When it comes to Commander/EDH, I find myself sticking to what I know best, which is often what I enjoy the most. That means you typically won’t find me playing blue/black control style variants or decks that kill everything at all times. At one point in time, Voltron was on this list. That was until I attempted to build Samut, Voice of Dissent.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term, Voltron strategies usually focus on suiting one creature up with a bunch of equipment or enchantments so that they become a ridiculous tyrant that needs to be stopped. Zur the Enchanter is one of the most popular commanders for this strategy, while Uril, the Miststalker embodies it wholly.
The most common criticism I hear of Voltron strategies is how linear and uninteresting they are. With someone like Zur, I can easily understand that criticism. I attack and tutor up Steel of the Godhead. Next turn I attack and tutor up Ethereal Armor. What’s the point of tutoring out anything else?
These criticisms stopped me from playing Voltron for a while, until my good friend Luke convinced me to try it out after he built Grunn, the Lonely King and had a blast “because of all the different choices you’re presented with.” Surely that couldn’t be a true statement, right?
Something that I have recently realized about my deck-building is that my decks are good at two very specific things: haymakers and inevitability. I usually don’t build infinite combos as a center-piece to my deck and often omit them unless they’re a few good cards I don’t want to keep out of my deck. My decks often center around high-synergy interactions that turn two pieces into an absurd whole. Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder and Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper helm my favorite deck (Bruse and Ikra’s Tough Love Shack) because I can play them together and get a minimum 20 life gain on one combat step. That deck (just like my others) will end the game sooner than later due to the haymakers it throws out.
You might think it’s odd I haven’t tried a Voltron strategy given those two being favored in my usual game night. You’re probably right. My point, however, is that Voltron adds inevitability. Sooner or later, your opponents will (hopefully) run out of removal and you’ll stick some ridiculous synergy that causes you to wreck half of their life in one turn and the game will end. If you are tired of three-hour games, a Voltron deck might be the right choice for you.
Samut Only Has Two Hands
When deciding on how to build a Samut deck, I see two different routes you can take: Voltron or Creature Overrun. Obviously we’re taking the Voltron route, but we will be utilizing Samut’s ability to give our creatures haste on some occasions, so don’t forget she has that ability. Speaking of abilities, she has quite the keyword soup going on, doesn’t she? Does she really need flash and haste? Honestly, no. But it’s quite fun to hold it up so you can flash her in right before your next turn instead of taking a risk that someone will let her hang around for a whole series of turns.For this build I decided the equipment route was the right way to go. It helps tremendously if you have the Commander 2017 precon deck Feline Ferocity, as it utilizes easily half of those cards. Also, there was one rule I had while building this deck: the only creatures allowed had to have two hands.
Let’s Get Swinging
As you may have noticed, most of our equipment is ripped straight from the Feline Ferocity deck. If you’ve played that deck, you’re going to be very well-equipped to pilot Samut. There are some really neat synergies in this category, mostly stemming from Samut having double strike. Bloodforged Battle-Axe has a pretty fun snowball-effect ability where you make another copy every time the creature its equipped to deals combat damage. If you can connect with Samut, you’d get two copies. Hammer of Nazahn automatically equips those axes (even if the hammer isn’t equipped to a creature) the moment they come into play. If you start with just those two equipments attached to Samut and hit an opponent who doesn’t block, you deal 7 first strike damage, create a battle-axe, equip it immediately, and then deal 9 regular damage to create two more battle-axes that automatically equip. 16 is a decent swing, but next turn you will end up hitting for 13 first strike and 17 regular. You’re making four times the amount of axes with this setup and you’ll end up killing your opponents very quickly if left alone.
One of my favorite equipment for Samut to hold in hand is Quietus Spike. I didn’t get this attached to her until very recently, and the result was insane. The spike causes half of our opponent’s life to be lost upon combat damage. Doing that twice is crippling. If our opponent is at 40 life and we hit them with a Samut only equipped with the Spike, they lose 3 life, then half their life rounded up which would be 19, followed by another 3 life, then half their life rounded up again which would be 8. They are now at 7 because a 3/4 with double strike hit them. If you’ve managed to equip Samut with something like Sword of War and Peace, you can stack the triggers to where the sword’s life loss happens after the spike, most likely killing your opponent.
Speaking of the swords, since their triggers are upon combat damage, you can get double the triggers from them. Sword of Fire and Ice can draw you two cards while Sword of Truth and Justice can buff Samut to no end. These cards also can help protect her from removal spells if they are in the color(s) she’s protected from. Obviously, they’re not foolproof, but don’t underestimate how powerful each sword is. Also, the reason Sword of Light and Shadow isn’t on my list is because I don’t own one.
Every Deck Needs Sunforger
Where we start to really differ from the Feline Ferocity deck is with Sunforger. This little guy lets us pay a red and a white to un-equip from a creature and tutor up a red or white instant with converted mana cost 4 or less. If that sounds insane, that’s because it is. This can be done out of turn, and allows for us to tutor up cards like Settle the Wreckage, Swords to Plowshares, Dromoka’s Command, and a host of other cards. I highly encourage you build your own 10-15 card Sunforger package for your deck that suits your meta.
Combining Sunforger with Puresteel Paladin and Leonin Shikari allow for you to just pay the un-equip cost of Sunforger at any time. Eventually you’ll run out of cards, but hopefully that means you’ve crippled your opponents enough to take them out. And it’s important to not forget that Sunforger actually gives a +4/+0 buff to whatever it is equipped to. That’s a ton of power for someone like Samut!
One of the things you may fall victim to when building a Voltron deck is deciding on cards based on having your Commander in play. For instance, if you always assume Samut will be in play, you might pick equipment that is only good when on a creature like Samut. Armory of Iroas isn’t too bad as it can buff Samut and putting a +1/+1 counter on a double striking creature is super powerful! But what happens when you lose Samut? It will happen, I guarantee it. Armory of Iroas on someone like Puresteel Paladin is pretty underwhelming. That’s why we have backup creatures who also like to be equipped.
Akiri, Line-Slinger is a really good two-drop. First strike and vigilance are powerful abilities when combined with a simple equipment like Basilisk Collar. Akiri doesn’t get double strike and we don’t run anything to give it to her, but the additional +1/+0 from each artifact we control helps mitigate that.
We absolutely want to be running Stoneforge Mystic (more on that in a moment), but you may not know about the “original” known as Stonehewer Giant. This beefy lad can tutor out an equipment while in combat and attach it to itself. That’s insane! Imagine throwing him at an opponent who decides to not block. You can tutor out Quietus Spike to punish them.
Ghalta, Primal Hunger works best when Samut is out because a 12/12 with trample and haste is terrifying. Slap a few swords on him and it’s game over. The image of Ghalta’s tiny hands holding swords is probably one of the funniest parts of this deck, and eventually I’ll get to add Colossus Hammer for good comedic measure.
We’ve gotten our equipment figured out. We’ve determined who’s going to hold it. Now we need to support those strategies. I’ve already mentioned a few key players, like Puresteel Paladin, Stoneforge Mystic, and Sunforger. What’s left?
We’ve talked about Rhythm of the Wild before. It’s quite a powerful card in this deck because it means that our creatures can enter with a +1/+1 counter, assuming we control Samut. Otherwise we can give them haste if need be. Stoneforge Mystic with haste isn’t something to laugh at. Same for her older brother Stonehewer Giant.
Since we’re running 23 different equipment, we might as well draw some cards off of them. Sram, Senior Edificer and Puresteel Paladin both draw us cards for simply playing our deck, so they should absolutely be included. On the opposite end, Stone Haven Outfitter buffs our equipped creatures and draws us a card when they die. You’re probably wondering why we don’t run Skullclamp and that’s simply due to the fact that we don’t have a way to abuse it. I honestly could see an argument for it to replace the Outfitter, but I think the lord effect is more important.
Odric, Lunarch Marshal synergizes extremely well with Samut. She already has a bunch of keywords, and odds are we’ll be giving her a few more on top of that. Instead of relying on equipment to do the same to the other creatures we control, Odric does it all for us. He’ll be giving our creatures double strike and vigilance at minimum with Samut, and if we manage to equip something like Behemoth Sledge or Loxodon Warhammer to her then we are living the dream.
Start Throwing Haymakers
Overall, Samut is a fun deck to pilot. You only have a select amount of tutors, and even then you’re not picking a specific card that just auto-wins you the game. You have to decide what the best equipment for the current boardstate is. Sunforger can give you a toolbox of cards to answer threats, but you could also just grab a sword or two and wail on your opponents. And if Samut goes away, you can rebuild onto another creature since equipment don’t go away like enchantments.
I absolutely love this deck and am happy I got to share it with you. I hope it has made you reconsider a Voltron strategy, but if it hasn’t I hope I was at least able to show you some awesome synergies to take advantage of during your next game night. Either way, happy brewing!