Thrasios, Triton Hero | Illustration by Josu Hernaiz
Commander 2016 brought the first official 4-colored legendary creatures to use as commanders. It also introduced the partner mechanic, which allows you to mix and match two commanders in the command zone to produce any 4-color combination your heart desires without being tied to commanders with specific strategies like Breya, Etherium Shaper.
The original batch is also pretty broken. They’re generally strong cards you can mix and match, so you always have access to two powerful effects. There’s a reason lots of cEDH decks have partners in the command zone. We’re looking to do something a little fairer today, pairing Thrasios, Triton Hero with Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker for a Bant () midrange list that comes with a combo finisher.
Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker | Illustration by Zack Stella
Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker
Thrasios, Triton Hero
Teferi, Time Raveler
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Tatyova, Benthic Druid
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter
Augur of Autumn
Nezahal, Primal Tide
Oracle of Mul Daya
Birds of Paradise
Loran of the Third Path
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
March of Otherworldly Light
Slip Out the Back
An Offer You Can't Refuse
Veil of Summer
Chord of Calling
Winds of Abandon
Bala Ged Recovery
Sea Gate Restoration
Freed from the Real
Sea of Clouds
This is a simple midrange deck looking to grind out your opponents in a longer game. Bant is one of the strongest color pairs for this kind of deck because of the options you get from your colors. Blue gives you the best card draw and permission, white the best removal, and green the best ramp.
This sets you up to play more Magic. You’ll have more mana, more cards, more interaction. You’re looking to play a slower game that lets you eke out the most value from your cards while leaving your opponents in the dust.
You can win a fair bit through combat damage, but you’ve also got a powerful combo finish that uses Thassa's Oracle, one of the best win conditions printed for Commander in the past few years.
Lots of this deck’s power comes from its commanders. Thanks to the partner mechanic, you’re starting the game with nine cards in hand to your opponents’ eight cards, which is one of the many small edges this deck wants.
Each of your commanders helps establish a different win condition to give you multiple tools in the command zone.
Thrasios, Triton Hero is a bit of a weaker card. Its ability is powerful but costs a fair amount of mana to use. But it serves two important roles: Thrasios gives you access to green and serves as an excellent infinite mana outlet. It’s far easier to win the game when you always have access to a key combo piece.
Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker doesn’t combo off. Instead, it provides a ton of pressure. This commander grows quickly and becomes a dominant force on the board. You’ve got a bunch of ways to protect Ishai with countermagic and tricks to stop your opponents from killing them. This card hits very hard. Winning through commander damage is a distinct possibility if your opponents lack removal.
Let’s look at some of the cards that keep you ahead of your opponents in cards. These effects help you to keep your hand full in the long game so you can use all your mana.
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter is really a pet card of mine. After you resolve it, all your cards replace themselves for insane card advantage. Don’t worry too much about casting the card you reveal; cantripping counterspells are strong enough. You’ve got plenty of instants to get multiple triggers each turn cycle.
Ponder, Preordain, and Serum Visions are powerful cantrips that give the deck lots of control over what you’re drawing and that smooth out a lot of hands.
Augur of Autumn and Oracle of Mul Daya give you plenty of card advantage. Playing lands off the top of your library is basically the same as drawing a card. They also have unique utility; the Augur lets you get creatures while the Oracle ramps you. These cards work great with the cantrips we just looked at.
Tatyova, Benthic Druid is a powerful source of card advantage and incidental lifegain. Almost all your ramp puts lands into play, so you can easily get multiple triggers each turn.
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath pulls triple duty as a card advantage engine, a source of ramp, and a threat. It’s one of your stronger early plays since it gets you ahead and presents a threat that’s annoying to deal with.
Nezahal, Primal Tide draws cards as quickly as your opponents play spells. It also gives you no maximum hand size and has built-in protection from countermagic and removal. This game-ending monster drowns your opponents in cards and punishes them for playing the game.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a powerful planeswalker that mostly ramps and draws you cards, but it also gives you a source of removal that gets around indestructible. The best part of this card is the ultimate. Teferi is a multifunctional piece in this deck that gives you all the cards you need to protect it until it can help end the game.
Worldly Tutor and Mystical Tutor are flexible cards that can find you pretty much anything you need: threats, removal, more card draw, or combo pieces. Enlightened Tutor is also here, but it’s a little less flexible than its peers in this list since it primarily hits combo pieces.
Chord of Calling is another strong tutor that gets whatever you want into play at instant speed. This is especially useful with some of your utility and stax creatures; nabbing a Collector Ouphe in response to a Dockside Extortionist or having access to Reclamation Sage whenever you need makes this pretty powerful.
Blue and white is a classic pairing for control decks because they give access to some of the best interactive spells. This deck takes full advantage of that plus some strong green cards to have answers to pretty much anything.
Tamiyo's Safekeeping and Tyvar's Stand are here to protect your threats from spot removal. Slip Out the Back takes this further by giving stronger protection and letting you phase out an opposing creature as a temporary answer.
Clever Concealment gives your entire team protection from all wraths, including ones that exile, and convoke lets you cast it while tapped out for a lovely surprise.
When most players try to protect themselves from wraths, they reach for cards like Heroic Intervention and Selfless Spirit for indestructible effects, which is why all your board wipes exile. Sunfall removes everything and leaves you with a chunky threat.
Farewell is one of the best white wraths ever printed, even if it’s six mana.
You also have Winds of Abandon as a flexible piece. It’s spot removal early and a Plague Wind your opponents struggle to interact with late.
Oko, Thief of Crowns is banned in numerous formats because it can dominate a game, turning key game pieces into irrelevant 3/3s, building an army, and even stealing essential creatures or commanders.
Teferi, Time Raveler is one of the strongest planeswalkers ever printed. It’s primarily here to shut down opposing countermagic but incidentally hates on strategies like cascade and other controlling decks trying to hold up mana.
Drannith Magistrate is another stax piece that won’t win you the game but helps slow it down until you have the advantage. It interrupts several strategies and throws a wrench into the plans of decks dependent on their commander.
Collector Ouphe is a fantastic green card to slow the game down. As a green deck, you aren’t reliant on Treasures and other artifacts for ramp and fixing, so you can severely impede those who are.
Calling Hullbreaker Horror a simple interactive piece undersells the sheer value of this card. It’s the best threat in the deck and an essential combo piece, but it also dominates the board just for existing. It lets your spot removal bounce spells from the stack and gives your countermagic a tangible effect on the board. It simply does everything this deck wants.
There’s also plenty of spot removal. Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares are the best creature removal spells in the game.
Fateful Absence and Ossification cost an extra mana but let you get planeswalkers as well.
You’ve also got Generous Gift, Prismatic Ending, and March of Otherworldly Light for some mostly unconditional removal.
Engineered Explosives also gives you a way to pinpoint problematic permanents without targeting them, and an answer to token decks for next to no mana.
Then there’s the countermagic, one of the best things about being in blue. Counterspell is a must have. Permission spells don’t really get better.
Delay is great in counter wars and basically a hard counter if you can keep Teferi or Drannith Magistrate in play for a few turns.
Dovin's Veto usually gives you the final say in what resolves and what doesn’t.
You’ve also got An Offer You Can't Refuse for those turns when you need to stop whatever’s happening, even if you give your opponents a burst of mana.
Veil of Summer rounds out the countermagic suite with one of the best ever printed. Don’t be afraid to cast this as your first spell on the turn you want to try and win to force your opponents to waste a counterspell here or get protection from counterspells for the whole turn.
The Mana Base
You’ve looked at several cards that ramp you in addition to other benefits, but you’ve also got some dedicated ramp pieces and some utility cards in the land base to look at. Most of your ramp options are land-based, so you don’t have to worry about your board wipes cutting down your mana.
The exceptions to the lands rule are Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch. They just provide so much fixing and early acceleration.
Beyond that, you’ve got some typical ramp pieces. Sakura-Tribe Elder is a classic. Three Visits, Farseek, and Nature's Lore basically give you perfect mana. Cultivate is a staple for a reason.
Beyond the ramp, the land base has multiple utility cards with its modal double-faced cards. Sea Gate Restoration and Emeria's Call are great late-game threats while Glasspool Mimic and Bala Ged Recovery are excellent mid-game pieces.
Beyond this, you’ve got a pile of mana-fixing lands to help support your 3-color deck.
This deck has a relatively simple strategy but can still be challenging to pilot. Doing so well relies on good threat assessment and sequencing. You can’t just focus on one player because you’ll give your other opponents plenty of time to build up as a threat.
You’ll want to try and keep the game in balance with your interaction while not looking like too much of a threat. You’ve got lots of one-for-one removal and card draw to help keep afloat, but it’ll be hard to win a 2V1 or 3V1 scenario.
You also need to consider if you’re winning with the combo or damage. The two plans work really well together. The more interaction your opponents use to stop Ishai and your other beatdown creatures, the easier it is to go off with your combo. Likewise, cards that hamper combos aren’t great against a 15/15 flying commander.
If there was ever a deck to master the concept of who’s the beatdown, it’s this one. This deck’s true strengths come from its flexibility. It sees tons of cards and has a suite of removal that can interact with anything. It has the answers and the threats; it’s up to you to sequence them properly.
Combos and Interactions
Let’s talk combos some more! You’ve got two ways to make infinite mana. Before we look at those, I want to look at how to spend the mana.
This is where Thrasios, Triton Hero comes in. Feed your infinite mana through its activated ability to put all the lands in your deck into play tapped and draw all your non-land cards. You can then cast Thassa's Oracle with no cards in your library to win the game.
The first infinite combo uses Freed from the Real and either Bloom Tender or Faeburrow Elder. This is a classic combo. Enchant either of the dorks that tap for more than , then tap them for two or three mana. Use the blue mana to untap the creature, rinse, and repeat for infinite mana.
This generates infinite green and white mana since you’re using the blue mana you produce to untap the mana dork. You’ll need at least two untapped blue sources to cast your Oracle, plus more if you want to hold up countermagic to protect the combo.
The second infinite mana combo uses Hullbreaker Horror with a combination of Sol Ring, Mox Amber, and Engineered Explosives. For this combo, you need two artifacts that go mana positive. Explosives work with either Mox Amber or Sol Ring, and the latter two can combo together. Let’s look at Sol Ring and Mox Amber for this example. With Mox Amber, you’ll also need one of your legendary permanents in play.
With your Horror in play, cast either Mox Amber or Sol Ring. This first trigger gives you a chance to bounce something that impedes your combo, like a Deafening Silence or your own Collector Ouphe. Tap the Mox Amber that you cast to float a mana.
Use this mana to cast Sol Ring. With the Hullbreaker trigger, bounce the tapped Mox Amber to your hand. Tap Sol Ring to float two colorless and recast the Mox Amber, bouncing the Sol Ring. Keep using the colorless mana to recast the Sol Ring so you can save the colored mana from Mox Amber to generate infinite colored mana and infinite colorless mana.
If you’re using Engineered Explosives instead of one of the two mana rocks, cast it for X=0 to bounce the mana-producing rock. You can also perform the Mox Amber/Sol Ring loop without a legendary creature or planeswalker; you’ll just produce infinite colorless mana instead of colored mana since the Mox won’t tap for mana.
Now, that’s a lot of pieces to bring together. You have an easy line to pull it together, though. For easy assembly, all you need is seven mana, a Hullbreaker in play, and a Trinket Mage in hand.
Cast the Mage. On ETB, search for Mox Amber. Cast the Amber, returning the Mage to your hand with the Hullbreaker trigger. Recast the Trinket Mage and tutor up the other combo piece.
There are also a lot of other little loops you can do with this combo. For the following scenarios, let’s assume you’ve generated infinite colored mana and still have your Mox Amber in play. Depending on what you control, you might not be able to produce all three colors of mana, but these loops only need two.
Let’s go with either Teferi, Time Raveler or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Cast one of them and bounce the Mox Amber to your hand. Activate whichever ability draws a card. Then cast the Mox again to bounce the planeswalker.
This loop lets you draw your entire deck to get your win with Thassa's Oracle. These loop gets around Drannith Magistrate or Pithing Needle or other effects preventing you from using Thrasios to get the win.
You can also use this loop to reset the board by bouncing your opponents’ non-land permanents to their hands or library with the appropriate abilities.
You can loop Reclamation Sage or Loran of the Third Path to destroy all your opponents’ artifacts and enchantments.
You can also get a pretty good loop off with Oko, Thief of Crowns. Perform the same bounce loop to make infinite Food tokens. You can sacrifice them to gain infinite life, forcing your opponents to have their own combo or alternate win condition.
You can also turn all your opponents’ relevant threats into 3/3s, then make an infinite number of 3/3s by producing more Food tokens, then replaying the Oko to +1 them.
Most of these loops don’t work with the Freed from the Real combos because those only produce infinite green and white mana. If Hullbreaker is in play, you can loop Reclamation Sage or Loran of the Third Path with whatever cheap card you can pay for, though those are a little weaker. The planeswalker loops require infinite blue mana, so they can’t be performed with your Freed combos.
Rule 0 Violations Check
This can be a dicey deck when it comes to rule 0 conversations. You’ve obviously got some strong infinite combos and lots of consistency to find them with all your tutors and card draw. There are also a couple of cards people typically don’t like Collector Ouphe and Drannith Magistrate. You’ll want to make sure that your opponents are cool with a fairly strong combo deck with stax elements before shuffling up.
This is a pricy deck, so let’s look at budget options that can help make it more accessible.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a powerful planeswalker boasting a high price to match. It can swap out for another planeswalker that draws cards like Jace Beleren for similar utility and the same loop as above.
Thassa's Oracle sets a high standard for alternate win conditions but be replaced with something like Laboratory Maniac or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries for a cheaper way to win with an empty library.
Oko, Thief of Crowns is another solid planeswalker with a high price tag. You could replace it with another interactive piece like Swift Reconfiguration.
Sea Gate Restoration and Emeria's Call are powerful cards and could be replaced by basics of the appropriate color.
Farewell has a high price tag since it’s one of the best wraths ever printed. It can be subbed out for something cheaper like Depopulate or Day of Judgment.
Three Visits provides excellent ramp but could be cut for another card that finds a basic for two mana like Emergent Sequence.
Thrasios, Triton Hero begs to be used in a combo deck. Another path you could take is to pair it with a red partner like Jeska, Thrice Reborn to build an even more focused combo shell. Jeska gives another infinite mana outlet, and red gives access to plenty of other two-card combos like Twinflame and Dualcaster Mage.
You could also pair Thrasios with a commander that gives access to white or black mana to get the perfect 3-color pairing to play a Merfolk tribal deck that Thrasios’s typing for a far more unique take on a partner deck.
Hullbreaker Horror | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
The partner mechanic is pretty broken thanks to the generally high-power level of the original partners. Starting with extra cards in hand is an advantage that seems small, but it can’t be overlooked, especially in a grindy deck looking to take advantage of a longer game.
We’re using the power of the partners to create a flexible build that wins with a combo or a more traditional midrange strategy. Who would you pair Thrasios with? Who’s your favorite partner pairing? Let me know in the comments below, or find us over on Twitter.
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