Last week I wrote of my early obsessions with Arcanis the Omnipotent, speaking of how it affected my early years of Magic. I was encapsulated by the idea of infinite combos ever since the first one I ever saw, which was Enter the Infinite, and Omniscience. While not actually infinite, reading the cards side by side will definitely get the point across. Because all of your spells are free, Enter the Infinite allows you to draw your entire library, and then you can pay every card in your hand for free. I was instantly sold on these two cards.
A similar epiphany came to me when the Dragons of Tarkir full spoiler was revealed, and Ancestral Statue subsequently printed a few weeks later. As an avid Animar, Soul of Elements fan, I immediately began redesigning the deck. With the addition of a plethora of Morph support in Khans of Tarkir, Animar was built around just that mechanic. The printing of Ancestral Statue pushed Animar from a cute option for a Competitive Commander to a real threat in EDH.
Here is my list.
This list has come a long ways from the Mighty Morphin’ Animar build that it once was. It now has a more versatile structure in order to make its game plan more linear. Allow me to elaborate.
There are quite a few engines that Animar can start up, but the primary one for this deck is the Ancestral Statue combo. Ancestral Statue enters the battlefield, you target itself with it’s ETB ability, rinse, repeat. Animar discounts the Statue to the point where it’s free, thus giving Animar any number of +1/+1 counters that you would like. The other similar combo is Palinchron and Animar, although, you need four lands that produce blue, something that’s hard to accomplish when you’re attempting to combo off on turn four or five. The trade off with the two being you have infinite mana with the Palinchron combo (which is slightly harder to assemble), where as the Ancestral Statue combo only gets you an incredibly large Animar.
Those are just the infinite combos in the deck, not the only engines. The best way that an engine can run in this deck, is by just being able to cycle cards to find the combo. We do this through cards such as Temur Ascendancy, Beast Whisperer, and Soul of the Harvest. These cards allow us to keep pouring gas on the fire as we begin to dump our hand onto the board. These draw effects are absolutely essential, as we are a creature deck, and naturally, we are painfully weak to board wipes. It is almost assuredly game over if we lose our board and have less than four cards in hand.
While being a two card combo where one of the required cards is my Commander, the combo is relatively weak. Animar has protection from most removal spells, but Ancestral Statue dies to creature and artifact removal. Not to mention we have to attempt the combo at sorcery speed, and even when we get the combo it’s not guaranteed that we’ll win. Animar has the potential to alpha strike people, but he also will get blocked for eternity by Scryb Ranger.
These are the reasons why it’s essential to have proper support for this combo. First off we have our tutors.
Worldly Tutor, Fauna Shaman, and Survival of the Fittest: These are all in the deck for pretty obvious reasons: They find any combo or engine or protection piece we may need. The nice tech we can do is instant speed Survival of the Fittest a card out of our hand to get a counter spell creature to catch someone off guard.
Den Protector, Eternal Witness, and Greenwarden of Murasa: These creatures allow us to buyback anything we may need, whether we need to get a fetch land back to make our land drop, or if Ancestral Statue has experienced an untimely demise. Den Protector can be placed as a Morph for a free Animar trigger, so it has additional synergies.
Temur Sabertooth and Surrak Dragonclaw: These guy make the combo a little more impervious. Temur Sabertooth can bounce a combo piece to protect it, but it can also bounce creatures to my hand in order to squeeze in as many Animar triggers as possible. Surrak not only makes the combo uncounterable, it also makes it so Animar will definitely kill someone, giving him Trample.
Mystic Snake, Stratus Dancer, Glen Elendra Archmage, and Draining Whelk: The best of the best in creature counterspells. The only one missing from the gang is everyone’s favorite Lizard Wizard, Frilled Mystic. I’m choosing to exclude Frilled Mystic for the time being, as I feel it’s too hard on mana, though that may change.
Arcane Denial and Swan Song: At the end of the day, we’re going to need countermagic to protect our combo or stop someone else’s combo that we don’t have to dedicate a lot of mana to. These cards fit the bill, and we’re glad to include them, though, we’re sad that they aren’t creatures.
Sages of the Anima: This card has made for some crazy stack interactions. It’s super cool, because it let’s you filter and filter and filter until you win. Let’s say you have a Beast Whisperer and the Sages on the battlefield, any time that you cast a creature card, you get any creatures that are in the top three of your deck.
This card moved me from top deck mode to threat level midnight in a single draw step. Granted, it can be awkward sometimes, like when you reveal zero creatures and don’t draw anything, but with the deck being 47% creatures, this doesn’t happen often.
That’s all I’ve got for now, Animar has been my competitive creature deck of choice for a few years now, and I look forward to the printing of many more creature counter spells in sets to come.