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. This week, a new card previewed for the upcoming The Lord of the Rings set coming out this summer – Tom Bombadil!
Disclaimer – I suspect with Jin-Gitaxias being spoiled, as well as Tom’s existence altogether, we’re going to be getting a whole lot more Sagas than we have now at the time of writing. So know that I’m going with the information I have at hand.
For WUBRG, Tom Bombadil is a five-colour 4/4 Legendary Creature – God Bard with a textbox that has a lot of Saga lovers salivating. Here comes the textbox:
“As long as there are four or more lore counters among Sagas you control, Tom Bombadil has hexproof and indestructible.
Whenever the final chapter ability of a Saga you control resolves, reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a Saga card. Put that onto the battlefield and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. This ability triggers only once each turn.”
Now you get why I’m talking about Sagas so much.
Here are things to remember:
- Tom will have Hexproof and Indestructible as long as you have four lore counters across your Sagas. If you have four Sagas, Tom will have Hexproof and Indestructible unless somehow there are none on it.
- Tom’s second ability triggers only once each turn and as the final chapter ability resolves. That means that if the final chapter ability triggers, even if you bounce the Saga to your hand, you will get Tom’s trigger.
- Sagas are weird. You only get the chapter ability from adding the corresponding lore counter. If you remove a counter, you don’t get that chapter’s ability (if I take a counter off and go from 2 to 1 I don’t get the 1’s ability).
- Sagas are weeeeird. Adding the counter happens in your draw step. The sacrifice of the Sagas is a state-based action, but if there’s an ability that goes on the stack, you can respond to it. If you have an instant speed way to respond to the final chapter and remove a counter, you get to keep the Saga around to retrigger the final chapter.
Let’s get into some cards.
Taking counters off of your Sagas to stagger them from going off on different turns to maximize Tom Bombadil’s second ability is going to be a pretty popular way to approach this.
Glissa Sunslayer upon combat damage can restart some Sagas all the way. Power Conduit taps and removes a counter from anything you have to put counters elsewhere at instant speed. Thrull Parasite removes counters for tap and two life, but lets you extort every time you cast a spell. Not bad for one mana. Chisei, Heart of Oceans asks you to remove a counter from a permanent you control at your upkeep, which is before your draw step, which means that you get to retrigger a Saga chapter you like every turn while also including a card with the funkiest art in the game. Vampire Hexmage targets a single permanent to remove all counters, resetting any Saga you control or being able to neuter a +1/+1 counter heavy creature. Thief of Blood does the same but all at once. Got a huge board of Sagas? Reset them all.
My favourite is Hex Parasite. For XpB, you can remove X counters on target permanent. There’s no tap symbol. It’s not gated that way. You can pay two life instead of a black mana. It can be done at instant speed. It can be used to mess with your opponents. Hex Parasite is going to be a fun one to see.
How do you trigger your Sagas abilities? Get counters on them. Get to the final chapter and Tom triggers. How so you do that?
Proliferate. We’ve talked about Proliferate a lot lately, so I’ll make this section quick. Here’s a bunch of cards to keep an eye on for this deck!
Inexorable Tide, Atraxa Praetor’s Voice, Brokers Confluence, Cankerbloom, Contagion Clasp, Contagion Engine, Experimental Augury, Whisper of the Dross, Flux Channeler, Karn’s Bastion, Staff of Compleation, Tezzeret’s Gambit, Throne of Geth, Viral Drake, Volt Charge, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.
Ichormoon Gauntlet technically does not proliferate but it can get another lore counter on a Saga you control when you cast a noncreature spell.
As of writing this, there are 85 Sagas in Magic and I assume this includes Jin-Gitaxias as well. That’s a lot. We can afford to not run all the Sagas in the game, in fact, we shouldn’t run all of them.
Elspeth Conquers Death is a fantastic removal spell, stax piece, and it can reanimate something useful for you as it ends.
Binding the Old Gods is a fantastic removal spell and ramp.
Looping any of Kiora Bests the Sea God’s abilities can be backbreaking. The Kami War turns into a beefy beater after disrupting the board and your opponents’ hands. The Phasing of Zhalfir is a board wipe that can protect whatever you need. When you’ve got your engine set up without needing lands anymore, you can loop Fall of the Thran to Armageddon every time.
Like a specific trigger? Weaver of Harmony can copy an enchantment’s trigger for cheap. The previous de facto Sagas commander Satsuki, the Living Lore is a must include in the deck. Being able to mass trigger Sagas from one activation and then getting value from her dying all for two mana is pretty amazing.
Let’s be real, Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin gave us the best Shrine commander and players have been playing it like an enchantress build with a Shrine sub theme. Go check out cards for GSoLO on EDHREC but to save you a look here are some good ones.
I really like Estrid’s Invocation for this deck specifically. You can use the upkeep to flicker Invocation and choose another Saga or if it’s about to get cashed in, save it.
That does it for another edition of A Seat at the Table! With more spoilers coming please keep coming back to The Bag of Loot for more Commander goodies. If you have a commander you’d like covered, message me @mikecarrozza on Twitter or Instagram!