Hey there, Khans and Khanettes! Welcome to a bitesize Points of Synergy article, where we look at making the most of your command zone. This week, a true build-around commander: Alesha, who Smiles at Death!
Alesha is one of the Old Khans cycles from Fate Reforged, characterised by being Monocoloured in cast cost but having their two enemies as abilities (activated or triggered), effectively making them wedge commanders. She has lots going for her:
1) First Strike
A powerful ability, especially on creatures with higher power than toughness, signifies that she wants to excel in combat. If the Mardu colours and peeking at the attack trigger didn’t give it away, she very much wants to. With this, it doesn’t matter how powerful a creature is, if it has 3 toughness or less, Alesha is going to take it out and get off scott-free. The real meat on Alesha stems from the second ability, however:
2) Whenever Alesha, Who Smiles at Death attacks, you may pay . If you do, return target creature card with power 2 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped and attacking.
This here is why Alesha is popular. As detailed in my first ever Sowing Salt, Alesha is a fantastic general because of the ability to adapt to the board with her mastery of small creatures. She can run reanimator staples such as Buried Alive to fill her yard with a flexible toolbox of creatures, with the caveat that they also come in swinging. While this isn’t always a bad thing (more on that later), it’s undeniable that Alesha brings a fantastic ability for a unique deck flavour.
So, what does this deck building restriction do for Alesha? Well, we have:
Mentor of the Meek – The first thing that comes to mind when I see the phrase ‘Creatures with power 2 or less’, the mentor is a white staple for creature based decks. Red/White decks tend to have difficulty with card advantage and, while black aids Alesha in some respect, synergistic support from the Mentor can help the deck get where it wants to go. With the mentor in play, each of Alesha’s reanimations can cantrip, allowing them to further flood the board and get more creatures into Alesha’s toolbox (otherwise known as the graveyard). This of course extends to creatures you don’t cheat in, either; it’s not uncommon for a 30+ creature Alesha deck to be running ~25 enablers for their ability, and by proxy enabling Mentor in a big way as well.
Reconnaissance – A spicy piece of tech from back in the day; you may have noticed by now that Alesha isn’t the strongest soul. In fact, with a 3/2 body, it’s possible that no opponent will be worth attacking, at all. Enter: Reconnaissance. With this smart white enchantment online, Alesha can get their triggers without even coming near any powerful creatures at the sacrifice of not doing any damage; a paltry downside when your main aim is abusing the effects of the creatures raised and their abilities. Similarly, if you have any creatures to raise but don’t perhaps want to be running into an unfavourable block (Blood Artist or Mother of Runes being prime examples), you can blank them from combat too! In the case on Mom though, she won’t have haste unless you have something like an active Anger or Fervor in play, so while you could untap her, she couldn’t use her ability on the first turn she hits. With haste though, she could even go as far to protect Alesha’s advance, making Reconnaissance a tricky offensive play as well!
One hit combos – Now, this week in flavour corner, we have no flavour wins (Unless you REALLY want to play Alesha’s Vanguard. You know. For flavour reasons.), instead I’d like to cover a couple of the creatures that allow Alesha to straight up one-shot opponents. First up is the big splashy obvious one, Master of Cruelties. Ordinarily, as the card implies, this card isn’t killing anyone. In fact, due to its wording, it CAN’T kill anyone. Not by itself. That is, unless it’s put into play already attacking. Like, from Alesha’s ability. During the combo turn where Alesha swings with the Master in the yard, if there are no blocks to be declared afterwards, the master strikes first, lowering the poor victim’s health to 1. After, your commander comes in like a well-placed bullet, first striking the rest of your opponent’s game from right under them. This all assumes no interaction but hey, what combos don’t?
As an alternate combo piece, here’s Wall of Blood. ‘Yes Unmistakable’ I hear you say, ‘That pump ability seems abusable. But it’s a defender, right?’ Correct, reader. Ordinarily, Wall of Blood can’t attack, let alone kill people. Unless it’s cheated in, already attacking. In a similar fashion to the Master of Cruelties play, Alesha’s ability allows us to cheat around the way the game functions ordinarily, allowing cards to function how they aren’t intended. When Alesha attacks targetting a Wall of Blood with their trigger, somebody’s dying. When it attacks, you can easily pay life equal to the remaining damage (Minus three, if Alesha’s planning to make an impact too) and just hit a player for their life total. You can even add more power onto it if Alesha gets removed, or they gain life at instant speed. Alongside other synergistic staples such as Whip of Erebos, you can even get the life back too! What could go wrong?
That just about covers me for this week, guys! Like Alesha? Hate them? Be sure to let us know on Facebook, and be sure to like it if you want to see more! For now though, Unmistakable out.