Breaking Commander 2016 Series

Kynaios and Tiro of MeletisBreya, Etherium ShaperYidris, Maelstrom WielderAtraxa, Praetors' VoiceSaskia the Unyielding

Every commander is broken in some way. Some are waaaay more broken than others and some take more work than others, but most good commanders lead you to a card that makes you shake your head and wonder just how broken a particular card would be with your new commander.

Today it is my turn to point out a few cards that are simply ridiculous with Saskia the Unyielding. I decided early on that I wasn't going to include any cards already in the precon. These are cards that you are going to be adding to the precon after you buy it and are ready to fine-tune it, cards that I hope will take you in all sorts of directions with Saskia and your future builds.

Damage Doublers

The easiest place to start is with cards that double damage. Saskia adds more damage to the mix, so an easy way to take advantage of what she does is to add even more damage; whether through more combat damage - so Saskia's ability hits for even more - or by adding to the damage Saskia has done. Almost every spell that adds to a creature's power makes Saskia stronger, but we are looking for something a little more than a spell that gives +2/+0.


"OMG ___ is crazy with Saskia the Unyielding! Can't believe it wasn't in the precon!"
My fill-in is Gratuitous Violence. What's yours? pic.twitter.com/DfnN5K5p6E

— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) November 2, 2016

Picture this: you have Brion Stoutarm on the battlefield and you play Saskia, choosing your pal, whom we'll call Pillowfort Paul, as the "Chosen One." Paul is known for hiding behind endless Propagandas so you think you have found your way around it. You attack Slow Start Sarah, who is earning her nickname in this game. You hit her for four combat damage, and Saskia's ability means Brion Stoutarm does four damage to Paul as well. Don't forget you just gained eight life too! Saskia says that the creature does the extra damage, not Saskia!

On your next turn, you play Gratuitous Violence. You swing in against at Sarah, who takes eight combat damage this time. Saskia's ability says you do eight to Paul as well, but Gratuitous Violence steps in and doubles it again, so Pillowfort Paul is taking 16! Oh, you just gained 24 life! Saskia and Gratuitous Violence are real good friends.

There are plenty of damage doublers. Anthem of Rakdos and Furnace of Rath both do good work. The fine folks on Twitter suggested a couple of options as well.

@manaburned @commandcast My vote is for dictate of twin gods. Also love the Panharmonicon suggestion

— Brian Collins (@thatman42) November 3, 2016

@manaburned Is Hydra Omnivore in there? How about Wound Reflection?!!

— Daryl Bockett (@the_casual_guy) November 2, 2016

This isn't something that just enchantments can do either.

@manaburned Gisela, Blade of Goldnight

— Brian Dawes (@MTGLordOfLeaves) November 2, 2016

I know there are downsides to creatures, but when it comes to doubling damage, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight will always be my favorite. The fact that she halves the damage coming back at me is a wonderful thing too, especially considering that with Saskia in play you have to believe the player you chose is going to be keen to see Saskia (or you) gone from the game.

Creatures

The next option for breaking Saskia lies with making the creatures better.

@manaburned @commandcast Blade of Selves is brutal with Saskia. 😂

— Michael Ferber (@pickupchaser) November 3, 2016

I suppose this is less about making the creatures better and more about making more of the creatures, but you can see where this is going. While you aren't going to be too excited about equipping Saskia or another legendary creature with the Blade, swinging at all three opponents with a less legendary option can really pile up the damage! If even one more creature gets through, it is that much more damage dealt to the "Chosen One." Now if the creature happens to have Melee then things get even more interesting...

@manaburned True Conviction.

— MTG Color Pie (@mtgcolorpie) November 2, 2016

True Conviction is a little pricy and getting the three white mana you need in a deck that is trying to make four different colors may be difficult, but giving all your creatures double strike and lifelink with Saskia around is twice the fun. When three of your 1/1 Goblin Tokens hit an opponent and they take three, the "Chosen One" takes three, then we do it all again for regular damage. And don't forget the 12 life you just gained! Double strike with Saskia out often means quadruple the damage!

@manaburned Berserkers' Onslaught

— Paul W. Eveslage (@EoT_ Impulse) November 2, 2016

Berserkers' Onslaught means you are more likely to be able to cast it with only two red mana, but you go without the lifelink. I would run both, but I lean a little towards True Conviction, following the "go big or go home" mentality.

@manaburned @commandcast Spinebiter mwuhahahaha

— FiddlerTheDrum (@FiddlerTheDrum) November 3, 2016

Spinebiter offers the benefit of doing its damage directly to the defending player even if blocked, but all of the infect creatures are good options. Part of the problem with infect decks has always been trying to do enough damage. You are likely the only player doing infect damage, so it falls to you to try and deal 10 to each player. Most decks can't manage to get past one opponent. Saskia offers a way to do damage to two opponents at once, setting up for (non-blue) proliferate options. I don't know if Saskia is enough to help the infect decks stabilize in multiplayer games, but I'm sure plenty will give it a shot!

@manaburned Siege Behemoth!

— Bennie Writes Magic (@blairwitchgreen) November 2, 2016

The problem with everything so far is that it relies on dealing combat damage. While flying creatures and other forms of evasion are options, Siege Behemoth and Predatory Focus handle things straight on. All of your 1/1 tokens or plain ground pounders will be doing combat damage to an opponent, meaning Saskia has her time to shine. That amazing moment when you would play Siege Behemoth and rush in to take out a single opponent changes, so now you can take out two at once!

Bonus Land Kill

Some people tend to think a little outside the box.

@manaburned Deus of Calamity or Hydra Omnivore

— Kyle Carson (@KyleCCarson) November 2, 2016

With Saskia out, when the Deus of Calamity does six or more combat damage, it will destroy a target land of the defending player and a target land of the Chosen One, since they will have taken six damage as well, and the Deus doesn't care if the damage dealt was combat damage or not.

The ability to destroy land is not always looked upon kindly in all groups, but destroying land one at a time (or two at a time with Deus and Saskia) gives you the chance to target problematic lands, rather than just eliminate a player's ability to play their spells. You aren't trying to stop them from playing the game, just trying to get rid of their Maze of Ith or Kessig Wolf Run.

Change the Chosen One

Perhaps things weren't going as you thought they were and you made a bad choice when Saskia the Unyielding made her appearance. Someone else has made attacking them impossible and you want to change the Chosen One. Perhaps you've even been particularly effective, and the Chosen One is now the Dead One.

When Saskia dies and you bring her back, you have the option of choosing someone new. What Cloudshift and cards like it allow is a chance to change without skipping a beat. Simply blink Saskia and change your target. You can even Cloudshift Saskia right before damage is declared, causing all sorts of problems for players who believed they were not the Chosen One and had planned accordingly. Being able to shift all that damage so quickly allows for a level of political machinations we haven't seen to this point.

Extra Combat Phases

@BentzMr @manaburned Would have loved to see a much needed reprint of Aggravated Assault. #endlessattacks

— Joshua Raymond (@Astillian) November 3, 2016

@manaburned @commandcast Hellkite Charger is pretty good with this commnder

— Charles Dodd (@Lord_Cynical) November 3, 2016

In a way this is similar to double strike, but it doesn't target the creatures in the same way. On its face, it appears that this is simply a way to double the damage with a second round of combat. That may be true sometimes, but other times it will be different. The first round of combat will likely take out some defenders, meaning the second time around will see Saskia be even more effective, since it will likely mean more combat damage to the defending player.

There is flexibility here as well, since you don't have to attack the same player twice. You can even choose not to attack, choosing instead to simply untap all of your creatures.

One Shot Kill

I saved my personal favorite for last. With all these other cards, I pictured targeting someone other than the Chosen One for the attack. That doesn't have to be the case. The Chosen One may have a pillow fort up and perhaps you can only afford to send in one creature. Perhaps this one?

@manaburned #ouch pic.twitter.com/N2L6N4YB5j

— Andrew Weisel (@_SEV8) November 2, 2016

Assuming the Chosen One has the highest life total among your opponents, he hits the Chosen One for half their life total, rounded up. This means Saskia's ability allows Malignus to hit for that amount again, which should kill the Chosen One every time. I'm not a fan of two-card combos, especially when one of the cards is your commander, but this is just crazy and makes me smile every time.

Bruce Richard
@manaburned

P.S. A big thank you to everyone on Twitter who offered their suggestions! This article was far better for your input! An especial thanks to Chris Lansdell, Trevor Gulley and Aaron LaCluyze for their judginess. Your help is always appreciated!