Hello! This week on Fat Stacks we are going to continue with our look at the new Commander 2015 decks. As promised, we are going to check out the experience counter legend for B/W – Daxos the Returned. Daxos is very 'build around me' as he is mainly focused on enchantments. Still, I think this may be one of the strongest legends to be printed in the B/W color identity. Let's check it out!
This week, I got some help again with some deck lists from my friends. The decklists are a bit similar in some ways but, overall, have a different tempo, as well as win conditions, so we will see a variety of strategies when it comes to what we can do with the deck.
First though, let's discuss the B/W color identity in general. It is kind of a misfit guild, as most of the legends are dead guys, or their gloomy daughters. Athreos, God of Passage and Teysa, Orzhov Scion both have similar casting costs to the new Daxos, but actually play pretty differently. Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter is a semi-popular commander and the old Ghost Council of Orzhova pops up every once in a while, but for the most part I think most B/W-based decks are testing out Abzan and Mardu colors rather than just the two B/W colors. With leaders like Anafenza, the Foremost or Alesha, Who Smiles at Death available, B/W has fallen by the wayside.
My point? B/W is ready and waiting for a new legend that can give the color combination something interesting and unique to do. The token aspect is a bit like baby Teysa, but the enchantment aspect is pretty unique, and will require a lot of enchantments to make it work.
|Daxos the Returned||
Daxos is one of the experience legends, much like Mizzix of the Izmagnus or Ezuri, Claw of Progress. In this case, Daxos gives us an experience counter every time we cast an enchantment spell, and then he makes tokens with power and toughness equal to the experience counters. Each token only costs 1BW, and can be done as many times as mana allows. The creatures have the variable ability themselves, so they will grow with the amount of counters we have even if they are in play already.
Okay, so now let's get to the nuts and bolt of a new Daxos deck and take a look at what my friends have built for Daxos. The first deck was created by the same chap who helped me with Mizzix last week – Nate, aka Rancidnanners. Nate's build is a perfect example of what kind of deck I would gravitate towards, because it is based on the Theros constellation ability.
The constellation mechanic is great because it triggers when an enchantment enters the battlefield, rather than when it is cast. This will pair well with Daxos' tokens, which are enchantments themselves, and will therefore trigger constellation. The constellation effects of cards like Thoughtrender Lamia, Agent of Erebos, or Doomwake Giant are extremely oppressive in a deck that can casually make enchantments at instant speed, and even something like the lowly Grim Guardian or Underworld Coinsmith will be very strong with all the enchantments in the deck.
There are just so many enchantment creatures from Theros that, even with 16 or so in here, he still doesn't have half of them in here. Nate mainly focused on constellation as opposed to the 'bestow' creatures. There is the Hopeful Eidolon and Eidolon of Countless Battles in here, but I feel some cards are missing, like Herald of Torment, Celestial Archon, or, my personal favorite, Ghostblade Eidolon.
A few of the enchantment creatures in here are just plain good, but don't have specific interactions with anything in the deck. Master of the Feast for instance is mainly in here as a mega beater, and maybe even as a bit of political tool. I would personally let that thing live if it wasn't attacking me. Of course, there is also the Eidolon of Rhetoric, Spirit of the Labyrinth, and Aegis of the Gods as some defensive hate bear type creatures, as well as the Archetype of Courage and Archetype of Finality to add some buffs to the creatures.
The last class of enchantment creatures in here are the Gods of Theros themselves – Heliod, God of the Sun, Erebos, God of the Dead, and Athreos, God of Passage. Heliod is of particular interest in this deck, because the tokens he makes are enchantments much like Daxos'. Erebos is a pretty decent midrange card, and the way he stops life gain is probably going to be his biggest asset. Athreos is a very good card in any B/W-based deck, and I think will help out the more aggressive strategy of this deck.
One of my favorite aspects of Nate's deck is the use of the semi-Enchantress abilities available to the color identity, such as Blessed Spirits, Celestial Ancients, Mesa Enchantress, and Blightcaster. Unfortunately, they are casting triggers, and not enters-the-battlefield triggers like constellation, so the tokens from Daxos / Heliod won't count. Celestial Ancients is pretty amazing in this deck though, as it distributes a counter to each of the many token creatures we intend to create. Blightcaster is a card I've always wanted to use (it rotated out of Standard as Theros became Standard legal if I remember correctly), and this is probably the first deck I've seen that will really take advantage of it. I can see it leveling a lot of decks that are used to free reign with tiny creatures, like Azami, Lady of Scrolls.
We've talked a lot about creatures, but what about actual enchantments? I am not surprised to see removal cards in the enchantment section, such as Banishing Light, Oblivion Ring, and Stasis Snare. There are a few enchantments in here that feel weird at first, like Gossamer Chains or Flickering Ward, until I realized that they self-bounce! Flickering Ward in particular is pretty nuts in this deck, allowing us to pay WW and continually wrack up experience / enchantress / constellation effects.
Opalescence, Starfield of Nyx, and Sphere of Safety round out the real interactions with enchantments in this deck, and the rest of the enchantments are mostly good stuff like Grave Pact, Karmic Justice, Martyr's Bond, etc.
Overall, I like the deck a lot, but it does feel all-in on enchantments. Something like Aura Shards or Bane of Progress will just wreck the entire deck. I guess that is just the risk in any deck like this, but it is worth mentioning that some cards will just wreck that deck.
This next deck is from my employee, Stephen. It is a much more controlling build, with less than half the creatures of Nate's deck. Considering that Daxos can make as many creatures as needed, I can get behind this strategy as well. Whereas Nate focused on enchantment creatures, Stephen focused on more enchantments that will act as removal / defense.
The one big creature that Stephen included over Nate was the Brain Maggot, which I think is really cool in this deck. Stephen also included Disciple of Bolas and Blood Artist, which are not immediate synergies with the enchantments, but I feel are wise choices for a balanced control deck. The rest of the creatures are, for the most part, things we saw in Nate's deck with the Doomwake Giant and Eidolon of Countless Battles being the most notable.
The space that wasn't spent on creatures was spent mainly on adding instants, sorceries, and both B/W Sorins – Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and Sorin, Solemn Visitor. The non-permanent spells have a lot of removal, tutoring, and card drawing which, again, I feel reflects the fact that this will be more of a grinding control deck. Path to Exile and Toxic Deluge specifically feel like smart inclusions, especially against something like Aura Shards.
The reason there are not many creatures in this deck becomes apparent when we see a single enchantment that you might have never heard of before – Blood Funnel. I've referred to it as the reverse Heartless Summoning in the past, because it basically makes all noncreature spells cheaper to cast. Considering that Daxos can make a lot of tokens to soak up the sacrifice triggers of the few creatures we might cast, Blood Funnel seems like a fun toy in this deck.
We see a few cards in here that are similar to what Nate included, like how Cage of Hands bounces itself, and Quarantine Field is an uber Oblivion Ring. Darksteel Mutation and Journey to Nowhere are both strong cards to add, and really continue the control strategy. One inclusion that I really like is Soul Snare, especially in combination with Starfield of Nyx. Recurring exile removal is excellent at that low mana cost.
In addition to the Sphere of Safety, Stephen also included Ghostly Prison, as well as more good stuff defense enchantments like Runed Halo, Nevermore, Leyline of Sanctity, and even Phyrexian Unlife. I am not totally sure about the Phyrexian Unlife to be honest, but the card is pretty awesome. If nothing else, it adds another 10 life to the game, so why not?
If / when I build my own Daxos, the Returned deck, it will probably be a bit closer to Nate's if only to make use of all the constellation stuff that hasn't felt relevant enough in Commander. I agree with The General strategy behind Stephen's deck, especially considering that Daxos can pretty much be every creature we would need, and therefore having a ton of enchantment creatures is really not necessary in some builds. A combination of a lot of the particular card selections would also be nice, and I would probably invest into more enchantments like Cage of Hands or Flickering Ward.
Next week I think it is time to take a look at the B/G experience legend, Meren of Clan Nel Toth. Thanks for reading!
- Cassidy Silver
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