Ohhhhhh boy, daddy is back. For those of you not familiar, I'm Mark Nestico.
Former MTG grinder.
And Commander lover.
Commander and I like long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, and absolutely smashing the bejesus out of our opponents in pods. We're a match made in heaven.
The only problem I've been having with Commander lately is how homogenized the decks have become. Sol Ring this. Mana Crypt that. If you're not playing an "optimized" version, your peers tend to look down on you and your list that you so lovingly crafted. Sound familiar? Then this article is for you: the brewer, the tabletop gamer, the person that walks into your local gaming store and wants to have fun…but also win.
I like building around commanders that have inherent synergies with a deck and can carry you to victory. They don't necessarily have to be the most powerful, but in the hands of the right player they can scratch and claw out very satisfying victories.
One legendary creature that immediately caught my eye when it was spoiled was Adeliz, the Cinder Wind. A blue-red general that falls into the Wizard tribe makes plenty of sense. What's unusual is that Adeliz doesn't want you to sit back and counter every spell before winning with some huge infinite combo. No! Adeliz wants you to be a *checks notes* "aggressive tempo deck?"
Sure! Why not?
What's most surprising about Adeliz is how quickly she can grow out of control. Untapping with her and a bevy of Wizards means massive damage is incoming to the table. There are turns where you're easily able to string together three or four spells and immediately KO someone sitting across from you…all smarmy with their expensive cards. They'll get angry! Hell, they might flip over the table. But who cares? We're Wizards, Harry!
Yeeeeeeeee-haaaaaaw. A few things are clear with this build:
#1: We want to be aggressive.
#2: We want to control the tempo of the game.
#3: We want to counter problematic spells that target Adeliz, the Cinder Wind.
#4: We want to deal as much damage in one turn as possible.
#5: We want to chain spells and make huge boards.
With those goals in mind, it's easier to understand why Adeliz, the Cinder Wind is secretly one of the best tempo-oriented commanders in the game.
What makes Adeliz so dangerous is that people simply don't respect her. You're playing an unknown commodity most of the time, and when your opponents see a Wizard tribal deck, their first inclination is to think you're some silly casual player and they're about to steamroll you. After all, we're playing Beamsplitter Mage, Tempest Caller and Fugitive Wizard! However, these cards, while innocuous, play pivotal roles in setting up your big turns.
Cards like Fugitive Wizard give you a one-drop and chip damage. Usually players set up their mana for the first few turns and our saturation of one and two-drop creatures allow us to get on the board early. Something like a Spellstutter Sprite countering a Sol Ring means huge tempo for you, and following it with a turn-three Adeliz is going to start the ball rolling. If you untap Adeliz, the Cinder Wind, you're going to start churning out massive damage.
What makes Adeliz, the Cinder Wind so different from other tribal decks is that you're not playing lords like Elvish Archdruid or Lord of Atlantis. Instead, with Adeliz in play, you're turning all of your spells into our pump effects. Chaining together two spells that draw you cards in one turn is going to give your board +2/+2 right out of the gate. Say your opponent tries to Swords to Plowshares Adeliz: you counter with a Mental Misstep for free. Uh oh! Now your board has +3/+3! That rhymes! If this is on turn four or five and you curved out with a few Wizards, your hand is still flush due to almost all of your spells either being cantrips or holding double value, and you likely just attacked someone for 12-15 damage in one turn. Cards like Treasure Cruise will keep you going and going like the Energizer Bunny.
Now comes the part where you really start impacting the table: when your countermagic comes online.
Playing tempo-oriented counters like Memory Lapse that basically Time Walk your opponents, or Frantic Search into a Wizard's Retort, are going to stop big spells in their tracks. Most Commander players want to start throwing haymakers around turns five through seven, but once your board is established on turns three and four, you can start putting the screws to them by making sure those big spells never land.
The beauty of this deck is that it's budget friendly but can only get better the more you upgrade it. Dig Through Time is an awesome inclusion because your graveyard is always so full of the spells you're constantly casting that it can easily be cast for two blue and get you even more gas. Another amazing card to think about down the line is Spellseeker simply because of its versatility. You can grab a countermagic effect, or even something like Dynacharge since it only costs one mana, but you can then overload it for three to give your whole board +2/+0, which becomes +3/+1 with Adeliz in play. We're talking about cards in the $10-12 range that can make your deck better, so get those trade binders or TCGplayer credit ready, because this deck's power level has a very high ceiling.
I've been playing this deck for weeks now, and unfortunately, my local game store Dungeon Games has become wise to it. What started off as a novelty quickly turned into "focus all removal on Mark's creatures," but even then, you can play cards like Mizzium Skin and Mizzium Meddler to keep Adeliz, the Cinder Wind protected (not to mention Mizzium Meddler is a Wizard as well and completely busted in this deck).
If you're looking for a deck that is immensely fun, interesting, and has a ton of play to it, Adeliz, the Cinder Wind is exactly where you'd want to be. It catches people off guard so easily and can be either easy and straightforward or incredibly complex to play. Saving your spells and creatures for the right times and moments is the difference between a little and a lot of damage dealt to your opponents. I recommend getting in a lot of reps with Adeliz to prepare you for what cards are best in different scenarios.
Thanks for checking me out this week. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DynamoNestico, and strap in for a wild ride, because you and I are going Commander-ing!