Hey there everyone, welcome back once again to Points of Synergy, a (hopefully) bitesize look into getting the most out of your commanders. This week I find myself staring down the slack-jawed spirit from Saviours of Kamigawa, Akuta, Born of Ash!
Akuta is one of the many (many) legendary creatures to stem from Kamigawa block, and one of the more aggressive ones at that. Akuta has a couple things going on with him:
A rarity in black (particularly mono-black), Akuta is cast with one thing in mind: attacking. This forms an integral part of Akuta’s game along with his other ability, which I’ll get to in a minute. Opponents against Akuta in the command zone must be wary, as letting their guard down while his other ability is live can lead to the quick and precise racking up of Commander Damage over time; and this guy aims to rack it up quickly.
2) At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have more cards in hand than each opponent, you may sacrifice a Swamp. If you do, return Akuta, Born of Ash from your graveyard to the battlefield.
This is a curious ability that forms the base of Akuta’s gameplay: While you have card advantage on your opponents, saccing a land when necessary makes Akuta a constant threat, and no clever combat trick in the book can stop you more than once. Of Course, this could be a hell of a hoop to jump through, and there are quite a few ways to make sure your hand is full (Necropotence comes to mind). But, here are some of the more interesting to me:
Syphon Mind – This sorcery offers a disruptive way to (almost) guarantee Akuta’s trigger if he gets yarded. Syphon Mind frays your opponents’ hands at the edges, forcing them to give up one of their options for later. For each card given up, you gain one more card. While it sounds small, the swing is in your gain in hand size, compared to theirs. For example, if your hand is 4 cards and Syphon Mind in a 4 person game, your opponents need to have at least 8 cards in hand for Akuta to not be live. Of course, that needs to stay that way until your next upkeep, but if you can leverage it properly, you’ll never be out of pocket.
Larceny – An option covered by Crazy in No-Cash Commander a couple of weeks back, Larceny is going to be an engine that makes sure Akuta is always live: Your hand size doesn’t matter if your opponents’ hands are always empty! With a large enough mass of fodder, you can Wit’s End each other player, messing with control and combo decks beyond compare (can confirm, have been on the receiving end of Jin-Gitaxias and have been denied my hand), and making it steadily more likely that you can execute your gameplan uninterrupted. A handy Leyline of the Void can be even more damning, making those cards impossible to get back.
Two pieces of equipment occupy a similar spot; Hero’s Blade is an incredibly efficient piece of tech with Akuta, doubling his bite and butt to 6/4 over his paltry 3/2. This not only halves his clock for no further investment after casting, it also makes him more durable, more resistant to chump blocking, and also makes him more awkward to survive blocking. It’s everything that an aggro commander wants! Alternatively, Sword of the Animist is an incredibly cheap equipment that you want to slap onto Akuta as soon as possible; with his second ability demanding the sacrifice of a Swamp in order to reanimate, it’s easy to find yourself out of land once you’ve bore the brunt of your table’s removal. But with this sword, his cost is refunded on his first swing, with any other additional swings just being a bonus for future reanimations, or just to help power out more troubling things than your cranky spirit Commander.
That’s about it for Akuta! How would you build him? Feel free to let us know on Facebook, and be sure to like it if you like what you see! For now though guys, Unmistakable out.