Hey there Commander players! With a new set comes new Legendary creatures to build decks around. Considering Baldur’s Gate is officially a Commander Legends set (whatever that actually means), there are tons of new creatures and even enchantments to stuff into the Command Zone like some sort of absurd metaphysical dumpling.
This time around, Jon Irenicus, Shattered One caught my eye, because I enjoy Goad and giving creatures away seems like fun. You can even give things to those players with all the sacrifice outlets like Phyrexian Altar and not have them immediately disappear.
I don’t like to build predatory or toxic decks (though it sometimes happens by accident) and this one is no exception. It probably won’t do much against some tuned concepts, especially some of the New Capenna Commanders like The Beamtown Bullies and Jetmir, Nexus of Revels. But if your meta is a little more gentle than reliable turn 4+ kills, this might be right up your alley.
The deck deliberately presents a low profile. For example it has no Sol Ring or other premium mana acceleration, or much fixing like fetchlands. Part of the reason is all my Sol Rings are in other decks, but considering the deck’s low curve and ability to draw cards, getting a hot start is just unwanted attention. But it also should keep a full hand and have plenty of interaction with the table, which is exactly the kind of game I want.
Here’s the list:
I like Goad a lot, but I’ve struggled to use it in the past. There are two main reasons for this that this list is trying to address. First, people hate having their stuff Goaded. If it’s my stuff, I think it’ll be better since they’re not really encouraged to lose a permanent. Second, Goad draws attention to the Goader, and often that player becomes the target of things like Haste creatures, non-Goaded creatures, and Goaded creatures that can’t attack other players, like when the attacker refuses to pay for Propaganda. Or all the other players are dead. Goad suffers in a two player game.
The main fail case for a Jon Irenicus, Shattered One deck is giving your opponent the means to eventually kill you. You can’t stuff them with big threats, because Goad doesn’t exclude them from eventually coming at you. Plus if you’re constantly causing havoc with Goad, the table will just turn on you to be able to play a normal game.
So what do we do? Mainly, we have to make sure we’re not giving away premium threats. I’m leaning heavily on smaller creatures with Enters-the-Battlefield (ETB) effects. Most draw a card. That means I get their value, make them a little bigger and give them away to become a decent sized threat that will probably not last too long. If it draws me just one more card as an attacker, that’s considerable value for your average dork, and nothing about the process should put too much of a target on me.
There are a few things that I’ll be giving away as political tools, like Etrata, the Silencer, Evil Twin, Stuffy Doll, and Marang River Prowler. I can use them myself if necessary. The Prowler is part of a suite of recurring creatures as well, like Skyclave Shade, Clattering Augur and Dread Wanderer.
Having a steady supply of creatures to give away is really important, because the deck doesn’t want to have to do much else. A card like Dreadhorde Invasion creates a steady supply of giveaways, and leads to the fun situation where opponents have multiple small Zombie Armies, which is not supposed to happen. Crowded Crypt doubles as a mana rock and possibly a small army of giveaways later in the game. Decayed Zombies are a great gift, as they’ll seldom come back to haunt you. Darksteel Myr is a small but sticky threat that should draw a card every cycle. Scroll of Fate turns useless cards, mostly lands, into easy giveaways.
Speaking of weird token situations, the deck has both Captain’s Claws and Sigiled Sword of Valeron to equip to my creatures before I give them away. As I continue to control the equipment, the tokens will arrive under my control, attacking during another player’s turn. Fun!
I also have a few backup ways to give extra things away, or change some table dynamics if necessary. Stuff like The Trickster-God’s Heist and Switcheroo. If they prove strong, there are few other similar spells I could add.
I have plenty of ways to keep the heat off me if it comes to it, including several Deathtouch creatures that double as great giveaways and terrific blockers. Some have added utility, like the flexible Dire Fleet Poisoner, the recursive Vengeful Pharaoh, and all-around allstar, Baleful Strix. For worst case scenarios, or just to get something back to reuse, are Despotic Scepter, and to some degree, Mystifying Maze.
Recurring my creatures is cool, and I’ve got some game towards it, but it’s more important to just draw into more stuff instead. Still, cards like Beacon of Unrest, Supernatural Stamina, and Cauldron of Souls offer so much to the deck, they had to be included.
For raw utility, I have both Skullclamp, Strionic Resonator and Lithoform Engine. Both can draw hate, but I don’t make a steady supply of X/1s to use with the clamp, and the Resonator and Engine are just to get an extra giveaway trigger. I have to keep watch on these, because players know what they can do. I would put Phyrexian Reclamation in a similar category. All of mine are in other decks, but it’d be really good here. It’s good everywhere. And if it’s doing too much work, will potentially turn too much attention my way.
Speaking of utility, Planar Incision is a normally insignificant common, but has so many applications in this deck, it’s exciting. It’s an answer to tokens, a reset for my giveaways and ETBS, a way of saving Jon from removal, and whatever else I can think of. Blinking a creature with an important equip trigger on the stack might be a game-changer.
One of the best things about this deck is being able to justify some jank that I’ve never found a good home for before. Josu Vess, Lich Knight, aka Liliana’s reanimated bro, becomes a significant giveaway as a 6/7 with menace (including Jon’s 2 +1/+1 counters) for only 4 mana. I can also kick him later in the game for tons of tokens, which I could also give away.
I really like the wacky potential of Dream Fighter which has been one of my favourite pieces of Magic art since it was printed in 1996, and of Grip of Phyresis where I’ll keep the equip and give away the Germ. Norritt is another favourite artwork, and a mechanical oddity that can cause all sorts of combat chaos.
Finally, I’d like to point out Steal Enchantment as one of the best answers out there to enchantments. Why? Because so many decks struggle with them, and there are so many OP ones out there. Stealing a black or red deck’s pivotal enchantment, like Purphoros, God of the Forge or Revel in Riches, can be lights-out, because those colours typically can’t remove enchantments easily. I’ve found it’s a bit of stunner too, especially on an early Rhystic Study, and the cost is perfect for an early game surprise.
That’s the deck! I’m really looking forward to playing this one. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading!