Hello! This week on Fat Stacks, we are going to take a deep look at the freshly-spoiled From the Vault: Lore. From the Vault: Lore will include 15 cards that are meant to represent the ongoing lore of the Magic universe. How close did the final product get to accurately representing the multiverse?
To put the scope of the new From the Vault in perspective, let's look at the most important card type to Commander – the legends! There are three legends available in From the Vault: Lore, and each of them are pretty notorious in Commander.
Memnarch – Darksteel (February 2004)
Memnarch is a guardian created by Karn, Silver Golem to watch over his newly formed world, Argentum, and the main antagonist of Mirrodin. It was Memnarch who renamed the plane Mirrodin to honor the Mirari, which Karn entrusted to the mecha-spider. The Mirari, which was the focus of the entire Odyssey block, drove Memnarch mad over time just as it did many heroes before.
One day while exploring the metallic plane, Memnarch saw the naturally occurring Blinkmoths on Mirrodin, and got the idea to populate the planet with life. Memnarch spent centuries abducting creatures from all sorts of races, all the while terraforming Karn's domain to support their life. Eventually, Memnarch became obsessed with rejoining the absent Karn, and began to scour Mirrodin for anyone that might exhibit a Planeswalker spark so that Memnarch might steal it. Because of all the Planeswalker spark shenanigans, the characters that may have been our first planeswalkers all either had their spark stolen, or gave it up to restore the lives lost to the mad Memnarch. Karn did eventually return and destroy Memnarch, but there was a lot of damage done to the plane.
One thing worth mentioning is that this card has updated flavor text. In the original flavor text reads:
“In the blue between metal and flesh, Memnarch found madness.”
The new Memnarch reads:
“An imperfection in the perfect world? We can't allow that.”
Memnarch is a good commander for blue decks, as it has abilities that are able to dominate the game by itself. Memnarch is pretty high on the list of scary legends to fight against, so bringing Memnarch to the table is a surefire way to create bad feels. Memnarch takes advantage of blue's natural ability to pump out a lot of mana; you can play any deck with Memnarch at the helm.
It has been a while since anyone had submitted a deck led by Memnarch specifically, but the build is still relevant, despite being over a year old. This is not to say that Memnarch is not used in Commander decks, but he usually shows up as a part of the other 99 in decks with different legends leading them.
As I mentioned, this deck has not had any updates since Magic Origins, but there are not many cards that have come out that are worth including in a deck like this. Perhaps something like Summary Dismissal or Confirm Suspicions, but really the deck is fine as is.
This deck is also a great example of Memnarch because it is very, very powerful. There are plenty of infinite combos, such as Deadeye Navigator + Peregrine Drake / Great Whale / Palinchron for infinite mana. I am also a huge fan of Sensei's Divining Top + Cloud Key + Future Sight + Magus of the Future. This will basically enable infinite card draws with Sensei's Divining Top. Even though three-card combos are sometimes more miss than hit, this one is easy to assemble, and Sensei's Divining Top is difficult to destroy.
There are a handful of blue legends in the deck list that also make great commanders for this deck. That is why we don't see a lot of Memnarch-specific decks here, but there are definitely a ton of Venser, Shaper Savant or Arcanis the Omnipotent decks, and they tend to be pretty similar.
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary – Dissension (May 2006)
Much like Memnarch, Momir Vig is one of the antagonists of his particular block of Ravnica. Momir Vig is somewhat of a mad scientist, who begins to twist the traditional role of the Simic Combine from life preservation to life alteration. His goal was more or less to replace all the biological forms on Ravnica with something new and shiny, which reminds me of the first Bioshock. Momir Vig allied himself with the Golgari in the storyline, and was cut down by Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran. Momir Vig is not necessarily the most important character in Ravnica, but he is pretty interesting, and also a good card in his own right.
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary is also similar to Memnarch in that he is a very, very powerful Commander and will create similar animosity in play groups. Most people agree that searching for a creature is OP, and Momir Vig, Simic Visionary gets to do it plenty of times, all while progressing the board state naturally with creatures. As far as Simic legends go, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary is probably the Commander with the most raw power, though his high profile can make it difficult to get a foot hold in multiplayer games.
Again, we have another slightly older deck, but I think it is much like Memnarch, where the other Simic legends are more accessible, and more friendly to boot. The entire deck is based around searching for other creatures, and that tends to make a lot of games one-sided. To be fair, there are a lot of fun cards in here, like Nimbus Swimmer, Biomass Mutation, and Shaman of the Forgotten Ways. I can see Biomass Mutation being good, but I don't think I've ever played against it in Commander.
If we were talking upgrades to the list, first we would have to cut Prophet of Kruphix, and for some reason I think there are two Kruphix, God of the Horizons in here? (Man, 2015 was a weird year.) We have the new Simic manland, Lumbering Falls to add, as well as Bring to Light and Seasons Past. Creature-wise, we have “Eternal Bigness” AKA Murasa Greenwarden, as well as Altered Ego and the excellent Ulvenwald Hydra. Unfortunately, some of the recent creatures with Simic color identities are either colorless or devoid, which are non-bos with Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. The deck would like an Elder Deep-Fiend or World Breaker, but they are sadly not good with Momir Vig, Simic Visionary.
Glissa, the Traitor – Mirrodin Beseiged (February 2011)
The hero of Mirrodin, the nascent Planeswalker Glissa Sunseeker, gave up her Planeswalker spark to undo the damage done by Memnarch. This made her very tired, so she rested near Mirrodin's Core, protected but imprisoned. She stayed there for many years, sleeping off the events of the original story. Her nickname "traitor" was actually given to her because she was no longer around, and was made a Scapegoat in her absence. Her Phyrexian compleation by Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger came much later, and she was really only corrupted because she rested so close to the rotting core of her plane. Glissa led the Phyrexian forces against the "native" Mirrans during Scars of Mirrodin. The Phyrexians end up winning as the cycle unfolds, and the conquerors transformed the plane into New Phyrexia.
Glissa, the Traitor is easily one of my favorite legends in the game, and is the first legend I recommend to people who want to go with a Goglari control theme. She breaks the game with a lot of cards, mainly Executioner's Capsule and Mindslaver, and her first strike and deathtouch combination makes her one of the scariest combat units in the game.
This deck doesn't have many cards from recent blocks in it — that happens a lot in Commander. Sometimes, the older cards are still just better, and sometimes you just don't feel the need to swap out one card for another when the deck already works fine.
The control aspect of this deck is clear, from the high-curve creatures like Rune-Scarred Demon or Terastodon, to the board wipes like Damnation and Plague Wind. The big pieces are definitely there though – Mindslaver, Executioner's Capsule, and the ever-troll, Grinning Totem. Mindslaver lock is the best path to victory, and the Capsule will basically recur itself if needed. Grinning Totem is great for cleaning out the opponents' decks of good spells, but it is also handy for stealing overpowered lands like Cabal Coffers.
There are a few other nice touches to the deck, especially the Altar of the Brood, which will turn some of the removal chains of Executioner's Capsule into a mill effect. Altar of the Brood pairs well with Vulturous Zombie, which will get huge from all the small mill triggers. I also like how the deck acknowledges the raw combat power of Glissa, the Traitor with the inclusion of some equipment, mainly the Loxodon Warhammer. The trample combines beautifully with her deathtouch, which will mean all but one damage will trample over, as one damage will be lethal with one blocker. Even if Glissa, the Traitor doesn't want to be in combat, she has the handy-dandy Viridian Longbow, which again goes great with deathtouch.
There is not much I would change with this particular deck, though I would probably lean back from some of the more expensive creatures. The only card that it is seriously missing is Forbidden Orchard, which is one of the key cards in making the Mindslaver lock permanent. The problem with a Mindslaver lock is that there needs to be an opposing creature dying every turn. You basically just make the creatures attack into Glissa, the Traitor one by one, which will recur the Mindslaver. With Forbidden Orchard in play though, you never have to worry about running out of viable attacks. Just give the opponent a Spirit Token every turn, and then attack it into Glissa, the Traitor. Done deal.
The other cards in From the Vault: Lore are all tied to the lore of Magic. Even if you are sick of Umezawa's Jittes and Dark Depths with sweet, be-texted Marit Lage Tokens, you can get a jump start on three different Commander decks!
Thanks for reading!
- Cassidy Silver