Hey bEDH fans, I’m glad to be back with you today to introduce the second place finish in the $200 bEDH tournament. If you’re interested in what got first place and missed the article here. Last week we talked about how playing efficient cards will allow you to get more bang for your buck when building on a budget. This week I’m going to focus on how you can use your commander to make even the most average of spells explosive. I present, Arjun, the Shifting Flame.
Designed by Auston Tramper
Having efficient draw was good for Azami, Lady of Scrolls. However, Arjun, the Shifting Flame trades out pure card advantage for massive card filtration. Having a Mindmoil in the Command Zone is awesome, and it’s truly what allows this deck to shine. If you look there is a surprising lack of tutors in this list. Maybe to some of you familiar with the color combo it won’t be as surprising. The Izzet color combination isn’t well known for its tutor ability. In order to overcome this weakness we have Arjun. Every spell you cast bringing you a new grip should keep you poised to interact, draw cards, and eventually either combo off or chain enough spells to win the game. I haven’t gotten to personally play this list but there are lots of cool things going on that I will highlight.
Playing with Flames
“For the most part, this is the fairest deck I have ever played in Commander.” – Auston Tramper
Arjun, the Shifting Flame plays like a Izzet Control deck for the most part. According to deck designer Auston Tramper, “the deck is great at setting up and not being a target until it is too late.” Often you will find yourself using Arjun to sculpt your hand and playing out some rocks to build up mana for the turn you “go off”. Arjun also successfully turns all of your interaction into mini Tolarian Winds with the upside of them being put on the bottom. This makes keeping a hand of 1 or 2 interaction spells much easier. As you play through the game you will slowly be able to build up your mana presence and once you hit critical mass and have a pay off card you go for the kill.
What’s the Pay Off?
When looking at the Arjun list you can see there are quite a few “win conditions”. A few of them have innate compatibility with Arjun. I am talking about Metallurgic Summonings, Sphinx’s Tutelage, and Psychosis Crawler. These cards take advantage of Arjun’s ability to cycle your hand allowing you to constantly gain value. Many of the spells in the deck are instants and many of those instants are draw spells. This allows you to not lose card advantage when Arjun wheels your hand away. Playing draw spells allows for you to see more cards each time arjun triggers. By having them be instants you can cast a draw spell, trigger Arjun, cast another draw spell, and continue to trigger Arjun. Finally, you can let the stack resolve which will involve you drawing a ton of cards and triggering any of your pay off cards many times in a turn. Metallurgic Summonings giving you an army, Sphinx’s Tutelage mills your opponents out, and Psychosis Crawler just kills them. These wincons are extremely powerful, but knowing when to use them will take playing the deck a few times. Making sure you have enough mana to start a big chain is important. It’s also important to remember that barring an effect like Stifle, your opponent can’t stop the Mindmoil triggers on Arjun, even if they counter the spell you cast.
Engage Emergency “I Win” Button!
Although the deck is built to interact with Arjun heavily, there are a few backdoors to victory. Any deck that relies too heavily on its Commander knows that while being a strength it is also a weakness. Luckily Arjun often plays as a draw-go control deck, and when you don’t have the gas to go off he functions well enough as a card selection engine. By making every single spell you cast dig for new cards you can quickly cycle through your deck and find the two card combos this deck plays. The combos are as follows:
There are also a few spells that if resolved at the right time will just win you the game, a la Insurrection and Rise from the Tides. Having these “I win” buttons is extremely important for a control deck like Arjun. Going the distance can be difficult when people know what you’re up to and being able to jam a 2 card combo and call it a day is a necessary concession to make in the deck building process.
Extinguishing the Flames
As with the previous Azami deck there are definitely some cards to look out for when playing Arjun, the Shifting Flame. Most of your power house plays involve revolving multiple spells, as such, things that prevent doing so hamper your game plan. There are also a few cards that can make your two card combos a little harder to resolve. Cards that cause creatures to enter tapped can be an issue, but less so than you might think!
- Eidolon of Rhetoric / Rule of Law / Arcane Laboratory: These cards make it very difficult for you to go off, on the other hand however they make it easier to control the game. As long as you find a way to remove it on your combo turn you should be fine.
- Thalia, Heretic Cathar / Blind Obedience and other similar cards: These cards hamper your 2 card infinite combos. However, with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker or Splinter Twin combos you can get around this. Wait until your opponent’s end step after having your tapped Kiki-Jiki and flash in that Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch. Untap Kiki and make your infinite creatures on their end step. They will now be around until your next end step because the timing has already passed for the sacrifice trigger to happen.
- Glow Rider / Vryn Wingmare / Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: Taxer’s like this can make it difficult for you to accomplish much of anything on your combo turn, so it’s pretty important to find that chain reaction to get rid of these guys when you can.
- Iona, Shield of Emeria: Naming blue can be catastrophic for this deck since it doesn’t run Chaos Warp or Blasphemous Act. Adding either shouldn’t be difficult though.
- Notion Thief: Much like last time, this guy just kills your source of card advantage. If they resolve it in response to Arjun triggering you are in serious trouble. Don’t let him resolve if you don’t want to have the worst day.
In the Izzet colors Arjun has access to Counterspells, bounce magic, artifact and creature destruction. As such, Arjun has the tools to compete and to get past his silver bullets. Having a Commander that allows for unmatched card filtration increases the consistency of the deck. This allows you to find your answers and have them when you need them. This deck looks like a blast and I’m glad Auston brought it to the Tournament. If you’re still feeling a bit confused on how to play the deck we’ve got some last minute advice from the designer of the deck:
“TL:DR Draw some cards and let everyone else fight it out.” – Auston Tramper
Tune in next week for the final part of this venture in bEDH where I will feature a Selvala, Heart of the Wilds deck that boasts being the “fastest deck in the format.” Don’t believe us? Come check it out and decide for yourself.