A green and blue control deck, because I can....
I've never been completely happy with my Vorel deck. It's fun enough - and very solid - I just never could get into the flavor of it. I've always felt like Simic was a guild that was about more than just +1/+1 counters; I just didn't know that I would have to travel all the way to Kaledesh to prove it. Meet Rashmi, Eternities Crafter.
Rashmi is an amazing commander - and one who has an ability that is unique in the Simic color pair. For the first spell you cast on any turn (yours or the opponents), Rashmi allows you to reveal the top card of your library and cast it for free if the converted mana cost is less than the cost of the card you just cast. If the converted mana cost is higher, you still get to put the card into your hand. This is crazy value, combining a draw engine with a way to cheat cards into play.
Green in a control deck - welcome to crazytown. Truth be told I love the control style of play so a lot of my decks skew in that direction anyway. Green can "do control" in its own way, and pairing it with blue overcomes a great deal of its color pie limitations. Of course, this means we are running a pretty large package of counterspells. I've chosen Force of Will here to highlight this - mainly because its casting cost is super important to the deck design. If you weren't playing during Alliances, you may find this card a little spendy - feel free to pick a substitute. Voidslime falls into the same "counterspell" category. This is a powerful staple in Simic builds; its extra ability to counter abilities can be a back-breaker to opponents that almost never take the card into account before making their plays.
Looking at some of the more unusual green based includes, Whirlwind is a great one-sided wrath against tribal folks with flying creatures and tokens. This deck is tailored to run Reach over Flying, making this card super-effective and keeping your creatures safe. Recently reprinted Berserk is a much overlooked control option, even though it is usually seen as more of an aggro or ramp spell. In multi-player Commander, wait until your opponent attacks another player with their biggest and baddest and then drop the Berserk - you will do double the damage to the poor player in question and the opponent will lose their creature -win-win. I love using this card like that. Finally - Kiora, the Crashing Wave is my "Simic control" planeswalker of choice. Early game she provides critical damage reduction as her +1. Since the build doesn't run a great deal of creatures, Kiora mitigates some of the creature damage to help get the deck into the late game. When you are ready, she can then ultimate into an incredible token generator, putting a steady stream of "big fish" onto the battlefield.
Finally, lets talk about a great artifact - Crawlspace. This is an "oldie but a goodie" coming out of Urza's Legacy, one of the most broken sets in the history of the game. Only reprinted once in Commander 2013, this card provides a very white "throttle effect" for control decks that exist outside of the color. Aggressively costed, it boggles my mind that it doesn't show up in more Commander decks.
We have only touched on six of the "control cards" in the build, but this package makes up a great deal of the deck, with over twenty cards combining to provide a strong defense. This is needed because the build relies on a strong mana ramp into the mid-game and then establishing its battlefield presence felt with large, evasion enabled creatures. This is where Rashmi's engine really shines.
Revving the engine.
Here is where things get fun (and a bit complicated). Exploiting Rashmi's ability gives you the ability to create a tempo that opponents can never match. By playing a spell with a high converted mana cost as your first spell of the turn and then "top decking" a spell of lower cost you get to play the second for free. This means you get maximum value out of each mana you generate - and way more than the average player.
This is far from a slam dunk though - the lower mana cost clause in Rashmi's ability means you need cards at both extremes of the mana curve. Keeping the deck playable while maximizing the activation of the ability means her deck builds are on the razor's edge between "killer deck" and "over-costed mess". We need a lot of support cards to make it work.
First priority is setting up your library so you get the right draw at the right time. This is critical, but we have a lot of tools at our disposal to "fix the draw". Sylvan Library and Sensei's Divining Top and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are three EDH stalwarts that perform this function, and anything that lets you scry is a bonus as well. Ideally you want to draw a "big card" in your draw phase and then a smaller targeted spell as her ability activates. Of course, this should all be fluid based on what is in your hand. This is why certain cards in the build are so good - like the previously mentioned Force of Will and Temporal Mastery - these are super flexible cards with alternate casting costs - and Rashmi only cares about the printed cost, not how you cast it.
You are going to be drawing a lot of cards, and with that comes pulling a lot of land. It will be important to get these out of your hand, since while we do have some cards that mitigate the maximum hand size rule, its best to just keep it under seven. To get rid of the lands we need to look to more "rule breakers". Burgeoning, Exploration and Oracle of Mul Daya all allow you to put additional lands into play.
We have has taken care of the library order and the land draws. Now we sprinkle in a little ramp to speed up our play, and support all the big, splashy spells. Seedborn Muse attacks the problem by untapping all your land on each turn, Mana Reflection doubles the mana provided by each tapped permanent, and Nissa's Renewal is a "big spell" that will throw some land on the battlefield while being a great trigger for the engine as well.
Finally, while Rashmi's ability is great on your turn it is even better on an opponent's. Unfortunately, unless you are holding an instant (and this deck runs a lot of them), you are out of luck. Which is why the last part of the deck strategy is leaning on spells that have Flash - or grant it. Leyline of Anticipation and Vedalken Orrery both grant Flash so those are "must haves". Now with all the pieces of the puzzle in place we can look toward the end game....
Flashing the fish.
It is time to pull out the big guns.
Managorger Hydra and Broodbirth Viper are great "good stuff" creatures that provides a scaling threat and are bonkers in multiplayer and Guile ties into the control theme of the deck while providing a relevant body. All three of these creatures are great in the late game, but the real power of this deck (and a lot of the fun) is getting to include some of those "big blue fish" that you have always wanted to cast but were totally impractical. My favorite of all these is the Pearl Lake Ancient - an uncounterable 6/7 fish with Flash and Prowess - it's everything this deck wants and is practically the poster child of what you want Rashmi's army to be. Cloudthresher provides our other large Flash threat - and punishes the opponent's flyers as a bonus. Other includes like Mystic Snake, Skylasher and Plaxmanta may not have a great mana cost, but even if you can't get the free play out of them with Rashmi, at the very least they replace themselves and can be cast on your opponents turn.
So that's my first pass at a Rashmi deck. As always you can find my entire list at tappedout. I would love your feedback, and I'm sure as more of the Commander/EDH community begins to build around her I'll get new ideas to refine it. In any case it feels good to find a Simic commander that fits my play style. Until next week, never be afraid to blaze a new trail in Magic - and enjoy the deck!