Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I went to a game store to play around with some friends and maybe get a commander pod together. Upon arrival, I saw 3 EDH players gearing up for what appeared to be a long game. I asked if I could join and they eagerly invited me to sit down, pick my favorite general, and prepare to “be dominated.” All their generals were foil. They had picked cards out of their decks that were foil, signed, etc. I remember thinking “I should have brought some sunglasses!” Long story short, they spent the next 10 minutes impressing me with foil Force of Wills, Cryptic Commands, Ionas, and Dark Confidants. I may have been jealous, but I also knew what was going to come out of my backpack.
I chose Mayael the Anima as my deck to field onto a table that featured Zur, The Enchanter, Sen Triplets, and Kaalia of the Vast, all of which were 4 or 5 cards off of being completely foiled out. My deck maybe tops out at 200 dollars at the end of the day (give or take a bit). I was determined to prove that shiny, expensive cards don’t matter.
I managed to get an early Mayael attached to a Lightning Greaves due to the exponential amount of ramp spells I started with (turn 2 Rampant Growth, turn 3 Cultivate, turn 4 Skyshroud Claim). Luckily, the Kaalia player decided to go for an early combo kill and drew all of the hate out of the hands of my opponents. It was my time to shine. My opponents were not ready for the beating they were about to receive. I drew a land, put it into play, and passed the turn. Before my next turn I activated Mayael to reveal Avacyn, Angel of Hope. I immediately slammed my non-foil onto the table, drawing wary glances from my opponents. I untapped, drew the most expensive card in my deck (Scroll Rack!) and shoved it into play after misplaying a land and casting Avenger of Zendikar. My opponents continued to shrug off my army of indestructible 0/1s led by their Angelic 8/8 leader Avacyn.
The final turn of the game had arrived. I drew It That Betrays. Great! A card I can’t cast. My opponents all encouraged me to pass the turn. The time was now. I activated Mayael the Anima, revealing Deceiver of Form. I placed the Eldrazi 8/8 onto the battlefield and, prior to combat, activated Scroll Rack for 1. I put It That Betrays on the top of my library. Enter combat, trigger Deceiver of Form. All my creatures became copies of It That Betrays until end of turn. I attacked my opponents, all out of resources and all at life totals that indicated their amount of greed. After drawing concessions out of my pod, they decided to read Mayael the Anima for the first time. I had beaten the competitive, foiled out, tier one commander decks with a “budget” commander list. This primer is going to take you deep inside the deck that lets you put huge creatures into play over and over and over again.
*This primer is a budget build and also a starter build. You can continue to add to this deck and mold it into what you want it to become once you have a base build. My version is $200, but if you choose to cut 2 or 3 cards, you can acquire this deck for as little as $100.*
First of all, who is Mayael the Anima? Mayael is a 2/3 for Naya colors that has an activated ability for 3 colorless and RGW that says tap: Look at the top five cards of your library. You may put a creature card with power 5 or greater from among them onto the battlefield. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
So let’s go over the obvious. You can only put red, white, green, and colorless creatures and spells into your Mayael the Anima commander deck. The Naya portion of the color pie is very weak in terms of library manipulation, so the majority of the time this activation is going to be random (aside from scry effects from your lands). That means your deck needs to be full of fantastic creatures and powerful ramp spells in case the Mayael plan does not work out. Let’s go over some of the all-stars that deserve a place in the 99.
In The 99
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
This is the best card in your deck. Avacyn should be $30 of any budget creating this deck. Her ability to make all your creatures indestructible is imperative. This deck loves to tap out, so any form of protection is so important. This is probably the best form of protection in your colors.
Archetype of Endurance
If Avacyn is the best form of protection, then Archetype of Endurance is the second best. He takes away hexproof from all your opponents and gives every creature hexproof. The best part? You almost will never have to pay his full CMC as Mayael can put him into play. Every deck needs him and he is about 50 cents so there is no excuse.
I know what you are thinking, but keep that on the back burner. This is the other 30-40 dollar card that you gotta have if you want to be the real deal. Scroll Rack is a machine in this deck. The only downside to Mayael is that you can often have your best creatures stranded in your hand instead of on the top of your library. You can put the big dudes in your hand on top each turn and activate Mayael. Scroll Rack also has great synergies with cards like Bloodbraid Elf, Deceiver of Form, and Impromptu Raid. You gotta have this card.
Deceiver of Form
If you read my story above, you know exactly how powerful this guy can be. He has great synergy with our general and our entire deck. Before combat we can make all of our creatures a copy of whatever is on top (including 0/1 tokens made by Avenger of Zendikar). This is a great way to end the game on a stalled board state, especially if you flip over one of the many cards with the annihilator mechanic. Put her in the deck.
It That Betrays
This card is so good in multiplayer commander. It can ramp you, give you powerful creatures, give you good artifacts, and can even just win you the game off of the top of your deck. This card is so good that it gives you presents each time you play it and it’s not even your birthday!
In all seriousness, this card is 10$ and worth it. Any card that has a power that is as high as a 1/4th of your starting life total in commander is always going to be great and be well respected in a decent playgroup. Put this Eldrazi monstrosity in the deck.
What makes this deck so unique is that you get to play a bunch of basic lands because you are casting ramp spells that find basic lands. I’m going to list off a 5$ ramp package that goes into this list: Cultivate, Skyshroud Claim, Nature’s Lore, Rampant Growth, Kodama’s Reach, Wood Elves, Yavimaya Elder, Yavimaya Dryad, Farhaven Elf, and Search for Tomorrow. All of these cards are auto-includes since our primary objective is to put large creatures into play. The best part is you can find these cards for pennies or you probably already have them.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
All your creatures do double damage and all your opponents creatures do half their normal damage back to you. This means that if your team has double strike you are pretty much going to win the game as long as Gisela sticks around. This card is another auto-include that will run you 5 dollars depending on where you grab it, but is essential to a base build of the all-powerful Naya creatures deck.
Redundancy is key to our strategy. Quicksilver Amulet is basically another copy of Mayael that only costs 4 and is limited to your hand. It is very strong and is another card that deserves a slot in the list.
This card lets our guys deal damage equal to their power to target creature or player when they enter the battlefield. Basically, this can kill opponents. If you can put one of our many 10+ power creatures into play, you can get rid of a fourth of an opponent’s starting life total. This also allows you to have more reach than just attacking. If an opponent has a wall of creatures that block well and you don’t have trample, you can just simply cast all the huge creatures in your deck and kill them. This is a very good card.
Good cards to put into play with Mayael
This is just going to be a list of the cards that I think you should begin your build with. These cards are all under $5 and are all very strong and synergistic with our game-plan. They are:
Naya Good Stuff
That is 21 creatures that are all excessively powerful in their own right that you can throw in a list. If you were to purchase all of those creatures you would spend around $25. Couple that with the cards mentioned above and you are at $125. The rest of the money ($75) is for you to play with. I don’t like to give exact instructions on how to build your commander deck since commander is a highly customizable format that plays to each person’s likes and dislikes. For example, I am a huge fan of enter the battlefield effects and activated abilities (I am value nerd). I pretty much cram my decks full of creatures and spells that help me achieve this goal. Below is my list, but you can build your deck differently and I encourage you to do so.
Mayael the Anima Budget EDH
I put some fun cards in this list too because I love having fun in EDH. One of the most fun and winning cards is Warp World. Insurrection can be a win and is so fun. Both of these cards can make your playgroup laugh and cry. I include them because of my love of the game and because of fun. You can easily put cards in this deck that are more synergistic, but where is the fun in that. Resolving Warp World should be like an Xbox achievement anyways. Just saying.
I hope that I have inspired you to craft a Mayael the Anima commander deck. A fun version of this deck can be built for less than $100. My deck is right around the $200 dollar mark, give or take about $20 for the cards I already had/the cards I traded for. This deck is for people who love big mana, giant creatures, and fun. If you decide to build this deck, be sure to get as many of the staples as you can from your local game store or card shop. You can’t play commander in Target or Walmart (well, you can, but you’ll probably get kicked out).
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