This entry is part 4 of 14 in the series Peasant Rebellion

Posted by ‘Max’ aka ‘Maxwellian2000’

Although I hope I’m merely tilting at windmills, I imagine some Peasant and Pauper purists take issue with the position that a wide variety of generals, rather than only those printed at uncommon, should be considered to lead troops into battle in these formats.  While I agree that restricting general choice to some extent is in the spirit of the format and therefore proper, we need to have some fun, too.  Otherwise, you’re looking at things like Riven Turnbull and Tobias Andrion…  I mean, do you WANT to play those guys?

So let’s keep in mind the somewhat arbitrary, but hopefully convincing, parameters for general choice posited in this column, which can sort of be summed up as follows: the fewer cash dollars it costs, the better; the more underplayed, the better; and dragons and big fliers make for disproportionate focus on the general, so don’t be a cheaty-face.  I believe some kind of adherence to those guidelines will prevent obvious general abuse, while still allowing for enough range in choice to fill in the holes Pauper and Peasant decks have relative to their regular Commander brethren.

More often that not, those holes will involve how to avoid a top-deck war at the end of games, the bane of any late-game Magic experience.  Because we know it can happen in regular Commander, the odds are even higher it will happen here, unless you consciously address the issue.  That starts with general choice.  A general that produces card advantage in one form or another is virtually essential to a fun and winning strategy in these formats (if fun is tenuously defined as “having sufficient options to make meaningful decisions about what happens during the game”).  Even if your deck happens to have access to the decent card-draw Blue affords, it’s still a good idea to have your general putting cards in your hand, recurring creatures from your graveyard, or doing something else other than being a stud in combat.

A more liberal general pool also makes it easier to be satisfied with the 5 uncommons available in the strict interpretation of Peasant.  Although there are threads with all sorts of suggestions for varying numbers of uncommons and even rares, the format restriction of 5 uncommons is part of the fun, and certainly is in the spirit of the format.  But the general has to take a role in getting you card advantage, be it through drawing cards so you can see those uncommon “bombs” or otherwise.

Now to take a look at five potential generals who fit the Pauper selection parameters and generate card advantage, along with some cards that might play nice with them:

{G}/{B}

One of the best color combinations in regular Commander IMHO gives us a couple of underplayed, low-priced generals whose abilities result in card advantage.  We’ll start with Sapling of Colfenor, who checks in at $0.99 on StarCity Games (SCG) with plenty in stock.  In these colors, 40+creatures is achievable, which suitably increases the odds that his trigger will yield a card.  One way to increase the creatures is to replace non-creature spells with ETB creatures that do similar things when appropriate, perhaps with a Farhaven Elf and the Civic Wayfinder over Kodama’s Reach and Cultivate, for example.  You could further cash in, of course, by infusing the deck with high-toughness creatures.  An obvious direction would be Treefolk, and in that case you might throw in Rootgrapple, Bosk Banneret or Black Poplar Shaman.  You would certainly want to play Oakgnarl Warrior, although you’d probably do that anyway.  Plus, with fewer exile effects, Sapling is more likely to stick around, and if you throw a Gift of the Deity on him, perhaps searched out with Brainspoil, he’s 4/6 Indestructible, Lure, Deathtouch, and triggers his draw ability when he attacks.  Seems strong.

Now, I know it’s not like everyone and his mother has a Sapling deck, but a friend of mine used to regularly rock one, so I’ve seen him win games in regular Commander.  On the other hand, I’ve never seen Sisters of Stone Death get any play.  Ever.  That massive converted mana cost (CMC) has always been a deterrent, and the fact that without a haste enabler (and an untap step for that matter), she can’t really do her thing until the combat step the turn after she comes into play.  But I think she might have potential in Pauper and Peasant because if her abilities resolve, your get card advantage via both mass removal (a rarity in the format) and a control magic effect (even rarer).  And although she’s just $0.99 at SCG, and 20+ played copies were available when I checked, mint copies were out of stock (which, again, is somewhat shocking because I’ve never seen one outside of the crap-rare portion of trade binders).

Regardless, the Sisters meet the parameters, are potentially powerful, and definitely flavorful given that they are a Gorgon forerunner to the Deathtouch keyword, except that they don’t even have to do their damage for the death part of the effect to happen.  Nutty.  So they get quasi-provoke and super deathtouch every turn for GGB, and can take control of the exiled creatures for another 2B.  The Sisters can yield card advantage through both abilities, with their 7 power assured to take down multiple blockers, while exiling (or taking control of) the most problematic prior to damage.  Plus, unless the creature’s owner bounces it or something, you keep control of the creature even if the Sisters leave the battlefield.

As long as you get to swing with her once, she’s probably going to pay off in card advantage.  Keeping the Sisters around for multiple swings would really be something.  The double whammy of Trollhide and Savage Silhouette, along with Whispersilk Cloak (although it lacks synergy with her lure ability), gives us some options to help make sure she sticks around.  And if you’re rolling Peasant, Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots are obvious.  Finally, her mana cost dictates a ramp build, which is certainly possible given some of the best such cards are at common in Green.

Black is rife with creature removal like Heartstabber Mosquito, Rend Flesh and Eyeblight’s Ending, and the deck would also get Lignify and some of the best artifact/enchantment removal including Wickerbough Elder and Sylvok Replica.

Conclusion: seems like we have a couple of promising options in G/B.

Come back next time for some Peasant goodness in Jund and Grixis.

Maxwellian2000 is a former competitive Magic player who now plays exclusively Commander formats, along with Palladium Books’ Rifts RPG and Legos.  He works as a lawyer in Kansas and produces music at panoramicrecords.net.

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