The Lost Caverns of Ixalan has officially released, and as a result, players can finally start building around their favorite cards from the new set.
Part of what makes The Lost Caverns of Ixalan such a cool set is the emphasis on big haymakers for EDH. Cards like Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant have Commander players eager to build around them or simply upgrade their Dinosaur decks. For players longing to build around Dinosaurs, Pirates, Merfolk, or Vampires, now’s your chance, as there’s more support than ever.
Of course, there are plenty of other legendary Creatures from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan to focus on as well. For instance, there’s a cycle of legendary God Creatures that each have something intriguing to offer players that utilize them as their generals. Today, we are going to focus on one in particular with a rather aggressive theme to it. This card is none other than MTG Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might.
Ojer Axonil is a surprisingly strong Commander, assuming you are willing to put in the work. It’s a relatively efficient card that pairs nicely with burn spells and other ways to consistently deal non-combat damage to the opponent. Fortunately, many of these types of cards are quite cheap, making Ojer Axonil a great budget-friendly Commander option. In order to maximize its effects, let’s start by taking a look at some of the ways to repeatedly deal each opponent non-combat damage.
MTG Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might
As you might expect, given that the goal is to deal damage to each opponent specifically outside of combat, a large percentage of the cards in an Ojer Axonil deck are going to be non-Creature spells. That being said, as a result, there are a handful of Creatures that absolutely thrive in this strategy. This is because there is a plethora of cheap Creatures that deal one damage to each opponent each time you cast an Instant or Sorcery spell.
At two mana, effects like Erebor Flamesmith and Electrostatic Field, Guttersnipe, and Fiery Confluence each deal one damage to each opponent whenever you cast an Instant or Sorcery spell. One damage per spell may not sound like much, but with Ojer Axonil in play, you will actually be dealing four damage to each opponent per spell, which is a huge difference. Firebrand Archer and Kessig Flamebreather are even better, since they count any non-Creature spell.
Additionally, Unruly Catapult and Thermo-Alchemist can naturally deal damage to each opponent by tapping but become untapped whenever you cast Instants or Sorceries. All of these cards are very similar, and with Ojer Axonil in play, can threaten to end the game rather quickly. The key is to make sure that you have enough non-Creature spells to take advantage.
High Non-Creature Spell Density
Given the sheer number of cards that ping each opponent whenever you cast non-Creature spells, it’s important to make sure your hand remains stocked with spells to cast. For this reason, spells that draw extra cards in an efficient manner are at a premium. Both Wheel of Fortune and Reforge the Soul are excellent additions, completely refueling your hand. Virtue of Courage in particular can provide a consistent flow of card advantage for the rest of the game.
Watch Out for This Ruling
Interestingly, despite EDHREC (a big inspiration for the article)’s Ojer Axonil section having City on Fire in it, it may not work as you intend it to.
Because your opponent is getting dealt the damage that both Ojer Axonil and City On Fire care about, they get to choose the order in which these replacement effects (they are both replacement effects) apply. This means they can simply choose to have City on Fire apply first, tripling the damage. Ojer Axonil then swoops in and modifies the damage to its power, effectively rendering City on Fire mute. Still, the card can do work if your Commander is being kept off the battlefield.
One card that can deal 12 damage to each opponent with Ojer Axonil in play is Fiery Confluence. This is because each mode of Fiery Confluence counts damage separately.
High Synergy Additions
Some of the absolute best and most synergistic additions to an Ojer Axonil Commander deck are cards that punish opponents each time they take specific game actions. Cards like Rampaging Ferocidon and Aether Sting punish opponents for playing Creatures. Similarly, Eidolon of the Great Revel and Pyrostatic Pillar deal damage whenever your opponents cast cheap spells. Even though many of these types of cards are symmetrical, Ojer Axonil completely breaks the symmetry by causing your opponents to take way more damage than you.
Perhaps no card threatens to take over the game alongside Ojer Axonil more than Manabarbs. With both cards on the battlefield, any time an opponent taps a Land for mana, they will take four damage. If no one can remove Manabarbs in short order, this may result in your opponents being completely unable to cast spells. There are other similar effects to Manabarbs as well, allowing you to take a unique direction with the deck.Pyrohemia is another example of a card that can take over the game. While you will only take one damage from each activation, your opponents will each take four damage.
Buffing Ojer Axonil
It should also be mentioned that, while we’ve stated that cards like Pyrohemia would specifically deal four damage per activation to each opponent with Ojer Axonil, this is under the assumption that Ojer Axonil’s power is still four. If you have ways to buff Ojer Axonil’s power, all of your other cards that deal non-combat damage now threaten to hurt your opponents even more.
In this sense, ways to keep Ojer Axonil’s power high over multiple turns to help maximize all of your other cards can be quite impactful. These types of effects aren’t overly abundant in red, but there are a few Equipment that can help in this regard.
Cards like Blackblade Reforged and Commander’s Plate can be Equipped to your Commander for relatively cheap, while providing substantial power buffs. Tavern Brawler, while not an Equipment, does provide a buff to your Commander every single turn as well.
If you really want to go all in, Colossus Hammer is an amusing addition, but it does require either a massive mana investment or an effect such as Magnetic Theft to make work. Blazing Shoal can be cast with no mana investment on your part, but its effect only lasts one turn and ideally should be paired with big red spells like Blasphemopus Act to maximize it.
What’s nice about building a deck around Ojer Axonil is that a high percentage of the cards in the deck are efficient and budget-friendly. As a mono-colored Commander, you don’t need to invest heavily in your manabase. Meanwhile, tons of the best cards in the deck, especially the Creatures that ping your opponents, are commons or uncommons. If you’re looking to build a cheap, hyperaggressive EDH deck, Ojer Axonil is a perfect choice.