No doubt, there are a lot of great cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms that will see play in Commander. Volo, Tiamet and Xanathar are the top runners right now and, believe me, there are already a mess of deck lists and articles coming on the top tier decks. But one of the deck types that both gets little attention and TOTALLY has my attention are draw engines
FIRST, THE LORE
Iymrith, Desert Doom, flies into mtg like an amazing dragon of myth. That’s probably because she is. As we would expect out of any legendary from this set, the creature highlighted has a long history of magic and draconic greed. She was a powerful dragon sorcerer. A BLUE DRAGON, she factored into the 5E adventure book, Storm King’s Thunder, where she disguised herself as a Storm Giant.
The mention of her domain being a desert is a reference to the long destroyed kingdom of the Netherese who met their end dabbling with dark, apocalyptic power. It was here that some say she got the power to become a challenging villain. Her motives centered on her quest to “obtain a transcendent state of existence as a disembodied, mist-like flying spirit”
Her first ability is a powerful WARD ability. Basically, when the card is targeted by a spell or ability an opponent controls, it is countered unless the perpetrator of the spell pays 4! That is nearing Hexproof. Unfortunately, this is only in effect when the creature is untapped. Obviously, this is a ‘fly in the ointment’. This is mainly because the second ability, the most able ability, hinges on attacking and it has no vigilance.
So, after attacking, it is out in the open, without cover; vulnerable to those pesky death cards. But there are ways to keep the WARD4 in effect.
For Commander, the only mono-blue card I found that would offer Iymrith sufficient cover was Auramancer’s Guise. It’s because this card is the only card in blue alone that offers a creature vigilance. You can find plenty once you add white. But to build Iymrith as a commander, that’s not an option.
The next best thing to vigilance is cards that untap the creature. I’ve used them in Toski decks to keep that indestructible squirrel ready to defend even when he has to attack EVERY turn. There are several one and two drops that will do this for you. Twiddle and Cerulean Wisps are the one drops and Wisps also allows you to draw a card! Tidal Bore and Aphetto Alchemist are the two drops. Hidden Strings also costs two with the added ability to do it again. On top of that, it has Cipher that allows you to basically enchant Iymrith so that every time she deals combat damage, it will trigger Hidden Strings without cost.
Ghostly Touch is another card, an Aura, that allows you to untap Iymrith after every attack; keeping WARD4 up.
Freed from the Real can also enchant a creature, but for two and a blue PLUS it costs one blue to untap it.
Pemmin’s Aura also cost three and one blue to untap enchanted creature, but also allows you to pay to give flying, shroud and adjustments to power and toughness.
There is also several creatures that will help to untap your dragon. Clever Conjurer, a Gnome Wizard Creature from Forgotten Realms, can use its MAGE HAND ability by tapping itself and untapping any card that isn’t Clever Conjurer. And three drops are about as cheap as it gets for this kind of action. Stonybrook Angler is only a two drop, but it costs two get the tap. The best creatures that do this only tap as payment like Fatestitcher and Tidewater Minion. Tidal Force automatically untaps a permanent on your upkeep, but costs five and three blues to play.
WIN, LOSE AND DRAW
But let’s not get off task here. This deck isn’t about untapping. The second ability of Iymrith states that when the Desert Doom does combat damage to a player, you draw a card. Not only that, but if you don’t have three cards in your hand, you can draw to make it so. So no unlimited hand cards. Nope, we, for the first time, really want to top deck like a champ.
So, if you keep your hand near to empty, you will be drawing one to three extra cards a turn. So, the actual trick of this deck is to make all of that drawing work for you.
First of all, let’s multiply the cards we draw past our draw step by two. Teferi’s Ageless Insight, a staple in Draw decks, does just this!
The new Forgotten Realms card, Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar, when present can double the card draw when Iymrith does combat damage. AND, if the above artifact is in place, you will draw four cards every time your commander does combat damage!
Some of my personal favorites and, at times, staples in draw, are Opt, Keep Safe,Ominous Seas, Rousing Read and Blue Sun’s Zenith.
Three creatures in Historic on Arena are must haves in a Brawl deck AND a Commander deck. Jace’s Projection and Oneirophage ramp +1/+1 counters to card draw! And Tome Anima can’t be blocked if you’ve drawn two or more cards that turn.
Besides that, I only found two other creatures that ramp to draw. Toothy, Imaginary Friend and Chasm Skulker. Toothy has the added benefit, upon leaving the battlefield, of allowing you to draw cards equal to the number of +1/+1 counters. Chasm Skulker, upon death, splinters into a number of 1/1 blue squid creature tokens equal to the +1/+1 counters it had.
One of the constant abilities of the Jace Planeswalkers is ‘draw one card’. But three of those cards sticks out for me. Jace, Arcane Strategist, not only draws a card on a +1, but his ultimate makes your creatures unblockable for a turn. But the main ability that brings it to this deck is a free static ability that triggers on your second card drawn. When you draw that second card each turn, you are allowed to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature. Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, makes this deck simply as a win con if he accidently mills you out. Finally, Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage, has a +1 that untaps all of your creatures which makes him the perfect planeswalker for this deck.