October 16, 2017

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Let’s Brew an Arjun deck!

Do you love brewing up EDH decks? Most of us Commander players do, and I’m no exception! So, let’s brew up an Arjun, the Shifting Flame deck!

This is a deck I’ve been thinking about brewing up for quite some time now, and I thought I’d walk you through my thoughts on putting it all together. Let’s Brew!

I like to start by thinking big picture, and then zooming in on different categories of cards I’ll be using. For Arjun, I want to cast my Commander, then cast tons of small spells to keep wheeling into a couple different win conditions. I’m guessing about forty cards for lands and mana artifacts, and my aim is to give another 20 or so spots to permanents, and the remaining 40 or so to be instants/sorceries.

Let’s start with our win conditions and work our way backwards. First off, let’s talk volume! I’m going to try to win by using a few cards that reward us for casting many spells per turn. Aetherflux Reservoir starts to become a one-turn kill if we can manage to cast ten spells per turn. Sphinx-Bone Wand allows us to spread those ten spells over multiple turns. The only drawback would be the extra cost up front. Creature-wise, if we can keep a Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind on the battlefield, we’ve weaponized all the cards we’ll be drawing.

It’s very possible to let our permanents creep up on us and have too few instants and sorceries. One way we’ll avoid this is by picking which creature strategy we want to use. We can either go wide or go big. Charmbreaker Devils gets a massive power bump, while giving us back spells each turn our opponents let it stick around. Mercurial Geists has some built-in evasion and still gets into big smashing range quite easily. Kiln Fiend is a beast that starts small, but can also grow into a scary threat! Now that we know we’re going big, we need some ways to get them through.

Whispersilk Cloak seems worthwhile in the deck since it protects our big hammers from spot removal and also makes sure they’ll get through. Key to the City is another powerful option, since we get to activate it even if we spend every drop of mana we can powering something up. It can also pitch away lands in favour of other spells, which is something we want to do as a side-effect. Artful Dodge will be perfect in this deck since we can cast it for cheap, get credit for casting a spell, and we get to flash it back.

Who doesn’t love a good bargain! Why pay full price for spells when we can get a discount? Jace’s Sanctum gets us a deal, and we can stack the Scry so that we can tune our next Arjun wheel slightly. There are a few creatures that provide discounts, but they need to stick around to help. Since that’s true of all creatures, why not go with the bargain queen, Mizzix of the Izmagnus! The new Primal Amulet offers us a discount until we cycle into a card worth doubling. Remember that this amulet flips when we’re ready to start cashing in!

Let’s keep our gameplan in focus and recall that we want to cast lots of spells in one turn, ideally. One great way to assist this is to be able to cast free spells. I’m so excited by the new Sunbird’s Invocation. It works on any spell, not just instants and sorceries. I’m expecting to brew up most of my non-permanents within the one to three CMC range, so perhaps this card will whiff more often than not, but I’m excited to try it out! As Foretold is a great way to nab some free spells too. The best part is, if we focus on instants, we might get to cast a spell on each opponents turn as well. More chances to draw cards? Yes please!

Melek, Izzet Paragon gets a bad rap for being a bad commander, but as one of Arjun’s lieutenants, he’s fantastic. We ought to be at a good spell density that the top of our library should mostly reveal a castable card. Casting off the top of the deck leaves our hand size bigger for larger wheel effects which is a key to a smooth Arjun!

Now that we’ve gotten a decent skeleton, let’s add some meat. Namely, the instants and sorceries.

I’m going to start with cheap draw spells that have a discard as part of the cost. One way Arjun can get bogged down is by wheeling into too many lands and not having enough options. The plan is to thin the deck of lands while we cast our spells so that future wheels get more and more spell-heavy. Oona’s Grace is exactly what we want. We get to turn extra lands into cards. We’re netting zero cards this way, but once we get one of our discounts up this becomes a cycling card that also triggers our win conditions.

Frantic Search will be an all-star since it’s basically free and lets us discard a couple lands we don’t need. Even though Izzet Charm can’t benefit from any discounts, it thins the deck of lands unless we find an opportunity to use another mode.

Loosely speaking, that’s enough to get us testing! For the rest of the deck, I’ll be looking to add some filler mostly in the realm of instant card draw. There’s also a couple counterspells that I’m planning on wheeling into in an emergency, and a bit of redundancy on some of our earlier categories. Have a look at the first draft below and let me know what you think! I hope this method of brewing up a deck has been helpful to you!

Arjun, Commander’s Brew First Draft

Win Conditions (9)
Psychosis Crawler
Charmbreaker Devils
Kiln Fiend
Wee Dragonauts
Mercurial Geists
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Aetherflux Reservoir
Sphinx-Bone Wand
Ignite Memories

Other Permanents (11)
Key to the City
Primal Amulet
Whispersilk Cloak
Goblin Electromancer
As Foretold
Jace’s Sanctum
Rhystic Study
Sunbird’s Invocation
Mizzix of the Izmagnus
Thada Adel, Acquisitor
Melek, Izzet Paragon

Instants and Sorceries (39)
Act of Aggression
Artful Dodge
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Brainstorm
Catalog
Cathartic Reunion
Chain Reaction
Circular Logic
Commune with Lava
Compulsive Research
Countervailing Winds
Cyclonic Rift
Deep Analysis
Dig Through Time
Entrancing Melody
Evacuation
Foil
Frantic Search
Gush
Increasing Vengeance
Izzet Charm
Lightning Bolt
Magmatic Insight
Mizzix’s Mastery
Nagging Thoughts
Obsessive Search
Oona’s Grace
Opt
Past in Flames
Perilous Research
Pore Over the Pages
Pull from Tomorrow
Reverberate
Shadow Rift
Think Twice
Thirst for Knowledge
Treasure Cruise
Visions of Beyond
Words of Wisdom

Lands and Ramp Artifacts (40)
Commander’s Sphere
Fellwar Stone
Gilded Lotus
Izzet Signet
Khalni Gem
11 Island
Mountain
Ash Barrens
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Forgotten Cave
Izzet Boilerworks
Lonely Sandbar
Remote Isle
Scalding Tarn
Shivan Reef
Smoldering Crater
Sulfur Falls
Swiftwater Cliffs
Temple of Epiphany
Terramorphic Expanse
Izzet Guildgate
Steam Vents