Last updated on October 26, 2022

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief - Illustration by Evyn Fong

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief | Illustration by Evyn Fong

Dominaria United has brought players quite a bit in terms of Commander: not only two acceptable precons, but also quite a few new legendary creatures. Some have been hits (see: Jodah, the Unifier) and some have been misses (see: any commander with domain because you’ll always be limited by its colors). Either way, lots of decks got some nice upgrades.

One that caught my eye, as well as that of many others, was Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief. Its ability to give additional value to any targeted spell is amazing and opens up a lot of possibilities. My mind immediately went to one of my favorite mechanics from a couple Standards ago: mutate. Since I can, I’m also going to make it a token deck!

The Deck

Aqueous Form - Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Aqueous Form | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Commander (1)

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief

Planeswalker (1)

Vivien, Champion of the Wilds

Creature (21)

Archipelagore
Auspicious Starrix
Dreamtail Heron
Errant, Street Artist
Essence Symbiote
Gemrazer
Gladecover Scout
Migratory Greathorn
Parcelbeast
Pollywog Symbiote
Pouncing Shoreshark
Sawtusk Demolisher
Scute Swarm
Sea-Dasher Octopus
Slippery Bogle
Souvenir Snatcher
Stormchaser Drake
Temur Sabertooth
Topiary Stomper
Trumpeting Gnarr
Wilson, Refined Grizzly

Instant (8)

Decisive Denial
Double Major
Hunter’s Insight
Shadow Rift
Simic Charm
Slip Out the Back
Snakeskin Veil
Tamiyo’s Safekeeping

Sorcery (15)

Croaking Counterpart
Cultivate
Explore
Farseek
Flood of Tears
Irenicus’s Vile Duplication
Kodema’s Reach
Nature’s Lore
Quasiduplicate
Rampant Growth
Rite of Replication
Skyshroud Claim
Slip Through Space
Three Visits
Triumph of the Hordes

Enchantment (9)

Ancestral Mask
Aqueous Form
Bear Umbra
Keen Sense
Rancor
Season of Growth
Shielding Plax
Snake Umbra
Vesuvan Duplimancy

Artifact (15)

Arcane Signet
Commander’s Sphere
Crystal Shard
Fellwar Stone
Helm of the Host
Kefnet’s Monument
Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
Mirror Box
Rhonas’s Monument
Simic Locket
Simic Signet
Sol Ring
Swiftfoot Boots
Talisman of Curiosity
Twinning Staff

Land (30)

Alchemist’s Refuge
Boseiju, Who Endures
Breeding Pool
Castle Garenbrig
Command Beacon
Command Tower
Dreamroot Cascade
Exotic Orchard
Flooded Grove
Forest x5
Hinterland Harbor
Island
Island x4
Littjara Mirrorlake
Misty Rainforest
Otawara, Soaring City
Prismatic Vista
Rejuvenating Springs
Reliquary Tower
Rogue’s Passage
Simic Growth Chamber
Vineglimmer Snarl
Yavimaya Coast

The Commander

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief

Ivy’s ability has some interesting connotations. It reads “Whenever a player casts a spell that targets only a creature other than [it.]” This means you aren’t just worried about the spells that you cast, but also the ones that your opponents cast. If someone starts giving their commander targeted indestructible, for instance, you can get for Ivy too. You also need to protect Ivy in more ways than one. Giving your commander hexproof is a must along with indestructible. You should also make a point to not leave it on the battlefield alone for very long or someone may make you sacrifice it.

Creatures

The lion’s share of your creature count is going to be taken up by ones that have mutate and other creatures that benefit from being mutated upon (like those with a very beneficial ETB ability, with an ability that stacks for each time it has been mutated, or that comes with built in protection).

Archipelagore

Archipelagore has a stacking freeze effect for each time it mutates.

Auspicious Starrix

Auspicious Starrix stacks a pseudo-cascade effect each time it mutates.

Dreamtail Heron

Dreamtail Heron draws a card when it mutates.

Gemrazer

Gemrazer lets you destroy an opponent’s target artifact or enchantment.

Glowstone Recluse

Glowstone Recluse gains two +1/+1 counters when it mutates.

Migratory Greathorn

Migratory Greathorn tutors a basic land onto the battlefield tapped.

Parcelbeast

Parcelbeast grants a tap ability that allows you to each play the top card of your library if it’s a land or draw it if it’s not.

Pouncing Shoreshark

Pouncing Shoreshark bounces a target creature back to its owner’s hand.

Sawtusk Demolisher

Sawtusk Demolisher allows you to destroy a target noncreature permanent. Its controller creates a 3/3 green Beast token.

Sea-Dasher Octopus

Sea-Dasher Octopus draws you a card when that creature deals combat damage to a player.

Souvenir Snatcher

Souvenir Snatcher lets you gain control of target noncreature artifact.

Trumpeting Gnarr

Trumpeting Gnarr creates a 3/3 green Beast token.

Gladecover Scout

Gladecover Scout is a mutation target built in hexproof for a single green mana.

Scute Swarm

Scute Swarm makes 1/1 green Insect tokens when a land enters the battlefield. It makes a token copy of itself if a land enters the battlefield after you control six or more lands.

Slippery Bogle

Slippery Bogle also has built in hexproof for a single green or blue mana.

Wilson, Refined Grizzly

Wilson, Refined Grizzly can’t be countered and has vigilance, reach, trample, and ward 2. It’s a 2/2 for two mana and is the epitome of a hate bear. A non-human is so perfect for mutate.

Stormchaser Drake

Stormchaser Drake draws you a card whenever it becomes the target of a spell you control.

Temur Sabertooth

Temur Sabertooth lets you pay mana to bounce a creature back into your hand to give itself indestructible until the end of the turn.

Topiary Stomper

Topiary Stomper has an ETB ability to tutor a basic land onto the battlefield tapped.

Essence Symbiote

Essence Symbiote is the first mutation assistant. Whenever a creature you control mutates, it also gets a +1/+1 counter and you gain 2 life.

Pollywog Symbiote

Pollywog Symbiote makes all your mutate creatures one mana cheaper to cast. If you cast a creature that has mutate, you draw and then discard a card.

Errant, Street Artist

Errant, Street Artist serves as a spellslinging assistant. It allows you to copy the tokens that Ivy creates and choose new targets to get even more value out of them (sadly, these copies are not cast and don’t allow Ivy to trigger again).

Other Permanents

A good chunk of your other nonland permanents are targeted spells to give buffs that will benefit any of them and Ivy. There are some others that have very specific purposes

Crystal Shard

Crystal Shard gives the ability to apply casting pressure on your opponents without needing to have more than one blue open or a card in hand.

Kefnet’s Monument

Kefnet’s Monument makes your blue creature spells 1 cheaper. You’re going to be casting a lot of creature spells since mutate still counts as one, so you might as well squeeze even more blood out of that rock and freeze your opponents’ creatures while doing it.

Rhonas’s Monument

Rhonas’s Monument is like Kefnet’s Monument. Instead of freezing your enemies, you make your mutation targets a tad larger and give them trample temporarily.

Lifecrafter’s Bestiary

Lifecrafter’s Bestiary gives even more benefit from casting creatures in the form of drawing cards for cheap.

Season of Growth

Season of Growth gives you a truly awesome benefit to your mutate casts. It lets you scry 1 for the creature cast and then draw a card for casting the targeted spell.

Twinning Staff

Twinning Staff allows you to have Ivy copy any targeted spell twice and lets you choose the target for the second copy. It’s like cheaper, more automatic Errant, Street Artist.

Mirror Box

Mirror Box is one of the pieces that enable you to have multiple instances of Ivy on the battlefield. The +1/+1 to legendary creatures is a nice bonus, but it gets better because your original Ivy gets bigger with each additional instance of it. It’s also great for the copies of the other mutated creatures you’re making.

Helm of the Host

Has anyone honestly seen an application of Helm of the Host that isn’t horribly broken? Equipping this on Ivy is a great way to get more of it, but if you also want to copy some of your other abominations of nature, this is a nice way to do it.

Vesuvan Duplimancy

Vesuvan Duplimancy is another new card from Dominaria United that allows you to create copies of whatever you target with a spell when you cast it. This means that every time you mutate a creature onto another one, you create a token of that new creature. If you target your commander with something, you can create a token of Ivy too since the tokens aren’t legendary.

Ancestral Mask

The copies that Ivy creates become tokens if they’re permanents like auras, so every aura you play ends up netting you two on the battlefield. With six auras in the deck, +2/+2 from Ancestral Mask for each adds up quickly.

Instants and Sorceries

Your package of instants and sorceries includes a lot of the typical Simic ramp staples, so you’d expect to get lots of mana as early as possible. The rest are ways for you to game the typical interaction system to your benefit.

Decisive Denial

You can hang onto Decisive Denial as a two mana counterspell or use it to cause one creature you control to fight another you don’t. You can then  have Ivy do the same.

Double Major

Double Major and Irenicus’s Vile Duplication are great ways to get the Ivy copies going before you have the other duplication engines online.

Hunter’s Insight

Hunter’s Insight is another way to have two creatures fight two different creatures with the twist of letting you draw some cards. Be careful: in the late game with a beefed-up Ivy, it can become “draw your library” instead.

Slip Out the Back

Slip Out the Back is very nice protection for a heavy hitter mutation target or for Ivy in case a board wipe shows up.

Quasiduplicate

Quasiduplicate allows you to start copying your non-legendary mutations early.

Rite of Replication

Rite of Replication allows you to get potentially five tokens of a mutation target and five tokens of a heavily mutated Ivy. If you have Mirror Box out on the field, you get to keep the extra Ivys. If not, you at least get all the ETB triggers from them.

Flood of Tears

If things go sideways, Flood of Tears is a way to clear the field. You’ll most likely bounce more than four permanents back to your hand, so you’ll will at least be able to start with something back out right away. I suggest picking the most powerful engine you have in your hand at the time to put on the battlefield.

Planeswalkers

Vivien, Champion of the Wilds

Vivien, Champion of the Wilds takes this already out of control deck and adds another painful wrinkle for your opponents: it allows you to cast creature spells as though they had flash. At any point, you can throw down a mutate target and get it online.

Imagine Vivien and a mutated Scute Swarm are on your battlefield. You draw a card, play a land, and pass your turn having spent no mana. You’re playing Simic, so counterspell shenanigans can very easily be on the menu. You watch the board as your opponents’ turns go by and let them think you have every answer in the book. Then, at the end step of the turn before your own, you cast Topiary Stomper, search for a land, and put it on the battlefield tapped, copying that mutated Scute Swarm. You then mutate that Stomper. And again. And again, for as long as you have mutate cards, mana, or basic lands available to tutor out. They’re ready to use at the beginning of your turn.

The Mana Base

The deck contains the typical staples of Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Command Tower, Commander’s Sphere, and Reliquary Tower. There’s also the color branded Simic Signet, Simic Locket, and Talisman of Curiosity.

For lands, there’s a very general suite of the two on-color Neon Dynasty legendary lands. There’s also the Simic variant of the pain land, slow land, shock land, check land, fetch land (including the Vista), filter land, bounce land, reveal land, and Battlebond land. 

This deck also has utility lands

Alchemist’s refuge

Alchemist’s refuge lets you cheaply play nonland cards as though they had flash.

Boseiju, Who Endures

Boseiju, Who Endures gives you one extra spot of enchantment or artifact destruction, and a source of nonbasic land destruction.

Castle Garenbrig

Castle Garenbrig is here because you’ll be casting a lot of creatures. Why wouldn’t you want six mana for the price of four mana.

Command Beacon

Command Beacon helps to get Ivy back on the battlefield after it’s been bounced back to the Command Zone.

Littjara Mirrorlake

Littjara Mirrorlake is another way to get the token train started.

Otawara, Soaring City

Otawara, Soaring City is another bounce source if you really need to get something out of your way.

Rogue’s Passage

Rogue’s Passage lets you get everything out of your way.

The Strategy

At its heart, this is a Voltron/mutate deck that heavily relies on Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief being on the battlefield and soaking up the benefits of your mutations and other spells. Where mutate has generally failed in Commander by concentrating everything into a single creature to get their benefits, you’ll be able to spread the love around and still get one massive mutation out of it.

Thankfully, Ivy has a mana value of two, so it’s reasonable to bring back online even when it’s been bounced to the command zone several times. This deck is a bit different from other Voltron decks because you do your best to make as many mutated Ivys as possible. Only one can do commander damage (which will have all the auras attached to it), but when you suddenly have upwards of ten of them swinging in, it starts to become a bit much.

Combos and Interactions

One of the biggest combos in the deck isn’t a wincon or a repeatable combo. It’s convoluted, but I still find it very clever:

Have at least Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief, Twinning Staff, and Errant, Street Artist on the battlefield. You have Flood of Tears and Slip Out the Back in hand. You have four generic and three blue mana available, or five generic and four blue mana available for an additional variant.

  • Cast Flood of Tears to send the whole board back to their owner’s hands.
  • Holding priority once you can, you then cast Slip Out the Back on Errant.
  • Have Ivy trigger off of Slip and target your mutate assistant, then have a copy of Slip target Ivy.
  • Twinning Staff sees the copied spell and copies it again, and you have it target another creature (if one doesn’t exist, choose Errant so that it fizzles)
  • If you have another creature you wish to save beyond the ones already targeted, activate Errant’s ability to copy the copy of Slip an additional time, this time targeting any the other creature.
  • Allow the stack to resolve:
  • The additional creatures (if you targeted any), Errant, and Ivy phase out, and then all other nonland permanents are returned to their owner’s hands.
  • Your next turn, the additional creatures, Errant, and Ivy all phase back in onto your side of the battlefield.

It’s a tad expensive and requires that no interaction takes place, but so do a lot of other multi-card combos. Man, what an asymmetrical way to clear the board.

Wincons

Your primary wincon is either commander damage with a supped-up Ivy or general damage from multiple iterations of severely mutated creatures and Ivy sprinting into your opponents’ faces. This is why Shadow Rift, Slip Through Space, Aqueous Form, and Rogue’s Passage are in the deck.

Triumph of the Hordes

As a secondary measure, I’ve also included Triumph of the Hordes so that all you will need to do is sneak through a 10/10 with infect or throw the big buys over the wall to hit your opponents with enough to end it. With Ivy and several mutations/mutate targets having built in evasion in the form of flying, this can be managed.

Budget Options

Mutate is an underplayed mechanic, so this deck isn’t that harsh on the wallet compared to other decks I’ve built and seen. In its current form, its total settles somewhere between $275-$325 (at the time of publishing). Here’s the breakdown:

  • Commander – $0.50 – you can’t not have it and that’s as low as low can be
  • Creatures – ~$12 – again, mutate is cheap
  • Instants/Sorceries – ~$45 – the most expensive cards here are Triumph of the Hordes at ~$17 and Three Visits at ~$5.
  • Artifacts – ~$25 – the most expensive card here is Helm of the Host at ~$15
  • Enchantments – ~$25 – the most expensive cards here are Vesuvan Duplimancy at ~$10, Bear Umbra at ~$7 and Ancestral Mask at ~$5
  • Planeswalker – ~$1 – Vivien is an uncommon and her uses are niche
  • Lands – $150-$200 – All this land is great and helps with mana consistency. Here’s also where you can make cuts. With the amount of ramp and repeatable land tutoring, you could switch out the fetch lands. There’s repeatable artifact and enchantment destruction with Gemrazer, so Boseiju could be replaced. There are repeatable bounce effects with Pouncing Shoreshark, so Otawara can be cut. If you need to, the shock land could be switched out as well. Switching all of those to basic lands would give more fodder for the Scute Swarm and bring the land down to somewhere between $50-$100.

Commanding Conclusion

Breeding Pool - Illustration by Mike Bierek

Breeding Pool | Illustration by Mike Bierek

I really enjoyed building and testing this deck. When I sat down and looked at the options available for Ivy’s ability, I was shocked at its versatility of it and amazed that such a thing would be printed like this so close to other copying effects in Strixhaven. The lovely thing about this commander is that you have the possibility of building a very viable deck on a shoestring budget by throwing a bunch of auras you have lying around with enchantment-loving creatures. I also debated just slotting this in as the head for my beloved Adrix and Nev deck, but I was already dealing with thousands of tokens with that. It would have gotten messy, but I may toss that decklist out someday if anyone is interested.

At the end of it all, I am very pleased to finally see mutate get a bit of limelight again and hope that this will hold me over until we go back to Ikoria. What changes would you make with the deck? Do you have another theme that you think suits Ivy better? Let us know on Discord, Twitter, or in the comments below.

Stay safe and see you next time!

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