A Magictation by Mikeal Basile
“Magictating” is defined as getting into the zone with your Magic the Gathering collection–thinking, planning, organizing, reminiscing about past games, and imagining future games. It is a combination of hard thinking about the game and calm meditation, reveling in the joy it brings you.
Djeru, With Eyes Wide Open
Budget Version Link: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/djeru-with-eyes-open-wide-budget/?cb=1615175031
I wanted to share with you a little side project I’ve been working on. This little mono-white Commander recently crushed my buddies in a three player game. I am fairly certain it would have done equally well in a four player game as well. I know people tend to malign mono-white, but honestly, it can still be very solid in Commander.
But wait you say. Mono-white in Commander—doesn’t it mean your deck will be awful? White doesn’t have ramp, and it doesn’t have big nonsense like Craterhoof Behemoth or Cyclonic Rift. But you know what white has that the other colors don’t? Balance. Sadly, not the card, because that it is banned. But white has balanced answers to just about anything your opponent can throw at you. It has the best targeted and blanket removal around. With Djeru, Eyes Wide Open as your Commander you also get access to card advantage. Planeswalkers are basically value machines, and Djeru tutors up one after another during the game. I’m not usually a fan of tutoring effects in Commander, but when you’re playing mono-white how powerful can it really be? Djeru can also be a serious beater when you have plenty of Glorious Anthem effects in play. This deck is designed to power out an army, and go wide! The smaller creatures get big pretty quickly, and so you win using a combination of anthem effects, tricks, and mass removal. These are all designed to create card advantage over your opponents. It has a few weaknesses, but what deck doesn’t? This plays like a cross between a white weenie deck and a blue-white control deck. And before you tell me that it can’t play like a control deck without Counterspell, then I think you forgot that white has counterspells (Dawn Charm, Illumination, Mana Tithe, and Rebuff the Wicked). I’m not running all of those, but you could. It’s always cute when the blue mage is tapped out and the green mage taps Craterhoof Behemonth, and you get to say, “in response, I’ll counter your spell,” while tossing little old Mana Tithe onto the table.
Synergize for the Win!
This deck leverages several synergies across its build. The sneakiest one of all is that these creatures are almost all humans. The ones that aren’t humans are there to synergize with the humans. This sub-theme helps make the deck more explosive and gives it an edge that is usually reserved for green decks and their Overrun effects. Champion of the Parish, Angel of Glory’s Rise, Rick Steadfast Leader, and Basri Ket all help to achieve that moment of critical mass.
Lots of the humans in this deck are also Knights. This works out rather nicely because we get to use cards like Knight Exemplar and Worthy Knight to even greater effect. Having knights mount up for a huge offensive charge on their various mounts is sure to be a satisfying way to claim an honorable victory. Worthy Knight and The Circle of Loyalty help build the army as well. The Circle of Loyalty is one of the best cards in the whole deck, because it does literally everything this deck is trying to do: go wide with tokens, pump the team, and gain incremental card advantage. It’s just so good. Meanwhile, cards like Crusading Knight and Knight of Dawn seem cute, but the payoff potential can be huge. Stopping non-trampling fatties in their tracks and brutalizing heavy black strategies and the occasional Urborg Tomb of Yawgmoth with a random rare from Invasion feels wonderful. Sure, cards like this can be sub-optimal, but since they synergize so well with everything else in the deck it doesn’t hurt so much when they aren’t grossly powerful.
Using Glorious Anthem effects also helps to build our unimpressive 1/1’s and 2/2’s into oddly intimidating forces is the secret behind this deck’s success. You can drop a Crusade and follow it up with an Honor of the Pure, and now everything is getting +2+2. Sometimes, you hold back playing one or two anthem effects and then play them all in a single turn to act like a pseudo-Overrun. Cards like Valiant Knight, Knight Exemplar, and Celestial Crusader all help pump the team. Once you have two of these effects in play, that little first striker defense becomes a hard hitting offensive force. Djeru, With Eyes Open helps tie together the anthem effects and token generators. Djeru always tutors up a planeswalker for instant card advantage. Following that play up with a planeswalker we can protect helps us crank out the value and pump up the team.
Humans, Knights, white creatures, and tokens all work in tandem, and we also have many +1/+1 counter effects to help permanently buff up our creatures. Creating a critical mass of both tokens and pumping effects is the goal. People will kill Elspeth on site along with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Gideon will definitely be on people’s radars, because it does everything this deck wants to do. It can create knights, pump the team, and even swing in for some damage on its own. Basri Ket is actually a hidden all-star for this deck. Basri is great at doing the two things our deck needs the most—generating tokens and buffing them. Eventually, people will catch on that Basri Ket is super dangerous as well, and they’ll be happy to spend a card to remove it. Ultimately, this decks looks to gain overall card advantage in order to crush your opponents in big sweeping attacks.
You forgot the life gain.
What about life gain? Isn’t this mono-white? Why aren’t you running Congregate with all those tokens? Well, I chose not to lean too heavily into the life gain sub-theme. I figured that would just make me a target entirely too early on. The deck can handle a little team up, but not for long. The key is to get ahead a bit and then cripple a few others. You don’t want to be the archenemy of the table. You want to swing for plenty of damage and then if things get out of control sweep it all away. The deck has multiple sweeper effects to help cover nearly every situation. I chose sweeper effects that can be either one-sided or at least leave our planeswalkers in play to help us bounce back faster than everyone else. The nastiest little sweeper spice is Ravnica at War. This can tear apart some decks, and can also be a bit lame against others. However, that’s the thing with spicy cards—they can be just right, too much, or not enough. Overall, the mana curve for the deck is very low. This helps you rebuild faster, and gets you swinging in for more damage before people have time to rebuild their defenses.
Spice is Nice
What’s in here that you might not stumble across naturally? What cards did I decide to include because they are fun, radical or surprise people time and time again? Illumination is one for sure. I really need to get an artist to alter one with a little minion on it shouting, “ILLUMINATION!” Now, white is not known for drawing cards, but I felt I would try out using a white draw seven enchantment: Pursuit of Knowledge. Have you ever run? It is both risky and rewarding. So, naturally, I’m in because, “What could possibly go wrong?” Could someone nail you for using it, sure. But, you could also live the dream with it. I think that dreams are worth risking a few draws, don’t you? Additionally, I chose to include cluestones and a banner to help add a few late game draw effects. Unlike other decks, we tend to drop creatures turns 2, 3, and 4, and then drop ramp and creatures turns 5, 6, and 7. The option to sweep it all away is there too, so perhaps you will want to ramp into a sweeper to start building your army double-time afterwards. Either way, you have choices with this mono-white build, and choices are what make decks good. I also felt that including Debt of Loyalty would be pretty fun for this deck. It’s nice to snag someone’s awesome creature when they were expecting it to merely die. The -1/-0 counter it gets is usually negated by all of our various anthem effects, but even if it’s not, it’s still targeted creature theft in white. Additionally, I would definitely consider playing History of Benalia and Silverwing Squadron as well. I chose not to include them as I felt that History makes you a bit too much of a target for too many turns, and Silverwing Squadron didn’t fit my need to keep the mana curve super low.
Being able to be flexible in your approach is key, and white allows you a surprising amount of flexibility. It has balanced answers to so many of the problems that can arise during a game. The ability to sweep away artifacts, enchantments, or creatures is awesome. You can use spot removal to exile problematic permanents and not worry when your tokens or smaller creatures die to removal or other people’s sweepers. You can usually replace your tokens rather easily by recasting Djeru and picking up another one of your value engine planeswalkers. Djeru really helps take this deck from something that can putter out to a deck that has a surprising amount of late game potential. It may seem like you’re playing white weenie, but when you shift into the control portion of the deck’s late-game strategies you will not be disappointed in what you’re capable of doing. This deck demands to be answered, and it can meet other deck’s demands for removal. This is what makes this a strong, flexible, and fun mono-white Commander deck. Plus, this mana base is the cheapest around! You can go all plains or maybe mix it up with an Emeria, the Sky Ruin to have some extra late-game potential. Overall, I think this build is pretty solid, and it does allow you plenty of wiggle room to build your own with whatever you have laying around. This deck can easily be made as a budget build, and so I’ve included a budget list link as well. I hope that you get to sling some spells sooner rather than later. I know that Time Spiral Remastered is around the corner, and it has a few of these cards in it as well. Time to expand the collection!
I originally wrote this before Strixhaven. So, if you’re wondering why it’s not updated with a few new card draw spells, well, now you now why. Have fun tinkering if you decide to try this build out! I have really enjoyed it so far! Until next time, may the cards be ever in your favor!