Core Set 2019 releases this Friday, and one of the cards from the set inspired me to brew up something new. The card in question was a new Spirit “lord” (a lord is a creature of a particular type that typically has a +1/+1 anthem on it for creatures of the same type, and often times provides some other bonus as well) called Supreme Phantom. A 1/3 flier for 1U, it provides a +1/+1 bonus to other spirits. After seeing this card I wondered if there were other spirit lords out there, and of course there are, spirits as a tribe gained a bunch of support in the Kamigawa block, but have had some great additions throughout the years as well. It turns out that there are good spirits in all 5 colors, so the first task was to find a 5-color commander so I could use them all. Commander 2017 delivered, with O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami:
A 6/6 flying trampler that will also exile a permanent if said player attacked you the previous turn, O-Kagachi was one of the alternate commanders from the Ur-Dragon 2017 precon. Honestly, this guy isn’t all that impressive, nor does our gameplan really revolve around him, but he is a spirit and will benefit from tribal synergy. Really, we only want him because of the fact that he allows us to use all 5 colors for our deck. Most of the best spirits that exist are fairly expensive, so we’ll also want to include ways to cheat them into play and reduce their casting costs. There are two cycles of spirits that I’ve included that I’ll highlight first:
The Myojins are expensive legendary spirits that all have a shared mechanic: They enter the battlefield with divinity counters making them indestructible, and by removing said counter they have a powerful effect. A nice interaction to utilize these effects repeatedly can be done by playing Kindred Boon. This tribal enchantment will allow you to put divinity counters back on the Myojins for 1W, allowing repeated use of their big effects. This can help you to control a game particularly if you get the black Myojin out and start causing everyone to discard their hands. The second cycle I’ve included are the Star dragon spirits, each that has a beneficial effect upon their deaths. You’ll probably want to avoid putting divinity counters on them, but they are still big fliers that can put in a beating and do something when they die.
The remaining spirits are mostly fliers with decent bodies. There are a couple of lords, one that provides flash to other spirits, one that can be sacrificed to prevent all damage, one that functions as a ghostly prison, etc. There are some interesting effects here and I’d take the time to read the individual cards to get an idea of what’s going on. As I said earlier, many of these cost quite a bit, but my curve is still mostly in the 3 cmc range. One of the spirits above, the Lifespinner can help us to cheat a big spirit into play, but we’ll have to sacrifice 3 spirits to do so. I’ve included a couple of ways to create spirit tokens so that we’ll have tokens to sacrifice, and also some additional ways to help get around the big casting costs:
Abzan Ascendancy and Field of Souls will both grant us 1/1 flying spirits each time one of our nontoken creatures dies, and those can be used in a number of ways. Fist of Suns will help us to cheapen 6+ casting cost creatures by making them only cost 5 mana. Herald’s Horn and Urza’s Incubator will also reduce casting costs for our spirits, and I’ve included a Trophy Mage to tutor out any one of those as needed. Kindred Summons will also slam spirits onto the board, however you’ll want to have a bit of a board state prior to casting it, and you don’t know if you’ll get expensive ones out but it’s still helpful. Lastly, if you happen to lose a bunch of the legendary spirits to a board wipe or it’s late game and your graveyard is full, Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth can get you back in the game in a jiffy!
Outside of these highlighted cards, I’ve included a removal package, some ramp and other tribal goodies like Kindred Discovery and Vanquisher’s Banner. I’ve gotten pretty decent at putting together tribal decks, and though they’ll never be tier 1, they are still fun to play and can hold their own in casual circles. You can see the full decklist here.