Rowan, Scion of War | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve
The Kenrith twins have been featured several times since their introduction, and they take center stage again in the story of Wilds of Eldraine. This set sees the twins return to Eldraine after the death of their parents during the Phyrexian invasion.
While the planeswalker twins, who once shared a spark, are often depicted on cards together, this story sees a divide between the desparked siblings. We even get legendary creatures to match. Rowan, Scion of War represents the formerly mono-red mage’s negative character arc as she begins seeking out power at any cost to do what she thinks will save her kingdom.
Today’s Commander decklist seeks to follow in Rowan’s footsteps and exploit her lust for power at the table!
Doom Whisperer | art by Vincent Proce
Wall of Blood
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth
Archon of Cruelty
Vilis, Broker of Blood
Commune with Lava
Plunge into Darkness
Thrill of Possibility
Blood for the Blood God!
Crackle with Power
Feed the Swarm
Sign in Blood
Torment of Hailfire
Cut / Ribbons
Breach the Multiverse
Dance with Calamity
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
City of Brass
Hall of the Bandit Lord
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
This deck features Rowan, Scion of War as the commander and focuses on maximizing its ability. This deck is all about paying life to ramp out big spells faster than your opponents can handle them, with some powerful finishers in the form of X spells.
This midrange deck plays similarly to what you might expect of a green deck: build up a quick mana advantage to deploy big, game-winning spells faster than your opponents. These spells are complemented by some of the best removal spells in the game, and powerful card draw spells to help you find those haymakers.
Many of your cards make you lose life to suit Rowan’s needs, so there’s a small lifegain subtheme woven in to keep your life total high enough to get repeated use from the Commander. A few simple spells go a long way to buffering your life total.
This deck utilizes Rowan, Scion of War as an essential piece. Unlike green-based decks, you aren’t building a mana advantage from spells like Three Visits and Skyshroud Claim. Instead, you’re leaning on Rowan’s powerful tap ability.
Reducing the costs of your spells can generate a bunch of mana; if all your spells cost 5 or 6 less, you’re often just paying the colored mana costs.
It’s also the key to some of your finishers. Rowan works beautifully with X spells. If an X spell has its cost reduced by an amount, X equals that amount without any additional mana. If Rowan reduces the cost of your spells by 3, you can cast Torment of Hailfire where X=3 for just . With the right setup, you can cast it with X in the double digits without paying much more than .
Incremental Life Loss
You have two sources of life loss: cards that damage you incrementally over time and cards that allow you to pay life to activate their abilities. The incremental spells give you small value over time, while the ones you pay life into often allow you to have explosive turns.
Dark Confidant isn’t usually seen in decks with so many expensive spells, but this is the perfect deck to take damage from it. Hitting one of your big spells allows you to turn around and cast it that same turn if you control Rowan.
Bitterblossom doesn’t damage you much, but reducing the cost of your spells by one can lead to powerful turns. The steady stream of chump blockers also helps because players want to attack you as your life total dwindles.
Blood Clock is a fascinating artifact. Commander players have high enough life totals that they’ll often pay 2 life, but having an artifact that deals 2 to each player benefits you more than them. The 2 damage adds up since you have a few ways to burn your opponents out with X spells. Sulfuric Vortex aids you the same way.
Sign in Blood and Night's Whisper help draw you cards and are mana-neutral; you’ll lose 2 life off the 2-mana spells, so your spells’ costs get reduced by 2. It does consume colored mana, but these are important to find your finishers.
The One Ring may be your strongest incremental life loss card. This card has taken Modern by storm thanks to its card draw and protection. You can’t exploit it quite as well since you don’t have multiple copies of it, but it’s hard to pass up such a precious source of damage and card draw, things this deck desires.
Active Life Loss
These cards only make you lose life when you activate their abilities. You can often activate them multiple times a turn, resulting in some of your strongest, most explosive turns; many of these enable you to cast your X spells with their cost reduced by 10 or 20 mana.
Fire Covenant also lets you pay life to remove creatures but functions more like a Toxic Deluge that doesn’t hit your stuff and lets you pay any amount of life. You also have Deluge, but it doesn’t work as a synergy piece because it kills Rowan before it can tap and activate its ability.
Black Market Connections is a powerful enchantment that lets you decide how much life you want to pay each turn. The mode that makes Treasure tokens is especially valuable because it essentially generates 2 mana for you instead of 1.
K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth fills several vital roles. It lets you pay life but can become a large lifelinker to get that life back. The ability to pay Phyrexian mana is also important; since you always have to pay colored mana costs, it’s often a constraint that this card helps you get around.
Treasonous Ogre generates obscene amounts of mana. You get to leverage your life total and desire to pay life with this card generating a fantastic mana advantage with just itself and Rowan in play.
Necropotence is your strongest enabler. This card is crazy good, letting you sculpt the perfect hand and enabling your commander to give you a massive mana discount. This may be the best card in the entire deck.
Alright, now you know how you’ll pay life. But what are you ramping into? Mostly large creatures and X-spells, though there are a few other benefits.
Vilis, Broker of Blood is a source of life loss and one of your best payoffs. You can’t literally draw your deck with Vilis in play, but it’s easy to get an extra 10 or 15 cards to help you win the turn you want to.
Blood for the Blood God! is a ton of fun, but it’s also an incredibly powerful spell. You don’t need Rowan to accelerate it out because you have several wraths to help. Getting a fresh hand and 24 damage spread across the table is great.
Breach the Multiverse and Dance with Calamity are two highly impactful spells to accelerate out. Getting the four best cards from among the top 10 of each player’s library is often a fantastic deal. Dance with Calamity is simply a ton of fun, though you need to think carefully about how far you want to push it. This deck has quite a few expensive spells, after all.
Commune with Lava is a fantastic X spell that lets you draw cards. It plays a vital role in ensuring you have the cards to win the turn you try and go off.
Torment of Hailfire is a powerful spell that strips your opponents of board, hand, and life total. It’s not as powerful in this deck as others because you can’t produce infinite mana, but it’s still a fine finisher.
Cut / Ribbons and Exsanguinate give you two spells to drain your opponents. They offer a quick and easy win, with Exsanguinate being useful to cast early even if it’s not lethal to get your life total back.
Crackle with Power is your ultimate finisher. is a hefty cost, but your deck is more than prepared to handle it with Rowan’s cost reduction. It’s also a useful pseudo-board wipe should your life total be in dire danger.
The Mana Base
Your mana base has a lot of spice happening. Firstly, the standard stuff: There’s a slate of 2-mana rocks that help you accelerate in the early game. They’re especially important if you can’t get Rowan down or it dies before you do anything with it.
As for the land base, you’ve got a bunch of duals that help fix your mana in addition to a few lands that help damage you. City of Brass and Mana Confluence aren’t strictly necessary in a 2-color deck, but they’re kind of sol lands if you squint.
Boseiju, Who Shelters All and Hall of the Bandit Lord pay lots of life but are super important. Hall lets you use Rowan the turn it comes down, which is especially useful later in the game. Many of your finishers are instants or sorceries, so Boseiju offers vital protection in addition to mana.
The Zendikar Rising modal-double-faced cards are always fantastic in EDH decks, but Shatterskull Smashing and Agadeem's Awakening shine in this deck as lands that make you pay 3 life or X spells that you can cast with a steep discount.
This deck’s not doing anything too complicated. You want to pay a bunch of life and play some big spells! That said, there are a few things to look out for.
You don’t want to pay too much life in the early game. It can leave you quite vulnerable. You can get good value from reducing the cost of spells by a bit; it’s not uncommon to be able to cast Dance with Calamity or Breach the Multiverse on turn 4 or 5 for 3 or 4 mana, which is a great way to stabilize in the early game. If you pay too much life without a way to close out the game, you risk dying before you can win because you’ll have a much lower life total than everybody else.
You’ll often want to find one explosive turn for your big spells. To set this up, you need a way to continuously pay life like Wall of Blood or Doom Whisperer paired with one of the X spells. If you build a bit of board presence by playing one of the big sorceries or planeswalkers early, it’s easy to close things out by draining your opponents for 20 or more life.
There’s also plenty of removal littered around the list. Much of it helps pay life as well, but it’s important to be judicious when using it. Since you’ll often have a lower life total than the table, you should try and look like as little of a threat as possible before going off. The board wipes are especially useful at taking pressure off of you.
Combos and Interactions
This deck only has one infinite combo and simple interactions. Rowan, Scion of War leads to a deck that’s more about sequencing your big spells and managing your life loss rather than keeping track of multiple complex interactions.
The infinite combo uses Dualcaster Mage and Heat Shimmer in your hand, and a total of available. Cast Heat Shimmer targeting any creature in play. Hold priority and respond by casting Dualcaster Mage. When it comes into play, target Heat Shimmer with the ETB ability.
Change the copy’s target to Dualcaster Mage. The copy will resolve, creating a token copy of Dualcaster Mage with haste. When this token ETBs, make its trigger copy the original Heat Shimmer. Continue this loop to generate infinite hasty Dualcaster Mages and win via combat.
This is a fairly cheap combo, but Rowan makes it even better. You only need to take 2 damage for this combo to cost , and you can pull this win off as early as turn 4 with a perfect hand.
Rule 0 Violations Check
The only violation in this deck is the above combo. Dualcaster Mage fills an important role in the deck outside the combo, letting you copy your massive X spells to finish everybody off. Heat Shimmer offers plenty of value, so it’s easy to play the combo pieces as separate, powerful cards if your table doesn’t want to play against combos. If you don’t want the combo at all, you could replace Heat Shimmer with another value card, like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker.
The mana base is the easiest place to make budget cuts. Mana Confluence and City of Brass could be any dual lands, though they’ll be a little less flexible. You can also cut Boseiju, Who Shelters All and Hall of the Bandit Lord for different lands. It impacts the versatility of your mana base but can easily knock $50 or $60 dollars off the price tag.
There are a few other directions you could take Rowan, Scion of War. This one focuses on using it for value and a mana advantage, but you could lean much harder into the combo side of things and use its discount alongside cards like Bolas's Citadel and Aetherflux Reservoir to generate mana for a proper storm deck.
You could also lean into a burn-focused build. There are plenty of cards that damage everybody at the table like Manabarbs and Zo-Zu the Punisher that you could use for a faster clock before burning everybody else with X spells.
Crackle with Power | Illustration by Micah Epstein
Rowan, Scion of War is an immaculate design from the new set. The contrast between this card and Will, Scion of Peace is an elegant demonstration of storytelling through mechanics and captures the distance opened between the twins in two interesting card designs.
This deck looks to leverage Rowan’s mana discount to generate explosive turns that end in Crackle with Power and Torment of Hailfire burning the table down, but the commander has a lot of potential for other builds.
What’s your favorite version of Rowan? Which commanders from Wilds of Eldraine do you want to build? Let me know in the comments below or on the Draftsim Discord!
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