Hey Commander players! During the epidemic, I’ve been watching speedruns on the interweb. If you’re not familiar, they are playthroughs of video games at the fastest speed possible. Some involve manipulation of weird game glitches, like clipping through walls and such, but I’m less interested in those. I love the runs of the old Nintendo Mega Man games, because those games gave me fits when I was younger. And the Super Mario variants, including the player-made courses, drop my jaw.
I wanted to build a deck that was a tribute to those crazy runs, where spin jumps off buzz saws are routine, and small Mario goes the distance. And so I did, with the Akiri, Fearless Voyager I opened in a Zendikar Rising pack. I’ve played one round with it already, and it played like I thought it would, fast, lethal and full of crazy tricks. I wholeheartedly apologize for the Aven Mindcensor with Roiling Regrowth on the stack. Here’s the deck.
The name of the deck is a reference to TAS, or Tool-Assisted Speedrun(s). In the TAS world, a program, not a human, plays the game as perfectly as the TAS designers can get it. The Akiri deck is pretty strong, but I’m not about optimizing it. It was too strong for my meta. But like the TAS scene, Magic is a community of builders and testers, and I’m sure many people will improve on this and other decks.
If you’re a competitive player, the first thing you want to add is Puresteel Paladin and Auriok Steelshaper, which I didn’t have. You can also add Stoneforge Mystic and some fetchlands to thin things out. I’m sure plenty of builds will incorporate a Sunforger. There’s a number of cards in the Maybeboard of my Archidekt listing of the deck that deserve consideration, but I cut the creature base down from 350ish options, and I think it’s a pretty sweet group.
I doubt the deck needs much explanation. Play cheap creatures, play cheap equipment, equip the creatures cheaply, play Akiri, attack, draw cards. A lot of the creatures are what’s known as ‘Hatebears’ which are 2/2 (or so) creatures with an ability that shuts down some aspect of the opposing gameplan. Hushwing Gryff, Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Drannith Magistrate are the kind of creatures that qualify as Hatebears, even if they don’t quite have the body for it.
Alongside the Hatebears are creatures of similar size that deal damage to opponents for the various things they do. Harsh Mentor and Immolation Shaman are good examples of this. They provide reach and do a surprising amount of damage overall. Creatures like this make the deck less dependent on combat, and able to piece together a win with several sources of damage.
You may notice that there are no lands that enter the battlefield tapped, and with the exception of Iroas, God of Victory, everything costs 3 or less. The maximum equip cost is 1. There’s minimal ramp, but as long as the deck draws cards and makes land drops, it doesn’t take much to get going. The land base is still packed with value lands, like Sunbaked Canyon and Throne of the High City. There’s also a few lands that offer tiny incremental advantages, like Daru Encampment, which are like those extra little aerial boosts speedrunners can coax out of their sprites.
One of the most powerful thing the deck does is use Akiri, Fearless Voyager‘s ‘unequip’ ability. While unequipping combined with Sigarda’s Aid can get pretty greasy, the real power here is the bit about indestructible. The main weakness of Hatebears, and weenies in general, is a sweeper effect like Wrath of God that negates the aggressive board presence the weenie deck has built up. Then the slower strategy can turn the corner with superior card quality. Akiri allows you to keep at least a couple of key creatures alive through sweepers, and can even turn those weenies into indestructible blockers for complete combat dominance.
Speed, resilience and crazy moves are the hallmarks of the elite speedrunner. It’s what this Akiri, Fearless Voyager deck does, too. Give it a try, and see for yourself. Thanks for reading! Your life matters! Black Lives Matter!