Before becoming a Phyrexian, Atraxa was an angel who fought praetors and corruption. Unfortunately for her and the Mirrans (and luckily for us), she ended up being captured while facilitating a Mirrodian escape from a battle. With that, Elesh Norn and the other praetors contributed to its compleation, except for Urabrask, Heretic Praetor. That being the reason within the lore for the lack of the red color
Her card, as a consequence, has several Keywords to represent each color, in addition to proliferate, easily associated with infect and poison counters.
Deck and Strategy
Although the flavor and lore of the card tend towards creating an infect deck, you definitely don't have to focus on this theme. Due to her abundance of abilities, she allows for different types of strategy. The three most popular themes are Superfriends / Planeswalkers, Counters and Infect.
Particularly, I find the first two very strong and the third a bit ineffective, and I believe it is so popular just because of the thematics with the card.
That said, I have to pick a strategy that I prefer to assemble the list for this article, and I'll go with a counters strategy.
The first reason to do this is that planeswalkers are expensive, including the average and non-optimized ones. In addition to needing some key cards to be able to perform your combos, such as Doubling Season and Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, and I prefer to make lists with a more reasonable budget.
We also added a small Lifelink theme to differentiate it from other counters strategy.
Atraxa, Praetors' Voice Decklist
Here, we'll use as many staples as we can within our budget. It's the deck's most important function, and easy to get out of control with Atraxa.
Luminarch Aspirant, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Good-Fortune Unicorn, Anafenza, the Foremost are our low-cost counter creators, as well as being good targets to win bookmarks too.
The deck will contain creatures that add counters independently, allowing for more flexibility, but having spawners for the team is important, to give the deck more flexibility. We have the Cathars' Crusade enchantment as a high-cost card that generates a counter. Being an enchantment, it usually stays on the battlefield for a longer time and generates a counter for all creatures, justifying the high mana cost.
In addition to Atraxa itself, to increase the number of counters we also have cards like Conclave Mentor, Lae'Zel, Vlaakith's Champion, Winding Constrictor, Branching Evolution and Hardened Scales. Branching Evolution is a bit more expensive than the budget allows, but I think the quality allows for an exception.
We also have Unbreakable Formation, but I believe that most of the time you will be using the card to protect your creatures and not to distribute counters, so you can't really rely on it.
I also put Archangel of Thune on the list, partly because it is a pet card, but also because it is very efficient in generating counters and rewards the lifegain sub-theme. Another one that's over budget, but I promise it's not often.
Finally, we have the Evolution Sage and Thrummingbird that proliferate easily.
Here I will list the cards that take advantage of you generating counters and increasing their numbers beyond just “my creatures are too big”.
Inspiring Call, Toothy, Imaginary Friend, Fathom Mage, Falco Spara, Pactweaver, Armorcraft Judge are cards that will give you Card Advantage in some way if you have enough counters for that.
It won't be all the means to draw cards from the deck, obviously, but it's a good way to get rewarded for what your deck naturally wants to do and give it personality, rather than just using draw staples.
To help in combat, we have direct from Tarkir, the Abzan Falconer and the Tuskguard Captain, giving evasion to all creatures with counters, in addition to granting counters to themselves.
We also have Tyrant Guard, who grants indestructible (and hexproof) to your creatures, to save your creatures from a complicated combat or a sweeper.
Astral Cornucopia, Gyre Sage and Incubation Druid manage to be excellent with the ramp, when they increase the number of counters (in the case of the Druid, only one is enough).
Here we won't have a big focus, but we will have some cards that are connected with lifegain and counters (like the already mentioned Archangel of Thune). Well, first the basic package: Soul Warden, Soul's Attendant and Essence Warden. They have a low mana cost and start generating life right at the beginning of the game.
Cleric Class does the same as the Warden and can even put counters on creatures as well, having a dual function. Triple, if you consider it a recursion, with the third ability (although I find it rare that you'll be willing to pay that much mana).
Now that we're gaining life, we can use Bolas's Citadel without fear, which is a good source of Card Advantage. Ajani’s Pridemate gains a counter every time you gain life, making it very useful for the deck that wants to do both.
Ajani, Steadfast and Elspeth Resplendent are 2 planeswalkers capable of granting life and counters, with the latter being a decent source of value.
Deviating from the topic
Now we have about 33 cards that are focused on the theme, filling spaces of other categories as well, like ramp, card advantage and recursion. But the deck can't live on theme alone, so let's go to the most generic part of the deck.
The deck already has 7 ways to generate value, let's fill the deck with 4 staples to complete 11 cards with this function.
The ones chosen by me were Painful Truths, Dig Through Time, Night's Whisper and Guardian Project. I believe they are all excellent for their mana cost and the amount of card draw they generate. Depending on your budget and your taste, it's pretty easy to change, blue and green are colors that draws very well.
So far, I haven't submitted any removals, so let's move on to them. Firstly, Swords To Plowshares and Path to Exile, the two best possible creature removals in the game.
Despark is excellent for dealing with large, problematic permanents. Disenchant is my favorite enchantment removal. Arguably, Naturalize is better because it's green and fits better with the deck's colors and mana output of the lands, which has its degree of relevance when your manabase isn't optimized.
Although we're a creature focused deck, we need a few sweepers as well. The ones chosen were Wrath of God, Damn, Damning Verdict and Austere Command. I believe they are the best choices within the stipulated values. The inclusion of them is pretty self-explanatory, too.
In addition to counter-related ramps, let's use some of the classic, like Sol Ring, Fellwar Stone, Cultivate, Farseek and Kodama's Reach.
Lastly, Arcane Denial to counter any threat whenever necessary. Counterspell would usually be the choice, but the double blue mana cost is problematic in a 4-color deck.
Sun Titan to fetch your cards back from the graveyard. Shalai, Voice of Plenty to protect your creatures from spot removals.
The rest of the deck is filled with a few cards I like that are related, although I didn't mention it, it's easy to see why it's on the list if you've made it this far.
The deck has 38 lands, as it is the amount that I feel comfortable playing without big risks of running out of lands, but a player can choose any number between 36 and 40.
Atraxa Decklist with Upgrades
Finally, unfortunately, I don't know of an Atraxa example for cEDH that is good enough to use as an example. However, I will leave a list with a higher power level and without a specific budget. I put in more optimized cards, in addition to Ballista's combo with Heliod.
I left Old Duals off the list, however, as they are super expensive and super hard to find, but adding them to the list shouldn't be complicated if you want to, just take out the shocklands or the battle lands.
Not only is Atraxa a four-color deck, it's the most popular commander right now. I know that everyone has already seen, tested and enjoyed or hated the most different types of cards in the deck.
Being a four-color deck, it's very difficult to please everyone with card choices. If I review the deck 10 times, I will find 10 times cards that could be exchanged for others, and that's the fun of Commander.
As I always say, articles for a format like EDH are intended to provide a model, they are not meant to be followed piece by piece. This is not an attempt to protect myself from criticism, if you saw something that you found very bizarre, feel free to comment. It's just a reminder to be creative.
Until next time!
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