Artisan Saloon: Doc's Our Huckleberry

Nick Lambert1713538800

Howdy, Brewers, and welcome back to the Artisan Saloon! As of today, April 19th, Outlaws of Thunder Junction is live and released! And of course, a new set brings us a whole posse of new commanders to pardner up with. Using solely the main set, and none of the auxiliary pieces like The Big Score or the Commander Pre-cons, we have 43 potential commanders to lead this crew. Some of them, like Jolene, Plundering Pugilist or Gisa, the Hellraiser are going to be very straightforward to build around. Others, like Obeka, Splitter of Seconds, are going to be obscenely common to find lists for. Here at the Artisan Saloon, we enjoy quite a few classic westerns. Have you ever seen "Tombstone?" Well, in this deck, we're the Wyatt Earp, and our huckleberry is Doc Aurlock, Grizzled Genius. If you haven't seen the movie, and thus don't get the reference, you absolutely should. Not for the deck, just in general since it's a banger of a movie.


We've never tried to mix up a straight-on blue/green deck here in the Saloon, so maybe it's about time. Blue/green has a reputation for being a nasty, lily-livered color combination that does the same thing over and over. That being the case, it's a good thing we have an option besides the average "draw cards, make big friends" plan you see in these colors. We can root, toot, and shoot, turning our six-shooters into eight-shooters with Doc's mana reduction, and plot out the best timing for our shots alongside it. There are more than a few ways we can do all this, using built-in mechanics on some cards, and enabling mechanics on others. Old cards and new, good cards, bad cards, and ugly cards, we have a herd's worth of ways to sling these spells, so let's get going while the going's good.

Where in Tarnation?

Our first step of the cattle drive is going to focus on the Plot aspect of Doc. All of the cards we'll use here will be just as new as Doc himself, and will be a bit diverse. Jace Reawakened is our first piece of this puzzle, with his middle ability turning any and all of our spells into a Plotted one. In a similar vein Fblthp, Lost on the Range turns anything not a land on top of our library into a Plot. Beastbond Outcaster gives us some intentionally timed card draw, since we can hold off on casting it until we get an appropriate creature. A great example would be Outcast Trailblazer (quick note, does anyone else see how many outcasts are on Thunder Junction?), which also gives us a mana boost out of nowhere, and extra card draw. Outlaw Stitcher and Railway Brawler give us extra board strength, and Slickshot Lockpicker helps enable our future graveyard spells. (This card is a bigger challenge to say than we expected. Go ahead, say it now. We'll wait. See? Harder than you thought, isn't it?) Our last Plotted creature is Visage Bandit, letting us rustle up some powerful copy shenanigans.

Plot doesn't just exist on critters, much to our pleasure. We can Lock and Load, letting us draw as many cards as we can afford instants and sorceries, or we can Make Your Own Luck to plot a random non-plot spell. When we're ready to Plan the Heist, we'll be able to either filter our card draw or just draw the dang cards. Heck, we can build a wall of small nuisances with Rise of the Varmints, or a very large nuisance with Tumbleweed Rising. Even refilling our deck and hand is possible with Step Between Worlds.

Why in Tarnation?

The next piece of the journey will rely on the "cast from exile" portion of Doc's ability. Luckily for us, aside from Plot there are built-in mechanics that let us do this, like Foretell. This comes on creatures and non creatures, and we have plenty of options, so let's start off with Augury Raven, a great little flier. Battle Mammoth gets to be a surprise large lad, along with making our opponents have to question if targeting our permanents is worth giving us card advantage–in blue/green. Sage of the Beyond tacks on more discounts for our exiled cards, and The Foretold Soldier is a good way to force opponents to put creatures in front of a large body. Card draw does a lot of extra work with Behold the Multiverse and Surge of Brilliance. And let's not underestimate the impact of getting a cheap, one-sided board wipe with Spectral Deluge.

Another rootin' tootin' way to cast cards from exile is using spells with an Adventure stapled on. Beanstalk Giant//Fertile Footsteps is making waves in all sorts of EDH builds, and Beanstalk Wurm//Plant Beans (plant beans? I sure hope it does) gives us both ramp and a large body to block a flier. Elusive Otter//Grove's Bounty does a great job of making lots of our creatures bigger, and also does a decent Champion of Lambholt impression. Kellan, Inquisitive Prodigy//Tail the Suspect lets us remove some frustrating artifacts, with Rosethorn Acolyte///Seasonal Ritual and virtue of Strength//Garenbrig Growth working as solid ramp options. Perhaps the best or most impactful Adventure is Tlincalli Hunter//Retrieve Prey, letting us both get a creature of our choice back from our graveyard, and letting us free-cast creatures from exile.

Last up for this chunk, we have cards that simply let us exile cards to play later, whether for free or by paying the cost, since later we'll get to ways we benefit from casting exiled spells. Aerial Caravan is a bit costly to cast, but by the time it happens the low cost of its ability will offset it and we'll likely be able to cast whatever we exile easily. Alaundo the Seer functionally gives our cards suspend, and accelerates the casting of other cards we've suspended with it. Durnan of the Yawning Portal, Grolnok, the Omnivore, Savvy Trader, and Extraordinary Journey let us grab our permanents from all sorts of places to cast them from exile. Mayhaps the largest or most impactful version of this ability for us is Aminatou's Augury, letting us get a heck of a lot of value for a very reasonable eight mana.

Whomst in Tarnation?

Now that we've gotten the exile straight, we've gotta rustle up some good old graveyard vittles. When most folks think of spells being cast from the graveyard, you can bet your boots that they likely think of Flashback as one of their first three examples. Coincidentally, that's going to be our first choice for this section. There are two ways to use flashback in our favor; the first of which is just playing cards with flashback. All of the straight up Flashback cards we use are going to be non-creatures, so we'll start with a fun one: Echo of Eons. Much like an earlier selection, this lets us refill our hand and library. Croaking Counterpart and Cackling Counterpart each get us a cheap clone, and Winterthorn Blessing gives us some delay tactics. And last but not least, Creeping Renaissance is going to be huge in helping us get all of our creatures back after the inevitable board wipes.

The second way to use Flashback for us is by playing spells that grant it. Archamge's Newt and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned are both great examples of this, as is Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy despite not actually having the keyword on it. Of course, we have to remember the classic monster of dang near every format, Snapcaster Mage, since we're running a whole mess of instants and sorceries. And now that we've gotten the Flashback part out of the way we can move onto the cards that just let us cast them from the graveyard in general. Skaab Ruinator can be a huge boost to our board state, especially in the later stages of the game after everyone has played lots of removal. Marang River Prowler has a bit of conditional timing, but it's not too hard to overcome.

Our final pieces of graveyard casting are going to be very limited by themselves, but we'll be sure to pack in some useful ways to help it out. Abandoned Sarcophagus is a very unusual card, letting us get extra duty (haha, duty) out of our cycled cards. We likely won't get a ton of benefit from it, but it does give us access to spells like Barrier Breach, and Choking Tethers. Shoot, Avian Oddity basically gives us two fliers for one card. Then we get to play a bit of a unique mechanic, Retrace. By discarding a land in addition to the mana cost for the spell, we could get more token copies with Spitting Image, or some quick card draw with Oona's Grace.

When in Tarnation?

At last, we come near the end of our journey through the desert on a bear with one name. As we approach our final destination, we can currently rest in the oasis of cards that either benefit from us casting spells the way we plan to, or make it easier for us to do so. As there are more cards that benefit from graveyard casting available to us, we'll start with the exile ones to finish strong. One such spell can take extra advantage of the fact that we can cast our plotted cards for free and with no limit per turn: Mind's Desire. Giving us even more free spells, we stand only to gain from casting this, even in the unlikely event it's countered. We've already mentioned Surge of Brilliance, but it slides into the holster in this section quite nicely. And of course, for graveyard benefits, Secrets of the Dead is a very low-mana way to keep churning out our card advantage.

The astute reader may have noticed this, but for those of us with the low sun in our eyes, some of our spells are fairly pricey to cast on either end of the scale. To help offset this, aside from our furry commander, there are a few creatures we can rely on. We've talked about Sage of the Beyond, but we may want to take a gander at Patrician Geist. Sure, we're not terribly spirit heavy, but you need to reckon that the mana reduction is going to add up. This specific town is, surprisingly, big enough for some more repeat cards. Something like Extraordinary Journey or Tlincalli Hunter//Retrieve Prey absolutely belong in this town.

How in Tarnation?

Our final section as we pull up to the doors of the local inn and tie our mounts to the post outside will focus on some extra sources of pure goodness. Our first example is going to be one of the tougher ones to cast but one of the best ones to resolve: Mnemonic Deluge! Being able to cast certain spells thrice will make things remarkably interesting, especially if they're some of our bigger spells like Mind's Desire. Quiet Speculation lets us pick our favorite three Flashback spells for later use, and Rootcoil Creeper gets to be both ramp and give us back an exiled Flashback card of our choice. We can even use our rapidly filling graveyard to counter a big spell from our enemies with Countervailing Winds. Sword of Forge and Frontier is going to be huge against green or red decks, and we all know there's no shortage of those in the format.

That's it this edition, pardners. We'll be back soon with another new build, and until then, answer this: how would you build around this commander? What would you like to see built in the future? As always, the deck list is below, and until next time, happy trails!

Doc Aurlock


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