Commanding Respect: Patron of the Moon
Welcome back one and all to Commanding Respect, now under new management! I'm Bryce Miller, and for this week's column, I'm bringing you one of my most favorite obscure commanders: he's big, he's angry, he's... a weird toothy bird insect thing. Say hello to Patron of the Moon!
Patron of the Moon is the strangest ramp you never expected to see in monoblue. Don't be too intimidated by his high mana cost: so long as we keep a few Moonfolk around, we can get him out much sooner than turn seven. Then what, you ask? Then, we end the game with one of our land-based return to hand / return to play infinite combos. Let's get to the list!
Once More, with Vigor
On a bad day, we can use our commander to ramp us until he meets the broad side of a Doom Blade, but on a good day, we'll be using him to combo as soon as he hits the board. There's a reason that Patron of the Moon is the Patron of the Moon : he synergizes with the Moonfolk from Kamigawa block, who have activated abilities that cost little mana in exchange for returning lands we control to their owners' hands.
To combo out with Patron, we usually need three pieces in addition to our commander: a method of untapping the lands he puts into play, a way of returning lands to our hand, and a few lands that produce more than one mana (the exact amount they must generate will depend on how much mana we need for the bounce-lands-to-hand effect). The most straightforward variant of this combo involves Amulet of Vigor and Cloudstone Curio. Amulet of Vigor is far and away the best card to untap the lands that Patron would otherwise put into play tapped, while Cloudstone Curio provides a free effect to return lands to hand. If we have two lands in hand, we activate Patron to place them on the battlefield tapped. Amulet triggers to untap them, and Cloudstone Curio triggers to bounce two of our lands. We can tap our untapped lands for two mana, use one to activate Patron again, and the cycle repeats. In situations where our bounce effect comes from a card other than Cloudstone Curio, we might cast Caged Sun or Extraplanar lens so our lands tap for more mana.
Infinite mana sure is nice, and while it doesn't guaranteed end the game, we have plenty of components that do. The one that I most often use is Laboratory Maniac, who makes us win the game instead of lose when we draw more cards than we have in our library. Iinfinite mana is a short step away from drawing infinite cards with Seer's Sundial and Blue Sun's Zenith.
Post No Kills
It's no surprise that a land-based combo deck is going to care a great deal about its land base! The deck is stuffed full of lands that can generate more than one mana, my personal favorite being the Cloudpost Quartet. Legacy players will be well-acquainted with Cloudpost, which taps for mana equal to the number of lands we control with the subtype "Locus". Only two such lands exist– Cloudpost and Glimmerpost– but Vesuva can enter the battlefield as a copy of Cloudpost, and Thespian's Stage can activate to copy it. For bonus Locus action, Mirage Mirror can copy lands (in addition to many other card types). To expedite the assembly of our... 4 Post?... we're playing both Expedition Map and Tolaria West as land tutors.
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx has the single highest ramp potential (and by extension, combo potential) of any land in our deck, as long as we have a few blue permanents on the battlefield. Another notable land is Academy Ruins, which recurs artifacts, thereby making our key combo pieces a little harder to get rid of. A trick I've often employed is using Expedition Map to search up Academy Ruins, and then using the Ruins to recur Expedition Map for multiple turns, essentially replacing my draw with the land of my choice. While slow, this is an excellent way to build up the lands you need to combo if you already have Amulet of Vigor and land-bounce effects. The last land I'll highlight is another gift from Amonkhet block: Sunscorched Desert. On many occasions, I've assembled "do nothing" combos where I have endlessly bounced and replayed my lands while netting zero mana. Sunscorched Desert turns this awkward non-combo into a kill condition, repeatedly dealing one damage to each opponent until the game is over.
Dizzy Wizards (and Other Packages)
Anyone who knows me as a Magic player knows that I love, love , package (a.k.a. "build-around-me") cards. Chief among those package cards are Trinket Mage and Trophy Mage, which are both creatures that search our library for artifacts of a particular converted mana cost (for the former, CMC 1 or less, for the latter, CMC 3 exactly). Trophy Mage's most notable target is notorious combo piece Cloudstone Curio, but she can also fetch Mirage Mirror to deal with a myriad of situations, or Burnished Hart if we're hurting for additional mana. The options for Trinket Mage are much broader: Amulet of Vigor when we're ready to combo out, Tormod's Crypt to exile a problematic graveyard, Expedition Map to secure a key land, Codex Shredder as (admittedly mana-intensive) recursion, Sol Ring for ramp, and Sensei's Divining Top for smoothing out our draws.
With Amulet of Vigor being so central card to our strategy, I've elected to include an oddball tutor rarely played in Commander: Dizzy Spell, which can be discarded with its Transmute ability to search for a card with converted mana cost one. The Dizzy Spell package intersects with most of our Trinket Mage package– Amulet included– with the addition to numerous utility spells: Pongify or Rapid Hybridization to kill a creature, Swan Song for countering an attempt to interrupt our combo, and High Tide to make our islands produce additional mana.
And, because I haven't had my fill of obscure tutor effects, here's one more for you: Vedalken Aethermage! For a scant three mana, we can discard the honorable Miss Aethermage and search our library for a Wizard. In a Shyamalan-esque twist, many of the creatures we have already discussed ~~have been dead the whole time~~ are Wizards! That includes: every Moonfolk in our deck (and indeed, the overwhelming majority of all Moonfolk), the Trinket / Trophey Mage duo, and Laboratory Maniac, plus a few that we haven't mentioned (e.g. Venser, Shaper Savant as a soft counterspell, or Archaeomancer for recursion).
In Case of Emergency...
Imagine the following: your opponent casts Praetors' Grasp, exiles a card from your library, and giggles quietly to themself.
A few turns later, you have your combo nearly assembled, save for one easily-accessible piece. You play Trinket Mage, but on the first pass through your library, you don't find your Amulet of Vigor. You check again, and again, your opponent's giggle swelling into a full-blown evil cackle. Our primary plan of attack has been taken offline. What do we do?
Option 1: The Soratami Soft-Lock. It turns out that a repeatable counterspell effect is powerful, even if we can't do it endlessly. With enough mana and our commander, Soratami Savant can easily lock one or two opponents out of the game. This approach is, understandably, most effective in games with fewer players.
Option 2: Meloku's Mad Midranging. Meloku has the cheapest activation cost of any Moonfolk, and by mid-game, we probably have the mana to activate him numerous times and then replay the lands with Patron. Ten-plus tiny flying creatures is a good way to grind our opponents down to nothing.
Option 3: The Adventuring Gear... erm... Adaptation. Our commander may be expensive to cast, but he brings with him a decent base power and the ability to fly over our enemies' fields. Slap on Adventuring Gear, and we (probably) threaten lethal commander damage in one to three turns.
Option 4: Sundering Some Friendships. You're not going to make any friends by casting Sunder. But with Patron on the board, and countermagic to ensure that Sunder will resolve, we're liable to win the game, even if that's because our opponents concede rather than attempt to drag themselves back. While I have removed Sunder from my personal Patron of the Moon deck, it is an option available to us.
Over the Moon
Thank you all for joining me on my first adventure with Commanding Respect! Patron of the Moon is near and dear to my heart, and I hope he is the first in a long line of obscure commanders for us to explore together. Do you have questions about my decklist? Want to suggest commanders for future Commanding Respect articles?You can check out my other articles on EDHrec.com here! I'd love to hear from you on Twitter: just locate @Walking_Atlas. And remember: you can command any deck you want, as long as you command respect.
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