If you ask anyone who’s played with me what my favorite strategy is, and they’ll either tell you “tokens” or “lifegain.” Today’s discussion focuses on the latter of the two and focuses on one of my favorite cards coming in Core Set 2020: Loxodon Lifechanter.
If I were to pick a third favorite strategy, it would absolutely be toughness matters. One of my favorite decks to pilot on our game nights is Bruse and Ikra’s Tough Love Shack, a deck originally helmed by Doran, the Siege Tower that gains boatloads of life while having multiple attacks. Sure, no tokens are existing so it isn’t a golden trifecta for myself, but I will absolutely be adding the Lifechanter. So what exactly can we do with the Lifechanter? He seems so simple on the surface, right?
One of the easiest things to do with this lovely Loxodon is to slap Lifelink on it. It essentially turns its activated ability into “double your life plus 4”. For 6 mana, that isn’t the worst investment in my mind, as Beacon of Immortality is literally the same mana cost. You can activate this ability as many times as you can afford to pay for it, so it has the potential to be better than Beacon of Immortality with Lifelink on the Loxodon.
Armadillo Cloak is a great way to give “Lifelink” to our Loxodon. The reason I used quotations is due to the cloak’s ability actually stacking with Lifelink, unlike multiple instances of Lifelink:
702.15f Multiple instances of lifelink on the same object are redundant.
That would be the closest thing to “double strike, but lifelink” that you could whip up. You could be more efficient and just use True Conviction instead of relying on finding 2 or 3 cards. I’d suggest both so you can gain more life than you know what to do with.
Life Total Setting
While we’re looking at the comprehensive rules, let me share with you my favorite rule regarding life gain:
118.5. If an effect sets a player’s life total to a specific number, the player gains or loses the necessary amount of life to end up with the new total.
Yes, I have a favorite rule. Don’t you? 118.5 tells us something very important regarding the Loxodon: its ability either gains or loses us life. Let’s start by talking about this in regard to life gain:
Ageless Entity is a card I’ve wanted to be amazing for quite some time. This bulk rare gets so much hate when I play it that I feel like maybe I accomplished that goal. If I play the Loxodon while at 10 life, and I control 20 total toughness worth of creatures, my life total becomes 20. Rule 118.5 says I gained 10 life, so the Entity gets 10 +1/+1 counters. Pretty solid, right? Cradle of Life is basically Ageless Entity in enchantment form. Might as well throw in True Conviction with the cards I just mentioned to put this all over the top.
Sanguine Bond (or Defiant Bloodlord) might have been a card that immediately came to mind when I mentioned rule 118.5, and I definitely can’t blame you for thinking of it. The life you gain gets drained from an opponent of your choice, and if you set it up properly you can make that lethal. Also, Lich’s Mastery can draw you a bunch of cards in this hypothetical setup.
On the flip side, if you play the Loxodon and end up losing life, is there anything we can do with that? Of course there is! Earlier this week I talked about Vilis, Broker of Blood. Since that was about him as a Commander, the Loxodon didn’t come up as it isn’t in his color identities. Imagine being at 40 life and controlling Vilis. Then, you cast Loxodon Lifechanter. Sure, you lose 28 life, but you also draw 28 cards! I’ve already pointed out how you can gain that life back with this Loxodon, so I don’t see this as too much of a problem.
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many other ways to abuse this life loss potential. Most cards that care about life loss amount (not just the general life loss event) tend to be detrimental: Lich and Lich’s Tomb being great examples of that.
With every Synergy Chamber article, there is always the question of whether or not the card we are discussing can go infinite. The Loxodon is a tricky one. It doesn’t necessarily enable anything that isn’t already a known combo. The easiest way is pairing it with Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood and hoping it gains you life, but that combo is easier done with something like Soul Warden. Other than that, the Loxodon is more of the payoff for infinite mana that an enabler. Slapping lifelink on it and infinitely growing gives you both infinite damage and life, so that would be my “infinite” suggestion.
Light Up Your Life
I’m more than excited to get my hands on the Loxodon Lifechanter. It has the capability to blow itself up to an unbelievable size and gain you quite the hefty chunk of life in the process. Its biggest hurdle is its enter the battlefield ability, as I can see it potentially losing you life more than it would be gaining you, at least in Commander. But if you can survive that initial blow, prosperity awaits.
I hope you are as excited as we are for Core Set 2020! Let us know what cards you are looking forward to getting your hands on via Twitter and as always, happy brewing!