Throne of Eldraine, Magic: The Gathering's newest expansion set, is full of amazing legendary creatures. The set as a whole is based on a unified blend of Arthurian and Grimm folklore alike, making for an exquisite setting for the newest world in the Magic Multiverse.
Of course, not all is daisies and roses in Eldraine, the eponymous world in which the set is based. The gingerbread people are fierce. The faeries are capricious, and the knights aren't all that noble either. It makes for a good storytelling outlet overall.
Do you know what makes for a great storytelling outlet, though? Games of Commander.
This brings me to today's Commander deck tech. I've covered all but a few of the major leading options for the format within Throne of Eldraine already. Linden, Emry, Ayara, Torbran, and Yorvo make a quick cycle of five alone, but they're certainly not the only ones I've done as the Brawl decks were covered, as was the Buy-A-Box promo.
Today, we will be taking a new commander – Rankle, Master of Pranks – and giving his deck an old sort of twist.
Oh, yes. Our plan for this deck is to take a leaf out of a rather old playbook (namely that of Nekusar, the Mindrazer) and see how much we can accomplish with just a third of the colors needed to pilot him.
What is Nekusar's modus operandi, you might ask? Well, when Nekusar was originally printed in Commander 2013, the deck was the most sought-after one partly because of this bad boy (True-Name Nemesis be damned!). The usual deck strategy for Nekusar was a "group slug", where the goal was to whittle down opponents one point at a time simply by making them draw extra cards – and then punishing them for each card they drew. Needless to say, because drawing cards in Magic is something that just happens naturally, Nekusar got players to feel spiteful very quickly.
We wish to do the same here!
In mono-black, we may have trouble achieving as much card draw as Nekusar does, but we don't just get to make opponents draw. We can also make them discard cards as well, meaning cards like what you'd normally see in my infamous Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage deck for Oathbreaker all shine quite nicely in here.
Cards similar to Nekusar – The most important cards in Nekusar decks seem to be the ones which act redundantly to Nekusar himself. These cards are Underworld Dreams, Fate Unraveler, Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted, the emblem belonging to Ob Nixilis Reignited, and Curse of Fool's Wisdom (with an Honorable Mention to Kederekt Parasite – it's black in color and identity, but as we do not have red permanents on the battlefield it is useless for why we would otherwise want it around). Each of these cards will damage an opponent for one or more life point per draw. Keep in mind, however, that the draw must explicitly be "draw" – no amount of tutors will work for you here. Psychosis Crawler does similarly evil things to your opponents when you draw cards, too.
Discard-punishing cards – These are the kinds of cards that Davriel likes. Megrim, Liliana's Caress, Raiders' Wake, and Fell Specter all work here to achieve punishment for if an opponent has to discard cards, be it of their own volition at the end of their turns or because we force them to. And we do often force them to in here.
Cards that force draws – I'm not talking about Divine Intervention (though that card is pretty neat). Rather, I'm talking about Howling Mine, Font of Mythos, Otherworld Atlas, Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, and Temple Bell. These all force opponents to draw cards for your mutual pleasure – they get a card, but you get to make them suffer damage for it. Master of the Feast lets only them draw, which still helps, and Bloodgift Demon lets anyone draw which can help you in a pinch either way. Geier Reach Sanitarium works double duty here in that it also forces a discard.
This deck is rather straightforward. You simply punish players for doing what comes naturally and hope you don't get hated off the table for it. Is that really so wrong?
What do you think? Is this iteration of Rankle going to do Nekusar justice? Do you have a better idea for the commander in this format, or even in Brawl? Let us know!