The Toolbox – Triumph of the Praetors

(Phyrexian Scriptures | Art by Joseph Meehan)

The End of the Saga of Sagas

Welcome back to The Toolbox! Here we take a look at underplayed cards and evaluate where they ought to see more play. Yes, I do say ‘we’ because I want to hear what you all think as well; I am not always right. Please comment and share your thoughts about which cards we should discuss and where they should see more play!

With this article, I am calling an end to my first mini-series, or as I’m calling it, “The Saga of Sagas.” I feel the Saga card type as a whole is underrepresented, and I’d like to use this series to change that. Once again, I’m doubling up with a couple of very interesting Sagas: Triumph of Gerrard and Phyrexian Scriptures.


Time to Triumph!

This is gonna be a bit of a controversial one. Many readers have already pointed out that a Saga’s first chapter needs to be good enough to make the card worth its slot, since the Saga could be removed before it reaches its final ability. In this case, not only is the first ability of Triumph of Gerrard not particularly powerful, but neither is the second. The first two chapters just put a +1/+1 counter on the creature with the greatest power that you control. Not that exciting.

The third chapter is where things get interesting. Instead of giving your biggest creature a counter, it gets flying, first strike, and lifelink until end of turn.

How do we make this truly useful to a deck? Well, looking at Triumph of Gerrard’s EDHREC page, we see it in the lists for the following commanders:

Triumph of Gerrard only shows up in 116 decks at this time, which isn’t much data to go off of, and these commanders seem a little scattered for this Saga. Odric is the king of keywords, so Triumph has some obvious synergy, but the others are strange. Raff like historical spells, but Triumph seems like a minimal-impact way to get in just a little extra damage. Then Aryel and Emmara feel very random; Triumph is likely only showing up in these decks because those commanders were printed around the same time as this Saga. It’s time bias more than actual synergy.

I think we can do better for this Saga. This is definitely not a Tier 1 card, but it can provide some interesting inspiration! Where else can Triumph make a triumphant impact?


Enchantress

Let’s take a look at Tuvasa the Sunlit, the Merfolk enchantress from 2018. When you cast your first enchantment spell each turn, you get to draw a card, which is always great. She may be 1/1 for three mana, but she gets +1/+1 for each you control, so she can definitely be more aggressive than a lot of the other enchantress commanders (Kestia, the Cultivator being the main exception).

A lot of people tend to jump right to a more traditional goodstuff or controlling enchantress shell with Tuvasa, but I think a more aggressive setup could be very interesting. Triumph of Gerrard is a little niche, but it would fit nicely into that exact strategy.

As an enchantment, it draws you a card, so even if it gets removed, it will have replaced itself. Then it gives your commander a power boost, perfect for punching. Plus, it synergizes nicely with all the other enchantress effects in the deck, like Eidolon of Blossoms. Again, it’s not a Tier 1 card, but it’s a fun include for a budget or aggressive build, like the decklist below:

Punchy Enchantress

Commander (1)
Enchantments (32)
Creatures (18)
Instants (3)
Sorceries (6)
Artifacts (2)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (37)

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Counter Shenanigans

Personally, I love +1/+1 counter decks, so I love commanders like Anafenza, the Foremost. She is very aggressive as a 4/4 for three mana, and since she puts a +1/+1 counter on creatures when she attacks, she’s got some nice room for counter synergies. Icing on the cake, she also provides a little graveyard hate.

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I really like Triumph of Gerrard here because of the +1/+1 counter synergy with Anafenza and the overall aggression of the card. With all the Hardened Scales, Pir, Imaginative Rascal, and Winding Constrictor effects available, the Saga definitely carries some weight.

Get Ripped

Commander (1)
Creatures (31)
Instants (8)
Sorceries (7)
Artifacts (6)
Enchantments (9)
Planeswalkers (2)
Lands (30)

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Scriptures of the Praetors

Alright, time to put Phyrexian Scriptures on the slab. Get it? Cuz the guy in the art is on the… oh, nevermind.

The utility here is a lot more obvious than Triumph of Gerard. Like Triumpth, the first chapter puts a +1/+1 counter on a creature you control, but also makes that creature an artifact in addition to its other types. The second then destroys all nonartifact creatures.

Well, that escalated quickly.

Chapter three feels somewhat underwhelming, since it just exiles your opponents’ graveyards, but like Anafenza, that incidental grave hate is a nice way to mitigate some shenanigans.

So where is this very diverse card played? Well, the EDHREC page for Phyrexian Scriptures shows us the following:

Muldrotha is Muldrotha, the value with Sagas is just undeniable here. A one-sided Wrath that buffs Breya or Glissa and has some graveyard hate, you can’t really go wrong there. Xantcha is a curious one, and I like it a lot – nominating Xantcha as an artifact creature, then destroying everything else so she can continue to attack your opponents on an empty board. You can’t really go too horribly wrong with this card. Where else could it see a bit more play?


Value Time

For this I value extravaganza, I chose Lazav, the Multifarious. Lazav is a pretty interesting commander, an inexpensive two-drop who can transform into creatures in your graveyard.

Why play the Scriptures here? Well, a small buff on Lazav is nice, since he’s likely to be the main win condition. Then it’ll also destroy a bunch of stuff and eliminate everyone’s graveyard but ours. Plus, it’s likely that Lazav will be able to become a copy of one of our dead artifact creatures, like Vector Asp, Leveler, or Eater of Days. This will keep him protected, so you can turn another one of your creatures into an artifact to protect it from destruction. Those little instances of extra value add up to a card that’s definitely worth the slot.


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Inner Peace

I feel as though I’ve talked a bit too much about aggressive decks in this article, so maybe it’s time we took a breath and calmed down. Psych! Skullbriar, the Walking Grave is here to finish things off. A scrappy Zombie Elemental that grows whenever it hits our opponents and keeps all the counters we give it, even when it returns to the command zone? Sounds like a perfect place for some Scriptures.

Putting more counters on Skullbriar seems like a good thing. Eliminating all our opponents’ blockers seems good too. Graveyard hate is not huge, but definitely welcome, so get in here! Then, like we saw with Triumph and Anafenza, Phyrexian Scriptures also works nicely with things like Hardened Scales and all the other random counter synergies in the deck. I may have to build one of these decks for myself; both Lazav and Skullbriar seem like a ton of fun to pilot!

Time to Run

Commander (1)
Creatures (23)
Instants (9)
Sorceries (10)
Artifacts (11)
Enchantments (10)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (35)

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Let the Sky Fall

Thank you to everyone for reading! I love to hear what you guys have to say, so let me know where you would play these under-utilized Sagas. Do you have a favorite card that no one seems to know about? Please share in the comments below!

Elijah is a mildly obsessive EDH player from Georgia. He started playing during Battle for Zendikar with Green/Black Eldrazi Aristocrats and still pays tribute to the plane with his Omnath, Locus of Rage storm brew. He is always excited to innovate and try new things in Magic and Life. Elijah is currently a full time student looking to go into Computer Engineering but also has a bit of an artistic streak.