- Legends Warehouse News
- 05 Oct, 2017
Big mana decks are all the rage in Commander these days. Being able to say “I make infinite mana” is one of the easiest ways to end games that would otherwise go on for hours, and with more than enough potential mana sinks, it’s difficult to skirt the line between fun and broken. Commander is a format of big, bombastic spells, and I always advocate doing the biggest, craziest thing you can do each turn, and in my book that usually means playing with Blue and Green. The combination of card draw and big mana is a recipe for gigantic plays, and historically, if something huge is happening, it’s in a deck running these two colours. So what happens when we crank it up to eleven and go for the epitome of excessive mana and card draw? We get Tishana, Voice of Thunder.
Tishana, Voice of Thunder is what happens when you staple Regal Force, Reliquary Tower, and Maro together and let you always have access to it in the Command zone. For a paltry seven mana, which might as well be turn 4, you get one of the strongest enter the battlefield abilities I’ve seen on a Simic Commander. Drawing a card for each creature you control is the perfect counterpoint to Green’s problem of running out of gas after dumping their hand into play. Tishana allows you to reload your hand, and since she gives you an unlimited hand size you won’t have to discard any of the dozen or so cards she’ll draw you.
While Tishana, Voice of Thunder may be a merfolk, I believe that adopting the ElfBall shell from Ezuri, Renegade Leader is the ideal build to maximize the value of her enter the battlefield ability. A traditional ElfBall deck employs several small elves that tap to add mana so you can flood the board very quickly. From there you use a mana sink like Green Sun’s Zenith for Craterhoof Behemoth or Ezuri himself to overwhelm the opponent and win the game on the spot. There are also evolutions of this archetype to include Blue for Ezuri, Claw of Progress and Edric, Spymaster of Trest. This also opens up dozens of options for card draw beyond Regal Force or Glimpse of Nature that would normally be it for a mono-Green deck.
After a quick Gatherer search, there are well over forty elves that read “Tap: add mana” that work in a Simic deck, which means we have an abundance of options for powering out Tishana early. As well, we can also branch out into effects that let us untap permanents for we can make even more mana by untapping an elf that makes multiple mana, such as Elvish Archdruid. Cards like Scryb Ranger, Quirion Ranger, Seeker of Skybreak, Kiora’s Follower, and Wirewood Symbiote have all seen some level of play in Constructed Elf decks, so it stands to reason they would also contribute greatly to this deck. By going Blue we also have access to mass untap effects like Intruder Alarm, Turnabout, Dramatic Reversal, and even Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage from the Ixalan Planeswalker deck. Finally, Commander staple Paradox Engine is an absolute must-have since it turns the deck into an unending machine of mana production on its own.
While these untap effects are necessary to get our engine online, we also need ways of tapping our elves right away. Heritage Druid and Birchlore Rangers do a lot of heavy lifting in the deck, but just in case we can’t find them by the time we want to go off, we need some ways of giving our elves haste. The most obvious inclusion is Lightning Greaves, which has been a Commander staple for decades. All we have to do is keep passing them around our elves long enough for them to add mana and play even more elves. For global haste, we have Thousand-Year Elixir and Concordant Crossroads. Thousand-Year Elixir is a powerhouse in a deck like this since it lets all of your elves tap immediately, and can even tap itself to untap one of your elves. With Paradox Engine going, the Elixir also untaps along with your elves, so you get to get even more mana and untaps with every spell you cast. Concordant Crossroads is one of the few Green haste cards, but also comes with the caveat that your opponents creatures get haste too. It’s a drawback of Enchant Worlds, but you can simply hold onto it to play on the turn you combo off so your opponents don’t have the opportunity to use it themselves.
Since the goal of the deck is to draw a ton of cards, we need as many ways to do that as possible. Glimpse of Nature is a Legacy Elves staple because you get to draw a card whenever you cast a creature, regardless of whether you resolve it or not, and with enough small elves you can chain into one another, that’s a lot of card draw for just one mana. Soul of the Harvest and Zendikar Resurgent can also play this role, albeit for much more mana. Once you have a board state, cards like Shamanic Revelation, Collective Unconscious, and Regal Force work wonders as a backup to Tishana since they each draw you a card for each creature you control, and Prime Speaker Zegana can also draw you plenty of cards once you’ve got a large creature in play. This can spiral out of control rather quickly, so it’s recommended that you always be aware of how many cards are in your deck before casting multiples of these effects. For more staggered card draw with a political edge, Edric, Spymaster of Trest can convince your opponents to attack each other rather than you in exchange for cards, thus buying you time to get your combos in motion.
Finally, we need to have ways of actually winning the game. One of the tried and true methods is Craterhoof Behemoth, and by extension, Overwhelming Stampede. These are two of the largest Overrun effects, and with a board of multiple small creatures Craterhoof can give your team more than enough power to obliterate a table of multiple opponents. On top of that, with a large enough hand, Overwhelming Stampede with Tishana in play can dish out even more damage since it pumps based on the highest power you control, which will almost always be your Commander’s power. Since we’re drawing so many cards, Psychosis Crawler is another fine addition since it pings each opponent whenever we draw a card. This turns Tishana into something of a burn spell akin to Heartless Hidetsugu or Worldfire, which is quite welcome as a way to end the game without attacking. By being Blue we have access to Deadeye Navigator, a card that’s so obviously broken but refuses to be banned, so we’re going to abuse this as much as possible. With a Laboratory Maniac in play, we can soulbond Deadeye Navigator with Tishana and flicker her over and over until we draw our entire deck which in turn wins us the game due to the Maniac’s ability. Furthermore, with Deadeye Navigator we can flicker Craterhoof Behemoth over and over for ludicrous, unfathomable amounts of damage, or even pair it with Palinchron or Peregrine Drake for infinite mana. While this does feel a bit more like Commander on easy mode, it also lets us use Blue Sun’s Zenith to force an opponent to draw their entire deck and lose the game.
Tishana, Voice of Thunder is a force to be reckoned with when built with the intention to break her. The combination of mass card draw with an ElfBall shell is the paragon of Simic, making massive amounts of mana, cards, and bodies to overwhelm the opposition with sheer card advantage. The tapping and untapping dozens of elves gives the feeling of cogs in a well-oiled machine turning endlessly toward a goal. The look of dread when you count out the cards in your hand is priceless. Tishana is a definitive “Spike” Commander, and while you can easily tone it down for more casual tables, if your group is on the more competitive side I wholeheartedly recommend Tishana to shut them down.