Personalizing Commander 2019: Mystic Intellect

Posted in How to Build on August 21, 2019

By Chas Andres

Chas Andres is a freelance writer and MFA student living in Wilmington, North Carolina. When he's not at his keyboard dreaming up stories, you can find him playing with his cats, listening to records, or building yet another Magic deck.

From a flavor perspective, the Commander decks are one of my favorite Magic releases each and every year. Since the cards in Commander (2019 Edition) aren't bound to a single place or time, it's possible to see an ancient Monk of the Jeskai sitting next to a mysterious shimmering Wall from a nameless, unknown Plane. Anything can—and does—happen.

As a Vorthos who likes to modify decks based on story, art, flavor, and the potential for emergent narrative, I tend to base most of my changes on who I choose as my commander. One of the things I like most about these decks is that they come with multiple three-color commanders, each of which has its own unique identity. Today, I'm going to be diving into Commander 2019's Jeskai-colored "Mystic Intellect" deck, with an eye on potential updates based on each of the brand-new three-color commanders. We'll go through each of these cards one at a time, highlighting opportunities for fun and flavorful inclusions.

Let's start by taking a look at the full decklist:

Mystic Intellect

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Sevinne, the Chronoclasm
Planeswalker (1)
1 Ral Zarek
100 Cards

Did you know that "chronoclasm" means "the intentional destruction of clocks and other time artifacts"? I didn't even know it was an actual word until a few moments ago—I'd just assumed that it was a portmanteau created for Sevinne. After all, he certainly seems like the kind of guy who likes to mess around with time.

While Sevinne, the Chronoclasm is probably not breaking any clocks in a literal way, his ability pretty clearly infers a distaste for the idea that time has to continue moving forward in a straight, linear direction. He's also wearing the traditional garb (and large collar) of a Tolarian scholar, a faction of mages that have been obsessed with temporal manipulation since way back in Urza's Saga.

If you're interested in recreating the world of the Tolarian Academies, I'd start by rifling through your Dominaria collection. I bet Sevinne would be happy to see his large-collared colleague Naban, Dean of Iteration, especially if you can give them a fun project to work on together. Naban plays best with Wizards that have good enters-the-battlefield triggers, while Sevinne likes it when you cast spells out of your graveyard. Perhaps they can work together to mentor some of the younger Wizards, like Scrivener, Snapcaster Mage, and Scholar of the Ages?

Based on art and setting, Academy Journeymage, Wizard's Retort, and Tolarian Scholar all seem like flavorful inclusions as well. Of course, it's possible that Sevinne's personal philosophy is a little more experimental than the administration might endorse. The flavor text on Tolarian Scholar makes it clear that the academies currently discourage "the kinds of experiments that ruined the original island of Tolaria." My guess is that chronoclasms are strictly prohibited by current university rules due to past events, but hey—what's a Wizard school without a little interdepartmental conflict?

To that end, I'd like to add some more explicitly time-travel related spells to my Sevinne deck. "Mystic Intellect" already comes with a collection of amazing flashback cards, but Sevinne can only replicate one of them per turn. My solution? Give him more time to work his magic. If Sevinne really wants to intentionally destroy some clocks, let's give him access to cards like Time Warp, Nexus of Fate, and, of course, Temporal Mastery. Telling Time seems perfectly on-flavor as well. Sevinne is perfectly capable of causing a pretty major chronoclasm at your next Commander game—you just have to give him the proper tools.

Speaking of time travel, let's talk about Elsha of the Infinite. The first thing I noticed about this exciting new Jeskai commander is that she appears to be from the pre-Ugin timeline in Khans of Tarkir. The version of the Mystic Monastery that's pictured behind Elsha is identical to the one from Khans, which has a starker, more imposing look than the monastery in the Dragons of Tarkir timeline. This is really exciting. If you've ever wanted another legendary member of the old timeline Jeskai to pair with Narset, Enlightened Master, consider your wish granted.

The important thing to remember about the Jeskai clan, especially the version from the Khans timeline, is that they don't just sit back in their ivory towers and let their spells do all the work. No—the Jeskai enter the fray themselves. Cards like Jeskai Charm and Deflecting Palm are flavorful additions to your deck that should help show off Elsha's aptitude in battle, pumping up her prowess ability while protecting her from lethal wounds in combat.

I'd also love to give Elsha of the Infinite a chance to fight side-by-side with her master, Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest. Shu Yun wasn't betrayed by Tasigur and killed by Ojutai in the Khans timeline, so it makes sense that they'd get to fight on the same battlefield. These two cards play together perfectly, too—Elsha gives you access to additional noncreature spells each turn, while Shu Yun uses those cast triggers to give them both double strike. Take that, any opposing creatures who don't know martial arts!

If I'm rebuilding "Mystic Intellect" around Elsha, I'm probably going to replace most of the creatures with Elsha's Jeskai peers. Cards like Seeker of the Way, Monastery Swiftspear, and Dragon-Style Twins will all be buoyed by Elsha's spellcasting, their own prowess abilities activating each time she reaches into the infinite in search of another spell. Flying Crane Technique is pretty much mandatory, too. Imagine how amazing it'll feel when Elsha learns the coolest martial arts move in the Multiverse and teaches it to all of her colleagues on the battlefield.

The Jeskai Way might be ancient, but it isn't as imposing or mysterious as Pramikon, Sky Rampart. All we really know about Pramikon right now is that it rose from the ocean on a Plane that's perpetually shrouded by mist, and anyone who approaches the Wall finds themselves pushed away in some unexpected direction. Spooky!

Since we can't include any other cards from Pramikon's home Plane, we're going to have to get a little weird as we build our deck around the mysterious Wall. Since Pramikon seems pretty adamant about forcing everyone's attacks in all sorts of strange directions, I'd love to add a few cards that will allow us to flicker Pramikon at will, reversing everyone's attack order at odd and opportune moments. Cloudshift seems like the most on-flavor way to do it since Pramikon is a Sky Rampart, though Ghostly Flicker and Displace both have a fun creepiness factor that plays into Pramikon's unearthly aesthetic.

Another option to consider? More Walls. A whole bunch more Walls. Since we don't know what's really going on with Pramikon's Plane yet, we can imagine a world where dozens of different Walls are bursting up out of the land and sea, creating all sorts of havoc and confusion. Fog Bank makes a lot of flavor sense here, especially since we know that Pramikon exists on a misty Plane, though Wall of Tears is my favorite potential inclusion. Wall of Tears also has odd and otherworldly art, and the implication behind the card is that the creatures who approach this Wall have to literally leave the battlefield in order to deal with their own sadness. How haunting.

The other question our deck can answer is this . . . what's hiding behind Pramikon, Sky Rampart? If you really want to lean into the eeriness of the situation, you can include some of the more visually incomprehensible Eldrazi; cards like Deceiver of Form or Reality Smasher, whose shimmering rainbow coloration reminds me a little too much of Pramikon's opaque barrier.

Or perhaps the giant Wall is neither corporeal nor alien, but celestial—tapping Pramikon and several other Walls in order to cast Devout Invocation and making a whole bunch of Angel tokens seems like a fun and flavorful twist for the end of your "What's the deal with this Wall?" mystery.

If you've got any other cool ideas for modifying the "Mystic Intellect" deck, hit me up on Twitter @ChasAndres. I'll be retweeting the best ones all week, and I'm excited to figure out even more exciting ways to explore the flavor of Commander 2019.

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