Aminatou, the Fateshifter | Illustration by Seb McKinnon
Commander is by far my favorite format, and you can bet I was excited to get the chance to write up a guide on Aminatou, the Fateshifter considering Esper () is my favorite color combination. Aminatou is one of my newest favorites in the format. That’s why I’ve decided to use it as the commander for today’s Esper blink deck in Commander!
I’ll go over the decklist, what cards I’ve chosen and why, how to pilot the deck successfully, and even go over some possible rule 0 violations and budget options. Let’s get to the fun part!
Gray Merchant of Asphodel | Illustration by Scott Murphy
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Brago, King Eternal
Venser, Shaper Savant
Agent of Treachery
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Silence
Temple of Deceit
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
The list I have for you today is an Esper blink deck with Aminatou, the Fateshifter in the command zone. The deck generates card advantage through Aminatou’s first ability while using its second one to consistently blink creatures for insane value. This deck sits at a mid to high budget, currently at around $800.
The creature base is filled with excellent enter-the-battlefield (ETB) effects that are quite useful. Some draw cards, some gain you life, and some even kill your opponents’ creatures. They’re great in one-off uses and even better when you blink them to take advantage of their powers.
There’s also a considerable planeswalker sub-theme with six more planeswalkers and an Oath of Teferi to make use of them. These planeswalkers are greatly defended by your creature base. You can just blink creatures in response to damage and get away with zero losses. The Oath of Teferi also lets you get more cards and blink triggers from the Fateshifter, which you love to see.
The commander leading this deck to victory is none other than Aminatou, the Fateshifter. Its first ability generates one loyalty counter, draws you one card, and requires you put one back on top of your library. It’s a nice little cantrip and a nice way to spend turn 3.
Aminatou’s second ability, which costs one loyalty counter, blinks any one of the permanents you control. This is ideally going to be one of your creatures like Baleful Strix or Solemn Simulacrum, but it can also be used to blink removal creatures like Solitude when necessary.
Finally is Aminatou’s ultimate ability, which costs six loyalty counters. That’s pretty cheap for an ultimate, but all it does is exchange control of nonland permanents with the players at your table. This can be tricky to pull off but can win you the game when your opponent just resolved an overloaded Cyclonic Rift. But for the most part you want to be using its first two abilities as much as possible because the value generated is far greater than anything you can consistently pull off with its ultimate.
The most important part of any blink deck is actually having creatures worth blinking. Simple mana dorks or big bodies are great creatures overall, but if it doesn’t have an ETB effect then you don’t want it. Esper is fortunate enough to have a pretty amazing range of options when it comes to creatures with ETBs, and it makes for a nice curve.
Esper Sentinel is also pretty sweet, and it’s good enough to be included without an ETB.
Creatures like Reflector Mage, Archaeomancer, and Venser, Shaper Savant offer some much-needed utility as the game progresses. These creatures can really save the day if you’re short on counterspells or other kinds of interaction.
There are also some excellent bomb creatures in Esper. Sun Titan is a classic with plenty of targets to reanimate and can be bought for less than a dollar.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel can also put in some serious work later in the game, even with devotion as low as four or five. Blink it twice and suddenly everyone loses 25% of their max life while yours is twice as high.
Having ways to actually blink creatures is just as important as having things to blink. You obviously don’t need an equal ratio, especially when your commander is one of the better ones, but you need a solid amount so you can consistently pull off value plays.
Flickerwisp, Soulherder, Brago, King Eternal, Felidar Guardian, Restoration Angel, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, and Deadeye Navigator are going to be the creatures that blink other ones. You can also blink these to then blink another target, effectively doubling or tripling the number of ETB triggers you get.
You also have plenty of noncreature blink engines in the deck. Venser, the Sojourner is a classic blink planeswalker that work wonders for you.
Conjurer’s Closet is another good one that gives you consistent blink triggers on each of your turns.
You’ll notice from checking out the decklist that you have six planeswalkers on top of your commander alongside an Oath of Teferi. While this isn’t exactly a major sub-theme of the deck, it pairs pretty well with the blink theme overall.
Venser, the Sojourner is one of the best in the deck. Its first ability flickers a creature and generates two loyalty counters. That’s great and you’re lucky if you get to resolve this, let alone activate its ultimate, which basically turns everything in your deck into a blink spell. But don’t get too upset if you don’t get there with it. This is a major target and you’ll only get that lucky if you manage to Cyclonic Rift right before or after playing it.
There’s also a copy of Dakkon, Shadow Slayer. This doesn’t have any blink-related abilities but it’s great removal and early game card advantage. At worst this is 3-mana exile-a-threat. It’s just good.
Ashiok, Dream Render and Narset, Parter of Veils are included despite having no relation to the blink theme because they’re just too good to pass up. They’re excellent stax pieces that work to give you some card advantage and shut down some combos from infinite draw or the graveyard. They’re just staples. Don’t think too hard about them.
I think having this many walkers on top of your commander being one warrants running Oath of Teferi. Aminatou, the Fateshifter is really good with this card since you can blink and draw a card for a net 0 loyalty counter cost. And it also blinks one of your permanents which is great too.
Every deck has to have interaction. If you have tons of great threats but fold to Cyclonic Rift or an indestructible creature, what good are your threats? Esper has some of the best interaction in the game, and you bet I’ve included some of my favorites in today’s deck.
Blue brings great counterspells and while you’re only running a few you’ve got some of the better ones. Counterspell is a classic that hits everything, a perfect inclusion.
Fierce Guardianship is also restricted to noncreature spells but is free and efficient.
For more generalized removal you have Despark, Anguished Unmaking, Mortify, and Return to Dust. These cards are amazing, and you’ll never be lost trying to find a suitable target that’s worthwhile using these on.
The deck runs seven enchantments that are all great and worthwhile. It has some of the classics you know and hate, like Rhystic Study and Smothering Tithe. These two are too good not to play if you’re in blue and white, and you’re in both so you get both.
Propaganda is a superb defensive piece that deters aggression quite well, especially in the early game. Players love spending their mana and playing their pet cards, so they’re more likely to attack your neighbor instead of you.
Out of Time is a great way to blink your entire board or secure yourself an untap to win next turn.
There’s also a copy of Reality Acid, which you’ll quickly realize is one of the best cards in your deck. It attaches to a permanent and then forces its owner to sacrifice it once it leaves the battlefield. That means another permanent is gone each time it blinks. This hits everything since it can also hit lands and it exiles instead of destroying. I’d suggest being cautious about purging lands since it could lose you friends in the process.
Omniscience is, I’ll admit, one of my pet cards. I think it’s just so fun to resolve and is super powerful. You also have plenty of card draw and somewhat-expensive cards to take advantage of this with. And by the time you play it the green player will have probably already used their enchantment removal and it’ll just sit around forever.
Oath of Teferi is amazing with your commander, making it blink and draw you a card for 0 loyalty counters. You also have plenty of other planeswalkers in the deck to get some more value from.
The deck has a modest mana base. I did this to save costs since the budget would get very out of control otherwise. In addition to the basic lands there are some great cheap dual lands to smooth things out. The scry lands make an appearance, as do the Esper tri-land, the check lands (Glacial Fortress, Shipwreck Marsh, etc.), the shock lands, and also the fast lands (Shattered Sanctum, Deserted Beach, etc.).
You’re more than likely to tune the mana base as you like. If you have some on-color fetch lands lying around, of course include those. And you probably know what you’re doing anyway If you have some original dual lands.
It wouldn’t be a commander deck without some accelerants, and of course you have some great artifacts today. You play all four signets (Azorius Signet, Orzhov Signet, Dimir Signet, and Arcane Signet).
Sol Ring is also included despite not helping cast your commander since it accelerates you into the 4-mana range to cast some of your better creatures. It also allows for nutty turn 1 Sol Ring plus Signet games for a turn 2 Aminatou, the Fateshifter.
Gilded Lotus is also in the deck. This is just a great artifact in more casual games. No mana dorks this time, though. Not only are they bad in blink but Esper doesn’t really have any to begin with.
Sorry, Noble Hierarch, not this time.
Smothering Tithe | Illustration by Mark Behm
The strategy for this deck is fairly straightforward but very powerful which makes it great for players of all skill levels. The basic concept revolves around blinking your own creatures, a shorter way of saying “exile them and then immediately return them to the battlefield.” This not only offers protection if you’re doing it at instant speed but also generates tons of value since you get another activation of their ETB triggers.
The continued blinking of value creatures like Baleful Strix, Archaeomancer, and Solemn Simulacrum offers excellent value in the long game. This is a control deck through and through. Consistent board wipes, counterspells, spot removal, and creature blinking can power through whatever your opponents throw at you.
The deck wins through sheer value once you’ve held its own and continued to out-pace your enemies. An out-of-control Jace, the Mind Sculptor that can’t be removed can just as easily win you the game as continuously blinking in Reality Acid can.
Most notable interactions from this deck come from Deadeye Navigator. While there are no infinite combos in this list, Deadeye can pack a punch when bonded with Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Even if your devotion to black is less than ten, maybe around six, you’re still draining 18 life for as many times as you can pay for. This will win the game on its own, especially if your other opponents are already at each other’s throats.
Omniscience is another one that can get out of hand quickly, especially if you have plenty of ways to continuously draw cards.
This deck actually scrapes by without much to say regarding the infamous Rule 0. There aren’t any tutors, ultra-fast mana, or infinite combos. The only cards that may come up as un-fun are the single hyper-efficient counterspell Fierce Guardianship, or possibly exiling all your opponents’ lands with Reality Acid.
Gilded Lotus | Illustration by Volkan Baga
This deck is still a little pricey. Lucky for you, though, there are a few choice cards you can cut to slash the budget.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor is another pricey one. This card isn’t critical to the game plan at all. Feel free to replace this with another planeswalker you think would be good, or another ETB creature that draws you cards.
Fierce Guardianship is another great cut. It’s super expensive since it was only released in a single preconstructed deck. Easily replace it with Arcane Denial or whatever other counterspell you want. If you’re not hurting too bad, Flusterstorm could be a good replacement.
Omniscience | Illustration by Jason Chan
There isn’t too much room for any other builds or strategies when it comes to Aminatou, the Fateshifter, except planeswalkers. Being a planeswalker itself, Aminatou makes for a solid commander. Its second activated ability can flicker your own walkers, which means you could activate them a second or even third and fourth time in a single turn.
Oath of Teferi | Illustration by Wesley Burt
That concludes everything I have for you today regarding Aminatou, the Fateshifter! I loved brewing up this list and playtesting it online ahead of writing today’s guide. This deck is super sweet and is a control player’s dream in Commander.
What do you think of Aminatou as a commander? Do you think it’s one of the better blink commanders out there, or is it limited by not having access to green? Let me know down in the comments or over in the official Draftsim Discord.
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