A very interesting way to present Magic: The Gathering to people who are interested in strategy games is to say that here you deal with a range of thousands of cards released over the course of almost thirty years, and that allow you to assemble the strategy they want. The game, in fact, has these mechanics for assembling decks, but we cannot deny that in the highest standard of play, some strategies are superior to others and mark a more constant presence in tournaments' top placements.
But, for every dynamo capable of moving decks alone, like Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, there are dozens of cards like Brimaz, King of Oreskos that, despite being great, don't have the strength to sustain in the competitive landscape. We realized then that, despite Magic giving you tens of thousands of unique cards to build your decks, using the vast majority of them in situations where greater attrition and performance are required is almost like granting victory to the opponent.
That's when we take a peek at the side table and see the kids having fun with Commander. Using cards that aren't worth the cardboard they're printed on, and extracting performance from them as if they were cardboard Ferraris. Only then did we realize that the biggest coefficient of authenticity in the game, where we can really do the strategy we want without fear, is that format.
We realize that Commander is freedom.
About Livaan and Raised by Giants
This freedom grew in the latest format-focused expansion, Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. With the addition of the ability, and new enchantment subtype, “Background”, it is possible to customize your strategy and the colors of your deck thanks to a card type with fewer possibilities for interaction than the creature, which culminated in the following list:
I selected two cards that I really like when they are together as commanders. Livaan, Cultist of Tiamat and Raised by Giants. My plan with them is to generate a lot of value through the symbiosis of both cards and cause situations where just one hit from the lizard is responsible for a commander damage win, while you generate very aggressive situations and raw card advantage on the table.
Based only on the idea of the conventional creature Commander, we can say that Livaan's deck seeks to grow the commander, or other creature, repetedly through its triggered ability, using high-cost spells. With the Background on the battlefield, Livaan becomes a Giant Shaman Dragon with a 10/10 base power and toughness.
In making the deck, there were, then, two very obvious approaches to how to do it mechanically. Either a Voltron, that is, a deck that aggregates different fortifying effects on the same creature so that it becomes an Indestructible Megazord that flies and tramples, or a deck that runs expensive spells, creating a better condition and diversifying their threats.
I opted for the second, creating a greater diversity in the creatures and in how they scale, although it is possible to unload all the stat increases in one of them, usually Livaan, and generate an Voltron effect, achieving a quick victory through commander damage. In addition, the deck has been divided into some sub-themes that speak well with each other and the commander.
Let's check them out one by one:
Thanks to Raised by Giants we have access to the coveted green mana, capable of the most punctual and effective Ramps in Magic. Whether in the form of spells or mana-generating artifacts, our plan is to generate a good amount of resources, making our most costly spells easier to use.
Among the mana rocks, we highlight Jade Orb of Dragonkind, which is here to protect and grow our dragons while also serving as a ramp.
Among the spells that allow us to search for lands, we have examples that allow us to search for lands by type, and not just basic lands, like Nature's Lore, for example. So cards like Stomping Ground and Cinder Glade are in the deck, to help us get a dual whenever we need it.
My initial idea was to coexist Dragons and Giants in the same deck, but after evaluations and study, I realized that the support for the big guys is not well worked in general. Only Kaldheim and Lorwyn have made consistent additions to the tribe.
Since, with the Background in play, our commander will be a 10/10 Giant, Calamity Bearer will give you a minimum of 20 commander damage in a single well-given strike, which can become 21 on cast of any noncreature spell.
Ondu Giant is on the deck because it is a ramp that is also a giant, helping you to cast a Squash for a low cost as a kind of plan Z, in case the stars line up. And Foriysian Totem becomes a giant as per your need, too.
I want to highlight the interaction between Calamity Bearer and Crush Underfoot, since Crush Underfoot is a Giant-type tribal spell, it gets the full value of Calamity Bearer.
The other main tribe in the deck is the most well-structured, the Dragons. Here we have my favorite card in the entire Magic game, Atarka, World Render, providing double strike for your scaly ones and capable of generating exaggerated value with its ability to trample any other creatures that have it. Atarka Monument is not only a tribute to a dragon in the form of an artifact that becomes a dragon, it is also a mana rock, helping you to ramp up.
The game continues with Thrakkus the Butcher, which doubles the power of its tribesmen when they are attacking, and Skanos Dragonheart, which gains attack based on your strongest dragon present. Wrathful Red Dragon is perfect to make when your dragons fight or are targets of removal, convert the damage taken into punishment to the opponent.
And finally, Dragon's Fire and Draconic Roar turn your dragons in hand or field into amplifiers for takedown damage, while Draconic Muralists is a great tutor for any of your dragons.
As we made clear, this is an aggro deck. Many of our cards increase the power of creatures, even without Livaan in play, such as Unnatural Growth, which doubles the power of your creatures, something that in addition to Thrakkus the Butcher and Atarka, World Render can bring serious problems to the opponent.
We have several ways to give Trample to our creatures. Nylea, God of the Hunt is the most stable as it is indestructible. But we also have it in other colors and flavors, like Arlinn Kord's werewolf side, which in its +1 increases the power and toughness of your creatures, in addition to allowing them to pass over the opponent's blockers.
The deck also has other evasion types, such as Gruul War Chant, which gives Menace to your creatures, and Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar, which lets you choose the easiest opponent to land a hit and reproduces the same result on other opponents.Mage Slayer also deals damage equal to the power of the equipped creature to the defending player, producing results ranging from dealing damage while blocking to up to double damage.
Any one of these effects alone is powerful and can be a real game-changer for you, but when added together, they become an effortless win. Personally, I really like Overwhelming Stampede, which turns our creatures into a herd full of raw power.
And among them, my favorite for aggression is the Harmonic Prodigy which Livaan, Cultist of Tiamat an additional time, dealing a very nice damage boost.
Spells with X Cost
Since Livaan, Cultist of Tiamat grows according to the cost of the spells cast, we have X-cost spells a clever way to increase the power of our creatures exactly as much as we need to eliminate our opponents or to neutralize a threat. A good example for this is Starstorm, which can easily clear smaller creatures from the opponent's field while growing Livaan.
A more than special highlight goes to Electrodominance and Finale of Promise, both cards that allow you to cast others in a row, allowing you to further increase the power of your creatures through Livaan.
Searching for Greater Power
We have in this deck several cards with the following text or similar: "with X being the greatest power among the creatures you control.". The result of abilities with this X varies from spell to spell. When we remember that Livaan is expected to be a 10/10 with her background on the field, that X is targeted to be at least 10, and can scale with non-creature spells.
Pathbreaker Ibex, the most expensive card on this list, gives all creatures +X/+X and trample, with that X reflecting the most power among the creatures we control. Since the Ibex is a 3/3, when alone on the battlefield and attacking, it becomes a 6/6 that tramples. However, if the goat is with Livaan and Background on play, without any other tricks, we would have an X for 10, that is, a 20/20 and a 13/13 with trample on the board.
A really cool effect along this line that we can follow is cards like Return of the Wildspeaker, Garruk, Primal Hunter and Rishkar’s Expertise, which draw many cards and fill up your hand. Lucky for us, we have some effects like Venser's Journal and Reliquary Tower to overcome the seven-card hand limit we would normally have.
Best of all, even with Livaan on the board, the X could easily be greater than 10. Let's assume Fungal Sprouting is cast with both commanders. Livaan's ability will generate a trigger, which will give it +4/+0 before the spell resolves, thus generating fourteen tokens instead of just ten. The same goes for other spells, which work similarly.
The best way to use cards in this category that don't care about combat would be in Main Phase 2, when combined with other effects like Unnatural Growth and Pathbreaker Ibex, causing a snowball to take advantage of a much larger variable, producing more value for your spells.
Building this deck was easy in idea, but it was difficultto decide on which specific pieces I should run. For many hours, I just wanted to open a random Dragons list and add fourteen Zodiac Dragon to close the deck and hope no one notices.
Still, it's a fun change from building only slow Temur-colored Tempo decks to more aggressive Gruul decks that can end the game in no time. This was a build that I became very attached to and, in the end, I have a lot of affection for her, as if it were one of my URG children.
The combo between Livaan, Cultist of Tiamat and Raised by Giants is voracious, and will bring you many unexpected victories just because you calculated at the last minute that you could beat your opponent, and I highly recommend it.
Be the first to comment