Deckbuilding – Swinging at Strike 2

close up photography of four baseballs on green lawn grasses

Hey Commander players! I love me a good baseball reference. I used to follow baseball a lot closer, but in recent years there’s been a rise in unabashed unprofessionalism, and everything about ‘launch angle’ is bad for the game, and might not be fixable. I could go on for hours, but that’s a whole other conversation.

The baseball reference is to a desperation swing, when the ball/strike count is precarious for the hitter. A swing at strike 2 is often an attempt to foul off a ball and spoil a good pitch, and sometimes it’s a well-timed drive into the seats, but generally, you want to avoid having to do it at all. Not so with this deck. Here, the reference is to double strike, and we want to swing at strike 2 as much as possible.

I really like equipment as a card type. I played way back in the ‘golden’ ages of the 90s, where auras were the best thing available to buff your creatures outside of single turn flurries of Giant Growth and Berserk. A few cards, specifically Rancor, redeem auras a little, but if we want to buff our guys, equipment is the stuff.

Boros deck (red and white) are notorious in Commander for being behind the curve. Mainly that has to do with card draw and mana ramp. I built a deck recently that was too powerful for me to play with, and freaked out my friends a little. If you like competitive decks, you can check it out here. I did enjoy the equipment aspect, and when Commander Legends dropped, I immediately opened a copy of Reyav, Master Smith. The dwarf seemed much less oppressive than Akiri, Fearless Voyager (not included in the deck because when I have it in play, it’s like I’m under the influence of an invincibility star that doesn’t go away), and I could keep my manabase and fair number of cards from the previous build. Here it is! And here it is on Archidekt, too.

Swinging at Strike 2

Commander (1)
Reyav, Master Smith

The Roster (26)
Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist
Armored Skyhunter
Armory Automaton
Danitha Capashen, Paragon
Etali, Primal Storm
Fervent Champion
Foundry Inspector
Frenzied Saddlebrute
Geode Rager
Haktos the Unscarred
Heliod, God of the Sun
Knight of the White Orchid
Prophetic Flamespeaker
Relic Robber
Soltari Visionary
Sram, Senior Edificer
Stone Haven Outfitter
Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner
Taranika, Akroan Veteran
Tectonic Giant
Tilonalli’s Summoner
Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor
Verge Rangers
Yidaro, Wandering Monster
Zirda, the Dawnwaker

The Equipment Room (26)
Basilisk Collar
Boros Signet
Chariot of Victory
Commander’s Sphere
Crystal Slipper
Explorer’s Scope
Farsight Mask
Fountain of Ichor
Haunted Cloak
Helm of Kaldra
Mace of the Valiant
Mask of Memory
Mind’s Eye
Prying Blade
Rogue’s Gloves
Seer’s Sundial
Shield of Kaldra
Sol Ring
Strider Harness
Swiftfoot Boots
Sword of Body and Mind
Sword of Kaldra
Sword of the Animist

Trick Plays (7)
Fires of Invention
Legion’s Landing
Leyline of Combustion
Path of Mettle
Sigarda’s Aid
Tectonic Reformation

Advanced Strats (5)
Jabari’s Influence
Path to Exile
Sevinne’s Reclamation
Swords to Plowshares
Valakut Awakening // Valakut Stoneforge
Lands (35)
Balduvian Trading Post
Battlefield Forge
Castle Ardenvale
Clifftop Retreat
Command Tower
Dwarven Mine
Labyrinth of Skophos
11 Mountain
Needle Spires
Sandstone Bridge
Spectator Seating
Sunbaked Canyon
Teetering Peaks
Temple of Triumph
Throne of the High City
Windbrisk Heights

So the main trick the deck is trying to pull is a piece of haste equipment on a combat trigger creature. Reyav is cheap, and almost guaranteed on turn 2. That could mean he eats removal, but he comes back turn 4, so the removal caster may factor that in and let him live. The haste equipment is as plentiful as possible, from the ubiquitous Lightning Greaves, to the lowly Strider Harness. All of my haste lands, including Flamekin Village, are in other decks, otherwise they’d be in here too. We’ve got a few other enablers, like the new Frenzied Saddlebrute, to pair with the rest of our equipment. I think we’re good.

As far as our combat trigger guys, we don’t have that many, but the ones we have are great. Relic Robber and Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor look like hilarious fun to smash some doubles with. Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner enables the whole team, and Soltari Visionary can be a removal machine. We have some great ‘on attack’ triggers, too. Etali, Primal Storm, Armory Automaton and Tectonic Giant will do some baserunning for sure. Armored Skyhunter is one of the under-the-radar powerhouses of Commander Legends.

A big chunk of this deck is cards that I’ve been dying to play with, and haven’t had a deck for yet. Stuff like Fires of Invention and Yidaro, Wandering Monster. Both make sense for this build in a weird sort of way. Same with Geode Rager, Haktos the Unscarred and Leyline of Combustion. I’m really excited to finally have a proper place to play the potentially powerful Path of Mettle/Metzali, Tower of Triumph, and looking forward to seeing if Tectonic Reformation is the kind of draw engine I need to play in more red decks. And who other than those of you who read this article are going to expect Jabari’s Influence snagging their best guy so we can add it to our team? SABERMetrics, that’s who, as played by Brad Pitt.

Of course there’s enough powerful stuff to keep this deck rolling with some of the big green mana decks. We have Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile, both of which go in nearly every deck I build that can cast them. Danitha Capashen, Paragon and Sram, Senior Edificer do tons of work in this and other builds, and if you haven’t tried them, check out Foundry Inspector, Stone Haven Outfitter, Zirda, the Dawnwaker and even Cheering Fanatic as really hard workers for your equipment decks. There’s no boardwipe here, which might be the first thing I need to consider after a few test runs. I’m more thinking of trying to present some fearsome blockers as well, to keep the heat off, and using vigilance from cards like Heliod, God of the Sun to have my team be more than just a bunch of designated hitters.

If you like baseball, or just like Boros decks, this could be one for you. I’m looking forward to batting it around at the first opportunity. Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there. There are lots of great reasons to stay inside, and Magic is one of them. Your life matters! Black Lives Matter!

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