Deck Tech: Atraxa Walkers

Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice Planeswalkers:

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Normally planeswalker decks can be somewhat clunky, reliant on fast mana rocks, and almost totally defenseless versus combo decks. This deck looks to not be as clunky, trim cards I feel are not actually good in a planewalker deck, and use its planeswalkers in a very aggressive manner.

Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice gives us a good default line of defense. She has lifelink and vigilence – a powerful midrange combo that can constantly sustain your life and block for your walkers. Her deathtouch lets her trade with big voltron creatures.

Her proliferate ability is of course the big draw to this planeswalker deck. The proliferation is ok – not devastating. It’s probably better in an infect deck. She is more for lifegain/sustain when we need her and when she fits our curve. We don’t need her to carry out the main goals of our deck.

The Main Strats

Usually your main objectives with this build of Atraxa Walkers are one of the following:

  1. Untap with multiple planeswalkers in play
  2. Ult a planeswalker
  3. Sculpt your way into a turn where you can go Doubling Season / Omniscience / Deepglow Skate into a combo-like turn where you deploy/ult multiple planeswalkers in a single turn

Generally if you are able to accomplish any three of these objectives you are on the right track to winning the game. Fulfilling the first two goals usually lead into the third goal which actually allows you to close out the game.

The main mentality you need to embrace with this deck is that you can’t be afraid of having your planeswalkers be killed. EDH is a format that inherently rewards proactive decks and you need to be proactive with your walkers. This means that you will be casting your walkers in many scenarios for 1 activation. Use this 1 activation to get value (card draw, card filtering, or tutoring effects from the likes of Tezzeret the Seeker or Liliana Vess) before your walkers get attacked to death.

oath-of-nissaThe Planeswalker Effect

Why are our walkers destined to die so quickly? Anyone who has played EDH for an extended period of time knows that its a time honored tradition to try to kill planeswalkers if the opportunity cost is low. Opponents really don’t want you to untap with your walkers to recur value each turn.

This sucks for us initially but the planeswalker effect actually can benefit us later on in the game. In the mid/late game your other opponents are going to have threatening things going on. Some might have swarms of creatures or there could be a opponent setting up for their combo turn. After seeing your walkers get crunched each turn your opponents might think you are loosing ground. They might politically assess you as less of a threat and might start worrying more about the other players who are doing whatever their decks do best.

This is where the Atraxa Superfriends deck shines – the moment people let their guard down. The deck’s real power stems by being able to cast one of these four cards: Doubling Season, Omniscience, Deepglow Skate, and Jace, Architect of Thought. These four cards cannot be squandered: they are your playmaking cards.

The first three of these cards are modestly easy to explain. Being able to cast your spells for free or double the amount of counters on your planeswalkers can easily swing the tide of most battles. Think about your sequencing so that you can maximize the counters or ults you can achieve with your planeswalkers. Our deck is good enough at creating enough mana that it is possible to sandbag Doubling Season until the late game when you can cast doubling season + a walker that you can instantly ult (same idea with the Deepglow Skate ).

Jace, Architect of Thought has a special home in this deck. His ult can let us grab another walker from our deck/opponents deck and ult it if we have doubling season in play. Being able to cast any card from each player’s deck is usually way more than enough to win the game. You can reset the board with mass removal or combine cards from each deck to give you an immediate combo. If your opponents run reanimation effects such as Obzedat’s Aid you can reanimate your Jace, Architect of Thought and possibly ult him again!

doubling-season2Why No Defensive Cards?

Defensive cards dilute the deck and don’t do anything versus combo decks. Cards like Propaganda and Ghostly Prison don’t defend planeswalkers (they can still be attacked without the 2 costing tax) and effects like Sphere of safety require us to run a ton of enchantments. This is not a enchantress deck. We are not playing turbo-fog. We are not trying to build a prison/pillow fort deck. We are playing walkers and we intend to win with walkers.

Cards like Fog and Arachnogenesis can be backbreaking if played at very specific points in a game versus specific archetypes. This is why we don’t run them though: they are only good at specific points in a game.

If you have very fast/dedicated combo decks in your metagame I could totally understand running a little more spot removal to help deny your opponents fast kill potential. I would initially cut Garruk Wildspeaker, then a mana rock as the starting cuts.

Matchup Analysis:

  • Combo: Pure race with this build. You might be forced to swap in more spot removal if their combos are faster.
  • Group Hug: Great for us, they feed us cards and sometimes enable us with more land drops. Watch out for other combo decks that might also benefit.
  • Aggro: Voltron isn’t so bad for us, but token/swarm aggro decks are actually incredibly good against us because the opportunity cost of killing planeswalkers is so low for them. Against Voltron/Big Stompy decks we can spend our planeswalkers like Ob Nixilis Reignited and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage killing/tapping/bouncing single threat creatures if we absolutely have to. This is usually the case for Eldrazi Titans.
  • Control: This is a middle of the road matchup. If our hand is more oriented towards a big combo turn it might be worse overall because control decks have tons of tools for dismantling a clutch enchantment like Doubling Season. We want to grind versus control decks: sticking a walker and getting value over time is good for us.
  • Prison: We want to stick walkers and get value over time. If they are a mass destruction style of deck (like a MLD Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer ) their mass destruction spells usually can’t kill planeswalkers. Use a Alchemist’s Refuge versus most prison effects to be able to navigate around the various ways Prison decks deny you from casting spells (1 spell per turn, higher casting costs, counterspell walls, etc). Being able to play on other players turns usually lets you be flexible outside of a Prison deck’s reach.
  • Graveyard decks: We run Bojuka Bog that can be tutored for if we really need it.

How are you playing Atraxa? What planeswalkers do you like the most? Respond in the comments below!

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