This entry is part 11 of 23 in the series Savor That Commander Flavor

By William aka BlueRam

 “Don’t laugh. It works.”
-Armadillo Cloak

When you listen to Commandercast long enough, you start to hear about cards you’ve never played before. When you hear a few you like, you start putting them into your deck. When you starting putting them into your deck, other people start to see them. When people start to see them, sometimes they make fun of you. When people make fun of you, you start beating them over the head with their own chair. When you beat people with a chair, you go to jail. When you go to jail, you meet a man named John who wants ‘to pass you around like currency’.

Don’t let a guy named John pass you around like currency. Don’t cave to those who tease you who tease you about secret tech. Show them what’s what by showcasing the power of those cards in the best way possible.

Some of secret tech here on Commandercast are gems that get overlooked. Pain Magnification and Dawn Charm have some pretty obvious uses. In the right deck, they go over the top.

But then we get to some of the obscure cards. We think of some neat things to do with them. But before we can make use of them, we run into ‘those guys’.

We all have ‘those guys’ in our playgroup. The “power snobs”, the “connoisseurs of card quality”, and the guys who generally turn their noses up at cards that aren’t considered “Commander staples”.

They tell us about how “corner case” our cards will be, and how we need to just run the “better stuff”. If you recall, this was the case waaaaay back in article one when I recounted my experiences with Rith, the Awakener (found here).

Back then, I was a newer player with a fistful of cards and didn’t know how well any of the cards I had would do. Now, I’m a more experienced player and when I see certain cards I start to see shenanigans dance around the room like pink elephants.

People just don’t see the genius behind the interactions that we do. They don’t see why Tamanoa gets to be a crazy card (the life you get isn’t going to matter that much). They don’t see how Geth’s Grimoire can make a difference (it’ll just get blown up before you get to use it), or how Alliance of Arms works into your grand master plan (they’ll get to attack before you do).

They say that you’re “living in magical christmas land” when you talk about the combo’s you put in there. Sometimes it’s gentle poking, and other times it hurts a little more. No one likes having their ideas shot down, and I feel that it’s part of the reason some of the more inventive combos aren’t as popular or widespread as they should be.

But we can’t let that get us down. We have to take those combos and synergies that we came up with and show just how awesome they really are. The best way to do that is, of course, to bash face with them and make your playgroup fear the cards they had mocked so easily before.
In one of my playgroups, I did just that using my beloved Auratog.

I know now that Auratog + Rancor was a thing in standard many years ago (roughly 1999, according to my source), but when I first found Auratog, I wasn’t thinking of having a big creature with trample (although its definitely a bonus).

My Sigarda, Host of Herons deck was constantly running out of steam. Without Sylvan Library, there wasn’t enough draw power to keep the deck going. I was running enchantresses like Verduran Enchantress, Mesa Enchantress, and Kor Spiritdancer, but one-shot draw effects weren’t doing me any good by themselves.

There was the idea that Cage of Hands would be able to pull double duty by giving me the draw I needed in addition to being pseudo-removal. But a single card that read “3WW: Draw a card” wasn’t good enough to keep up with stronger decks.

But with the free sacrifice outlet that Auratog gave me, I suddenly had a draw engine I could use. Paying ‘G’ to draw a card AND give my creature +2/+2 until end of turn became one of the sexiest things I’d ever seen. I had finally solved one of the biggest weaknesses that Sigarda had.

But in doing so, I’d also given new life to Sigil of the Empty Throne. 4/4 angels would be storming from the skies in a flurry of righteous justice to slay my enemies. I felt like I had just made a the discovery of the decade. I was still riding an excitement high when I texted Gary about it.

The response that I got amounted to, “Auratog sucks. Run Claws of Gix instead.”

Now while I admit Claws of Gix is a good card in its own right, at the time I firmly believed that Auratog was better since it gave me a larger creature and cost a mana less to use, which added up to twice the amount it would normally cost me if I was running a free sacrifice outlet.

This led to a debate between running the cards, the usual ‘it dies to removal’ spiel, and his signature “Do what you want, it’s whatever” closer.

You better believe that I was steamed afterwards. I would definitely show him that my beloved ‘Toggy was better than he gave it credit for. So after I got the cards I needed, I went to my weekly playgroup ready to unleash my new weapon upon the world. I figured with any luck, Gary would underestimate my combo and everyone else would be taken by surprise.

As luck would have it, the first card I drew happened to be Congregation at Dawn. It’s a tutor that I don’t use too often, with the exception of my Mayael the Anima deck. In this case, though, it was exactly what I needed.

I used it to search for Kor Spiritdancer, Totem-Guide Hartebeest, as well as the upcoming superstar Auratog.

With Rancor already in hand, it didn’t take long to cast the spiritdancer, enchant it, draw the Auratog, and get the value engine going. But even if I didn’t have it already, the Totem-guide would have found it for me just as easily.

No one at the table seemed to think either of my creatures were worth wasting a spot removal as I began drawing several cards off of Auratog to refresh my hand. My next turn was filled with more cards being played before my hand was re-filled.

Then the beatings came. Auratog had been snacking on the Rancor like a sausage stuffed with steroids, and he was ready to wreck face. With the local voltron player already catching on and smacking me with his last turn, I started swinging the atog back at him and managed to take a good chunk out of his life in a few rounds..

Meanwhile, Gary was genuinely surprised at the card advantage that Auratog had grabbed me. Auratog had been one monster of a value engine. I had cast Sigarda all of one time because he kept giving me things to do. Gary had also admitted that he was wrong about the atog. That was all I needed to hear to make up for the fact that I still lost the game.

The success of the combo got me thinking about plans to include a couple of other cards with similar effects: the beautiful Faith Healer and Auratog’s whacky cousin, Thaumatog. Both are going to help give the deck some redundancy, and as an added bonus, Thaumatog is searchable off of Green Sun’s Zenith.
Redundant effects from Spirit Loop (which I already run), gives me more opportunities to pull of the combo too.

But do you want to know a secret? The day I found Auratog, I wasn’t looking to improve my draw power. Quite the opposite. I was looking for ways to get rid of my enchantments before my brother’s Bruna, Light of Alabaster deck could steal them. The draw power became the focus, but it’s original purpose was quite different.

It’s how I also ended up including Nevermore and Runed Halo. Both are very effective at shutting down voltron generals and have gotten great mileage for my deck after getting scoffed at by the other players in my group. In a pinch, they’re even pin-point hate cards for the silliness that Consecrated Sphinx and Primeval Titan can bring.

A lot of these cards show up in my decks because I refuse to buy multiples of more expensive cards (with one deck being the exception to my rule), even if a deck would benefit greatly from them. I’m sure there are plenty of players out there who feel the same way.

Creativity and ingenuity are required when you cut yourself off from the obvious power that most “staples” have. Theories have to be tested after they’re made, and the only way to test them is to play them. Even if you’re correct, those combos and synergies you worked hard to come up with go to waste if you let other people shoot down your ideas before you get a chance to try them.

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.

Join me next week when I confess one of my personal problems with Magic.

Until then, remember the Commandercast spirit and let that secret tech out of the vault!

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