Rant of Valakut: Peasants of the Henge (Part 1) Ben Iverach-Brereton March 16, 2020 Rants of Valakut Long-time readers know that I really enjoy building Commander decks that don’t have any rare or mythic rare cards in them. It’s a fun restriction, and it forces me to include cards in my collection that I wouldn’t use otherwise. Additionally, because I only allow myself to use cards that I already own, these decks only cost me a new set of sleeves and a deck box to build. Previously, I’ve built a blue-black deck and a green-white deck with these restrictions. The former has evolved over the years into an Archaeomancer/Ghostly Flicker deck, while the latter was built as a token deck. When Rona was put in charge of my blue-black list, it quickly became one of my favourite Commander decks to play, and it holds its own at most tables. Unfortunately, Shanna‘s army of tokens needs some work; I think it might need a complete overhaul in the not-too-distant future, but that’s a project for another day. This time around, I’ve built a mono-green list centered around Syr Faren, the Hengehammer. I decided to make the deck as aggressive as possible, while focusing primarily on Human Tribal synergies. I also wanted to stick to an overall aesthetic of rustic trappers and hunters. Between the forests of Innistrad and Eldraine, I had a general visual style in mind, though I gave myself a little bit of leeway; using a mono-coloured commander with a strict rarity restriction was going to make things hard enough without additional limitations. This aesthetic would be more of a guideline, but one I would certainly keep in mind. Peasants of the Henge Commander Commander1 x Syr Faren, the Hengehammer Creature1 x Acidic Slime1 x Bellowing Tanglewurm1 x Borderland Ranger1 x Briarbridge Patrol1 x Byway Courier1 x Citanul Woodreaders1 x Crossroads Consecrator1 x Destiny Spinner1 x Drover of the Mighty1 x Elvish Visionary1 x Eternal Witness1 x Flaxen Intruder // Welcome Home1 x Game-Trail Changeling1 x Geist Trappers1 x Gruul Beastmaster1 x Hamlet Captain1 x Hyrax Tower Scout1 x Intrepid Provisioner1 x Ivy Lane Denizen1 x Karametra’s Acolyte1 x Kraul Harpooner1 x Llanowar Tribe1 x Mwonvuli Beast Tracker1 x Nath’s Elite1 x Noble Quarry1 x Nylea’s Huntmaster1 x Oakhame Adversary1 x Obsessive Skinner1 x Pheres-Band Brawler1 x Prized Unicorn1 x Ranging Raptors1 x Reclamation Sage1 x Scaleguard Sentinels1 x Setessan Petitioner1 x Somberwald Alpha1 x Suspicious Bookcase1 x Temur Sabertooth1 x Timberland Guide1 x Untamed Kavu1 x Webweaver Changeling1 x Woodland Sleuth1 x Wurmskin Forger Artifact1 x Bladed Pinions1 x Butcher’s Cleaver1 x Heraldic Banner1 x Ring of Kalonia1 x Sharpened Pitchfork1 x Silver-Inlaid Dagger1 x Swiftfoot Boots Enchantment1 x Elemental Bond1 x Ulvenwald Mysteries Instant1 x Aspect of Hydra1 x Clear Shot1 x Once and Future1 x Return to Nature1 x Sylvan Might1 x Vines of Vastwood1 x Warriors’ Lesson Sorcery1 x Bramblecrush1 x Grow from the Ashes1 x Nissa’s Pilgrimage1 x Outmuscle Land1 x Blighted Woodland1 x Cave of Temptation1 x Cryptic Caves1 x Desert of the Indomitable1 x Emergence Zone25 x Forest (267)1 x Hashep Oasis1 x Haunted Fengraf1 x Memorial to Unity1 x Mishra’s Factory1 x Rogue’s Passage1 x Tranquil Thicket1 x Zhalfirin Void Buy This List Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton Humans I first got inspired to build a deck with Syr Faren when I realized that Gruul Beastmaster was a human. The idea of the Beastmaster, a Hamlet Captain, and Syr Faren all buffing each other really appealed, especially when combined with some of Innistrad’s human-centric equipment. Silver-Inlaid Dagger and Butcher’s Cleaver seemed like obvious inclusions, and looking at the other Human equipment, Sharpened Pitchfork stood out as a much-needed source of First Strike. The relatively cheap casting and equip costs of these artifacts fits the low-to-the-ground, aggressive style of deck I was envisioning, and they all paired nicely with my (Human) commander. With the Dagger alone, for instance, Syr Faren could give another attacking creature +5/+5; that’s not too bad for an attack that could happen as soon as turn three or four. Most Commander decks are still developing their board around that time, so getting in damage like that so early can really shift the pace of a game. What You Need I tried to break down the cards I was considering into categories, like removal, mana ramp and creature buffs. I wanted to use Humans wherever possible, but I knew I couldn’t realistically restrict myself to only them. Elves, Wolves and a smattering of other creature types would round out my deck and fill in some of the gaps. Removal Some go-to cards in green Commander decks include Reclamation Sage and Acidic Slime for artifact removal, and I conveniently had a spare copy of each. I also added Pheres-Band Brawler as a way to deal with smaller creatures, though I was debating whether or not I should include Somberwald Stag instead of the Centaur for that great Elk flavour. I decided to go with the creature with the extra point of toughness; Centaurs still fit with my general woodland aesthetic, even if they don’t appear on Eldraine or Innistrad. Whatever Forest these creatures are defending clearly has a wider variety of creatures than either of those planes. I needed a bit more interaction for the deck, so I looked at some noncreature options for removal. The main ones I landed on were Bramblecrush, Return to Nature, Outmuscle and Clear Shot. They would deal with an assortment of threats, and hopefully be both versatile and efficient enough. Return to Nature is especially nice, since it gives the deck a small way to deal with the graveyard. Bramblecrush in particular is a good catch-all for problematic noncreature permanents, equally able to deal with lands like Cabal Coffers and Maze of Ith, as well as the usual smattering of artifacts and enchantments that show up in every Commander game. Between Sol Rings, Grave Pacts, Smothering Tithes and the like, Bramblecrush has no shortage of targets, that’s for sure. That said, Bramblecrush is a bit slow, and it’s only a one-for-one removal spell. I usually don’t include it in my decks, but what really convinced me to try it out again was the realization that it could also hit planeswalkers. It sounds obvious to me now, but when I first started playing Commander years ago planeswalkers weren’t that common to see. The occasional Liliana of the Veil, or Jace, the Mind Sculptor would show up, but most players either didn’t have any or didn’t run them. I always saw Bramblecrush as just another Creeping Mold, and I would frequently cut it from decks for its inability to hit artifact creatures. These days you can safely assume that you’ll see at least one planeswalker in any given game, and they’re almost always a must-answer threat. Bramblecrush might not be the most efficient card, but it’s flexible and worth trying out again. I’m hoping that this deck makes up for its relatively small amount of interaction by making sure what’s there can handle a wider variety of problems. Ideally, this deck also threatens lethal damage quickly enough that most decks won’t have time to set their grand plans in motion; reducing a player’s life total to zero is a very powerful form of removal, after all. Buff In addition to the Innistrad equipment package, I wanted some other ways to make Syr Faren bigger. I started by adding a few green Humans that could fill that role, like Timberland Guide, Obsessive Skinner and Intrepid Provisioner, but they weren’t going to be enough for what I had in mind. I looked at a variety of old Infect lists for inspiration, given that I was aiming for a similar “one big attack” play pattern with this deck. I seriously considered cards like Scale Up and Become Immense, but ultimately ran out of room in the deck for more than a couple of combat tricks; one-shot cards like these need to be high-impact, and having too many of them in a Commander deck can be unsustainable. Vines of Vastwood was an obvious inclusion, since it doubles as a way to protect a creature, while Aspect of Hydra can set up some truly ridiculous attacks. Finally, Sylvan Might is a relatively tame inclusion, but gives me two opportunities to trample through chump blockers. Sylvan Might might actually be one of the most important cards in the deck; as impressive as an attack for twenty is, a single token can easily ruin everything if the attacking creature doesn’t have Trample or another form of evasion. I was able to round out my suite of one-shot power buffs with a smattering of other creatures with enter-the-battlefield triggers. Nylea’s Huntmaster does a reasonable impression of Aspect of Hydra, and Wurmskin Forger can either spread +1/+1 counters to a handful of creatures or (more likely) dump all of them on Syr Faren. It was a late addition, but Ivy Lane Denizen eventually found its way into the deck as well. It occurs to me that the Denizen might be one of the best common green creatures I’ve played; it enables several combos, and even when it’s being used in a ‘fair’ deck, it provides a powerful ongoing bonus. The number of +1/+1 counters it tosses out is actually staggering, even in decks that don’t produce a lot of tokens. What’s more, unlike the new Demigod Renata, Called to the Hunt, you can stack all of Ivy Lane Denizen‘s counters on a single creature if you want. Finally, it’s worth mentioning Cave of Temptation and Hashep Oasis. Lands with relevant activated abilities are worth including in any Commander deck; you need lands to play your spells, but if your lands can also be used as spells it makes it more likely that you’ll draw useful cards during the game. Basic Forests are great, but when you’re looking for something to do with your mana it’s a lot nicer to draw a Cave of Temptation instead. Evasion Having massive attackers is all well and good, but it doesn’t make a lick of difference if you can never force through any damage. Trample is of course one of the go-to mechanics that green has to defeat an army of tiny blockers, and in addition to Sylvan Might, I made sure to include cards like Ring of Kalonia to help with that. Still, the deck needed other ways to get around blockers, especially pesky ones with Deathtouch. Rogue’s Passage fits the bill perfectly. Pretty much any Commander deck that’s looking to force through combat damage from a single creature runs this land, and for good reason. Making any creature unblockable is powerful, especially when it fits into a land slot in your deck. Like Cave of Temptation and Hashep Oasis, including Rogue’s Passage in a deck is effectively free space-wise, and as a mono-colour deck the fact that this land produces colourless mana is fairly low-impact. I’ll admit that this deck does have a lot of double-green costs on its cards, so the Passage isn’t without its drawbacks; still, the occasional inconvenience of colourless mana is worth it for its activated ability. Similarly, Suspicious Bookcase is a good backup copy of Rogue’s Passage. The flavour of this Wall is maybe a little off for a band of hunters and trappers, but given the card’s utility I’m willing to stretch the deck’s aesthetic a little. Besides, I don’t see too many decks running Suspicious Bookcase, so it has a certain unique flair to it. Whispersilk Cloak is the traditional go-to card for an unblockable Commander, and while that piece of equipment would fit in nicely, I didn’t have a spare copy for this deck. I almost used Hot Soup, but I think I like the Bookcase more; it’s less efficient, but it isn’t as risky to use as the Soup. Plus, the Wall can double as a blocker against small creatures if I need. While not the last source of evasion in the deck, I wanted to highlight Bellowing Tanglewurm in particular. Despite its modest size, this Wurm puts in a lot of work, and yet this old Scars of Mirrodin creature doesn’t see much play. The utility of Intimidate certainly varies depending on what other decks are at the table, and this is at its best in a mono-green list, but unless you’re up against nothing but artifact creatures or green creatures, this Wurm makes blocking your creatures very difficult. The Tanglewurm doesn’t end the game in as abrupt a fashion as a Craterhoof Behemoth, but you also don’t have to jump through nearly as many hoops to get it into play. Five mana is pretty easy to hit, and the boost you get with it in play shouldn’t be ignored. In decks that want to force through as much damage as they can as quickly as they can, Bellowing Tanglewurm opens up attacks later in the game, when opponents are more likely to have blockers available. A list like mine can struggle to force through those last few points of damage, but the Wurm does a lot to address that shortcoming. If I had a Hammer That’s it for now, but there’s still plenty more to talk about with Syr Faren and The Peasants of the Henge. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please leave a comment. I also hope you’ll join me next time, as I delve into Unicorns, Dinosaurs, and a whole lot of mana! Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName Email Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.