All I Want To Do is (Battle) Cry

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Hey everyone! Contrary to the title of this week’s article, I have not, in fact, suffered an emotional breakdown. I am also not going to write about mono-black in Commander, nor will I write about any cards with depressing-sounding names like Sorrows Path or Caverns of Despair, although the thought of playing cards like those would make me feel a little dead inside.

My article title instead refers to the battle cry mechanic from Mirrodin Besieged. I originally didn’t think much of battle cry when it was first announced because I am a bad player and incorrectly evaluate cards all the time. But as in the case of Standard it seems to be good when you can barf out approximately 600 creatures by turn 2.

Battle cry got me to thinking about attacking in Commander. Many games are won by just attacking, although the size and amount of creatures do tend to vary a fair bit between games and decks. What if, as opposed to just relying on one dumb spell like Overwhelming Stampede to win the game (keep in mind I love Overwhelming Stampede to death), we had a deck that just relied on creatures that could mutually buff each other in combat? There’s no need to dig for specific kill cards because, theoretically, if you play enough of these creatures you can simply take out players by attacking them over and over, in overwhelming numbers and with overwhelming power. Power Overwhelming!

I’m sure this idea is far from original, and it’s not the most powerful strategy out there. However, I think it’d be pretty fun to attack with a giant token-based army. To this end, I became very interested in using Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran as a Commander for a battle cry-themed deck. Red and white are pretty good at making tokens and swinging en masse, and red offers a number of haste-enablers that can catch players off-guard. Combine a token theme with an attack-buffing theme and I think you’ll have a neat strategy that can deal considerable damage at each stage of the game.

Some of the battle cry creatures in Mirrodin Besieged are a little underwhelming, so I wanted to include some of the more useful ones:

Battle Cry is far from the most busted mechanic ever, and it should come as no surprise that similar abilities have been introduced in older sets. There were some cards along these lines that I thought were snap-includes:

There are a number of Crusade-type effects we can include, but these are the ones I chose:

And of course, Agrus Kos provides his own buff as well. I think the important thing here is to focus on buffing the power of your attackers. While ideally you would like to be swinging with a horde of red and white tokens a la Rise of the Hobgoblins, the power of your army is what is going to help trade with blockers and kill players. To this end, I wanted to focus a bit more on making red creature tokens.

Speaking of tokens, it seems clear that we will need some token generators to raise up an army of buffed soldiers and maniacs. Because I’m a fan of the big words, we can divide them into two generously-titled categories:

Incremental token generation

This is the kind of token producing that works best early on, when you need to get a footing on the table. Hopefully you won’t need to use Goblin Trenches when you only have four lands, but it does potentially combo with Land Tax.

Explosive token generation

And this is the kind of token producing that wins games. Mogg Infestation can be used to wrath another player’s board, or to double up on your own creatures. Hellion Eruption is a card I have not honestly tried, but turning your 1/1 tokens into 4/4s is not a bad deal, especially if you have Vicious Shadows and/or a haste enabler out.

Speaking of haste, it is going to be very important to have hasty or instant speed tokens. Speaking seriously here, when you create a dozen tokens and have them sit in the open for a turn you are asking to have your board swept or your face kicked in. I know from personal experience that when you go all out on your turn and fail to successfully pull the trigger, your downfall will be quite imminent. Haste goes a long way toward making sure the other players will have a narrow window of opportunity in which to throw a wrench in your plans.

Cards like Gratuitous Violence, Savage Beating, and Waves of Aggression will exponentially increase our damage output.

There’s one thing about a red-white Commander deck that’s always fascinated me: Sunforger. Being able to tutor up all your awesome instants and play them at will seems a little busted. So to abuse this piece of equipment I added a couple strong equipment tutors (Stoneforge Mystic, Stonehewer Giant) and put together a neat little package:

Between these five cards, you can solve a variety of common threats in the format. I’m a big fan of Oblation and Return to Dust in Commander, and Wild Ricochet always threatens a blowout.

And with that breakdown of specific aspects of the deck, here is a sample decklist:

Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran

I came upon a number of possible variations to the theme. You can definitely focus on a Goblin or Soldier tribal twist, as both have creatures that vastly benefit each tribe. A "Voltron" sub-theme isn't out of the question as well, because white has a number of ways to tutor up equipment for your Commander or another beatstick like Akroma. I'd go so far as to encourage the latter idea if you happen to encounter Ghostly Prison/Propaganda-type cards that may stifle your tokens' attacks. I’m definitely excited to build with Agrus Kos in the near future.

Have you played a deck like this already? What cards would you suggest?

David Lee
@derfington on Twitter

3 thoughts on “All I Want To Do is (Battle) Cry

  1. What about Luminarch Ascension as a token generator? Counters galore from that thing in a multiplayer game — as long as you don't mind having a bullseye on your forehead.

  2. i think the problem with luminarch ascension is that people will scramble to find an immediate answer to destroy it…and like you said it really does put a huge target on your head….don't get me wrong the card is really powerful in a multiplayer format…and i love the card myself….shame i traded my playset into a dealer at GP Toronto…..

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