Greetings all, and welcome to another instalment of Points of Synergy! This time around, I’m covering the oft forgotten patriarch on Zendikar, Anowon, the Ruin Sage!
Anowon is an interesting prospect to build around, with more than meets the eye in a lot of cases. First off (I’ll cover this briefly now, I have a fair amount to say on this later), his creature type is incredibly relevant. Being a Vampire, Anowon includes himself amongst one of the most popular tribes in Magic. This lends him as an option for tribal (his ability certainly helps), and can influence how he’s built even outside of tribal decks.
Next, he’s a 4/3. At 5 mana this is modest body for trading upwards during a block, but can easily be taken down by creatures much smaller than he is on the offensive, leaving him as a more defensive commander playstyle. This, combined with his creature type, synergise with his ability:
1) At the beginning of your upkeep, each player sacrifices a non-Vampire creature.
This ability is intriguing to me as a stax player. As anybody with a sick mind and a taste for pain knows, The Abyss is a powerful Magic card, and here we have a Magus of the Abyss that has no desire to kill itself. This thrusts him towards an attrition game, wearing down enemy resources without touching them. This works super well with his statline, as he is a powerful blocker – people tend to not leave somebody forcing them to kill their own creatures alone for long. The tribal element of it also works with his deckbuilding, as running grindy utility vampires like Blood Artist Or Guul Draz Assassin can alter the clock or set up dilemmas for your opponents, without being killed off themselves.
So you have a powerful ally in a lock piece that can run your opponent out of board, but what do we do with him?
Captivating Vampire – while this card has special synergy with Anowon, I’ll also use this section to talk Tribal. I’ve covered Anowon as a tribal commander before, and I love him at the helm of a mono black vampire deck. As far as a uniquely flavoured vampire commander goes, he definitely delivers, but I am of the opinion that full tribal isn’t fully utilising his potential – but I would be super out of order to not consider a vampire subtheme. Enter the jewel of Anowon support, Captivating Vampire. The synergy here is pretty straightforward I feel; while it does need a fair amount of backup (that second ability has a pretty hefty cost), you can start taking enemy creatures for yourself and then turning them vampire, saving them from Anowon’s cull and potentially forcing awkward choices for your opponents. This strategy is especially valid if your opponents are into small creatures with splashy effects such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Aven Mindcensor – small creatures are usually first to go to the mass sacrifice, and when turned on their owners often prove a headache to fight through!
Smokestack – Leave your pitchforks at the door, but Smokestack and other The Abyss effects turn the screws incredibly hard, and ups your clock to complete domination. In this situation you would need something resilient to break parity, like Dread wanderer or Bitterblossom, but something equally staxy like Lethal Vapors or Tainted Aether can stifle players attempting to grow board states and ensure backup isn’t on its way.
Blade of the Bloodchief – I know, I know. While technically a tribal card, I’m making a special case here. With an absence of anything for Flavour Corner (seriously, for such a recent character he hasn’t done much of note), I’m going to throw the zendikari Blade of the Bloodchief into the ring. Anowon and the Blade have a special relationship; being a vampire, Anowon takes full advantage of the power of the blade, growing huge with very little effort. He just needs the bodies to pile up – it’s quite fortunate that he forces 0-3 creatures to die a turn at your upkeep! With blade in hand, Anowon goes from unassuming stax piece to full fledged voltron commander at the drop of a hat. Always a great include for an Anowon pilot!
That just about covers Anowon, guys! What do you reckon? Am I being too kind? Be sure to let me know and if you like what you see, be sure to drop us a like on Facebook for more of the latest and greatest tech! For now though, Unmistakable out!