Commander Focus: A Riku of Two Reflections means (2 decks)

Riku was a perfectly good commander once upon a time. Since the release of Commander 2011 here’s been a tremendous amount of power creep, and generally speaking, you can get something like Prosper, Tome-Bound, who offers both a value engine and a ramp piece in one, or access to something really oppressive, like Toxril the Corrosive, which will, if left on the board, probably start mass killing your opponent’s creatures and can be combined with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Kormus Bell to kill all your opponent’s lands.

Riku, of the Two Reflections has two basic abilities:

  1. copy a spell when you cast it (as a trigger), and
  2. when a non-token creature enters the battlefield under your control you can create a copy of it (also as a trigger)

This isn’t bad at all, but Riku has a mana value of 5, and only 2 toughness. In practical terms that is fairly weak. Granted, automatically copying something can definitely go infinite fairly simply – just cast a spell, any spell, then cast a copy spell, then generate the copy of the copy spell targeting the copy spell, etc..

In a sense though, this “instantly goes infinite” aspect makes Riku sort of threatening, and given how easy he is to remove, that actually makes him kind of worse.

I still have a soft spot for Riku, I couldn’t even tell you why, and in the aftermath of the whole Golos affair (I was working on a “from exile” deck) I was reading the mechanics of suspended spells carefully, and noted that, when a suspended spell resolves, that’s the point at which you cast it.

Part of the problem with Riku is that if you rush out Riku, then you typically blow through your hand with ramp, and then you have Riku, but you sort of wish you’d had Riku on the board, to double your ramp, maybe more dorks, double casting a Cultivate or something like that. But if you’re not ramping quickly it takes a while to get to 5 mana, far far too long really.

Suspended spells are kind of perfect for this since you can suspend them, then while they’re waiting you can get out Riku, and then when the spell resolves during your upkeep, you can copy it. There’s a number of pretty powerful spells to cast from exile, cards like Arc Blade are sort of fun, and one of the better things you can suspend if you can manage Jhoira of the Ghitu is to suspend some take-a-turn cards, which means your suspended spells will keep resolving.

This deck really sort of needs its ABUR duals and Shocks, so I recommend proxying those and the Timestwister.  It’s meant to be a sort of ridiculous big swingy deck, and I think it’s not so much fun without those ludicrous cards.

The win conditions revolve around casting lots of spells, so you are getting triggers for:

Each one of these will deal damage for casting instants, more and more as the game goes on. Sorcerer Class is probably the best of these since it lets your creatures tap for useful casting mana and causes a nice card selection for you.

never stop

The path to getting the deck to explode is pretty straightforward – ramp when you can and suspend something big if you can, get Riku out, then hopefully you can either resolve your suspended spell with a copy, or else cast something big and copy it.

This deck should handle fairly easily, there’s a number of tricks to work out with casting from exile, copying things like dockside extortionist, and then suspending it so you can double it again when it reenters.

It is worth noting that As foretold will let you cast suspended spells with no mana cost directly from your hand, so lotus bloom and Ancestral Vision can come straight out.

Here’s Riku of the fourth Dimension:

The other deck for this week, the second reflection of Riku if you will (groan) is built around an archetypal magic creature, the Prodigal Sorcerer aka Tim.

Tim the Enchanter
Tims are creatures that generally have the ability Tap: Deal 1 damage to any target.  Though many of the printed versions of these cards say “creature or player” in general they have been updated to read “any target” so if Planeswalkers are your bane these can also help deal with those.

Riku’s ability allows you to create token copies of creatures as they come into play.  There are a number of ways to double this:

  1. Reflections of Littjara
  2. Parallel Lives
  3. Doubling Season
  4. Adrix and Nev, Twincasters
  5. Panharmonicon
  6. Naban, Dean of Iteration

Potentially casting a single Prodigal Sorcerer can net you 1 initial, nontoken Tim, 8 copies off Reflections of Littjara (Adrix, Parrallel, Doubling Season) 8 copies off Riku’s initial trigger, 8 copies off Nabban making Rikus ability trigger again (costing UG more) and 8 more copies off Panharmonicon making Rikus ability trigger again (Costing UG more).  25 Times off a single spell.

This is a bad deck, full of slow, overcost cards.  But I think it might be a fun way.  Like Riku always does it relies on a pretty massive early game ramp to get Riku out faster and support the heavy mana cost of his abilities.  It also more or less requires some expensive cards, particularly the ABUR duals, Riku’s abilities really soak up specific colored mana, and casting all these spells and making these copies require the flexibility of them.  There’s also the snow duals, which etb tapped, so it’s important to at least try to plan out your turns, when you know you won’t need the mana amidst all the ramping, then grab an ETB tapped land.

You do have to be a bit careful with the deck, it’s not that hard to actually grab all the basic lands out of the deck.  There are only 8 snow basics, so if you resolve a doubled Kodama’s Reach or Cultivate you probably won’t want to try to double up another.

This isn’t a totally strict tribal deck, it does include a single non-wizard, but it’s Seedborn Muse, which fits into the theme, and is a replacement for the unjustly banned Prophet of Kruphix which is a wizard, so I think that is fair enough.

One of the ways the deck can stall out is the lack of inherent card advantage in the command zone, but there’s a number of ways to draw cards out of the deck, Nin, the Pain Artist can be used to target your own creatures, especially copies, and Cloudkin Seer can cause rather a lot of draws.  Kindred Discover isn’t based on the creature being nontoken, so if you resolve a bunch of token copies of a wizard that should refill your hand nicely, whereas Guardian Project and The Great Henge do depend on the creature being non-token, but still should at least let you draw an extra card or two per turn.

To finish out the game, once you have a good-sized group of Tims, you can use Intruder Alarm in combination with a bunch of token copies entering – each one will untap all your times, or copy a Dramatic Reversal or Turnabout, hopefully, more than once, or a hefty Basalt Ravager and or posse of Ghitu Journeymage.

To play this deck well, you need to have a decent knowledge of the stack and triggers and how doubling effects work, the interactions, especially of additional triggers and doubling effects can be rather complex.

Next week a retrospective on every article I’ve ever written.