Hello everybody and welcome back to Brawl Haul! Before jumping into this week’s article, I would like to apologize about the lack of article last week. My power and internet were fairly unstable for its entirety and because of that, I was unable to get in enough testing to be able to create a deck I could be proud of. With all that said, let’s dive into this week’s deck featuring Prime Speaker Vannifar!
The main goal of our deck is to get Prime Speaker Vannifar stick on the board and then use her ability to cheat out a lot of pricier creatures onto the field. This results in a lot of early game ramp to make sure we can consistently get her on board around turn 3. With her ability, we can cheat out more expensive minions and fight more aggressively for the board, eventually letting us pull ahead and close out the game.
How we Use Prime Speaker Vannifar?
I have always been a massive fan of Birthing Pod style decks as going up a chain of creatures for a combo finish is always satisfying to do. Unfortunately for us, there are no good combo finishers in the deck, as well as there not being a ton of creatures that untap something when they enter the battlefield. This does hurt Vannifar’s viability a hefty amount, but she still works great if playing her more fairly. The best way to abuse her is to just load up on as many enter the battlefield cards as possible so that way you can continue to activate Vannifar for value as ultimately the bodies don’t matter as much since eventually they are going to be sacrificed by Vannifar.
Early Game Ramp
The faster we can get Vannifar onto the field to start activating her ability, the better. On top of this, a lot of our early ramp comes in the form of a creature which means they become fuel for Vannifar once she can tap. The best ramp tools we have are Gilded Goose, Arboreal Grazer, Ilysian Caryatid, and Incubation Druid.
Both Gilded Goose and Arboreal Grazer are great as they provide a decent body as well as helping us get a turn closer to Vannifar. It is a bit awkward occasionally as it only ramps us to 3 mana and there's still an awkward turn where you aren’t doing much most of the time. On the other side, Ilysian Caryatid and Incubation Druid come out turn 2, ramp us to four the next turn and set us up for a 3 CMC creature later on. There is not much else to say about the ramp aspect of our deck aside from the fact it sets up for Vannifar to go wild.
In order to go crazy with Vannifar, we need to be able to untap her. In a normal Pod deck, this is done by fetching creatures that untap something, but unfortunately there are only two creatures that do this, these being Corridor Monitor and Hyrax Tower Scout. We also run Stony Strength and Sudden Spinnerets for a similar effect. The sole purpose of these cards is to help us get a larger board by skipping mana costs. The two creatures let us skip straight to a four drop, and if we have either of the instants we can go even further. Like with the ramp, there's not much else to say about these cards aside from the fact they let us spiral things out of control a lot faster.
Eventually we are going to have to stop the chain and finish on, which is when having a strong body is significantly more relevant than the enter the battlefield trigger. The cards we want to end on are Thorn Mammoth, Kogla, the Titan Ape, Elder Gargaroth, and Agent of Treachery.
Thorn Mammoth is easily one of the best ways we have for closing out the game as we can just prevent the opponent from developing any board. Against wide boards, Vannifar can help give the Mammoth a lot of fight triggers to clear it out. Kogla also serves as removal when he first enters, and then his on attack trigger can hose people every once in a while. The final ability is often not relevant but can occasionally lead to some shenanigans with Agent of Treachery. Elder Gargaroth creates a board on his own, as well as just helping the deck with some rougher matchups like aggro. Finally we have Agent of Treachery, which speaks for itself for the most part. Taking someone’s permanents is unsurprisingly very strong, especially when we don’t have to spend the mana on it.
Other Notable Cards
Like always, there were a few cards that were overperforming despite not fitting the rest of the main archetypes of the deck. The main cards that overperformed were Keruga, the Macrosage, Oakhame Adversary, Garruk’s Uprising, and Heroic Intervention.
Originally Keruga was being ran as the companion but the lack of early drops just felt rough around the edges. That being said, Keruga is a powerhouse in the deck, especially since we can pretty much get him out whenever we want due to Vannifar. Being able to draw 4-5 cards off of Vannifar’s ability is very good and a good Keruga wins the game very easily. Oakhame Adversary is fairly interesting as it is a 4 drop that can come down turn 2 and become a 5 drop with Vannifar. While going against a non-green deck hurts the cards viability, more often than not the ability to cheat out a 5 drop heavily outweighs it. Garruk’s Uprising helps draw a lot of cards as a lot of the cards we want to end on trigger the card’s final effect. In addition to that, giving our creatures trample is relevant as well. Finally we have Heroic Intervention, which is just an absurdly strong card. It is probably one of the strongest defensive cards in arena right now since aside from countering it or reacting in response, there is very little the opponent can do to us once the card has been played.
Strengths and Weaknesses
This deck is very linear and when i t gets some time to do its gimmick, it wins games very quickly. The deck is able to push out threats all while still holding up interaction which is invaluable against a lot of decks and is what makes the deck excel. With Teferi, Time Raveler being banned, there are considerably less ways for opponents to deal with 1-2 large creatures.
Encase it is not obvious, the deck is very reliant on Prime Speaker Vannifar, and it falls incredibly short when we can’t use it. This means decks with a ton of interaction or removal tend to do well against us. The issue is only made worse due to Vannifar being a huge lighting rod for removal.
If you are interested in trying out the decklist, here’s a link to it!
Prime Speaker Vannifar is easily one of my favorite commanders that's been printed in recent years and is one that I am planning on building a deck around in Paper sometime in the near future. I’m a huge fan of combo decks and Vannifar is very consistent for doing that style of stuff. I mentioned it a bit earlier, but in Arena there just is not enough support for it unfortunately, especially with her rotating out soon. As for the deck itself, I had a great time playing it but it is incredibly linear. The deck devolves into playing pretty much the exact same line every game, which I’m fine with for the most part but I can see why others would not enjoy it.
That is all I have to say about the deck, I wouldn’t really recommend crafting it due to it being so close to rotation though. If you are interested in any of the commanders on Arena and want to see my take on them, make sure to let me know as I am always open to suggestions. Thank you for reading this week’s article and until next week, good luck brewing!