Commanding Respect: Sidar Kondo and Ikra Shidiqi
When partner commanders were announced, it seemed like everyone couldn't wait to build decks around them. Shortly after release, the new trend was they were just too underpowered. One combo that stood out to me was Irka Shidiqi and Sidar Kondo. Abzan has creatures that Sir Mix-a-Lot would write songs about (BABY GOT BACK)! Being able to make those creatures virtually unblockable from Sidar and gaining life when they attack with Sidar is a nice combination. Gaining life can be used for lots of things, and we are going to weaponize that as much as possible.
Creatures are the basis of our deck. Our babies gotta have a lot of back to make up for their low power. Spawnwrithe seems harmless at first. Why would a 2/2 even need trample? This thing explodes very quickly though especially with Sidar giving him pseudo-unblockable. Skinshifter is something people will read a hundred times and still forget. One of the most versatile cards. At worst, we swing and turn him into a 4/4 before damage. At its best we use the 0/8 plant to gain some serious life early game.
We are going to double down on life with Sapling of Colfenor. We gain life equal to toughness, but lose life equal to its power. Most decks we’d break even, or lose a life and draw a card. In this deck, however, it might as well say gain three life, draw a card. Speaking of helping us draw cards, Abzan Beastmaster gives us a card for simply having the creature with the best backside. We also obviously have to include Mentor of the Meek since our focus is on small creatures. If we can get all these cards on the field, that's four extra cards a turn. Something I know everyone can get behind. Final mention is Kheru Mind-eater from the new Commander 2017 Vampires deck. Deny our opponents a card, and we essentially draw a card.
We need to maximize our lifegain. A crucial thing to note is the Ikra doesn't give lifelink. So adding lifelink gives us an additional instance of lifegain. Whip of Erebos gives that to all our creatures. Noble Purpose, however, gives us life when we deal combat damage. Spirit Loop gives a creature “when this creature deals damage, you gain that much life”.This sounds a lot like lifelink, but it is not. The important distinction with all these cards is also Whip of Erebos is the only card that gives us the actual keyword “lifelink”. All these others just give life when the requirement is met, meaning they all stack. If we add Rhox Faithmender into the mix; our life total will be out of control.
We are going to not only gain massive amounts of life, but get multiple triggers for when we do. I cannot think of a better card than Karlov of the Ghost Council to abuse it. Speaking of abusing our life gain. We can straight up kill an enemy with Wall of Limbs. Although his ability is for power, we going to have all those lifegain triggers, so it will be massive regardless. Vizkopa Guildmage is the crux of what we are going to want to do. Our creatures will have triple to quintuple lifelink. Generally a little mana intensive, we only need to make use of that second ability. Having EACH opponent lose life equal to our gain, means the game can end quickly. Not to mention we can stack this ability. Even if we just have Vizkopa, Irka, and Sidar on the field. If they get through, that is 14 life gained. For six mana, we can deal 28 damage to each opponent. If we add lifelink, or any of other any of other pseudo-lifelink cards, we just snipe the hole table down.
Having only a few creatures isn't going to go to turn the dial on that turn clock. Most of our creatures will have high toughness, and a great way to abuse that is Korozda Guildmage. We can easily get quite a massive army early in the game. That lower power shifts our mana cost down for creatures, making them superb targets. Even Ikra would give us seven saproling to go smash face. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion will serve us double. She can wipe the board of any powerful creatures, as well as generate three tokens a turn.
If our life drain isn't online, we need to rely on our unblockable team. At two power we aren't pushing much damage. However we can take advantage by having our creatures assign damage using toughness rather than power. No one does it better than Doran,the Siege Tower. He lets high toughness - low power creatures do tons of damage. Since this doesn’t change the actual power of our creatures, Sidar still gives us that evasion. Along with Doran, we also have Assault Formation. In addition to providing Dorian's ability for only one and green, we also have a mana sink to boost up that toughness. Grim Contest let's us have one of creatures fight another creature; instead of power it uses toughness though.
Now, having a bunch of lifelink, unblockable, death machines sounds great. Unfortunately in Magic our opponents aren’t always keen on letting us have our way. Our opponents may just decide we are too dangerous to be left alive, and come swinging our way. Well we have cards like Crackdown and Meekstone to make sure they don’t attack us twice. When we combine this Authority of the Consuls and Blind Obedience, our opponents might as well not have creatures. What if they are running low power creatures too? That’s when we pick up Blinding Angel. Enemies cannot attack us, if they never go to combat. Even better to add to our pseudo-unblockable is Archangel of Tithes. Our opponents have to pay one to block each creature when she swings, or pay one to attack us when she is in on defense.
We also gain the ability to use some very specific board wipes and removal with such a narrow creature type. Fell the Mighty is a huge win for us. We basically have Plague Wind for five mana. Dusk//Dawn was made for this deck. It kills almost nothing in our deck and lets us refill if we run out of gas. Wave of Reckoning is solid gold here. Not only do we wipe the board of basically everything except our stuff. We also gain life from it if our creatures have lifelink.
If we are having some serious issues, we have Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim. Removal on a stick is super useful, and as we have quite a few ways to product tokens. We can quickly machine gun problem permanents for as much mana as we can spare. We do have creatures that get massive from our lifegain triggers. Ayli sacrificing one of these, with something like Vizkopa Guildmage, can mean the whole table dies right then.
Alone, Ikra Shidiqi and Sidar Kondo are decent commanders. Once we put them together they become a powerhouse. Having two commanders gives us a ton of versatility. The deck is always best when we have both commanders out doing what we need them to do. However, if we are down one commander, we can go hard on the others strategy. It also prevents them from being removal targets. We can easily swarm our opponents or drains them out with life. These two prove that underestimating partner commanders is a bad idea.
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