Commanding Respect: Rosheen Meanderer
Welcome back to Commanding Respect, where we take under used commanders and discuss ways to get them back on the table. Today we’re going to look at the not so mad giantess Rosheen Meanderer, who hasn’t forgotten Lorwyn just as we haven’t forgotten her. With a recent reprint in Iconic Masters (at uncommon, no less!), Rosheen is very easy to for one to get their hands on, and is sure to provide a unique and fun experience to play.
When building an EDH deck, one of the first things one should do is carefully identify exactly what the commander does, and what its particular strengths and weaknesses are. Rosheen is fairly straightforward. A 4/4 for 4 mana (requiring only one hybrid mana and three generic, meaning you should never have trouble getting her out early), Rosheen has a simple ability, tapping to add 4 colorless mana that can only be used for spells that have X in their cost. While she has a decent body that gets her out of bolt range (though that is less relevant in EDH), Rosheen’s ability to be a large mana rock is what really makes her special. The turn after you play Rosheen you will likely have access to 8 mana (assuming she stays on the board), allowing you to play a large creature early in the game and quickly put pressure on your opponents through your board presence. Early ramp often becomes less valuable later in the game as players catch up, and aside from commander recasts a player typically sees diminishing returns on large amounts of mana sources (12 lands/mana rocks are little different from 14), but with the focus on X spells Rosheen can not only gain a lead, but maintain it. Spells which cost X will scale with where you are in the game, so provided you maintain your mana lead, or even just keep pace with everyone else late game, you will often be most consistently using your mana each turn (after all, you never get anything from mana you didn’t spend last turn). All of this hinges on keeping Rosheen alive and making sure that your big spells are not countered or removed as soon as they come into play. In today’s article, we’ll talk about ways—hydras and otherwise—to use your Rosheen mana first, then we’ll discuss ways to ensure that you get to keep what you pay for.
Hydras are an obvious thing to spend your Rosheen mana on, and for good reason; Hydras are high powered creatures which often have additional abilities aside from their flexible casting costs. Additionally, many hydras are cheap as their printed converted mana costs (remember that X counts as 0 for the CMC of the card whenever it is not on the stack), so purchasing the several needed for an EDH deck is usually not too difficult. While the hydras in the decklist mostly cost less than $2, there is a notable exception in Kalonian Hydra. While I generally try to avoid cards that cost more than $5 in budget builds, Kalonian hydra’s ability synergizes so well with the +1/+1 counter theme of the other hydras that it definitely warrants inclusion. Other notable hydras that I’ve included are Mistcutter hydra, whose “cannot be countered” ability keeps it safe from counterspells, Apocalypse Hydra, which not only doubles your mana investment, but also gives you a chance to use excess mana to burn dangerous creatures (or players) in a pinch, and Hooded Hydra, which helps you to recover in the event of removal or a board wipe. This deck goes heavy on hydras, and will include most of the hydras with “X” in their mana costs that cost less than $2 or so a piece, even the ones not directly mentioned above can be used in fun ways that can dramatically shift games in your favor.
An important card worth noting is Genesis Hydra, which is not as powerful as it seems in this build. This may seem odd, as Genisis Hydra is typically is powerful late game play in green EDH decks, and the “X” in its mana cost seems like a great thing for Rosheen to dump mana into. When running a commander deck it is very important to have a good grasp of the specific rules associated with your commander; doing so can help both when looking for cards for the deck and when playing. Mana costs with “X” are complex rules wise, so we’re going to go over a few quick things associated with them and in doing so explain why Genesis Hydra is not as great a choice as it seems. First, the CMC of a card with X in its mana cost is always equal to its mana cost as though X were 0 unless the spell is currently on the stack. So for example, if an opponent cast Inquisition of Kozilek on you, they would be able to make you discard your Mistcutter hydra (whose CMC is 1 when not on the stack). While this seems good for Genesis Hydra, who can now grab nearly any hydra for little mana investment, this big problem it faces is that when a card with X in its mana cost is cast for free, X is treated as 0. This means that any x spell you cast with Genesis Hydra will likely fizzle and do nothing, so use caution when casting it. While we still include it in our build, just be aware that you’ll want to hit one of our non-X spells when you play Genesis Hydra, so it’s important to invest a lot of mana so that you can dig deep enough to find something.
Aside from hydras, there are several other creatures that are important additions to this deck. We generally try to avoid generic creatures with “X” in their cost that don’t do too much aside from enter with lot of counters; we will get better use out of cards like Verdeloth the Ancient, as its ability helps us to build a wide board presence. Rosheen’s mana can also be used to pay costs other than casting costs, such as the damage dealing effect of Flameblast Dragon or the narrow board wipe ability of Steel Hellkite. Finally, not ever creature we cast has to have an X printed somewhere on the card. Below we will discuss several creatures that help us generate even more mana, but for now we’ll stick to those that help our creatures in other ways. Yeva, Nature’s Herald is a vitally useful card for our deck. Most of our creature spells are at least partially green, especially our hydras, meaning that with Yeva out we can wait to cast our cards when we want to (typically either right after a controlling player has tapped out or gone to 0 cards in had or at the end of our opponent’s turn right before ours).
Though end of turn creature plays with Yeva are great, we can’t reasonably expect to have her out all the time. For that reason it is important that we have a few “X” cost instants in our arsenal so that on turns where casting creatures seems sketchy we still have a legitimate play. Fireball type effects like Fall of the Titans are great for us in this regard, letting us remove permanents or burn other players after their pesky counters have been cast. A full suite of spells that deal “X” damage make their way into our list, as they can be great ways to remove creatures, wipe the board, or get final points of damage through to your opponents. We also include a few spells that look after our own creatures, Strength of the Tajuru and Solidarity of Heroes let us upgrade our creatures after they’ve been cast, letting our early game hydras stay relevant or upgrading our small armies of tokens into formidable threats. All of these spells are as good as the mana we sink into them, but by copying them with spells like Reverberate they can be twice as good. A Crater’s Claws cast for 12R already does a huge 14 damage to an opponent, but paying only RR more to do it again can be game ending. In a pinch these copy spells can also be used as reactive counterspells, either by copying a counterspell or the original countered spell. Finally, some games produce states that are more or less unwinnable through conventional damage, and for that reason it is always useful to have an alternate win condition in case things get hairy. It is here that Rosheen offers us a trick typically not available to Red Green players—Mill! With Sands of Delirium, every end step before your turn can be a chance to dump extra Rosheen mana into mill that can quickly add up. Later in the game it is easy to have more than 10 mana to dump into the sands, putting a potentially offending player on an at most 9 (but often much less) turn clock. The beauty of the delirium clock is that it accelerates with each mana source you play, whether by adding more sources of mana or doubling what’s available.
Producing additional mana is key to this entire deck, and while Rosheen is great at doing so, for the best results it is vital that we provide other ways to generate mana. Mana dork creatures like Llanowar elves can be good early turn plays to ramp us up towards Rosheen faster while also giving us bodies to toss for blocking or sacrifice effects later if needed. Gyre Sage is the star of this lot, as she will likely be evolving every turn we play a hydra, letting us continue our constant acceleration even faster. Enchantments and creatures that double mana are also useful and plentiful in our colors, and since we’re more likely to use all our mana turn by turn we won’t be too scared of playing world effects like Zhur-Taa Ancient (The extra goodwill they earn us from other players certainly isn’t bad either). A compliment of mana producing artifacts is standard for an EDH deck, but in addition to staples like Sol Ring and our on color Signet we’ll be adding artifacts like Thornbite Staff and Magewright’s Stone that let us untap Rosheen and use her mana a second time. Several other effects that let us untap Rosheen, Enchantments like Nature’s Chosen and Instill Energy give us an extra 4 mana every turn, while spells like Mobilize and Vitalize essentially act as Dark rituals that untap all of our creatures.
In the end, it does not matter how much mana we produce if our spells are countered and our creatures destroyed. Aside from copy effects, this deck runs both Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast to help counter our opponent’s counters, and Dosan, the Falling Leaf to prevent them from being cast in the first place. We also look to sources of hexproof like the classic Swiftfoot Boots and instants like Sheltering Word or Blossoming Defense. We also use spells that grant indestructible like Inspiring Call to round out our formidable protective tech. When playing the deck it is often worth holding back on dumping all your mana into a single big spell and saving 2-3 ready for some protective magic (or the illusion of some, which can be just as useful). With good cards and clever strategy, you can make sure that you’ll have your big hydra cake and be able force your opponent’s to eat it too.
End of Turn Brainstorm:
Just as you can choose how much mana to pump into a spell with “X” in its casting cost, you can also choose different ways you want to build your EDH deck. While this Rosheen build gets very Johnny and just tries to cast the biggest spell possible each turn, you may want to explore alternate routes in your own deck. A possible place to look is comboing off using more spells that let you untap creatures for cheap. If you find a combo piece that would let you somehow recur one of these spells several times you can generate a large number of untaps for Rosheen in a single turn and then cast an infinitely sized fireball to kill all your opponents before they even have a chance to establish themselves. Another idea is to ease up on the “X” cost creatures and run more “X” spells like Genesis Wave and Green Sun’s Zenith that allow you to cheat out multiple big spells with set mana costs. One last idea is to take our alternate win condition of Sands of Delirium and expand it into a full on sub or even super theme. Adding red wheel effects like Wheel of Fate and Dragon Mage alongside green graveyard recovery effects like Eternal Witness and Nostalgic Dreams could give you an engine with which to perpetually disrupt your opponents and force them to mill out. While certainly janky, there aren’t many opportunities to play a red green mill deck, and should you be able to make it work it certainly will be a memorable build.
And that’s all for today’s article, I hope you have fun unleashing your inner Timmy as you cast big spells over and over again. If you have any thoughts, comments, or know a commander you’d like to see talked about in a later article comment below. Until next time!
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