Animar, Soul of Elements - Illustration by Peter Mohrbacher

Animar, Soul of Elements | Illustration by Peter Mohrbacher

Even since Commander 2011’s release, Animar, Soul of Elements has been one of the most popular commanders out there, and not just for Temur () colors.

But what makes an Animar deck tick? What are the advantages of building a deck around this commander?  Today we’ll take a look at a fun, budget way to build an Animar deck, walk through some of the deck’s choices, and discuss strategy. Let’s dive in!

The Deck

Steam Vents - Illustration by Jonas De Ro

Steam Vents | Illustration by Jonas De Ro

Commander (1)

Animar, Soul of Elements

Planeswalker (1)

Vivien, Champion of the Wilds

Creature (40)

Apex Devastator
Archipelagore
Auspicious Starrix
Birds of Paradise
Civic Wayfinder
Cloudpiercer
Cold-Eyed Selkie
Consecrated Sphinx
Dreamtail Heron
Elvish Mystic
Essence Symbiote
Eternal Witness
Everquill Phoenix
Gemrazer
Gladecover Scout
Glowstone Recluse
Goblin Anarchomancer
Illuna, Apex of Wishes
It That Betrays
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Llanowar Elves
Lore Drakkis
Maelstrom Wanderer
Migratory Greathorn
Misterious Egg
Mulldrifter
Ornithopter of Paradise
Parcelbeast
Pollywog Symbiote
Porcuparrot
Pouncing Shoreshark
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sawtusk Demolisher
Sea-Dasher Octopus
Slippery Bogle
Soul of the Harvest
Souvenir Snatcher
Toski, Bearer of Secrets
Trumpeting Gnarr
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Instant (9)

Cyclonic Rift
Paradoxical Outcome
Beast Within
Tamiyo’s Safekeeping
Chaos Warp
Negate
Slip Out the Back
Pongify
Counterspell

Sorcery (5)

Cultivate
Farseek
Rampant Growth
Kodama’s Reach
Sol Ring

Enchantment (3)

Season of Growth
Rhythm of the Wild
Asceticism

Artifact (6)

Arcane Signet
Gruul Signet
Izzet Signet
Simic Signet
Crystal Shard
Swiftfoot Boots

Land (35)

Frontier Bivouac
Command Tower
Ketria Triome
Spire Garden
Rejuvenating Springs
Training Center
Stomping Ground
Breeding Pool
Steam Vents
Hinterland Harbor
Rootbound Crag
Sulfur Falls
Yavimaya Coast
Gruul Turf
Mosswort Bridge
Exotic Orchard
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Fabled Passage
Otawara, Soaring City
Boseiju, Who Endures
Sokenzan, Crucible of Defense
Forbidden Orchard
Barkchannel Pathway
Cragcrown Pathway
Riverglide Pathway
Dreamroot Cascade
Rockfall Vale
Stormcarved Coast
Eye of Ugin
Forest x2
Mountain
Island x2

The Commander

Animar, Soul of Elements

Animar, Soul of Elements is a creature-centric Temur commander. An Animar deck will have lots of creatures, usually between 30 and 40. This deck wants to cast lots of creatures while Animar, Soul of Elements is on the battlefield, typically one or two a turn.

There are lots of ways to make interesting builds with this commander, and this build aims to take advantage of the mutate mechanic. When you mutate a creature onto another creature, you’re effectively casting a creature, and when more creatures with mutate are in the same pile, you’ll trigger their mutate abilities more often.

Animar Payoffs

Eldrazi are typically too expensive to play, but with Animar’s cost reduction ability, they’re viable options. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger are the best bang for your buck here.

The same logic applies to Maelstrom Wanderer and Apex Devastator, which are powerful creatures with multiple cascade triggers.

Mana Dorks

Elvish Mystic, Birds of Paradise, and Ornithopter of Paradise are mana dorks, which means they both ramp and trigger Animar’s ability, so they’re never useless. Coupled with mana rocks and other creatures such as Sakura-Tribe Elder, you can have a quick start and start deploying your mutate army early.

Mutate Creatures

This is the meat of the deck. Migratory Greathorn and Parcelbeast help in the ramp department, while Glowstone Recluse and Essence Symbiote help in the +1/+1 counter department.

Illuna, Apex of Wishes, Sawtusk Demolisher, and Souvenir Snatcher are powerhouses and one of the main reasons to play mutate creatures.

Mutate Targets

Mysterious Egg, Gladecover Scout, and Slippery Bogle are great targets to mutate onto. So is Toski, Bearer of Secrets, who’s indestructible.

Interaction

The deck has some interaction to protect Animar or your mutate stack in the form of phasing spells like Slip Out the Back and Tamiyo’s Safekeeping. Swiftfoot Boots helps to keep your main creatures or commander alive.

You’ll have some permission spells like Negate and Counterspell, and some removal in the form of Beast Within, Pongify, and Chaos Warp.

Paradoxical Outcome

Paradoxical Outcome allows you to save and replay your mutate creatures and get value all over again, especially if mana isn’t an issue.

Enchantments

Rhythm of the Wild, Asceticism, and Season of Growth take advantage or your high creature count. Drawing a card every time you mutate is nice, and having haste or uncounterable doesn’t hurt either.

The Mana Base

This deck ‘s mana base is a standard Temur mana base, taking advantage of some Temur tri-lands and on-color dual lands. You’ll have your shock lands, check lands, and slow lands. Couple that with some lands that add mana of any color, some mana rocks, and on-color signets and you’ll have a good mana base.

Green helps fix your mana with spells like Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach, and because of those spells, you’ll want some basics.

The Strategy

In the early game, as with all Simic () decks, you’ll want to make your land drops, play some mana rocks to fix your three colors, and cast your commander as soon as possible. From there, you’ll play creatures (ideally mutate a creature onto Animar, Soul of Elements) and go to town.

Alternatively, you may build a hexproof mutate stack and protect it from wraths using your counterspells and phasing spells.

In the mid game, you’ll try to leverage your mutate triggers to obtain card and board advantage. An Animar with some mutate creatures protected by protection spells and counterspells can really snowball out of control, and every mutate creature you add to the stack will trigger the other mutate triggers again, so you can get another land, draw another card, deal damage to an opponent and more. Mutate will add some static abilities to your stack as well, such as flying and trample.

The late game strategy involves casting powerful Eldrazi and cascade creatures. Keep in mind that there isn’t much card draw in this deck, so it’s not the deck’s strategy to draw lots of cards and be the last one standing. The objective of the deck is to keep attacking your foes with big mutate stacks.

Combos and Interactions

This is a typical creature strategy with alternatives. You can build a Voltron Animar and hit your opponents hard, with each subsequent mutate creature creating value. The deck allows the player to go wide with Toski, Bearer of Secrets and draw a bunch of cards, but also to mutate onto it. Also, you can play a Slippery Bogle turn 1 and mutate onto it for your typical Bogles strategy.

Rules 0 Violations Check

None whatsoever! This is one of the fairest decks out there. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have a hexproof creature with lots of mutations, or maybe cast an Eldrazi paying only two mana, but this will take a lot of time to happen. There are no “I win!” scenarios or powerful two-card combos (although this commander certainly supports a more combo-oriented build with Walking Ballista and creatures like that).

Budget Options

Look, this deck is already quite budget-friendly. If you really want to cut the price down even more, consider switching the more expensive rare lands with budget duals and Gates. Some of the more expensive Eldrazi can be replaced by other “big dumb creatures” like Hullbreaker Horror, Oblivion Sower, or Artisan of Kozilek.

On the other hand, it’s quite possible to raise the power level of the deck by adding expensive mana fixing options such as fetch lands, or adding expensive spells such as Mana Drain. A red staple like Dockside Extortionist is in the deck’s theme and can replace any ramp creature.

Other Builds

There are some variations of Animar decks that use Birthing Pod to chain lots of creatures, as well as to combo off. It’s possible to go infinite with Ancestral Statue if your Animar has four or more +1/+1 counters, and you’ll cast Ancestral Statue for free multiple times, putting an infinite number of +1/+1 counters on Animar. Walking Ballista can also be cast with a huge discount for a bunch of mana and kill everyone else at the table.

Commanding Conclusion

Boseiju, Who Endures - Illustration by Chris Ostrowski

Boseiju, Who Endures | Illustration by Chris Ostrowski

This was a fun take on an already popular commander, and one that you should give a spin. A curious part of this build is that it has Illuna, Apex of Wishes and Maelstrom Wanderer, two popular Temur commanders, and the mutate build already works well with Illuna. So, this is truly a three-in-one EDH deck.

I know Animar is super popular, but do you think it’s overrated? Have you ever played with or against an Animar deck? What about against a mutate Animar deck? Let me know in the comment section below, or over on Twitter.

Stay safe folks, and keep mutating!

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