Get a Life: A Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice Primer

Life gain. It’s wonderfully frustrating for your opponent’s to play against. Nothing feels better than stealing a win away from someone because you played a Loxodon Hierarch or a Thragtusk. In Commander, we all start at 40 life, which is no small number by any means–it’s twice what we get to deal with in competitive formats–but some of us simply don’t think that’s enough. Why stop at 40? Why not 80 or 100? Well that’s the question I was asking myself as I chose to build my most recent Commander deck. I wanted to center it around life gain, and with access to cards like Archangel of Thune and Thragtusk, my colors were set immediately. Sure, Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is great for life gain as well, but his is a much slower crawl most of the time. I wanted explosive life gain. Instead of gaining two life a turn, I wanted to gain 10 and 12 a turn. My choice of Commanders was easy. It just had to be Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice.

Trostani, Selesnya's Voice

An Angelic Chorus on a 2/5 body was all I had to consider before making my decision, as Angelic Chorus is already a powerful card. And then she has her Populate ability–icing on the cake–which is perfect when paired with cards like Angelic AccordEntreat the Angels, or the previously mentioned Thragtusk. Trostani was just the perfect, explosive life gain Commander for my needs. Her downside is the need for both double green and double white to play her in the early game, but with the proper ramp and color fixing lands, this isn’t a difficult task. She also lacks natural evasion or protection, but yet again, this isn’t difficult to overcome.  Brave the Elements is a wonderful card in this deck, as it can save a good number of your creatures, and access to green cards gives us things like Asceticism for a more permanent effect.

Angelic Accord  Ajani, Mentor of Heroes  Karametra, God of Harvests

Getting more into the technical side of the deck, we’re given a good bit of utility. The three cards shown above have been the powerhouses of the deck as far as I’ve seen, and while I do run some powerful creatures like Archangel of Thune and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth in my list, I’ve been far less impressed by those than the cards pictured here. Angelic Accord has shown itself to be a solid win condition in my deck, which is surprising due to it being an uncommon. Originally put in the deck as a filler, I was soon convinced to keep it in the main board indefinitely. With Trostani’s Populate ability, once you have an Angel token on board, you’re essentially guaranteed four life and an Angel every turn.

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, unsurprisingly does his job phenomenally. What’s surprising about this fresh new Planeswalker is the fact that in my experience, most players don’t seem to notice him. Ajani simply works as an effective source of card draw, and that’s pretty much it. But drawing an extra card a turn, and being able to control which card you get each time you use his ability avoids dead draws, hitting cards like Avenger of ZendikarCelestial Mantle, and Garruk, Primal Hunter. I’ve seen this Planeswalker hit the table in only a handful of games, but every time he has, he’s drawn me fuel for the fire. The even more surprising part about him is the fact that his unassuming effect on the game has allowed me to use his -8 in four out of the five games I’ve played him. Which in my experience is unheard of, as players usually deal with Planeswalkers immediately. Unless it’s Jace Beleren.

And finally, there’s Karametra. The power of the God’s of Theros in Commander is undeniable. They all have their uses, and they do their jobs well. Karametra is no exception. The inclusion of smaller creature in the deck like the Soul Sisters (Soul WardenSoul’s Attendant, and Essence Warden)Serra Ascendant, and general ramp creatures like Sakura-Tribe Elder allows you to trigger Karametra’s ability with ease. In this way, Karametra has become one of the best ramp engines in the entire deck, easily thinning out the deck, fixing colors, and facilitating much larger creatures in the earlier stages of the game. The other thing about Karametra is the fact that Trostani alone nearly provides enough Devotion to make her a creature, meaning any other creature in the deck gives you a 6/7 indestructible creature the turn she comes into play. While she doesn’t gain you any life by herself, Karametra is a must in any Trostani list.

Return to Dust  Unravel the Æther

These are the last two cards I’ll discuss in depth. One of the deck’s biggest issues is, of course, cards that prevent life gain. Erebos, God of the Dead and Stranglehold have been the most common problems, as they’re the most popular of these effects in my experience. Thankfully, cards of this type have one thing in common: they’re enchantments. The fact that you’ll be playing both white and green gives you some very effective answers for these cards. Green packs a good number of destroy artifact and enchantment spells, but the introduction of Erebos to the Commander community makes these effects sub par. For this reason, we look to cards like Return to Dust and Unravel the Aether for our answers. Being able to tuck or exile these permanents gives you much more freedom, either indefinitely or for an extended period of time. Other cards you can run are things like Fade into Antiquity or  Deicide, but the two pictured above have performed phenomenally in my list.
Other cards worth mentioning in the list are:

  • Felidar Sovereign and Test of Endurance: Obvious potential win conditions.
  • Selvala, Explorer Returned: Very group-huggy and therefore easy to keep around. Solid ramp, and decent consistent life gain.
  • Ajani Goldmane: Life gain, Creature pumping ability, and essentially creates Serra Avatar tokens that double your life total when Trostani is on the field.
  • True Conviction: Adds to the explosiveness of the deck, allows Archangel of Thune to trigger twice off of any creature dealing damage.
  • Primal Command: Deals with problem permanents, tutor’s for a creature, gains you life, and shuffles your graveyard into your library. What more needs to be said?
  • Beacon of Immortality: Allows you to quickly get back into the game, or pushes you out of your opponent’s reach. Shuffles back in after every use, so it can be used multiple times for maximum fun.
  • Boon Reflection, and Rhox Faithmender: Double life effects.
  • Proper Burial: Making the best out of a bad situation. You may not be able to save all of your creatures from a board wipe, but you can gain value from their demise.
  • Fracturing Gust: Mass removal of artifacts and enchantments. Can gain you large amounts of life depending on what your opponents are playing.

 

In closing, the deck has a lot of utility, it’s theme is solid and not difficult to build around, and it does its job well. I’ve not played a single game where I haven’t been able to reach at least 150 life at one point or another and have reached well over 1000 in at least one game. To end, I’ll leave you the list and some final thoughts on playing it.

(100)
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
 Archangel of Thune
Felidar Sovereign
Karametra, God of the Harvest
Angelic Skirmisher
Dawnbringer Charioteers
Fiendslayer Paladin
Rhox Faithmender
Serra Ascendant
Victory’s Herald
Thragtusk
Courser of Kruphix
Scavenging Ooze
Avenger of Zendikar
Ageless Entity
Obstinate Baloth
Soul’s Attendant
Soul Warden
Essence Warden
Oracle of Mul’daya
Engulfing Slagwurm
Auriok Champion
Loxodon Hierarch
Oracle of Nectars
Selvala, Explorer Returned
Sakura Tribe Elder
Yavimaya Elder
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Ajani Goldmane
Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
Garruk, Primal Hunter
True Conviction
Celestial Mantle
Swords to Plowshares
Primal Command
Blind Obedience
Momentous Fall
Path to Exile
Brave the Elements
Primeval Bounty
Fracturing Gust
Angelic Chorus
Unravel the Aether
Test of Endurance
Return to Dust
Boon Reflection
Beacon of Immortality
Bow of Nylea
Wrath of God
Leline of Vitality
Proper Burial
Day of Judgment
Entreat the Angels
Mana Reflection
Selesnya Signet
Sol Ring
Thran Dynamo
Cultivate
Kodama’s Reach
Explosive Vegetation
Enlightened Tutor
Krosan Grip
Asceticism
Temple Garden
Sunpetal Grove
Command Tower
Opal Palace
Elfhame Palace
Selesnya Guildgate
Wooded Bastion
Temple of the False God
Gavony Township
Horizon Canopy
Riftstone Portal
Selesnya Sanctuary
13 Forest
12 Plains

Tips and Tricks:

1.When playing Trostani Life Gain, always keep in mind that you’re not safe from alternate win conditions. Build a defense, don’t just focus on getting your life total as high as possible. Commander damage is still a thing, and if you can’t afford either Kozilek, Butcher of Truth or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre for your list, make sure to include some sort of defense against Mill.

2. Try to play your creatures that get bigger from gaining life after Trostani or Angelic Chorus has hit the battlefield. Ageless Entity is much better as an 8/8 for 5 mana than a 4/4 for 5 mana, and Archangel of Thune is much better when simply playing the creature immediately pumps your team.

3. The fact that Beacon of Immortality is an instant is often overlooked. Don’t forget this.

4. Life Gain can draw a good bit of aggression from opponents. Be aware of this, don’t get mad about it. They have a good reason to target you.

 

As always, thank you for reading. Feel free to leave feedback, questions, and ideas in the comment section below. We greatly appreciate your input. Keep an eye out for more content in the next few days. Keep Commanding.


Evan Erickson

 

Author: Evan Erickson

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