This week on Adam Plays Magic, we're serving up a spicy Alchemy brew, courtesy of @SuribepeMTG. The focus of this deck is to use Faithful Mending and Otherworldly Gaze to stick a Velomachus Lorehold into the graveyard, then reanimate it with Invoke Justice.
When Velomachus attacks, she looks at the top seven cards of your library and casts an instant or sorcery with mana value less than or equal to her power for free. Normally, that number is five. In Modern and Historic, this effect was often combined with Time Warp (and variants like Savor the Moment) to chain multiple extra turns together. It was even good enough to get Time Warp banned in Historic.
Enter Invoke Justice. Not only does this spell bring back a permanent, it distributes four +1/+1 counters amongst the board, including the freshly returned, hasty, and vigilant Velomachus. By bumping Velomachus up to seven power with these counters, the fun can truly begin. Her attack trigger can cast Alrund's Epiphany to queue up an additional turn. Alternatively, she can find Emeria's Call // Emeria, Shattered Skyclave to deploy an army of angels to help close out the game next turn. Sometimes, Velomachus just grabs Burn Down the House or Divine Purge to clear out pesky blockers. All of this is really just a roundabout way of saying Velomachus closes out games the moment she hits the field.
What I Like
The Velomachus deck is exceptionally consistent. Otherworldly Gaze and Faithful Mending do a phenomenal job of churning through the library to find the combo. It also utilizes six main deck board wipes along with two Herald of Vengeance. Herald destroys all permanents that share a name with a permanent that dealt damage to you in the previous turn, and comes with an impressive 4/5 flying body to boot. These effects heavily punish aggressive strategies and open up opportunities to make it to the late game.
Speaking of the late game, with functionally 27 lands thanks to Emeria's Call // Emeria, Shattered Skyclave and the added support of Key to the Archives, it's relatively trivial to cast seven-mana haymakers turn after turn. Even if the opponent has counterspells and other forms of permission, they will be hard-pressed to counter every game winning spell.
What I Don't Like
Tasha, Unholy Archmage. Good god, does this card hurt, and it's everywhere. This reimagined planeswalker from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate boasts a new set of abilities that all directly attack the axis Velomachus fights on.
Tasha's -2 ability outright steals our game-winning threats and gives them ward 2. Her +1 puts a -1/-1 counter on all attacking creatures, whether they attack her or the opponent. That immediately kills any tokens created by Alrund's Epiphany and Burn Down the House before they even connect. It also reduces Velomachus's power before her ability resolves, stopping her from free-casting haymaker spells. Tasha's -6 ability steals three creatures from our deck (and this deck only plays seven). Since she enters with four loyalty and immediately ticks up to five, it takes two turns of attacks for Velomachus to kill her, all while giving the opponent plenty of time to take out the dragon. Every single part of this card wrecks us.
Other than Tasha, there don't seem to be many natural predators to the deck. It's ultimately not reliant on the graveyard to win the game so hate cards like Lantern of the Lost and Weathered Runestone only work to slow the deck down, not shut it out.
Also, while other combo decks like Show and Tell try to cheat uncastable chonkers like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play, Velomachus is very castable in a longer game. Most archetypes will still struggle to beat a 5/5 evasive threat.
I had a great time this week and the Velomachus deck was an absolute blast to play. The core of the deck fits together seamlessly and I like the direction SuribepeMTG took with the list. Moving forward, I think I'll try to find room for more interaction or midrange pivots so that the deck isn't absolutely housed by Tasha. Maybe Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki or The Wandering Emperor can fit into these slots.
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