April 10, 2017

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Partners Without a Partner - Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper

This week brings us another article in which I brew up a half deck around a new partner Commander, to be mashed-up with any other half-list!

We're onto the Golgari guild (say that five times fast) led by Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper!

Traditionally, any Black and Green deck is going to want to dip into the graveyard plenty, but because of my limitation to only build a half-deck I wanted to go another direction. If we get too lenient on the graveyard, since this will only end up as half the deck, we could end up in trouble if we only draw the tools to fill the yard or take from it, but not both. That's where Ikra Shidiqi comes in! The Naga wizard wants us to attack, and wants to get creatures through. I also expect to be gaining a great deal of life under her lead, so we'll take advantage of that as well!

Let's dig into some of the cards that make this side of the deck work! Since Ikra Shidiqi rewards us for slamming in with large-bottomed creatures, let's go over some of the all-stars! Pontiff of Blight has a massive toughness, while giving the rest of your team extort. That extra lifegain goes with this deck's theme quite nicely! Erebos, God of the Dead does have a hefty toughness. Depending on the other half of the merged deck, we may not have easy devotion to Black, but we can still take advantage of the extra life we're gaining by drawing more cards. This category would be incomplete without a spider in it. On average, I doubt any other creature type has a larger average back-end. Silklash Spider is among the biggest, and has the added bonus of clearing out the skies if our opponent is threatening to fly over.

Since this half's Commander will be gaining us life, we're going to lean into that strategy by selecting the perfect sac outlet with Disciple of Griselbrand. Every deck needs a few, and this one fits our theme perfectly! Let's possibly gain some more life by having the Sapling of Colfenor on the field. We'll at least be drawing a card every combat step it's able to attack, and maybe even gain some life. Even if the other Commander's creatures lead the Sapling to give us a net loss of a few life, Ikra Shidiqi ought to be able to build us up a nice buffer. Since we're gaining all this life, let's make it count by resolving Sanguine Bond. Now all that lifegain isn't only keeping us ahead in the game, it's giving us the win in short order!

There may be a time when our creatures don't match up well against our opponents' board and we can't get in for that sweet extra combat damage and life gain, so let's use Dauthi Embrace. Although this series isn't quite over, there's a reasonable chance that no other creatures with shadow will be in the card pool, so this will be fully unblockable. For a more potent combat step, let's bestow any creature with Noble Quarry. Any lured creature is likely to die if an entire team of blockers is up against it, but it will have died to get a ton of damage through, and gain us a ton of life! And the Quarry will fall off to fight and lure again one more time. Unless we stick it on our indestructible Sapling of Colfenor! I'm also including Infiltration Lens, so that if anyone wants to block something to prevent us from gaining life, they'll be giving us a couple cards for the trade. I suspect this will make creatures "unblockable" more often than not.

Like most articles, I want to go over a few cards that are only playable in this half of the deck. Korozda Guildmage is a fine addition as a sac outlet, as well as a way to possibly get a couple creatures through in combat. One of my favourite Golgari cards is Deadbridge Chant. Even though we're not leaning hard on the graveyard, it's drawing us an extra card each turn, and if it hits a creature, we're putting it straight into play, which is even better! And finally, we get access to Putrefy. A fine removal spell that can point to a lot of things in most decks!

And that's the twenty-three cards for this half-deck! If you haven't already, check out the previous articles in the series and see if you can find a few accidental synergies between them!