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,
Animar, Soul of Elements
Keiga, the Tide Star
Soul of the Harvest
Jugan, the Rising Star
Intet, the Dreamer
Prime Speaker Zegana
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Lorthos, the Tidemaker
Jin-Gitaxias, the Core Augur
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Time of Need
Sword of Fire and Ice
Helm of Kaldra
Fires of Yavimaya
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Shield of Kaldra
Sword of Kaldra
Red Sun's Zenith
Maze of Ith
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Okina, Temple to Grandfathers
Minamo, School at Water's Edge
Commander, Deck Philosophy, and Alternate
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Primordial Hydra, Apocalypse 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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
So, what do you think?
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,
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
And since I've mentioned Mold Shambler,
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
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!
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