Commander Deck Tech: Lord Xander, the Collector
It's time for another Streets of New Capenna Commander build. This week I chose Lord Xander, the Collector because of his multiple triggered abilities. He does cost seven converted mana with four of it being colorless. Because of this I did run Sol Ring, Temple of the False God, and Ancient Tomb. I think you could also run Mana Crypt and Mana Vault but I wanted to do some play testing first. Xander has an (ETB) Enter the Battlefield Triggered ability that makes one opponent discard half their hand rounded down. Now unless we get him out super early this will probably only hit one or two cards.
When Xander attacks the defending player, it mills half their library is rounded down. This second ability is the one we are really focusing on with this build. We basically are running a Grixis Mill build with Xander as the Commander. Yes he does several other things, but the main theme of this build is milling the opponent(s). For the third ability when Xander dies one opponent must sacrifice half of their permanents rounded down. This is a doozie as well and one of the reasons I put Phyrexian Tower into the build.
A couple of key cards in the deck are Helm of the Host and Mirror Box. Both give us the ability to negate the Legendary rule. Since Helm of the Host has to be equipped and Xanders second ability requires it to attack, you do need some haste. Because of this I choose to add both Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots to the build. In most of my builds I usually play one or the other but rarely both. This build is the exception, and you could even go further by adding some Red Creatures like Urabrask the Hidden. I chose just the Equipment as the build is focusing more on the Blue and Black colors, and only runs a splash of Red cards. Mirror Box is definitely a crazy card, a bit expensive but only costs colorless mana. It shouldn't be too hard to get out and I imagine it may be a top card you tutor for. Since we do have a way to negate the Legendary rule I run a lot of clones. There were two more clones prior to this final list, but I had to cut a few creatures to be able to run 35 lands.
If you don't have much going on early in a game you can play Hedron Crab or Ruin Crab. Then a few turns later you can start cloning them. Then when you play Lands you really start milling them. It's also a pretty effective way to get a win, or to make your opponents waste their spot removal early on. You can always reanimate a Hedron Crab if you would like, or just wait to play a Consecrated Sphinx.
What's really cool about this build is that it runs several Legendary Creatures which are Commanders on their own. The popular Commanders making cameos in this build are: Bruvac the Grandiloquent, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, and Tergrid, God of Fright. There are several other legendary creatures in the deck, but you rarely see them used as Commanders.
What else do we have to support the main theme of this grixis mill build? Several cards printed within the past few years definitely help mill themed Commanders. This build runs the following mill cards: Fraying Sanity, Sphinx's Tutelage, Teferi's Tutelage, Fractured Sanity, Maddening Cacophony, Traumatize, Fleet Swallower, and Consuming Aberration. Even though we are less focused on discard there are still several instances or abilities that allow you to make opponents discard cards or their whole hand in this build.
The last area we wanted to have several cards in is counterspells. Most blue decks run counterspells but in decks like this one I think they are very important. We want to make sure Xander hits the battlefield and gets his first initial trigger. The goal is to hopefully get an attack and death trigger in there as well. Maximizing Xander's triggers will definitely upset your opponent(s) and make it very difficult for them to win or make a comeback. You'll notice that half of the eight counterspells in the deck have some sort of option to pay no mana initially to cast them.
We do run several crippling bombs within this build they are in the deck for the late game. They are alternative win conditions in case Xander somehow ends up not getting into play or something else brutal happens to him. The alternate wincons / bombs within this build are: Cruel Ultimatum, Rise of the Dark Realms, Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, and Nicol Bolas, the Ravager / Nicol Bolas, the Arisen.
Most grixis builds are entertaining with way too many options of cards to use when building. This deck is no exception to that rule. I had to cut several cards I wanted to play, but had to cut to make way for lands. There are definitely many options for substitutions within this build to make it more cost friendly. There are also several options to add to the build that would make it much more expensive. I think this build is a great middle starting point and I hope it gives you a basis for your own Lord Xander, the Collector Commander Deck.
Until Next Time,