Strixhaven: School of Mages introduced us to the premiere magical university in the multiverse, and its five Colleges competing for supremacy. The set is fantastic, with loads of incredible spells to cast and a whole host of luxurious Mystical Archive cards to find. But if you were hoping to see more of the school and its colourful characters, then don’t worry, the Commander 2021 decks are here for you.
Strixhaven is bringing us a healthy curriculum of five new decks to play with, with each showing the very best of the five colleges. With exclusive cards, powerful Commanders, and new, eco-friendly packaging, these decks will take your favourite colour pairs in entirely new directions! They’re also pretty easy to upgrade too, if you’re wanting to push up those grades a bit.
Lorehold Legacies is the white and red deck of Commander 2021, but this is about as far from the usual Boros stuff as you can get. Commanded by Osigir, The Reconstructor, this is a grave-yard loving deck focused on artifacts. Make them, sacrifice them, bring them back, and use your magical archaeology skills to make a board your opponents will have huge problems dealing with!
Alongside Osigir, there are a few more really exciting exclusive cards. The alternate commander, Alibou, Ancient Witness turns your artifacts into Commander damage cannons, with Alibou dealing more the more tapped artifacts you have.
In white, we have Monologue Tax (a new, slightly more situational take on the popular Smothering Tithe) and Archaeomancer’s Map, which gives the colour some of that much-needed land ramp. For red, there’s Cursed Mirror, a mana rock that can become a copy of any creature on the board until the end of turn, and Battlemage’s Bracers, an equipment that allows you to copy your activated abilities!
Lorehold Legacies is one of the most exciting pre-con Commander decks in a long, long time, but there are still some great ways you can upgrade it. Alongside upgrading your land base (with Spectator Seating, Sacred Foundry, Clifftop Retreat, Buried Ruin and Inventor’s Fair), you can add some powerful Artifact creatures with death triggers, like Wurmcoil Engine. From there, throw in a Goblin Welder for lots of easy artifact recursion, and a Kuldotha Forgemaster to get the whole thing going.
While Monologue Tax is a great card, it isn’t quite on the level of Smothering Tithe. Add one of those in there and you’ll be generating way more treasure artifact tokens for Osigir to work with!
As the arts department of Strixhaven, Prismari is all about raw magical expression. Nobody exemplifies this better than the Prismari Performance Commander, Zaffai, Thunder Conductor, a spell-slinging music teacher who rewards you for your massive spells. Play an instant or sorcery that costs five or more mana, and you’ll make a 4/4 creature token. Cast one that costs 10 or more, and Zaffai will send a whopping 10 Commander damage at a random player. He even encourages your smaller spells, letting you scry with every instant or sorcery you cast!
Joining Zaffai in this deck are Veyran, Voice of Duality and, possibly my favourite Commander 2021 card, the eight-loving Octopus Octavia, Living Thesis. To really make some sparks, you’ll be able to deal massive damage with Inferno Project, build mana and draw cards with both Rousing and Inspiring Refrain, and close out the game with a massive bang courtesy of Surge to Victory, buffs your creatures and lets you cast an instant or sorcery from your graveyard for free each time they do damage!
This is a deck all about non-permanent spells, so finding ways to make the most of them is important. Ral, Storm Conduit is a Planeswalker that pings your opponents for one damage each time you cast, and then lets you copy your bigger spells with his -2 ability. Double Vision and Primal Amulet//Primal Wellspring will give you free copies as well, maxing out that value.
You’ll also really benefit from having Mizzix’s Mastery as another way to win, as it allows you to play every instant and sorcery in your graveyard for free without paying their mana costs. Combine that with Zaffai’s abilities and the hefty spells in the deck, and you’re almost guaranteed to secure your win!
One of my favourite things about Commander is the political aspect of it, which is why the Silverquill Statement deck appeals to me so much. Headed up by Breena, the Demagogue, this is a deck all about encouraging your opponents to not only hit each other, but also reward you for almost every action they take.
No good action goes unpunished at Silverquill, and so the deck is full of cards like Tempting Contract (which makes everyone treasure tokens, but you’ll always get more), Bold Plagiarist (copies any counters your opponents put on their creatures), Scholarship Sponsor (a fantastic bit of mono-white ramp) and Inkshield (a fog/moment’s peace-type effect which also builds a massive army of Inkling tokens).
If Breena isn’t your kind of Commander, consider swapping it for the secondary commander, Felisa, Fang of Silverquill. She loves tokens, counters and death, flooding the board with ink as long as you can keep sacrificing your own creatures.
You’ll want to stock up on the defence-heavy ‘pillowfort’ tactics for Breena, to further dissuade others from harming you. This has already got the excellent Ghostly Prison, and so a worthwhile inclusion would be Norn’s Annex, its Phyrexian counterpart.
Once you’re getting people to not attack you, throw in a few cards with the always-fun Monarch mechanic, like Court of Ambition and Court of Grace. You’ll get extra card draws, and your opponents will have to really hurt themselves to steal it from you!
Finally, Cathar’s Crusade is a must. You’ll be making lots of Inkling tokens, and with Cathar’s Crusade they’ll very quickly get out of hand with more +1/+1 counters than the opponent can handle!
Another deck that takes the colour pairs we know and love into a wildly new direction, Witherbloom Witchcraft is a black/green lifegain deck! Find any way you can to gain life, and then sacrifice it all for devastating effects.
Willowdusk Essence Seer is the face Commander, letting you put +1/+1 counters on your creatures based on how much life you have each turn. However, I think the secondary commander is probably the more interesting one. Gyome, Master Chef regards you playing nontoken creatures with food tokens, before feeding them to make them indestructible!
Other great cards in the deck include Veinwitch Coven, for that spicy creature recursion, Witch’s Clinic to give your Commander Lifelink, and Ezzaroot Channeler, which makes your creatures much cheaper if you can keep up the life gain. You may not have the white lifegain powerhouse cards here, but there’s more than enough to punish everyone for every extra point you get.
If you want any easy win combo, Exquisite Blood is… well… exquisite. The deck already has the other half of the infamous combo, Sanguine Bond, meaning once both are out, you just have to gain a single life point to set off an inescapable loop that will eventually lead to victory.
There are other ways to gain life, too. Vito, Thorn of Dusk Rose both punishes your opponents for your gains, while also letting you give all your creatures lifelink for an even bigger boost. Witch’s Oven can sacrifice your creatures to make Gyome’s precious food tokens, and Essence Warden will give you life for any creature that enters the battlefield under anybody’s control.
As an extra win condition, Gray Merchant of Asphodel would be great, as it deals lots of damage and then gains you a lot of life, which is then even more punishment through the rest of the deck!
I love token decks, and Quantum Quandrix looks like it has the potential to really churn them out if you can get going. Lead by Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, who are basically a blue/green Anointed Procession, this deck will quickly flood the board by multiplying your tokens, before pumping them up big and causing havoc.
The second commander is Esix, Fractal Bloom. While it won’t make as many tokens as Adrix and Nev, it can make scarier tokens, by letting them empty as copies of a creature you already have on the board. Joining them are Deekah, Fractal Theorist, who prints out fractal tokens with instants and sorceries, and Ruxa, Patient Professor, who is a vanilla (meaning no abilities) tribal commander that works great with all your tokens!
Another fantastic card in there is Paradox Zone. Imagine something like Hydra’s Growth, which doubles +1/+1 counters each turn, could also spew out tokens that big. Start with a 1/1 Fractal, and by its fifth turn you’ll be making 35/35 monsters.
This is a pretty standard Simic tokens deck, so anything that loves tokens will fit nicely in here. Helm of the Host will let you make a token copy (or two with Adrix and Nev) of your Commander, further increasing the shenanigans. Then there’s the classic Doubling Season and Parallel Lives, which will also double your tokens for a ridiculous amount.
You’ll also want anything that makes big tokens. Combine Avenger of Zendikar with Esix and your opponents have a big problem on their hands. Scute Swarm, Rampaging Baloths, Orvar the All-Form, Progenitor Mimic and Chasm Skulker are also excellent choices.
You can buy all five of the decks, or the singles you need to upgrade them, through Magic Madhouse today!