Commander 2016 – Should Tana Partner?

Commander 2016 has been fully spoiled and it’s time to start brewing. Every Magic website is offering you their opinion on the set and Commander options. So am I, but from the perspective of building Tana. As I mentioned last week Tana the Bloodsower is the legend I’m most excited about. She isn’t incredibly powerful, but I think she’ll be a lot of fun. You can see what my plan for Tana is here. The short is Voltron elements, other token producers, and cards that take advantage of Tana’s crop. The big question I have with Tana is, if I should take advantage of her Partner mechanic. Legends with Partner seem to be weaker than most Commander choices because you can have two of them. The problem is I don’t know if any of them work for me. My thoughts below.

Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker (W/U)

I originally wrote off Ishai. He doesn’t seem to line up with building a token army and doesn’t take advantage of tokens. However, he looks like he’ll be very good at dealing Commander damage and taking advantage of the Voltron elements to knock someone out in one big swing. Adding both white and blue would give me a large swath of cards, but adding both colors will make the mana base shakier. I don’t think I will go with bird, but it’s something to consider.

Silas Renn, Seeker Adept (U/B)

Silas follows much of the same pros and cons as Ishai. The main difference is that Silas pushes me to artifact based Voltron elements and offers a recursive element to them. I still don’t think adding two colors is worth it based on what I want to do. If the build turns out to be very artifact heavy Silas will get another look, but that looks doubtful at this point.

Vial Smasher the Fierce (B/R)

I think that Vial Smasher is one of the worst options based on what I want to do. She doesn’t take advantage of any of the three main themes I want to focus on, but instead provides random damage to opponents. Maybe if the deck will really wants a black splash Vial Smasher will be better option, but this is again doubtful.

Tana, the Bloodsower (R/G)

She’s the main thrust of the deck and who we’re looking to find a partner for her.

Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa (W/G)

The Sidar provides a strong option, but also deck building problems. Kondo aligns with the token element of the Tana deck by providing an evasion element of all of the Saprolings and Tana as well if I don’t suit her up with static power boosts. Not boosting Tana’s power will reduce the number of tokens I get, but the deck could focus on double strike instead of boosting power. Kondo also adds just white to the deck. White brings in Recuiter of the Guard to find Grenzo, Havoc Raiser and other utility elements. White adds Elspeth, Sun’s Champion for more token production. To top it off there are solid white removal options in Aura Shards, Path to Exile, and Austere Command.

There are two real problems with adding white. The first is that I have to seriously consider if the deck is just a worse Rith, the Awakener deck. Rith does a lot of what Tana would do for the deck, but is also a dragon. Being a worse version of another deck isn’t a deal breaker in Commander, but it is something to wrestle with in your mind. The second problem is in deck building slots. White adds the highest number of cards I would want to use. This sounds like wonderful thing. However, adding white would require very disciplined deck building to keep the deck from slipping into a generic good stuff Naya deck, and I’d like to try the MagriniSplash Theory” (Go take a quick read). All that said, Kondo provides an option to seriously consider.

Ravos, Soultender (W/B)

Ravos is the first option that would turn the deck into four color to seriously look at. Most of the cards I’d like to add to Tana are in white or black, Ravos pumps all my creatures (which both builds up Tana and her Saproling crops), and he provides the occasional recursive element. I also own most of the mana base I would want to use so the mana would actually be decent despite being four colors. The main issue with Ravos is in my own deck building discipline and if I’ll be able to force myself to stay theme despite all of the options available. The biggest card that Ravos offers, that the three color options don’t is:  Ghave, Guru of Spores the true king of Saprolings. All in all Ravos provides a solid option.

Tymna the Weaver (W/B)

Tymna offers card draw instead of the boosts Ravos gives. She also gives the same pros and cons to adding the colors. I think I’d rather go with Ravos instead of Tymna if I go full WBRG.

Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper (B/G)

I like Ikra. It’s probably the art reminding me of Tasigur, but she does have some merit. Ikra’s Menace can take advantage of the Voltron elements in the deck. Her life gain ability isn’t terrible and could provide just enough to keep the deck going. Black is also a nice color to splash. Black gives me Zulaport Cutthroat, Dictate of Erebos, Deathspore Thallid, the Apex Predator, Necrogensis (and other graveyard hate), and some solid pieces of black removal. Ikra would let me easily splash 5-10 cards with a black cards. The main issue with Ikra is that she isn’t super powerful.

Reyhan, Last of the Abzan (B/G)

I think Reyhan will provide less than Ikra. I could play Reyhan and then sacrifice her to build up Tana, but I don’t know if I want to go that far for just Reyhan. If the deck build goes harder into +1/+1 counters than is currently anticipated Reyhan may shine, but I just don’t see it. Sweet story character though.

Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix (U/G)

I don’t think Kydele works at all for me. She really wants you to be drawing lots of cards to turn that into ramp. Splashing blue definitely helps with the cards draw (more below), but if I wanted to go with a U/G partner I’d go with Thrasios.

Thrasios, Triton Hero (U/G)

Thrasios does not line up with any of the decks three main themes, but is still a partner worth considering. Thrasios offers repeatable card draw, which is nothing to sneeze at. His ability is fairly expensive so he’s not great. I could foresee playing him when my hand is empty and it’s turn 10+ to simply draw two cards. What Thrasios does offer is some solid options to boost the deck. Adding blue offers Well of Ideas, Rhystic Study, Yasova, Shaman of the Great Hunt, and Sarkhan Unbroken. All of these would work well for deck and, like splashing black above, offers the easy ability to add 5-10 cards of blue. Thrasisos himself isn’t exciting, but the cards he offers are good.

Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus (U/R)

Kraum is about the same as Thrasios above, but is also a stick. He has to rely completely on opponents for cards which isn’t the greatest. The good news is opponents have to choose with slowing down their development or giving me cards. I honestly don’t know if I like Thrasios or Kraum better if I wanted to go with a blue splash.

Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist (U/R)

I don’t like Ludevic. He lets my opponents draw cards and isn’t strong enough deterrence from hurting me. Simply not an option in my book.

Akiri, Line-Slinger (W/R)

Akiri offers the great white cards that Kondo offers and pushes me to use a large number of artifacts like Silas. She can get a big Commander damage push if you build around her, but I don’t think I’m willing to devote the resources in this deck to make Akiri shine.

Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder (W/R)

The last of the 15. Bruse is a very good option for Tana. The double strike and lifelink is a real boon. He gives all of the great stuff that white offers. The real problem with Bruse is that he just doesn’t excite me.  Almost everyone I’ve talked to has suggested I go with Bruse so we’ll see.

Wrap Up

So back to the question at hand, do I partner? Currently, I think the answer is no. I have too much indecision and am trying to guess what the deck needs. Instead I plan on playing her solo until I get enough of a sample size to see what the deck actually needs. Is it hurting for card draw, look at Kraum. Does it need removal or life gain, look at Ikra. Need more tokens or does Tana need to hit harder, Bruse is the man. Does the deck need all kinds of help, well there’s Ravos to go full four color. We’ll see if I can find any glaring holes when I get to hard drafting the list. Until next time, happy brewing.

  • Cowboy Kyle

Questions for you: Is there a partner pair that has you jazzed (with or without Tana)? Are you pumped about one of the four color options?

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