"Don't let her fool you..." gasped the aged Planeswalker, blood leaking from his mouth.
benjameenbear leaned closer to try and hear the Planeswalker better. "I thought I could control her, but..." he said between gritted teeth, jaw trembling, "...but she's too powerful to be controlled!"
"Aminatou did this to you?" benjameenbear asked, amazed that an 8 year old Planeswalker could leave the Planeswalker in front of him so... broken.
The Planeswalker struggled to sit up, but an odd blue aura around him kept him immobile, unable to do anything except blink and speak. Looking closer, benjameenbear detected frosted breath coming from the man, small crystals spider-webbed over his body.
"Yes, I did," a high and lilting voice replied from behind.
Spinning, benjameenbear looked and saw Aminatou. Small, like an 8 year old girl should be, with dark skin, short dark curly hair, and a peculiar dress, benjameenbear was immediately drawn towards Aminatou's eyes. Dark, foreboding, yet with an ancient wisdom that he couldn't fully understand.
"He was going to try and force me to make his quest for the Mana Crypt go right. He was going to hurt me. So I sent a moth to him." Aminatou shrugged. "Now, he won't hurt anyone. And he'll die The Esper Death."
Shivering, benjameenbear turned back to the trapped Planeswalker. Unable to move, the Planeswalker could only frantically blink as Aminatou came closer. Twirling her hand, benjameenbear saw a glittering moth appear near her palm. Aminatou released it, and within moments a flash of blue light emerged next to Aminatou. Jace, the Mind Sculptor appeared.
"Another one, Aminatou?" Jace asked, regarding the trapped Planeswalker with glowing blue eyes. He nodded at benjameenbear, who felt a light pressure near his temples as Jace quickly read his mind.
Aminatou nodded. "Mmhmm. He was going to hurt lots of people." She looked at the trapped Planeswalker with an even gaze. "Empty his mind, please."
Welcome to The Esper Death
I hope the short story was interesting to read! Aminatou is one of the newest Planeswalkers to be released within the past year, and she is also one of the most subtly powerful ones available in the Command Zone. For a full description of her bio, check out what Wizards has to say here.
This list initially came about because my playgroup was tired of playing against my Teferi Chain Veil deck. It felt one-dimensional and like a one-trick pony and they were getting tired of it. So, I took the core elements of my Teferi list and adapted them into an Esper shell. Did I do this simply so that the deck would feel new, even if its core philosophy isn't any different than Teferi Chain Veil? Yes. The goal of the deck was to create a solid board control environment that would proactively answer some of the more degenerative combos in the format while not hindering myself or my primary combo lines. I believe I've created that list here, and I'm proud to show it off here on MTGSalvation!
The first strength of the deck is its Fast Mana base. It is easy to play a large number of mana rocks in the first stages of the game in order to set up a strong Mid and Late game strategy. But, with as many rocks as there are, it's easy to find yourself running out of cards too quickly. How do we solve this?
By running a solid Wheels package. While the selection isn't as enticing as what Red offers, there are enough Wheel effects present in these colors to make a Wheel strategy effective. Emergency Powers and Whispering Madness supplement the broadly included Windfall and Timetwister to create several levels of redundancy. But one of the inherent dangers of playing Wheel effects is that they can ALSO benefit your opponents. So how can we stop this?
By employing a certain selection of what many people call Wheel Payoff cards. Cards that, when combined with Wheel effects, cause you to to receive a disproportionate benefit from the Wheel effect in comparison to your opponents. These Payoff cards include Smothering Tithe, Notion Thief, Alms Collector, Narset, Parter of Veils, and/or Consecrated Sphinx. 3 of these cards make your Wheel effects basically one-sided WHILE depleting your opponents of cards and the Sphinx and Smothering Tithe allow you to disproportionately profit off of your Wheel effects or others that your opponents may cast. Now, this mitigates the symmetrical benefit of Wheel effects somewhat, but the fact remains that your opponents will be drawing some very powerful cards off of Wheel effects and throughout the course of a game. So how can we negate as many of them as possible at once?
Quite simply, Blink strategies are some of the most powerful strategies that have existed in Magic, particularly in Commander. Being able to get multiple uses out of a card gives you virtual card advantage and gives your deck late game power that might otherwise not be present. The premier Blink Commanders are probably Brago, King Eternal and Roon of the Hidden Realm, and, if unmolested, can create some extremely powerful board states that are nearly impossible to overcome.
Aminatou takes this strategy to another level by adding in B. By adding in the hard tutor effects that Black offers, you increase the consistency of the deck significantly while also opening up some important cards, notably Ashiok, Dream Render and Notion Thief. But, let's break down Aminatou's strengths and weaknesses explicitly.
Aminatou's CMC is 3, which means that it's very reasonable to play her on T2 or T3 with some high consistency. This is VERY important for a cEDH game since you need to be able to cast your primary card advantage engines as quickly as possible, and at 3 CMC Aminatou can hit the battlefield quickly enough for her to be a reliable component of your strategy.
Her Plus ability is useful because it allows you to "draw" a new card each turn if needed or put it back on top of your library for top-of-library effects (notably Counterbalance). This is a very powerful effect for 3 mana and, in the case that you need to grind, acts as a weak Phyrexian Arena without the life loss. I usually activate her Plus ability when she first hits play so that she can survive any opposing mana dorks from doing combat damage to her and make it around the turn cycle alive and functional for my next turn.
Aminatou's Minus ability, however, is where the real power of her card design lives. Being able to blink something and have it come back immediately is extremely useful, as it allows you to reset spent mana rocks (Mana Vault, Grim Monolith); get immediate value out of ETB abilities (Coveted Jewel, Trinket Mage, Spellseeker; and reset Planeswalkers so you can activate them a second time. It's this last item that immediately intrigued me as a deck builder, since there are some VERY powerful Planeswalkers that get MUCH better if you can use their abilities twice in one turn instead of just the normal once-per-turn clause (since blinking them causes them to be a new game object and therefore able to activate their ability again as a new game object). Teferi, Temporal Archmage becomes a mana making machine unlike anything else you'll see in this deck, and Teferi is one the most powerful cards in the deck in conjunction with Aminatou. The Planeswalkers in the deck were specifically chosen by how powerful their abilities are when blinked with Aminatou and form the backbone of the deck's primary gameplan. This is the primary strength of Aminatou as a card, and it's highly important that you manage the battlefield so that Aminatou stays alive as long as possible.
The Esper color shard has arguably the most powerful suite of Control cards. Quite simply, you have access to the best removal and Counterspells in the format, trading the mana dorks that G offers in exchange for W's control effects. Rest in Peace, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, Dovin's Veto, Swords to Plowshares, and Anguished Unmaking are fantastic cards that you wouldn't get with a Sultai based deck. Overall, The Esper Death has more unconditional removal effects and counterspells which affords the deck a greater power in interacting with your opponents on a consistent basis.
"To achieve what none have achieved before, one must dare what none have dared before." - Tezzeret, here
Ok, it’s time for some real talk: the real reason you’re here is to see the decklist. I personally find it easier to see each card sorted according to function, so I’ve listed the decklist accordingly. Each section is sorted by the Converted Mana Cost (CMC) of the card and then alphabetically; the number immediately to the left of the card indicates the CMC of the respective card, not how many copies are represented in the deck.
An important thought before the decklist is presented. I do not claim that the one presented below is the absolute end-all-be-all of Aminatou decklists for two reasons:
The list below is a selection of the cards that have been most effective in the games that I have played. There might be cards that work for your playstyle better than others, and the list below is a reflection of what has been most optimal given my game experience.
I believe that competitive Commander is an exercise in metagaming; no list you read online will be perfect for your own hometown meta and this one is a reflection of what works best in my own. That said, I think it’s a good list to base your own list from, hence this Primer!
I feel like I repeat this information often, particularly in the Primers I write, but I constantly do it because this understanding is so important. Competitive Commander games and strategies are dictated by decks that can break the two in-born balances of the game: cards drawn per turn (card advantage) and mana production (mana advantage). Since the game pace is defined by these limitations, any deck that can affect either of these in their favor will have an inherent advantage over any other deck that they play against.
To delve a little further into the philosophy of Magic: The Gathering, this game is ultimately a game of math, statistics being the most predominant. I won't go into the technicalities of probabilities and statistics (because I find it boring and because I don't have a great grasp on the math) but the two things that restrict this game, generally, are mana availability and number of cards drawn per turn. Every deck, that is top-tier and competitive, finds some ways to overcome these restrictions. I won't go into the structured play of Standard, Modern, or Legacy, and simply focus on EDH. EDH is a wonderful format where these restrictions are prohibitive since we are running singletons of every card except basic lands. This means that we need to fill in redundancy of card effects without being able to use multiple copies of a particular card. This necessitates a vast breadth of knowledge of the available card pool in MTG and what is good, which is a side benefit of playing EDH. As a Combo-Control deck, however, these restrictions are especially prohibitive because we are trying to maintain card advantage and card parity with not just one opponent, but most likely three or four opponents at the same time. The more mana that we have, consequently, the greater our opportunity to interact with each of our opponents OR more quickly execute our own game strategy.
The more infamous cEDH decks that are played are usually Ad Nauseam Storm variants (i.e. Jeleva Grixis Storm or Zur the Enchanter Storm) because they play all the fast mana rocks and rituals available (to maximize the amount and colors of mana available to them in the early stages of the game) and also the most advantageous card draw spells that are legal in the format, the most recognizable of which are Ad Nauseam, Necropotence, or Timetwister. Because they play all the best cards in the best colors for combos, ramp, and card advantage, they overcome both of these balances and sit atop the Competitive Commander scene.
With the unbanning of Protean Hulk, there has been a sharp increase in the number of decks that utilize the fat Combo-Pig in order to find an infinite combo of some sort. Breakfast/Shuffle Hulk decks are now a little more populous as the competitive Commander deck of choice because the win condition is so compact; you typically only need to activate Hermit Druid once or cast Flash with Hulk in hand. Since this can theoretically be done on T2-T3 with some consistency, Hulk variants are very effective at winning the game because you can shortcut the typical mana constraints of executing an infinite combo for just 1G or 1U.
The next tier of decks that dominate the cEDH scene are Stax variants because they oppressively restrict your opponent’s card-draw and resource development simultaneously. This deck unapologetically subscribes to this Stax strategy as its primary focus.
Stax decks are very effective because their effects are symmetrical across the table; unlike U decks, we don't have to conserve a Counterspell for every play that each of our opponents might do in order to maintain control of the game. For example, we can instead play Grand Arbiter Augustin IV and constrain all of our opponents' mana (via spell taxing), restricting the basic pillar of mana production that EDH, and MTG generally, requires. This hinders our opponents long enough for us to be able to execute our own game strategy, which is admittedly slower and more vulnerable.
By having access to the Esper color shard (WUB), we have access to some of the most powerful Stax and Hate cards available that symmetrically hurt our opponents. The majority of them are in the Azorius shard, but Dimir has some powerful pieces as well. In this decklist, Aminatou acts mostly as a ramp piece by blinking mana rocks so we can generate mana from them again, allowing us to cast multiple spells per turn. This ability is very useful since the curve of our deck is much higher than a normal cEDH deck. Because of this primary synergy, we're able to accelerate how quickly we can get into the Mid and Late Game stages, by casting more cards per turn than our opponents OR slowing down our opponents and creating Tempo which translates to time. Stax strategies are secretly the best ways to gain extra turns over your opponents, since they invalidate many cards that they WOULD play, making many more of their cards ineffective and thus dead draws for them. Additionally, the primary combo lines in the deck AREN'T affected by our Stax pieces, which makes employing a Stax strategy safe and effective for this deck.
The precise package of Stax pieces were chosen because of their inherent synergy with Aminatou or the Planeswalkers within the deck. The Card Description section will go into more detail about each card's breakdown and the rationale for why it was included, but here's the list that is currently in the maindeck at this time:
Do note that these Stax pieces are chosen specifically because they target decks that I most frequently play against in my own personal playgroup. If there are better Stax/Hate pieces that work for your playgroup, such as Rule of Law or Armageddon effects, then by all means tweak your Stax selection accordingly!
To help give you an overview of how I analyze the Stax/Hate effects that I would consider playing, I would first look at the decks I want to neutralize the most. Because Flash Hulk variants are the generally the most popular cEDH strategies available at this current moment, I would skew a significant amount of my Stax/Hate pieces to invalidating that particular strategy. And card that allows me to exile graveyards, stop searching, or invalidate activated abilities of creatures is going to be a very useful card to beating that matchup. This reasoning is why my Stax suite currently has Grafdigger's Cage, Rest in Peace, Ashiok, Dream Render, Cursed Totem, and Humility.
As you get comfortable playing a Stax strategy, you'll find that your playskill will improve as a cEDH player. This list does a great job of preemptively invalidating an opponent's strategy, causing them to spend resources and cards to INSTEAD overcome your Stax/Hate piece instead of focusing on winning. This resource and time allocation away from their primary strategies translates to more opportunities for you to execute your own Combo line and win before they get a chance to stabilize from your powerful Stax/Hate pieces.
"Terrifying, but thankfully temporary." - Teferi, here
Alright, you've settled in and decided to play The Esper Death. Congratulations! Be prepared to gloriously halt all opposing combo pieces and empty your opponents' minds with your Wheel + Payoof engine. However, before you sit down, it's important to quickly analyize and categorize which decks you're playing against, as this will dictate whether or not your opening hand is acceptable. This step usually necessitates a knowledge of your playgroup and the cEDH meta generally, but you can make some quick general assumpttions based on what you know of the players. Are they a dedicated Fast Combo deck? Then it's important that your opening hand either have a quick mana hand so you can cast an appropriate Hate piece or an interaction piece that you can use to halt their combo line. If you're playing against Stax, then you'll want to prioritize a fast mana hand with rocks so that you can get your Planeswalkers and Card Advantage pieces into play ASAP. If you're up against a synergy Mid-Range deck, then prioritizing Card Advantage and Mana Advantage engines is key.
This pre-game information is essential for you to determine whether or not your opening 7 is acceptable or if it needs to be shipped back for a different set of cards. I'll provide some sample opening 7 hands and my rationale for why I would keep or mulligan these specific hands.
This is a really solid opening hand but is VERY light on interaction, but it does offer a T1 Ashiok that should be back-breaking for your opponents. The sequence I would try and shoot for is T1 Ancient Tomb into Mana Vault into Dimir Signet into Ashiok, Dream Render. This should buy you enough time to dig into a card advantage engine and get Aminatou running along for a Combo win while your opponents look at their fetch-lands and tutor effects sadly.
While a very powerful hand, the Veto isn't good enough to keep this hand. It's lacking a fast mana rock in order to develop your board quickly. I would ship this off for a fresh 7, although it hurts my heart to ship away the Stasis + Teferi, Hero of Dominaria + Smothering Tithe combo. If you're willing to gamble that you'll draw into a fast mana piece within your first two turns, then this hand could be amazing if you time the Stasis perfectly.
Ah, bad luck. No land hands are generally unkeepable, so this one goes back for a mulligan almost as soon as you see it.
Early Game (Turns 1-3)
Generally speaking, fast mana is almost always the priority of a cEDH game since it allows you to play more spells sooner. This principle holds true especially for this deck because our CMC curve is much higher than other cEDH decks. The goal of the early game is to get an early Aminatou if you can so that you can reset the fast mana piece that you have in your opening hand to then deploy your Card Advantage and/or Stax-Hate pieces faster than normal. Unless someone has a super fast combo hand or dumps more mana rocks into play then you can, I would generally focus on developing my mana advantage as quickly as possible in this stage of the game.
There also might be a window where you can tutor. I would generally try and tutor for the most relevant Stax/Hate piece that you can find. More often than not, it's going to be Humility because that card is simply back-breaking for most cEDH strategies. It's also in a card type that's generally hard to interact with, so the chances of it sticking around and/or you protecting it are much higher than normal.
Mid-Game (Turns 3-5)
This is where this deck shines. By spending your early turns developing your mana advantage over the rest of the table you now should be able to assemble a CArd ADvantage engine fairly reliably. The best type of card advantage engines I can recommend for you are the Wheel + Payoff cards. As mentioned in the Intro section, this card engine includes any of the Wheel effects (Windfall, Timetwister, Whispering Madness, or Emergency Powers) in the deck in conjunction with one of the payoff cards of the deck (Smothering Tithe, Narset, Parter of Veils, Notion Thief, or Alms Collector). Executing this synergy will ensure that you catapult forward in card advantage and leave your opponents with very little to work from. If you can properly execute this, then you've successfully caused the first stage of The Esper Death: resource denial.
If however, you're busy trying to keep control of the board and hinder other player's combo execution, then it's important to prioritize finding the appropriate collection of Stax/Hate pieces that will cause the maximum amount of collective disruption to your opponents. You need them to use their resources to answer or remove your Stax/Hate pieces instead of assembling their own win condition/combo line. By forcing them to answer your board state, and spending valuable tutor effects or removal cards to do so, you're causing your opponents to lose tempo in comparison to you. And with the density of Stax/Hate pieces in the deck, it's likely that you'll be able to play at least 2-3 of these kind of effects per game, causing your opponents to have stretched themselves to thin and thus become vulnerable to that last Stax/Hate piece that you play. This is something that I encourage you to remember at this stage of the game, since you can exhaust your opponents' ability to answer your board state (and everyone else's) by intelligently deploying your Stax/HAte pieces and your interaction.
Either way, you generally want to try and build towards assembling the Wheel + Payoff combo I mentioned earlier. This Card Advantage engine is, quite simply, the best way to ensure that you can proceed in executing the rest of The Esper Death with minimal interaction or with such an incredible disparity of resources that you can simply bulldoze your way into a gameplan halting Stax/Hate piece. To reiterate, the first stage of The Esper Death is resource denial.
The next stage of The Esper Death is turning the resource denial into a permanent/long-term effect. Essentially, we want our opponents to be able to do very little to be able to constructively build towards their win condition because of the Stax/Hate pieces that you have in play and or successfully employing one of the Wheel + Payoff combinations; after all, it's easy to assemble a hard lock of Stax pieces when your opponents only have 0-1 cards in hand or you have 21 Treasures to assemble the second stage of The Esper Death. There are times when you can reasonably assemble this during the Mid-Game which is preferred, but this stage can also carry into the Late Game as well.
Alternatively, you might find a window wherein you can execute an infinite combo. The easiest one to assemble requires only Tezzeret the Seeker, 2, and an active Aminatou. The specific mechanics of this Combo will be elaborated within the Late-Game section (which has the Combos breakdown of this list as well). Alternatively, getting the newly printed Bolas's Citadel into play alongside Sensei's Divining Top should allow you to churn through a significant portion of your deck and again put an overwhelming number of cards into play. Bolas's Citadel acts almost as a combination Paradox Engine + Ad Nauseam with the constraint on its power being your life total.
Late-Game Strategy (Turns 5+)
"In the disarray of battle, an enemy's attack may be your most convenient weapon." - Narset, here
I'm going to try to form a comprehensive list of cards that are playable in Aminatou, including budget options; if there's something I'm missing that you'd like me to discuss, let me know and I'll add it to this list and share my thoughts on it. This section is going to be pretty lengthy, so I'm going to hide it under a series of spoiler tags broken up roughly by function.
Cards in bold are those that I'm running in my current list.
"Organization is often undervalued but rarely unjustified." - Frasio, Royal Archivist, here
Match-Ups for Most Common Competitive Commander Decks
While it's really hard to quantify a Tiered Competitive Commander list, our friends the LabManiacs (check out their YouTube channel here for excellent deck commentary and fantastic game matches!) have done some data mining and have created a rough list of the competitive Commander decks that are most frequently played. I will be listing the match-ups for Kaalia accordingly, based on the list that is found and maintained here.
Flash Hulk - Thrasios & Tymna
This is a fast deck that can execute its combo on T2-T3 reliably with counter protection. You want to tutor or mulligan aggressively into some of the Stax pieces. Rest in Peace is the best of the bunch, since it puts a cold halt to the combo as long as it's in play, but Cursed Totem, Humility, and Grafdigger’s Cage are also good options. But the coolest piece of tech that was recently printed is Ashiok, Dream Render. This card is the real deal against Hulk decks since it stops Hulk from searching their library AND acts as grave-hate at the same time. The decklist in its current iteration is geared towards Breakfast Hulk and Storm decks, so you should be ok if you can find and cast one of those Stax pieces early on. Once you’ve got a Stax piece or two in play, you’ll then want to find and execute one of your own combos to close out the game. I’m particularly fond of the Tezzeret the Seeker combo line because it’s so compact.
Grixis Storm - Kess/Jeleva
Storm decks are soft to taxing effects and being able to use their mana rocks the same turn they cast them, so try and tutor or mulligan hard into Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, Frozen Aether, or Blind Obedience. Additionally, they run a lot of draw effects and Wheels, so finding Notion Thief, Narset, Parter of Veils, or Alms Collector will also slow them down to a crawl. And if you can protect Ashiok, Dream Render, then you’ve pretty much got a Storm deck dead on arrival, since they depend on chaining together a specific sequence of cards together. Any one of these cards is going to significantly slow down the Storm deck's strategy of chaining multiple spells in a turn to kill you off, and combining multiple pieces in play together is going to be back-breaking for a Storm strategy. Once you have established a solid board state of Stax pieces that they're trying to deal with, assemble your own combo and win while they’re trying to crawl out from your board of Stax pieces. Aminatou don’t care!
Food Chain Tazri
The three most important cards for this matchup are Ashiok, Dream Render, Humility, and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. All of these cards stop their combo line completely and are must-remove cards for the Tazri player if they want to win. Tutor for these cards, protect them as much as you can, and try and close the door on them while they’re spending their tutors to find an answer to you. This is a matchup that feels like a race simply because you need to put one of these three pieces into play before they can Food Chain combo away.
I will refer you to the Grixis Storm entry for this match-up since it's basically the same thing. The difference of them being able to cast Zur is actually a plus for us since it makes our creature removal a little more relevant, opening up Humility as another effective Stax/Hate piece. The reason to choose Zur over other Grixis or Storm generals is because he can put Necropotence into play with an attack step. This is extremely powerful, so try to keep Zur dead and flood the board with Stax pieces. Frozen Aether plus Stasis will most likely be a hard lock against them if you can assemble it profitably, so have no fear in doing so.
Chain Veil Teferi was actually the inspiration for this deck in the first place, so the deck design CLOSELY resembles Teferi Stax. In fact, the whole reason to move into Esper is to diversify the Stax pieces and efficacy of Tutor effects available to the deck. But, I digress. This matchup is going to be tense because you both depend on Artifacts to generate mana advantage. Being able to get Blind Obedience or Frozen Aether into play will help slow down Teferi a great deal. Slamming the door with Stasis and an untap effect should seal the deal for you in this matchup, but it will be close.
Dramatic Scepter - Thrasios & Tymna
The normal suite of Stax pieces we play in the main decklist line up especially well against this decklist, so try and flood the board with as many Stax pieces as possible so that executing their game strategy becomes nearly impossible. Nearly every single one of our Stax pieces is relevant against this type of deck. I like Grand Arbiter and Narset, Parter of Veils as ways to slow them down substantially but Cursed Totem and Humility make this deck look particularly embarrassing as well. Watch out for Ad Nauseam and kill mana sources as frequently as possible so that they can't filter their excess mana into extra cards via Thrasios or Wheel effects.
A creature based Stax/Combo deck? This is matchup is going to be hell… for them. Between the Stax pieces already present in the deck, we play a fair amount of removal as well. It is VERY hard for Yisan to get off the ground against Aminatou. Be warned, however, that if you don’t get a Stax piece into play quickly or cannot kill Yisan quickly enough, this deck will suffer. Yisan plays a ton of Naturalize effects at every Verse possibility, so it’s likely that your board will get targeted if Yisan can get going. While I consider the match favorable, it’s still one to play intelligently around.
Blood Pod Stax - Tana & Tymna
This deck plays a similar strategy as us, in being a Stax heavy strategy, but is reliant on creatures. Try and find [CAARD]Toxic Deluge[/CARD], Supreme Verdict, or Humility and this match-up should be decent. Be aware that they will and do play some additional taxing effects that we don't play that make executing our game strategy more difficult. Tymna the Weaver is a primary source of their card advantage, so kill her as frequently as you can so that they're strained for card advantage. Also be aware that they can win with a Kiki-Jiki combo off of Yisan, the Wanderer Bard and Birthing Pod once they get to the magical 3 CMC, so remember that Cursed Totem, Grafdigger's Cage, and Humility are excellent Stax pieces to find as well.
This is a very close matchup since there are two variants of Tasigur that see play; a Tasigur MAN deck and Flash Hulk Tasigur. The diversity of Stax effects in the deck are all well-suited to handle Tasigur, with Humility, Cursed Totem, and Rest in Peace being especially effective. This is a closer matchup than you think, though, as Tasigur plays a significant amount of interaction that will make your plays difficult to execute/protect. Try and neutralize Tasigur's mana sources and you should be ok.
Gitrog Monster Combo
This is a really weird combo deck that is really, really fast and absurdly consistent. It utilizes Dakmor Salvage and the Monster's triggered ability to draw a card and then replace that draw trigger with a dredge effect. Then you use a discard outlet to discard the Dakmor Salvage back to the 'yard to trigger it again. You then repeat this, drawing cards from incidentally milled land cards via the trigger, and then shuffling your 'yard back into your library. Then, you traditionally use Skirge Familiar to create infinite mana and kill everyone with some sort of black spell that will do the job. To interrupt this combo, Humility and Cursed Totem stop their combo cold (since every free discard outlet is a creature's activated ability). Then, there is the all-star Rest in Peace that also completely eliminates their combo potential. Ashiok, Dream Render is a great way to try and chew through their deck and potentially exile one of their combo pieces too, so use Ashiok's ability as exclusively as possible against the Gitrog player; you should be able to politic this scenario pretty easily.
The idea of Sisay is to use her activated ability to tutor up a chain of cards that allow you to keep untapping your mana sources with Paradox Engine. You then utilize a Storm-like mechanic to keep bouncing your creatures and kill everyone with Bontu's Monument or something similar. Since this is a creature based combo deck, we have a good advantage here since our deck is naturally geared towards killing creature based decks. Cursed Totem and Humility are really good here, making Sisay a liability. Ashiok, Dream Render also neuters Sisay's strategy as well. Kill Sisay or flood the board with Stax pieces and then close the door. You should have a decent matchup here, especially if everyone else is helping to contain Sisay.
The fatal flaw in every plan is the assumption that you know more than your enemy. - here
This deck and Primer would not be possible without my playgroup. I'd like to thank y'all for playing against my oppressive Stax decks in all their glory, and I sincerely appreciate your (relatively) good sportsmanship about it.
I'd also like to thank Sigi and Neosloth for being the architects of the Teferi Chain Veil combo list. Their list, in conjunction with a Brago ETB based list I had casually built, are the inspiration for this deck and its core strategy. Many of the cards I play and designed the deck around have initially been discussed and evaluated in that list, and I'm very grateful for the collective wisdom they and their Discord have shared with me.
Lastly, I'd like to thank you, dear reader. The whole purpose of writing a Primer is that it can be useful, and your spending time to actually read my Primer is deeply appreciated by me. I hope it helps you configure your own Aminatou deck and helps you achieve many victories!
This is a running log of any changes that are made to the Current decklist so that it remains current and up to date and so that you can follow what has changed about the decklist. The reasoning why a card substitution occurred will be found within the body of the thread itself, so reasoning won't be mentioned within this section.
5/15/2019 - ??? Changes
Updating this decklist for eventual Primer status consideration along with some decklist tweaks. Once the Primer is relatively finished, I'll keep track of the specific changes I make more accurately.
I just realized that Bolas's Citadel is actually VERY effective for this deck. It works under Stasis, synergizes with Aminatou's +1 ability, makes Sensei's Divining Top absolutely broken and a pseudo-infinite combo, and is an artifact that I can actively tutor for with what's present in the deck. I'll be cutting a card for it, just haven't settled on which one yet. I don't think Aetherflux Reservoir needs to be present in the deck simply because I only need to get through a certain amount of my deck before I naturally draw into a true combo line. Essentially, Bolas's Citadel acts as an Ad Nauseam variant that more effectively rewards the deck for what it's trying to do.
Bojuka Bog ETB tapped is actually a pretty big deal. Tapped lands steal a lot of tempo from this deck and with no way to cheat it into play a la Crop Rotation, I think the tempo loss when you draw it might be substantial enough to make me regret playing it in the 99. A solid card and an excellent role-player, I personally have found most of the other Stax pieces provide enough overlap that having an additional 'yard hate card isn't necessary. The goal of this deck is to create layers of Stax/Hate pieces so that even if your opponents tutor for removal effects to get rid of one Stax/Hate piece, there is another one that they have to fight through.
Lavinia is solid as well. I'd like to include her, I just don't think she's any better than the current suite of Stax/Hate pieces.
Kambal doesn't directly help us win, so I'll actually pass on him.
Teferi's Puzzle Box and Narset work exactly like you think it does. I didn't think about the Box as another way to take advantage of the Wheel payoff cards. Good look!
Is it safe to assume that you don't run Eldest Reborn for CMC reasons? Also would Winter's Orb slow us down too much? I do like the Terferi's puzzle box as the pay off is just insane. It will probably take me a couple of months to build, but I will slowly get there.