No one said finding your "go-to" commander would be easy.
I've been playing a lot more EDH lately. So I have been building a lot of decks in an effort to find the one that matches my playstyle and is "just Geena". I've built Vorel of the Hull Clade, Dromoka, Lovisa Coldeyes and Rubina Soulsinger (though for a slightly more restricted format). None of them have really "clicked until now. Finally... I think I have found my Commander, and she's Hanna, Ship's Navigator.
I really don't know how I missed her as I scoured the list of possible generals. The only thing I can figure is that she is outside of my normal choice of color pie and her original artwork was atrocious. I am one for aesthetics, so everything has to be just right in my decks or it will bug me to death. Lucky for me there is a sweet Judge promo with art by Terese Nielsen - and that was enough to give Hanna a second look.
Hanna is a blue white general that focuses on artifact and enchantment recursion. Most people that choose Hanna will typically build around one card type or the other. I have gone against the "norm" (shocking, I know) and included some of each card type in my build - going about 70% artifact and 30% enchantment. To maximize Hanna's strengths, we will include artifacts and enchantments with powerful "sacrifice" effects so we can recur them from our graveyard for value. This will allow us to use our most powerful spells multiple times in a game and gain a kind of card advantage on our opponents. In the end, we want to roll over our opponents, with giant artifact creatures for the win.
Blue and White are horrible at ramping their mana base quickly, and even with our love for artifacts (and mana rocks) it will take some time to build our board, aso our first goal needs to be surviving long enough to get there. We do this by using the strength of artifacts and enchantments - both types of persistent global effects - that will slow our opponents or shift their focus to other players. Most EDH groups refer to this as "building a pillowfort" - playing multiple persistent effects that insulate you from the rest of the board and allow you time to build your little kingdom. These effects are usually in the form of "taxes" - a cost (usually in the form of mana) opponents pay every time they want to do something negative to your board. Unless you are the only target left in the game taxes will (usually) focus them on another opponent. After all, people playing EDH like to spend their mana on flashy spells and big creatures, not actions they can usually do for free. We also have included a few powerful effects that prevent interaction with us entirely, but these are harder to play - and even harder to keep on the battlefield. Lets look at what makes up our pillowfort!
Hanna, I.R.S. Agent
Propaganda and its sister in White, Ghostly Prison tax your opponent for two for each creature attacking you. Stack both for double the fun! Combine them with their cousin Norn's Annex and its a party! Teferi's Moat will lockdown a tribal deck and have them looking for greener pastures to attack. Martyr's Bond and Ward of Bones insure that your board doesn't find itself the victim of a one sided board wipe. Leyline of Sanctity is a nice drop to protect you from being targeted and declare you "off limits" to a whole list of shenanigans. Combining just these cards will almost guarantee that you will be around for the long game.
Now we hit a tipping point - we go from passively protecting ourselves to actively interfering with the opponent. I generally use these cards as a last ditch effort. These cards tend to make you a target. Aura of Silence makes your opponent's artifacts and enchantments more expensive while allowing you to cast yours on a normal curve. Then there is Fatespinner. Straight up this is an "unfun" card and you may not want to run it if you are playing casual. Taking away a phase of your opponent's turn is not a way to make friends. Finally... if you really want the table to glare at you cast Narset, Ascendant and trigger her ultimate. Good times.
Hanna, Maker of things.
So with any EDH deck there is a need for pulling specific spells out of your library to put together a win (or just survive). Luckily, there are a lot of choices for "tutoring" artifacts - especially in Blue. From a flavor perspective I like to think of this as Hanna, tinkering at her desk and coming up with just what the Weatherlight needs to continue on it's quest. From a brewing perspective I have picked five of the best tutors to slot into our build. Muzzio, Visionary Architect is a repeatable tutor and the all-star of this ability in the deck. Faerie Mechanist and Treasure Mage have artifact tutoring as they enter the battlefield. Finally, Enlightened Tutor and Fabricate are straight up tutors that specifically target what we are looking for. All of these cards are must haves for Hanna.
Hanna, Breaker of Armies.
At a certain point, you will have the board under control and the rest of your opponents feeding on each other. Now is the time to go in for the kill. Hanna has a few ways to clear the board and swing for significant damage. Steel Hellkite and Scourglass can be used to setup one-sided board wipes. Thassa, God of the Sea is included for her ability to make unblockables. Karn, Silver Golem makes all our large artifacts into creatures and will also combo with Scourglass. Finally there is Mindslaver - with Hanna's recursion ability and enough mana you can lock down the game by using it on every one of your opponents turn. I don't usually include combos like this, but in this case its pretty rare when the pieces fall into place and an epic way to win. Cyclonic Rift and Cryptic Command can also be pressed into service here to bounce or tap your opponents boards and attack.
Hanna of the Weatherlight.
So here are three "wild cards" in our build. If you don't like them you can slot whatever you want here. I need a bit of Vorthos in my Commander decks to be happy. They don't have to be 100 percent story focused but they do have to have a few cards to link them all together.
Starting in 1997 Wizards changed how they brought flavor to the game and began an inter-connected story arc that continued through multiple card blocks over the next five years. The story followed Gerrard Capashan and the crew of the Weatherlight as they endeavored to fulfill Urza's Legacy while battling the Phyrexians along the way. The story was told almost exclusively within the cards themselves with the art and flavor text advancing the plot.
Hanna, who is labeled on her card as"Ship's Navigator", actually served more as the love interest of Gerrard and as an artificer that tied into the story of The Legacy. To bring all this into the deck are three cards - Fact or Fiction showing Hanna and Squee figuring out how to disrupt the Phyrexian portals using the Weatherlight's energy wake; Hanna's Custody with a great quote from Hanna - "I protect the Legacy with my life if necessary, for its purpose is far more important than my own." ; and Scroll Rack depicting Hanna picking through a library of scrolls. All three of these cards work great mechanically in the build, and while others have gone all-in on a Vorthos Hanna build, I chose to keep the deck somewhat playable.
So that's my Hanna build! I hope you get as much enjoyment out of it as I do. I love using generals that are not as popular within the community and ones that I can relate to "in story". Hanna does it for me on both fronts. If she's not your cup of tea keep looking and your commander will eventually find you.
Until then, enjoy the deck!