Archetune-Up – Creating Your Own Theme!

(Cat Dragon Token l Art by Cynthia Sheppard)

A Masterwork of Your Own Design

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

This week’s article was… a conundrum.

Originally, I tried playing around with a Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge Eldrazi/Processor list, but quickly lost interest. It wasn’t coming together the way I wanted it to, and the last thing I want to do is present a half-baked deck to you all. Still, I wanted to try and do a tribal deck this week, so I perused the Tribal Theme for ideas, and I became enamored with Wasitora, Nekoru Queen. I had built a Wasitora deck before, and I was curious as to what interesting pieces her theme pages could provide us. There was an issue, though: she only helmed 176 decks at the time of writing this, meaning…

…Wasitora’s page only provided me with two different themes due to the low number of decks she had: Cat tribal, and Dragon tribal. 😬

I know I said I wanted to do a tribal deck this week, but seeing the lack of themes for Wasitora, and having built a deck with her quite some time ago that wasn’t exactly either Cat or Dragon tribal, I really wanted to attack this article from a different angle. But how can we do that when we’re given only two theme options for Wasitora?

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For this list, we’re going to be using Wasitora’s average Cat deck as a base that we can use to tear down and build back up, because this week we’ll be making our own theme with the tools available to us. We’re going to be combining the Cat and Dragon theme along with some Voltron and token-making elements to create and centralize our deck around our own motif: Wasitora’s Cat Dragon token tribal!


Call Me Kai Chisaki, Cuz I’m Giving this Deck an Overhaul

To create our own theme specifically for this deck, I first stripped this deck down to its bare bones and took out a whopping 42 cards, the most cards ever swapped out for a deck on Archetune-Up. 30 of the original 34 Cats in the deck were put up for adoption, and I quickly culled other cards that no longer proved useful; things like Icon of Ancestry and Kindred Summons. This left a huge amount of room for us to add in whatever kind of cards we wanted to build around our Cat/Dragon/token Theme.

We already have a few Cat synergies originally in the deck that we definitely want to keep, things like Qasali Slingers and Keeper of Fables. We aren’t just going to be taking from the Cat theme, though, and for this to work, we need to cater to Wasitora’s ability to create Cat Dragon tokens to get the ball rolling. If our goal is to stitch together an amalgam of themes to serve our deck to create our own personalized theme, we need a clear roadmap.

  • First, we need Dragon synergies. Frankly, in Jund colors, Dragons are more powerful and more plentiful than Cats. This means that we want to play to our Cat Dragon’s second creature type and build in as much synergy as we can with it.
  • Second, we need to keep our opponents’ creatures in line. We cannot have opposing board states getting out of control, because if we do, Wasitoria’s ability will never be able to create any children.
  • Last, we need to keep in mind that haste and double strike are great keywords for our deck. Haste will always allow Wasitora to come out swinging, while double strike will allow her to either eat two opposing creatures, make two babies, or a combination of each if she connects with an opponent.

Now that we have a clear path in front of us, we can start the search. We can easily find all of the things we need by juggling between Wasitora’s Cat and Dragon pages to come up with exactly the deck we are searching for.


This Won’t Drag-on, I Promise

Due to the sheer number of cards that were cut and swapped out, I can’t go through all of them unless I want to turn this into a multi-article deck spotlight. As such, I’ll just be touching on the most important cards added. For example, each page provided a healthy amount of ramp and card draw, and unless they’re hyper-synergistic with our gameplan, I won’t be mentioning them in this article.

Without wasting any more time, let’s see what treasures Wasitora’s Dragons page had in store for us!

Dragon’s Hoard, Sarkhan, Fireblood, Crucible of Fire, and Boneyard Scourge are cards I added for pure Dragon synergy. These cards are a great mix of what the deck want: ramp, card draw, a powerful anthem, and a recurring body that will always be available whenever any of our spawn meet their (untimely) demise. Sarkhan the Masterless is another fantastic card here that provides both offense and defense, deterring attackers while also producing 4/4 Dragons as he pleases.

When it comes to keeping the board clear and keeping creatures under control, this page provides in spades. Assassin’s Trophy, Casualties of War, Crux of Fate, Frontier Siege, Kindred Dominance, and Spit Flame are merely a few of the removal spells that this theme offered. Unconditional targeted removal, one-sided board wipes, and consistent ways to pick off smaller creatures is exactly what Wasitora needs to ensure that we’re able to produce lots and lots of Dragon Kittens. Consistent pieces of removal like Frontier Siege and Spit Flame are all-stars in our deck since they’ll trigger each time we make a token with Wasitora, chaining into one another, allowing us to control the board a bit more heavy-handedly than most decks.

For our last inclusions from this page, we have cards that will provide us with the aggressive keywords we so desperately need: haste and double strike. Here is where we employ some truly powerful cards. Atarka, World Render, Dragon Tempest, Fireshrieker, Swiftfoot Boots, and Xenagos, God of Revels are the permanents I added to help round us out in this regard. All of these cards are exactly what we’re looking for, and each provides integral effects for Wasitora and her offspring. Atarka and Tempest take advantage of how wide we’re able to go, while the last three reward us for protecting and focusing on the Nekoru Queen, herself. Doing so lets us take advantage of cards on both the go-wide and go-tall spectrums, making it harder for our opponents to completely disrupt our plans since we’re attacking on two different axes.


Playing with our Food

Next, we move on to Wasitora’s Cat page. The base deck that we started with was Wasitora’s Cat tribal list, so there were already some interesting pieces in the deck that we were lucky enough to start off with, things like Shadowspear, and Temur Sabertooth. That being said, we still ended up with 17 cards from this theme, which rounded out our deck quite nicely.

Unsurprisingly, there weren’t any Dragon synergies on the Cats page, so I decided that now would be a good time to round out our draw package. The Dragon’s page had some card advantage, but the cards in the Cat’s theme really helped bulk up this portion of our deck. Painful Truths, Read the Bones, Phyrexian Arena; all of these help us smooth out our deck and are essential to making sure that we see the pieces we need since this deck has so many moving parts.

This theme provides a strong showing in terms of removal as well. Bedevil, In Garruk’s Wake, and Vona’s Hunger are all great removal spells that each clean up issues in their own way. Bedevil is a strong piece of pinpoint removal that can deal with hard-to-kill permanent types, while Vona’s Hunger and In Garruk’s Wake conversely ravage our opponents’ creature base, making it easy start making a litter of lovely Draconic Kittens.

Last, we move on to the aggression department, and once again, the Cat theme provides! Blood Mist, Breath of Fury, Grappling Hook, Lightning Greaves, Overwhelming Stampede, and Savage Beating are all great fits for us. We’ve gone over how important double strike is to Wasitora, and here we add three more pieces, along with the option of extra combat steps! The Greaves function like Swiftfoot Boots, providing both offense and defense, while Overwhelming Stampede was included to help close out games once we have enough Kittens to overwhelm our opponents.

Speaking of finishing games, on the proper board state, Breath of Fury is a potential combo option. If the skies are clear and we have a haste enabler, we can continue to attack with Wasitora and another creature, create a Kitten, sacrifice the original creature enchanted with Breath of Fury, then attach it to the newly created Kitten. This allows us to keep attacking until we need to stop or until the game is over. Even if it’s just used to get an extra combat or two, this card is well worth its inclusion.


A Lesson in Deck Diversity

While EDHREC provided 36 of the 42 cards we included, there are still six that I added on my own to help tie the deck together. For this, I used a mix of my own knowledge alongside Scryfall to find these last few inclusions.

These cards follow lines similar to our roadmap we laid out at the beginning of the article. Arcane Signet fixes us and helps us ramp, Golgari Charm and Rakdos Charm provide different means of protection for our board, or removal for things on our opponents’, respectively. Plague Wind is a second In Garruk’s Wake, while Runes of the Deus, and Embercleave provide us with access to double strike while also providing an incredibly quick clock to try and kill our opponents through commander damage when attached to Wasitora.

Ending up with this list isn’t wasn’t what I expected when I first started looking for a deck for this article, but I’m happy that I got here. Using the data on EDHREC to help construct a deck outside the norm shows how invaluable the site is. Yes, in the end, we simply combined two themes, but we also added cards from them that would never be mixed or added together normally.

On Twitter, the conversation of whether or not sites that aggregate data, like EDHREC, are helping or harming the format has been rearing its head recently. I’m sure you can figure out which side of that argument I fall on, seeing as where my articles are published.

EDHREC is a tool, and tools are only as good or detrimental to something as the person wielding them. Of course, observing and recording things will have the unintentional consequence of changing them, but EDHREC and sites like it show us things that are already in practice. They record diversity, not stifle it. If a consequence of that is making decklists more efficient, that speaks to the goals of the creators who create them, not the site, itself. Accessibility to information is incredibly important for the growth of anything, especially a game like Magic. 

If one’s complaint is that there aren’t any interesting strategies or no fun brews to be had on the site, I’m going to attribute that to user error. You can use EDHREC, especially the theme pages, to creating interesting decks and use the numbers on the site to your advantage as opposed to seeing them as a potential enemy or threat. Whatever this website isn’t able to provide, your personal knowledge or search engines like Scryfall can help supplement and help fill in the gaps. You can only help yourself by knowing your options, even if you decide not to use them.

I’ll step off of my soap box now and bring this article to a close. As always, if you’d like to reach me I’m quite active on Twitter (@thejesguy), and I have an email that I do my best to respond to (thejeskaiguy@gmail.com). If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or anything else of the sort, please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! I’ll see you next week, my friends!

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Angelo is a Connecticut native who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. With at least 20 EDH decks constructed at all times, it's an understatement to say that he loves Commander. Angelo trusts counterspells over creatures, and is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation rotation out of Standard.