Hello everyone, and welcome back to another stirring edition of the Underdog’s Corner! This week finishes up our mono-colored cycle of underdogs from Dominaria! We’ve gone through white, blue, black, and red, so today we’ll be covering the splendid nature of green! As Dominaria continues to age, we see more and more commanders drift into the ‘slowly forgotten’ and ‘written off’ territory, while the top dogs continue to attract all of the spotlight. However, at least for this article, I’m here to give one of those commanders a second chance. Among the returning characters of the set, this legend was the one I was the most excited to see redone, and Wizards didn’t disappoint. Give it up for Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar!
Multani has changed a lot since his original appearance in Urza’s Legacy, and a lot of that is for the better. The most striking thing is that his two cards are very mechanically different. While the original Multani was a super-Maro, the new Multani is an upgraded Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer. There’s at least one person out there that was bitter about the similarities between the two nature Avatars, but for now, we’re going to focus on the most recent one.
So what does Multani bring to the table? Let’s start with the basics. First, he’s a 6-mana creature with reach and trample. There’s a touch of tension in those mechanics, as one is purely offensive and the other purely defensive, but either way we’ll be happy to have them. Trample is by far the most important of the two as it lets us leverage Multani’s bulk.
Counting the number of lands in our graveyard is the biggest difference between Multani and Molimo. This adds an extra amount of utility that isn’t obvious at first, and it lets us play a more varied game than Molimo would – but we’ll get to that in a bit. For now we should note that Multani will be large and will continue growing as the game goes on, and even if someone nukes the board with an Armageddon, Multani will stay the same size (assuming our graveyard is safe). As a game goes longer, and Multani continues to grow, he slowly becomes a threat that is impossible to ignore. Luckily for our opponents, Multani’s power and toughness is bounded by the number of lands in our deck. Luckily for us, that’ll still be enough to kill an opponent twice over with commander damage. As our general becomes more threatening, there’s more and more risk to him being removed. Thus, we consult Multani’s last ability:
This ability not only allows us to recur Multani over and over again, but it comes at a cost that, if we build our deck right, will be become negligible. In fact, the cost itself gives our deck extra flexibility to attack the board. One thing that is easily overlooked but very important to know is that returning two lands to our hand is a cost, not an effect. It happens as part of you paying for the ability; it doesn’t go onto the stack and wait to resolve. This allows us to hold priority and return any number of lands to our hands as long as we have the mana. I wonder how we can take advantage of that…
Is that too on the nose?
Landfall is the most obvious mechanic that will turn the lands we return to our hand into an advantage. Still, there’s more thought that needs to go into that strategy than just that.
At face value, Landfall is the premier mechanic for a deck that’s going to want to be ramping out of control. None of these options should look foreign, as Avenger of Zendikar and Rampaging Baloths appear in 57% and 50% of decks under EDHREC’s Land Theme page. These are the poster children, and any deck that’s focused on lands needs a strong reason not to include them. Khalni Heart Expedition is another inclusion that fits the bill, and it even ramps us more in the process. However, it is only sitting at a 14% inclusion rate in Landfall decks. I think that’s a tad low, especially with the synergy that comes from itself and other Landfall cards. Turning one land drop into three Landfall triggers is sure to swing some games. While these are the most prominent, there are also a few cards that may be forgotten because they don’t have the word “Landfall” on them. Tireless Tracker and Courser of Kruphix may not be flashy, but they provide incremental value that will be helpful in a pinch. Tracker especially is a must-include, as we’re going to attempt to drop a lot of lands very quickly, and we’ll need to refuel our hand.
To consistently trigger these effects, we’re going to want ways to play more lands on our turn, and since we’re playing green, we have access to a deep pool of cards that fulfill that same role. Not only do we have a wealth of options, but we can also spread out those effects over multiple card types. Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Wayward Swordtooth, and Oracle of Mul Daya put extra land drops on creatures. The namesake effect Exploration gives us extra land drops on an enchantment, which gives the effect a bit more permanence on the board. Outside of permanents, we have access to sorceries like Summer Bloom and Journey of Discovery.
However, all of these effects have diminishing returns, as the ability to consistently drop even one land, let alone multiple, becomes more scarce as a game goes on.
One way to consider aiding this problem is to include cards that put lands into your hand. The most obvious answer is drawing through our deck, but we’ll get there in a moment. Outside of flatly drawing cards, there are actually not very many lands-into-hand effects. I have a gorgeous foil Seek the Horizon, and I’ve always wanted to include it in a deck. Luckily for me, Multani and our land-dropping strategy make it a perfect fit. Normally, spending four mana gets us something like Skyshroud Claim or Explosive Vegetation, so why would we use Seek the Horizon? For the most part, those ramp spells are going to be better, but I think the added utility of storing up land-drops at least gives this card a nod in our rough draft of a list.
Surprisingly, tutoring multiple lands to your hand is an effect that is fairly rare in green. There are many staples like Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach that tutor a single land to hand, but few go beyond that. We can make do with that, though, especially if we want to build around Multani’s activated ability. Lastly, while sub-strategies will dictate its inclusion, Mulch is also an interesting effect to give a look. With a high enough density of lands, this can be anywhere from a ‘draw two’ spell to a ‘draw three’ spell, but we should probably only expect to get a single land from that one.
While combat tricks aren’t generally considered good in EDH, I can’t help but mention a few cards that act as such in this deck. Since Multani counts all lands on our battlefield and in our graveyard, we can surprise opponents by boosting our commander beyond any damage that would kill him, or even better, push him into the territory of unexpectedly lethal commander damage. Harrow, Crop Rotation, and Realms Uncharted are phenomenal cards on their own, but their added utility as combat tricks can lead to some unforgettable moments.
As we mentioned earlier, there are diminishing returns as we play more and more lands out of our hand; the more we play, the fewer we have left. Luckily for us, green’s powerful card draw will let us refuel.
Often centered around creatures, green’s card draw is a sliding scale. The more established our board state, the more powerful the draw. It’s a snowball effect that lets green push over the edge when at parity. Garruk, Primal Hunter and Rishkar’s Expertise are just a few examples of this power. Because our strategy mostly revolves around ramping as fast as possible and making Multani gigantic, we should be able to leverage his power into massive card draw. There is always the chance to be blown out by an opponent removing Multani in response to our Expertise, but the risk is well worth the reward. Even beyond our general, we have plenty of high-powered creatures to fill in his stead and make our draw spells consistent.
Greater Good and Momentous Fall let us play into our commander’s grave-based ability through sacrifice. As a free sacrifice outlet, Greater Good will spiral out of control if left unchecked; we can discard any excess lands we can’t play into our graveyard, and those will keep growing Multani. Momentous Fall, as an instant, gives us a way to cash in any of our creatures for extra cards and life in response to either spot removal or a board wipe. These are fantastic cards on their own, but having a commander that is constantly growing only makes them better.
One of the questions I always ask myself when I contemplate big mana strategies is this: “What do I do once I get all that mana?” It’s important to have something to do with all those lands. You can sling massive spells, you can cast gigantic creatures… really, you can do anything. I’m personally a fan of mana sinks (places you can pour enormous buckets of mana into) so that’s what I’m going to focus on. Hydra Broodmaster always has a spot in my heart, as it was a win condition in one of my very first decks. The more mana you have available, the more efficient Hydra becomes; creating two 2/2s for five mana isn’t much, but five 5/5s for eleven is dangerous. More mana nets you not only bigger creatures, but also more of them! Plus – and this is an aspect of the Hydra that may get forgotten – the mother herself also gets larger with the mana investment. Wolfbriar Elemental is another option, and quite a straightforward one. Pay green mana, get Wolves. It’s simple. For ten mana, we not only get a 4/4, but six 2/2s as well. Our ramp, combined with mana doublers like Mana Reflection, make it easy to get double-digit tokens from these creatures.
Unlike our token producers, Kamahl, Fist of Krosa turns our excess mana into multiple Overruns. We have several mana sinks that create tokens, and being able to swing with impunity will win us many games. Not only that, but Kamahl can actually animate our opponents’ lands. Casting a board wipe while Kamahl is in play is a foolhardy endeavor.
Lastly are two gems that I want to highlight. I’ve always wanted to find a home for these cards, but didn’t have a spot for them until now. In a deck that’s ramping this hard, Blackblade Reforged can turn Multani into a soul-stealing monstrosity of a beater. Alternatively, we can equip it to any other creature for a massive boost. It’s not hard to imagine this equipment giving +10/+10 when the late game arrives. Lastly, there’s The Great Aurora. Removal? Game Reset? Win-Condition? This card is all of the above. No matter which stage of the game, this card can be useful. There’s a high chance we’ll have the most permanents on the board, and Aurora lets us turn that to our advantage. While that sounds contradictory, there will be instances where we are behind in the game, even despite all the cards we have in play. Aurora therefore gives us a chance to correct that board state. Additionally, with our high land count, it’s very likely that we’ll have a mana advantage over our opponents after The Great Aurora resolves. We also get the first chance to use our mana during this reset, because the lands enter untapped. Plus, we can float mana from before the Aurora for after it resolves, which gives us even more advantage.
That is it for this week! I have hope you have enjoyed your stroll through Multani’s domain. Multani is a new take on ramp-based strategies in mono-green, and I think he has enough going for him to separate him from other commanders like Omnath, Locus of Mana. Give him a try, and you might be surprised! Below is my rough draft for what a Multani deck could look like. Enjoy!
If you have suggestions for future articles, let me know! Thanks for reading and thanks for joining me in the Underdog’s Corner!