I have a hankering for winning via alternative methods when playing Commander. Some alternate win conditions, like the new Gallifrey Stands, seems rather novel and difficult to pull off. Others, like Thassa’s Oracle, may have your table yawning.
While Gallifrey Stands seemed almost impossible as a realistic win condition, a new Doctor Who Secret Lair was spoiled last week. Two new Doctors Commander options were revealed – one of those Doctors pairs perfectly with Gallifrey Stands.
The Fourteenth Doctor looks like players’ best shot at assembling the board needed to win with Gallifrey Stands. This is not an easy task, making this Commander build far from a competitive one. Regardless, if you’re looking for some ideas on how to build a Doctor-themed Commander deck, this is the best place to start!
Shown above is our Commander of choice. The Fourteenth Doctor really is our best shot at getting Gallifrey Stands to work, as it needs to have thirteen Doctors in play on your upkeep to win the game, and is a six mana enchantment itself. I feel the need to stress that, even with what’s in this article, this is a very difficult win condition to pull off.
Fortunately, the Fourteenth Doctor can turn Gallifrey Stands’ ETB effect into a reliable card advantage engine. This Doctor can mill your other ones rather quickly before entering as a copy of one of them. Gallifrey Stands can then put those cards into your hand. This is a great way to assemble all the cards you need to win at a, uh, reasonable pace.
Before we go any further, however, our Doctor can bring a Companion along with him. Here is, in our opinion, the most reasonable Companion options as well as the Companion we will ultimately build around.
Doctor’s CompanionRose Noble is a seemingly strong choice for a deck full of Doctors. I will repeat what I said when initially reviewing Rose: The mana value for what you get is simply not worth it. Rose’s draw ability is already lackluster for four mana since you need to cast the spell for Rose to trigger – meaning flickering will not work. There’s better things to consider.
If you’re looking for a Doctor’s Companion that is purely a value generator, Sarah Jane Smith is likely the better choice. Not only does Sarah trigger off of more spells, but many of the other Doctors that you may include to use with Gallifrey Stands synergize with Clue Tokens, making the ability more valuable than it may appear at first glance.Vislor Turlough is an obvious choice for some. While this Doctor’s Companion doesn’t do much functionally for you, at allows you play within the full five-colored identity. You don’t need black to play the other Doctors, though, so we won’t be using Vislor because we don’t need him.
If you do want to play black, Clara Oswald is likely the stronger choice. You’ll be able to occasionally copy the cast ability of the Fourteenth Doctor with Clara, and will also be able to copy any abilities of other Doctor cards in play, or the Doctor that your Fourteenth Doctor becomes.
Our choice may not strictly be the best one, but it does provide a rather interesting angle to build the deck around- Jo Grant. Jo gives all of your Historic permanents Cycling, allowing you to dump Doctors into the grave for your Commander to copy on cast. Three mana for a Cycle effect is expensive, however, so we will be interested in finding way to reduce the cost of this ability.
Read More: MTG Doctor Who What is Doctor’s Companion?
Making Cycling Better
Jo Grant offers a rather novel way to find all the pieces you need while getting a bunch of Doctors into your grave for Gallifrey Stands to put back into your hand – or for you to otherwise reanimate. It’s probably not the most powerful way to build the deck, but does offer an interesting twist on the strategy.New Perspectives and Jo Grant can lead to some wacky interactions. As long as you have seven cards in your hand, you’ll be able to dump all of your Historic cards into your grave for free! Add Tectonic Reformation into the mix, and you can almost sculpt your hand to your liking. Gavi, Nest Warden can do a similar thing, allowing you to get your Doctors into the grave with speed. Fluctuator is quite powerful alongside Jo Grant, allowing you to Cycle your Historic permanents for one white instead of three mana. Zirda, the Dawnwaker, while unusable as a Companion because of the Doctors, can also reduce the cost of Cycling effects.
Fluctuator is so powerful that this deck functions at a completely different level with it in play. As a result, we’ve included an arsenal of tutors to find this key card like Muddle the Mixture, Whir of Invention and Tribute Mage to help ensure you see it during the game.Unpredictable Cyclone functions as a win condition, turning your Cycles into free casts. This is a great way to assemble a ton of Doctors onto the battlefield for cheap.
Effects like Gavi can otherwise create a unique opportunity to include cards with massive Cycling costs like Decree of Silence. We will not be leaning into Cycling quite that heavily, but it is a direction to take the deck.
Sadly, all of the Doctors want to do slightly different things, making them some of the clunkiest cards in your deck. This makes Cycling the weaker ones, like The Thirteenth Doctor and The Fifth Doctor, much more interesting.
That said, some Doctors can provide some value as individual pieces. Since Jo Grant cares about Historic permanents, The Sixth Doctor can synergize with a majority of the rest of the deck. The Fourth Doctor is another great card to deploy as a value engine.
Since Gallifrey Stands is specifically interested in assembling thirteen creatures to win the game, this opens the door to this role being filled by Changelings. We decided not to do this, since we really want a lot of Historic permanents to keep our Cycling count up, but it is an option worth exploring for players who don’t care for the Cycling strategy.
An alternate Commander
Another Commander option If ran into while trying to build this deck was Jodah, the Unifier. This Commander can power out all of your Legendary creatures with its psuedo, Legend Cascade mechanic. I wanted to stay a bit more on-theme, but this could be a powerful option for those interested. Add in a few reanimator spells like [toooltips]Haunting Voyage[/tooltips], and this may be a more realistic way to get Gallifrey Stands to work. It is not, in our opinion, as flavorful.
Because we’re digging for certain cards, and otherwise Cycling a lot of Doctors, having a few discard payoffs aren’t a bad idea. Rielle, the Everwise can be a surprising source of card advantage, especially if you choose to include some Wheel effects. Windfall, Wheel of Fortune and more are great choices for this deck, dumping Doctors into your grave, and Rielle draws a ton of cards alongside them. Rielle can otherwise turn your Doctor cycles into drawing two cards instead of one.
If you’re tuning your deck to a more powerful table, you can use effects like Narset, Parter of Veils to hose your opponents while wheeling yourself. While our recommended pool of cards will be tuned for a less powerful table, this is an option.
Jo Grant can specifically Cycle Historic permanents. Because of this, we’re interested in using Mana Rocks for a majority of our ramp. They can ramp you in the early game, and be cycled away for something else in the late game.
As such, we’re packing a full suite of Signets in the WURG colors. We’re also including the Commander mainstays Sol Ring and Arcane Signet. Otherwise, adding some more expensive mana rocks like Mana Crypt and Mana Vault is an option depending on how powerful you want your deck to be.
One unusual Mana Rock we’ve included is The Enigma Jewel. This can be used to help reduce the cost of Cycling effects.
Because of Jo Grant’s interaction with Mana Rocks, we’re also packing Rebuild. We can Cycle the card away if we don’t need it, but this can uniquely screw some Commander strategies, while allowing your unneeded mana rocks to cycle into different cards. Of course, once you have your activated abilities costing zero mana, you can bounce all of your mana rocks and turn them into different cards.
Boardwipe and Commander Protection
Unfortunately, this Commander deck get appears to get blown out by being wiped, at least on paper. As a result, we have a lot of ways to protect your cards for cheap! We have recommended a few free spells like Fierce Guardianship that do not need to be included if you do not have the capital. This can be replaced for some cheaper removal since pool of recommended cards is low on those.
That said, we do have Everybody Lives!, Teferi’s Protection, Heroic Intervention and more as ways to protect your Commander and board from wipes.
Unfortunately, Gallifrey Stands is a very unrealistic win condition. Between assembling a gigantic board that you need to untap with, and the card being removable itself, you’ll likely win more games by stumbling around than you actually will with the enchantment.
If you want to make this deck a bit more competitive, you may want to include some stronger win conditions. Whether you want to win with creatures with Craterhoof Behemoth, or find another way to win, the current state of the deck likely needs a better plan B.
We have Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant as a way to get all the Doctors in your hand into play, and Ascend From Avernus as a way to get all your Doctors in your grave onto the battlefield. Ultimately, having Black as an option in the color pie may be the best way to make this deck more consistent since you’ll gain access to cards like Haunting Voyage.
The Pool of Cards
Listed above is not a streamlined 100-card deck, but instead a series of different cards for you consider. Do not take the manabase seriously. This is just some possibilities you could include, and is mostly from a different list by Moxfield user Foz_01 that uses The Fourteenth Doctor and Rose Noble, which can be found here. 33 to 34 lands seems like the sweet spot for this deck, but we just dumped in a bunch of different lands as potential ideas for you to consider.
Notably, we did not include some of the cheap Cycle lands like Forgotten Cave here, but if you really like the Cycle theme, do consider them.
Otherwise, I want to give a quick nod to the Channel Lands specifically. These Legendary lands are Historic, so Jo Grant can Cycle them in a pinch. A lot of your creatures are also Legendary, meaning these lands will generally have a reduced Channel cost. Finally, Channel also synergizes with Zirda, the Dawnwaker, Rielle, the Everwise and more.
As I play with this myself in the coming months, I’ll be sure to check back and present a more streamlined recommendation. As it feels right now, don’t expect to be taking down your friends’ streamlined strategies with this one.
Either way, if you do decide to build Jo Grant and The Fourteenth Doctor, let us know what you think!