Breaking Commander 2016 Series

Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis Breya, Etherium Shaper Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder Atraxa, Praetors' Voice Saskia the Unyielding

Earlier this year, Mark Rosewater wrote an article about the mechanics players most wanted to see return to Magic. There were a lot of requests, but one of the more popular ones was proliferate, an effect that players wanted to see in a set that wasn't centered around infect.

Enter Commander 2016 and Atraxa, Praetors' Voice.

Our non-red Commander has a lot going for her, starting with the bundle of keywords. Flying, vigilance and lifelink make her an impressive attacker, and there's no doubt she'll be key at swinging the game in racing situations. Deathtouch means that when she is forced to play defense she'll do the job extremely well, especially if you include ways to grant first strike.

 

@Chosler88 I like a Voltron option:
Sigil of Distinction
Blight Sickle
Umezawa's Jitte
Ring of Evos Isle

— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) November 8, 2016

 

While the ball of stats and abilities is fun, it's the second line of text on Atraxa that really has players salivating.

"At the beginning of your end step, proliferate."

Let's get to work.

 

Planeswalkers

 

 

@Chosler88 random planeswalkers, doubling season, Fathom Mage

— 🦃turkey piedred🍰 (@jerry_eldred) November 8, 2016

 

This is where most players start with Atraxa. We all know how much fun Doubling Season can be, and Atraxa plays perfectly with that plan. The one downside is that Atraxa doesn't proliferate until the end of the turn, so you can't immediately take advantage, but in a dedicated planeswalker deck you're fine waiting because it helps protect them from damage on your opponents' turns and helps you ultimate a turn earlier.

 

@Chosler88 Any Pw, doubling season, even wither support would be nice.

— Path&Bolt (@PathBoltMTG) November 8, 2016

 

Given access to everything but red, there's no shortage of planeswalkers who fit the bill. But I particularly like planeswalkers that can ultimate the turn after you cast them with Atraxa in play. You play them, plus them, proliferate and then ultimate on your following turn.

All of these offer immediate value by virtue of being strong planeswalkers, and Atraxa pushes them over the top in terms of threat level. If you're going to build a Super Friends-style deck these planeswalkers are a great place to start.

Of course, let's not forget about Deepglow Skate, which is likely the most popular non-Atraxa card in the deck and makes whatever strategy we go with all the more potent. Gilder Bairn and Inexorable Tide will also be a key component of any Atraxa deck we build.

 

Infect

 

 

@Chosler88 @VorthosMike Infectx99 cards

— Mitchell Rudy (@TheOnlyNom) November 8, 2016

 

 

@mtgcolorpie @Chosler88 esp things that give poison counters w/o attacking like Hand of the Praetors, Ichor Rats

— Andrew (@nostrangenames) November 8, 2016

 

Back to the roots of proliferate! Infect got a shot in the arm with Ezuri, Claw of Progress last year, and now with Atraxa it has an entire route to go again. Infect is a terror in Commander due to only needing 10 points even in a format where players have 40 life, and with Atraxa as the commander means that all it takes is a shot or two with a creature to put them on the path to death even if they eventually get blockers. That's what makes cards like Hand of the Praetors and Ichor Rats even more appealing.

Contagion Clasp and especially Contagion Engine are key pieces here. One of my favorite cards in this strategy is Viral Drake. Not only is it another infect creature, it also can win the game on its own. More importantly, it's the only card that allows you to proliferate as much as you want, a feat made much easier by the fact it can also add counters to a number of mana rocks, including Astral Cornucopia, Everflowing Chalice and Coalition Relic.

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon will also find a home in the infect build of the deck. The powerful dragon can take players out on its own, but with Atraxa backup that should be more scary than ever.

 

Other Plans

 

While these are the two most prominent Atraxa strategies, there's no shortage of things with counters in Magic's history to work from. Say hello to Darksteel Reactor!

 

@Chosler88 Smokestack. Stasis. Tanglewire.

— FiddlerTheDrum (@FiddlerTheDrum) November 8, 2016

 

Stax may be mean, but if that's your thing then Atraxa is here to back you up.

 

@Chosler88 Is Juniper order ranger in there? If not, that.

— Austin Whetstone (@ThatBigRobot) November 8, 2016

 

If you're looking for more of a "fair" version of the deck, Juniper Order Ranger helps with that strategy. Alongside Atraxa this makes for a lot of big creatures, very fast.

 

@Chosler88 Planeswalkers, Spike Weaver, Lux Cannon...

— SarkhanVolkswagen (@dasebeleren) November 8, 2016

 

Lux Cannon has always been a favorite of mine. Sage of Hours and Azor's Elocutors also fit the bill of "creatures that become insane with Atraxa."

There are so many ways to go with Atraxa, and proliferate is such a fun mechanic I expect to see players brewing different Atraxa decks for the foreseeable future. With no consensus best way to build the splashy new commander, in the end it comes down to one thing.

 

@Chosler88 Whatever attracts ya the most.

— DahPick (@DahPick) November 8, 2016

 

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter/Twitch