Primer: Anya, Merciless Angel in EDH
“No mercy. No respite. No matter what.” - Memorial Inscription
Hello, MTGCanada readers! I've been on a somewhat lengthy hiatus due to changes in my work schedule. I hope to write for you on a more regular basis now that things have slowed down a little. On Friday, Commander 2015 was released, bringing us 10 new commanders, all in enemy colour combinations. I was really excited about this, because I've been looking to build a Boros deck for a long time and Aurelia / Gisela / Iroas really didn't do it for me. I wanted to build a Boros deck to round out my Mardu colours. I already have Kaalia of the Vast, Mogis, God of Slaughter, Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, Nahiri, the Lithomancer, Daretti, Scrap Savant and Iname, Death Aspect, so Boros was the last piece of the puzzle. I think I saved Boros for last, because it is my favourite guild and I really wanted a commander that would do it justice since it is the hardest combination to build around.
When Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas was spoiled, I felt disappointed (because it's just a big, dumb creature), but was hopeful for the other commander. When Anya, Merciless Angel was revealed, the gears in my head started turning. Let's take a look at Anya:
At first glance, Anya is not that great; at worst, she's a Serra Angel without vigilance. However, the fact that if one of your opponents is below half life, she is a 7/7 with flying and indestructible for five. Indestructible commanders are traditionally difficult to deal with and since the rules council (in their infinite wisdom) ditched the tuck rules, they border on obscene. Here is the deck list for the TL;DR crowd:
Anya, Merciless Angel EDH by Keith Ambrose
Basically this is a control deck for all intents. You're hoping to chip away at people's life totals with indestructible creatures / bleed them with enchantments while controlling the board state. Anya is a very thematic card. The themes that I identified and wanted to build around were:
Indestructibility (since that's Anya's main appeal)
Getting at least one player's life total below half (even if they damage me)
Sweepers (since my creature live through them and they're plentiful in Boros)
Damage prevention (since I'm damaging myself a lot and drawing a lot of hate)
Tajic, Blade of the Legion: While this guy is unexciting by himself, he is an indestructible creature and fits the deck. If you manage Tajic into Assemble the Legion, he becomes a lot more interesting. He also works well with Kirtar's Wrath, Foundry of the Consuls, and Spawning Pit.
Creepy Doll: An indestructible blocker with pseudo-deathtouch. Helps gun up the ground.
Stuffy Doll: Another doll who is there primarily for indestructible, but this one provides a major disincentive for attacking into it. Interactions with Pariah, Blasphemous Act and Pariah's Shield are also quite good.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope: The queen of indestructible herself. An auto-include.
Darksteel Plate: Indestructible equipment that grants indestructible to one of our less fortunate creatures.
That Which Was Taken: Grants indestructible to any permanent that doesn't naturally have it. Acts as a mana-sink in stalled games.
Getting at least one player's life total below half
Heartless Hidetsugu: If he's not removed immediately, he can typically turn Anya's abilities on. He combos well with Gratuitous Violence providing you have some form of damage prevention in play, with Gisela to one shot kill your opponents, with Purity to half your opponents total while doubling yours. With Hammer of Purphoros or Fervor, Heartless Hidetsugu activates immediately. With Pariah, Pariah's Shield or Personal Sanctuary it halves your opponents' life totals while leaving yours intact.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight: Doubles all damage to your opponents (not just yours) while preventing half of all damage to you. A staple in Boros decks, she's just very good.
Quietus Spike: If any creature with this equipment attached deals damage, it immediately turns on Anya.
Assemble the Legion: Another continual source of damage. If left unchecked, it can win the game on it's own.
Gratuitous Violence: Helps your creatures to hit harder. Combos with Hidetsugu and prevention effects.
Desolation Giant: Has to be considered a 6 drop. Sweeps and leaves behind a body.
Sunblast Angel: Similar effect to Desolation Giant, but a worse sweep with a better body.
Fated Retribution: A flexible sweeper that also might catch the occasional planeswalker. You can cast at instant speed if needed or scry 2, which is often relevant.
Rolling Earthquake: Rolling Earthquake hits creatures and players, so it helps with board control and helps to lower life totals.
Martial Coup: A 7cc sweeper that leaves us with 5 tokens most of the time.
Day of Judgment: A standard, 4cc sweeper.
Wrath of God: A better 4cc sweeper.
End Hostilities: Sweeps and has the potential to hit auras and equipment.
Planar Outburst: Sweeps and has the potential to animate a land late game.
Rout: Basic sweeper that can be kicked to give it instant speed.
Winds of Rath: Generally, Auras are bad, so they don't see much play.
Kirtar's Wrath: Typical sweeper, but if you have threshold you get two spirits, which are great for activating battalion on Tajic.
Phyrexian Rebirth: Another 6cc sweeper, but this one leaves behind a decent sized token.
Purity: Prevents damage to you and gains you life assuming you don't have Vortex or Witch Hunt in play. Key interaction is with Hidetsugu, but also works well with Spellshock, Burning Earth and Manabarbs.
Pariah: One of the key interactions in the deck. Slap this on an indestructible creature and you're untouchable until someone finds a way to exile the creature or destroy the enchantment.
The rest of the deck should be pretty self-explanatory, but there are a few key interactions I'd like to point out.
Aurelia, the Warleader: Another staple of Boros decks, Aurelia can allow an extra attack, letting a 13/13 Anya deal 26 commander damage in one turn. Otherwise she's just a solid creature.
Enlightened Tutor: Just makes sense in a deck that plays this many Artifacts and Enchantments and relies on them to assemble combos.
Idyllic Tutor: Worse that Enlightened, but still reasonable.
Maze of Ith: Has been amazing for it's ability to stop the odd flier from getting passed my indestructible guys on the ground or protecting me after a sweeper from a haste creature.
Spinerock Knoll: Worth noting it can be activated any time an opponent takes seven, even if the damage is not from you. Generally not hard to activate.
At this point I've played the deck about 10 times and this is the third version of the deck. I think the deck has a lot of play to it and I've tried to build it with a lot of synergy. I can honestly say, that while it can be a little suicidal (and it draws lots of hate), it is one of the most fun decks I've played in a long time. Moving forward, I think I may remove Sunblast Angel and Inferno Titan for Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. I could also see potentially cutting Desolation Giant for another mana source, 46 seems to be light at times and we would want to be able to cast Ulamog. Anyway, that's all for this article. Any feedback or cards you'd like to suggest would be greatly appreciated!
Until next time,
“Practice compassion and mercy. But know when they must end.” - Aurelia