Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate – Azorius Combo – Commander Deck Tech – Command Valley

Hey guys, this is Kaleb with the Command Valley, bringing you another Commander deck tech article.  Thank you to Game Grid for sponsoring our channel. You can head to their website to purchase any or all of the cards we talk about in this article and any of your other magic needs through this link here. We have a list at the end of the article that you can copy and paste right into their deck builder and buy your singles there.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into today’s commander, Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate. Linvala costs one generic, one white, and one blue to cast. She is an Angel Wizard (kind of weird). She is a 3/3 with Flying and has two abilities. The first says, “At the beginning of combat on your turn, if you have a full party, choose target nonland permanent an opponent controls. Until your next turn, it can’t attack or block, and its activated abilities can’t be activated.” You have a full party when you control a Cleric, a Rogue, a Warrior, and a Wizard; however, each of those creatures must be different creatures so a Rogue Warrior or a Changeling would only count as one party member. Party, in my opinion, is not a powerful mechanic in EDH at all. I am not focusing on getting a full party together with this deck. This is the last time I’ll talk about it in this article because we are actually playing Linvala for her second ability.

Audio Link: https://rss.com/podcasts/commandvalleypodcast/81303

That ability says, “Sacrifice Linvala: Choose hexproof or indestructible. Creatures you control gain this ability until end of turn.” With Linvala as our commander, we essential have access to a Heroic Intervention in our command zone. The best part about Linvala is that we can easily recur her multiple times. White has many ways of bringing Linvala back from our graveyard which will let us abuse her ability for attacking, blocking, and board wiping. For my strategy to work, the absolute most important card in this deck is Gift of Immortality. If Linvala is enchanted with Gift of Immortality you can sacrifice her to activate her ability which goes on the stack, then she will hit the graveyard causing Gift of Immortality to send her back to the battlefield just in time for her own ability to resolve from the stack giving her–and the rest of our army–indestructible or hexproof. Then, at the next end step, Gift of Immortality will return attached to Linvala, allowing us to activate her ability every turn if we choose.

So, what is the overall strategy of the deck? Get Linvala out, get Gift of Immortality onto her as fast as possible, stall our opponents by abusing her ability and by using hate-bears and pillow-fort cards, blowing up the board with one-sided board wipes, and build up an army of tokens and flying creatures, then overrun our opponents. This deck is not the most powerful deck I’ve ever built but it is perfect for players that enjoy playing Azorius whose playgroup prefers battlecruiser style gameplay. This deck will probably not do as well against combo decks despite having one or two of its own which we will get to.

 

RECURSION AND PROTECTION

Let’s first talk about recursion and protection as it is the main focus of the deck. To increase our odds of getting out Gift of Immortality quickly, I’ve included three cards that can tutor it up from our deck: Enlightened Tutor, Open the Armory, and Idyllic Tutor. These cards will have other good targets in our deck if we already have Gift, but these essentially count as extra copies of it if we don’t already have it. Moving on from Gift of Immortality, you can play Angelic Renewal as a one-time Gift effect. We’ve got Hanna, Ship’s Navigator who can return Gift (if it gets removed) or other important enchantments or artifacts from our graveyard to our hand. Sevinne’s Reclamation which can bring back either Linvala or Gift from the graveyard or both if it is Flashbacked. Teshar and Bishop of Rebirth which can both bring creatures with CMC three or less back from our graveyard to the battlefield. Lastly, Sun Titan returns a permanent with CMC three or less from the graveyard to the battle whenever it enters the battlefield or attacks.

Other recursion options include Breath of Life, False Defeat, and Resurrection which are all sorceries that cost four to cast. That is only one more than Linvala costs but still less than she would cost if we were to recast her from the command zone. The best recursion for this deck is the repeatable recursion but just make sure you play a little more than just Gift of Immortality. As for redundant protection spells, I am running the following:

 

It doesn’t hurt to have a bit of redundancy when it comes to protecting your investment in your army so be sure to run a few of these.

When it comes to protecting our life total from attackers, some nice pillow-fort type cards can come in handy such as the classics Ghostly Prison and Propaganda. These cards force your opponents to pay two extra mana for each creature they want to attack you with. There is going to be another little subtheme that can slot into this deck and that is enchantments so along with these two we’ve also got Sphere of Safety which essentially does the same thing for a little extra mana but the amount your opponents are required to pay for each creature to attack is equal to the number of enchantments you control. You’ve also got Archon of Absolution and Windborn Muse which are both flyers that tax your opponents in the same way as the aforementioned enchantments.

 

RAMP AND CARD DRAW

Now, let’s get into the ramp and card draw in the deck that will get our deck moving and keep our hand fueled. I’m mostly running rocks in the ramp section which contains the following:

 

We’ve got the powerhouse enchantment that is Smothering Tithe. And I am counting Thieving Skydiver as ramp as well since it is most likely going to steal a mana rock from our opponents when we play it. After testing Thieving Skydiver out in my decks that may change but I still haven’t gotten a chance to actually play with it yet so for now it falls into my ramp section.

In the card draw section, I’ve got Drawn from Dreams which is a sorcery that lets you look at the top seven cards of your deck, then you put two of them into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library. I have been super impressed with this card and have started putting it in more of my blue decks. We’ve also got Frantic Search that lets you draw two cards then discard two cards essentially for free. And we’ve got a great mana sink in the form of Pull from Tomorrow that can draw you a ton of cards in the late game.

I’ve included Mentor of the Meek since we are playing quite a few cards that give us tokens and Skullclamp which is absolutely amazing in decks that are dropping tokens. Bident of Thassa and Reconnaissance Mission let us draw a card whenever one of our creatures deals combat damage to a player. Bident of Thassa can also force our opponents to swing all their creatures once per turn cycle which can be good for dealing with creature threats or creating openings to swing in knock players out of the game. Our last two cards in this section are Mystic Remora and Rhystic Study which can help us draw cards when our opponents cast spells unless they pay a tax.

 

INTERACTION

Next up, let’s talk about interaction in the deck, starting with board wipes. As I said earlier, the very first step in getting this deck to work the way we want it to is by getting Gift of Immortality on Linvala as soon as possible. After that, it makes it much harder for our opponents to deal with her and the rest of our board and much easier for us to cast one-sided board wipes to stall until we get to our win conditions. With this combo, we can turn global board wipe cards like Wrath of God into an In Garruk’s Wake for much cheaper. In my initial build, I am running six board wipes which is double what I normally run. Azorius decks have many to choose from and–including Wrath of God–I’m running Supreme Verdict, Austere Command, Day of Judgment, Martial Coup, and Cyclonic Rift because it’s Rift. I don’t know if this is too many or not enough so I may eventually add more or take some out and it might entirely depend on your meta.

As for other interaction spells, I am not running a ton, just what you would expect from white and blue. We’ve got Arcane Denial, Counterspell, and Swan Song for when we need to counter a big threat. Then, of course, Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares as some extra spot removal just in case we need it. This section’s pretty flexible and there are a lot of things you can run in place of these like Dovin’s Veto and Negate.

 

TOKENS

Alright, onto tokens. This is the section I am the iffiest about especially without playtesting the deck. It might eventually get completely replaced with creatures with flying but I liked the idea of going high with some flyers and going wide with the rest of our creatures especially because we could give our creatures indestructible so easily with Linvala and hold off massive attacks with lots of tokens. So, I’m running Bishop of Wings which gains us four life whenever an Angel (aka Linvala) enters the battlefield under our control. Also, it gives us a 1/1 white Spirit token with flying whenever an Angel we control dies. With our Linvala/Gift combo we can gain life and create a token every single turn which is super fun. Other creatures that will make us tokens are Brimaz, Chasm Skulker, and Hero of Bladehold.

Next, we’ve got the instant Call the Coppercoats from Commander 2020 which I think is a seriously underrated card especially in playgroups that prefer to play creature-heavy decks. Increasing Devotion and Secure the Wastes will also make us a ton of tokens. I’m running two planeswalkers, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. All of their abilities work really well in our deck to either increase the size of our army, wipe the board, or beef up all of our creatures. Lastly, for now, we’ve got Felidar Retreat from the new set. It has Landfall and says, “Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, choose one: create a 2/2 white Cat Beast creature token or put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control. Those creatures gain vigilance until end of turn.”

WIN CONDITIONS AND COMBOS

So, here’s the kicker. I have built two versions of this deck—one with two infinite combos and one without any combos. My reasoning for this was that I know some playgroups that prefer battlecruiser style magic do not enjoy playing against decks with infinite combos. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with either style of play, it is all based on what your playgroup or players at your LGS enjoy. So, for the deck without combos, our win cons are:

 

 

All of these cards support our go-wide strategy by pumping our army. Jazal and Mirror Entity are both great right after a one-sided board wipe which kind of makes them white’s less powerful version of Craterhoof Behemoth.

In the other deck, I am running two combos that will both result in us getting infinite creature tokens. The first combo consists of Ajani’s Chosen, Enchanted Evening, and a removal spell that can get rid of either of the other pieces. Ajani’s Chosen says that whenever an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control, you create a 2/2 Cat token. It does not say may, you have to create that token. Enchanted Evening turns all permanents into enchantments in addition to their other types. These two together create an infinite loop that if not forcibly stopped will result in the game ending in a draw because the loop does not end. So, with a Path to Exile in hand, after you’ve made two billion Cat tokens you can hold priority after an Ajani’s Chosen trigger and exile it.

The other combo is Intruder Alarm plus either Thraben Doomsayer or Steward of Solidarity. This combo is much easier to control. Intruder Alarm says, “Creatures don’t untap during their controllers’ untap steps” and, “Whenever a creature comes into play, untap all creatures.” This allows you to activate the Doomsayer’s or Steward’s ability to tap and put a creature token onto the battlefield as many times as you want. So, again, make two billion tokens and swing out on your next turn for the win. The trick with these two combos is that you and your army have to survive a full turn cycle before you can actually end the game. This is where our immortal Linvala comes in handy by giving our billions of tokens indestructible or hexproof. In my opinion, this is a pretty fair combo since your opponents get a chance to solve it and still a satisfying win for you.

 

-Land Base-

Lastly, here are the lands I’ve included in the deck:

 

 

 

I’m also running Emeria’s Call/Emeria, Shattered Skyclave and Sea Gate Restoration/Sea Gate, Reborn as MDFCs that will be played as lands 95% of the time. Plus, nine Plains and five Islands. You do not have to run all the crazy expensive lands but definitely run Hall of Heliod’s Generosity as a way to get Gift of Immortality back if you need to.

 

Alright, you’ve made it to the end. I have left a ton of the decisions up to you so have fun brewing! Please head to YouTube and like this video and subscribe to our channel if you haven’t yet. Thanks again to Game Grid Lehi for sponsoring our channel. You can click on this link to their website here to shop for all your Magic needs there and you’ll be supporting our channel as well. Game Grid is now shipping nationwide so take advantage of that. Be sure to join us for our livestreams on Twitch every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time for some Brawl on Arena. Thanks, everyone! Stay safe out there.

DECK SINGLES

1 Archon of Absolution
1 Thought Vessel
1 Command Tower
1 Sea of Clouds
1 Reconnaissance Mission
1 Temple of Enlightenment
1 Day of Judgment
1 Prairie Stream
1 Scavenger Grounds
1 Hall of Heliod’s Generosity
1 Counterspell
1 Steward of Solidarity
1 Martial Coup
1 Castle Ardenvale
1 Mirror Entity
1 Windborn Muse
1 Thraben Doomsayer
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Unbreakable Formation
1 Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate
1 Star Compass
1 Pull from Tomorrow
1 Azorius Signet
1 Mind Stone
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 In Garruk’s Wake
1 Chasm Skulker
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Propaganda
1 Austere Command
1 Arcane Signet
1 Sphere of Safety
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Dovin’s Veto
1 Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Enchanted Evening
1 Increasing Devotion
1 Teferi’s Protection
1 Sol Ring
1 Hero of Bladehold
1 Rhystic Study
1 Selfless Spirit
1 Secure the Wastes
1 Intruder Alarm
1 Sejiri Shelter / Sejiri Glacier
1 False Defeat
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Idyllic Tutor
1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Sun Titan
1 Gift of Immortality
1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
1 Angelic Renewal
1 Thieving Skydiver
1 Call the Coppercoats
1 Mother of Runes
1 Bishop of Wings
1 Hanna, Ship’s Navigator
1 Mentor of the Meek
1 Ajani’s Chosen
1 Jazal Goldmane
1 Bishop of Rebirth
1 Skullclamp
1 Talisman of Progress
1 Bident of Thassa
1 Eldrazi Monument
1 Mystic Remora
1 Ghostly Prison
1 Felidar Retreat
1 Smothering Tithe
1 Path to Exile
1 Swan Song
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Arcane Denial
1 Negate
1 Frantic Search
1 Open the Armory
1 Sevinne’s Reclamation
1 Breath of Life
1 Drawn from Dreams
1 Resurrection
1 Wrath of God
1 Emeria’s Call / Emeria, Shattered Skyclave
1 Sea Gate Restoration / Sea Gate, Reborn
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Fabled Passage
1 Flooded Strand
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Irrigated Farmland
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Mystic Gate
1 Nimbus Maze
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Rogue’s Passage

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