Cards like Relentless Rats, Persistent Petitioners and Shadowborn Apostle break normal deck-building restrictions by allowing any number of them to be in a deck. Seven Dwarves works in a similar way, but instead of infinite copies you can have up to seven of them in any deck. The Dwarves get bigger for each copy you control, but that obviously caps out once you have all seven of them in play.

But what if there was a way to get even more than seven Seven Dwarves onto the battlefield?

Seven Reflections


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

It All Statrted with a Tweet

Several months ago I did some brainstorming on Twitter, inspired by one simple idea:

Kicking a Rite of Replication is always absurd, there’s no doubt about it. Even if it doesn’t win the game on the spot, getting five copies of the best creature on the battlefield will certainly put you in a strong position. If each copy you control makes every other copy stronger, then it’s sure to be an impressive play. Targeting Seven Dwarves with Rite of Replication is no exception, either: you’ll end up with an extra 45 extra power on the battlefield!

(With the original Dwarf in play, Rite of Replication gives you five new 7/7s and +5/+5 to the one already in play. If you already have a second copy of Seven Dwarves in play it gets even better.)

Sure, there are more impressive things you could be doing in Commander, but an army of giant Dwarves is still nothing to sneeze at.

Copying the Copies

This little combo got me thinking: could I build a whole Commander deck around Seven Dwarves? What would that look like? These days there’s no shortage of Clones to choose from, and each one could be a Dwarf so… maybe this could work.

Obviously the deck would need to be red/blue to accommodate both the Dwarves and the clones, but the big question I had was which legendary creature to use as the commander. I initially thought of using Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer to turn all of my tokens into Seven Dwarves, but I realized that making token copies of my creatures might be harder than I thought. So many clone effects are creature spells, not instants or sorceries, and Brudiclad‘s effect felt a bit too narrow for what I was trying to do. Plus, I liked the idea of adding green cards to the deck to get access to cards like Progenitor Mimic, Spitting Image and Altered Ego.

Blue, red and green put me squarely in Temur territory. I hadn’t built a Commander deck in those colours before, so this deck would kill two birds with one stone. That said, I wasn’t very familiar with Temur legendary creatures. What were the odds I could find one that would work well for my pile of clones and Dwarves?

Apparently the odds were pretty good.

It took me next to no time to think back to an old classic from the very first Commander set: Riku of Two Reflections. Not only was he a perfect fit for the deck mechanically, but he was very much on theme. I was excited by the fact that this deck would make use of both of his triggered abilities: I could make copies of the nontoken clones entering the battlefield, or double up on any of my copy spells. The only snag was his mana cost; I generally prefer to use commanders that cost less, and Riku doesn’t exactly have a durable body for five mana. Still, his abilities were such a good fit that I still have trouble imagining any other legendary creature that could lead this deck as well as Riku.

A Solid Shell

It was a long time after my brainstorming session before I got around to actually building the deck. Life happens like that sometimes. Thankfully, when I finally sat down to put it together it took barely any time at all. I collected a pile of clone effects, seven copies of Seven Dwarves, and some lands and already had most of the deck ready. I made sure to leave room for some mana ramp and a few utility spells, which didn’t take long to find. There was just one nagging flaw: only seven percent of the deck were creatures I could always cast… the rest were just clones! What would I do if I didn’t draw any Dwarves?

The deck was in serious need of more creatures worth cloning if it was going to work. I could always just copy my opponents’ creatures in a pinch, but that meant spells that could only copy my creatures, like Quasiduplicate, would be hard to justify in the list. If I packed my own bodies to clone it would make everything much more consistent, and if these creatures provided some immediate value, like drawing a card or improving my mana, it would be even better. Ideally I could find creatures like Seven Dwarves that would provide increasing value the more copies of them I had. Allies and Slivers came to mind for this, but I wanted to try going in a different direction first. After a little digging I came up with a handful of promising options:

Shaman of the Great Hunt was a creature I’d been wanting to include in a deck for a while, but its Temur colour identity always proved problematic. Not only was this the first Commander deck I’d built that could include it, but it was exactly the sort of creature that would be good to clone. Having multiple copies of the Shaman would mean my attacking creatures would get bigger faster, and each additional 4/2 body would mean drawing an extra card with its activated ability. Similarly, additional copies of Garruk’s Packleader would trigger each other, generating more card advantage. These two creatures would also work well with Seven Dwarves, provided I could get at least a couple of copies of them onto the battlefield.

If most of my creatures provided card draw, I would be able to find my Dwarves and powerful clone effects more often. With that in mind, I dedicated several of the open slots in the deck to cantrip creatures that would replace themselves when they entered play, like Tower Geist, Coiling Oracle and Llanowar Visionary. The Oracle and Visionary would also provide some more cheap mana ramp, which would naturally help with my commander‘s high mana cost. As for the Tower Geist… I’ll admit that I’ve had a soft spot for this Spirit ever since I was able to string three of them together during a Magic Origins Draft. Drawing them off of one another felt great, and I’ve wanted to do something like that again ever since. The fact that it has flying is also very relevant, since it helps to shore up one of this deck’s weaknesses.

These cantrip creatures were fine, but what really pushed this deck into overdrive was the Standard all-star Risen Reef. Anyone who saw it in action before it rotated out knows that it doesn’t take more than a couple of copies of this Elemental to generate ridiculous amounts of card advantage and mana ramp; each copy triggers every other one, and before you know it you have a full hand of cards and an extra pile of lands in play. Unlike Garruk’s Packleader, the Risen Reef also triggers itself, so even if you fail to get the ball rolling you aren’t down a card.

Risen Reef also makes other Elementals like Mulldrifter and Cloudkin Seer better. I was already planning on including those creatures as more flying card advantage, so this interaction was just gravy. I probably could have leaned into the Elemental theme a bit more by including an Omnath or two, but that felt like overkill. Besides, having a bunch of tribal synergies like that would just end up distracting from the deck’s theme.

The Payoffs

I might not have wanted to double-down on Elementals, but the deck still needed something… bigger. Rite of Replication was only one card, after all. No matter how powerful it was the deck couldn’t rely on drawing it every game. Plus, a single removal spell in response to the Rite would ruin everything. I started looking for other proactive ways to end the game, or at least a way to deal with my opponents’ threats. Ideally, I could find something that would do both, while still fitting in with what I’d already included in the deck. Other than Rite of Replication, could I find a way to go completely over the top of my opponents? I wasn’t looking for an infinite combo, but still wanted a play that would be undeniably BIG.

Enter Zada, Hedron Grinder and her good friend, Mirrorwing Dragon. I already had Riku of Two Reflections on hand as a way to copy my instant and sorcery spells, but Zada and Mirrorwing would allow me to push that into overdrive. Quasiduplicate would become a Clone Legion, and if I could ever copy a kicked Rite of Replication with Zada it would be incredible. Even if I never lived the dream with a kicked Rite, any of my other clone spells would give me a ridiculous number of creatures. I could already imagine the massive army of Seven Dwarves I could make!

Doubling my creatures sounded great, but it would leave me vulnerable to a wrath unless I could do something with them right away. Warstorm Surge felt like an obvious inclusion for the deck for precisely this sort of play; not only could it end the game quickly, but it could also be used to control the battlefield for those times when I couldn’t finish everyone off with a massive Zada play.

Terror of the Peaks would provide some redundancy as a backup Warstorm Surge, though I was hesitant to include it because of how irritating I found it to be in Standard. Still, the card was too perfect to leave out; cloning the Dragon even once would put me in a great position offensively, and if I could ever copy it with Rite of Replication it would throw out a whopping 125 damage!

(Each token sees four others creatures enter play, so they each deal 20 damage. The Terror that’s already on the battlefield sees all five enter, so it deals an additional 25 damage.)

Obviously that’s a best-case scenario, but even if I was stuck with a single copy of Terror of the Peaks I’d feel pretty good about it; the card is very strong on its own.

Too Cute

I’m pleased with how the deck turned out, but sadly not everything I wanted made it in. Narrow effects like Doubling Chant, Spy Kit and Pattern Matcher would have been a lot of fun with Seven Dwarves, but realistically they would be useless most of the time. If this was a Persistent Petitioners or Relentless Rats deck I could probably justify their inclusion, but seven Seven Dwarves just aren’t numerous enough to make these cards viable. It’s unfortunate, but I think the deck is better without them in it.

Funnily enough, looking at how the deck turned out, the Seven Dwarves are probably the weakest creatures in it. Including them was the whole reason for making the deck in the first place, though, so I’d be hard-pressed to cut them!

Maybe Later

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that I shouldn’t get too attached to the first version of a deck. Inevitably I find cards that aren’t working, or I realize that I should have included some crucial piece of interaction and need to make room for it. In this case, I’ll probably want to swap out a clone or two for a Phyrexian Metamorph or Sakashima of a Thousand Faces, and I’ll probably want to make room for more removal; Tuktuk Scrapper, Flametongue Kavu and Acidic Slime come to mind.

There’s enough redundancy among my cantrip creatures that I can probably cut one or two without missing out too much, but I think I’ll wait to make any decisions until after I have a chance to use the deck against my friends in person… whenever it’s safe to do that again. I look forward to copying my opponents’ creatures in those first few games in order to fill in the gaps in my deck; hopefully they’ll have the tools that I need!

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