Commander with Draftsim - Henzie "Toolbox" Torre
One of the best color combinations in Magic history, at least for me, has to be Jund. It has giant creatures, powerful removal, and solid value spells. This was reflected when Jund was first introduced in Alara Reborn, where Bloodbraid Elf and Bituminous Blast reigned in Standard. It certainly felt like a “toolbox” deck at that point.
Three-color decks don’t always get their time to shine, but Streets of New Capenna unveiled the “new Jund” – Riveteers – with its signature Blitz mechanic.
Why am I mentioning all of this? Well, today I’m going to cover a new commander that exploits this ability. While unique, it has all the tools to be tier 1 at any Commander table.
Intrigued? Let's uncover the secrets of Henzie "Toolbox" Torre!
Henzie “Toolbox” Torre is really showcased in this deck. Every creature in it has a role, and the big payoffs are made even better with abilities that trigger on ETB and dying.
You need to cast Henzie a couple of times for the deck’s plan to work. And while the one mana reduction is excellent, the ideal would be to have already cast it a couple times to get the incremental reduction in cost on your spells.
The deck plays in one of two ways in the later game: casting giant creatures or reanimating them. While the former is self-explanatory, the latter is slightly trickier. Ideally, you just want to bring back dead creatures with the help of Reanimate or Animate Dead. But there are still cards like Entomb and other tutors that help you put things in the graveyard or find the missing pieces to assemble a couple of fantastic interactions.
Ignoble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise excel in the initial turns and the later portions of the game. Solemn Simulacrum and Wood Elves are excellent at providing a body that you can use as fodder and fix your mana.
As far as mana rocks go, you never leave home without Sol Ring or Arcane Signet. Of course, there are other options like Commander’s Sphere, but you want the most effective and cheap ones for this build.
You also run some creatures like Young Necromancer and Phyrexian Delver that offer bodies on their own while bringing friends back to life. The benefit is that they can be chained together by other reanimator spells, and you can reanimate them to bring two or more creatures back from the dead for just one mana.
But if you’re looking to bring multiple creatures back to play from the graveyard, Living Death and Agadeem's Awakening excel at this. The former is particularly great when you’re the only one that has few things in play while the rest of the table has its board well-developed.
Black has access to the best tutor spells out there in the form of Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor. These are cheap ways to search for the cards you need in the right spot. You’ll usually search for synergy spells or creatures to Blitz, but you can always search for removal or even a board wipe if the situation requires it.
Speaking of giant creatures, you run a total of ten big ones that can change the tempo of the game whenever they hit the battlefield.
Protean Hulk is the first creature that comes to mind when talking about creatures that have an ability when they die. While it has some potential to go infinite, you want to avoid that in this deck for the most part and just focus on getting other value creatures like Disciple of Bolas and Young Necromancer for the extra benefits.
This list doesn't run Walking Ballista in the hopes of getting a more enjoyable play experience for the rest of the table, but I wanted to at least give you the option just so that you know it exists. But yeah, Rule 0 and so forth.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is an excellent way to get your Blitz creatures back. While it’s not very powerful on its own, the synergies and the core of this deck make it a powerhouse.
Think about it: every ETB effect of any Blitz creature is basically doubled. That on its own is huge.
Elder Brain is one of the new creatures introduced in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. The key is that, when given haste, it can tear apart the hands of players that aim to assemble their interactions and give you a chance to play with those pieces. You can hit multiple players with this if unchecked. The damage has already been done, even if it dies after combat.
Wurmcoil Engine is one of the most generic big bombs that you can deploy. While it’s not as powerful as some recent cards, it can stabilize some games on its own while having good synergies with the deck's theme.
I was a bit skeptical about Etali, Primal Storm at first. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that a Henzie deck is probably the best thing one could be doing with this dinosaur as a starter. It gives it haste with the potential to cast up to four spells for free, plus drawing you a card when using Blitz. If that's not a value, then I don't know what is!
Another big hitter for the deck is Grave Titan. It creates a massive army in the blink of an eye when using Blitz. While Tovolar's Huntmaster is similar, the Titan wins the fight by a mile thanks to its consistency.
Woodfall Primus is one of the best reanimate targets. Its ETB ability is powerful, and getting access to do it twice in a single turn is back-breaking.
Artisan of Kozilek is one of the only Eldrazi that doesn't negatively interact with your graveyard. At least for this deck, since the other ones will shuffle back all your graveyard. Its annihilator ability is also no joke, and getting a creature back from the graveyard is just sweet.
Last but not least, you have Indrik Stomphowler, which was very close to getting replaced by an Acidic Slime. But in the end, it fills a very similar role while being “easier” to cast. One or two pieces of artifact/enchantment removal that come with a body is always nice. This card translates into destroy target X, deal four damage, and draw a card with Henzie as a commander.
Greater Good is a card I already mentioned, and it fits perfectly in a deck whose central theme is to sacrifice creatures to get value.
You run a good amount of removal to cover all your bases. Potent spot removal in Beast Within and Putrefy, 2-for-1 removal like Unleash the Inferno, board wipes in Toxic Deluge, and creatures that kill others like Noxious Gearhulk are the kind of cards this deck likes.
And remember that Living Death can be used as a pseudo-board wipe in a pinch if needed.
The most notable utility spells in this list are Sneak Attack and Riveteers Ascendancy. The former ignores the deck theme to some extent, since it doesn't need your commander to work. Basically, all you need to do is have a big creature with a solid ETB effect and go from there.
Following the same line as the utility spells, utility creatures are the ones that don't have a common role like the other cards do.
The ones that stand out are Viscera Seer and Timeless Witness. The Seer gives you some value for creatures that are sacrificed at the end of the turn so you can smooth your draws. The Witness provides some recursion that’s always necessary for this kind of deck.
The Mana Base
The mana base for this deck is expensive, but I decided to go with the smoothest I could possibly build, since getting access to all three colors on turn three is critical given your commander.
Shock lands and fetch lands in Jund colors are here to help you accomplish this, as you can imagine. The most notable lands outside of those are the Pathways introduced in Zendikar Rising along with your “Jund Triome,” Ziatora’s Proving Ground.
You also run some utility lands in the form of Phyrexian Tower and High Market, which are other sacrifice outlets you can access. Those along with Boseiju, Who Endures and Mosswort Bridge give the extra reach this deck is always happy to have.
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire is also a great addition since you always want more ways to reuse spells and send creatures to the graveyard. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth are the final pieces of fixing that affect all your other lands.
Combos and Interactions
You can sacrifice your creatures with Ancient Brass Dragon’s ability on the stack to get them back for free (with a bit of luck). Just be aware that you need to sacrifice it before you roll the dice because you won't be able to sacrifice it after you know the result.
You can make some loops with your creatures and sacrifice outlets. Suppose you have Junji, the Midnight Sky, a sacrifice outlet, and an Eternal Witness in the graveyard. You can sacrifice Junji to get back your Eternal Witness, which returns Junji to your hand. You can later sacrifice your Eternal Witness to get it back with Junji and repeat the cycle.
Interactions like the above make you put creatures on the battlefield and the graveyard multiple times a turn, so having other permanents like Riveteers Ascendancy or Warstorm Surge benefit from those interactions gives you more value through the game.
Now it’s time to go over some cards that didn't make the final cut of the deck. If you’re looking for options to avoid spending an excessive amount of money, these may interest you.
Daemogoth Woe-Eater may not be your average fatty, but it's good to use alongside Blitz. Aside from being a heavy hitter, you force the entire board to discard a card while you draw two and gain some life. This is an acceptable replacement if you can't afford any of the giant creatures.
Kogla, the Titan Ape is another accessible creature instead of the other ones that may be a bit pricier. It can be used to kill a smaller creature with the potential to get rid of a second target when it attacks. Having an ETB and an attacking ability makes Kogla one of the best cheap cards to add to the deck.
Dimir Machinations is just an example of one of the many “transmute” spells you can use as a pseudo-tutor instead of the most expensive ones. It might reduce the possibilities of what you can get with them, but it's worth giving them a try if you’re looking for specific cards every time.
Vivien on the Hunt fits the role of a pseudo-Birthing Pod that, while being more expensive in terms of mana, could start to make creatures on its own that can later start the sacrifice chain or just stabilize the board. It also works great for putting stuff in the graveyard.
The mana base can be an issue with decks that run more than two colors, but luckily there are tons of cheap dual lands that can be used to fix your mana. Snow duals are no exception, and you can theoretically support other cards like Into the North or Blood on the Snow in your game plan by including them in your deck.
The Temples from Theros are cheaper slow lands that not only fix your mana, they also help you craft your upcoming turns.
This is not your everyday reanimator deck. It feels like a mix of multiple things that can generate value that's very hard to get back from, just like a Toolbox where you can grab the right thing at the time you need it.
What do you think? Did the list catch your attention? What changes would you suggest to make it better? Please let me know in the comments.
As always, it's been a pleasure sharing my decks and thoughts with you. I hope we can meet each other soon! Take care everyone.