Optimising Your Use of From the Vault: Lore in Commander / EDH (Part 1)
By Dante Boey
4th September 2016
From the Vault: Lore will be released on the 18th of August.
Check out the full spoilers in the mothership here:
Surfing the internet, I've come across some negative sentiments regarding the choice of cards in this product. Some claim they are bland, uninspired, a mish-mash of cards based on the periphery of central storylines from Magic's illustrious history tacked to 2 or 3 high-value cards. Well, I am here to show you just how awesome this selection of cards is. While card choices do not necessarily reflect on key events like the Brothers' War, enough pivotal moments are alluded to, like Tolaria's history, the Phyrexian invasion, the Mirari saga, Ravnica's crisis, Sorin's protection of Innistrad, the Kami Wars, and Glissa's tragic fall from heroine to villain, among others. Besides, we need not rigidly treat the "Lore" mentioned in the product title as stories that are already finished; no, the cards in this product are means by which WE continue our legend. Do not forget we are Planeswalkers ourselves. Time and reality in our cards hold no impediment to us. They are tools for us to conquer worlds, save them, emerge victorious in sorcerous duels or come up on top against insurmountable odds. Indeed, the power level of the cards in this boxed set should not be dismissed. Let's see how we can fully utilise them.
I'll say it right now. You can use all of the cards in From the Vault: Lore (FtV:Lore) in one single 5-colour Commander deck. Okay, maybe Unmask isn't the best fit in a multi-player deck, but all the other cards can be powerful tools. And Unmask has its use too. If you have just been introduced to the Commander format, or are beginning to amass a collection of EDH staples, or are thinking of forming your first deck, look no further from this product. FtV: Lore is a godsend. I mean, there's already a game-winning combo inside the box.
Phyrexian Processor + Near-Death Experience
During your turn, cast Phyrexian Processor and pay all your life but 1. Cast Near-Death Experience. You'll win at the beginning of your next upkeep. Obviously, you'll remain extremely vulnerable until then, so instead prepare your combo with cards that allow you to cast spells at instant speed. Cards like
Vedalken Orrery or Leyline of Anticipation
With the Orrery or Leyline in play, you can do this. Leave enough mana open to cast Near-Death Experience at the end of your opponent's turn, then during your upkeep before Near-Death Experience checks its trigger, flash in the Processor, paying all your life save 1. Near-Death Experience will then check its trigger and you'll win. It'll be wise to keep a counterspell in hand when you do this, for insurance.
Beseech the Queen
Beseech the Queen is a helpful tutor whose utility increases as you build up your board state and lay more lands. It can help you search for your combo pieces. Therefore, it is an indispensible tool in your deck.
Tolaria West+ Dark Depths + Vampire Hexmage or Thespian's Stage
Many cards in FtV: Lore have synergy. For example, Tolaria West can tutor for Dark Depths through its Transmute ability. If you have a Vampire Hexmage in hand, you can lay Dark Depths, cast the Hexmage, sacrifice her to remove all counters from Dark Depths, and immediately summon Marit Lage! Alternatively, you can lay Dark Depths following (or before) laying the land called Thespian's Stage. When you transform Thespian's Stage into a copy of Dark Depths, it is considered already having entered play and does not get ten ice counters. Again, Marit Lage will immediately be released.
So now you have a 20/20 flying indestructible creature. You can win games the old-fashioned way by smashing face but in a multi-player game there will be plenty of chum blockers or removal spells like Swords to Plowshares. You would want to invest in inevitability. Mayael's Aria is that inevitability.
Again, if you have the Vedalken Orrery / Leyline of Anticipation and Marit Lage in play, you can flash in Mayael's Aria at the end of your opponent's turn. You'll win on your upkeep phase. Mayael's Aria can also combo with a Phyrexian Processor that produces a 20/20 black Minion.
Glissa, the Traitor + Umezawa's Jitte + Helvault
In some circles Umezawa's Jitte is known as "the king of equipments". It's not hard to see why. It's important to note that combat damage refers to damage dealt to other creatures, players or even planeswalkers. As your equipped creature survives more combat phases, the more charge counters the Jitte will accumulate, potentially buffing your creature or removing opposing creatures outright. Glissa is a great character to equip the Jitte with. With Deathtouch and First Strike, she will slay any opposing creature without Protection, Indestructible, First Strike or Double Strike. Left unblocked, she will still collect charge counters for the Jitte.
Big Game Hunter and Atog
And with her special ability, Glissa can return an artifact from your graveyard to your hand whenever an opponent's creature dies. In a multi-player game, creature deaths will be common enough to trigger this ability multiple times. You can use the Helvault to get value. Cast creatures with "enter the battlefield (ETB) effects" like Big Game Hunter to get rid of threats. Then cast the Helvault and exile your Big Game Hunter. Next, cast cards that can repeatedly allow you to sacrifice or destroy artifacts like Atog. Sacrifice the Helvault, your Big Game Hunter returns to the battlefield and you can target another creature for removal. As long as Glissa attacks with the Jitte, or even if she doesn't, it is highly probable you'll get to return the Helvault to your hand from your graveyard, cast it, exile an ETB creature you control, and carry on the loop.
All right, that's all the time we have for today. Tune in next week as we move on to the concluding part of this article, where we will explore the applications of the remaining cards of FtV:Lore in (possibly) the same EDH deck. Until then, duel to your heart's content!