Every time a new Magic collection is released, my main mindset is separating two different legendary creatures to write Commander deck guides about. One of these creatures is stronger, plays in more cohesive situations and tends to allow better game spots. The other one is a bit funnier, always has a more unique ability and plays around by creating unusual situations for your game table.
And it is precisely that selection I started making when they started announcing the new Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth cards.
That reflects pretty well the nature of the format. Commander is known for its inclusive approach and for the welcoming community surrounding it. Players are encouraged to adapt their deck according to each table's power level, seeking balance between the participants and avoiding an excessive domination on one side. This shared mindset creates a more fun and relaxed environment, in which competition is valued, but doesn't overwhelm the pleasure of playing.
That being said, there are those times in which you see a card for the first time, and you're faced with its huge potential of creating funny and laughable situations, but, when you take a closer look at the card's text, you realize it has a real potential for a more serious game, which is the one you start dedicating yourself to.
This is the case for today's commander which, besides looking quite funny, brought many interesting ideas and the possibility of building an excellent deck.
When we see Shadowfax, Lord of Horses for the first time, we are already thinking about building a horse typal deck. Not only the name, but also its first ability, focus a lot on the idea of building an equine army of high impact capable of kicking down the face of their opponents.
It was precisely this thought I had right away: putting together the horsiest of horsies and creating a fleet of little creatures which, instead of going into the graveyard when they die, go to a glue factory. Only later on I saw this stallion's second ability and realized the potential it had.
As fun and funny this may sound, a horse typal in the Red and White colors doesn't work all that well. We count with only 18 creatures of that type in these color identities, and, if we remove Shadowfax itself and Ordinary Pony from Unstable, we are left with only 16 creatures, out of which most aren't good. This more typal-focused side of Shadowfax, Lord of Horses could benefit from other creatures, in case it included Unicorns and Pegasuses too, but, even then, it would only be won in numbers, and not in quality.
This way, unfortunately, all that's left for the Shadowfax, Lord of Horses deck is to be guided towards its second ability, putting down low-power creatures on board, and that is precisely the approach we'll follow next.
As I've said previously, my initial idea was a horse typal, which crumbled as soon as I saw the low quality of the horses available for the job. This way, the range of the job changed completely, migrating to a deck which will be able to put down creatures with very high mana costs on board with just one attack of its horse commander.
Like so, the deck ended up looking like this in the end:
Just because we abandoned the original idea of building a typal deck with horses only, it doesn't mean we won't add a few of them which are perfect for our strategy. In this case, the main ones come from Amonkhet: Crested Sunmare makes all other horses we control Indestructible, this way allowing Shadowfax, Lord of Horses to easily survive mass removals and continue to populate the battlefield in following turns. Besides that, this white horse can also create other tokens when we gain life, which isn't a recurrent theme in the deck, but can happen in certain situations.
Another stallion available in our deck is Thundermare, which has a perfect synergy with Shadowfax. When placed on the board with our commander's ability, this creature will tap all other creatures on board, even ours. When used in the middle of us declaring our attack, it is very easy to fit in a clean attack, and, many times, a fatal one to our opponents.
When This Creature Attacks...
Now that we've finally discussing effectively putting creatures on board with our little horsie, we have to tackle an important issue. Creatures such as Etali, Primal Storm talk about abilities which are triggered when these cards are declared as attacking creatures.
The rule of interest here is that entering attacking and being declared as an attacker are two different actions in the game. This way, placing an Etali, or an Aurelia, The Warleader on board with Shadowfax won't trigger their great abilities, but still, it will be a precious advantage to be able to put these creatures on board with no additional cost.
Among these creatures, I like highlighting Baldin, Century Herdmaster, the Dominaria version of the card E. Honda, Sumo Champion. This card is capable of growing our board a lot, and it helps a mass attack exponentially.
When This Creature Enters the Battlefield...
Now that we know that creatures which go in attacking aren't declared as attackers, we can change our focus to creatures which have good trigger effects when they enter the board, such as Palace Jailer. Besides using many creatures which have good effects, we also count with Strionic Resonator and cards such as Charming Prince and Felidar Guardian, which are capable of "blinking" our creatures, producing their effects again.
We have many cards we can highlight with this type of ability. Among them, we have Stonehorn Dignitary, which has been a nightmare in Pauper for a reason, and, in this deck, we can see a bit of that, preventing your most dangerous opponents from striking back when you're completely tapped out.
Taj-Nar Swordsmith is a welcomed surprise which I found out while I built this deck. Capable of tutoring any equipment in the deck and putting it in play, we can draw from it a great synergy with the commander's ability of placing creatures in play for free, helping us save mana to be used to search for the right equipment.
Finally, we count with multiple, big, flying creatures. Being able to fit them on board suddenly is a great call, particularly against opponents which can't defend themselves against them. We use many Angels in this deck, once they're high-cost creatures with great abilities, and which Shadowfax allows us to place on board with a certain ease.
Some, like Zeriam, Golden Wind can come in and connect damage directly, using their abilities on the spot. Others, such as Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, come on board gracing it with a beautiful passive effect, contributing to the combat coming from your creatures.
My pick for favorite flying creature is Nobilis of War, a creature which would already come into combat by granting a big buff to your attacking creatures, and strengthening your units instantly and turning the tables for you.
As you might have noticed, some creatures present in this deck don't fulfill Shadowfax, Lord of Horses' requisite of having power inferior to this horse, so they can come on board with their ability. So, we need to use some tricks to boost this fella a little bit. In this case, we'll use equipment on our commander, which, unlike The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, will create a substantial difference to its traits.
We can embellish Shadowfax, Lord of Horses with the various types of weapons and armor, such as swords, hammers and scythes. The flying creatures which we have in the deck are also great to equip. A Sephara, Sky's Blade holding a good Embercleave in its hands is capable of ending matches and friendships. Or, in the case of Shadowfax, the sword can go straight onto the horse's mouth.
In my opinion, Helm of the Host works almost like Willy Wonka's golden ticket. When you get it, it'll fill your face with joy, and you can rest assured that soon you'll be singing with happiness while your opponents disappear from the board in calamitous and suspicious ways.
This equipment can circumvent the rule of Legendaries, creating many copies of creatures such as Gisela, Blade of Goldnight without its subtype, for instance. Or it can also present us every round with a common creature, such as Angel of Sanctions or Balefire Liege, ready to enhance our board even more in a passive way.
However, the best pair for this artifact is, without a question, Aurelia, The Warleader. Once the elm activates always at the start of each combat step, and this angel triggers its ability at that same time, creating another combat step later on in the turn, sequencing infinite combats with infinite flying Aurelias isn't hard, creating massive, sequential damage.
Below we have a list for this same deck which is focused on being more accessible financially, but it is still capable of completely polarizing the game in your favor:
The fun is just beginning with the magnificent Shadowfax, Lord of Horses! When this card attacks, it's as if a wild party begins! You can simply bring a creature of a lower power in your hand, and puf! It comes onto the battlefield, ready to join the fight. Imagine the faces of your opponents when you play such an unexpected tactic!
Shadowfax leads the way with style, creating crazy combinations and continuous laughter. With it commanding, your matches will be more lively than a horse race on betting days!
If you have any questions, I'll be available in the comment section. Don't forget to share this article on social media to help our work.
See you later!