Since its the most interesting Legend in Eternal Masters (for me, at least, I bet Maelstrom Wanderer is generally more liked… or hated), I think I should write about this:
Okay, its sort of a boring commander. Just a wizard (without a race, by the way) who draws cards. Well, quite a few cards.
First Things First, Manabase
I’m going with the Zvi Mowshowitz approach here and figure out the mana first (although he was talking about something completely different…). Here’s the deal: I want to be able to play Arcanis on turn six (at the latest) in each game. Of course, I can’t guarantee this without playing 91 lands, but lets say 75% of the time is enough. That means 45 mana sources (which gives me roughly a 77% chance to hit six lands by turn six, not counting mulligans).
“But Aki,” if you happen to have noted my name for some reason, “I want to play cool cards, not boring lands.” I completely understand this, but you’ll never get to play your cool cards if you don’t have the mana. So, just eat your vegetables.
So, the question is what lands besides the best card in the game (Island) I’m going to play.
Another aspect one needs to take into account is that Arcanis is pretty blue-centric in its casting cost. According to Frank Karsten, to have three blue sources consistently by turn six, you need 32 of them (to be precise, since you get to draw a card on your first turn, I took the turn seven number).
With all the lands above, this leaves room for 27 Islands. Some of the cards above do produce blue mana, so that covers pretty much what we need, especially if we count Myriad Landscape and Thawing Glaciers.
“But Aki”, I hear you say now that you know my name unless you already forgot it, “what about the artifact sources?” Sure, you need to count those as well, but you can go pretty high with your sources. You are going to be drawing four cards a turn (if things go right), so double- or triple-spelling isn’t out of the question. You are going to want all the lands you can get.
Now, I would like to remind you that this is a casual format, so I don’t want to overdo this. I usually don’t play Sol Ring, because its massively overpowered and should have been banned a long time ago. If the RC had any idea about what they are doing, they would have done so already, but now they pretty much can’t because all the commander products always include it.
Still, I’m going to use the following:
(And yes, Solemn Simulacrum is overpowered as well.)
Yes, this leaves you with 52 cards dedicated to mana, which is quite a bit, but again, you’ll want to double-spell often, so this is not a bad thing. Also, the bodies provided by some of these creatures are going to be sort of important. Sword of the Animist needs those, if nothing else.
So, with all those lands, you are going to end up with extra ones in your hand. What do you do with those?
We probably can’t play all of those, so let’s cut that down a bit. Dream Halls can be really explosive, but on the other hand, it can also help your opponents as well, so no on that. I don’t really like Chamber of Manipulation or Overtaker, so those are out. I can’t say I really like Forbid either, but its good, so its in. Geralf’s Masterpiece won’t likely be very good in this deck (1/1 or so flier for five isn’t very playable). I’ll put Grimoire of the Dead in just because we need some wincons in the deck. It isn’t very good one, but it’ll do as an option. Mind Over Matter can be a great political tool and can keep you alive, so that’s in, despite being pretty oppressive potentially.
I just like Prognostic Sphinx, so that’s in. You don’t really ever have to discard anything to it, because your opponents aren’t going to test the waters.
So, I’ll go with these discard outlets:
I thought about putting some Madness cards in, but after thinking about it, I decided against it. Welcome to the Fold might be nice, but I’m not going to pull the trigger on this one.
What else do we need? How about ways to use Arcanis faster?
We need to protect ourselves somehow:
… and some things that actually win the game.
Maybe a bit of griefer deck, but not really. To pilot these kinds of decks does require some skill, although being good with aggressive decks is more difficult than being good with control. The curve isn’t good. You’ll really need those mana sources.
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the article, I didn’t really go for powerlevel here, although there are some very powerful cards. Don’t play these out too soon (except maybe Guile), because you don’t have very many wincons. Depending on your playgroup, monoblue might be really hated, so watch out.
Some of the card choices are more about my personal preferences than actual quality of the card (Tromokratis, anyone?). Again, this is a casual format and this is what you should be doing. Just remember to do everything around those cards properly.
I also put this on TappedOut, so you’ll get an easier to read list.