Commander Deck Tech: Marneus Calgar

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Deck tech

Commander Deck Tech: Marneus Calgar

10/26/22 Comment regular icon0 comments

Continuing our analysis of Universes Beyond Warhammer 40,000, we present a suggested deck budget from the leader of the Ultramarines: Marneus Calgar.

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“We are the Ultramarines, the Sons of Guilliman. Whilst we draw breath, we stand. Whilst we stand, we fight. Whilst we fight, we prevail. Nothing shall stay our wrath.”

- Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines

The

Ultramarines

, the most famous chapter of the

Space Marines

, are the strongest and most honorable among men. They were responsible for ensuring the survival of the

Empire of Mankind

, almost temporarily, after the event known as

The Horus Heresy

. Highly disciplined, the brave sons of Ultramar have remained faithful to the teachings of their

Primarch Roboute Guilliman

for over 10,000 years, and have been the main battlefront since the Empire's founding.

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As we might expect from an incarnation of

Ultramarine

nobility, Marneus Calgar is immune to fear. Where lesser men falter and seek protection to avoid being shot, Marneus Calgar takes a quick assessment of the situation, decides the best course of action, and only protects himself when there is no tactically viable alternative. The

Universes Beyond

Warhammer 40k

showcased some of the best commanders of 2022, bringing new options to casual and competitive players alike. Marneus Calgar is the representative of the Empire of Mankind.

Getting to Know Marneus Calgar

Marneus Augustus Calgar

, the current Chapter Master of the

Ultramarines

Space Marines, the Lord Defender of the Great Ultramar and the Lord of Macragge, world capital of the Ultramar Kingdom on the eastern shores of the galaxy. Since rising to the rank of Chapter Master, Marneus Calgar has employed his talent for tactics in countless campaigns. Unlike other leaders of the Empire, he values ​​his subordinates and doesn't uselessly throw his men at the enemy, and wise, he understands that although victories may start with the general, it is the troops who take the day. Calgar's warriors follow him not just out of duty, but out of the unwavering loyalty his presence inspires.
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Marneus Augustus Calgar
He is believed to be the firstborn

Space Marine

, his feats are so numerous that one would need to travel deep within the fortress-monastery of Macragge, the Fortress of Hera. At its core, where records of the exploits performed by the Ultramarines' greatest heroes are kept, are twenty-eight volumes dedicated to Marneus Calgar alone in this shrine, a count twice that of any other Ultramarine except

Roboute Guilliman*.
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His double strike ability deals massive amounts of damage, bringing back the memory of the late Rafiq of the Many, even allowing a Voltron approach, using artifacts and enchantments. Extremely versatile, Marneus Calgar is a robust creature whose toughness allows it to survive major damage-based removals and overcome most of the predominant creatures in the format. This new legend stands out for its

flavor words

— flavor words that were introduced to us in

Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

, work like Ability words (Flying, First Strike, Double Strike, etc.), granting unique flavor-based abilities. Its presence on the battlefield is immense, creating Astartes Warrior tokens, and drawing cards when generating tokens, brings a lot of value and can set the game up quickly.

Understanding the Deck

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Token decks with the Esper identity Magic Symbol uMagic Symbol wMagic Symbol b are mostly artifact-centric and thus follow different victory lines. The commander's ability converts tokens into card draws, whether they may be creatures or not, a relevant feature that expands the possibility for sub-themes such as Treasure, Clue,Thopter, etc.

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Its second ability generates the possibility of exploring infinite mana themes for creating tokens and drawing cards, working as a finisher and a complement to the first ability. Once we have tokens as the main mechanic, we can explore different methods.
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The Budget version we chose isn't centered around infinite mana lines, although they do exist. The option was to follow themes that generate value in a consistent and cadenced midrange game. We chose to follow a line where Clues tokens were prioritized, for the reasons that we will see below.

Draws and Card Advantage

The big draw engine of this deck is the commander Marneus Calgar that has in his abilities -

Master Tactician

is a mighty card advantage tool, generating additional draws whenever one or more tokens come into play. Its great ability to trigger interactions over and over again makes this ability unique. Knowing this, we have approximately 40 direct or indirect draw cards in the deck, which ensures the played cards are always replenished, maintaining a resilient development.

Investigate

Investigate is a

Keyword Action

that contains the instruction:

Put a colorless Clue artifact token onto the battlefield with "Magic Symbol 2, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card."

. That is, each time you indicate that you should investigate, it is a separate action generating a different trigger for Marneus Calgar. Allowing cards like Confirm Suspicions and Tivit, Seller of Secrets to draw multiple cards, as well as spells like Hard Evidence, which when creating the Crab Token draws a card and investigate to draw another. Clues allow you to generate an advantage in aggressive cards throughout the game without having to use cards from your hand and take advantage of the open mana for interactions, avoiding the waste of mana when we choose a more reactive approach instead of proactive, keeping the gas with the passage of the turns. Thinking about exploring this mechanic, we've added an Investigate package:
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Among the various cards with this mechanic, some deserve a closer look, starting with the land Havengul Laboratory:
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This land allows you to investigate, similar to the Magnifying Glass, however we see its real ability when we sacrifice three or more clues in a single turn — a moment when we activate the transformation in Havengul Mystery. When transforming, we reanimate a creature from our graveyard without restrictions. When this creature leaves the battlefield, the land reverts to its original form, ready for new use. One of the best ways to sacrifice exactly three Clues is with Tamiyo's Journal.

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Tamiyo's Journal produces additional Clue tokens each turn, which can be relevant in lower budget builds, however, its activated ability can tutor any card from the deck directly into your hand. An efficient and powerful card selection, which synergizes with Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth.
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Fighting for the title of main commander of the Clues theme is Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth, along with Dennick, Pious Apprentice and Lonis, Cryptozoologist. Eloise takes advantage of all sacrificed tokens by filtering the deck, acting as a powerful card selection tool. A card that has similar synergy is Thorough Investigation, which allows us to venture through the dungeon quickly selecting the most advantageous rooms, creating tons of tokens and consequently drawing even more cards.
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Dennick has a dual role, either acting as a major

severe hate

, or as an essential role in creating clues whenever a creature is sent to the graveyard, no matter where it comes from, which coupled with discards makes a big impact. We can discard cards with Scuttletide and Shorikai, Genesis Engine effects, generating an explosive advantage.
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Few cards are as versatile as Disorder in the Court, and can be used proactively to trigger powerful ETBs such as Tivit, Seller of Secrets, Wernog, Rider's Chaplain and Ethereal Investigator, whose Enter the Battlefield abilities are similar, investigating a number of times equal to the number of opponents. Tivit, Seller of Secrets additionally triggers whenever it deals combat damage to an opponent. Wernog, Rider's Chaplain when leaving the battlefield and Ethereal Investigator generates Spirit tokens whenever its controller draws the second card in a turn. We can use Disorder in the Court as a combat trick removing dangerous attackers, exiling opponents' tokens and among other uses.

Forces of the Imperium

We have already covered in detail the pre-constructed Warhammer 40,000: Forces ot the Imperium deck in a previous articlelink outside website. Some of the legends available in the precon are powerful commanders, as well as great players on our list. Let's comment on some of them and their possibilities, since they are in the color identity of Marneus Calgar and their combos and victory lines can be added to the deck without prejudice to our main strategy.
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The main commander of the

Forces ot the Imperium

deck - Inquisitor Greyfax, which in addition to granting

Vigilance

and an attack boost, has strong field control in her activated ability, which when activated,

Investigates

. Its ability can be boosted with Isochron Scepter and Dramatic Reversal combos, controlling the entire board state.
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This card has multiple triggered abilities that generate tokens, the first being that creates the legendary demon token, Cherubael.

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The second ability investigates a number of times equal to the combat damage dealt by Eisenhorn, and can be exploited by adding buffs, generating a huge amount of tokens. Its command zone abilities go for combo lines with Time Sieve, which can be easily added to this deck. In this line, the addition of Academy Manufactor is also recommended.
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This card is capable of a powerful card selection using the tokens to dig artifacts in the deck, being very useful and efficient in lists aimed at combos with artifacts. Similar to Glacian, Powerstone Engineer, with the difference that it doesn't shred the cards, and uses creatures for counting. Belisarius Cawl's primary ability utilizes artifacts to create creature tokens powering his strongest ability. We found possibilities of shenanigans with untappers and Intruder Alarm.

Manabase

The land package prioritized the use of basic lands and utility lands that were capable of being used the turn they are played, and corrected mana colors. And to maximize its effects, using artifacts for the ramp is the most viable option in color identity.
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Some creatures, like Loyal Warhound and Knight of the White Orchid, act as a complement by adding extra lands and Tezzeret the Schemer can ramp with its positive ability.
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Interactions and Removals

The removals package has as one of its parts Tezzeret the Schemer that uses the artifact count to reduce a creature's toughness, increasing power, it's versatile early to mid-game and deals heavy damage with the commander, or even removes indestructible threats. Oust penalizes the opponent twice, removing a creature from the battlefield and delaying their game by adding cards to the top of the deck. Doomskar and Terminus are cheap sweepers for those crucial early game turns.
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Among the removals, we also have some spells that exile one or multiple permanents. Rite of Oblivion can be used more than once, Disorder in the Court affects X targets, Despark for just two mana removes any non-land permanents with a cost of 4 or greater. Declaration in Stone has multiple targets of the same name, Ravenform and Resculpt deal with creatures and artifacts, Dispatch for one mana removes a creature, and Baleful Mastery deals with creatures or planeswalkers.
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The use of counterspells in casual games is much discussed. However, some spells are too powerful to be played, so we have a small package of interactions for these moments.

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The classic Counterspell and Negate, simple and efficient, and we also have the hidden gems Unified Will and Protect the Negotiators which rely on the number of creatures in play under our control, ideal for token-themed decks. The "boots" package gained a boost with Winged Boots, to accompany the always elegant Swiftfoot Boots. Another interesting protection for this deck is Giant's Amulet, given the possibility of creating a creature token when played.
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Winconditions

The

Chapter Master

has great synergy with its first ability creating two tokens for Magic Symbol 6. Although it seems to be a high cost, the tokens have good bodies and vigilance, acting both offensively and defensively, imposing pressure on opponents. The fact that it generates multiple tokens without additional restrictions makes Marneus Calgar an efficient combo engine and mana sink to be reckoned with. Our combo option was using Basalt Monolith and Rings of Brighthearth, generating infinite mana and giving the possibility to activate Marneus Calgar any number of times. Other variants have Heartstone and a way to animate Basalt Monolith, and in this deck configuration we count Tezzeret the Schemer and Rise and Shine.

The Combo

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1) Generate Magic Symbol 3 mana with Basalt Monolith and use them to untap it. With the untap ability on the stack, use Magic Symbol 2 mana to copy the untap ability of Basalt Monolith with Rings of Brighthearth; 2) Let the first ability resolve by untapping the Basalt Monolith, tap the Basalt Monolith generating Magic Symbol 3 mana and then let the second untap ability resolve; 3) Repeat steps 1 and 2 to generate infinite colorless mana.

The variant

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1) Heartstone reduces the cost of your creatures' abilities by one mana; 2) Turn Basalt Monolith into a creature with Rise and Shine; 3) Tap Basalt Monolith to add Magic Symbol 3 mana, and pay Magic Symbol 2 mana to untap it. Repeat the process for infinite mana.

Another variant

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1) Heartstone reduces the cost of your creatures' abilities by one mana; 2) At the start of combat: Transform Basalt Monolith into a creature with Tezzeret the Schemer; 3) Tap Basalt Monolith to add Magic Symbol 3 mana, and pay Magic Symbol 2 mana to untap it. Repeat the process for infinite mana.

Winning without the combo

A massive number of creatures ends up being the most common finisher in games with the deck within the current model. Sedgemoor Witch, Alela, Artful Provocateur, and especially Thalisse, Reverent Medium, spawn many creatures during the game. While activated abilities like Scuttletide, Nadir Kraken and Marneus Calgar are the primary ones, Shorikai, Genesis Engine and Belisarius Cawl are also very useful.

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Another card that we need to comment on is the payoff Junk Winder, which generates a very efficient board control.
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Mechanized Production is a card that can be an important token generator, however, when not removed from the battlefield, it tends to end games on the turn after it came into play, since this aura can be attached to artifact tokens such as Clues and Treasures.
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During the tests, this card more than once ended the game after a sweeper played by our opponents, nothing more surprising and lethal than turning all Clue tokens into 4/4 creatures.
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Conclusion

Creating this deck was a very fun experience, after all, Esper is not popularly known for proactive strategies. However, the artifacts theme is something that has accompanied these colors since before the shard was given its name. A perception that I have is that it has been remodeled, giving it more aggression and balance, strengthening its Tempo, creating a trend of midrange decks instead of hard controls, locks and stax, the specialty of these colors for a long time.

Marneus Calgar with high-Power Level

This version is one of the first tested and exploits the commander's interaction with the generated tokens to the maximum, expanding the possibilities of combo and interactions. It's still a casual deck, but within a field with a high-power level. Without major restrictions, we have lines with Ashnod's Altar, Training Grounds, etc. We also have a more consistent plan with an improved manabase, positive rocks, better tutors and faster combo lines like Isochron Scepter, Thoracle & Consultation.
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I hope you found some interesting ideas to improve your deck and join the ranks of the Empire alongside the Space Marines. Thanks for reading and good games! Any questions, I'm available in the comments!

The Emperor Protects

!
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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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