Hello! Welcome to another edition of A Seat at the Table, the column where I discuss what cards to include in the 99 of a selected commander. This week, I’m continuing with a new legend from Dominaria United – Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim.
For WB, this legendary 2/2 Phyrexian Kor Cleric has some of the simplest, yet smile-inducing text (at least it makes me smile). Let’s check out the textbox:
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life. Whenever another creature you control dies, each opponent loses 1 life.”
Wow! We have this in the command zone now? I know we just got Agent of the Iron Throne, but that’s a Background that requires you to play your commander, costs three mana, and it doesn’t gain you life. Daxos, Blessed by the Sun is the closest analogue I could think of, gaining you life when your creatures enter the battlefield and die.
If you know me at all, you know I absolutely live for Aristocrats strategies. Will there be overlap with my article about Garna, Bloodfist of Keld? Yes. Absolutely. Lyzolda, the Blood Witch and Thalisse, Reverent Medium have competition for that command zone slot because Garna and Elas are very good. Let’s make that 99 pop.
White and Black are often big token generator colours. Cards like Call the Coppercoats and Ancient Gold Dragon can turn the tide of a game in this deck. Grave Titan on ETB and attack will make you two 2/2 Zombies. Anointed Procession is a very win-more card in my opinion, but when a deck knows what it wants, it gets what it wants. Combine the colours and you get cards like Inkshield which can not only protect you from damage, it will gain you life, help you crack back at the player with the highest life total and then ditch your board for Elas to drain the rest out. Thalisse, Reverent Medium gives you tokens for each token you make. Elenda, the Dusk Rose sees creatures dying and when it’s her turn to go, she leaves behind an army of 1/1 Lifelink Vampires. Felisa, Fang of Silverquill loves when you put counters on your creatures because you’ll be getting more. You’ll be gaining life like crazy in this deck and that’s why you need…
Aetherflux Reservoir is the cleanest use of a lifegain. Got lots of life? Use it to kill an opponent or all of them.
Got lots of life? Toxic Deluge can be huge!
Got lots of life? Necropotence turns that into cards.
Gaining lots of life, Well of Lost Dreams lets you pay to draw some cards per life gained. Tymna the Weaver lets you pay life for each opponent damaged during your combat and with the tokens you’re swinging with, you don’t care what happens, you’ll probably get to draw some cards. Got lots of life? Bolas’s Citadel welcomes you.
Heliod, Sun-Crowned will beef up a member of your team with every life gained. Archangel of Thune thinks Heliod is lazy and beefs up the whole team instead. Marshland Bloodcaster lets you cheat on mana, letting you cast a spell with life instead. Plague of Vermin for 40 and gain it all back. Sacrifice the rats to drain the table for a win! If you want to make this pretty linear, Razaketh, the Foulblooded lets you tutor for two life and sacrificing a creature, which are two very cheap costs for you here.
Here’s the overlap I was talking about. Sacrifice outlets are a way for you to control when your creatures die and how you’ll take advantage of that. Cards like Ashnod’s Altar and Phyrexian Altar provide you with mana. Altar of Dementia lets you pivot into a mill strategy if you’re closer to that than a life loss win. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician turns your life and your token creature into removal and card draw. Viscera Seer lets you scry and costs one mana.
Martyr’s Cause lets your sacrifice a creature to prevent damage from a source. This could be used politically or to save yourself! Fanatical Devotion allows you to regenerate your commander, keeping her around after a boardwipe like Fumigate. Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim lets you essentially Utter End for three mana and a sacrifice. Maw of the Obzedat lets you sacrifice a creature to pump your board for a big swing. Mind Slash and Sadistic Hypnotist, while not instant-speed, do a great job of eating away at your opponents’ hands. While you’re sacrificing so much, make sure to pack Smothering Abomination for that card draw for every sacrifice.
Yes, she gets her own section! I have been extremely impressed with Ellyn in every game I’ve cast her. I never run her unless I can create at least 3 or more tokens in a turn, but even just tapping for one means White card draw. If you create like 20 tokens from Animate Dead-ing an opponent’s Dockside Extortionist, tapping Ellyn to look at the top 20 cards of your deck and taking the best one is such amazing selection, I’m tired of not talking about it! Let’s see Ellyn at more tables!
These two cards are fantastic in this deck, turning every creature entering your battlefield into a ping machine lowering your opponents’ life totals. Vito has added utility in that like Vault of the Archangel and Whip of Erebos, he can give your creatures lifelink which spells out trouble for your opponents for each instance of your tokens swinging. Sanguine Bond on the other hand is an enchantment which is just harder to kill. That said, run both of them. You could go the Exquisite Blood combo route, but I don’t like a combo that easy, to be honest.
Honourary Mention: Cleric Tribal
Elas il-Kor is making it difficult to keep the partners in the command zone. Orah, Skyclave Hierophant was already vying for the position and now Elas is throwing her hat in the ring. Give her a go as cleric tribal. Rotlung Reanimator and Conspiracy / Maskwood Nexus with a sacrifice outlet, that’s game!