra, Savageborn Hydra
The three Hydra all serve the same basic purpose: to synergize with Animar. You can drop them at low mana counts to feed Animar a counter and bridge the gap to your heavy hitters. You can drop them at high mana counts to use up all of your available mana and then pile Animar's discount on top of that, to summon a huge creature. You can do something in the middle. Whatever you need, a Hydra can probably give you.

Of course, each one benefits in different ways. Primordial is useful because of his growing ability; he can be dropped small and will rapidly get bigger, so you don't feel as bad about using him early. Savageborn serves best in the mid, where six counters means he can kill most Eldrazi in a fight, though his ability to add more counters with mana can keep him useful if he starts small. Apocalypse is a giant hammer; with a decent number of counters on Animar he can get absolutely ruinous-- my current record is paying two mana for a 30/30 Apocalypse. All of them are fantastic, with the only drawback being a lack of synergy with Maelstrom's Cascade effect.
 
Non-Creature Spells:
 
Sol Ring
I have a very simple rule about Commander decks. Run Sol Ring and don't ask questions. More ramp is always a good thing, and Sol Ring is effectively costless.
 
Lightning Greaves
Continuing my love of Haste, the Greaves provide whoever needs it with the ability to come down and ambush somebody. And if nobody needs Haste, I have very few problems giving a creature-- usually Animar-- Shroud.
 
Time of Need
Almost a third of the deck's creatures are Legendary, and while Time of Need misses a few important targets, it picks up on enough to give you the flexibility you want out of a search spell. It's no Demonic Tutor, but without Black it's my best option for digging up an answer.
 
Coalition Relic, Chromatic Lantern, Darksteel Ingot
Three mana artifacts to give you whatever color you need, alongside useful side effects. Relic and Lantern are particularly awesome, Relic because you can use it to transfer mana between turns and Lantern because it fixes any issues that might result from running a tri-color deck. The Ingot is slightly less useful, but it's hard to dislike Indestructible.
 
Worn Powerstone
Another mana stone, basically a properly-costed Sol Ring. If I was going to cut a stone, this would be the first one on the chopping block
 
Izzet Keyrune, Gruul Keyrune, Simic Keyrune
I don't use their turn-into-creatures abilities often, but I like the fact that these mana stones are also effective mana sinks. They're particularly good after a board wipe so I can use them to recover, or just as extra bodies during an alpha-strike. And, of course, more ramp.
 
Izzet Cluestone. Gruul Cluestone, Simic Cluestone
A total of five mana to draw a card is kind of lame, but the fact that I only pay the last two when I don't need the Cluestone as a mana stone anymore makes them fairly useful. Like the Keyrunes I don't use the draw abilities often, but they're a good option to have on the board.
 
Sword of Fire and Ice
That the Swords are awesome isn't something I need to explain. I used this one over the others because of its Protection colors though. Put on Animar, he has Protection from everything but Green... and Green isn't exactly stacked on kill spells.
 
Helm of Kaldra, Shield of Kaldra, Sword of Kaldra
While the combo will basically never go off in this deck-- if you have that many cards in your hand you should have already won-- each of them have value individually. The Helm gives Haste, First Strike, and Trample, which makes it useful unless you've got Anger and Brawn in the grave and your only creature is Savageborn. The Shield exists for Animar, making him Indestructible to keep him around. And the Sword exists to turn whatever creature needs to double in size into a monstrous killing machine.
 
However, I'm not entirely sold on them. There's a niggling part of my mind telling me I'd do better running Sword of Vengeance, Darksteel Plate, and whatever third piece of equipment seems handy-- Batterskull, Nim Deathmantle, Sword of Light and Shadow, whatever. The Plate is cheaper to cast and equip than the Shield, and Vengeance is more expensive to equip but also grants a stat boost and Vigilance. The Sword of Kaldra, while useful if I can spare the mana for it, is expensive enough that I don't always find it worthwhile.
 
And yet, every time I'm tempted to pull them, the Helm being that point cheaper saves me, or I find the mana to cast the Sword and it runs everybody over. So I'm on the fence about them.
 
Cultivate, Kodama's Reach
When in doubt, ramp.
 
Fires of Yavimaya
My third piece of boardwide haste, the Fires is the one I like the least. So often when I have it I also have one of the other two, so it just sits there as a pocket Giant Growth. Which, in fairness, isn't bad, but it's not exactly awesome for three mana.
 
On the flip side, of course, if I don't have Anger or Wanderer, boardwide haste is awesome.
 
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
I'm actually proxying him right now because he's not exactly cheap. While I could shell out for him if I really wanted to, I'm wondering if he's worth it, or if you think I could do just as well replacing him with another card that's on my maybe-list. Or something that's not on my maybe-list even.
 
Soul's Majesty
This card can draw a lot of cards for its cost. Six cards for five mana is not unreasonable, and on the high end-- paired with an Eldrazi or a big Hydra or some such-- it can quickly turn into "draw all the cards you need to win".
 
Red Sun's Zenith
Being reusable is occasionally funny, but the big draw of this over Banefire or Comet Storm is the exiling aspect. Recursion can be a big deal in Commander, and that Jund deck I play loves it, so spot-banishing a threat is handy.
 
Mind Spring
The card lets me draw as many cards as I might need. For a while I was playing with Blue Sun's Zenith instead, but the reusability wasn't anywhere near worth the extra price tag.
 
Lands:
 
The Land base isn't overly complicated. Most of them are dual lands, to help get Animar out and then give him the support he needs to go to work. I don't have all of this color combination's duals, but I have most of them. Six of each basic land is enough, I've found, to pretty consistently put Brawn/Anger/Wonder online, and provides plenty of fodder for the three land-searchers I run. Reliquary Tower helps when I have a huge hand, since my only other no-maximum-hand-size card is Jin-Gitaxias. The two lands that can feed counters can support Animar, Fathom Mage, a Hydra, or whatever else you happen to have on the board. Kamigawa Legendary Lands are sort of a why-not, since they're strictly better than the basics and have abilities that are funny when the opponent forgets they exist.
 
Honorable Mentions:
 
Cards that I didn't include but looked at hard, and might run if I can make room.
 
Beastmaster Ascension: +5+5 to my entire board is something that doesn't need a lot of justification, I would hope. The big problem I have with it is that it takes a few turns after I cast it to have any real effect, unless I drop it right before an alpha strike. And if I'm ready to alpha strike, do I really need the Ascension?
 
Rhystic Study: More draw, or fewer cards on the board for my opponent. I like both, but I'm looking at issues of space and speed. The Study -has- to come down early game to make a difference, or there's usually enough mana floating around for the opponent to be able to afford the extra 1.
 
Defense of the Heart: I like that it encourages my opponent not to play creatures or risk handing me a pair of Eldrazi for four mana. In fact I really like that. However, finding room is hard.
 
Doubling Season: Doubling Season has beautiful interactions with a handful of cards-- Animar, Jugan, Vigor, Fathom Mage, Mimic, Utvara, and the Hydras all love it. However, while I should pretty consistently have Animar on board, the rest is only eight creatures of thirty-five, which aren't odds good enough for me to be sure I should commit to the card. That's solvable-- I'd just need to run more counter-creatures, and I am in the colors of Gruul and Simic-- but I haven't been able to really make room for those creatures yet.
 
Primeval Bounty: The land effect is mreh, and the six-mana price tag is hard to justify, but it does provide blockers and counters for your board.
 
Asceticism: Boardwide Hexproof is awesome. The price tag bites, of course, but that plus Regeneration has some potential. I haven't slotted it in yet because I don't usually have the ability to keep enough mana untapped to play safe in case of a board wipe, which is what scares me the most.
 
Vandalblast: I lack any real way to blow up enemy artifacts. This is a good, flexible killer of artifacts that can kill a single artifact or sweep the board. There are, of course, other artifact-killers I could look at, but none of them have jumped out at me yet as being better than Vandalblast.
 
Aftershock: Three life isn't much in a forty-life format, and the flexibility is cool. But I'm worried that it won't do enough in the late game to make a difference.
 
Mycosynth Lattice: Notable primarily for its absolutely hilarious interaction with Animar (take away the colored aspect and you can start casting a lot of creatures for free), the card has the potential to be really funny. But I'm not sure "potential to be really funny" translates to "effective card in the deck.
 
Garruk: Garruk is awesome, both as a character and as a card. I'm highly tempted to run one, but my big question is which one. Relentless doesn't appeal to me in this deck, but the other three all do. Wildspeaker lets me ramp harder and gives me a boost for a game push, Primal Hunter lets me draw more cards and provides fodder, and Caller of Beasts is expensive but pretty much ensures I don't run out of creatures. Of them I'm leaning toward Caller, but that might be because he's still shiny and new.
 
Enchantment-Killing: I have none. At all. Fortunately my opponents don't run many threatening enchantments, aside from Deadbridge Chant, but I'm still not sure I wouldn't do better to be prepared.
 
Counterspells: The obvious answer to protect Animar, but I'm having trouble making room and if I leave UU untapped in this deck it's telegraphing "I have a counterspell" to the world at large.
 
Ramp: More ramp is basically always welcome, I just have trouble finding the space.
 
Eternal Witness: 1GG isn't the price tag I want to see in Animar's deck, but the easy retrieval of, well, whatever I want is cool. I'd use her over Regrowth due to the addition of a counter and the fact that they're typically the same price, but I'm not sure what to cut for her-- if I even should.
 
Lorescale Coatl: A dinky little snake, but one that can get big amusingly fast. I like the potential of it as an early-game investment, but unless I draw it right before dropping a big draw spell or in the middle of a Soul-fed creature binge, I feel like it'd probably fall off in the mid-to-late game for being too slow.
 
Phyrexian Metamorph: A super-Clone that can come in for free with Animar and two life is cool, but it's hard for me to find room for it.
 
Chameleon Colossus: He has potential as a mana-sink, he can play Dragon to work with Utvara Hellkite, and 4/4 for 4 isn't bad. The abilities are also nice-- but I'm still not a huge fan of creatures whose costs I can only cut in half, and it can be hard to find that extra mana if I'm not planning around it.
 
Kalonian Hydra: This is more of a "I am going to pick up this card" than it is a "maybe I should look at this thing", because Kalonian is just too perfect for the deck. Come down for 2-5 mana, swing for eight, double the size of my Animar, and instantly attract the attention of every kill spell on the board. This appeals to me greatly. However, I'm not sure what to cut.
 
Zhur-Taa Ancient: A huge body is cool at five mana, and doubling my mana base can lead into some really, really nice options. But I'm not sure how I feel about doubling the opponent's mana base too.
 
Acidic Slime: Killing an artifact, enchantment, or land that needs killing is handy, but the body on him is kind of dinky-- though the Deathtouch certainly helps there.
Rampaging Baloths/Baloth Woodcrasher: Good midrange creatures that can remain threatening in the later game thanks to their Landfall abilities. My biggest issue is that compared to some of my other six-drop options they seem to suffer. Woodcrasher in particular isn't worth his price tag if I can't pull off the Landfall every turn.
 
Hellkite Tyrant: The win condition will probably never go off--barring Mycosynth Lattice shenanigans-- but stealing the other guy's artifacts is an amusing alternative to just blowing them up.
 
Hoard-Smelter Dragon: I'd probably go for the Tyrant over the Smelter if I was going to pick an artifact-killing Dragon, but the Smelter can pick up a power boost to kill more things as he does, which is potentially useful.
 
Flameblast Dragon: Effectively more creature-killing. Mostly I'm looking at him as an alternative to Inferno Titan, but while the Flameblast can use his ability to kill creatures of any size, it also costs mana. Mana that I usually can't spare.
 
Dragon Mage: In theory, I like reloading my hand. In practice, my hands occasionally get gigantic and I'm not sure that I'd want to throw that away. I'm also not sure that I like the idea of reloading the other guy's hand.
 
Windreader Sphinx: I like its potential to draw more cards than I could every possibly use when paired with a dead Wonder, and the fact that it doesn't have to be -your- creatures is kind of cool. But the seven-mana price tag for something without a lot of oomph behind him is... hard to justify.
 
Garruk's Horde: I ran this for a while before turning to Soul of the Harvest. There was nothing wrong with the Horde-- it was a solid card all things considered-- but being dead an average of two turns out of three turned me off to it. Still, with the right creatures to provide draw-- Soul himself or Fathom Mage mostly-- he could be viable.
 
Giant Adephage: As a giant bug that makes more giant bugs, the card is absolutely hilarious. However, there are a lot of good creatures in the six and seven drop slots that I'm looking at, and I'm not sure that Adephage quite makes the cut.
 
Sylvan Primordial: Like Acidic Slime, he can kill off whatever needs killing when he hits the board. He's slightly more flexible than the Slime, has a much better body, and gives you a bit of ramp, which all looks pretty cool to me. The extra two mana is less cool, but if I was going to pick between the two I'd probably use Primordial.
 
Liege of the Tangle: Tangle has potential. He's an 8/8 with Trample for 8, and if he hits home once he gives you a lot more 8/8s. However, while he's a game-ender if he works right, I'm leery because he makes me even more vulnerable to a board wipe than I already am. Opening up my lands to being killed by a lot more removal seems like a pretty risky move.
Woodfall Primus: A mere 6/6 for 8 is weak, even with trample. But the same flexibility of Primordial paired with Persist to do it again makes him a tempting asset. Both Primus and Primordial have a lot of potential to ruin the other guy's day, but I'm not sure who'd ruin it more.
 
Inkwell Leviathan: A potential replacement for Lorthos more than anything else, Inkwell's almost as big offensively and even tougher to kill, on top of having a trio of useful abilities. He can do Lorthos' first job much better, but I lose out on the ability to do the second job.
 
Stormtide Leviathan: Mostly I'm looking at this card for the potential to utterly shut down my buddy's Jund deck, which is almost completely ground-based. Wonder makes it a totally one-sided effect, but I'm leery about depending on Wonder.
 
Vastwood Hydra: Jugan, in Hydra form. I really like the look of Vastwood and wouldn't mind picking one up at all, I'm just not sure I should add more X-dependent creatures and I'm not sure if he's better than the Hydras I have now.
 
My Thoughts:
What I'm inclined to do is drop Jugan for Vastwood Hydra and Mind Spring for another card that can draw-- either Windreader or Rhystic Study, probably. That keeps my X levels the same for Maelstrom Wanderer to play with while cutting down on my creatures with heavy colored costs. Garruk can be slotted in over my Jace proxy, if you don't have a more useful suggestion for me there. Then I'd like to find room for Kalonian Hydra, but nothing is jumping out as being an easy drop. Some way to target Enchantments-- maybe in creature form, maybe not-- would be nice as well. The other creatures are mostly just other things to consider as replacements if you think one card or another isn't particularly viable. But before I overhauled something that I know works, I wanted to get your opinion on it.
So, what do you think?
~Tyler~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Before I say anything else, I should say that you've already put so much work into this deck that you could easily ignore all my advice and still have a solid deck. Commander is just about the least competitive format there is, so there really isn't much to tweak. This article is going to be more of a "how would I build it?" article than a "this needs fixing" article.

That said, if you take only one piece of advice from me, take this one: add Prophet of Kruphix. Animar is all about casting creatures, and you have expressed a bit of mana tightness when it comes to casting them all. Not only does the Prophet get extra duty out of all your lands, she also makes creature spells into combat tricks, lets you pump Animar at instant speed if you have a creature, and lets you attack attack attack and still have everybody available to block.

One of the biggest weaknesses of an Animar-based deck is the danger of running out of creatures to cast. You seem to have already addressed that issue with your card draw spells, but ideally you also want a high percentage of your spells to be creatures. You said you wanted more card draw to replace Mind Spring? I would recommend that the replacement should either focus on getting you a creature card, like Tracker's Instincts or Commune with Nature, or it should be a creature itself, like Masked Admirers. The Admirers also have the advantage in that their recursion ability triggers off the same thing as Animar's ability, so you'll never forget about it.

There's also the problem of recovering from board-clearing effects. When your whole strategy is to unload a hand full of creatures, Day of Judgment and Life's Finale really ruin your day, and Animar's protection won't help him. The easiest way to recover from this is also a good way to safeguard yourself from running out of creatures: recursion. Blue mostly just shuffles its graveyard into its deck-- that doesn't really help. Green is a bit more capable here, as it can return creature cards to its hand for recasting. Deadwood Treefolk would be a good choice for you: mostly colorless cost, and is a creature itself while it retrieves two other creatures for you. What you'd really want to make room for, however, is a few of Red's choice Phoenixes. Firewing Phoenix and Magma Phoenix are both good options from Core Sets, and Magma even has a built-in mini-sweeper to help clear the chaff. Skaargan Firebird is also a very nice choice. It can be as big as Keiga or Jugan, and it can "be reborn" when any opponent is damaged by anything, even another opponent. You did express interest in multiplayer, yes?

You also wanted to hear about ways to deal with artifacts and enchantments. In keeping with the theme of "put it on a creature", my first recommendation would be Trygon Predator. This classic has been a solid go-to for green and blue deck looking for answers that won't be dead in your hand ever since its printing. It's a decently-sized flying beater that can get several offending artifacts or enchantments over the turns. But you said you want to keep your creatures' casting costs, mostly colorless, and Trygon has a one-to-two ration of colorless mana to colored, so I doubt you'll run it. Polis Crusher has a better ratio and a more formidable body in combat, but can't hit artifacts... or enchantments, until it becomes monstrous. Ideally, you want targeting flexibility. Cards like Terastrodon or Mold Shambler would be the best at that, as "noncreature permanent" means artifact, enchantment, or land, or PLANESWALKER.

And since I've mentioned Mold Shambler, I also want to bring Kicker and Multikicker to your attention. An Animar deck wants to do two things in a certain order. First it wants to drop Animar as the first in a quick volley of cheap creatures to get Animar's stats up. Then it wants to exploit the cost-reducing ability to sneak out larger creatures to "mop up". Creatures with kicker can perform both of these roles, and since cost-reducing abilities can be applied to additional mana costs like kicker, a cheap kicker creature with a mostly-colorless kicker cost can be valuable at any stage of the game. A card like Llanowar Elite or Tempest Owl wouldn't normally be all that interesting, but for you they could be. Aether Figment could be an unblockable 3/3 for U, and you could supplement your card drawing suite with Sphinx of Lost Truths and even Citanul Woodreader. I also can't bring myself to not mention Cetavolver, because how often do I get to talk about Cetavolver? The Multikicker cards aren't quite as good for you, since their colorless ratio doesn't improve with more kicks and the best ones aren't creatures, but pouring all your blue mana into a giant Enclave Elite could be funny. Maybe. Is your opponent playing blue?

You've already covered most of what I'd run here, but there is just one more card I'd like to mention before I wrap up. You've already expressed an interest in Infect, so perhaps Viral Drake could do good work for you. The 1/4 body isn't impressive, but in Commander a 1/4 Infect is like a 4/4, and Proliferate will also boost Animar's counters.

What to pull for all this? For starters, I'm not convinced you need all that artifact mana, especially in a deck with 40 lands. Worn Powerstone can go, as can the Keyrunes and Cluestones. Three mana for a simple tapper that you can never reduce with Animar isn't what your deck wants, even if the creature abilities are nice sometimes and the Cluestones can cycle. Palladium Myr is also better off as Alloy Myr instead, or even Opaline Unicorn or Scuttlemutt, since you need colored mana far more than you need colorless mana. If you still find you need more mana, try creatures like Ondu Giant or Civic Wayfinder to thin your deck as they get you what you need. Look to your non-creature spells first when picking things to pull-- Jace and Fires are good cards, but you've mentioned them under-performing. The Kaldra combo can also go-- replace the Shield with Darksteel Plate, but I'm not even convinced that the Sword and Helm justify replacing. Soul's Majesty has a lot of upside, yes, but it also has a lot of downside, and if your board is wiped it can't draw you out of the hole you're in-- it's only good if you're already in a good position.

Deciding what to cut from a Commander deck is always rough, but part of Commander is all about trying out cards you wouldn't get to try out in other formats, and getting a varied experience every time you play. If you really can't bear to cut something, I say put it in a "sideboard", so you can try a few games without it and swap it back in if you decide you miss it. Play around and see what feels right!

Good luck!

~BMoor

 

 

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Magic the Gathering Deck Fixes