Unstable Mutation: Riveteers Rampage

A jund blitz deck is very up my alley. Blitz lets you cast creatures, giving them haste, and then when they die you get to draw a card. Additionally, they are sacrificed at the end of your turn.

702.152. Blitz
702.152a Blitz represents three abilities: two static abilities that function while the card with blitz is on the stack, one of which may create a delayed triggered ability, and a static ability that functions while the object with blitz is on the battlefield. “Blitz [cost]” means “You may cast this card by paying [cost] rather than its mana cost,” “If this spell’s blitz cost was paid, sacrifice the permanent this spell becomes at the beginning of the next end step,” and “As long as this permanent’s blitz cost was paid, it has haste and ‘When this permanent is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, draw a card.’” Casting a spell for its blitz cost follows the rules for paying alternative costs in rules 601.2b and 601.2f–h.

Henzie “Toolbox” Toree is a solid commander, who can enable a powerful strategy of dumping out creatures and gaining value from their death.  The deck as per usual contains 15 new cards, previously not printed anywhere else, and only available in the deck, so the first step is to examine those cards.

Henzie “Toolbox” Torre

Like I said before, I think this guy is a potentially strong commander, with a useful set of colors that have some synergistic powerful creatures and abilities.  We’ll be rebuilding this precon with him at the helm, but he’s certainly worth just straight up starting from scratch and building a deck around.

The Beamtown Bullies

This is an extremely solid card.  There are any number of creatures that you could dump into your grave, and force your opponents to “have” and punish your other opponents from the attack.  That being said, as a whole deck strategy this is a bit dangerous, since what do you do, when presumably you’ve gotten the game down to a 1 vs 1.  4 for a 4/4 with Vigilance and Haste and this ability is a decent body.  I’d be leery of building a deck solely around the Beamtown Bullies, but it’s a powerful jund enabler.  Obviously, the exile trigger is a problem, without that you could force your opponents to attack each other with creatures with Annihilator and things like that, over and over until they ran out of permanents.  Repeatable ways to blow up your targets, like Royal Assassin and Avatar of Woe can help you force your opponents to kill each other off.

Weathered Sentinels

I mean.. yeah okay.  I don’t like this card.  It’s like whatever.  3 for a 2/5 conditionally attacking wall.  I guess it’s sort of a goad protection if it gets down to 1v1 but, um, it just doesn’t seem worth a slot, at all.  There are so many cards I’d rather have than a wall.  It’s okay for decks that already give defender the ability to attack, totally great to run in decks like that.

Caldaia Guardian

This is solid with Blitz enabled.  Extremely solid really, if you pair it with things like Zulaport Cutthroat and Impact Tremors.  Which is a dangerous sort of deck in and of itself.

Jolene, the Plunder Queen

This is a cool card.  Can definitely build a deck around.  The create a treasure replacement effect is potentially really big.  Kind of a weird group-huggy type effect that also really helps you out.  I like Jolene a lot, no wonder dolly was so concerned.

Mezzio Mugger

This exile from the top and play those cards, that’s just extremely powerful.  And there’s an increasing number of effects generating it.  Potentially you can lose things you really need to it, like win cons getting exiled, and it gives red access to things it doesn’t normally get color pie-wise (though they’ve mostly eaten the color pie as far as I can tell).  Pako, Arcane Retriever and Haldan, Avid Arcanist are brutal, and this is yet another similar effect.

Wave of Rats

This is a pretty interesting card IMO, it’s a fun 4/2 beater that can come back over and over again.  Though given how it’s ability works, you could see an opponent wanting to hit it with removal because otherwise it can potentially just keep coming back.  If your deck is set up to sacrifice things for value that can be a really dangerous combo.

Bellowing Mauler

This is interesting but really too expensive.  Since it’s not a forced sacrifice it’s probably rarely going to hit something you really want off the board.  So it’s mostly just a 5 mana 4/6 that causes 4 life loss each turn.  4 life isn’t nothing, but at the speed that commander is played that is just too slow, generally speaking.  I could see playing this in sort of battlecruiser decks that run things like wound reflection.

Protection Racket

This is a neat effect, I think a really interesting card.  I think it’s totally playable, since it’s going to net you probably a card or so every turn, sometimes more, sometimes maybe nothing if you hit all lands, but it’s also going to make your opponents worry about top manipulation and chip at their life totals.

Industrial Advancement

I think this is obviously mean to play happily with Blitz, since you can put the blitz sacrifice trigger on the stack and then put this trigger on the stack, last in first out applies here and you’ll sacrifice the creature you were going to sacrifice anyway, and get a free creature out of it.  4 mana is a doable amount to get combo like this going, though it’s definitely not in cEDH territory.

Rain of Riches

This card is good for Prosper, Tomebound (since the cascade card is cast from exile) and potentially other decks that really want to use cascade (to override timing restrictions or cast Suspend spells free)  5 mana to instantly get 2 treasures isn’t too bad for an effect like that.

Turf War

This is an interesting card and basically lets you grab your opponent’s lands and they’ll start bouncing around the table.  Great way to mana screw people.  You can get around having one of your lands stolen by using a fetchland, then sacrificing it to grab a different land so you don’t have land with a counter on it.  In red decks that want to attack a lot I could see playing this.  It definitely fits in with an aggressive theme, especially if you have ways to keep from being successfully attacked.  Many decks can’t deal with losing their lands or having them comandeered.

Riveteers Confluence

This is a really solid modal spell, though 5 mana is a lot.  Even so these are really nice, flexible abilities, all of them useful.  Dumping lands onto the field like this is usually a simic type of thing, which is a bit odd, but access to it is nice for Jund to have.  The most likely mode is probably the damage-dealing mode, but card draw as a “backup” for a card is a pretty low floor.

First Responder

Well for returning etb creatures this is neat, but 4 mana is pretty spicy, if you had 2 or 3 types of effects to really lean into this, it would be really neat.  As it is, by itself, it’s not consistent enough to trust as a deck-building combo piece.

Next of Kin

This is really something, kind of a weird pattern of rebirth, also a way to get around commander tax mid and late game.  There are really a lot of potential upsides to this card, cheat out something huge, sacrifice it, get something small and smaller.  With partner commanders and sacrifice effects, this could get really dangerous.  Also, you could use something like that Wave of Rats to get out a 2 and 3 cost partner, over and over and over.

Out of the box, Riveteers Rampage is a pretty straightforward deck, you want to rush out Henzie “Toolbox” Torre, get him killed once or so, and then get him back out.  Which is in and of itself kind of weird, and we’ll go over that later.

Henzie’s ability is cool: Each Creature spell you cast with mana value 4 or greater has blitz.

Blitz represents three abilities: two static abilities that function while the card with blitz is on the stack, one of which may create a delayed triggered ability, and a static ability that functions while the object with blitz is on the battlefield. “Blitz [cost]” means “You may cast this card by paying [cost] rather than its mana cost,” “If this spell’s blitz cost was paid, sacrifice the permanent this spell becomes at the beginning of the next end step,” and “As long as this permanent’s blitz cost was paid, it has haste and ‘When this permanent is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, draw a card.’” Casting a spell for its blitz cost follows the rules for paying alternative costs in rules 601.2b and 601.2f–h.

Okay, so blitz lets you pop off a creature for it’s blitz cost.  The creature enters with haste and it will be sacrificed at the end of the turn.  Parenthetically here I want to say that I think blitz is really a perfect Jund ability.  From red comes haste and aggression, from black comes the sacrifice, and green has a creature focus.  Design team really knocked it out of the park here, this should be like the de-factor Jund ability.  Chefkiss Emoji.

Henzie’s “special” blitz ability is that your creatures with mana value 4 or creature can blitz for their mana value; he also has blitz costs you pay are minus 1 for each time your commander has been cast from the command zone.  Functionally what that means is each time you cast Henzie then get him killed, return to command zone, and pay command tax to recast him reduces all your blitz costs by 1.  So you may want him to die.

The deck then consists of a bunch of high cost creatures, 12 creatures with mana value 6 or creature, and another 6 at 5, 7 at 4.  So that’s a brutal curve to hit without Henzie’s ability, and even with it, you’re looking at dropping one big creature per turn, swinging away, and then having the creature either connect and be sacrificed or be blocked and die.  In either scenario your creatures are dying every turn, generally.

There’s a few creatures in the deck that will generate nice loops for you, Temur Sabertooth, First Responder, Wave of Rats.

There’s definitely a paucity of decent removal, a grand total of 4 instant speed cards.  There are a few of the sort of bog standard big haymakers, but less than these pre-cons usually run.  Seemingly we’re to depend on ETBs from creatures to get there.

Oh right the manabase is the usual dumpster fire, 39 lands, about 10 of them enter tapped, way too many duals given how many spells require only 1 colored mana or 2 colored mana.  A couple of decent sorceries to land ramp and mana fix, but a lot less than you’d expect.

It’s not a terrible precon, but it’s definitely going to have a lot of rough games unless you happen to get the mana fixing / mana ramping to start slamming out big fatties each turn. Here is the vanilla decklist:

Before the rebuild I want to make this comment – the “strong” way to rebuild this deck would be to use token generators, and aristocrats sacrifice themes and recursion.  Plopping out things that themselves generate tokens, then sacrificing them for value or purely mana, and getting etb pings off thins like Purphoros, God of the Forge would be pretty strong.  With some cards like Beast Whisperer and Phyrexian Altar you could potentially just keep sacrificing the cost-reduced creatures, draw off your triggers and cast more creatures and sac for more mana.  If you have a Zulaport Cutthroat, your opponents are dying fast.  But that approaches high power level and doesn’t seem “fun”.

So to rebuild the deck, a lot of cuts:

1 Aether Snap
1 Deathbringer Regent
1 Disciple of Bolas
1 Noxious Gearhulk
1 Painful Truths
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Stalking Vengeance
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Giant Adephage
1 Mitotic Slime
1 Thragtusk
1 Kresh the Bloodbraided
1 Windgrace’s Judgment
1 Explore
1 Indrik Stomphowler
1 Migration Path
1 Overgrown Battlement
1 Deathreap Ritual
1 Foreboding Ruins
1 Game Trail
1 Mossfire Valley
1 Temple of Malady
1 Twilight Mire
1 Blighted Woodland
1 Jund Panorama
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Path of Ancestry
1 Savage Lands
1 Temple of the False God
1 Thriving Bluff
1 Thriving Grove
1 Thriving Moor
1 The Beamtown Bullies
1 Bellowing Mauler
1 Mezzio Mugger
1 Rain of Riches
1 Turf War
1 Caldaia Guardian
1 Dodgy Jalopy
1 First Responder
1 Grime Gorger
1 Riveteers Confluence
1 Weathered Sentinels

Some of these cards aren’t so bad, but we’re really going heavy on the “sacrifice our commander for value 1-3 times” and then ram out creatures – quickly.  The bigger the creatures we are ramming out the better, so this coincides with a lot of ramp.  This is a fairly ungainly set up process, but once you’ve more or less loaded up your creature canon you should be able to fire a huge trampling creature, often an eldrazi titan, at your opponents, every turn.

Here’s a list of cards to add:

1 Myth Unbound
1 Mayhem Devil
1 Ignoble Hierarch
1 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger
1 Sepulchral Primordial
1 Shadowgrange Archfiend
1 Shattergang Brothers
1 Feldon of the Third Path
1 Daemogoth Woe-Eater
1 Riveteers Ascendancy
1 The Great Henge
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Blightsteel Colossus
1 Beast Whisperer
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Assassin’s Trophy
1 Prismatic Vista
1 Three Visits
1 Nature’s Lore
1 Cultivate
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Blood Crypt
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
1 Malakir Rebirth // Malakir Mire
1 Agadeem’s Awakening // Agadeem, the Undercrypt
1 Hagra Mauling // Hagra Broodpit
1 City of Brass
1 Mana Confluence
1 Reanimate
1 Animate Dead
1 Soul Exchange
1 Abrade
1 Cindervines
1 Eldritch Evolution
1 Diabolic Intent
1 Village Rites
1 Altar’s Reap
1 Fatal Grudge
1 Plumb the Forbidden
1 Ziatora’s Proving Ground

With these, you have a number of ways to sacrifice Henzie, as well as sacrifice your blitzed out creatures, and since they are going to die anyway, and since they are going to draw your cards anyway, this is great.  There is some decent interaction added, and you should end up drawing multiple cards per turn, dropping more lands consistently, and then being able to keep ramming forth huge threats.  Once they die there are various ways to reanimate them to keep them permanently.

Here is the final decklist:

Next week, another deck. Oh right and then another deck, 2 precons left, and guess what, after that, we’re hip-deep in spoiler season with Baldur’s Gate aka Commander 2022. Exciting new cards. New “partners”. New Dungeons.

Remember, in the Grim Darkness of 2022, there is only spoiler season.

Rob: Holy shit again? That is grim.

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