Epic Experiment – Roon Allies

(Roon of the Hidden Realm | Art by Steve Prescott)

Epic Preparations

Hello EDHREC fans! I’m Bernardo Melibeu, and this is Epic Experiment, a series where we throw all common sense aside and experiment with some unusual strategies, changing how we normally build our deck. Is it going to work? Who knows?! We’re making science here. When you’re an Izzet mage, blowing things up is half the fun.

In this article we’ll be exploring one of the most open-ended creature-based commanders there is: Roon of the Hidden Realm.

{2}, T: Exile another target creature. Return that card to the battlefield under its owner’s control at the beginning of the next end step

Observation 1:

He can target opponents’ creatures, which can act as a Maze of Ith effect in a pinch.

Observation 2:

There’s an implicit timing restriction for his ability, meaning that we can’t use it to blink Mystic Snakes. At least, not successfully.

Observation 3:

He can help blank removal spells pointed at our creatures.


The Old Formula

Let’s take a quick look on how folks are building him:

It’s not surprising that Roon decks have lots of good value creatures and a bunch of additional blink/flicker abilities aside from just Roon to help take advantage of those abilities over and over and over.

But that’s so Commander 2013! It’s 2019, which means it’s time to mix things up and let Roon try something he hasn’t done before!


The Epic Ingredients

There are lots of cool tribes out there, but there’s only one that has the highest density of ETB effects per creature, not to mention lots of potential for chaining them on the same turn. Which tribe? Allies, of course!

Allies are a tribe from the Zendikar blocks and are spread across all five colors. Most of them trigger whenever they or another Ally enter the battlefield, which eventually became known as the keyword Rally. This means that we can use our commander to make sure that we get maximum value from our Allies.

While we don’t have access to all the Allies, the ones we have can make an impact: Hero of Goma Fada allows our team to swing freely. We can even board wipe without having to lose creatures in the process. Lantern Scout and Ondu Cleric make trading blows with us a losing proposition. Meanwhile, Seascape Aerialist helps our attacks connect. Tajuru Beastmaster and Tajuru Warcaller pump the team to get more damage in.

Yeah. Allies are pretty awesome.

With the printing of a new batch of Changeling cards in Modern Horizons, tribes without much love in their colors got a huge boost, especially white-inclusive tribes. We have plenty of new toys to proc our Allies, although it’s important to not go overboard with them because they need a board to work. Birthing Boughs is a constant source of Rally triggers, which can also be activated at instant speed for extra shenanigans. Chameleon Colossus and Valiant Changeling are reasonably threatening by themselves, but the fact that they’re Changelings makes them that much more dangerous. Irregular Cohort is a double trigger the turn that it comes down, which can be quite explosive, and Mirror Entity is a great finisher that can help us pass through board stalls.

For our draw engine, we’re heavily invested on creature-based draw effects: Kindred Discovery pulls double duty by allowing us to draw cards when our creatures come out and when they attack. Sea Gate Loremaster and Shamanic Revelation are on the slower side, but given the potential card draw, it’s completely justified.

Oh, and on the subject of tribal cards, Kindred Summons is absolutely nuts! There’s no other way to put it, this card allows for many different lines of play, and they all involving putting an astounding number of creatures on the battlefield.


The Mixture


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Aside from all those Allies, the list is pretty much a straightforward Bant value town, with creatures in the place of common staples (like Farhaven Elf and Wood Elves instead of the usual Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach package), so that we may acquire more value by using our commander.

For finishers we have mostly massive pumps for our army to do its work: Craterhoof Behemoth is great for us because he’s a finisher that can be tutored with Eladamri’s Call and Worldly Tutor. Cathars’ Crusade starts out slower, but it benefits greatly from the constantly entering creatures. True Conviction escalates extremely well, but at the cost of being somewhat unreliable and color-intensive.

The few slots left in the deck are devoted to covering our bases, with ramp and interaction. This is flexible and should be adjusted according to your meta, so take this model as a suggestion.


Methodology

We aren’t really picky with our opening hand; a few lands and some creatures are really all we need. Hands with ways to accelerate are highly recommended since the deck can always find a use for any spare mana.

In the early game we need to sequence our creatures to get the most value possible from them. Usually that means that we’re playing beaters first, creatures with fun ETB effects afterward, and Changelings last. We should be aggressive early on because our creatures can grow so quickly, but they lack the evasion without proper support. The best part of the deck is that we get to play aggro early game, but we can also grind like no other!

When we get to the mid-game, our options vastly increase. Roon can flicker any of our Allies to re-trigger their excellent effects. However, the expansion of our horizons also brings with it a tricky period for us: we have a lot of little abilities, but none that can take over the game just yet. Board wipes are also devastating to us as a creature-heavy deck, so make sure to keep an eye out for those.

In the late game, unlike the mid-game, our mana potential gives us the opportunity to have explosive turns. Even a single Tajuru Warcaller can boost things on its own, but with enough creatures flickering back into play, it’s game over for the unwitting opponent.


Epic Results

For potential changes, I would strongly recommend adding more recursion spells if your meta is full of board wipes. It might even be prudent to add a Negate or two. Replacing some of our spells to add more value creatures could also be powerful, but beware of the timing restrictions of Roon’s ability.

Many of our creatures grow using +1/+1 counters, so adding more support for a counter-based strategy is a nice touch. Alternatively, if you want a more combo-focused list, you can pretty easily convert this deck into a Primal Surge list. Halimar Excavator can help us mill our opponents, and adding some haste enablers will allow us to win on the turn we combo.

That’s it for this Epic Experiment! What do you think about this list? Did we save Zendikar? Do you have any questions about the deck? Which cards did you like? Which didn’t you? Was the Epic Experiment a success? Please let me know in the comments below!

Bernardo has been playing(on and off) since portal and somehow manage to survive mirrodin block while being a total casual(beast tribal ftw?). He loves all the shades of blue and being the one saying "nope", while holding a full grip of cards in hand.