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January 4, 2015

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Shaping Steel: Updating “Forged in Stone” for Competitive Play.

It’s Commander Night at my LGS and I’d like to be headed there, but it’s been snowing all day and the snowplows haven’t been by yet. This is not a time to Brave the Elements, this is a time to be sensible, make a cup of tea and do the next best thing. Write an article about a mono-white deck. Irony.

In my most recent article, we discussed tuning up “Built from Scratch” for competitive commander play. Today, we’re going to give “Forged in Stone” the same treatment.

After I read Cassidy Silver’s article “Fat Stacks – Forged in Stone (and Fur)” he basically came to the same conclusion that I did after a superficial glance. We both thought that dropping Nahiri and making Jazal Goldmane the commander, while focusing tokens might be stronger than playing Nahiri at all. However, after playing the deck out of the box a few times, I have come to the conclusion that is not the case. Nahiri is actually very powerful, but has to be built around.

Let’s take a look at Nahiri, shall we? She costs 3WW, which is slightly above the 4 casting cost we usually associate with playable planeswalkers. However, this is commander, so I think we can forgive that a little. Her +2 protects herself by making a Kor Soldier, which another one of the things we look for. However, to get full value out of this ability, we really need to have an equipment in play and I think that’s where the deck falls short out of the box. Equipment tutors are absolutely necessary. Her -2 lets you put an equipment from your hand or graveyard into play, which is pretty huge with equipments (which will be destroyed, at least until people start playing exile artifact effects) and Batterskull. Finally, her -10 (which should leave her in play if you’ve protected her) gives you the almighty Stoneforged Blade, which is sick. Now the best ultimate in the game, but it is, very, very good. These effects make Nahiri a completely reasonable card to build around. I think the best way to build the deck is to add tutors and build it like a “Voltron” style deck, except you can stick the equipment on any token. Your backup plan is token beatdown.

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“Some blades seek their own wielders.”

I’d like to dissect the stock decklist the same way we did with “Built from Scratch”. Here’s the list for reference:

Nahiri – Keith Ambrose

Commander: (1)
Nahiri, the Lithomancer

Creatures: (21)
Whitemane Lion
Grand Abolisher
Kor Sanctifiers
Mentor of the Meek
Flickerwisp
Kemba, Kha Regent
Silverblade Paladin
Skyhunter Skirmisher
Celestial Crusader
Geist-Honored Monk
Requiem Angel
Adarkar Valkyrie
Sun Titan
Sunblast Angel
Twilight Shepherd
Serra Avatar
Containment Priest
Hallowed Spiritkeeper
Angelic Field Marshal
Jazal Goldmane
Angel of the Dire Hour

Instants: (10)
Brave the Elements
Condemn
Afterlife
Midnight Haunting
Oblation
Wing Shards
Return to Dust
White Sun’s Zenith
Benevolent Offering
Comeuppance

Sorceries: (7)
Gift of Estates
Spectral Procession
Nomads’ Assembly
Martial Coup
Decree of Justice
Fell the Mighty
Deploy to the Front

Enchantments: (6)
Armistice
Mobilization
Sacred Mesa
Marshal’s Anthem
Cathars’ Crusade
True Conviction

Artifacts: (16)
Skullclamp
Sol Ring
Marble Diamond
Mask of Memory
Pearl Medallion
Swiftfoot Boots
Loxodon Warhammer
Strata Scythe
Sword of Vengeance
Bonehoard
Moonsilver Spear
Argentum Armor
Masterwork of Ingenuity
Commander’s Sphere
Assault Suit
Loreseeker’s Stone

Lands: (39)
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Ghost Quarter
Karoo
Secluded Steppe
Temple of the False God
32 Plains
Arcane Lighthouse
Drifting Meadow

I began to dissect this deck by dividing it into 7 categories:

Nahiri, Dissected

Equipment: (11)
Skullclamp
Mask of Memory
Swiftfoot Boots
Loxodon Warhammer
Strata Scythe
Sword of Vengeance
Bonehoard
Moonsilver Spear
Argentum Armor
Masterwork of Ingenuity
Assault Suit

Good Token Producers: (5)
White Sun’s Zenith
Deploy to the Front
Martial Coup
Decree of Justice
Sacred Mesa

Cards that care about equipments: (1)
Kemba, Kha Regent

Mana Sources: (44)
Sol Ring
Marble Diamond
Pearl Medallion
Commander’s Sphere
Loreseeker’s Stone
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Ghost Quarter
Karoo
Secluded Steppe
Temple of the False God
32 Plains
Arcane Lighthouse
Drifting Meadow

Value Cards: (13)
Mentor of the Meek
Sun Titan
Sunblast Angel
Jazal Goldmane
Angel of the Dire Hour
Celestial Crusader
Return to Dust
Oblation
Condemn
Gift of Estates
Fell the Mighty
Marshal’s Anthem
True Conviction

Filler / Cute But Not Good Enough: (21)
Whitemane Lion
Kor Sanctifiers
Flickerwisp
Silverblade Paladin
Skyhunter Skirmisher
Geist-Honored Monk
Requiem Angel
Twilight Shepherd
Serra Avatar
Angelic Field Marshal
Brave the Elements
Afterlife
Midnight Haunting
Wing Shards
Benevolent Offering
Comeuppance
Spectral Procession
Nomads’ Assembly
Armistice
Mobilization
Cathars’ Crusade

Cards WotC wanted to add to the Legacy / Commander card pool (that feel like they don’t fit the deck): (4)
Grand Abolisher
Adarkar Valkyrie
Containment Priest
Hallowed Spiritkeeper

So like last time, we’ll go ahead and delete the last two categories right away. However, we’re also going to delete almost all the equipment, because this is all budget equipment and we’re not on a budget.

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“The crucible yields what you have forged in your mind. You need only reach in and draw the masterwork forth.” – Wahara, Keeper of the Crucible

(TEDitor’s Note: I’m having an extremely hard time not adding a Destiny reference in here…)

I present:

A Storm of Swords by Keith Ambrose

Commander: (1)
Nahiri, the Lithomancer

Creatures: (15)
Angel of Jubilation
Angel of the Dire Hour
Captain of the Watch
Celestial Crusader
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Jazal Goldmane
Kembra, Kha Regent
Mentor of the Meek
Mirror Entity
Steelshaper Apprentice
Stoneforge Mystic
Stonehewer Giant
Sunblast Angel
Sun Titan
Taj-Nar Swordsmith

Instants: (9)
Condemn
Congregate
Enlightened Tutor
Oblation
Path to Exile
Return to Dust
Swords to Plowshares
Tithe
White Sun’s Zenith

Sorceries: (10)
Austere Command
Decree of Justice
Deploy to the Front
Fell the Mighty
Gift of Estates
Hour of Reckoning
Increasing Devotion
Martial Coup
Mass Calcify
Steelshaper’s Gift

Enchantments: (11)
Banishing Light
Crusade
Divine Sacriment
Glorious Anthem
Honour of the Pure
Land Tax
Marshal’s Anthem
Oblivion Ring
Sacred Mesa
Spear of Heliod
True Conviction

Equipments: (9)
Argentum Armour
Batterskull
Masterwork of Ingenuity
Skullclamp
Sword of Body and Mind
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of War and Peace

Other Artifacts: (6)
Coldsteel Heart
Commander’s Sphere
Hall of Triumph
Marble Diamond
Pearl Medalion
Sol Ring

Planeswalkers: (3)
Ajani Steadfast
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Elspeth Tirel

Non-Basic Lands: (10)
Arcane Lighthouse
Drifting Meadows
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Ghost Quarter
Karoo
Kjeldoran Outpost
Secluded Steepe
Temple of the False God
Windbrisk Heights
Winding Canyons

Basic Lands: (27)
27 Plains

Card Choices:

Angel of Jubilation: A 3/3 flier for 4 is not a bad rate. The obvious reason for running this card is the anthem effect. The ability on the card might disrupt your opponents in some cases too (Looking at you Daretti…)

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite: This card is fantastic in nearly any deck, but looks even better in a token deck. If we ever decide to drop the equipment theme, she’ll likely be the commander for this deck.

Mirror Entity: My 10 1/1’s are now 10/10s. Attack for infinite.

Steelshaper Apprentice: A pretty bad equipment tutor, but an equipment tutor just the same.

Stoneforge Mystic: A really good equipment tutor.

Stonehewer Giant: A reasonably good equipment tutor with a reasonable body.

Taj-Nar Swordsmith: See Steelshaper Apprentice.

Congregate: Sometimes you can gain 40+ life off this. I usually don’t care about life much in Commander, but this card puts you back in the game if you’re getting hated out.

Enlightened Tutor: Third best equipment tutor in the deck.

Path to Exile: Premium removal.

Swords to Plowshares: See above.

Tithe: Makes sure we don’t fall behind on land drops, while allowing us to run fewer lands, thus drawing more gas.

Austere Command: Versatile and can remove problem artifacts or enchantments. Often Plague Wind Plus.

Hour of Reckoning: You might lose a creature, but often you’ve already got your value out of them. Your tokens are your bread and butter.

Increasing Devotion: This card is crazy. It makes so many guys.

Mass Calcify: Better part of a Plague Wind again. I like those kinds of effects.

Steelshaper’s Gift: Second best equipment tutor in the deck. Very strong.

Banishing Light: A versatile catch all.

Crusade: A cheap, efficient anthem.

Divine Sacrament: An anthem that becomes a double anthem late game. It’s a very strong card in this deck.

Glorious Anthem: The standard by which all other anthems are measured.

Honor of the Pure: A better Glorious Anthem.

Land Tax: See Tithe.

Oblivion Ring: See Banishing Light.

Spear of Heliod: An even better Glorious Anthem. This one kills guys. I love playing Dread in black, seems like a great effect to have in this deck.

Batterskull: Obviously ridiculously strong. I also really like the ability to return this to our hand if the Germ dies, then cheat it out with Nahiri’s -2. I also really look forward to using Masterwork of Ingenuity to make a second Batterskull.

Sword of Body and Mind
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of War and Peace

The deck’s namesake and the best things to search for with your tutors. Grab the one that hoses the most opponents, or grab Fire and Ice so you can draw cards.

Coldsteel Heart: Mana rocks are very important in EDH. I like this one a lot.

Hall of Triumph: The artifact version of Glorious Anthem.

Ajani Steadfast: The minus is what we’re really after, to boost the team and other planeswalkers. This has been the worst of the four planeswalkers in the deck. I might replace it at some point.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion: This card on the other hand is amazing in this deck. Makes tokes? Check. Plague Wind? Check. Divine Sacrament plus flying? Check.

Elspeth Tirel: I caught some flack at the LGS for playing this card, but the ultimate is often ridiculous. The other abilities are ok.

Kjeldoran Outpost: It’s an on-colour land that makes tokens. It also interacts favourable with out Tithe effects.

Windbrisk Heights: It is very easy to trigger with this deck, so it’s just value. Getting a free Elesh Norn or Mass Calcify is really nice.

Winding Canyons: Mana dump that is often relevant, especially with cards like Sunblast Angel and Elesh Norn.

So there you have it, a mean, lean, equipment machine. Have questions, comments or ideas? Leave me a comment!

Until next time, remember:

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“No matter how strong, an unarmed fighter is no more than a fool.”

Thanks for reading.