Hello and welcome to A Seat at the Table, the column where I pick a commander and talk about what I’d include in the 99. With The Lord of the Rings set coming in a month and preview season approaching quickly, I wanted to take on one of the legends we’ve seen so far: Sauron, the Lidless Eye.

“But Mike,” you say, puzzled. “Why are you so interested in Sauron, the Lidless Eye? Aren’t there already ways in Rakdos to Act of Treason your opponents’ creatures?”

To which I say, “Don’t get ahead of me! It’s time for a textbox!”

For 3RB, Sauron, the Lidless Eye is a 4/4 Legendary Creature – Avatar Horror who just wants to reach out and touch faith. Let’s see that textbox:

“When Sauron, the Lidless Eye enters the battlefield, gain control of target creature an opponent controls until end of turn. Untap it. It gains haste until end of turn.  

1BR: Creatures you control get +2/+0 until end of turn. Each opponent loses 2 life.”  

So why is this so special? There are only 17 legends eligible for the command zone that have the ability to gain control of your opponents’ creatures and permanents. One of them even takes control of the opponent themselves (Emrakul, the Promised End). However, of the 17, only one is Rakdos (Olivia Voldaren) and most of them don’t trigger on entering the battlefield, are very narrow, have multiple hoops to jump through, etc. The only one that comes close is Dragonlord Silumgar. So this is pretty new for these colours! Sure, there are cards like Zealous Conscripts out there, but they can’t be in the command zone and built around in these colours!

Another thing to note is that Sauron’s activated ability can be used offensively, defensively, and straight up passively. Let’s go over some things first:

  1. Sauron, like with many Act of Treason or Threaten effects, only gains you control of a creature until the end of your turn. Even if you Sundial of the Infinite, it’s not some sort of delayed trigger you can respond to, so you can keep the stolen creature.
  2. Sauron’s ETB ability doesn’t have a sorcery speed rider on it like Captivating Crew does for example. If you have a way to blink or reanimate Sauron, you can get a surprise blocker or steal a dork or negate an attack altogether.
  3. The three mana activated ability really allows you to be flexible. With enough mana, any creature you have can probably trade for an attacker. On the attack, an extra pump means you’re either forcing blocks or getting in extra damage. All the while, the ability remains an infinite mana outlet and a game winner. Knocking two life off of each opponent every  activation is more than you think. Make sure you pack a bunch of mana and a Heartstone.

Let’s pick some cards!

  1. Reanimation and Sacrifice Outlets

I will be brief and name my favourite sacrifice outlets in the game: Phyrexian Altar, Ashnod’s Altar, and Altar of Dementia. Woe Strider and Viscera Seer are also great. Goblin Bombardment is solid, and shout out to Lyzolda, the Blood Witch if you’re looking to sacrifice your commander a bunch.

There are a bunch of ways to get your commander back into play from the graveyard like Phyrexian Delver, Animate Dead, Victimize, Ayara, Furnace Queen (back side of Ayara, Widow of the Realm), Body Launderer, Vat of Rebirth, and of course, the classic Reanimate. Feldon of the Third Path does a pseudo-reanimate job here too.

I also want to shout out cards like Malakir Rebirth, Feign Death, Supernatural Stamina, Kaya’s Ghostform, Ashnod’s Intervention, Undying Malice, Demonic Gifts, Fake Your Own Death, and Return to Action.

And if you want to go harder, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Lifeline are pretty gross in this shell.

  1. Radiant Performer / Radiate

Radiant Performer is an instant copy spell that they put on a creature. Radiate is fine in this deck, but you can’t Phyrexian Reclamation an instant. You can however Volrath’s Stronghold a creature, so Radiant Performer is preferred in this deck. You must cast the creature from your hand, and when it enters the battlefield, you get to copy a spell or ability for every eligible target.

Is Sauron being targeted by Path to Exile? Play Radiant Performer for a board wide wipe and ramp unexpectedly. But more importantly, you can copy abilities. Sauron’s ability targets a creature your opponents control and Radiant Performer turns that into an Insurrection. Live the dream with a Zealous Conscripts though since that card just says target permanent, meaning that you’ll untap everything you’ve got and take the entire board. The whole thing.

  1. Mine!

Conjurer’s Closet allows you to have get another trigger from Sauron or if you’ve still got an opponent’s creature, it allows you to keep it. That’s right. Conjurer’s Closet says under YOUR control. That means if you use Sauron to take an opponent’s Consecrated Sphinx and then blink it with the Closet, you get that Sphinx for good until it’s removed or blinked. It’s a great way to trigger your Terror of the Peaks more than you normally would. Pair it with Panharmonicon for double triggers!

Nightmare Shepherd similarly to Conjurer’s Closet allows you to keep your opponents’ creature… in a way. When a nontoken creature you control dies, you get to decide whether to exile it or not and if you do, you get a 1/1 version of it! That’s pretty sick. You can sacrifice an opponent’s creature to Carrion Feeder and get a lil guy version that can still be a great ETB. It’s also still useful for your own creatures. If you’ve got a Gray Merchant of Asphodel out and one more trigger will kill the table? Time to sacrifice it and let the Shepherd guide it home… back to the battlefield!

  1. Copy Your Commander: Twinflame / Heat Shimmer / Cursed Mirror / Mirage Phalanx / Jaxis, the Troublemaker / Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink / Delina, Wild Mage / Rionya, Fire Dancer / Mirror March / Helm of the Host / Blade of Selves / Splinter Twin / Flameshadow Conjuring / Molten Echoes / Saw in Half

What’s another great way to trigger your commander? Copy it. I know you’re expecting to see Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker here, but he doesn’t copy legends!

Red loves to copy creatures. It’s crazy how many amazing effects there are. Twinflame and Heat Shimmer are the OG sorceries for this type of thing. Jaxis, the Troublemaker, Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink, Rionya, Fire Dancer, and Delina, Wild Mage are all a solid run of creatures that create copies in different ways that are all worthy of inclusion in the deck. Soulbond Sauron with Mirage Phalanx or give him a +1/+1 and let Mirror-Style Master help. Cursed Mirror can be your commander, but why not just copy your opponent’s creature?

Flameshadow Conjuring, Molten Echoes, and Mirror March love a nontoken creature entering the battlefield. Make copies of Sauron easily with these enchantments with a little mana or luck. Helm of the Host, Blade of Selves, and Splinter Twin say hello to the Mirror-Style Master.

What about black though? Saw in Half kind of counts right? Make mini versions of your commander and sacrifice one? Alright, why not? Question mark?

  1. Threaten

And now, a list of good Threaten effects I recommend if you want to go whole hog on gaining control of your opponents’ stuff: Seize the Spotlight, Mob Rule, Captivating Crew, Zealous Conscripts, Mass Mutiny, Coercive Recruiter (a fantastic copy target, by the way), Molten Primordial, Word of Seizing, Angrath, the Flame-Chained.

That does it for another A Seat at the Table! With the new LOTR set coming out, keep your eyes peeled for previews coming soon!

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