Adam_the_Mentat's picture
Mar 20 2014 11:00am

Commander Johnny-Boosh: Let's Boil Some Blood

"Why listen to the mumblings of wizards when the lash speaks true?"

In my particular vein of johnnydom, I enjoy a challenge. I play a lot of commander games, and often my wacky decks encounter a bevy of varying opposing commanders, but I've never played against Basandra, Battle Seraph. This plucky lil' $1.56 (as of article writing) angel is just the challenge I was looking for. Let's Boil Some Blood (Let's make creatures attack)!

You may be asking yourself: Self, why in the Hell's Caretaker did good ol' Boosh call this article "Let's Boil Some Blood?"

Whelp, I've done a smidgen of research and I am 90% certain that the first instance of a spell in Magic the Gathering that 'forces' a creature to attack is Boiling Blood.

I can only assume that, like a hyped up '90s ancillary X-Men character, Basandra makes creatures' blood boil and that jibbers them all up into attacking.

This deck aims to exploit both Basandra's Boiling Blood ability, and her static "hoses combat spells."

Let's Boil Some Blood
Basandra Commander Deck

1 Aurelia, the Warleader
Avacyn, Angel of Hope 
1 Mogg Maniac
1 Boros Reckoner
1 Spitemare
1 Stuffy Doll
1 Creepy Doll
1 Sunblast Angel
1 Cho-Manno, Revolutionary
1 Ryusei, the Falling Star
1 Slumbering Dragon
1 Goblin Diplomats
1 Rage Nimbus
1 Steam Catapult
1 Fumiko the Lowblood
1 Boros Battleshaper
1 Heckling Fiends
1 Deathless Angel
1 Adarkar Valkyrie
1 Tajic, Blade of the Legion
1 Konda, Lord of Eiganjo
1 Archetype of Courage
1 Archetype of Aggression
1 Masako the Humorless
1 Duplicant
1 Graven Dominator
1 Yosei, the Morning Star
1 Commander Eesha
1 Dawn Elemental
1 Guardian of the Gateless
1 Patron of the Kitsune
1 Wall of Nets
32 cards

Other Spells
1 Staff of Nin
1 Howling Mine
1 Bullwhip
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Aggravate
1 Mark For Death
1 Spear of Heliod
1 Reciprocate
1 Akroma's Memorial
1 Darksteel Plate
1 Basilisk Collar
1 True Conviction
1 Rage Reflection
1 General's Kabuto
1 Power Matrix
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Vengeance
1 Guan Yu's 1,000-Li March
1 Righteous Fury
1 Jabari's Influence
1 Sol Ring
1 Shivan Meteor
1 Banishing Stroke
1 Oblation
1 Saltblast
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Aurification
1 Pariah
1 High Ground
1 Lightning Helix
1 Warleader's Helix
31 cards

1 Maze of Ith
1 Mystifying Maze
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Vesuva
1 Shivan Gorge
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Battlefield Forge
1 Command Tower
1 Plateau
1 Temple of Triumph
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
1 Boros Guildgate
1 Strip Mine
1 Rogue's Passage
1 City of Brass
1 Kher Keep
1 Hammerheim
Slayers' Stronghold 
9 Mountain
8 Plains
36 cards

1 Basandra, Battle Seraph
1 card

  • It would have been great if I could have aligned the theme so that I could have included Caltrops and Powerstone Minefield to some useful Johnny end. Like If I really focused on Stuffy Doll and the other three (see below) and more ways of giving vigilance to 'em. I also could not include Angel's Trumpet, one of my favorite, weird, barely playable cards I love to play.
  • I wanted to include more tricks that gave me extra combats like Relentless Assault and World at War, but I did not have enough room in the deck.
  • While researching cards for this deck, I came across a KICKBUTT COMBO I now want to share with you. Here's an infino-loop: Repercussion, and a Pariah-enchanted Stuffy Doll. This did not make the cut.
  • In order to maximize and offset Basandra's "No Combat Spells EVER, KAY?!?!?" static ability, I wished I could have included more white control elements like Grand Abolisher, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Curse of Exhaustion, etc...
  • I was hoping to play around with all aspects of combat, so I wished I could have included Grappling Hook and other Provoke-like things, like, um, Provoke creatures.
  • Worship did not make the cut.
  • Righteous Cause did not make the cut.
  • Although I do have regrets, I DO NOT regret the final build. Let me explain why piece by piece:



Avacyn, Angel of Hope - Basandra's first Angel BFF is Avacyn. When you are forcing your opponents' creatures to attack you, you can't go wrong with a field full of indestructible creatures to block with.
Aurelia, the Warleader - I LOVE the dichotomy betwixt Aurelia and Basandra. Basandra hoses combat spells, and, by forcing creatures to attack, leaves your opponent without many blocking resources (unless the blackguard has creatures with Vigilance). Since Aurelia's triggered ability is not a combat spell and most likely she'll smack the opponent, you'll score some extra combat steps.
Mogg Maniac - The first of a quaternary of creatures who take damage while simultaneously laserbeaming that damage to another player. These creatures are amazing blockers in this deck, but all except Stuffy will eventually die from such chicanery. That's why Avacyn, Elspeth's ultimate, General's Kabuto, and Darksteel Plate are vital inclusions alongside the quaternary.
Boros Reckoner, Spitemare - These two could also redirect their damage to creatures, if need arises. Minotaur-pants can also activate some First Strike, which is also useful if you want to hose a toughness 3 or less creature you forced to attack without losing the Boros in the process.
Stuffy Doll - I have an unadulterated vehement love for this Magic card. Any and all decks that remotely show a smackeral of synergy with this card get an inclusion. Stuffy is PERFECT in this deck. Force your opponent's Hydra Omnivore to attack and then block with Stuffy. Stuffy also really loves Archetype of Aggression in this deck, as it turns a Worldspine Wurm into 15 damage to your opponent's dome if you block with Stuffy after Basandra forces it to attack. Of course, there are more than a few other cards in this deck would combotize with Stuffy, but more on that later.
Creepy Doll - Stuffy's younger cousin who Stuffy buys beer for during Construct reunions. Force a creature to attack, block with Creepy, and you have a 50% chance of murderizing the attacker.
Sunblast Angel - The thought process here is, you force a bunch of creatures to attack, and even if you can't hose them with your blockers of choice, you can cast the Sunblast Angel on your turn and remove the threats that way. In the noncreature spells section, I have a couple of spells that do the same as this angel. I chose not to include the staple wrath spells such as, um, Wrath of God in order to maximize the synergy with Basandra's ability.
Cho-Manno, Revolutionary - Another great blocker for the deck.
Ryusei, the Falling Star - I chose to include Ryusei for a couple of reasons. It is another wrath effect, for creatures toughness 5 and below. If it's out, you can force a monster creature to attack and can block with Ryusei, easily killing it to get the 5 damage effect. If your quaternary of damaging-creatures-damages-others is out, that'll reflect five damage per creature to your opponent's dome. If you have out Akroma's Memorial, your creatures won't be affected by the damage and instead you just hose a lot of your opponent's creatures. If Basandra has been put on the bottom of your library, it's still an imposing force that may make opponents reconsider decisions to attack.
Slumbering Dragon - I thought this was a fun include. Every time you force an attack, the dragons counters build and eventually you'll have an 8/8 dragon monster swooping through the skies, and even after you gain 5 counters so it can attack or block, it still grows by counters every time you force an attack.
Goblin Diplomats - Sometimes, your commander gets hosed in a way that does not allow you to bring it readily back. To offset this, I included several creatures that 'boil blood' as well. Additionally, sometimes instead of paying a bunch of red mana, it's easier to tap one goblin to garner a bunch of attacks. Further, can you say chump-block?
Rage Nimbus - while more expensive than Basandra, it's another backup plan and a nice blocking wall.
Steam Catapult - I have a soft spot in my heart for this forgotten Starter/Portal card, which is a more expensive, higher power/toughness, slightly more limited Royal Assassin. In this deck, force a creature to attack, block it with whatever, and, if it lives, just tap Steamy over here and hose it that way.
Fumiko the Lowblood - Fumiko doesn't even need to tap. Her 'boil blood' is static!
Boros Battleshaper - This minotaur's Electrokinetic Haemopyrokinesis/Sanguine Combustion abilities extend to blocking, but are not specifically focused. In other words, you can't pick who attacks or who blocks, only that one of each must.
Heckling Fiends - the last of our boiling blood backups, these devils can do Basandra's duties if she is hosed, or, at very least can become a Scathe Zombies chump blocker.
Deathless Angel - This angel friend is great because, for 2 white mana at instant speed, she can make others indestructible which is quite helpful indeed for the strategy of this commander choice.
Adarkar Valkyrie  - The Valkyrie is great for numerous reasons. If you chump-block, and your hecklin' devils die, tap her and no harm, no foul. If you have your 8/8 indestructible Avacyn on the board and you force your opponent's Solemn Simulacrum to attack, block it and tap the Valkyrie to add it to your field. If you force a creature to attack, don't chose to block, absorb the damage and then activate Spear of Heliod, the Valkyrie is a great follow up. Likewise for Vengeance or anything of that nature.
Tajic, Blade of the Legion  - He's indestructible, which makes him a great blocker and if you attack with him and his Battalion goes off, he's a beefy creature to worry about.
Konda, Lord of Eiganjo  - Another indestructible, his Bushido ability is another great combat trick that doesn't require spells.
Archetype of Courage & Archetype of Aggression  - apologies for lumping these together, but First Strike and Trample are two abilities you do not want on creatures you are forcing to attack you, so these two are EPIC in this deck. Additionally, since you are forcing attacks and tapping opponent resources in the process, making sure all of your attackers have Trample and First Strike is also epic.
Masako the Humorless  - Due to Basandra's no combat spells clause, you can't utilize her Flash. She's still a creature that is a fun combat trick, and there's nothing stopping you from attacking on your turn and then casting her after combat. Less tricky, I know, but still fun to tap out on creatures and then slap her down and be prepared to force creatures to attack and have viable blocking options.
Duplicant  - Duplicant is a commander staple. Exiling a threat is always the correct thing to do.
Graven Dominator - Ok, let me break this down. The dominator is a fun one-off Humility that excludes the dominator. Popping it out will allow you to force your opponents' now 1/1 creatures to attack, and you have one 4/4 to kill a vital creature or you can trade off creature for creature-- 1/1s clashing with 1/1s on the 'field. However, adding a Spear of Heliod on your side make this a complete unfair advantage-- that, or having all your creatures either have First Strike, Double Strike, or Indestructibility.
Yosei, the Morning Star  - Fun to block a bigger creature and then let it die, so you can tap down 5 vital things on your opponent's side.
Commander Eesha - Pro: Creatures! What a great blocker!
Dawn Elemental - Much like Cho-Manno, a great creature to have when you are blocking a lot of creatures.
Wall of Nets - What a fun blocker for this deck!
Guardian of the Gateless - This thing is fun when coupled with some other cards in this deck. With Graven Dominator, its additional +1/+1s it gains as bonuses would yield a lot of death to opposing creatures it blocks. With Basilisk Collar, death touch fun comes into play. With Darksteel Plate or Avacyn or what-have-you, it can block everything every turn leaving all your other creatures able to attack.
Patron of the Kitsune - Originally, I had Righteous Cause in this deck, but I felt a 4/6 body to block threats with for one additional mana was way better.

Other Spells:

Staff of Nin - Card drawing, plus it hoses 1/1s (Synergy, thy name is Graven Dominator).
Howling Mine - Solely for card draw purposes; Red and White are lacking in card drawing options.
Bullwhip  - Another 'boil blood' alternative, it also can do a point of damage when the need arises.
Sword of Feast and Famine - I chose only to include this sword, of the five available. I did so for a particular reason: Outside of green chicanery, it is the only spell that'll untap all your lands. The way I see it, you cast your various main phase spells, equip the sword to something you know will hit your opponent, and then untap so as have mana available to force attacks.
Aggravate - This is another failsafe that incites all your opponent's creatures to attack at once. This card exceptionally pairs with Graven Dominator.
Mark For Death - I included this card over other because it will throw your opponent for a loop. Here you are all game forcing creatures to attack, and then you whip out a spell that makes a creature block.
Spear of Heliod  - Giving your creatures +1/+1 is only secondary to the ability to destroy a creature you forced to attack, and then you just took the damage.
Reciprocate - You may decide you want Excoriate instead of Reciprocate, but either one works well in this deck. 
Akroma's Memorial - The flying, vigilance, first strike, haste and trample this gives your guys allows them to block most anything, and swoop-smash through most blockers. The pro: red & black it gives is somewhat controversial. On one hand, having pro: red would save all your creatures from the ill-effects of a Ryusei or Blasphemous Act, but it would also make it so you could not reap damage from those spells when they hit the quaternary.
Darksteel Plate - Again, so many creatures are yearning for indestructibility.
Basilisk Collar  - Lifelink and Death Touch are great additions to combat tricks.
True Conviction  - Lifelink is awesome, but in a combat heavy deck, Double Strike is even better.
Rage Reflection  - Universal Double Strike.
General's Kabuto  - The best combat related equipment, it makes an excellent blocker or attacker out of a creature.
Power Matrix  - a mini version, of sorts, of Akroma's Memorial. Sometimes your opponent has a 20/20 flying Marit Lage token, and you want to make your Boros Reckoner have flying so he can block it.
Blasphemous Act - The red Wrath of God, if it hits your quaternary it's fun on the bun.
Vengeance  - Great alongside Adarkar Valkyrie as an after effect for a forced attack,
Guan Yu's 1,000-Li March & Righteous Fury - See the entry for Sunblast Angel.
Jabari's Influence - This is a great, underused spell that is perfect for this deck. Perfect!, I say!
Sol Ring- Mana Utility.
Shivan Meteor  - 13 damage hoses most creatures, but put it on the right creature, like Spitemare, and fun, fun, fun.
Banishing Stroke - Commander hoser, utility spell.
Oblation - Commander hoser, utility spell.
Saltblast - Utility spell.
Elspeth, Knight-Errant  - Token production for chump blocks,
Aurification  - Love this card. It fits great in this deck.
Pariah  - Great card, it fits so well in this deck. Put it on Stuffy or the quaternary, or put it on Cho-Manno, or Dawny, or Eesha... or an indestructible card, so many options.
High Ground  - Only thing better 'n' blocking one creature with Stuffy Doll is blocking two.
Lightning Helix - Utility spell.
Warleader's Helix - Utility spell.


Lands of note in this deck: Mystifying Maze, Maze of Ith, Slayers' Stronghold, Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and Rogue's Passage which all provide combat tricks, but are not combat spells.

Game Play:

Disclaimer: So in previous articles, occasionally commenters will ask how the deck plays out in games. Now I will preface this by saying I have worked for IT departments, Computer Repair shops, programmed PHP for Xerox for a small time and have created numerous webpages and web graphics for a multimillion dollar marketing company in NYC so believe me when I say, of computers, I haz skillz. This did not prevent me from somehow unwittingly infecting my machine with several viruses when I attempted to install what I was sure was legitimate screen capture software. Needless to say, after days of undoing that nonsense, I still have no way of recording game playbacks for these articles. For now, you must trust I am not lying nor embellishing when I give you some match up break downs.

Example 1: Vs. Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker:

The very first trial of this deck in 1v1 Commander went up against a black and blue mill deck. I drew Plains, Plains, Thespian's Stage, Bullwhip, Eesha, Howling Mine, Cho-Manno. He went first, but nothing happened until second turn when he cast Glimpse the Unthinkable and I cast Howling Mine, respectively. I drew into a temple and a Pariah, he cast Mind Funeral and I was pretty much getting the full brunt of mill action. I drew into the Sword of Feast and Famine, and a High Ground. I cast Eesha, He cast original Jace. I cast the sword and equipped it, and killed his OG jace-rock. I drew into Rage Reflection and Mountain. I dropped the Rage Reflection. Suddenly, the discard aspect, though mean, of the sword became pretty awful and game-tipping. I untapped my mana and cast Basandra. He cast Mirko on his turn. I put Pariah on Eesha, He told me after the game that all of the removal in his hand was black, and the sword was his undoing. I never got to utilize Basandra, but he conceded in the face of an unstoppable discard double strike machine.

Example 2: Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

This did not go so well as this deck was all about attacking, it didn't need me to tell it to do so. What's worse, the infect counters totally nullified indestructible Boros Reckoner and all that chicanery. I did manage to Shivan Meteor his Skeleton Dragon of horror the first time he plopped it out, but with his constant stream of removal, Necropotence, monoblack infect creatures and smatterings of discard I really couldn't keep up. He eventually recast Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, and put out a Whispersilk Cloak. I knew I had no chance, and thanked him for the game.

Example 3: Maelstrom Wanderer

The Wanderer is also about attacking, or that's usually a component since it grants haste and often plops out other big creatures. Luckily, I drew my Sol Ring during the initial 7 and was pretty stacked for mana, and had the Lightning Helix. Turn one I dropped the ring, he dropped a mana elf. This game went on for a long time so I am trying to sum up, I am sorry if it lacks some details of turns. Somewhere along the line, I put out a Thespian's Stage and copied the common-ravnica-block-bounce-land Gruul Turf. I got out my Basandra and managed to equip her with a Darksteel Plate. I managed to get out both the archetype that hosed trample and a Mogg Maniac, which I promptly switched the plate to. When he cast his wanderer, I was lucky that it only hit a Ponder and a Bribery, and was also extremely lucky I had Avacyn in my hand. He chose, predictably, a Duplicant and took out the Mogg, and attacked, and I just ate it. Slowly, I built up my mana and forces, and finally dropped the Avacyn. This stalled the game except that I attacked with an 8/8 every turn and for a few turns got away with it. He eventually cast Spin Into Myth on Avacyn, but I had out a Stuffy Doll by then and began forcing his wanderer to attack, and blocking with Stuffy-- truly a johnny (who loves stuffy) dream come true. After successfully being suckered into using a stuffed doll to slap 7 damage at himself by Basandra, and having a low life total because of Avacyn stabs, he conceded.

Example 4: Gaddock Teeg

I have my own Gaddock deck, so I surmised some of the things I'd be in store for. I knew in my own Gaddock deck I focused on white and green weenies, and also focused on giving my Gaddock hexproof or shroud. This opponent had a similar idea about the shroud, and put out a Lightning Greaves on turn two, and then Gaddock on turn three with an equip. I drew into an Oblation, but saved it for the right moment. After I got my Basandra out, the next time I had mana available during my opponent's turn I Oblationed the greaves and forced Gaddock to attack, which I blocked with my Basandra killing him. My Basandra deck played out beautifully as I plopped out both Spitemare and Boros Reckoner, and managed to force a lot of weenies into attacking and doing reflected damage to my opponent. He/she did not give up though, and continued to play. Eventually, though, I put out a Deathless Angel with a lot of white mana available since Basandra only requires red to activate, and my reckoner was made indestructible every turn. My opponent also had very little flying, so the angel herself did a fair amount of damage. When I Warleader's Helixed his/her Gaddock sending it to the Command Zone for the fourth time, a few moments later my opponent said they had to concede, as they really had no answer to stop my board presence.

Example 5: Krenko, Mob Boss

Every time I encounter Krenko, unless I am playing a crap-ton of removal, I just sort of hunker down and wait for death, seeing what potshots I can squeeze in before the inevitable. This time was little difference. Literally, my opponent's first turn was Mountain, Sol Ring, Ruby Medallion. My first turn was a tapped temple allowing me to scry. His second turn was infuriating as he played Krenko, and a Pithing Needle calling Basandra. I mean, you can see where this is going. I could continue the play by play but I got to cast virtually nothing before an army of goblins were feeding on my face.

So, I did five trials immediately after making the deck as it appears above. I won three out of five matches, which is not too shabby but in no way purports to suggest this deck will win more than it loses. However, it was very fun making my opponents attack with creatures they did not plan to. I could see some edits in the deck to allow for some more mana ramp, which may make the deck get rolling quicker.

As I said in my regrets section, there was so much more I wanted to do with this deck but wound up cutting. I think I did a fairly good job of portraying a lot of Magic's combat tricks in a deck where those tricks all have to be abilities to be played during combat, or need to affect things post combat (like Jabari's Influence).

I tried to keep this deck from exploding in price. I am conscious of the fact that a year ago I was writing about budgeting your builds as I had only a fair-to-midland card collection, and try to remember that now that I have a way better, way more expensive collection. The most expensive cards in the deck are most assuredly the feastyfamine sword and Avacyn. I was lucky enough to purchase Avacyn when she hit a $4-and-change price point and understand she is out of many folks' budgets. I would say, though, that the knowledge I have of playing with her would make me currently drop a big sum on her, so I suppose you could say she has Boosh's seal of approval.

I hope you enjoyed my combat-crazy deck, and quite possibly used it as a basis for your own madcap johnny insanity!

(Adam E. Clayton)
adam_the_mentat -
atomicboosh - MTGO client