Commander Deck Tech: Donal, Herald of Wings

Magic: the Gathering

Commander

Commander Deck Tech: Donal, Herald of Wings

This deck's proposal is a Bounce House that controls the board while developing its position, utilizing Donal, Herald of Wings to take over the game with a creature swarm.

By Eduardo, 11/29/21, translated by Humberto - Comment regular icon0 comments

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Introduction

Donal, Herald of Wings was a devotee of the Archangel Avacyn, but lost his faith and set out on a spiritual journey. Deep in the forests he found his peace. This article follows the Innistrad: Crimson Vow season. Our deck is an adaptive Midrange, which demonstrates different behaviors depending on the game, ranging from a Swarm to a Draw-Go. It seeks to generate value by recurring our creatures from the battlefield back to the hand, while creating tokens with the commander's ability.

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The Commander

โ€œโ€œHe sees a flicker of Avacynโ€™s grace in every wingbeat.โ€โ€

- Donal, Herald of Wings

Donal felt lost when his beloved Avacyn betrayed humanity and was subsequently undone. So, he set out on a pilgrimage in search of existential meaning. Several months later, after a night's sleep in a forest clearing, Donal was awakened by a symphony of birds, opening his eyes, he found himself surrounded by spiritual birds and for the first time since Avacyn's destruction, he felt peace. From that moment on, he decided to live among the birds, amidst the melodious cries that provided him with all the spiritual sustenance he was sorely lacking. More on the Innistrad legends can be read on the Wizards' offiicial website.
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Donal, Herald of Wings has a triggered ability that whenever we cast a non-legendary creature spell with flying, we create a copy of that spell, the copies are spirits and have 1/1 power and toughness. This effect can only be performed once per turn. This allows you to multiply the value generated by these creatures.
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Strategy

โ€œโ€œIn the remote corners of Kessig, protection is found in secret powers unknown to the Church of Avacyn.โ€โ€

- Ranger's Guile

A

bounce

is an effect or spell that returns a card from the battlefield to its owner's hand. Extracting value from these plays is our main tool to develop the game. Therefore, the list is focused on playing Donal, Herald of Wings and small creatures successive times consistently. Our commander's ability to copy creatures every turn and the

flash

ability are the keys to victory. To grant flash, we have Tidal Barracuda and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, to play creatures in opponents' turns, alternating the moves between creatures that generate some advantage such as Faerie Miscreant and Supreme Phantom, and for creatures that

bounce

we can mention Quickling as an example. Mana shortages are also resolved through creatures such as Warden of Evos Isle and Peregrine Drake.

Mana Sources

โ€œโ€œAfter the Travails, Runechanters set about repairing twisted symbols of Avacyn as the first step in restoring faith in the Church.โ€โ€

- Honored Heirloom

Playing with only one color, we can use almost exclusively basic lands, in this case, the islands. However, to achieve the goal of playing our turn and opponents' turns requires sumptuous amounts of mana. By creating copies of untappers like Peregrine Drake and Cloud of Faeries plus multiple cost reducers in this deck like Warden of Evos Isle, we can generate mana in large proportions, and it can be used to pay variable or alternative costs, hence the use of mana stones such as Astral Cornucopia and Everflowing Chalice artifacts.
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The use of other mana rock is also part of this deck, so cards like Sol Ring and Sky Diamond have been added. Moonsilver Key is a versatile tutor, playing well at all times during the match. Ornithopter of Paradise has flying and can be multiplied by our commander.

Card Advantage

โ€œโ€œWhat has been looted can be restored. The church lives on within us.โ€โ€

- Faithful Mending

Our draw strategy for this deck is primarily tied to card advantage through combat. The use of cards with triggered abilities like Bident of Thassa guarantees a large amount of long-term draws. It's important to note that Curiosity Crafter's draws are mandatory, so be careful. On the other hand, Curse of Verbosity is an efficient way to divert attention to buy time to develop the board and still draw many cards.
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To draw out of combat we run ETBs, such as Mulldrifter since we can use their effect repeatedly when returning a card to hand and doubling or tripling the effect when copying the fish with our commander. Faerie Miscreant when copied by the commander's ability draws a card and each new Faerie Miscreant draws a card. We have some punctual spells to draw cards: Chart a Course, since the offense and evasion we have makes it a good draw, and Winged Words has synergy with our creatures.
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We play with some tutors, two of them in the form of creatures: Drift of Phantasms is a specific tutor for three-mana cards that includes some of our most important cards and Dizzy Spell that aims to pick up some cards that allow combos or removals. Moonsilver Key works as a tutor for artifacts or lands. Muddle the Mixture in addition to a counterspell is also a tutor. Step Through and Vedalken Aethermage have the

Wizardcycling

ability, which allows you to fetch a Wizard creature from the library and add to the hand. It is noteworthy that some of the most important cards in our strategy are Wizards.
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Merfolk Windrobber makes direct draws when opponents' graveyards reach eight or more cards. Spectral Sailor has an activated ability that allows you to draw cards, which is especially relevant given the mana-generating interactions. Stream of Thought works as a recursion in some matchups to retrieve cards from the graveyard. Another form of card selection is scrying through Faerie Seer, which when used repeatedly generates a significant acceleration.
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Interactions

โ€œโ€œThere was a time when the purpose of the church was to heal and protect. I would see that time return.โ€โ€

- Chaplain's Blessing

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Returning creatures to the hand is one of the mechanics that is part of blue's identity, whether it's to conserve resources or to delay opponents. When choosing Donal, Herald of Wings as commander we must keep in mind that we need to cast a significant number of creatures. One of the best ways to do this is to return creatures to be played again. As such, we've selected some low-cost creatures that have the ability to return other creatures when they come into play.
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Some interactions are versatile, like Unsubstantiate, a bounce that can return spells or creatures to the owner's hand. Into the Roil and Blink of an Eye can draw a card when returning a nonland permanent. Winds of Rebuke mill two cards from all players when returning a nonland permanent.
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Retraction Helix and Banishing Knack allows target creature to return a nonland permanent to its owner's hand at the cost of tapping it, and this ability lasts until the end of turn. When interacting with spells or abilities that untap creatures, we can remove many targets. We selected Mirran Spy for this task, as it can be untapped by playing artifacts.
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It is important to have adequate answers to attrition, so we have some "sweepers". Spectral Deluge returns all creatures that have toughness less than the number of islands under your control to opponents' hands. Aetherize returns all attacking creatures to the attacker's hands. We've chosen some removals like Resculpt and Reality Shift which are great ways to deal with problematic creatures.
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Counterspells are one of the strongest characteristics of blue. We selected some of them that had converted mana cost equal to or less than two: Familiar Ruse which has in its additional cost a significant synergy with our strategy when returning a creature under our control to its owner's hand, and Lofty Denial which has its efficiency increased when we control a creature with flying.
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Some of our creatures can be sacrificed to counter spells. Mausoleum Wanderer counters instant or sorcery unless its controller pays a fee equal to its power. Cerulean Drake counters spells that target their controller. Siren Stormtamer counters a spell or ability that targets one of our creatures or targets its controller. Rattlechains grants hexproof to target spirit. Some auras also prevent our creatures from being targeted by spells or abilities, such as Alexi's Cloak and Mystic Veil that were chosen because of their ability to be cast at instant speed.
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Victory Lines

โ€œโ€œWe fight not for Avacyn, but for her ideals; not for the church, but for its people.โ€โ€

- Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Our main strategy is to control threats consistently while designing the game linearly, aiming to have Donal, Herald of Wings on the battlefield, plus a flash card, a recurring bounce and one more creature. For example: Donal, Herald of Wings + Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir + Shrieking Drake + Any creatures.
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When playing Shrieking Drake and another copy of it, we can return Shrieking Drake and any creature to the hand, increasing the odds each turn according to the board state at the time. Twinning Staff generates an additional copy whenever our commander's ability triggers, optimizing all creatures played. We selected a creature toolbox for the most diverse functions, such as drawing or selecting cards, generating mana or countering spells. Some are ways to control the table and generate threats. Warkite Marauder removes all abilities of a creature from the defending player and makes it a 0/1. Dreamshackle Geist taps opponents' creatures during combat or prevents them from untap in the next untap phase. When Nebelgast Herald or a spirit comes into play, you can tap target creature. Patrician Geist and Supreme Phantom amplify the power and toughness of our spirits making our tokens a threat.
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. A subtle threat is Warden of Evos Isle reducing the cost of our creatures by one generic mana which allows you to cast high-cost spells like Mulldrifter and Peregrine Drake for only one mana and a few artifact creatures can even be played for free. A flock of Triskelavus for zero mana can be a considerable threat. Triskelavus is an out-of-combat finisher option when generating tokens that can be sacrificed to damage any target at the cost of one mana. Creating mana in large amounts is possible through interactions with Peregrine Drake or even infinite mana as we'll see below. Mirran Spy is the engine of a combo based on Retraction Helix, so we can return one of our mana stones or an artifact creature with zero cost to the hand and put it back into play, triggering Mirran Spy untapping our creature and repeating it over and over. Given our commander's ability, we can have multiple Mirran Spy untap to return target creature with Retraction Helix and thus return any number of nonland permanents to owner's hands or untap any number of creatures. For example: Mirran Spy + Mirran Spy copy + ( Retraction Helix ou Banishing Knack ) + zero mana artifact + ( Cloud of Faeries or Peregrine Drake ) + ( Coral Atoll or Warden of Evos Isle ) = Infinite Mana.
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We have several other interaction options with Mirran Spy, whether it's for infinite mana by untapping Ornithopter of Paradise, unlimited draw with Skyscanner or any other ETB effects from our creatures. Alternatively, we have the option to win using the large number of draws generated to finish the game with Laboratory Maniac.

Upgrades

We prioritize building a deck with a limited budget. However, it can be customized according to each player's choices. Below are some options. The first addition suggestion is High Tide, a powerful spell that doubles the mana generated by our islands. Caged Sun is one of my favorites, as it not only doubles the mana generated by our lands, it also boosts our creatures. Gravitational Shift is also strong and grants extra power to our creatures. Equilibrium is an option to return our creatures to the hand and control our opponents. Strionic Resonator and Panharmonicon are good options to boost our commander's ability. Leyline of Anticipation grants flash to all of our spells and can be played for free.
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Among other the possible additions are creatures in the thief control line like Sower of Temptation, which takes control of a creature when it enters the battlefield, Roil Elemental which works similarly by gaining control of a creature whenever we play a land and Thieving Skydiver that allow us to gain control of our opponents' artifacts.
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Conclusion

Donal, Herald of Wings is an interesting commander in decks that pursue a gradual strategy based on value and control elements. Anyone who enjoys tempo-based games or who is familiar with mono-blue flyers might have a good choice of entry to the format or casual table fun. And I also suggest you to read my Runo Stromkirk self-mill deck tech, or my Olivia Crimson Bride, based on a reanimator strategy Thanks for reading and good games! For any questions, I'm available in the comments!
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Eduardo

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

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