Brewing With Tiny Leaders

It begins the same way as always. It’s 2a.m., you can’t sleep, and with a surge in inspiration you bolt upright. You’ve had some crazy ideas before, but this… this one may be just crazy enough to work!

It’s time to brew.

Coming in to Tiny Leaders, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I hadn’t heard the explanation that it was like Legacy meets Commander, so I was actually flying pretty blind. My first deck was a Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest Tempo deck which drew inspiration from an Aussie Highlander Delver deck I was shown a few months ago. It felt like the best place to start since it was powerful, and best of all, it ran something like three spells which were higher than three CMC. That first night of playing gave me a taste for what kind of decks were being played, but more importantly what was possible.

I decided that I wanted to build a combo deck. Everyone at my LGS was building one of two ways: decks which were highly synergistic or decks which were basically good stuff. The thing I didn’t like was that these felt very hit or miss to me. I like my synergy, but I also like the idea of redundancy, especially in a singleton format, and these decks were only getting half way there. Obviously with a 50 card deck, there are greater chances of hitting the spells you want, but I wanted to make sure I ALWAYS hit the spells I want. Tutors were obviously the answer, but which ones? The best ones were banned…

I dug through my piles of cards and found a few of my favourites. It wasn’t until I found an old Modern deck from two years ago that I found what I was really looking for. I now knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to play this card:

Blasting Station

Blasting Station falls right into the combo mindset I was in, and being colourless it was a great place to start. I really wanted to play with Bloodghast and Gravecrawler, but since the two best black tutors were banned, I set them aside. Then I went to bed.

It was there at that magical time I mentioned in the first paragraph that I was able to set the deck’s main idea in motion. Kitchen Finks and Melira, Sylvok Outcast… They work well with Blasting Station!

MeliraKitchen Finks

As soon as those two cards popped into my head I jumped up, ran to my computer, and started looking for a commander. I found Saffi Eriksdotter, which seemed perfect. She was GW which gave me a limitation to work within, and her ability screamed combo. A little more searching found me Loyal Retainers, which works amazingly with Saffi. Awesome. Now give this deck some redundancy.

Saffi Eriksdotter Loyal Retainers

The first two were very obvious to me because they were sitting right next to my keyboard: Green Sun’s Zenith and Chord of Calling. A bit more searching on Gatherer found me Worldly Tutor, Eladamri’s Call, and Altar of Bone. Because I liked the idea of this deck being similar to Melira Pod, I threw in Yisan, the Wandering Bard, and Fauna Shaman.

Green Sun's ZenithChord of Calling Worldly Tutor Eladamri's Call Altar of Bone Yisan, the Wanderer BardFauna Shaman

Now that I had some ways to get my creatures, I needed to make sure they did something. I started looking at the Saffi + Loyal Retainers combo and ways I could abuse the constant leaving and entering the battlefield. Altar of the Brood seemed nice. So did Genesis Chamber.

Altar of the BroodGenesis Chamber

But then again, so did Champion of Lambholt. What if I didn’t have an artifact to finish them off with infinite creatures or mill? An unblockable team that was resilient to removal would be nice. And we can speed that up with extra counters on the Champion of Lambholt with a Blade of the Bloodchief. The Blade also just helps any tiny grunt do a great deal of heavy lifting.

Champion of LambholtBlade of the Bloodchief

Melira and Kitchen Finks can gain us a lot of life. What if we just gained a bunch of life with Saffi and Loyal Retainers too? Enter the Soul Sisters.

Soul's AttendantSoul Warden Essence Warden

I was starting to like this thing a little too much. There was synergy, combos everywhere, and a hell of a lot of redundancy. But I wasn’t finished. Nothing hurts more than a combo that can be disrupted, so I threw in some protection in the form of Mother of Runes and Benevolent Bodyguard.

Mother of RunesBenevolent Bodyguard

What else? Oh yeah, let’s be faster too! Time for a little bit of ramp. In goes Birds of Paradise, Wall of Roots, and Avacyn’s Pilgrim.

Birds of ParadiseWall of RootsAvacyn's Pilgrim

The rest of the deck was padded out with some good stuff in case the combos didn’t want to work and we’d have to go on the beatdown plan, as well as some functional copies of combo pieces. Finally, the decklist looked like this:

Tiny Leader: Saffi Eriksdotter

Creatures
1 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
1 Benevolent Bodyguard
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Champion of Lambholt
1 Champion of the Parish
1 Essence Warden
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Loyal Retainers
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Mentor of the Meek
1 Mother of Runes
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Safehold Elite
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Soul Warden
1 Soul’s Attendant
1 Voice of Resurgence
1 Wall of Roots
1 Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Artifacts
1 Altar of the Brood
1 Blade of the Bloodchief
1 Blasting Station
1 Genesis Chamber

Sorceries
1 Altar of Bone
1 Green Sun’s Zenith

Instants
1 Chord of Calling
1 Eladamri’s Call
1 Path to Exile
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Worldly Tutor

Lands
1 City of Brass
1 Command Tower
1 Gavony Township
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Razorverge Thicket
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Temple Garden
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
4 Forest
3 Plains

I threw it all together the next morning and took it to my LGS that night. I instantly loved the way it played. The combos were strong and it was fast. But I immediately noticed some problems. Number one was that I had no way to find my artifacts. I’d overlooked Enlightened Tutor and it was painfully obvious that this was a necessary piece. The second was that the beatdown plan didn’t feel anywhere near as strong if I didn’t get the combo pieces to make it crazy. That plan relied heavily on Gavony Township or Genesis Chamber and I had no way to just pull either of those two out of my deck.

Enlightened Tutor

I decided to dump the decklist onto the Tiny Leader subreddit to ask for some input, and the responses I got were amazing. “You should try card X,” “You should try card Y,” “Why did you make this choice?…” But then someone said something that made a lot of sense. Ignore the beatdown. Focus on the combo. They even made their own adjustments to the deck after playing it and posted their version. I immediately put it together and, well, wow.

I tweaked their version a little more, taking out cards I didn’t have or like, and came to the following decklist:

Tiny Leader: Saffi Eriksdotter

Creatures
1 Auriok Champion
1 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Caller of the Claw
1 Champion of the Parish
1 Dosan the Falling Leaf
1 Essence Warden
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Grand Abolisher
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Loyal Retainers
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Mother of Runes
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Safehold Elite
1 Soul Warden
1 Soul’s Attendant
1 Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Artifacts
1 Altar of Dementia
1 Altar of the Brood
1 Blade of the Bloodchief
1 Blasting Station
1 Genesis Chamber

Sorceries
1 Altar of Bone
1 Green Sun’s Zenith

Instants
1 Chord of Calling
1 Eladamri’s Call
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Summoner’s Pact
1 Worldly Tutor

Lands
1 Cavern of Souls
1 City of Brass
1 Command Tower
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Flooded Strand
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Razorverge Thicket
1 Savannah
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Temple Garden
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Bastion
2 Forest
1 Plains

This thing is an absolute BLAST to play, and I’m definitely going to continue to tweak it. Feel free to throw it together and tell me what you like or dislike, or throw up your own brews for this awesome format!

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