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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Mar 09 2011 10:53am
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Every once in a while I like to search through my collection just to see if there is interesting stuff that I have missed or could use in decks.  Sometimes I sort out the rares, or just the Black cards, whatever, but I like to be reminded of the good stuff out there.  So the other day I was searching through my collection and decided to perform a search for legendary creatures to see what I may be interested in building around.  It turned out that there were several legends that I had either never seen used as Commanders, or had only seen once.  These are the underused and unappreciated potential Commanders, and I thought I would look at them a little more closely.

These guys and gals are typically interesting, but not powerful enough to make people want build around them.  Many times they are overcosted or their abilities seem to be overly restricting.  Often they are mono-colored which limits possibilities for deck construction as well.  But if you decide to build a deck using these guys, not only would people respect you for using a Commander that is unusual or different, oftentimes you can also bring unexpected strategies as well.  And when you bring something different or unusual you bring a better chance of taking people by surprise and winning.  Let's go through and take a look at a few legends that deserve a shot at the big time, or at least additional consideration from players.

Atalya, Samite Master - Now I know what you are thinking: "Aren't there plenty of other good life gain legends out there?"   Sure, but Atalya is versatile.  She can protect a creature you control, as well as gain you life.  This is actually pretty nice, as sometimes you want to make sure that your Adarkar Valkyrie sticks around after a Hurricane.  On top of that, you can gain a ton of life in the late game.  A good legend for a mono-White control deck, as repeatable life gain is nothing to be sneezed at.

On a side note I met Rebecca Guay at Comic con a while ago, and have to say she was very nice.  She had a lot of prints for sale and I'm sad that I didn't buy one.  I'm going to have to get one this year.

Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile - Now Brigid may be short, but she has a bow that gives her extra reach.  She is a good legend to put equipment on that give her deathtouch or lifelink, and can wipe out all of an opponent's creatures in one fell swoop.  Or at least all of them that attack or block.  The best part is that they don't even have to be attacking you!  And even without equipment she is good at dealing with token swarms, or just softening up larger creatures.

She also has first strike, which is nice when you have equipment on her with an open field.

Celestial Kirin - I'm sure that I'm not the only person who has seen this card and thought about making a decking with it.  First, it is an evasive beater with stats that are decent for its casting cost.  That isn't bad at all.  However, on top of that it has a limited form of Pernicious Deed attached to it.  Although everyone knows that the Arcane cards out there aren't the best, there are still plenty of spirits available to play, even in just mono-White.  Off the top of my head there is Patron of the Kitsune, Windborn Muse and Spirit of the Hearth.  Being able to destroy stuff is awesome.

Commander Greven Il-Vec - Now, Greven was one of the original big bads in the Magic story lines.  He has a huge amount of power, being a 3 hit Commander without any sort of help.  That isn't bad at all.  Throw in the fact that he has Fear, and you got yourself a good beater.

The sacrifice that you have to make to get him into play isn't horrible at all.  Black has BloodghastReassembling Skeleton, and Nether Shadow, along with Solemn Simulacrum.

Plus, having a Commander with Commander in his name is just plain cool. 

Empress Galina - Don't you want to steal your opponents' Commanders and bash them with it?  That's fun, right?  You can also steal their legendary lands, like Academy Ruins, or their legendary artifacts, like Akroma's Memorial!  On top of that, the Empress does not have to remain tapped to keep control of the permanent.  As such, you can steal multiple Commanders and have control of them at the same time. 

The best part of her ability is that you keep control of the permanent even if the Empress dies!  So you don't have the same type of worries you would if you were playing with Sower of Temptation.  Seriously, someone give her a shot.

Eron the Relentless - Eron gets no love for some reason.  But there is something to be said for having a hasty Commander that can regenerate.  Haste is underrated on a Commander.  It means that people have to keep their defenses up, even when your Commander isn't in play.  He has a fairly high amount of power which can easily be increased with something like Gauntlet of Might.  There are also a lot of sweepers out there now that don't have the "cannot regenerate" clause in them.  I know that a lot of people just starting out are running Day of Judgment as it is more accessible.

Ertai, the Corrupted - The Esper color combination is pretty powerful already, so there has to be a way to make this guy useable.  There are plenty of ways to make creature tokens for sacrificial fodder for this guy, and there are also enchantments that return to your hand after they go to the graveyard like Spirit Loop.  Include a couple of untap effects like Thousand-Year Elixir and Puppet Strings, and you are essentially telling people that you can counter anything they play.  This drastically effects your opponents' game play decisions and can lead to interesting tensions in game play.  Include Decree of Silence to be extra mean.

Ertai, Wizard Adept - On the plus side, you don't have to sacrifice anything to counter stuff with the original Ertai.  However the mana cost to use his ability is higher and you don't get the extra support colors.  Still, having the ability to threaten a counter is something that really affects the game.  I know that people have played with Venser, Shaper Savant as their Commander, why not give this guy a shot?

Hakim, Loreweaver - Hakim has an interesting ability that just screams for someone to try and break.  Although you only have Blue enchantments available to you (and Eldrazi Conscription), there are still some good ones out there.  While most of the powerful Blue auras are theft effects, you still have Curiosity, some Totem armors and Pemmin's Aura.  I know there isn't a lot, but there should be enough to make this guy useful.

Kaho, Minamo Historian - I know that people have tried to break this card without success.  However, you can use it as a limited tutor instead of a combo piece.  Just off the top of my head, she can grab Capsize, Spin into Myth, Fact or Fiction, Cryptic Command, Evacuation and Time Stop.  If you include some stuff that can give her haste, like Lightning Greaves or Thousand-Year Elixir you won't even have to worry about losing the cards that you search up.  Plus, you don't have to search up more than one card at a time if you don't want to.  Add a bunch of mana acceleration to help with powering out some of these bigger spells.  And if you can bounce her with something like Crystal Shard you can do it all over again.

kalitas, bloodchief of ghet

Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet - All right, he admittedly costs a ton of mana and has no form of evasion.  However mono-Black never has had a problem producing gobs of mana, from Cabal Coffers to Nirkana Revenant to Doubling Cube.  So that shouldn't really be a reason to stop you from playing him.

He is an awesome form of removal and can play to a vampire tribal theme very easily.  Including a couple of the untap effects like Puppet Strings will help his viability.  Just killing the biggest thing on the board will leave you with a bunch of huge vampire tokens.  Add a Door of Destinies and possibly a Coat of Arms, and you have yourself a nice deck with a controlling Commander.

kongming, sleeping dragon

Kongming, Sleeping Dragon - I know you're thinking "why wouldn't I just play with White Crovax?"  It's because Kongming pumps all of your critters.  This means that all of your little artifact guys from your Thopter Foundry, all those little pests from your Nuisance Engine, even your Solemn Simulacrum will be pumped as well.  This may seem minor, but there are tons of ways to produce a bunch of artifact creature tokens.

Plus, his nickname is cool.  He may be sleeping, but you definitely don't want to wake him up!  Unfortunately his artwork makes him look like a benevolent old grandfather, so that's not necessarily the imagery you want, but you can't have everything I guess.

Livonya Silone - Livonya has a couple of things going for her.  First, her legendary landwalk ability will come in very handy in this environment.  People love playing with their Academy Ruins, Volrath's Strongholds and Gaea's Cradles, and having Livonya out there may make people thing twice before dropping those powerful lands.

On top of that, she has first strike, a pretty relevant combat ability.  Putting a Sword or Loxodon Warhammer on her will make her 4/4 body even more impressive.  In addition her colors lead her toward beatdown, which is perfect for what she is trying to accomplish.

Finally she comes with some cool RKF art.  I've always loved this guy's artwork, as it was one of the first things that drew me to Magic cards.  Although her artwork in particular looks a little bit washed out, you can still see her wielding a sword in each hand slicing through her adversaries.  Not bad at all.

Lovisa Coldeyes - This is a legend I can't believe that I have not played against as a Commander.  Seems that although the available barbarians and berserkers aren't all that great, there are plenty of decent warriors out there.  Giving them a boost and haste would be pretty sweet for those little guys.

I just love the art on this card.  She looks like she could kick your ass without blinking an eye.  She reminds me of a girl I dated a while back who was really into exercise and nutrition.  She played college soccer for a well known Division 1 school, and even though she was only 5 foot 5, I'm pretty sure she could have completely worked me over in just about any physical activity.  I used to tease her about having bigger guns than me (I was in pretty good shape at the time myself) and she hated that.  I have a feeling Lovisa wouldn't have even acknowledged the comment, and would have treated it as a fact that she had known all along.

lu bu, master-at-arms

Lu Bu, Master-at-Arms - So horsemanship is a mechanic that came online during MED3 with a bunch of critters from the Portal:  Three Kingdoms expansion.  Horsemanship was that sets version of flying, in that only creatures with horsemanship could block each other.  Even flyers cannot block a guy with horsemanship.  As the only set where horsemanship appeared was P3K, the mechanic is extremely rare.

Horsemanship on a Commander essentially makes the creature unblockable, and that's great in a format like ours where Commander damage halves the amount needed to take someone out.  As such, horsemanship is a criminally underused mechanic in Commander.  Combine that unblockability with haste, and you have a pretty sweet Commander in Lu Bu.  He admittedly costs a ton of mana for the amount of damage he can dish out, but that's what equipment is for.

lu meng, wu general

Lu Meng, Wu General - Another horsemanship general, but in an admittedly better color.  Even though Lu Meng is in mono-Blue, you can take extra turns with Temporal Manipulation and perform other Blue shenanigans.  Plus he costs slightly less than Lu Bu.  Unfortunately for Lu Meng, he is outclassed a little by another legend we will cover later in the article.  But that doesn't mean that he shouldn't get his chance to shine in the sun.

On a random note, my 4 year old daughter has recently expressed an interest in horse riding.  Do you guys know how expensive that is?  Holy crap, I couldn't believe the cost!  She's also interested in soccer, and I'm trying to steer her in that direction, since a horse costs more than a car.

Maraxus of Keld - First of all, just look at that guy.  I have no idea what he was like in the storyline or the books, but he just looks like a supreme ass kicker.  He wears a cool mask and is basically using what looks like a short sword for a dagger.  And he has to put some serious time in the gym.

I think that a token generating strategy would work really well with this guy.  Unfortunately to get the most out of him you cannot really do anything pre-combat, and in order to make him as large as possible you would have to only attack with him, or give all your creatures vigilance (which is tough in mono-Red).  But it would be worth it to be the one to send this guy into the red zone to smash some face.

Marton Stromgald - Another red guy that could really benefit from a token strategy, or even a fast weenie strategy.  Marton essentially gives a Coat of Arms for all your creatures when he attacks with them.  Unfortunately Marton himself doesn't get the bonus.  Therefore you would want to put stuff in your deck that either makes him unblockable or indestructible.  Dolmen Gate would be really handy as well.

In exchange, you get a Commander who makes all your little dudes HUGE.  That seems like a pretty big bonus to me.  Plus, you get the bonus points for using a cool guy with a metric butt load of text in his card.  He could go well with a mess of goblins.

I remembered where I saw this guy:  From one of Dr. Cat's old articles, found HERE.  You could always use that as a basis of a deck.  Good stuff.

Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker - Pretty much the ultimate in defensive legends, Michiko is a great way to make sure that no one bothers you for a while, at least in the early game.  She is basically a Karmic Justice variant, and that's a great thing to have on your side.  People would rather attack other opponents and keep their permanents than attack you with her out.  That gives you time to set up more offense or defense as the situation indicates.  She is fairly cheap so she should be able to come out early.  She absolutely hoses token decks as well.


Palladia-Mors - One of the original Elder Dragons that the EDH format was named after, Mr. Mors isn't bad at all.  He comes in aggressive Naya colors, flies and tramples!  All this for a measly 8 mana, with a 3 mana upkeep.  I have seen more people use Chromium than Palladia-Mors, and that's just sad.  Why not get on the horse and use one of the original bad boys as your flagship to bash face with?  I know that he would appreciate it.  After all, he is one of only 5 creatures in Magic with the printed creature type "Elder" in it, and you know you are supposed to respect those guys.

Purraj of Urborg - I originally thought that Purraj flew based upon her art, but I guess that's not correct.  Even without the flying, she still isn't bad.  First strike is always nice, but her triggered ability can make her pretty big very quickly.  If you have ever played with Sol'Kanar, you know just how often people play Black spells.  It's often enough for decks that use Green to include Compost in their decks.  Essentially growing each time you play a spell I think she could be pretty useful.  All you would need to do is figure out how to fix her left arm.

ramses overdark

Ramses Overdark - Ramses is a pretty sweet assassin.  So you can either go with an assassin theme, or you can use auras that return to your hand after they go to the graveyard for Ramses to continue his killing.  This includes cards like Fallen Ideal, Sleeper's Guile, Launch and Fool's Demise.  There are a bunch of defensive Blue auras that you can stick on opponents' creatures as well.  You can even include Crystal Chimes and other auras to make sure that you get all of them back.  Ramses is pretty sweet, and should not be taken lightly.

Sakiko, Mother of Summer - Let's say that you like to play mono-Green and like making crap tons of mana, but you are tired of using Azusa and Sasaya.  And what you really like to do is mix it up in the red zone with big beasts.  Sakiko seems like she should be worth a shot.  After combat you should have a ton of mana at your disposal.  Might as well bust out the Krosan Cloudscrapers and random Eldrazi for this deck!  Bellowing Tanglewurm seems like it would be a perfect fit for such a deck also. 

sun quan, lord of wu

Sun Quan, Lord of Wu - So there was a player a while back who was running Sun Quan, but I haven't seen him in a while and I haven't seen anyone else ever play with this guy.  But just look at him:  He basically makes your entire team unblockable!  Granted, most of the better Blue creatures usually have flying, but Sun Quan works on your artifact and colorless creatures as well.  Plus he gets the bonus himself, so strap a Strata Scythe on him and go to town!  You don't have to be all controlling, you could even try and go for a mono-Blue beatdown strategy.  That would definitely be something to see.

Taniwha - Someone just try this guy, please?  I know he's horrible, but he works great with artifact mana and Sunder.  And that's practically the only combo I can think of with him.  Someone?  Anyone?  Bueller?


So there you go:  25 legends that aren't commonly used as Commanders.  Of course, I fully expect that people will point out that the reason these legends aren't used is that there are better legends out there.  And that is probably true.  But there is something to be said for thinking outside the box, and people love seeing new and unusual Commanders. 

I also expect to hear something like "I run Hakim, and he's the bomb diggety!"  To which I have to say good for you!  And I'm sure that some of these guys have been played a lot and I just haven't run into them.  But like I said, the most I have ever seen these guys played is once, and many of them I have never seen played at all.

Heck, the very first article I ever wrote was about a deck using Zhang Fei, Fierce Warrior as its Commander.  And I don't think I have ever seen anyone use that guy either.  Despite this, I know that I often fall into the trap of going for the best or the coolest legend to use for my decks.  Hopefully now that I have done this I can start looking at different Commanders as well.  As a matter of fact, I think that I am going to use one of these legends for my next article.  If you see me around, you'll know which one I picked.

Hope you enjoyed the article.  Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com



I've got a Lovisa deck in the by Scartore at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 12:44
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I've got a Lovisa deck in the folder waiting to be played (when I'm finished with Mass Effect 2, and maybe the Witcher 2 as well).
I've run into some pretty nasty Ertai the Corrupted decks.

If you really want to be mean by Lord Erman at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 13:07
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If you really want to be mean with Ertai, the Corrupted then use him with Arcane Laboratory and Rule of Law. Bitterblossom, Nuisance Engine, Sacred Mesa and Puppet Conjurer will suplly him with sacrificial fodder and nobody can play a spell at all. Don't forget to add cards to untap him as well; Pemmin's Aura is a great card for that purpose for example (which also gives Ertai shroud and which can be fetched easily with transmute cards or Enlightened Tutor).

Not sure how casual a such deck would be though...


Nice article as usual. A few by bogtrog at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 16:14
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Nice article as usual.

A few of these guys have made it into my decks, but not been given prime billing as the commander.
Maraxus of Keld, in particular has been a stand out in my Fumiko the Lowblood deck. I think I just might have to put together a deck just for him.

Sakiko, Mother of Summer is one of those cards I am amazed I have never seen used. Seems like she could ramp like crazy.

Great stuff by MMogg at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 17:00
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So many of these cards are on my To Build list. Some I never considered and will. =D So many ideas, so little time!

Another great article! by fataardvark at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 18:16
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Another great article! Michiko I've tried, but hanging back until you've got masses of mana isn't really my style. Ertai, the corrupted I've also looked at but a counter on legs just seems far too spikey.

Commander Greven was the by ShardFenix at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 18:55
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Commander Greven was the standout for me in this article. Im not a huge fan of Mono-colored decks in Commander, but I would consider building one with him. Or kemba for that matter. Maybe a Reki deck in green. Hmmm you know, you cost me far too much money.

I may be wrong... by Elbinac at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 19:15
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I think I know who you are referring to that ran Sun Quan, Lord of Wu.
If I'm correct, she liked to run all of the horsemanship legends as commander at different times.
Even made a few articles, though I forget where they are.

Mostly see her playing classic 2hg of late.

Heh, another thing I wanted by MMogg at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 20:42
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Heh, another thing I wanted to say... by reading these articles I find how UN-clever I am. So many times I think, "wow I have a great idea I've never seen before and is sure to 'wow' everyone", and then I read about it online and realize I'm just treading a well worn path. =)

I love commanders with haste. by themonkey at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 22:10
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I love commanders with haste. I have several decks where the commander was chosen just because they have haste. It's nice to be able to get that hit in before a sweeper does them in.

Some of these would make interesting decks. Although I'm glad I don't see some of the at all. Galina and Ertai look like they wouldn't be any fun to play against.

I'd like to make a Maraxus deck, just because he reminds me of Bane all pumped up on venom.

Glad you guys liked the by Leviathan at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 23:30
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Glad you guys liked the article and got some ideas! There are plenty of options out there, and although it may seem like everything has been tried, it hasn't. People may have thought of things, but they don't always put them into action!

I can't remember the name of the person who was playing Sun Quan, but I didn't realize the player was female. Was it DarkPrincess? She used to run a PRE I think.

Haste is a great ability for getting that Commander damage through. I've been realizing this a lot more recently.

It was dark princess. I know by ShardFenix at Wed, 03/09/2011 - 23:47
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It was dark princess. I know she made a Meng Huo deck and a Xiahou DUn as well. Then a white and red one also from the Three Kingdom generals. The Meng Huo deck was beastly is i remember correctly.

"How come people prefer to by greyes3 at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 00:21
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"How come people prefer to play with better generals instead of the garbage ones? Hmm let me think ... "

I almost posted the snarky comment above, but caught your last paragraph as I skimmed over the article one last time. For including the obvious, I salute you!

Taniwha by sum1unopk at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 01:07
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Looks like the serpent is begging for some Eon Hub action ^_^

Now I'm tempted to make a by protocol_7 at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 04:08
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Now I'm tempted to make a Taniwha deck.

I was thinking of starting edh articles on my unusual decks (ixidor, coin flip, doran, Norin(not after the bug though))

Go for it! I'd love to see a by Leviathan at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 14:11
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Go for it! I'd love to see a Taniwha deck.

Yep I made a Taniwha by protocol_7 at Thu, 03/24/2011 - 03:47
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Yep I made a Taniwha deck.

The problem now is that it's doing better than expected. People tended to ban me after I Worldslayer+Taniwha the board.

The key phrase there is by Paul Leicht at Thu, 03/24/2011 - 04:15
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The key phrase there is "after I Worldslayer..." the rest is fine...people do not like being hit with Worldslayer.

I had an empress Galina deck by StealthBadger at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 05:27
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I had an empress Galina deck for a while, but she really did just get killed killed and killed again. I can understand that.
I also tried Kaho, Minamo Historian. That one was a lot more interesting. You never ever want to cast him without at least one counterspell up, but if you can keep him around as far as untapping, he's pretty neat.

One thing; I don't think you're likely to be pumping thopter foundry tokens if your general is Kongming, sleeping dragon!

Sorry, meant Thopter by Leviathan at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 12:26
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Sorry, meant Thopter Assembly.

Glad someone tried Kaho!

Aye by Elbinac at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 10:33
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Was Dark Princess, she has a new user name now.
I won't give it out though without her permission heh xD

Oh, and as for Celestial Kirin, Eternal Dragon comes to mind :)
And the newish changelings, of course, work.
I might try to toss a build together later.

Sun Quan was a fun commander, by DarkPrincess at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 10:46
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Sun Quan was a fun commander, but my favourite was Meng Huo.
I like control a lot but agro is my fav. I think I have the lists somewhere.
I started Chaos as EDH over a year ago. I took a hiatus about 8 months ago and appointed Julie as the hostess. I came back in January as Seductive_Nightmare. ,I am around a lot on both names, so if anyone needs help with commander decks I can help! :D

Heck yeah that meng huo deck by ShardFenix at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 13:21
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Heck yeah that meng huo deck was tight like i said...for some reason though people stopped playing me with it...

I think I remember that deck by Paul Leicht at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 13:57
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I think I remember that deck from awhile back. Fierce times.

I remembered you watched a by ShardFenix at Thu, 03/10/2011 - 19:15
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I remembered you watched a game i was playing in, and were just like...unfair
I know those werent the exact words, but i dont remember you being a fan of how the deck won lol, kinda like the the cycling zombies deck i had.

I was a little shocked I by Paul Leicht at Fri, 03/11/2011 - 06:56
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I was a little shocked I think.

I think I remember playing by protocol_7 at Fri, 03/11/2011 - 09:26
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I think I remember playing against that deck. I just went wow... that's one heck of a combo.

i think it was less combo and by ShardFenix at Fri, 03/11/2011 - 14:12
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i think it was less combo and more ok i gave 76 mana 24 cards and any army of 18/18 tramplers....

Yeah that's how I remember by Paul Leicht at Fri, 03/11/2011 - 14:17
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Yeah that's how I remember it. But sort of funny because someone cleared the board and you just did it again.

well thanks to the by ShardFenix at Sat, 03/12/2011 - 00:20
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well thanks to the memories...its back in almost all its glory. All i need to pick up are the Tower of Fortunes and the Rude Awakening.

One card that isn't on your by themonkey at Fri, 03/11/2011 - 08:59
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One card that isn't on your list that could very easily be included is Rasputin Dreamweaver. I really want to build a deck around him because he was one of the few Legends from Legends that I owned back in the day. I'm thinking the deck needs a lot of ways to use the extra mana that he can generate as well as blink and proliferate effects to recharge his counters.

I actually ran into 3 or 4 by Leviathan at Fri, 03/11/2011 - 17:39
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I actually ran into 3 or 4 different Rasputin pilots right before MBS came out, otherwise he would have made the list. I have put a deck together with him using everything you mention except for proliferate but I haven't had time to play it. Hopefully soon.

Dreamweaver by Elbinac at Sat, 03/12/2011 - 09:38
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I had two Rasputin builds myself.
One was an astral slide deck.
Other was an artifact ramp deck.
The ramp deck used Worldpurge as its fallback plan.

Currently working on that Celestial Kirin deck for fun.
it has some powerful interactions but has trouble setting up permanents like equipment/enchantments.
You spend a lot of time sweeping various CMC's.

For anyone else trying it out I'd like to mention that the most important cmc's to have a lot of spirits in are 2,3,5,6.
Take advantage of the lack of 0 cmc in the form of tokens and cheap artifacts.
Indestructible helps alot.