Hey Magic players! It’s been a while since I built a deck for Commander. Partly because I’ve been busy, and partly because my Magic activities have been wrapped up in building a Cube. More about that soon.
A recent trip to my excellent LGS, The Connection Games & Hobbies brought me the info that they’d be doing a tutor-free Commander Challenge sometime in the near future. That really speaks to me, as I don’t play tutors for a number of reasons, and this site was even called selftaughtcommander.com originally. Self taught because no tutors.
Even though none of my decks search for any reason (not even basics. I DO NOT want to shuffle that pile more than once per game) it was a good excuse to build a couple of new concepts that I thought might be fun to try out.
This time out, I’m sharing Kosei, Penitent Warlord. I like unique spins on Mono-green, including my Hua Tuo, Honored Physician deck a while back. The name is a reference to the From Software game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, mixed up with a certain green ogre from pop culture. Oh Donkey!
Shrekiro: Auras Die Twice
Update Feb 19, 2023
This deck was played at Commander Challenge since this list was posted. There have been a few changes.
Enchantments – Burgeoning, Colossification and Primeval Bounty were removed. Audacity, Concord with the Kami, Fertile Ground, Overgrowth, Setessan Training, and Warbriar Blessing were added. Auras rule.
Spells – Ancient Animus, Inscription of Abundance, Bramblecrush and Savage Stomp were removed. Instead, Chameleon Blur, Desert Twister, Expand the Sphere, Obscuring Haze, Spore Cloud, and Thwart the Enemy were added.
Land – Blast Zone, Cryptic Caves, Emergence Zone, Roadside Reliquary and Throne of the High City were removed. Instead, Arcane Lighthouse, Detection Tower, Karn’s Bastion, Mosswort Bridge and Turntimber Grove were added. Green mana was in short supply.
It needs further tinkering, especially with the manabase. I’d also like to find room for Fog.
Playing the Deck
The plan is simple: suit Kosei up with an aura, a piece of equipment and a counter, then send him into combat every turn. The curve is low so I can concentrate on keeping Kosei on the field and paying equip costs. As stated above, there’s no ramp that searches the library, so we’ve got artifacts and some ways to play extra lands.
It’s expected that Kosei is going to be a big target, so I’ve got protection in the form of totem armor auras, equipment like Darksteel Plate and some instants like Gaea’s Gift. I’m not sure I have enough hedge against theft effects, which would completely neutralize the deck, which is definitely something to watch going forward.
The deck has tons of ways to put counters on Kosei, including some equipment and plenty of lands. Most put the counter on as a bonus, like with the fight cards like Ancient Animus. Some are modal, like Retreat to Kazandu, Bow of Nylea and Primeval Bounty, and some are a little more tricky, like Fight Rigging, Family’s Favor, and Cauldron of Souls.
The equipment, in addition to putting counters on Kosei, has a lot of focus on haste and other useful keywords. Trample, vigilance, flying and first/double strike all work really well with Kosei. Deathtouch and lifelink can be endlessly useful, even if they don’t directly contribute to the plan. Hexproof or indestructible might be game-changers. There’s also a little ramp in Explorer’s Scope, some card draw in Infiltration Lens and Zephyr Boots, and a hedge against forced-sacrifice effects like edicts in Assault Suit. And Kaldra, of course!
The auras are the toughest part of the deck, as auras tend to suck. Opponents with instant-speed removal can wait until an aura is on the stack, then kill Kosei for a double-whammy. While there’s only so much I can do about this, I can run several auras that recur, like Rancor and Fortitude which return to hand if put into the graveyard from play, and Vineweft, Talons of Wildwood, and Moldervine Cloak, all of which can be recurred for a cost. They don’t care why they were put in the graveyard, or from where.
Rounding out the auras are card draw in Sixth Sense, Snake Umbra and Fruit of the First Tree, two of which are also a hedge against Kosei being killed. Treefolk Umbra helps with that too, and takes advantage of Kosei’s high toughness. Cartouche of Strength adds a fight. Colossification should be no surprise, but can threaten to end the game.
While I’m mostly happy with the deck, I feel like some changes could be made. Maybe a bit more removal, and ways to take care of enchantments and artifacts. Reclamation Sage is always good. More hexproof stuff like Mask of Avacyn could be worthwhile. Warbriar Blessing and Heroic Intervention might be too good to pass up. If the meta is theft-heavy, High Market could be a great way to keep Kosei out of their hands.
It’ll have to wait until I get a chance to play with it! Until then, what do you think? Will Shrekiro and the auras die twice, or too many times to ever have a hope of winning a game? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!