Friday, 30 September 2011

The Command Tower - Building Hanna

by Alex Gershaw


Before I get started with my EDH/Commander (hereby referred to as EDmander) deck tech, I want to outline what my goals are and why I am doing this. I was inspired by a fellow planeswalker of mine, Andy Pemberton, who originally began posting EDmander articles on the Team Leeds blog before he got drafted by MTG:UK (check out his articles - they are all good). His style is to post about his commanders, do some set overviews and post about his EDmander experiences, I will not be stealing his thunder. Instead I will be taking suggestions of commanders and doing a deck tech for them. I hope you enjoy.

Hanna Ship's Navigator

A friend of mine once asked me to look over his Hanna deck a while back and I didn't manage to do a great job, possibly because I would have preferred to gut the deck and start again, this is what I have done this time around.

Observations first, this commander doesn't have haste, I don't mean in the conventional red creatures and some green or black creatures "This creature is unaffected by summoning sickness" kind of way. I mean in the "This creature works immediately, I don't have to pass a turn to use it" way (read that article, if you haven't before). Hanna requires you to either give it haste or pass the turn in order to use her and one set of turns is a very long time in EDmander. This fact alone makes Hanna a slightly harder commander to work with.

On the upside of observations, her ability is definitely a "build around me" ability and it has given me plenty of options when building the deck. The deck list (with notes) is as follows:

Cheap Artifact suite:

Aether Spellbomb - Bounce effects are often useful for indestructible or hard to deal with creatures, this seems like a good cheap re-usable toy for Hanna to play with.
Dispeller's Capsule - Cheap, easy to use, just what every dispeller needs.
Elixir of Immortality - A favorite card of the friend who wanted me to build this deck there will be many of these. Crafting an EDmander deck is a personal experience and the deck needs to be fun for everyone but especially the pilot. There are many of these in the deck.
Expedition Map - I won't go into great detail on the lands until later but needless to say this can fetch a multitude of great effects (except I did have to say it).
Everflowing Chalice - Solid ramp in slow ramp colours especially when after casting Hanna from the command zone once to get her effect, she loses value every time. This should help offset that in the late game while also being a useful early game ramp spell.
Sensei's Divining Top - Any deck with enough shuffle effects should pack a top, it's like drawing another three cards every time you shuffle.
Pithing Needle - Need to shut down a commander with a tap effect... look no further than the handy-dandy Pithing Needle, shuts down important combo pieces, no questions asked. No refunds if Mindslaved into injecting your own commander with the needle.
Sol Ring - Obviously
Tormod's Crypt - Because graveyards won't remove themselves, actually sometimes they do.
Wayfarer's Bauble - It's like ramp but colourless.

Other Ramp Artifacts:

Green is the best colour for ramp effects sadly since Hanna can't run any of them she has to stumble around looking for baubles, signets and talismans to get the job done.
Azorius Signet, Talisman of Progress, Armillary Sphere, Darksteel Ingot, Coalition Relic, Solemn Simulacrum and Coldsteel Heart.

EDmander is about inconsistency and some people find the use of tutor effects in this format a problem, I do not think this, I think you can use tutors to make different choices than you did in the last game thus making the overall experience different:
Tezz 1.0 - The -x ability can be used on 1 to get any of the cheap artifact suite (or even 0 to get the Crypt or artifact lands). Which brings me on to... Trinket Mage the EDmander blue workhorse, if I had an artifact for every time I resolved Trinket Mage, I would have used him correctly.
Enlightened Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Idyllic Tutor and Fabricate as ways of getting useful singletons from your library to your Brain pan scroll room (read hand). The only one of real interest is the Mystical Tutor as it doesn't seem to be doing anything so far, but you shall see, you'll all see.

Draw spells:
Rhystic Study Asymmetrical effects are generally considered a good thing, this three mana enchantment either slows opponents down or gives you a card, make sure you ask politely.
Let me give you the Opportunity to see a great instant speed draw spell, reload at the end of an opponents turn and have a full grip for your turn.
Fact or Fiction - Has netted me somewhere between 2-4 cards at instant speed in the past, never be surprised about how wrong opponents can get your piles since they don't know what you know.
I also can't recall how many times I have stroked myself... but enough about my personal life.
Future sight and Magus of the Future - What if I told you every land you played and every spell you cast came with an additional "Draw a card" clause... What? Wait... Five manas?
Pulse of the Grid - I find this card a draw spell to find draw spells, when it's my only option I probably only have 3-4 cards in hand while my opponents have 6, so I can use it twice at the end of an opponents turn and dig four cards for something better. This is a bit of a personal choice but ever since a friend started using Pulse of the Tangle I knew I wanted to run is one in a couple of my decks.
Courier's Capsule - Re-usable instant speed draw when using Hanna. It might not be great and the first thing I would put on the chopping block.


So you happen to be playing Blue so you have all of these counterspells to choose from which do you pick:
Hinder and C-c-c-crumple are two counterspells that I personally dislike (not that I don't or haven't used them in the past) but they are very useful for getting rid of pesky commanders who just won't die. These were selected personally as cards wanted for this deck.
Some Mages won't take "no" for an answer, but now you can tell the repeatedly with Forbid.
Glen Elendra Archmage, Draining Whelk and Venser, Shaper Savant are all wonderful options for counterspells, Glenny with her re-use-ability, Whelk with "I'm also a beat stick" and Venser with his versatility, all personal favorites.
Time Stop - Exile the stack? End the turn? I use this and Riftsweeper in my Bant deck to hopefully one day stop two turns in a game as it exiles itself.
Decree of Silence - I have no idea why my playgroup doesn't run this apart from the "risk of hardcasting" it into a dull game. Cycle this for six mana and get a nigh on uncounterable counterspell and draw a card. (Note those are the only four effects in the game that I can think of that usefully stop triggered abilities aside from maybe Sundial but that card sucks anyway). Also for this deck in particular it is an enchantment so for three more mana Hanna can fetch it back.

All decks need some form or removal usually in the form of wraths although spot removal is necessary too.
Wrath of God and Rout for creature clearing.
Austere Command and Oblivion Stone for a general destroy everything (or some of everything) kind of wrath.
Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares and Soul Snare backing up your sweeps with some spot exile.
Aura of Silence and Seal of Cleansing which backs up the Dispeller's Capsule for more point artifact and enchantments hate. (Be aware that some of the above removal spells are either artifacts or enchantments and thus reusable with Hanna, time and time again).
Finally in this section Stonecloaker - Evacuate your MVP, or pay three to exile a card and bounce it to use again. Stonecloaker is an almost auto include for any deck I build carrying White.


Usually this section would be for any combo enablers I would have. I have neglected to give this deck a combo finish, it is more of an attrition style build and as such likes to grind down its opponents and beat them with fatties (in a later section). So in this section I have included cards which give Hanna haste and one which gives the deck a bit of a boost.
Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots and Strider Harness to grant Hanna actual haste, although if I was going to cut back here, I'd let go of the Harness as it doesn't protect your commander.
Thousand-Year Elixir - If your commander has a tap ability and does not have haste or enough of your creatures, this is an auto include.
Rings of Brighthearth - Since the deck is built upon activate abilities, you might want to use them again, copy them for two mana... Bargain.

These are just eight big Blue/White/Artifact Creatures I could find, Since this deck wants to exhaust the opponents and then win, it didn't really matter what I put in these slots. You get the added bonus of their effects, some are draw, removal or recurrsion but mostly they are here to bring the pain.
Sun Titan, Yosei, the Morning Star, Consecrated Sphinx, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Deathless Angel, Wurmcoil Engine, Godhead of Awe and Rite of Replication (not technically a creature, but also technically five creatures).


Due to budget considerations, I'm not going to tell you how to build the mana base, technically 18 Island and 18 Plains should do it. I wanted to inform you of the best lands in these colours (and colourless).
For this deck specifically: Ancient Den and Seat of the Synod due to Tezzeret's -x ability.
Generally: Kor Haven, Reliquary Tower, Tolaria West, Winding Canyons, Prahv, Spires of Order, Terrain Generator.

If budget wasn't an option I'd cut the two cards I mentioned earlier (Courier's Capsule and Strider Harness) for Land Tax and Scroll Rack. I would also suggest a whole swath of lands you could use ranging from Tundra to Mystic Gate to Glacial Fortress.

If anyone has any suggestions for Commanders you want me to build around, tell me the general, how competitive your play group is (from casual to competitive on a 1-10 scale) and how involved you wish the deck to be (from easy and fun to challenging and involved on a 1-10 scale). Please do not suggest either Hakkon or Phage as all you will get is a Mono-Black Control deck with no care about the commander.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Hi, I was thinking of building a deck around Jenara, Asura of War but I'm not sure where to start. Any ideas.

  2. I personally have a Jenara deck, although I'm using her as a commander just for the colours. I've got a bounce theme going on. What kind of things do you like from your commander games, do you like to get Jenara as big as possible, going for the 21 commander damage rule? Or do you prefer something more subtle?