This entry is part 18 of 23 in the series Savor That Commander Flavor

By William aka BlueRam

“The symbol of the Conclave is one of unity, with tree supporting sun and sun feeding tree.” -Selesnya Signet

BOOOM!!!!

Sparks were flying early as we started fending off attacks. But now was the time for my long awaited counter strike.

Sigil of the Empty Throne is a card that usually needs an enchantress build in order flourish. But today, getting the one angel off of it was enough. It was enough, because the enchantment that had produced the angel turned out to be Growing Ranks. Rhys would do the rest.

In a few short rounds, my one angel had become a flight of 15. Dropping a BeastMaster Ascension should have been the play that killed the table….or at least it would’ve been if someone hadn’t Fog’d. A group effort knocked me out and looking for a new game to play.

The day to test Rhys and Trostani had come, and I plenty of games to try and figure it out.

Rhys was certainly tearing things up. Although I’d only used his doubling ability the one time (which was unequivocally made of awesome), he was proving to be a reliable source for tokens when the deck was stalling for token production of its own. He was almost single handedly paying for Eldrazi Monument, and his small body made sure that I had a turn-one play, no matter what.

With Mentor of the Meek, he became a powerful draw engine. Sure, the draw combo costs four mana a turn, but getting a creature out of it too turns into a great deal when building up an army.

But that wasn’t the only thing Rhys was doing. With Aura shards, he was blowing up any Propaganda or Crawlspace that dared to get in the way of the Conclave’s might. I could even mitigate the cost by attacking with those tokens while Druid’s Repository was out. Pretty soon, the tokens were literally paying for themselves.

By the end of the first few games, Rhys had established a solid rapport with the deck, just as it was originally intended. Trostani though, was experiencing some difficulties when it was her turn to pilot the deck. To put it simply, there were some….”technical” difficulties.

This was the time that the local players decided to start a rather large game consisting of eight people that turned into a four-way-two-headed-giant-EDH-free-for-all.

The first game saw me hit a turn two Luminarch Ascension in which I got to make precisely ONE angel token…before my partner combo’d off the turn afterwards. I spent half an hour afterwards waiting out the game as my partner and I were forced to “win scoop” while everyone else proceeded as normal.

“Well,” Trostani said as she appeared by my side. “That wasn’t quite what we were expecting for our debut…”

“I’m sorry,” I said as I watched the game unfold without me. “I didn’t realise it was going to be one of those games…”

Trostani laid a hand on my shoulder. “It’s alright,” she said gently, “Come, let us find another game to join in. Look, it looks like your partner’s starting up a game with someone else right now.”

I smiled as I started shuffling up.

A few rounds later, Rafiq of the Many was blowing past our marginal defenses and slaughtering us within a single turn.

“He’s so fast…” Trostani panted after our whipping.

“I know,” I replied. “If we’re going to play against that…that monster again, I’m going to need someone who’s faster. Someone like-”

“Like ME,” came the celtic accent. “I’m ready to tag in whenever you need a breather,” Rhys grinned.

Trostani looked at me remorsefully. “Please, let’s keep going. I know we can beat him as long as we stand firm. If we can just gain enough of a life buffer, then we can-”

“Can nothing,” I said, putting a stop to her plea. “Life gain does us a lick of good against a fast deck that focuses on general damage. We need blockers to get around him, and Rhys is the only one fast enough at getting us those blockers.”

I looked at Rhys. “You’re on.”

The game after that is still a blur for me, since all I remember of the game afterwards involved finding myself in a road ditch with Rhys face-first in the dirt. Needless to say, we weren’t that effective.

Trostani and I tried a few games after that, including another large group game that didn’t end with obscene combos, but each time I struggled to find a way to use Trostani as effectively as I used Rhys.

Growing Ranks needs at least one token to start gaining value and Trostani was very much the same way. Each game that she started in it felt as though I had things that needed to be done, board positions to stabilize and the like. I never had a good time to cast her and start building up the board…or, at least that’s what I told myself.

In truth, I was scared. Scared of what would happen to Trostani if I played her too often. Would she get tucked? Would she get hated on? I was starting to second guess myself.

Again, Trostani appeared and spoke to me as though she were caring for a youngling.

“Calm yourself,” she said. “It’ll be alright. Trust me. Regardless of the outcome, we’ll still be here for you, you and Rhys both. Even if things don’t work out, we’ll have been happy to be with you, to know that you gave each of us a fair chance. Just allow us to work our magic, and you won’t be disappointed.”

“…alright. A few more games then,” I said as I shuffled up and got ready.

In the next few games, I made an effort to play Trostani as quickly as possible. If I was going to test her, I needed to do it properly. When I did, something happened. Life happened. Literal life. I began drawing into my bigger token producers with Moonsilver Spear and Grove of the Guardian.

Trostani’s lifegain was giving me the gas I needed to survive an early onslaught from Krenko, Mob Boss and his friends. Slowly, I was assembling the pieces I needed to hold off a dangerous 5-color deck that was oppressing my army with Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. But every turn, Trostani gave me a new elemental token. Even at 6/6, they were a formidable force that was growing my life as large as the army itself.

The 5-colored Elesh player was finally able to remove Trostani with a Duplicant, but he was too late. My life had ballooned from a paltry 15 to a staggering 73 (give or take a few). I had enough tokens to finally drop Beastmaster Ascension for an alpha strike, and with an army of no less than six elementals (as well as a few elephants, courtesy of his Terastodon) suddenly on the rampage, he was pulverized beneath a several buildings worth of earth.

FOR THE CONCLAVE!!!

It didn’t stop there, either. Trostani was calling forth a heavenly choir of angels to call her own and they were taking everyone’s name, address, AND phone number while kicking their tails. One token every round might not seem like a huge deal, but they add up rather fast, particularly if there’s a lack of removal at-hand.

By the end of the day, Trostani had solidified her case as head of the deck. At this point, I was stuck, looking at the same problem I had before. Both generals did their jobs very well, and the deck had answered each of their calls. Still…there was one more thing I had to try.

I’d read an article on Gatheringmagic.com recently about Dual-Commanders, an idea started by its author, Devon Rule. He proposed a deck run by two generals who shared the exact same color-identity, allowing each to be on the field at the same time (rather than the general-captain idea run by our podcast a few times).

I ran the idea by the guy I’d just been playing with and he agreed to try it out. It would be Selesnya’s mightiest versus the lethal pairing of Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Omnath, Locus of Mana.

While the obvious synergy between Azusa and Omnath is, well, obvious, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rhys and Trostani played very well together. Rhys came out early, building the board position and readying his warriors to protect against Omnath’s onslaught. Trostani came later to start recovering the life that Rhys couldn’t protect with every token he made, even helping to make additional warriors.

Their teamwork came to a climax as both were called upon to raise the mighty elemental token from Grove of the Guardian. Trostani began populating the field with the mighty behemoth to build my attack forces, freeing Rhys to continue throwing elves into Omnath’s path. I’d never seen such indirect synergy before. Truly the small, quick Rhys complimented the larger, slower Trostani very well. Quantity was meeting quality in a very beautiful package. I eventually lost to a large Azusa land-lock combo, but I felt I was onto something. I had to confirm what I was seeing with another game, this time, against my brother.

Bruna, Light of Alabaster and Geist of Saint Traft don’t have the same synergy that Azusa and Omnath do, but they’re still a deadly pair. But again, Rhys was able to fend off the Geist’s early advances while Trostani helped recover the life his angel had dealt me thanks to another tag-team effort to bring forth the deck’s flagship elemental. I would win this as a new army of elementals sprang forth.

When I was ready to retire to my study, I sat down and stared at the two cards. They’d both done their job, and they’d done it well. Put them together, and they formed a very potent pair. But not everyone would play Dual-Commander. Only one of them could lead the deck.

I thumbed through the deck as I thought until I settled on Selesnya Signet. Unity…harmony…order…they were not unlike a complete circle, feeding into itself…one supporting the other…
But…what if one didn’t have the other? The deck had been built for Rhys, but modified to better suit Trostani. At this point, it worked as easily for one as it did the other. If I’d committed to one of them, I would have a very different deck. So what if the deck was built for both of them?

“Well, did you make your decision yet?” Rhys asked as he appeared through the door, Trostani in tow.

“Yes…yes I have,” I said, putting the deck down.

“And?”

“You’re both going to lead the deck.”

There was a pause.

“What do you mean we’re…”both”…going to lead?” Trostani asked. “Surely you don’t mean we’ll be exclusively used as a Dual-Commander deck?”

“No, not exactly,” I said. “Rather, you’ll be used interchangeably. You’re each so different that you warrant different strategies, yet you’re so similar that we can switch at the drop of a hat and not miss a beat. Instead, it makes much more sense to play our match-ups instead. Trostani can’t handle the super aggressive decks the way Rhys can, but she provides stability for the longer games.”

“So what you’re saying,” Rhys began, “…is that we’re co-piloting the deck? That we’re going to see equal playing time, as much as possible?”

“Depending on the match-up, yes,” I said. “You’ll more or less be taking turns.”

“Well then, that’s all I need to know,” Rhys said with a sigh of relief.

“Shall we celebrate our new alliance?” Trostani asked as they left.

“Sure, but I left my hat in car. I’ll have to get it first…”

I slid the deck into its green leather case and sat back. I’d had enough crazy, imaginary delusions talking to me for one day.

“…So Rhys’s deck will not be taken apart…” a voice said from behind.

“No Ghave, no it won’t be,” I sighed. “He’s finally found his place with Trostani. There’s no way his deck will be taken apart now.”

“Oh…I see…”

“………..was there something you wanted?”

“When are you going to remake MY deck?”

“Shut up, Ghave.”

As always, if you have any comments/questions/ideas for articles/etc, feel free to leave some comments down below, tweet my account @BlueRam1409, or send an email to my inbox at Wiehernandez(at)gmail(dot)com. I’m also “BlueRam” on the MTG Salvation forums, if you want to send me a message there. I’ll try to help with decks as best I can, as quickly as I can, but I’ll always have time to just chat or answer a question.

Join me next week as we celebrate Halloween a day late, and try to bring out some real creepiness.

Until then, remember to get your cat scan. It’s much subtler than therapy will be.

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