A vote is a powerful thing. It doesn’t matter the number of people voting. What matters is representation. The idea that your voice in concert with your fellow citizens creates change shape the modern world. By your vote or by a representative, history shows the idea of having representation and choice is powerful enough to last through countless iterations and multiple millennia. Our topic for this EDH political science article are the philosophies behind a republic.
This is the second in our series on color pie ideologies. Last time we covered anarchy, but I don’t think we covered this series’ mission well enough. To clarify, I want to cover basic political ideologies (such as the previous article’s coverage of the broad topic of anarchy), and pair it with the most basic of magic ideologies, the color pie philosophies. Just as I think the best mono-color fit for anarchy is red, the best mono-color for a republic is white. You may be wondering, “Hey Dick (that’s fair, it is my name), why discuss the idea of a republic and not democracy? Idiot (not my name).” I see why you say hurtful things like that reader, but the idea of a republic has more ideas easily represented in Magic: the Gathering while also having less connotations to the western world specifically. Let’s dive into why republics have such staying power through history and how the ideas it gets right can influence how you play a game of Commander. Let’s build a deck.
A key aspect to any republic is representation, because the government is there to create a system that benefits the people that it governs. Having a leader that represents your needs creates a powerful movement you can back. The same aspect can prove powerful in Magic. The exalted mechanic was made for this. Your masses of Akrasan Squire and Guardians of Akrasa can back your commander with their power and still hold back to defend. Cards like Sublime Archangel make even your simple human tokens have a voice in battle without getting their hands dirty. The representative takes the brunt of the backlash. When the pressure gets to be too much for your representative, kick them out. Politicians don’t have feelings, and they might not have feeling anywhere for long. Let them have it.
Planeswalkers can also be great representatives. They are constant sources of benefits for your creatures and are a powerful ally for the masses to defend. They can create jobs by making new soldiers like Elspeth, Sun’s Champion or bolster everyone like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Powerful repeatable effects like these are not the only reason why these representatives can save you. They are targets away from what really matters, you.
The second key aspect to a republic is flexibility. The act of voting gives crucial flexibility to the system. In a government you can Repeal a law, or enact sweeping change that pushes its sphere of influence into a new direction. Here we accomplish the same goal. Having choices of what to do with Austere Command in tight situations wins games. You don’t want to wipe out your tokens with it, but you could sure get those giants like Grave Titan off the field. Making each republic unique to its time and place in history is what keeps the ideology going through so many iterations.
Flexibility is about more than modal spells and voting, it’s about having the power to finish the job. The same reason a republic needs to take action without a head of state or other important figure calling for a vote every second, a deck needs the ability to push through the last few points. Your deck needs reach. In our form that comes with big creatures and evasion. We make some big creatures with exalted triggers, but creatures like Eidolon of Countless Battles can be an overwhelming force in a deck with tons of tokens. Then putting a Whispersilk Cloak on the same target finishes things off surely. Seraph of the Masses is a similar effect but on a single card.
Our flexibility in reach and spell choice creates natural checks and balances in game. We have more than one way to finish off an opponent and that means we can keep more than one of the other players in check. Going full Voltron gives up flexibility. When you go in for the kill with one suited up creature it leaves you open on other fronts. Here, with our republic strategy, you can finish off two people at once or easily defend on multiple fronts.
The hardest part of any republic is figuring out who should or does get elected. Over time there have been many processes for election, some better than others but all ultimately flawed. Finding that one representative that suits your needs may be the reason why your neighbor wants to shove a sword through his stomach. No single representative can suit everyone. Some great representatives for this deck are Kytheon, Hero of Akros as a hero of the people with true choice and resiliency even in a small package, Jazal Goldmane is a powerful martyr for any plebe on the front line, or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is a Praetor and strong woman for choice in the race. Praetors are my choice of politician as I have mentioned in a previous article. She creates such a divide between you and the rest of the board that it doesn’t matter how versatile other choices would be. With the power of the masses I’m not sure who would be better than a demagogue like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite.
Because we have picked our favorite politician we should look at a deck list that fits her. I have used the “View average deck” link under Elesh Norn’s tab in the mono-white commanders page. This creates a list that is good but needs a few adjustments to work into our strategy ideas.
The final product has been slimmed of a few staples that don’t fit our synergies. I also took out some of the bulk “anthem” effects like Intangible Virtue. I tried to slim everything down to mostly the strategies we talked about with just a few staples. The one thing I think it would need more of after some play testing is card draw. I’m not sure exactly what to fit in there, but the deck does need a few tweaks before it can really roll into the big political powerhouse it’s meant to be.