Commander Insights: Five Color Praetors with Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree
March of the Machine has been out for a little while now, and I can't stop playing Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree on arena. While I'm playing it as strictly a mill engine, there's a 10 mana activated ability that I've been avoiding.
Much like The World Tree, Realmbreaker asks to build around a relatively small tribe of Creatures. Unlike The World Tree, I've seen tables of reasonable people lose all decorum at the sight of any of the five original Praetors in a game of Commander. Now there are 15 of them (plus a few weirdos with the same creature type and all changlings) but that's not enough for a deck.
With a deck built around The World Tree there's the difficult route of just shoving Gods into a deck and doing double mana cost gimmicks. That's all well and good, but the mana will be pretty bad, even with my chosen Commander for this strategy being Esika, God of the Tree (or her more important reverse side, The Prismatic Bridge).
When it comes to building a deck around Realmbreaker, instead we have the fun option of being a 5 color deck that's actually secretly a monocolored deck. Let me explain:
My friends and I once played a Morophon, the Boundless deck building challenge against each other. I showed up with mono red goblins and a Blood Moon to a game where everyone else thought I would be 5 color. With the Praetors you can pick your favorite color and play Eiska or Morophon and build a mono color deck with them "pretending" to be something else. Then, with tutors, Chromatic Lantern, Realmbreaker, and similar effects, you can surprise your friends by tutoring a bunch of powerful creatures at instant speed at the end of someone else's turn. Will you have fun? Yes, will you still have those friends? Hopefully.
There's value to a swerve in deck building. It's the same reason why home brewers advantage exists in Modern and Legacy. If nobody knows what you're going to do they can't play around you. Playing something innocuous and surprising your group is an advantage you can take exactly one time. Unfortunately there is another side to this brewing coin. Showing up with some random Commander keeps attention from you, while playing a “meta” Commander can make you a target even if you're not doing something crazy.
I play Meren of Clan Nel Toth and people assume I'm playing a hyper efficient graveyard combo deck, when in reality I'm playing a value creature deck. My playgroup learned this over time just as they learned that my Momir Vig deck was much more dangerous than it appeared. However, when going out into the wild world playing Commander against people you've never played with before, they have no way of knowing if you're playing something high tier, something weird, or something pretending to be something it's not. So go out and experiment and never underestimate someone's deck because it's playing something “underpowered”. I've played Xira Arien before. Anything can happen out there.