Today, we begin our look at the Legendaries of Magic Origins. First off, there’s Hixus, Prison Warden, who has a nifty Flash effect that’s strong in Limited, useful as a supplementary piece in Commander, but not really considered as a field general. With his flavor of prison warden and strong typing as a Human Soldier, though, why not?
Hixus costs 3WW to cast for a 4/4 body that can be played at Instant speed. When he enters, if a creature has dealt damage to you that turn, Hixus removes it from play as long as he remains on the battlefield. If that creature is a token, it’s gone forever. Being a prison warden, it would seem relevant to have as many prison-type effects as you can alongside him, as well as other effects that punish anyone from trying to attack you.
But as a look at the fine websites EDHREC and MetaMox will show you, Hixus really only serves as a complementary piece. Well, it’s time for Hixus to shed that “unplayably bad” label and shine as his designers intended him to.
Where do we start then? There are two directions we could go. In either case, we want to draw on the power of the Soldier tribe. With their connection in the storyline, it makes sense in any case to include a particular soldier that is probably not a candidate for General Insanity: Kytheon, Hero of Akros.
The one-drop flip-walker is pretty awesome. While he hasn’t made his mark quite yet on the Standard environment, he’s already a force in Commander, as Soldiers are an extremely popular and well-supported tribe. As a one-drop creature he’s a 2/1 that can become indestructible for 2W. And if he attacks along with two or more creatures, he flips into Gideon, Battle-Forged, perhaps one of the best planeswalkers of the set. He has two plus-loyalty abilities and for no loyalty he can be a 4/4 creature that can’t be dealt damage. No matter which road we go down, he has to be in here.
While you’re at it, you may want to consider the other two incarnations of Gideon as a planeswalker, Gideon Jura and Gideon, Champion of Justice. While the latter has seen little Constructed play, he’s a Commander all-star and he can restart a game all by himself. But both work in this deck, as long as you don’t have more than one incarnation of Gideon in play at a time, of course.
While this is a bit of a flavor fail alongside Heliod, who will also be in the deck, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion belongs in here, too. (Heliod killed her in the Theros storyline - sad face.) Despite her popularity in Standard, her Duel Deck reprint has severely depressed her market value, and she’s not really playable in other Eternal formats, except in Commander where she does a lot of work. Spitting out 3 1/1 Soldier tokens fits the theme perfectly, too, and being able to take out big creature bombs, and give you a sweet emblem to finish off infidels seems good. Just don’t let Heliod near her.
Elspeth Tirel is a less budget option that can also make soldiers, but also gain you a ton of life, and potentially boardwipe if you have too. The original Knight-Errant can do the job, too.
The most obvious thing that we can do with Hixus is to build a prison deck with an army of Soldiers to back him up. Two cards from Magic Origins complement this strategy quite well: Archangel of Tithes and Vryn Wingmare. The Archangel taxes opponents for attacking you and the Wingmare makes it more difficult for noncreature spells to be cast. While this tax affects you, as well, being a mono-colored deck with strong devotion to White will help you overcome this issue, especially with how many ways there are to grab Plains out of your deck.
Continuing the prison theme is Windborn Muse. While an older card, it’s not difficult to find at all and is the creature version of one of the Enchantments we’ll be including in the deck, Ghostly Prison. Being a flyer that can hold the air is a cool bonus.
Along with the obvious inclusion of Ghostly Prison, we have cards like Spear of Heliod, which not only gives our guys an anthem effect (a +1/+1 boost) but also has the added ability to destroy a creature that’s dealt damage to us, a perfect complement to Hixus’ effect. While we’re at it, why not include Heliod, God of the Sun himself? He gives all our dudes vigilance and can spit out 1/1 Enchantment Cleric tokens whenever we have excess mana.
An even better version of Ghostly Prison is Norn’s Annex. While a bit more costly to play, and being an artifact instead of an enchantment, your opponents either have to pay W or 2 life to attack for each creature. For opponents not playing white, they may simply never attack you. You can even play it for 3 mana by paying 4 life. or 3W and 2 life. The earlier you turn this on, the harder it will be to stop you.
Sphere of Safety is a “jankier” Ghostly Prison, but it gets better when you control more Enchantments. It can end up taxing your opponents a lot to attack, and there are enough Enchantments here that having this alongside your other prison effects basically shuts your opponents out from attacking.
Banisher Priest and Fiend Hunter deal with problem creatures. Banishing Light and Oblivion Ring deal with other problem non-land permanents.
Knight Captain of Eos brings a couple 1/1 Soldiers with him, but you play him for his ability to sacrifice a Soldier and prevent all combat damage for a turn. With all the Soldiers that will be running amok in this deck, it’s definitely a deterrent.
Kytheon’s Irregulars will not be in here so much for the Renown as he is for the WW ability to tap down a target creature. He’s also a Soldier. Problem creatures can be pacified with this ability. Loxodon Gatekeeper makes all of your opponents’ artifacts, creatures and lands come into play tapped, severely slowing them down.
Blazing Archon is pricey at 9 mana, but creatures simply can’t attack you. Don’t you just love “just no” cards?
Ensnaring Bridge is a great way to stop creatures from attacking you, but as a highly playable card in Modern and Legacy, it’s not really cheap. It’s worth considering if you have the money to add it.
Since our Commander has flash, why not include some sweet cards with flash? Dictate of Heliod is a Flash Anthem, while at 5 mana, gives all our guys +2/+2. It’s a bulk rare, so no budgetary concerns there! (Rhyme not intentional…)
Angel of the Dire Hour is a lot like Hixus, Prison Warden in that she can exile creatures. However, in her case, you cast her at instant speed while your opponent is attacking, and those creatures get exiled forever. 7 mana is steep for a 5/4 flyer, but she’s such a blow-out that who really cares?
Celestial Crusader is another Anthem effect that can come into play with Flash. Even better, the Crusader has Split Second, so it can’t be countered and no other effects can be stacked upon his casting. Being a 2/2 flyer isn’t too shabby either.
Cho-Manno’s Blessing is a Flash Enchantment you may not see all that often. It costs double-White and it gives the enchanted creature protection from the color of your choice. You could cast this on Hixus to protect him, but there will be other ways of protecting him - you are probably better off casting the blessing on something like the Archangel of Tithes, Windborn Muse, or another important utility creature.
Masako the Humorless is one of my favorite cards to include in any mono-White deck simply because having your tapped creatures be able to block is really awkward. Plus, she can be Flashed in, which can make some combats extremely awkward.
Aven Mindcensor is really, really good at disrupting an opponent’s ability to search out stuff. But he’s a bit on the pricey side ($10 a copy). Still, if you have one, he’s a fine inclusion. Containment Priest is a $7 card, but you may have one if you bought the white Commander 2014 deck. She definitely fits into the deck by stopping an opponent from bringing in a creature without casting it. Hallowed Moonlight does the same thing as the Priest and is a can-trip - drawing you a card.
White has plenty of board-wipes, but one that you should definitely consider is Divine Reckoning. Each player chooses one creature he or she controls and destroys the rest. The best part about this card is that it has flashback, meaning you can get two activations out of it. Usually you’ll save Hixus, but there are times you’ll save others, too.
Rout and Fated Retribution essentially serve the same purpose. Rout gains Flash if you pay 2 colorless more to cast it and Fated Retribution is already an Instant - that also kills all planeswalkers, so be aware when you cast Retribution. You probably can go with one or the other.
Good ole Day of Judgment or Wrath of God will do the trick, too. End Hostilities is a way to take down equipped creatures, as well. The most fun boardwipe you could include, though, is Martial Coup, which can make a whole bunch of Soldier tokens and blow up everyone else. Properly timed, you could take over the game with this. Hour of Reckoning destroys all creatures except tokens, so that could be pretty one-sided, too.
White has lots of Anthem effects, so let’s add classics like Honor of the Pure and Glorious Anthem. While we’re at it, we’ll add Marshal’s Anthem, which can also bring creatures back from our yard for a kicker cost.
Now that we have all these Anthem effects, we need a way to make our army of little soldiers grow quickly and efficiently. Valor in Akros makes sure that we get +1/+1 boosts each time a creature comes into play under our control. One activation from Elspeth, Sun’s Champion promises a +3/+3 boost. And it only gets better with a card like Cathars’ Crusade, which gives each of your creatures a +1/+1 counter for each creature that enters.
Precinct Captain is an early-drop that can make a 1/1 creature token each time it connects. Having first strike helps his cause. Plus, he’s a Soldier, fitting in with the theme. Field Marshal pumps all your Soldiers by +1/+1 and gives them first strike.
Militia’s Pride works well since we’re running a ton of creatures, and getting a 1/1 token for each attacking creature for only one White mana can do a lot of work. The incremental gains from this card if it’s cast early in the game do some serious work. Mobilization is a classic Soldiers card. Not only do your Soldiers get vigilance, but you get to pop out 1/1 soldier tokens for 2W as many times as you’d like.
Hero of Bladehold is herself a Knight, but she brings 2 1/1 soldiers into play attacking when she attacks. She also has Battle Cry, boosting all of your attacking creatures +1/+0 until end of turn. She was great in Standard, playable in Modern, and definitely good here. Soltari Champion also has a Battle Cry of sorts, has Shadow (meaning it will pretty much always go unblocked) and gives your creatures +1/+1 until end of turn when he does attack.
Coat of Arms is the classic way to boost your creatures. It does help your opponents, too, though. However, since your deck is mostly Soldiers, you should hold the advantage. Obelisk of Urd is a bit better in that only you get the boost, and it’s always +2/+2 for the chosen creature type. Neither are really budget cards, but they’re both worth playing in any aggressive tribal deck.
Gideon’s Phalanx makes 4 2/2 Knight creature tokens. Yes, they are Knights, but they are instant speed creatures that trigger a lot of other cards in the deck. It’s hard to say how often you will have Spell Mastery in this deck to make all of your creatures indestructible until end of turn, but 7 mana for the summoning effect alone in Commander is fine.
Conqueror’s Pledge makes 6 1/1 Kor Soldier tokens, and if you “kick” it, you get 12 instead. It’s quite a mana investment, but it’s likely you’re playing this in the endgame, anyway. Similarly, Deploy to the Front essentially doubles your creature count for 5WW, giving you a Soldier for every creature you control.
Nomad’s Assembly is a lot like Deploy to the Front, except that it has Rebound, meaning you essentially get to cast it twice for 4WW, but paying for it only once.
One of the best Soldiers you could include is Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Making a token each time he attacks or blocks triggers so many effects, it’s ridiculous. He’s not quite budget, but he’s relatively affordable and fits into a wide variety of Commander builds - and can prove to be a decent Commander himself!
Helm of the Gods from Magic Origins is relevant in this deck, as there are going to be enough enchantments in play to make it worth playing.
Mantle of Leadership is probably one of the best Enchantments in the deck, and not only can it be played at Instant speed, but it can also finish off a game if you play it just right. With the amount of creatures you will be able to bring into play at once, that +2/+2 boost for each creature adds up quickly.
Triclopean Sight doesn’t look incredible, but it can be Flashed in, untap the creature you’re enchanting and give it +1/+1 and vigilance. Another combat trick that stays on the creature is pretty darn good.
Armored Ascension is nuts considering how many Plains we’re running and can go on any creature to simply put an opponent away. It doesn’t have Flash on its own, but that’s okay.
While this deck can win purely on punching through repeatedly with all of its pumped-up Soldiers, there are a couple ways to simply win. One of those is one of my all-time favorite creatures in Odric, Master Tactician. If he attacks along with three other creatures, you get to choose how creatures block, or not block. You can either go completely unblockable or force disadvantageous blocks.
True Conviction gives your creatures double strike and lifelink. If that’s not hard to come back from, I don’t know what is.
The other obvious finisher is the ultimate ability of Gideon, Champion of Justice, who blows up everything except himself and then just punches in repeatedly while your opponents attempt to rebuild.
Otherwise, your main win condition is to just get as many Soldiers as you can into play and turn thing sideways. The Prison effects just make it hard for anyone to stop you from fortifying your position and amassing an army that no one can deal with.
So, how do we pay for all this? Prisons are expensive. Being a mono-colored deck, though, it’s easy enough for Caged Sun to double all our mana, and give our creatures a boost. Emeria, the Sky Ruin will help us get creatures back from the yard once we hit 7 Plains. Kjeldoran Outpost costs us a Plains when it enters, but can spit out 1/1 Soldier tokens. Mistveil Plains counts as a Plains, but also allows us to recycle cards from our yard back to the bottom of the library.
Knight of the White Orchid will put a Plains right into play when he enters, and gives us 2 devotion to White, also serving as a creature that can do work for us on the board. Kor Cartographer similarly gets us a Plains, but into play tapped. Tithe goes and gets us a Plains to our hand, but sometimes can even get us two.
A less budget option to use is Doubling Cube, but that’s good in any Commander deck and that doubled mana will keep us ahead of many of our opponents. Thawing Glaciers will help us fetch extra Plains. Also, with so many white mana symbols in the deck, the devotion will fuel Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to crazy lengths.
You can also use the fetch-lands Arid Mesa, Marsh Flats, and Windswept Heath to fetch Plains more quickly, if you happen to have them.
Here’s a basic list to start from, with the more expensive upgrades not included.
Hixus, Prison Warden
1x Angel of Jubilation
1x Angel of the Dire Hour
1x Archangel of Tithes
1x Banisher Priest
1x Benalish Commander
1x Blazing Archon
1x Celestial Crusader
1x Daru Warchief
1x Fiend Hunter
1x Goldnight Commander
1x Heliod, God of the Sun
1x Hero of Bladehold
1x Knight-Captain of Eos
1x Knight of the White Orchid
1x Kor Cartographer
1x Kytheon, Hero of Akros Flip
1x Kytheon's Irregulars
1x Loxodon Gatekeeper
1x Mangara of Corondor
1x Masako the Humorless
1x Odric, Master Tactician
1x Precinct Captain
1x Soltari Champion
1x Suture Priest
1x Veteran Armorer
1x Veteran Swordsmith
1x Vryn Wingmare
1x Windborn Muse
1x Armored Ascension
1x Banishing Light
1x Cathars' Crusade
1x Cho-Manno's Blessing
1x Dictate of Heliod
1x Ghostly Prison
1x Glorious Anthem
1x Honor of the Pure
1x Journey to Nowhere
1x Mantle of Leadership
1x Marshal's Anthem
1x Militia's Pride
1x Oblivion Ring
1x Sphere of Safety
1x Triclopean Sight
1x True Conviction
1x Valor in Akros
1x Fated Retribution
1x Gideon's Phalanx
1x Hallowed Moonlight
1x Return to Dust
1x Swords to Plowshares
1x White Sun's Zenith
1x Conqueror's Pledge
1x Day of Judgment
1x Divine Reckoning
1x Hour of Reckoning
1x Martial Coup
1x Nomads' Assembly
1x Caged Sun
1x Coat of Arms
1x Doubling Cube
1x Helm of the Gods
1x Leonin Sun Standard
1x Norn's Annex
1x Obelisk of Urd
1x Swiftfoot Boots
1x Emeria, The Sky Ruin
1x Evolving Wilds
1x Forbidding Watchtower
1x Mistveil Plains
1x Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1x Terramorphic Expanse
1x Thawing Glaciers
1x Elspeth, Sun's Champion
1x Gideon, Champion of Justice
While Hixus, Prison Warden could be replaced as Commander by a few other Legendaries, such as Odric, Master Tactician or even Kytheon, Hixus definitely works as another deterrent for opponents to attack. He may not be the prototypical build around Commander but the deck can win with him as well as without him. I’d say this build is a bit better one-on-one than in multiplayer, but it can do the job because of all the prison effects.