Lunarch

Mikaeus the Lunarch was one of the first decks I created all on my own. Back when I was first getting into the game, I pulled one in a pack, and since, at the time, he was the only white Legendary creature I owned, I decided to build a deck around him. With his ability, white weenie tokens was a natural way to go, and since I like tribal, the deck had a human tribal bent. At around the same time I’d pulled a Mikaeus the Unhallowed, and I built them as sort of duel decks against each other, human tribal versus hate humans. Unhallowed has since gone through various revisions, and at this point looks like I’m going to take him apart; but Lunarch has remained as a fun deck to play.

The core idea of the deck hasn’t changed much since its conception. It’s still white weenie human tribal tokens. The tribal aspects have been tightened, some of the token-producers removed because they don’t contribute to that theme, but the idea is still to get a bunch of little guys that Mikaeus can buff until my field becomes an unstoppable force. It’s weak to boardwipes and somewhat weak to targeted removal, but with a very low curve I’m usually able to do something to remain in the game.

Human Tribal:

Gallows at Willow Hill

Angel of Glory’s Rise

Champion of the Parish

Dearly Departed

Devout Chaplain

Elder Cathar

Herald of War

Thalia’s Lieutenant

Hope Against Hope

Repel the Abominable

Spare from Evil

Naturally with the main theme of the deck as human tribal, it makes sense that I would have cards that interact with Human creatures specifically. In many other tribal decks, I run Door of Destinies and Coat of Arms; while those would undoubtedly be good in this deck, they haven’t yet made their way onto the list. Perhaps later.

White Tribal:

Ring of Thune

Celestial Crusader

Crovax, Ascendant Hero

Paragon of New Dawns

Crusade

Honor of the Pure

Mass Calcify

Since the deck is mono-white, it also makes sense that I would run cards that benefit whit e creatures, including old cards that could also aid my opponents. I feel this falls under the tribal umbrella.

Tokens:

Captain of the Watch

Evangel of Heliod

God-Favored General

Hanweir Militia Captain

Heliod, God of the Sun

Gather the Townsfolk

In early incarnations, the deck had quite a few token-producing cards. That has decreased as I’ve narrowed its focus, but I still want to be able to make multiple creatures to benefit from Mikaeus’s effect.

Counters:

Abzan Battle Priest

Abzan Falconer

Ainok Bond-Kin

Dragonscale General

Dromoka Captain

Gideon’s Avenger

Lightwalker

Unruly Mob

Tempt with Glory

With Mikaeus’s ability to distribute +1/+1 counters to all of my creatures, it makes sense to run other things that interact with counters. Some of these give my creatures advantages—lifelink, first strike, flying—some gain advantages themselves, and some just give themselves counters that can then benefit from the other effects.

Anthems:

Spear of Heliod

Consul’s Lieutenant

Goldnight Commander

Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”

Pianna, Nomad Captain

Veteran Armorer

White is very good at anthem effects. These effects are even better when they can affect a large number of creatures—such as a deck that is designed to get down a lot of creatures, both token and non-token.

Boardwipes:

Day of Judgment

Divine Reckoning

Terminus

White also does boardwipes very well, and it seemed prudent to have a few in the deck. Depending on play, in the future I might take them out for more anthems, since in most cases I’m going to have the most threatening board state, unless a boardwipe has previously occurred.

Planeswalkers:

Gideon Jura

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Gideon, Champion of Justice

Kytheon, Hero of Akros

All of the Gideons have the advantage of turning into a Human creature—and of course, Planeswalkers are inherently powerful. Ally of Zendikar doubles as a token producer, and Champion of Justice is a potential boardwipe, but they all have the advantage of being able to turn into creatures but being immune to sorcery-speed creature removal.

Creatures:

Aegis of the Gods

Archetype of Courage

Boros Elite

Crusader of Odric

Fencing Ace

Masako the Humorless

Odric, Lunarch Marshal

Odric, Master Tactitian

Silverblad Paladin

Slayer of the Wicked

Soldier of the Pantheon

Thalia’s Lancers

Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Village Bell-Ringer

Basically the idea with the other creatures was to find the best humans to contribute to the deck. Since humans are one of the best-represented tribes in Magic, and the majority are white, it wasn’t terribly difficult. Many of the choices are great options for any deck that includes white, which made the decision to include them in this deck rather easy.

Other:

Faith’s Reward

Valorous Stance

These are both protection cards. While they don’t exactly fit the theme, they don’t go against it either, and they have enough use to warrant keeping them in the deck.

Lands:

New Benalia

Plains x36

Currently my mana base is extremely simple. In the future I might expand it with more non-basics, but at the moment basics provide me everything I need.

I played Lunarch on Thursday at one of the local stores. It started off strong, getting down Mikaeus on Turn 2 and quickly populating the board with white wheenie humans, which I made bigger using my commander’s second ability. But then the Scion player decided my board was getting too scary and swung at me with Scion, turning it into Balefire Dragon to wipe my board. Just as I was starting to recover from that, with both Odrics on the field and a couple other creatures, the Scion player cast Ugin, using his minus ability to exile all of our colored permanents. Bye-bye Odric. Now I was top-decking, not a good thing in a mono-white deck, especially one that relies on getting out a lot of little creatures. But hey, I still had my commander, right?

Well, yes. Until I top-decked Terminus and decided to cast it for its miracle cost, because that Narset just had to go. Mikaeus got removed two more times after that, until I just couldn’t cast him anymore. No hand, no field, can’t even cast my commander—poor Lunarch was completely out of the game.

Or so I thought. For a moment things were looking up when I got an Evangel of Heliod. Devotion was only two, but three creatures is better than none, and I had plenty of mana. Then that got wiped as well, leaving me just as bereft as before. Until I drew Angel of Glory’s Rise. Literally the only card in the deck that could have saved me at that point. I went from having no creatures on field to having about a dozen—my devotion was seven this time, with Evangel seeing all the other cards as they returned. I still couldn’t re-cast my commander, but at this point I didn’t need to.

Next turn, Scion was at 18 and Narset was at 10. There had been a Cromat player, but he had to leave. I had 18 power on the field, and Scion was the one who’d boardwiped me twice early on, but he had a blocker so I wasn’t going to be able to get all the damage through. Instead I decided to send 10 power at Narset and the seven tokens and the Evangel at Scion. Narset bounced my Angel of Glory’s Rise and somehow gained two life, going down to 6, then Swords to Plowsharesed Scion’s blocker, putting Scion at 14 after damage. Scion cast Unexpected Results into Dragonstorm; since Unexpected Results was the second spell of his turn, he stormed for 3, getting his last hasty dragon (Hypersonic Dragon), a dragon that dealt 5 damage divided as he chose upon ETB, and one other. Two damage to the Narset player and the other three used to kill two of my creatures, then swing at the Narset player for lethal. He then played another dragon, and passed turn.

On my turn, I re-cast Angel of Glory’s Rise, getting back my guys from the graveyard, and cast my draw for turn, which was Paragon of New Dawns. I swung with ten creatures, all of them at least 2/2 due to Paragon’s buff, and he didn’t have enough blockers to prevent it from being lethal.

I played it again against some friends, having loaned Unhallowed to one of them and Daretti to another. Daretti was at 11 counters and was going to bomb the next turn, so I swung at Daretti with enough to keep him in check, and swung at Unhallowed with my Abzan Falconer and another creature. Rather than try to make a deal with me and ask me not to swing at him, he cast Hero’s Downfall targeting my Abzan Falconer, which allowed the Daretti player to block my attack and let Daretti survive the turn. Naturally the next turn, she bombed Daretti, basically ensuring she would win the game.

At that point, Daretti was the biggest threat. Two things made her not the most enticing target. First, there was very little I could do at that point to keep her from winning. Second, and more important, she’d just played her deck like she should have; it was her boyfriend, piloting Unhallowed, who had failed to utilize table politics in order to keep me from attacking him. Of course I was going to attack, when he had an Erebos and I had an Abzan Battle Priest, and I was running human tribal and he could cast Unhallowed at any time.

A few turns later, I drew Spare from Evil. Counting up my creatures, I discovered I had the potential for 27 power on the field, assuming that I removed the final counter from Lunarch in order to distribute it to my other creatures. At that point Unhallowed was at 28 life. So, I couldn’t kill him. But I could bring him within easy kill radius. In doing so I’d lose all my creatures, since he had his Commander in play. So the question was, was a suicide charge worth it?

With Daretti able to get back all artifacts, having bombed the turn we failed to kill her Commander, there was little to no chance that I would win. And the person responsible for this state wasn’t Daretti—it was Unhallowed. A suicide charge wasn’t going to change my chances of winning—they were practically nil regardless. So the question was, did I want to try to defeat Daretti, who hadn’t done anything except play her deck, or did I want to negate Unhallowed’s chances of winning?

When put that way, it was an easy decision. Similar to when I countered the land destruction player’s spells to prevent him from winning, essentially handing the game to another player, I elected for a suicide charge at the Unhallowed player. He could have allied with me and kept Daretti from bombing, but instead he chose to wait to see what I was planning to do, and punish me for the decision when I had no way of knowing that he could or would do so.

After being dropped to one life, the Unhallowed player died to a Sword of Fire and Ice trigger, then the Daretti player won with Purphoros and Myr Incubator. On the other hand, if he’d spoken up about the fact that he had Hero’s Downfall and asked me not to attack him, I’d have attacked the Daretti player, he could have killed Daretti, and he’d have had a chance at victory. Communication is key to diplomacy in Commander—when you utilize it, you increase your chance of winning.

Then, on Saturday, I played the deck against four other judges after the local judge gathering. Turn 1 I got Kytheon, Turn 2 Veteran Armorer, Turn 3 Mikaeus for 2—usually I’d have cast him Turn 2, but I wanted the Veteran Armorer that turn. Turn 4 I got Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, since one of my opponents had cast Call to the Grave and I needed a way to create creatures I could sacrifice. Of course at that point I no longer wanted to transform my Kytheon, because then I’d have to sacrifice it.

Not long after, Kytheon was bounced to my hand. I drew Terminus, revealed it to the Miracle trigger, then elected not to Miracle it because I wanted to attack first, and had the mana to hard-cast it. I bombed Gideon to get the emblem, minused Lunarch to increase my creatures’ power, and swung with them. Then I drew a Thalia’s Lancers, which I used to tutor for Heliod so I could create more tokens, since Call to the Grave was still a thing. As tempted as I was to get Odric, or other Odric, I knew I needed the tokens. Thalia’s Lancers was then copied by the zombie player, who wanted the tutor effect. I got an effect that gave something indestructible until my next turn, which allowed me to keep Thalia’s Lancers alive. Then I cast Mass Calcify, destroying everything except the evil Lancers and my creatures, in order to keep Omnath in check.

Shortly thereafter, I cast a Gideon Jura, choosing the “insult your mother” mode because Omnath was starting to recover. Tempt with Glory got me three +1/+1 counters on each of my creatures, and I managed to kill Omnath, after using Faith’s Reward to get Gideon back.

Then there were three players left—one with Nev’s Disk, which he used to boardwipe in order to keep us from killing him. At that point all I had left was Gideon, with five +1/+1 counters from Lunarch and Tempt with Glory, and Heliod, with a similar cast of counters. Heliod was no longer a creature since I’d lost devotion. The zombie player was at 13, and the other player was at 6, with one blocker after Gideon insulted his mother, as well. In order to kill him, I had to top-deck a permanent with two white in the casting cost.

My top-deck was Crusade.

I could have killed either of them at that point, but the zombie player and I had been working together, so I killed the other player, allowing the zombie player to win.

All in all, a pretty good show. Perhaps not as overwhelming as the first time I played it three years ago, when the deck just stomped all over my friends, but it’s still powerful enough to hold its own and affect the outcome of the game—even coming back for the win after top-decking on a barren field. And it’s not the type of deck that forces other players to play around it, or keeps them from being able to play their decks. They can use spot-removal to get rid of my biggest threats, or boardwipe and completely obliterate me. It’s not a deck that people refuse to play against, or target for removal first if they see it at the table; and yet it still has a decent chance at winning. Add in the tribal aspect—something you may have noticed is a running theme in my decks—and overall I’m rather pleased with the outcome.

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