Commander Deck Tech:  Ikra & Ishai, Mutate Midrange

Magic: the Gathering


Commander Deck Tech: Ikra & Ishai, Mutate Midrange

03/20/22 Comment regular icon0 comments

The proposal in this adaptive partner deck, Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker and Ikra Shidiqi, is to use mutations to develop your creatures and overcome opponents.

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Ikoria brought forth powerful monsters that represented the apex of ferocity at the pinnacle of the food chain. Since its release, it has been waiting for the moment to build a deck to use the mutation mechanic. During my recent vacation, I took the opportunity to play on

local store

and via


with the monster kings.
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Among the absolute predators, my picks were Nethroi, Apex of Death and Brokkos, Apex of Forever. Both share recursion and resilience, so I had conceptualized decks for both but couldn't define a choice, and that's when I opted for a build that will allow me to use both.



Commander 2016

we had, in addition to powerful and fun commanders, the debut of the


mechanic. The chosen duo was the one present in the

Breed Lethality

deck, which had as its main commander Atraxa, Praetors' Voice. In Blue and White combined with Black and Green we have Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker and Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper, respectively, being the chosen commanders for this deck.

The Commanders

The commanders' choice had some conditions: *The legendary creature does not have human among its types *Have some evasion ability. *Contemplate the colors Blue, White, Black and Green. Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker has the


color combination (White and Blue), has


, and lacks the human subtype, being a monk bird. Its trigger ability to receive counters each time an opponent casts a spell makes it an incredible target for mutation, as the counters remain when being modified.
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Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper features between Naga and Wizard types, her evasion is


and her static ability when generating a large amount of life is an efficient way to resume the game.
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The Deck

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Mana Base

Playing large, many-colored creatures is often a challenge, given the need to correct the curve to ensure access to all the necessary colors. One of the most efficient forms of speeding up is to play additional lands, and this is a specialty of green. Along with the use of mana dorks and mana rocks, we have cost reducers.


Color correction occurs through the use of lands that has two or more colors. The


, although most of them enter tapped, allow an efficient correction in the initial turns. The


can be replaced by some


, similarly all two-color lands can be replaced with options based on each player's pool.
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Use of utility lands has been reduced for color correction, however Alchemist's Refuge and Rogue's Passage have been retained. The evasion granted by the passage is decisive in many games. Alchemist's Refuge granting flash to nonland cards is blunt and has a huge impact on games.

Instants, Sorceries and Enchantment

Our land-based acceleration features some classic spells that make up the default green framework: Farseek, Rampant Growth, Cultivate and Kodama's Reach. Dig Up and Traverse the Ulvenwald are versatile basic land tutors, as they allow you to search for other card types. Wilderness Reclamation allows you to untap lands at the end phase, which guarantees the possibility of using all available mana during our turn and staying protected during our opponents' turn.
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Rocks and Dorks

The use of

mana dorks


mana rocks

has been reduced to favor reducers.


However, Sakura-tribe Elder was kept given its ability to search for a land, which can be reused multiple times when interacting with cards like Necropanther and Nethroi, Apex of Death. Paradise Druid having


makes it a strong candidate to mutate. In addition to Sakura-tribe Elder, other creatures put lands directly into play, such as Migratory Greathorn, Parcelbeast and Auspicious Starrix. In the artifacts category, we used Sol Ring, one of the strongest positive mana rocks in all of

Magic, The Gathering

and Arcane Signet, which, compared to other signets and medallions, is kind of unbalanced.
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One of the largest difficulties in playing with mutations is the high mana cost, similar to the bestow ability. As an alternative cost to cast creature spells, we can use cost reductions.
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Great Powers, High Costs
Pollywog Symbiote reduces the cost of mutations by 1, and each mutation grants one loot, not bad for a two mana creature. Cemetery Prowler is formidable, not only does it reduce the cost of our creatures by 1, it is usually also an efficient

graveyard hate

. Mistform Warchief is an interesting creature as it reduces the cost of creatures that shares a type with it, and its subtype can be changed using its activated ability or by mutating. Centaur Omenreader while tapped reduces the cost of creature spells by 2, whether attacking and using flash or using Archipelagore's ability, taking advantage of this creature is easy. Thryx, the Sudden Storm grants protection for our spells from being countered and reduces our creatures' costs by 1. Nylea, Keen-Eyed reduces creature spells by 1 and has an ability which gives card advantage.
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Card Advantage

Card Draw

The card advantage through draws is important not to lose gas or to maintain the cadence of the game. We use


creatures to draw cards, given the need for targets to get the most out of mutations. Stormchaser Drake and Triton Fortune Hunter interact with our mutations similarly to Season of Growth by generating draws whenever they are targeted by our spells. Cold-Eyed Selkie and Oakhame Adversary draw cards when dealing damage to opponents. Beast Whisperer generates card draw whenever we play a creature spell. Including mutations, the deck has approximately 8 forms of direct draws, an expressive number considering the other categories.
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Play from the top

Nylea, Keen-Eyed lets you reveal the top card of our library and if it's a creature, adds it to the hand, Parcelbeast reveals the top and if it's a land, puts it directly into play and if not, put that card in your hand. Rashmi, Eternities Crafter allows playing cards directly from the top of the deck when playing the first spell each turn, Auspicious Starrix directly plays X permanent cards from the top of the deck, where X is the number of times it has been mutated. Another way to generate an advantage is by using opponents' resources, for that, the creatures Souvenir Snatcher, which captures non-creature artifacts, and Mindleecher, allow you to play exiled cards from the top of your opponent's deck.
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Recursion and Tutors

Among the forms of recursion in addition to mutated creatures we have the spells Bala Ged Recovery, Malakir Rebirth and Athreos, Shroud-Veiled. The latter was added to deal with spells and abilities that threw our creatures into exile, and also as a way to gain an advantage by taking control of our opponents' creatures. Mythos of Brokkos is both a recursion and a permanent tutor. Other tutors are Dig Up, when casting with the alternate cost, and Traverse the Ulvenwald who has delusion.
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creatures have numerous interesting abilities acting as a real toolbox, I chose to classify their abilities by categories to facilitate construction:


— those that increase their power or which act as lords. Glowstone Recluse, Huntmaster Liger and Vulpikeet.
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— these are mutations that interact with the graveyard, recovering cards to hand or returning them to the battlefield. Necropanther, Boneyard Lurker, Brokkos, Apex of Forever, Nethroi, Apex of Death, Otrimi, the Ever-Playful.
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— some creatures allow you to gain advantage by mutating, drawing cards, or playing cards directly from the deck. Sea-Dasher Octopus, Migratory Greathorn, Parcelbeast, Auspicious Starrix, Dreamtail Heron.
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— creatures that generate tokens or increase resources, read hit points. Majestic Auricorn, Trumpeting Gnarr and Cubwarden.
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— those that interact directly with opponents by reducing resources and controlling the board state. Dirge Bat, Gemrazer, Insatiable Hemophage, Cavern Whisperer, Pouncing Shoreshark, Souvenir Snatcher, Chittering Harvester, Mindleecher, Sawtusk Demolisher and Archipelagore.


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Playing with the deck

The choice to play with many accelerators and cost reducers was to assure the ease that Commander presents today, more dynamic and interactive. Alchemist's Refuge and Tidal Barracuda allow incredible combat tricks by mutating our creatures during combat, interacting strongly and surprising opponents. Centaur Omenreader allows explosive turns with cards that allow additional draws when we can play our creatures at instant speed. With that in mind, our victory is based on our creatures and the interactions generated with mutations. Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker is a viable endgame option for commander damage being targeted by our mutations. Acting as finishers Auspicious Starrix and Archipelagore are our most powerful mutations, along with Nethroi, Apex of Death, creating a strong asymmetry.
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Our removals have their great strength in creatures. However, some spells were added in a complementary way. Sultai Charm has great versatility and reaches a wide spectrum of targets, artifacts, enchantments, creatures, or even by drawing cards. Another similar card is Golgari Charm, which sometimes plays the role of sweeper or protect us from most sweepers, and also removes enchantments. Mythos of Nethroi is an Abzan version of Beast Within, and Hagra Mauling is a removal that is also a land, simple and efficient.
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Expanding the protections we have Asceticism which grants hexproof to all our creatures and allows us to regenerate creatures through their activated ability, which was decisive for the enchantment selection instead of Archetype of Endurance. Sejiri Shelter is another one of Zendikar's lands, chosen for its versatility. Shalai, Voice of Plenty protects all of our creatures except herself and grants a power boost with her activated ability. Questing Beast prevents damage from our creatures from being prevented, which is great against the protection ability and against Fog.
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This build was created based on my card pool and personal preferences, so I avoided the most common builds of Nethroi, Apex of Death like the zero mana tribal, or the Brokkos, Apex of Forever with infect, which by the way, are great decks and I recommend them to anyone who likes this kind of mechanics.


Among the possible changes I suggest the use of notably powerful creatures such as Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, Uro, Titan Of Nature's Wrath and Blightsteel Colossus, or other lesser known equally interesting with Cephalid Constable, Mirri the Cursed and Essence of the Wild. The most important thing about the format is mutual fun, so be creative and dare.


The mutation mechanic covers many possibilities, whether in the colors used as sans-red that we chose in this article, or as 5 colors, or even on three and two-color combinations. Each serving a specific audience, based on their favorite shenanigans. The format has changed and evolved, being faster and with more powerful cards, in this context, the mutation ability allows you to improve your favorite creatures and generate new and fascinating combinations. Thanks for reading and good games! Any questions, I'm available in the comments!
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Eduardo Silveira

Visual Artist and Art Mediator, passionate about Magic since the launch of Mirage, alternative deck builder.

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