Many Magic: the Gathering players have a favorite creature type. Perhaps they gravitate toward Merfolk, Elves, or Goblins. There are tons of creature types in the game. And it’s easy to pick one creature type (generally referred to as a tribe) and form a deck around it.
But Volo, Guide to Monsters, is one Commander deck that wants to play as many creature types as possible. There are Shapeshifters, Avatars, Cat Warriors, and the list goes on. The deck is a massive monster mash!
There are plenty of ways to build this “non-tribal” deck. It can be fun to challenge yourself to see how many unique creature types you can fit into the deck.
But this guide will focus on finding loopholes in Volo’s ability to exploit our Commander to his maximum potential.
Volo, Guide to Monsters
Volo, Guide to Monsters will make a copy of any creature you cast, so long as that creature does not share a creature type with any creature you control. This can make for a tricky but fun deck to build.
There are a few considerations that must be made when building this deck:
- For the most part, creatures in this deck should not share creature types.
- Any creature you wish to copy with Volo, must be non-legendary. This is because if you make a copy of a legendary permanent, you must sacrifice one due to the “legend rule”. (There are some exceptions to this which I will discuss later)
With these general guidelines in place, let’s take a look at some of the best cards to play in this deck:
Cloning Your Tour Guide
Before we dive into all the whacky creature types you can include in this deck, let’s talk about how we can make as many copies of those creatures as possible. Let’s clone Volo!
Wait. But Volo is a legendary creature. Copies would be sacrificed to the “legend rule”, right?
Well, here are a few ways to get around that:
When Spark Double enters the battlefield as a copy of a legendary creature, it does so without the legendary status. Sakashima removes the “legendary rule” from all permanents you control, allowing for as many copies of Volo as you like. And Helm of the Host can make a copy of Volo every combat step.
Volo’s Token Doublers
Cards with doubling effects are some of the most popular in Magic: the Gathering. This holds especially true in Commander where they lead to some truly epic board states.
Twinning Staff can double your Volo’s trigger, making an two copies of any creature you cast. Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, will double every instance of token production in your deck. And Lithoform Engine is versatile in that it can copy Volo’s triggered ability, but also make copies of instants, sorceries, and other permanent spells you cast.
Here are few more cards that work in the same vain:
- Doubling Season | Buy At TCGPlayer
- Parallel Lives | Buy At TCGPlayer
- Stionic Resonator | Buy At TCGPlayer
Many Mana Dorks
You’ll want to get Volo, Guide to Monsters, into play as early as possible. There are many creatures of varying types that can aid you in this matter. (Creatures that can produce mana are often referred to as “Mana Dorks” in MTG.)
Birds of Paradise is a classic mana dork you can play on the first turn of the game. Sylvan Caryatid has hexproof which will make it harder to remove, and makes for a resilient mutate target (discussed later in the article). And multiple copies of Lotus Cobra will make every land you play produce bursts of mana.
There are tons of mana dorks in the game. But one must take Volo’s deckbuilding restrictions into consideration when looking at viable mana dorks. Here’s a list of dorks whose creature types will not overlap with each other:
- Ornithopter of Paradise | Buy At TCGPlayer
- Gemhide Sliver | Buy At TCGPlayer
- Prosperous Innkeeper | Buy At TCGPlayer
- Kiora’s Follower | Buy At TCGPlayer
You’ll notice that many many mutate creatures share a creature type. This may seem like it goes against Volo’s deck building restrictions. But Volo actually has a unique synergy with mutate creatures.
When you mutate a creature, you can put the mutate creature underneath its target, preserving the creature type of the original creature.
Plus, when you cast a creature for its mutate cost, targetting a Sylvan Caryatid for example, Volo will make a copy of the creature being cast as usual. But it will mutate onto the Caryatid the same as the original copy. This will lead to multiple mutate triggers.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths introduced a variety of mutate cards into the game. When mutating alongside Volo, Migratory Greathorn can put three lands from your deck into play, Souvenir Snatcher can steel three noncreature artifacts from your opponents, and Auspicious Starrix puts multiple permanents from your deck directly into play.
There is More Than One Way to Play a Clone
I’ve already gone over several ways to make copies of Volo himself. But you can copy your other creatures too.
Although most clones in Magic: the Gathering are either Shapeshifters or Illusions, you can still play multiple in your Volo deck without worrying about overlapping creature types. Here’s how this works using Clone, the original and most basic cloning effect in the game.
When a Clone is on the battlefield, it has the creature type of the creature it copied; it is no longer a Shapeshifter. Therefore you can cast another Shapeshifter and trigger Volo’s ability because there are technically no other Shapeshifters in play.
There are many iterations of the original Clone. Clever Impersonator has the versatility to copy any nonland permanent on the battlefield. Phyrexian Metamorph can be played for just three mana and has the ability to copy artifacts too. And Progenitor Mimic may cost a lot, but every turn it makes additional copies of the creature it cloned.
The Best Boardwipe in the Deck
Once you’ve amassed an armada of tokens, you can also cast Perplexing Test with its second mode. This will likely clear your opponents’ boards. Then you can safely swing in with all of your tokens.
This line of play is also great for saving your own creatures in the face of a Wrath of God. Or you can return your nontoken creatures to your hands to replay them and grind more value out of Volo.
More Miscellaneous Monsters
When you copy Qasali Slingers with Volo, the copy will trigger upon entering the battlefield and destroy an artifact or enchantment. Then the original Qasali Slingers will enter, triggering the ability of the copy and of itself, destroying two more artifacts or enchantments.
If you can make any additional copies of Slinger through the various cloning or token-doubling strategies described earlier in the article, you can practically wipe the board of all artifacts and enchantments.
Volo’s, Guide to Monsters, is a creative creature-centric deck. But it is also a token deck in disguise.
That makes Junk Winder fit right in as it costs one less mana to play for each token you control. Because of this, you can think of Junk Winder as a virtual two-mana creature. And while Junk Winder is on the battlefield, whenever Volo or any other effect makes a token, Junk Winder taps down an opponent’s nonland permanent.
Casting a single Diluvian Primordial can wreck your opponents. But when it comes with a copy thanks to Volo, your opponents will regret the day they were born.
When the Avatar enters the battlefield, it casts an instant or sorcery from each opponents’ graveyard for free. With an extra copy of this effect, you’ll get six free spells which should easily put you near victory.
Vivien, Monster’s Advocate
While not a monster herself, Vivien has many monster friends. She acts as a Future Sight for creatures, allowing you to play them off the top of your library. And her -2 ability is a great way to tutor specific creatures from your deck directly into play.
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