"Mystery is beauty. Within the unknown we plumb revelation."
Being a Birthing Pod enthusiast throughout my days playing Commander, in a variety of different shells and colors, of course I got excited about this legendary creature and instantly started brainstorming and brewing!
Some of my favorite things to do in Magic are tool-boxing and also exact sequencing for game winning combos. Hello Prime Speaker Vannifar, welcome.
This primer is an ever evolving source of ideas and knowledge for anybody looking to build around her.
As such it's not just focusing purely on a *deck*, but also on a variety of topics and card discussions around anything to do with interacting
with Prime Speaker Vannifar. This will be the only place you need to visit for all the information you want to build a Vannifar deck.
This way people are welcome to take away what they feel will better work for the way the want to play her.
What's in this Primer?
Because this is one of the most information rich guides for a commander on the internet, I've done a quick summary of the content to better prepare you, or direct you to what you might want from this primer.
This introduction section is giving you a quick overview of Prime Speaker Vannifar, including fundamental interactions, why you might want to play her, and commanders already that allow you to search your library.
Full breakdown of my deck list, complete with card choices and their interactions, with guides to playing through the game.
5.) Deck. My own unique take on her, using a lot of combo lines for automatic wins.
6.) Strategy. Detailed step-by-step processes of potential ways to sequence chaining through creatures for combos and value.
7.) Card Choices. Further description for reasons on particular cards chosen for deck and how they synergize.
8.) Change Log. All the changes to the deck list.
The second post (#2) in this thread has Resource guides that have discussions and breakdowns of all types of elements that you might include in your own build centered around Prime Speaker Vannifar. This area is unique to primers, I have gone the additional method of discussing various cards and strategies that are potentially relevant for her ability.
9.) Compendium. A comprehensive list of cards that can be potentially used with Prime Speaker Vannifar, categorized for convenience.
10.) Spotlight on Potential Cards. A more focused analysis on particular cards. I do weekly write ups on card(s), so this section is always being appended.
11.) Theorycrafting. General topics, rather than a particular card or set of cards.
The third post (#3) in this thread is dedicated to competitive commander, cEDH. I'm part of an online community using Discord where we discuss potential builds for Prime Speaker Vannifar to complete at a top-tier level. This section is a full break-down of current theories, complete with a deck tech around many of the ideas.
12.) cEDH. A review of where potential builds are being taken, to try and make her a top tier commander.
13.) Deck. A top-tier meta and approach to building a deck.
14.) Strategy. Detailed step-by-step processes of potential ways to sequence chaining through creatures for combos.
15.) Card Choices. Further description for reasons on particular cards chosen for deck and how they synergize.
16.) Change Log.
The very first element you should be looking at with a commander like this is how to get multiple uses out of her each turn. Any card that has "untap permanent/creature" is going to allow you to string multiple activation's in a single turn.
One way is to use a range of creatures that will allow you to reuse Prime Speaker Vannifar immediately after use, so that you can upgrade your creatures, to you finally get to some game winning higher-end creatures, plus just getting creatures into your graveyard or multiple creatures into play for further interactions.
You can setup so that you have multiple ways to keep upgrading your creature base, all the way from 0 CMC to 8 CMC in a single turn.
You can literally sequence a victory with only a few support cards or enough mana.
However it must be noted that at Five Drop, there are some stipulations.
There are a lot more ways to untap Vannifar but these represent the fairly unconditional ways of sequencing to move up through a creature base, and without needing haste.
There are lots of creatures that can potentially untap Prime Speaker Vannifar, but require tapping to activate, so require haste for sequencing.
Paradox Engine is not exactly infinite, but still allows for untapping with casting spells.
Mind Over Matter can be used to untap any number of permanents, including Prime Speaker Vannifar, so will always be able to do chain winning sequences with enough cards in hand to discard for the ability.
Arguably in the most powerful color combination in commander with Simic, the ability of Birthing Pod has been the source of many years of theory-crafting and deck making, even being banned in Modern.
With the same ability at your disposal in the commander zone, the possibilities are endless.
You might like Prime Speaker Vannifar if:
You like to have access to any of the creatures in your deck, and put them into play for "free".
You like combo decks or you like to tool-box for interaction.
You understand the power and versatility the Simic color combination gives you.
You might dislike Prime Speaker Vannifar if:
You don't enjoy searching your deck and shuffling.
You prefer more random elements to drawing cards in your 99.
Your meta specifically targets you, to shut down your commander at all costs.
Rather than listing good stuff commanders in Simic colors, commanders that have tap to search abilities are far more in the same play style.
Yisan, the Wanderer Bard - Has a similar ability in that you are specifically needing to tap to put creatures into play from library. Prime Speaker Vannifar doesn't have the restriction of counters for converted-mana-cost, you can start from any cmc creature already in play. But Yisan doesn't need to sacrifice creatures, you can leave them in play, so in general can be more permanent tool-box creatures selected, as well as combo.
Jalira, Master Polymorphist - Unless you have ways of specifically putting creatures on top of your library, there is more of a random element to using Jalira. However she can put any converted-mana-cost into play potentially, so doesn't have the restrictions of Vannifar and Yisan, as long as it's not legendary.
Arcum Dagsson - Another commander close in play style, as you sacrifice creatures to put cards directly into play, in this instance artifacts. Same casting cost and activated ability doesn't require mana either. Prime Speaker Vannifar does put you into green as well, so you get a whole additional color worth of selection, and obviously creature selection is different to artifact searching.
Captain Sisay - Another Four Drop creature with a tap to search, but instead that card goes to your hand. Has a similar feel if looking to make a combo build in that you can set up wins with very few activation's. But in Selesnya colors, you'll be playing white instead of blue. White tends to run hate-bears and other stax elements, where blue can be used more for instant speed interaction.
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary - Another Simic commander, that does allow you to search for creatures. However you still need to cast the creatures even if you do setup the means to draw them, so doesn't have the same inherit way getting creatures into play for "free".
"To survive exceptional times we must adapt by exceptional means."
The main way of winning with the deck is to get Prime Speaker Vannifar into play and then use her ability to start chaining up and getting multiple creatures into play, using some very specific sequences of creatures.
I've listed them in detail below. They are complex to remember so half of the effort of winning is to know how you should sequence searches with Prime Speaker Vannifar.
You need 4 lands and specifically GGGU, so colorless artifact mana cannot help you. But this is a nice option as it just uses lands and creatures to win, with just the one spell Crop Rotation being cast.
*With infinite mana you can keep exiling the Body Double to copy any creature in your graveyard. You can also use Prime Speaker Vannifar to keep chaining as many times as you want, so you can win anyway you want to configure your deck.
I have a very detailed section dedicated to explaining different ways to win with sacrificing Protean Hulk, for more details click here.
You have plenty of alternative lines, up until you get to the Mnemonic Wall. Unfortunately if this is in graveyard then you can't go for this line.
Also casting the Mnemonic Wall during the combo could be hard. If you have two mana creatures in play, then you can gain an extra 2 mana at this point, meaning you could cast it with just 4 other mana in play for your turn, very doable.
This line is similar to the Into Protean Hulk/Vitalize for the beginning, but uses Woodland Bellower to branch off to get various creatures.
It does require the most mana available as well. So this option is most likely going to come down to if you have creatures in your hand or graveyard or exile, that hard hard to deploy for the other combo lines, so use this as a backup.
Also you might have drawn some creatures for thus line which are actually easy to deploy so may help to set you up.
At this stage you can get infinite mana using the exile ability of Deadeye Navigator on Palinchron.
You also get infinite Deadeye Navigator activation's on the Eternal Witness, so can get all your creatures back. You can easily cast all the creatures in your deck and have infinite 'enter the battlefield' triggers with them.
This line involves that most cards, but the main purpose of it, is that it uses cards already in the other combo lines, so it's just an alternative that you can use if the cards in your hand or graveyard might prevent you from doing the others easily. Nice to have choices. Chakram Retriever into Protean Hulk combo chain
There are essentially five different lines of creatures combinations that you can choose to go for when you start activating Prime Speaker Vannifar.
The line that you choose is going to come down to essentially what resources you have at the time or how you might want to mitigate opponents disruption.
Use the check list of requirements below to help you better choose a sequence of creatures that you might want to use.
Zero, One, Two Drop creature to chain into Spellseeker.
As you can see if you have a mana creature in play, then the most mana efficient method is Vitalize into Protean Hulk combo chain. But the downside is that you then need an additional Zero, One or Two Drop creature to sacrifice, if needing to keep that mana creature in play.
It also has the most creatures involved, so there is a higher chance of having some of the creatures in your hand that would make it harder to sequence potentially.
Not to panic if we only have the one creature to sacrifice, you can go for the Trophy Mage/Thousand-Year Elixir combo chain or Minamo, School at Water's Edge/Wirewood Lodge/Crop Rotation combo chain.
They requires having 4 mana spare. So straight away you're going to leave yourself with less chance of having mana up for a counterspells.
Using the Thousand-Year Elixir also exposes you to artifact removal, so in this respect it can be less appealing.
The Vitalize into Woodland Bellower/Deadeye Navigator/Palinchron combo chain is the most mana intensive of the sequencing lines, but is essentially a backup to the others, if you have particular cards in hand that would be part of the other chains, or in graveyard, etc.
I'm just highlighting the fact your preferred method is really to do the Vitalize into Protean Hulk combo chain, but you need that mana creature AND an extra creature at One, Two Drop to sacrifice.
As you can see the Zero, One and Two Drop creatures are quite precious to your game plan.
However I cannot stress the importance of having a high threshold of creatures that can actually be sacrificed to Prime Speaker Vannifar to start game winning chains.
In this respect, that number of potential creatures is much lower. There are 18* creatures that are converted mana cost two or less, and really these are the only creatures that you'll be looking to start sacrificing to start chaining with Prime Speaker Vannifar, at least in an early game.
*There are three lands Dryad Arbor, Treetop Village, Lumbering Falls and Green Sun's Zenith as well. I've discounted Gilded Drake.
It must be noted that your Three Drop and up creatures cannot be used to start chaining up for a combo win if wanting to do it all in one turn. If you look at the sequencing there are some specific creatures in Trophy Mage or Spellseeker that you're looking to use their abilities to search to get particular cards for the combos.
This may seem trivial, but it's actually one of the most important aspects to having a consistent means of winning as quickly as possible.
What if I have a Three Drop (or higher) in play instead?
Maybe you've cast one of these Bounding Krasis, Eternal Witness, Trinket Mage, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds.
We can chain all the way up to a Seven Drop creature, using Chakram Retriever as a way to untap hopefully at the Five Drop.
But once you get your Seven Drop creature into play, in this decks case either Protean Hulk or Palinchron then there is no way to untap Prime Speaker Vannifar.
This is different to our combo lines that work in a way to untap her, so you can carry on chaining.
Unless you already have a way to untap her, you'll need to pass the turn before you can keep comboing.
Treetop Village is another potential mana creature. So if you have the 1G to activate it, once you start using the Vitalize it'll pay for everything, so this is another amazing land in this deck. Lumbering Falls is the same but more expensive at 2UG. But all you need for the combos to work is to have them activated and untapped when you begin. So it's very conceivable that the turn after you cast Prime Speaker Vannifar that you have the 5 mana for activating Lumbering Falls to work.
I should point out that if you have the luxury of being able to have more than one mana creature at the time of using the Vitalize combo, then you'll actually start gaining mana.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
You can use Reality Shift or Beast Within to give you a token creature. You could Reality Shift one of your Three Drops or more to get a Zero Drop to start your chain. You could even Beast Within a land to start you off.
When sacrificing the Protean Hulk you have a multitude of creature that you can get depending on the situation.
I have a very detailed section dedicated to explaining different ways to win with sacrificing Protean Hulk, for more details click here.
The package of creatures that I chose in the end was what I feel has the trade off between not getting Turn 1 or Turn 2 wins, instead getting individually better cards and smaller amount of overall cards dedicated.
How do you "kill" your opponents?
Alright we have successfully chained our combos together and now we have infinite mana and unlimited number of creature searches with Prime Speaker Vannifar, what do we do now?
Our combo chains end up with either Deadeye Navigator and/or Tidespout Tyrant in play. What both of these do with infinite mana is allow you get infinite ETB off your creatures. So with this in mind you can do the following..
The main way of winning once you have infinite's is to use Reality Shift . We will be looking to search for Reality Shift with Spellseeker.
Then your opponents need at least one creature in play to target with it . The manifest ability will create another creature, and put a card from opponents library into play.
One of the hardest aspects of playing a deck like this, is figuring out how you can sequence your turns, when you have particular cards that you don't have access to put into play with Prime Speaker Vannifar because they might be in your hand, graveyard or even exiled.
Combo creatures are in your hand
Obviously the casting cost of the particular creature you are looking to cast is a factor.
If you have a Six Drop creature like Deadeye Navigator, Woodland Bellower, Greenwarden of Murasa in your hand it's going to take a while to get to the mana to cast it from your hand.
Realistically too slow to probably win you the game in a timely manner.
There are some cards in Brainstorm and Scroll Rack that can help you out with this, but that's only two cards in the deck.
There are also some cards that you might not be able put into play before hand either, because they have triggers essential to moving the sequence forward in an exact manner.
So in this way you might also have to factor in more mana for a combo line, because you're going to have to cast that creature also during the turn.
One of the biggest factors of choosing a line to try and win with, is going to come down to if you have as few as possible creatures in your hand or graveyard that you'd use for it.
This can end up being awkward if you try and sculpt your turns around that sequence and then you end up drawing a key card that is hard to deploy, before you enact it.
In the following sections I will highlight steps where you can use these untappers as alternatives, so this can make sticking points easier to navigate around.
But it must be noted that you always have to sequence into converted mana costs of creatures, so often you'll need to be getting particular creatures anyway.
They often have a purpose further along the sequence as well, so the options to untap at particular points is limited by these other stipulations.
But infinite mana doesn't do anything on it's own without support cards.
If you can get Deadeye Navigator with infinite mana, that means that you can infinitely exile any number of creatures you have access to. Lets look at all the cards that have enter the battlefield triggers;
Some of the cards are conditional on what is available to you at the time.
But you're aiming for a result that you have infinite mana and some other creature(s) that will allow you to win.
The combo chains are super complicated, so I feel it's best to make clear that if you have Peregrine Drake/Palinchron in your hand, and are able to cast them, then you can just look to sequence into Deadeye Navigator and not have to worry about convoluted sequences so much.
Has Prime Speaker Vannifar been shut out of the game?
If you read the section on Birthing Pod in the 'Spotlight on Potential Cards' section, which you can click here for more details, then we do have backup plans for making the deck do similar plays as Prime Speaker Vannifar.
You can use Birthing Pod in conjunction with Dramatic Reversal, some non-land mana sources, and then sequencing into graveyard retrieval creatures.
Now that's a lot of cards, and you are bound to draw at least a couple during the course of the early game.
But as I've already laid out that you can go for five different combo lines and it's all going to come down to what you might have drawn during the game already.
Plus it's not as clear cut as that, as you have alternative means to help you out with cards in hand, like Elvish Piper.
If you have Brainstorm or Scroll Rack in your opening hand, then you are really free to keep hands with these combo creatures. Be patient with the Brainstorm, only use it just before you start your Prime Speaker Vannifar combos, so that you don't draw another combo creature unnecessarily.
It might be that you even have a combo card like Vitalize in your hand already, so then you can use Spellseeker instead to get Brainstorm to help with awkward draws.
This deck does require you to think on your toes a reasonable amount, it's not always so laid out for a victory.
The quicker you can play out Prime Speaker Vannifar and look to combo the more likely that you won't draw key combo creatures that you'd prefer not to cast.
There is a lot of mana acceleration in the deck, so it's more likely that you'll be able to cast Prime Speaker Vannifar on Turn 2 or Turn 3, rather than Turn 4 for example.
Now if you have the means to protect Prime Speaker Vannifar, then you might consider delaying a turn so that you have the mana for both of them, although don't wait a couple of turns further as you could just afford to pay commander tax to try it again.
There is an element of the first person to try and combo in multiplayer is often the first to get stopped, so if your meta is heavy with disruption then you might want to wait for your opportunity with more patience.
But I will stress that it's not the sort of deck that you are looking to stretch the game out long, it's better to put your opponents to the test before they can enact their own strategies.
Usually it goes to the mid game if your opponents have prevented you from using Prime Speaker Vannifar.
This might be from removal on her, or potential a hate card in play.
The other way is that you've been unlucky with drawing too many of the combo pieces, so are waiting to get enough mana to cast some out, or waiting for cards like Brainstorm or Scroll Rack to help you out with that.
If she has been sent to the command zone, then the deck does have a lot of mana accelerators to help pay for commander tax. So you should have the ability to cast her out multiple times during the game.
Hate cards a little trickier, you have to wait until you draw removal, and there isn't much additional draw in the deck.
If this happens then you'll probably need to turn your disruption on opponents to stop them from winning.
There are a number of counterspells for this, so using them wisely is important. Don't use them unless you are stopping game winning plays, as you really want to save them for protecting your own game plan hopefully.
If the game has gotten to the later stages, then we will assume that opponents have prevented you from using Prime Speaker Vannifar.
However there are a lot of ways to get infinite's in the deck, so you have a lot of backup plans. The infinite's even play out different ways, so hate cards that might be prevent one method, probably can be mitigated with other sets of card interactions.
I've detailed all the infinite's and alternatives, and honestly it's really fun to pull out wins without the need for Prime Speaker Vannifar, it shows off the robustness of having additional methods to achieve similar things.
Please review the section "Know your alternatives" and "Has Prime Speaker Vannifar been shut out of the game?" for late game strategies.
If we were to only have creatures as our own way of dealing with hate cards, hoping to use Prime Speaker Vannifar to tutor for them, then we will get completely shut off by some of the above.
For example if you were hoping to use Reclamation Sage as your form of artifact and enchantment removal, then Torpor Orb would shut you off.
The same with the idea of just using creatures to deal with creatures. For example just using Gilded Drake. In this scenario Hushwing Gryff would completely shut that off.
Mass land destruction
The only reason that mass land destruction could be a pain for the deck, is that often you're wanting 3 lands in play for the Deadeye Navigator + Peregrine Drake/Palinchron combo.
You have the Protean Hulk line, so you always have other options.
Otherwise restricting our mana won't be too detrimental, because of your mana creatures, and also not needing to cast many spells. Also your combos will be happening faster on average, than you'd see mass land destruction. Building back up to 3 lands, is not that hard to do either, when everybody has been slowed down. Armageddon, Ravages of War, Cataclysm, Jokulhaups, Obliterate, Ruination.
Stax isn't something that we need to worry about too much, in fact as I've already made clear you can easily play elements yourself.
It's not like you're completely impervious to it, but it certainly doesn't effect you in the way it does other decks.
Stax elements are popular as well to try and slow opponents down, so in this regard a lot resources from opponents could be committed to this, which you can mitigate with Prime Speaker Vannifar pseudo ability of casting cards without needing any mana. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Sphere of Resistance, Thorn of Amethyst, Trinisphere, Winter Orb.
Artifact hate can hurt the Thousand-Year Elixir combo line, but this can be mitigated with using the Vitalize line instead, which doesn't use anything but creatures.
Having redundancy with different lines of play make the deck more powerful against hate cards. Stony Silence, Null Rod.
Prevent playing multiple cards per turn
Spells that are designed to prevent multiple cards being played or drawn each turn, should not effect a Prime Speaker Vannifar build that much.
You will not be able to do the Vitalize combo lines, but you can go with Thousand-Year Elixir line instead. Nice to have choices.
The thing is that you still get to play out all your creatures with infinite mana still, and you literally don't need to cast a card to do it. Ethersworn Canonist, Eidolon of Rhetoric
Comprehensive list of cards in the deck, and further interactions that I might not have detailed in the strategy section.-----------------------------------------
Creature untappers Quirion Ranger - This is our only One Drop creature that allows untapping Prime Speaker Vannifar when you want to trade up creatures. Note that the only Zero Drop creatures in the decks are lands, so it's not often that you'll be sequencing into this creature.
With Quirion Ranger and Scryb Ranger abilities to return a Forest to untap a creature, you can use them with mana creatures to generate more mana. Even potentially when you don't have a land drop in hand for the turn, returning the Forest will help with making that land drop for additional mana.
I explain the importance of having potential additional untappers for Prime Speaker Vannifar in the strategy section, which you can click here for details.
Kiora's Follower - Notably not used for any of the combo chains as you need a haste enabler. But with haste you can look to use this as a means to trade up instead of Scryb Ranger.
Great as a mana creature as well as it can just untap a land.
Fatestitcher - A key combo card for our Trophy Mage/Thousand-Year Elixir combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
But it's also a way to get multiple creatures into play for any type of trading up.
Vitalize - The neat thing about this card is that if you have multiple mana producing creatures in play and start to combo, then you can actually gain mana. This is why this is my favorite go to combo chains with the Vitalize into Protean Hulk combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
It's also key card in the Vitalize into Woodland Bellower/Deadeye Navigator/Palinchron combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
Further combo or toolbox creatures Spellseeker - Literally one of the most important creatures in the deck, this is used to get Vitalize, Dramatic Reversal or Crop Rotation for particular combo chains.
If you already have these spells in your hand, then you can always look to get some disruption instead in the form of a counter spell or permanent removal.
Trophy Mage - The key card to the..well you guessed it Trophy Mage/Thousand-Year Elixir combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
There isn't actually another three mana cost artifact in the deck, so there is some argument to having something else in there in times you want to cast/chain for some other value.
Eternal Witness - A key card that can be chained into with Prime Speaker Vannifar if needing to get back other combo cards especially. Opponents can only tend to slow you down a turn if they have removal or counterspell something that is not Vannifar, as you can use Vannifar to get Eternal Witness to return that card back straight away. A very potent element to being able to tool-box in the deck.
Elvish Piper - Is mainly used as a backup plan if you have certain higher casting creatures in your hand, that you might have been looking to search with Prime Speaker Vannifar in the first place.
If you have 7 lands in play you can use Elvish Piper to put Palinchron into play. You can float 6 mana first, so that you'll have 12 mana all up. You can return Palinchron for 2UU, leaving 8 mana. Cast Palinchron so that you get the untap trigger Chakram Retriever to untap Elvish Piper, and now you'll have one left over floating mana. You can keep looping getting an additional mana each time for infinite mana.
Archaeomancer - A key combo card for the Minamo, School at Water's Edge/Wirewood Lodge/Crop Rotation combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
It's actually a super-star when it comes to the backup plans of using alternative methods of winning, as already discussed in the strategy section.
You can also use it to get back other cards like disruption when you've already got other setups, although hard casting it for 2UU is not the normal plan. It might be that you have an additional on-board untapper, so you can use Archaeomancer as part of your sequencing to get back some disruption. Maybe you've used an instant previously to remove a card with Nature's Claim for example. You can then get back the Nature's Claim to remove a card that might be preventing you from comboing further.
Mnemonic Wall - Is the Five Drop equivalent of Archaeomancer for the purposes of combos, so please reference that for it's general interactions and inclusion. Please note that you could easily play Salvager of Secrets or Scrivener instead, I've just chosen the Wall for it toughness, so less prone to damage killing it.
Body Double - A key card in Trophy Mage/Thousand-Year Elixir combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
Also a key card in the Vitalize into Woodland Bellower/Deadeye Navigator/Palinchron combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
It's such a unique ability in general, but especially in blue color pie. It does become reasonable awkward if you have it in your hand at the time you want to combo with certain lines, and shuts down lines completely if it's gone to your graveyard or exile. But luckily we have plenty of other ways to win.
Peregrine Drake - Part of our Trophy Mage/Thousand-Year Elixir combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
Note that with Gaea's Cradle you can potentially gain mana with additional creatures in play.
Deadeye Navigator - Part of the Trophy Mage/Thousand-Year Elixir combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
It is also used in the Vitalize into Woodland Bellower/Deadeye Navigator/Palinchron combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
Woodland Bellower - One of the few ways to get multiple creatures into play off a single creature. Perfect for allowing to chain up further as you can select a number of green creatures that allow you to untap Prime Speaker Vannifar. Normally it will be Bounding Krasis, but you could also use Quirion Ranger or Scryb Ranger of you wanted a permanent way of untapping creatures.
It is a key combo card used in the Vitalize into Woodland Bellower/Deadeye Navigator/Palinchron combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
Greenwarden of Murasa - The ability to get back two cards from your graveyard is invaluable with Prime Speaker Vannifar build.
It is a key combo card for the Vitalize into Protean Hulk combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
It's also used as a key creature in alternative ways of winning, that are discussed in the strategy section.
Protean Hulk - Another creature used to get multiple creatures into play. I have a very detailed break down of this creature for many different potential Prime Speaker Vannifar builds, which you can click here for details.
Palinchron - Obviously a key card of the Vitalize into Woodland Bellower/Deadeye Navigator/Palinchron combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
It's also part of the Minamo, School at Water's Edge/Wirewood Lodge/Crop Rotation combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
You can potentially get infinite mana with Gaea's Cradle if you can generate enough to return it to hand for 2UU and recast it with mana left over.
It must be noted that you could add Phantasmal Image to the deck as another source of infinite mana.
Tidespout Tyrant - A way of getting infinite mana as discussed in the strategy section.
Can also be used to remove opponents permanents in a pinch, maybe some hoser card is in play, so just casting any spell can do this.
Once you have infinite mana and potentially have access to Palinchron, then you can literally bounce all your opponents permanents, by casting and returning the Palinchron.
Alternative combos Isochron Scepter - Is mainly in the deck for Dramatic Reversal combo where you can look to use non-land mana sources like artifact mana or creatures that tap for mana, to enable getting infinite mana. If you can produce more than 2 for the activation of the Isochron Scepter itself, then you'll produce additional mana. It works particularly well with Prime Speaker Vannifar herself as you can untap her as well, enabling you to trade up creature, without having to worry about the creature themselves untapping her.
You can use Isochron Scepter with any of the disruption spells that cost two or less, as a permanent way to counter/remove spells for soft locks.
Dramatic Reversal - As mentioned above, combos with Isochron Scepter for potential infinite mana.
It can be used instead of Vitalize in the Vitalize into Protean Hulk combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
It is a key card for some of the alternatives ways to win, if you check out the "Has Prime Speaker Vannifar been shut out of the game?" in the strategy section.
Time Warp - Extra turns are always a powerful effect, but we only have one in the deck for the purposes being able to do an alternative combo with Birthing Pod. You can check out the interactions in the section "Has Prime Speaker Vannifar been shut out of the game?".
Mana acceleration Artifact Mana: Chrome Mox, Mox Amber, Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Mana Vault.
The artifact mana is very precise for combos with Tidespout Tyrant and also just general great at getting extra mana at all stages of the game. The noticeable emission of Mox Diamond is simply because the deck has a low land count, and having 3 lands in play for some of the combos means that missing a land drop isn't the best.
Disruptive/protection creatures Sylvan Safekeeper - An excellent creature to protect your combos. Sacrificing a land isn't the greatest, but it's still better than perhaps spending an additional turn and waiting for an extra 2 for the commander tax for Prime Speaker Vannifar.
Spellskite - Another protective creature that can even defend your Thousand-Year Elixir if removal is sent at it. Two Drop creatures are perfect for starting combo chains as well.
Gilded Drake - A catch all for stopping opponents commander or other problematic creatures, and even an answer for opponents stealing Prime Speaker Vannifar, which makes playing otherwise very difficult.
Putting cards back in library Brainstorm - Perfect for putting key combo creature cards you have in your hand back into your library for searching with Prime Speaker Vannifar.
There are a significant number of ways of shuffling your library so both Brainstorm and Scroll Rack are great ways of potentially sculpting your hand as well. Prime Speaker Vannifar herself shuffles your library and you have lots of different tutors, even fetch lands for shuffling.
Haste Concordant Crossroads - With your mana creatures you can really look to get an explosive start, and with Prime Speaker Vannifar being such a fast to win deck, giving your opponents the ability to have haste as well, honestly isn't much of a downside, as you'll only give them a small window of opportunity to interact.
Survival of the Fittest - Is another card that you can use to get combo creatures into your graveyard, to potentially make combo lines more easy.
For example you can search and discard Fatestitcher to give yourself an untapper and a sacrifice body. The Fatestitcher can become a mana creature for the purposes of Vitalize combos if required.
You can discard your higher converted mana creatures that you may have drawn through the game like Deadeye Navigator, Woodland Bellower, Greenwarden of Murasa, which you really don't want to have to cast them as they are just too expensive to deploy in a timely manner. Survival of the Fittest also gives you access to more mana creatures, so you are happy to discard a Three Drop or more, to get say a One or Two Drop mana creature for the purposes of setting up.
Crop Rotation - A key card in the Minamo, School at Water's Edge/Wirewood Lodge/Crop Rotation combo chain, which you can click here for exact sequencing.
Also can be used to search for Gaea's Cradle if you want a sudden explosion in potential mana given a number of creatures in play.
Can even be used to get a creature land, if needing the mana creature for the Vitalize combos, with Dryad Arbor, Treetop Village, Lumbering Falls.
Draw Gitaxian Probe - It's mainly in the deck for the Chakram Retriever combo chain, which you can click here for the exact sequencing.
Preordain - Just a great way sculpt your hand and library, and having cheap cards to cast proactively with Chakram Retriever untap ability is good.
Sylvan Library - Perennial all star. You can even make sure you don't draw your creature combo cards, putting them back on top of library.
An element you might have looked at is where is all the draw?
I can't stress how much this deck is just about resolving Prime Speaker Vannifar and maybe a few creatures for chaining and mana support.
Otherwise you'd be happy not to draw a single card the whole game, as you actually want your creature base in your library at all times.
So the only "draw" card in the deck is Sylvan Library and a few cantrips, and this as much about making sure you don't draw particular cards.
So cards like Mystic Remora, Time Twister, Windfall are not really this decks forte.
It does mean that you have less control of the speed of the deck, especially when it comes to drawing into fast artifact mana. Dumping your hand and refilling is a big element of cEDH. But actually spells in hand and maintaining your resources in hand is not as important as most decks.
It's nice to have a super broken commander that can give you access to your whole deck, without needing to draw or cast them!!
The other nice thing about the deck is that because of the access to your graveyard with Eternal Witness and Greenwarden of Murasa, and also instant and sorcery with Archaeomancer and Mnemonic Wall, you're more resilient to draw 7 cards like Windfall and Wheel of Fortune.
Any cards that you might discard that were part of a combo line you were looking to take could potentially be replaced by these creatures instead.
Other draw 7 cards like Timetwister or Time Spiral shuffle cards back in so in theory you'll have your creature suite back in your library, where it's best.
There is an argument for Timetwister in the deck, for the reason of giving you another outlet to shuffle cards from your hand back into your library, but at the same time it's just not as important to get a threshold of cards in your hand, especially at the expense of giving all your opponents cards as well.
What's not in the deck? Further redundancy
Because there are 5 different potential lines of combo winning, in the end having even further redundancy came at the cost of speed and disruption.
For this reason I've cut the Thornbite Staff and Intruder Alarm...alarming as that may be! Ba Dum Tsh. So effectively that still gives me 5 different ways of sequencing a win (with alternatives within some of them as well).
The equip cost of Thornbite Staff is the biggest downside of that card. However it does deal a point of damage, so can potentially kill Aven Mindcensor, Hushwing Gryff, Phyrexian Revoker!!
The other downside to Thornbite Staff is that Null Rod and Stony Silence would prevent you from equipping as well, and the rest of the deck is pretty resilient to those cards.
The best way to think of the cards Intruder Alarm and Thornbite Staff is that they are just backup cards for decks that look to combo without them.
I've done a detailed discussion on both these card, and explain the theory behind them for deck builds. For more details click here.
Just to give an overview of this primer to date, Prime Speaker Vannifar was spoiled on Jan 4 2019, and I started this primer on Jan 5, the day after, so much has changed since my first thread, as I've learned and theorycrafted since then.
My initial deck list had the land ramp combo line included as well. But I moved away from a more casual theme, to being a solid go for the win the same turn you can activate her.
This section has a very comprehensive list of cards that can be potentially used within a Prime Speaker Vannifar framework of your choosing.
You might be quite happy just to get one or two activation's out of her for your turns, rather than always going for a one turn combo win. Focused on value or potential answers to what opponents are doing. This is much more of a tool-box style where you search for creatures that are much more suited to the board state or opponents deck archetypes.
What I've done is break down cards into particular groups. On the whole I focus mainly on creatures, as the point of Prime Speaker Vannifar is that she can get you to those creatures. But there are non-creature elements when appropriate to discuss.
My personal suite of untappers includes ones that mostly have once off effects that trigger on entering the battlefield. However there are a range of creatures, artifacts and enchantments that can untap Vannifar. Many of these cards are much more suited to get incremental value from Vannifar and your creature base each turn.
You'll notice just how many options you have in Simic for untapping creatures. You have no shortage of options. It's just a case of how many and of what variety?
A pivotal question you should be asking yourself if you want to build a deck that isn't so reliant on her being in play and active, is "what do these untapper cards do for you as well?".
As a general rule of thumb, those that can give you multiple uses a turn tend to be more powerful. But they also might be harder to activate or trigger.
These type of cards require investing mana, but can be used to untap Vannifar multiple times in a turn. Most of them however are non-creatures, which means that you can't search for them with Prime Speaker Vannifar ability.
Tap to activate cards can usually only naturally be used once each turn, and if they are a creature will have summoning sickness as well, so won't be able to be used for a full turn. However a lot of these are creatures so can be searched with Prime Speaker Vannifar ability.
This then leads me into the next section, and that's about how to go about giving your creatures haste.
If you have a card that gives your creatures haste, then you'll be able to do a few additional sequences to help you out.
Obviously getting Prime Speaker Vannifar with haste means you can look to get value immediately or even potentially win on the spot.
If you have the ability to give your creatures haste, then the tap ability creatures become much better. However Simic is not know for it's ability to give creatures haste. There are not a lot of ways to do this.
But I'll list them, as it could be a very important plan for your build.
So one thing you should always be keeping in mind is that the heart of Prime Speaker Vannifar is that she is a creature tutor, so you are really looking at creatures as much as possible for giving you particular abilities/advantages.
The only creatures that can grant haste in Simic are Surrak, the Hunt Caller and Vitaspore Thallid. Both of them have stipulations.
Now that is not to say that you can't build around them in some way, and I certainly have thought about these cards a reasonable amount to try and potentially leverage them.
Well now you have all these lovely ways of untapping Prime Speaker Vannifar but what are you looking to do with all of them?
Now what's important to really know is that if you're sacrificing creatures to go up the chain, then when it's time to end your turn, you still only have that one creature in play.
That might seem obvious, but it's really a case of how much value did you get along the way?
If you're not looking to simply combo off for a one turn win, then there are going to be elements where you either want to give yourself advantages in maybe the form of additional mana or card advantage. You might also choose things that disrupt your opponents to make the game harder for them.
The reason that cards that allow you to play lands off top of library are good in a Prime Speaker Vannifar build is that having the ability to shuffle your library each time you use her, means that you get another chance of having lands on top (or not lands if wanting that as well).
Playing extra lands can help with 'landfall' triggers and I was pretty close to playing Azusa, Lost but Seeking in my deck because she allows you to potentially put extra lands into play off cards like Realm Seekers.
In builds that have lots of draw elements, being able to play additional lands is helpful.
Mana So are lands the only way to get more mana?
There are a myriad of other ways to get additional mana in Simic. But I'm just going to focus on creatures, as this is the bread and butter of Prime Speaker Vannifar ability to get you to those.
Any creature that can tap for mana is going to help you, especially if you have other cards that can untap multiple creatures. Paradox Engine and Intruder Alarm being the premium examples of this.
I personally play a lot of one drop creatures that provide mana, as they are critical to making it easy to combo, as well as just good to speed up the deck, and be more resilient against Stax and mass land destruction.
A non-creature mana element that has a lot of potential is Earthcraft. Because you are chaining through creatures, each time you use Prime Speaker Vannifar you'll get to make a mana. This can certainly help to setup combos and just general game play. Cryptolith Rite and Song of Freyalise are similar but require you have haste in order to benefit from them if looking to use them the same turn as you're chain through creatures, so not nearly as good.
Now one element that you have to think about with Prime Speaker Vannifar is that any cards that you draw into your hand, are not going to be available for you to search with Prime Speaker Vannifar. So in this respect it's a bit of a double-edged sword.
But it's never a terrible thing to draw cards, especially if you have the deck build to support it.
Once again it's important to identify creatures that can get you card draw, rather than other card types due to..you guess it Prime Speaker Vannifar ability.
Tap to activate card advantage
Now I asked the question earlier, "what do these untapper cards do for you as well?". In the absence of Prime Speaker Vannifar, you might be able to untap lots of mana creatures, but then what do you do with the mana?
Because of the nature of wanting to search your library to put creatures directly into play, actually having the creature cards in your hand is a detriment. So really this deck doesn't want to draw cards at all past the point of putting some lands into play, and have a mana creature or two.
Wait. Are we not already searching our library a millions times? Well yes, but hey you can layer more to go with that if you really want to. I mean opponents have already resigned themselves to talking about the weather while you spend your time riffling and shuffling your deck.
There is a suite of creatures..that well search for other stuff. I've already mentioned all the land centered ones but there are others.
I've added a section Creature combinations, which has a comprehensive list of potential infinite or strong synergy combinations in Simic. You will see that I've listed creatures that can search for various cards needed for the combos.
The following list of creatures features heavily in that section as well.
Searching for Instants or Sorcery Spellseeker can get instant or sorcery converted mana 2 or less. One of the most versatile creatures in a Prime Speaker Vannifar, she can get you a lot of cards that will help your strategies.
Kaho, Minamo Historian can get instants but has summoning sickness and requires tapping for activation, so will need to wait a full turn or have haste;
One of the more versatile abilities you can combine with Prime Speaker Vannifar, is to use the following creatures to get back cards from your graveyard for reuse or get back in the face of disruption.
One of the biggest reasons Prime Speaker Vannifar is so hard to permanently disrupt (besides keep removing her), is that you can get cards back that might have been put into your graveyard via removal or whatever.
So if an opponents removes a key card like Intruder Alarm, then you can just look to get it back with sacrificing a creature into Eternal Witness, Skullwinder, Greenwarden of Murasa.
So having access to a Two Drop creature into -> Eternal Witness to get the Intruder Alarm back.
If you setup your deck to be able chain from any converted mana cost (like my primer deck), it will always mean that you can get it back with any creature in play and Prime Speaker Vannifar. Scary, very scary, for opponents that is.
Reusing your graveyard
Alright so this one is realistically going to be more about style points, but there are situations where you might have gone through much of your creature base from library and are wanting them back into your library to search up again with Prime Speaker Vannifar.
So it's possible to play one or two of these so that you have the options of your creatures again. Some of your creature effects are going to be so special and not achievable from other sources that you can really look to leverage these to help out in that way.
Not only will there be a lot of lines to get value, but also combination play where you can copy creatures already on the board.
The suite of creatures that can copy other creatures, gives you access to potentially much cheaper sources of convereted mana cost to chain up higher, or even chain down lower if necessary.
You can see if you are trying to just use all creatures for removal than certain cards will get you in a Prime Speaker Vannifar focused build.
Simic is essentially known for is enchantment and artifact removal in Green, and for elements of returning cards to hand in Blue. Green does have non-creature removal, and Blue does have some creature removal, but mainly centered around returning cards to hand or countering spells on the stack.
Right so there are a lot more disruptive creatures, but they do not have enter the battlefield effects. This means that you would search for them, with the intention of probably just leaving them in play or sacrificing them to get the abilities.
This indicates that you are not chaining further with those creatures.
Alright so you might get a setup where you can get multiple activation's from Prime Speaker Vannifar each turn and be able to chain creatures together. But unless you have further creatures to put into play from your hand, you'll only be able to chain through one creature. When it's time to end your turn, you still only have that one creature in play, even if you did some cool stuff along the way.
In my primer I've already showed you how you can use Woodland Bellower and Protean Hulk to get other creature(s) into play, that will allow you to start chaining from a lower costing creature.
For those that are looking to really get value, it's important to identify where you can potentially get multiple sources of creatures. It's also very important for combo lines, and I've detailed a lot of these already.
Let's look at all our graveyard retrieval cards again. These can also be use to get addtional creature if you sacrifice them to chain into others.
The others are a lot trickier because they are more conditional on what else has gone on to get you to that point. Genesis is going to require (probably) passing the turn. Grave Sifter needs to be worked in with creature types.
The ones that return instants or sorcery have to be specifically worked with some sort of spell which searches for creatures, like Chord of Calling or Summoner's Pact.
Another way of getting multiple creatures is through creating tokens, which represent a zero costing creatures. So with that in mind, getting tokens into play means that you have to be geared to chain from a low-casting cost.
If you create a token that is a copy of another creature, then that token will also have the converted mana cost of that creature. Bramble Sovereign, Progenitor Mimic. Faerie Artisans will be completely random what you might end up with in your turn, but represents higher converted mana costs.
Alright so we have access to creating lots of token creatures, but what if you don't want to start chaining off at zero converted mana cost? Well I've already showed you in the section "Searching your library" how you can use further creature tutors. These creatures can get you other creatures at various converted mana costs.
These ones put other creatures directly into play; Woodland Bellower, Protean Hulk
These ones search library and go to hand or top of library; Fierce Empath, Mwonvuli Beast Tracker, Noble Benefactor, Grozoth.
Other cards that let you put creatures into your hand off the top of your library; Foul Emissary, Sylvan Messenger, Brass Herald, Duskwatch Recruiter.
This is becoming more of "value" section as you are not controlling the actual converted mana costs and any card advantage creature could be used this way.
This section is for listing potential infinite or strong synergy combinations in Simic colors.
The purpose is to highlight particular lines of play that you could look to Pod into with Prime Speaker Vannifar. The combos involve creatures, and also creatures that can be used to proxy search for the non-creature elements.
I've literally used the thread "Infinite combos and strong synergies" to gather particular lines.
What I've done to extend it because most of them have non-creature elements, is that I've added a spoiler tag that shows potential ways of searching for the non-creature cards through proxy of other creatures.
*Note Palinchron infinite mana require lands that can provide at least 2UU + 5UU and have addtional mana left over. Most likely case is at least 6 lands that can provide double mana. Palinchron + any passive mana doubler (e.g. Caged Sun, Extraplanar Lens, etc.) = infinite mana
Because the deck needs very little mana and spells to operate (casting Prime Speaker Vannifar is basically the only main thing you need to do), one element you can look at is the addition of some Stax elements to slow or shut off your opponents.
With Prime Speaker Vannifar your actual need to cast cards from your hand is almost nothing, as she does most of the work for you.
If a card like Null Rod was played in the deck, then certainly you'd need to take out a few of your own sources of artifact mana.
But the reason I'm mentioning it is because you are playing so many mana creatures, it is possible for you to avoid artifact mana more, which a lot of decks do not have that luxury.
So it can be important to have lines of winning with Protean Hulk in my opinion.
But there is a huge difference between winning with Prime Speaker Vannifar in play, i.e. she was the one sacrificing the Protean Hulk in the first place, or if you've done it via some other method, like using Flash.
Are these creatures synergistic for the rest of the deck? Ezuri, Claw of Progress can be triggered by a number of creatures coming into play during the course of the game, but in general you wouldn't use the +1/+1 counters during a cEDH game realistically, so only in the deck for the combo.
Sage of Hours also doesn't do anything except as part of this combo.
This method requires an additional 1U so wouldn't be appropriate if you are looking to win more on average on the first or even second turn, as you'll need to cast Flash as well, so requires 2UU
Protean Hulk with Prime Speaker Vannifar in play
With Prime Speaker Vannifar in play your options will be a lot more flexible, and honestly too numerous to really speculate on how you might configure your 6 converted mana worth of creatures. But I will keep appending to this section as I think of ways to win.
If anybody has some suggestions for Protean Hulk combos in Simic, please suggest them and leave a comment. There is no harm in building up as many potential packages as possible so that people can cross reference for the way they want to build their deck.
All up you'll need 2UGGGG for this one, plus four Forests. What you can do however is hold onto the Flash + Protean Hulk if you don't have the mana available, so if you only have 1GGGG then you can wait for a window to cast them.
So you can see straight away that you can't do progressive chains like Prime Speaker Vannifar using the same techniques. In this respect it's no one-for-one substitute.
What is Birthing Pod role then?
Well without Prime Speaker Vannifar in play you can look to get value. But you need to have value creatures in your deck otherwise it'll be a bit wasted. In my deck configurations, so many of the creatures are geared towards untapping.
With Prime Speaker Vannifar in play, Birthing Pod in many ways represents an untapper. If you have a chink in the chain, where it's hard to untap Vannifar through sequencing, then Birthing Pod can be use at that stage to get you to the next creature. I've already mentioned that Five converted mana cost creatures, often offer the least ways to untap her. So you could easily use Pod to move you along.
It also gives you flexibility during chains, that you normally couldn't do. For example normally you can't go for Fatestitcher if you don't have haste when doing chains, as you then don't have a way to untap Vannifar until your next turn.
But with Birthing Pod you can get Fatestitcher, as you can sacrifice it with it. This allows you to unearth it, to untap Vannifar. Now you can get two Five converted mana cost creatures, so represents also getting multiple creatures.
Well you can put in cards like Emerald Charm, Dream's Grip, Twiddle, Dramatic Reversal, Psychic Puppetry for Vitalize in some of the combo chains, as they specifically say untap permanent(s) or the like, not just creatures. You need to be careful in that it's going to be a much more mana expensive process however. You don't get any benefits of potentially being able to untap mana creatures, which will often pays for the process.
Plus Birthing Pod itself also costs mana.
So all up it'll cost you 11UUUUU and 12 life, which can be a pretty tall order (let's say impossible).
But with non-land mana sources you can look to pay for the costs. You'll need some that provide blue; Birds of Paradise, Arbor Elf, Kiora's Follower, Voyaging Satyr. There are a lot more mana creatures in Simic that can provide U, so you might alter your build to suite this potential line more. Paying for the additional 2 would best be served with Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Mana Vault also in play.
Once again you're far better off with a mana creature in play to pay for the Birthing Pod as you still need to spend at least 1 each time you activate it. A mana creature or artifact mana will pay for the cost each time in conjunction with Paradox Engine.
If you have several non-land mana sources, with one providing U, then something like Brainstorm would be more appealing than Gitaxian Probe as you can insure that you can keep putting creatures you want to search up back in your library. With Gitaxian Probe you'll be drawing 5 cards, so you might end up drawing a key creature.
Note that Isochron Scepter with Dramatic Reversal exiled can be used in similar ways. This isn't about casting cards however, if you can get at least 2 from non-land sources then you can keep reusing it, and so with Birthing Pod you'd need at least 3 to pay for the Pod activation as well.
This is pretty appealing as you can easily pay for costs and you get to draw a card for your additional turns, play another land, etc..I don't think I need to explain the usefulness of extra turns
Note that this line can also be done with Prime Speaker Vannifar, so having access to at least one extra turn cards seems pretty nice once you have 3UU to cast it, which on average will be the turn after you cast Prime Speaker Vannifar anyway.
Being able to Birthing Pod into Phyrexian Metamorph or Clever Impersonator to then make another copy of Birthing Pod means that you can use the new version straight away. So if you have other creatures to chain into then this is a very tempting idea to set yourself up for following turns having multiple activation's.
These are just solid options for Four Drop creatures with Prime Speaker Vannifar for value as well, depending on what is on the board already.
Mirage Mirror is also a solid all-star in commander, often doing things in games that you wouldn't expect. It can be extremely hard to remove as you can turn it into a land, often negating sorcery removal effects that would destroy it.
You can copy the Birthing Pod to get an additional use. Mirage Mirror can copy Wirewood Lodge to get another untap out of Prime Speaker Vannifar.
Let's get honest with ourselves, the weak part of any Prime Speaker Vannifar build that relies on her heavily, is herself. If she is dealt with constantly your deck can end up doing a lot of nothing.
Although straight up Birthing Pod is no substitute for Prime Speaker Vannifar, it does represent at the very least an on-board "untapper" for Prime Speaker Vannifar during more awkward sequences, and offers very powerful shortcuts if you use it in conjunction with Fatestitcher.
Also there are a lot of sequences that allow you to chain up into Seven converted mana creatures, but nothing that naturally allows you to sacrifice that Seven Drop. Protean Hulk being an example that you have to do a lot of Rube Goldberg machinery to be able to do that. With Birthing Pod you can use it to sacrifice your Seven Drop easily as well.
In decks that have a lot more value creatures, you can use it purely to get well..value.
If you have cards that can get more activation's out of it, then you can look to use it as an alternative to Prime Speaker Vannifar when you're used to her being the must remove target during games, which should happen often if your play group is smart. Setting up with Kiora's Follower and Fatestitcher with Birthing Pod is the equivalent of Prime Speaker Vannifar.
One thing is that Kiora's Follower and Fatestitcher will have summoning sickness normally, so you'd be looking to Pod into them and wait a turn before you can get your chains going.
Also that means that you can't sequence from creatures that are 2 converted mana cost lower than them, without waiting another subsequent turn, so two turns.
Trying to use Quirion Ranger, Scryb Ranger, Bounding Krasis, Breaching Hippocamp, won't work if they have summoning sickness, so in this respect you need to wait until they are able to untap.
So unless you actually have a One Drop creature to put Kiora's Follower into play, or a Three Drop creature to put Fatestitcher into play, then you'd have to wait two full turns sequencing a Zero Drop or Two Drop creature to get either of them into play.
Once again depending on your builds, cards like Intruder Alarm or Thornbite Staff only really work when Prime Speaker Vannifar is active and ready. Which is basically just a backup plan, and certainly a win-more in most instances.
You're probably better off having a backup plan to not having Prime Speaker Vannifar, then you're to not having access to certain creatures in your library.
I've heard these card works well with Prime Speaker Vannifar? On a serious note, you'll notice that these don't feature in any of the decks in the primer, not even as a fail safe to what the decks are already doing.
This is because the decks are heavily focused on being self contained win conditions with many paths to victory with untapping through creature chains.
It is a little hard to get away from the temptation of the combo element of Prime Speaker Vannifar, and not just want to win on the spot.
There are two things I want to talk about, one is what sort of deck would you make if Intruder Alarm/Thornbite Staff was a necessary or at least good card for your build?
The other is actually if you were to run Intruder Alarm/Thornbite Staff as a backup for your combo chain build, what does this even look like in terms of triggers, etc.
If you're sacrificing creatures to get more creatures, then you're going to run out of creatures in your deck to search at each converted mana cost at a certain stage.
This is where Loaming Shaman and Body Double can be looped to give yourself infinite reshuffles of your graveyard.
You can just keep shuffling the other back into you library as long as you can keep both chaining up and start chains at two or lower converted mana cost.
Let's pick a "win condition" creature as well to show the sort of chaining you can infinite loop. In this case I'll use Reef Worm to show how making creature tokens means that you can chain again from Zero Drop into Loaming Shaman again.
It's important to remember that you are sacrificing one creature to get to the next with Intruder Alarm/Thornbite Staff and Prime Speaker Vannifar.
So I can't stress the importance of having creatures that can "create" other creatures.
There is Woodland Bellower and Protean Hulk of course. As long as you have a lot of creatures in your deck at each converted mana cost, you could split up Protean Hulk into 6 One Drops if you had them, to then proceed to chain up to they were all Ten Drops..if your deck was built that way
You could also use cards that make lots of tokens like Avenger of Zendikar or Hornet Queen.
This gives you flexibility not to just have 'enter the battlefield' or 'dies' triggers, as you'll actually be able to leave a number of creatures in play.
The question is what do you want to leave in play and how high to you want to keep chaining up creatures?
If you're going up to say a Ten Drop or more, then what is your Nine Drop doing for you, if it just gets sacrificed immediately?
There are actually only 22 creatures to choose from in all of Magic in Simic at Nine Drop, and the truth is that they really don't do anything (if sacrificed immediately) except being part of the chain. Void Winnower and Nullstone Gargoyle are nice control creatures but require to stay in play to get value. Grozoth is the only one that gives you an enter battlefield trigger, so this could be worked in?
If you have a creature sacrifice outlet at some stage, then you can sacrifice the Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre to put it back into your library, so that you can infinitely loop searches.
For example if you were to use Profaner of the Dead as part of the chain each time, then you can keep the loop going.
Merrow Witsniper will mill opponents libraries, then you can use Chancellor of the Spires to cast their instants and sorceries.
You can destroy all the non-creature permanents, making them 3/3 green Elephant creature tokens, which you can then proceed to exile with Duplicant.
For added spice you can play Clone Legion in your deck and search it with Grozoth, cast it potentially infinite times, as you get infinite mana with Peregrine Drake and remember all your spells get shuffled back in with Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, so all the instant and sorcery you get with Augur of Bolas you'll be able to keep recasting as well.
OK, this is complete overkill, but represents a fun chain (for you). You could just have Triskelion as a way to kill opponents, and then all the other converted mana costs would be arbitrary.
The realms of possibilities are endless with creature bases and using Intruder Alarm and Thornbite Staff, so it's just up to you what you might concoct.
The problem with doing this is when you literally don't have a creature to search with Prime Speaker Vannifar at a certain mana cost. You can try and make sure your build has an even spread of converted mana cost creatures to make sure you don't draw too many of a particular cost, but it's always random what you might draw, milled, etc.
Most of the problems you have, is not having these not in your library. But even then, there are contingency plans, that can be worked around in some manner.
The literally worst is if Body Double is in your graveyard.
You still need a Five Drop to sacrifice into Deadeye Navigator so even with Intruder Alarm, your sort of stuck on the same problems. Intruder Alarm or Thornbite Staff could be used as a substitute for needing to cast Thousand-Year Elixir if you do draw it and play it however.
This method doesn't really require mana on the combo turn if you've already cast, rather than the 4 you need for Thousand-Year Elixir.
Now in my primer deck list, I have a lot more chains I could use with Intruder Alarm or Thornbite Staff, but the reality is that I've built the deck to have multiple ways to chain in the first place so the redundancy is just not necessary.
Combo cards without Prime Speaker Vannifar Intruder Alarm and Thornbite Staff have been around for a while, and are certainly used as combo cards on their own right.
If you have some means of producing creatures with an on-board ability and have the mana to pay for it, then you can look to do it infinite times.
You can also use cards that bounce creatures to also get loops going. Cloudstone Curio, Equilibrium can bounce creatures and if you have the mana sources to keep paying for recasting creatures you bounce you can get infinite loops going. You'd want some sort of payoff, maybe 'enter the battlefield' trigger, etc.
If you're playing a self contained combo deck, then make sure you really look at how beneficial it is to have cards like Intruder Alarm or Thornbite Staff even as purely backup cards, because you might find they don't help you as much as you think.
It seems counter intuitive because Intruder Alarm is a signature card, literally in 62% of decks being analysed by EDHREC. Thornbite Staff is in a lot less at about a quarter of decks.
But I want it to be clear that it can be an easy trap for some people thinking that they will be automatically be great in their decks.
But in decks that are specifically designed around them they will be all-stars, and possibly actually necessary as a win condition.
It is possible to just play Intruder Alarm or Thornbite Staff for pure value however, and the results can still be so over-whelming that it's a game winning play.
In this respect your creature base might just be a solid mid-range deck, that can work without Prime Speaker Vannifar in play in general. Gaining enough value just through casting solid creatures that can interact enough with opponents to slow them down, or gain you some additional resources.
Intruder Alarm is a combo card in it's own right, so it is possible to setup alternative win conditions without Prime Speaker Vannifar as a back up plan. There is a wealth of combinations, so it comes down to if you feel like the cards fit into your build in a synergistic way.
Retreat to Coralhelm / Tideforce Elemental
Retreat to Coralhelm
Most commander decks are going to benefit from ramping lands into play, but we can really get things going with a couple of cards that can look to chain together 'landfall' with untapping Prime Speaker Vannifar to keep reusing her.
At this stage you can branch off a number of different ways.
Because this sequence specifically goes off 'dies' triggers, you'll be able to go into a Six Drop creature and have Prime Speaker Vannifar untapped.
This means that you'll be able to sacrifice the Six Drop creature into a Seven Drop creature.
At Five converted mana cost, is often a sticking point for Prime Speaker Vannifar builds unless you truly sequence things in particular ways.
If we are chaining into Chakram Retriever and wanting to keep it in play to get multiple uses from it, maybe every turn, then you need to have a plan.
Maybe the best thing to do is assume you have another creature in play to carry on Prime Speaker Vannifar chains if you're going to setup Chakram Retriever.
Your build is also going to want to have a number of cheap spells to cast. But at the same time it's not like you need a lot of spells to get value, casting even a couple of spells one or two mana spells is going to do a lot for you.
You can easily sequence into it from anywhere from a Zero to a Four Drop. Then you just cast a spell to untap Vannifar, and use other creatures to keep chains going.
Once again you might not be looking for auto-win style decks. Instead looking fun and value out of your chaining.
Whether that is land ramp creatures, or maybe more geared towards a controlling and disruptive deck.
What cheap spells and how do I better guarantee that I have them to cast?
Well if your deck doesn't have a lot of draw, then you can be a bit reliant on what you have in hand already at the stage of getting Chakram Retriever.
There are a wealth of different ways you could build your deck to accommodate this more, too many to mention them all.
Sure you can get more upside from the other combo cards, and you need to have cards and mana to get multiple uses out of Chakram Retriever, but if your deck is setup for it more, then I'm just highlighting how much more likely you can setup yourself up.
Plus there is the added bonus of not relying on other cards types other than 'creatures', so you can sequence into Bane of Progress for example without losing anything.
More draw and mana might be appropriate.
You can sequence for example Relentless Skaabs -> Prime Speaker Zegana to draw you at least 6 cards, giving you plenty of fuel for casting cards.
If you already have a source of mana in play like Mana Vault or KrosaGalvanic Alchemisn Restorer, then you can just look to cast spells from your hand, potentially untapping the mana source to be able to cast more spells.
It also be noted that you can sequence from a Three Drop or Four Drop into Chakram Retriever. Now the relevance of this is that if you go all the way back into the main primer, I talk about Three Drop (or higher) not being very good to sequence from at the start of your turn, as you often require cards in graveyard for Mnemonic Wall and Body Double to do anything.
So with Chakram Retriever it does give you more scope to use kind of wasted Three Drop or Four Drop that might be in play from previous turns.
Illusionist's Bracers / Rings of Brighthearth
Rings of Brighthearth
I initially misinterpreted how these worked with Prime Speaker Vannifar.
I thought that you'd need to sacrifice separate creatures for each copied activation, but this is not the case.
What happens is that you get to sacrifice a creature, and then you get to search for two creatures for the same converted mana cost.
If you can equip Prime Speaker Vannifar with Illusionist's Bracers, then most builds are going to be able to setup continuous chaining for some sort of combo win, or at least incredible value.
As I've shown you can easily chain into a number of different combo wins very easily.
With them, they also have infinite combos within a number of creatures that you might already being playing with your deck because they help to untap Vannifar, it's always going to be one of the most synergistic and powerful of the redundancy combo cards.
In this respect, they can be really great backup win conditions for when Prime Speaker Vannifar has been hated out of a game.
I can't stress how being able to get multiple creatures from a Prime Speaker Vannifar activation can really set you up. Being able to activate her multiple times in a turn is one thing, but you're only cycling through one creature normally. So being able to get more creatures into play for more chains, is really powerful.
The number of ways that you can combine creature chains is too be honest mind boggling with Prime Speaker Vannifar, so I've given some examples, but this post would only scratch the surface.
I'm keen to hear about any combinations that people can think of, and I will add them to the primer if appropriate.
Galvanic Alchemist / Vigean Graftmage
These are some creatures that can untap other creatures, but also have the ability to do it multiple times (unlimited) at the cost of mana.
They are both Three Drop and blue creatures. This means that you can't use Green Sun's Zenith, Summoner's Pact or Woodland Bellower to search for them. Vigean Graftmage specifically needs a creature to have a +1/+1 counter on it. Even though it has graft, this means that you can only put the counters from it as the creature enters play. In this regard, using Prime Speaker Vannifar to put it into play, means that you can't specifically use the graft to give Prime Speaker Vannifar a counter. Meaning you need some other way of putting counters on her. I will discuss this further on.
If you wanted to play these cards then it leads into wanting the play other creatures that have activation's probably as well.
Now Deadeye Navigator already has an activation cost of 1U and so with these cards you can then use Cloud of Faeries as another way to get infinite mana.
Temur Sabertooth is another creature that can benefit from a reduced activation cost. Possibly opening up infinite's that you are looking to combine with it.
Alright so can we sequence into Galvanic Alchemist or Vigean Graftmage in a way that's going to allow us to win with Prime Speaker Vannifar?
Well the answer depends on how much mana you have and if you have another creature to sacrifice to Prime Speaker Vannifar?
You can obviously sacrifice a Two Drop to get Galvanic Alchemist, but then you'll need 2U and another creature to even just get the party started.
But what is your winning combination of creatures?
If you're going to try a get infinite mana with a mana creature then you'll need haste. You get into this odd position of needing to get a haste enabler if you don't have access to one already.
Please check out the section 'Haste' in the primer for details on various ways you can get this.
This method requires 7GGUU, which as you can see if pretty mana intensive. Using Galvanic Alchemist ability adds up real fast if needing to use it multiple times, and having to spend extra on Green Sun's Zenith is harder if needing to get further creatures into play.
Note that this isn't the only way. Maybe you have Scryb Ranger in your graveyard, so instead of Spellseeker you could get Eternal Witness, and then it'll cost 5GGUU all up.
Please check out the section 'Multiple creatures' in the primer for details on various ways you can look to get more creatures into play.
Is there a way to get Biomancer's Familiar and Galvanic Alchemist into play with Prime Speaker Vannifar?
Once again we are trying to get two creatures into play permanently, so would even need a third creature to chain to "do something" once you have them in play.
So if you have 3 creatures in play already then it's much easier. It's once you start having to get multiple creatures into play that it's more mana intensive, etc.
This method requires 2UU as long as you have 3 lands that can provide U each, as Cloud of Faeries and Peregrine Drake untap them along the way allowing you to free up mana for the Galvanic Alchemist activation's.
But you literally need 2 x One Drop and a Two Drop creature at the start. This does happen during some games, you draw your mana creatures, and in the right build having a Two Drop is the norm during games.
Note that you could use Glen Elendra Archmage instead of Fatestitcher, and it'll actually cost you U less.
There are going to be hundreds, if not thousands of ways to combine all the cards I mentioned in this post to sequence ways to win. But it's all going to come down to efficiency.
If you have a haste enabler already then you can just aim for mana creature that allows you to go infinite with Vigean Graftmage or Galvanic Alchemist if you also have the means to meet the other requirements of getting the mana creatures to produce more than the activation cost.
If you were to play Biomancer's Familiar, then as I've already mentioned this might lead you on to play other cards that also would benefit from cost reduction.
I think if you were to truly look to leverage Galvanic Alchemist and Vigean Graftmage then your build would probably want most of the proactive cards I've mentioned in this post as they all work together.
The honest truth is that I could spend days coming up with a deck build melding synergy into these creatures.
Trying to come up with sequences is also too numerous for the amount of time I can spend on these posts
However that does not mean that I will not endeavour to document as ideas come to mind. So this section will be added to the primer under 'Spotlight on Potential Cards' and I will add to it as things unfold in the future.
It is always important to point out that Galvanic Alchemist and Vigean Graftmage are creatures, and as such are often better in your deck that say Intruder Alarm or Thornbite Staff, as they allow you to plan for getting into play with Prime Speaker Vannifar, as opposed to hoping to randomly draw them.
So if you have a deck that looks to do multiple things with creatures, like disruption, value, etc, then a well setup untapper will allow you to do these things.
There are more efficient combo lines in general, so as far as looking to make Galvanic Alchemist and Vigean Graftmage one turn win combos, they are not the most mana efficient due to literally costing mana each time you use them.
It might be the sort of thing you can do if you have naturally drawn Naban, Dean of Iteration, so you can just play him out and then use you first other Two Drop creature into Spellseeker. Otherwise you're looking at complicated lines.
Although it's unlikely that you'll specifically try to sequence into Naban, Dean of Iteration with limited resources, if you have an untapper already and a spare creature to chain, then it's a very tempting creature to get first.
If you naturally draw it and play it, then it can set you up very easily for a Flash + Protean Hulk.
If you did play Naban, Dean of Iteration the you'd just want to play a few more cards that you can get bonuses off.
Now if you can get Quirion Ranger, Scryb Ranger and Azusa, Lost but Seeking into play at the same time, the Forest that you return can be played out each time you'd use a Ranger. So not only can you untap any creature, it might be Prime Speaker Vannifar, but it could even be a mana creature. Returning the Forest will mean that you guarantee making additional land drops for the turn, gaining extra mana from that as well.
In subsequent turns you'll get two additional untaps and most likely two additional mana.
If your build had Paradox Engine, then you can see how excellent this sort of sequencing is with mana creatures in play, as you get to keep putting more creatures into play while also casting spells to trigger the Paradox Engine.
With Prime Speaker Vannifar ability to search for any creature, being able to search Timestream Navigator potentially every turn..well you guessed it, can get you infinite turns. So you can look for this card to be a win condition.
But there are some requirements in order to be able to do this. Firstly you need to always have a creature to sacrifice. If you are sacrificing creatures then you need to be able to produce them from somewhere.
The other thing is that you will need some way of giving the Timestream Navigator haste or be able to activate it's ability because of summoning sickness. Otherwise you'll only get an extra turn every alternative turn, which honestly isn't the worst
But for true infinite you'll need to have some way of doing all this.
The City Blessing is another requirement, as well as spending 2UU, but these are not hard to achieve.
You are going to need to chain from a One Drop into Timestream Navigator.
How do you produce a One Drop creature every turn?
There is no easy way to keep producing an actual One Drop each turn that I have found or can think of.
Creating token creatures seems to be the only feasible way of doing this, which means that you can produce Zero costing creatures. So then you have to go Zero Drop into One Drop into Timestream Navigator.
The downside to this method is that your land drop is always tied up with Dryad Arbor, which isn't too bad, you should be able to do what you need to win anyway. You will be down a mana creature, even though you got an additional one at the start.
Because it specifically requires Thousand-Year Elixir to work, you can't just sacrifice Protean Hulk using any line for a win.
So you can't just use Flash + Protean Hulk this combo, without needing more mana.
Now the reason I picked Tukatongue Thallid over Blisterpod is because I've discussed it's synergy with Vitaspore Thallid to be able to give a creature haste. So it's just better to think in terms of how your build might be able to incorporate both these.
At first this seems like an unusual card to talk about considering he is already a commander that you can play as your general, rather than in your 99.
However Prime Speaker Vannifar has this ornate ability to search up any creature in your deck. So she becomes a proxy to any creature you want.
What specifically would we be wanting to search with Arcum Dagsson?
If you read my posts focused on Birthing Pod on Page 5, you'll might have noted how particular artifacts can used to create an alternative method of chaining into creatures when Prime Speaker Vannifar is not at your disposal (i.e she has been hated out).
So what other artifact creatures might one play?
Well colored mana creatures are always welcome, so even though they cost a little more than their counterparts Copper Myr and Silver Myr are fine additions.
If you were already thinking of some sort of more artifact centric build, then you can do a lot with Arcum Dagsson, Paradox Engine, Birthing Pod, Isochron Scepter/Dramatic Reversal in your deck, to name a few.
Support cards are needed, like playing a number of artifact creatures, but the point is that you would be playing them anyway if your build was hoping to use artifacts more.
There are a lot of combos that involve creature(s) and artifact(s), so with Prime Speaker Vannifar ability to search for creatures, and Arcum Dagsson ability to search for artifacts, you can look to combine them to get your pieces.
Let's not forget that Prime Speaker Vannifar can search for Arcum Dagsson, thus allowing you access to your artifacts.
This method requires 6GU and 2 x Two Drop creatures. Realistically you want some forms of non-land mana sources, as this will actually allow you to get infinite mana, if you can get more than the cost of what you exile with Elite Arcanist.
But compare this with the 4 you need for Peregrine Drake and Deadeye Navigator combo, and you can see that this would only be purely used as a backup.
As you can see without haste you have to wait a full turn to activate Elite Arcanist. And without burning the Dramatic Reversal before you get Arcanist into play, you have to wait a full turn to get the Birthing Pod untapped.
You can see that if you have this creature base then this is more appealing as in theory you can sequence for the same turn win, as long as you have the non-land mana sources to keep paying for the Dramatic Reversal.
On the surface Elite Arcanist looks like it could be a decent backup plan to a variety of ways to combo. But you do need to have support cards already to make it work in a timely manner.
It may seem like a good alternative to even Isochron Scepter as you can search it with Prime Speaker Vannifar. But as I've shown without a haste element, you end up waiting additional turns.
There are deck configurations where it can be good for your build. But it will require specific cards in my opinion and probably the absence of some other cards as well (like the graveyard retrieval creatures).
Decks that are already playing Illusionist's Bracers and Rings of Brighthearth will certainly make Elite Arcanist more appealing.
Probably one of the most overlooked cards in commander for what it could actually offer your deck as far as versatility of trading up.
It's ability to potentially get you any creature in certain builds will go unaware for many peoples long standing decks.
The complexity of even considering a card like this is that you have to evaluate every creature in your deck to know exactly how it performs. Adding and removing creatures as you tweak a deck, when playing Riptide Shapeshifter means that you have to think about how those creature types might effect your ability to get particular cards.
But what people wouldn't even factor in is that often this card can be turned into any creature in your deck. Finding out that frequently your more powerful creatures can be searched with one-off creature types.
With Riptide Shapeshifter not only does it allow you to potentially sequence into another untapper, but it also allows you up upgrade, or even downgrade your creature. Exactly the sort of thing we are always looking to do with Prime Speaker Vannifar in the first place.
The only Eight Drop creature in all of Simic that offers chaining up is Patron of the Orochi and this requires haste if wanting to use straight away.
There are no Nine or more converted mana cost creatures that actually are able to untap Vannifar in Simic. So chaining creatures past Eight or more, is dependent on additional untappers you might have access to or it can't be done.
With Riptide Shapeshifter you can plan for this much higher chaining now.
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary / Vizier of the Menagerie
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
Vizier of the Menagerie
When I start these card discussions I never actually know what the outcomes are, I do them for my own personal thought experiments so that I further my understanding of how they could be worked into a Prime Speaker Vannifar build.
The basic plan to tutor up Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel, which means that for every two 1cmc Green Creature Elves we cast, we net a G. As this gets more mana than you spend, it means we can chain tutors to generate more and more mana, and eventually assemble a combo. This is called a "tutor chain" or a "dork chain". Notably, it's hard to disrupt, because we get the tutors whether or not our creature resolves. Assuming you have a creature that taps for mana or a land drop, as well as a Forest, the combo needs only G to combo off post-tutor:
Tutor and play Quirion Ranger for G, and tutor up Heritage Druid, and either untap your dork or return a Forest and replay it, so that you go net-even on mana.
Tutor chaining is a powerful tool that allows us to generate mana and gives us the ability to adapt extremely well to hostile board states. In general, after starting the tutor chain, you should fetch Birchlore Rangers to get access to blue mana (you may also use Quirion Ranger to bounce and replay a blue dual to achieve the same), then use it to cast Phantasmal Image as a copy of Nettle Sentinel. With two "copies" of Nettle Sentinel, every green creature will make GGG, which makes it much easier to assemble the Infinite Mana Loop.
This loop generates GGGGGGG for every 1GGGG you spend, which allows you to go infinite. Afterwards, you can generate infinite U by using Birchlore Rangers and Temur Sabertooth. This means that you have infinite mana of any color, as well as infinite tutors thanks to Temur Sabertooth.
But alternatively because you are more into an elf tribal deck, you can potentially not go for any infinite's and simply get all your green creatures out onto the board.
You can always finish up with at least one blue creature as well, but this won't allow you to search for another creature, as Momir Vig only allows searching when it's "green".
But for example you could get all your green creatures out making sure to get Craterhoof Behemoth, then on your last search get Treasure Mage to get Akroma's Memorial, which will be more than lethal damage for all opponents.
Let's just do a little math check. Remember that each of our 1 mana creatures produces GG (net). If our deck had this type of creature base with mana creatures;
Why not just play Momir Vig, Simic Visionary as your commander if you want to run these combos? Well I've actually written a section within the primer on reasons why you might want to play Prime Speaker Vannifar as your commander even when you are looking to use other legendary creatures as key cards. For more details click here to read up on it.
But in general you're still looking to combo in other ways, and for a relatively small combo package it provides methods of playing around being hated out by cards that specifically shut downs Prime Speaker Vannifar abilities.
It still won't save you from Aven Mindcensor or Stranglehold, but you can probably get around almost all the other cards that shut down Prime Speaker Vannifar activation's.
Is a new card from War of the Spark (even at uncommon). Similar to Eldritch Evolution, but with some important differences. You have to select a creature exactly 1 converted mana cost more, where Eldritch Evolution you can go for converted mana costs at 2 higher or same or lesser. Not a huge deal, often you'd be looking to always get to the maximum converted mana cost out of the cards, but there might be situations where you want to convert a creature into removal that would require you to get a lower or same casting cost creature for example.
But the main difference is that Neoformdoesn't get exiled. This card is perfect for the deck as it's another backup way to win without Prime Speaker Vannifar in play.
You have to cast Neoform five times and cast Archaeomancer, so realistically going to need to be spread out over probably a couple of turns. But in games where Vannifar has been shut out, it's a very good game plan.
"When the Prime Speaker goes too far, I will be here in the safety of the deeps to correct her."
This section is more for discussion on general ideas, rather than specifically about a particular card or set of cards.-------------------------------------------------
Hypothetical Turn 1 or Turn 2 wins with Haste
I've already seen a video posted of a hypothetical turn one win. But it involves some very specific cards in your opening hand.
Now this is all well and cool for style points, but you don't want to be basing your deck around needing specific cards too much. Having the exact combination of cards in your hand to get a Turn 1 or 2 win, really needs to be balanced up with how good those cards are at other times.
I still think the best line is NOT needing haste for creatures is the way to go. As you can see there really are not that many ways of giving your creatures haste in Simic, so best to avoid completely relying on it.
More specifically if you do have the ability to get haste then can you win on the turn you cast Prime Speaker Vannifar?
What would a sequence like this look like for the current deck configuration? Well it's basically the same as Trophy Mage into Thousand-Year Elixir but because you already have haste you can just replace the Trophy Mage with ..
So the answer is yes you can do it. However the combo is reliant on having 3 lands in play. This cannot ever be a Turn 1 or Turn 2 win. You basically trade in quality of cards for less potential speed.
With this line you can combo without needing the lands, but requires a mana creature, along with another creature to start the chain sacrifice.
So what if you wanted to play a Turn 1 or Turn 2 deck, that didn't just rely on Flash + Protean Hulk?
First of all if it's Turn 1 then your ability to use Quirion Ranger and Scryb Ranger will be impossible in the same turn. With this in mind you'd need to play another enabler.
To combo off you're going to need 2UG + G + U in order for this to work.
So there are a various combinations of cards in the deck that can get you this, but I'll give you one example; Lion's Eye Diamond + Mana Crypt + Lotus Petal + Forest*.
*Forest, meaning any land with Forest type, could be basic or non-basic, or achieved through a fetch land, etc.
Theoretically you can win on Turn 2 without needing to add anything else to the deck.
Both of these require winning by sequencing into Protean Hulk and having a method of winning immediately after sacrificing it.
Play any non-legendary Simic creature as your "commander" with Prime Speaker Vannifar
Prime Speaker Vannifar has this ornate ability to search for any creature in your deck, and be able to chain into it from any converted mana cost creature if you structure the deck a certain way.
So although she cost four mana, you can easily use her to play out much higher costing creatures, and indeed she gives you access to non-legendary creatures and legendary creatures in an extremely efficient manner.
If you've had your eye on a particular creature in Simic that you've wanted to build around, but because they were non-legendary couldn't focus on it too much, well now you can.
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary has been the closest to being able to do this sort of thing for you in the past. But the difference between needing to cast it or just putting into play is where the real difference is. Momir also requires multi colored creatures least you need a way to draw the creatures as well. Too slow is the answer to really have used him truly effectively in a manner where you can fully concentrate on a particular creature in your deck as the central part of your strategy.
So in this respect, if you wanted to focus on a particular creature or even set of creatures for your deck, Prime Speaker Vannifar can truly act as a proxy for builds that you've imagined or now yet to imagine.
Now some of you will still be confused at what I'm trying to portray. I don't just mean you have a better chance at said creatures because they are good in your deck, I mean you can really build around a particular creature(s).
Maybe you really want to push Cold-Eyed Selkie as a key card in your deck. So making sure you have cards that give your opponents islands will be good. Then you're happy to play pump spells, as you get rewarded. A Giant Growth becomes an Ancestral Recall, just as Richard Garfield intended.
If you can see what I'm getting at, normally you can't put too many cards that would be focused on non-commander creatures, as you rely on drawing them in your 99, so is too inconsistent to be able to build around. But now you have a way to follow your desires more on focused non-legendary creature builds.
Another example is more like a suite of creatures with "top of library" playing creatures;
Now we can also use Prime Speaker Vannifar to get back any of the card(s) in the face of removal.
You can sequence into Eternal Witness, etc. Or in this instance you might want to put all your creatures back into your library.
With Loaming Shaman can look to put them back into your library so that you can sequence back into them.
It's all going to come down to if you have other untappers for Prime Speaker Vannifar in order for getting them back straight away or needing to use a graveyard retrieval/shuffle back into library sequence first.
Now there are stipulations. How much converted mana cost the creature is matters. The higher the converted mana cost, the more cards you need in the deck to sequence up into. Quirion Ranger, Scryb Ranger, Bounding Krasis, Fatestitcher, Tidewater Minion, Great Oak Guardian, Patron of the Orochi, are some examples at each converted mana cost.
You can see that there is no creature that can untap Vannifar at Seven converted mana cost. So although you can sequence into a Seven costing creature, without another way to untap Vannifar, you can't then go into an Eight Drop creature. The same with Nine all the way up. In this respect Seven Drop creatures are the limit if you didn't want to have to wait another turn without another untapper.
Let's say your deck is focused on Sages of the Anima turning Brainstorm into looking at the top 9 cards of your library. Each cantrip digging you super far into your deck.
But this means taking up more slots in your deck for redundancy.
So an alternative method is that you can use Loaming Shaman to shuffle your previous chaining creatures back into your library.
The disadvantage with this is that unless you have a way to untap Vannifar, you'll have to wait another turn to get Sages of the Anima back into play.
If you are looking at a higher converted mana creature, for example Scourge of Fleets, then now you are looking at quite a few creatures to chain up into it. Building redundancy just to chain into it, starts becoming a lot of slots, that otherwise you might want to dedicate to the theme of your deck.
So in this respect, I feel like the higher the converted mana cost, the more likely it is you'll play Loaming Shaman as your means of recycling your chaining creatures.
If your focus creature dies, then it's easy enough to just get it back with say Sylvan Hierophant or Eternal Witness, to cast it from your hand. But in this respect maybe part of the appeal is that you don't normally have to cast it with Prime Speaker Vannifar powerful ability, so the preference is to shuffle your chaining sequences back into your library regardless.
It's going to come down to how much it costs to cast, versus maybe having to wait another turn(s) to get it back into play. The thing is that you can probably choose the preference depending on how the game is shaping up anyway.
Whoa, what's going on here? Well now there is even the argument that you can play her instead of some legendary creatures, that you might ordinarily play in your command zone.
The reasons are two fold. At four mana she can be much cheaper to cast. Another reason is that she gives access to "signature creatures" for particular builds.
Let's take Experiment Kraj as our first example. At Six mana it's a potential full two turn slower to get it into play. Maybe this is the reason you've been wary about truly building a focus deck around it.
So it's possible to get it out early with Prime Speaker Vannifar as your actual commander at just four mana.
Now on subsequent turns, you can look to get your most synergistic cards for the build as well.
You can even setup Experiment Kraj to have Prime Speaker Vannifar ability.
Now what about removal?
Well where do opponents aim one-for-one removal? Kraj or Vannifar?
Rock-and-a-hard-place for opponent to decide on that, and this is where you can be advantage that if they get rid of Kraj, then Vannifar can just get Kraj back again with shenanigans.
So then they need to remove Vannifar, and then you're just left with Kraj, which is your whole aim.
When mass removal happens, then it's no different to having to cast Kraj for 8 mana normally, but with Vannifar you just need 6 mana to start setting up again.
It's a very interesting proposal for alternative ways to approach deck making in Simic from now on in my opinion.
Paying for commander tax can be better mitigated. Normally if your plan is to have Prime Speaker Zegana or Tishana, Voice of Thunder go back to your commander zone for recasting, then you'll need to obviously pay more.
But with Prime Speaker Zegana ability to sacrifice, you can send these guys to your graveyard, shuffle them back in and then get them back into play at literally no mana cost if you get an engine going.
It's a different approach for sure, but has a huge upside.
But my point is that you don't have to just think about builds around non-legendary, certainly there are some cases where legendary creatures that you'd normally have in your command zone are better off in your 99 with Prime Speaker Vannifar at the helm instead.
If you're playing Prime Speaker Vannifar, why not just focus your build around her?
There will be some creative deck builders who will get exactly what I mean, and their will be some who will be confused at this idea.
I'll just leave it to you what you can take out of this post.
Honestly I don't think so. The precedence for Four Drop commanders along side Zur the Enchanter, Captain Sisay, Arcum Dagsson, to name a few, gives the feeling that even with her power level, she still "dies to Doom Blade" and specifically requires a full turn to activate, giving opponents a window of opportunity to interact.
The exception to this rule is Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary, but at two mana, he just proved to provide too much mana consistently with giving you access to 6 mana Turn 3 by just playing Forests and him.
1.) Compact Win Condition
Trying to keep the number of cards dedicated to actually winning with Prime Speaker Vannifar at a minimum. This allows for more disruption and mana acceleration and draw in general, while keeping the actual cards you can cast to a minimum.
It's a pretty fair assessment that most times that you get to activate Prime Speaker Vannifar that you're likely to get a combo win. So it's more about "how do you get to that point?", with other decks having their own quick combos and disruption. Disruption can be in the form of many things, like removal, Stax, counterspells, on-board hate.
That's 6 cards for the combo, and if you're able to sequence it without needing anything else then it requires 4 and 3 lands in play as a minimum.
What makes it very efficient is that if you have a lot of these cards in your hand or graveyard at the time you want to combo, then it is fairly easy to navigate around it with support cards.
If you have Thousand-Year Elixir in your hand, then you can just cast it, which is even nicer if you pre cast it the turn before you play Prime Speaker Vannifar, allowing to hold up more mana to protect what you're doing.
Same with Trophy Mage in your hand, you can just cast it to get the Thousand-Year Elixir. It will probably slow you down by a turn, as you need to cast both of them, as opposed to just putting the Trophy Mage into play.
You can always use Prime Speaker Vannifar ability to sacrifice a Two Drop to get Eternal Witness to return these cards to your hand, but that normally implies another full turn, unless you have an untapper. Fatestitcher and Peregrine Drake are fine to return to your hand as they are not hard to deploy, but Body Double isn't the greatest to return to your hand either, needing to cast it is slow going.
A couple of cards that are being tested to get you out of the fail point situations are, Whirlpool Rider for when you have cards in your hand, and Nantuko Tracer for cards in your graveyard.
This obviously requires a setup and likely if you don't have a way to untap Vannifar, you'll have to spend a turn sacrificing a One Drop to get either of these if the situation requires it. You might have drawn them so give you a possible outlet this way as well. Noxious Revival is another way of getting cards from your graveyard back into your library.
2.) Alternative Win Conditions
There is an inherit need to have some sort of alternative way of winning, as a very likely scenario is when Prime Speaker Vannifar herself has been shut out of the game. Whether that is due to removal and commander tax being too high to recast her, or hate cards shutting off her abilities.
If Gaea's Cradle produces at least 4 mana, then you can combine with Peregrine Drake to keep returning and casting it to get infinite mana. You will need 5 lands as well.
You can do the same with any creature that also produces enough mana to activate Temur Sabertooth and recast it, with mana left over. But you will also need to be able to give the creature haste.
You want to find a balance of having win conditions that synergies within the rest of the cards in your deck, while also still being able to play around a few hate cards that might be shutting off Prime Speaker Vannifar.
At this stage I'm going to say that there is no consensus on what is the best alternative ways to win.
How about having no Protean Hulk wins?
It's a very interesting trade off. Often the question is "What is your plan if Prime Speaker Vannifar has been locked out?".
But having compact win package means that you get to play a lot of additional ways to speed up the deck, as well as have additional ways to disrupt your opponents, as well as additional ways to protect what you're doing.
So it's a very fair call to say that sure you can try to cover as many different ways to win when you get to activate Prime Speaker Vannifar, but really is the more important question is how do you make sure you get to do that?
For example let's say you are playing the most compact version of win conditions. You might find that 7/10 games once you get to use her, you end up winning the game with a combo. But 3 times you end up having to wait a turn or whatever because of cards in hand/graveyard, and you only got to win 1 of those because the extra turn didn't matter. This might be over the course of 12 games, for an 8/12 record.
Then you could have a deck that has 10/10 record for getting the win with Prime Speaker Vannifar when you get to activate her.
But the reality is that this might be over 20 games, where opponents just win before you can cast her or remove her before you get to use her.
Maybe you have a record of 12/20 because you get do easier alternative win conditions as well, like Flash + Hulk.
But over the course of more games you're more likely to win more games being consistent with mana acceleration, disruption and protection. You will have some #feelsbad-not-to-combo games, but this is just the trade off.
These were made up speculative numbers, but it's about making the judgement call that you are better off to not win sometimes with awkward draws, versus the consistency of getting her into play and activating her.
3.) Creatures matter and Two Drops are perfect
One thing when you are looking to combo is that really the optimal thing is to sacrifice a Two Drop to then get Trophy Mage. Sure you can go into Quirion Ranger and Scryb Ranger, but the reality is that you want 3 lands in play. In what are already land light builds, hitting 5 consecutive lands isn't always a possibility. Returning a land can be optimal for playing a land for the turn, but if you had to sequence through Scryb Ranger that is going to delay you until Turn 4 to win, and then if you have to go through Quirion Ranger, then that will be Turn 5 at the earliest, unless you have some sort of way to play out extra lands like Exploration or Azusa, Lost but Seeking.
Actually having a creature to sacrifice to Prime Speaker Vannifar is no trivial matter, when you might be using your creatures in some manner.
So with this in mind any cEDH still requires a sizable threshold of creatures to be consistent at being able to start to combo chain.
For this reason having too many non-creature spells can be detrimental. Certainly I've had games where I've wanted my disruptive instants to have just been a creature.
For the same reason that Two Drops are really the best at starting a chain, some extra weight can be put on creatures that normally are considered inferior purely on ability to cost.
For example Sylvan Ranger would normally be superseded by Sakura-Tribe Elder, but there is an upside to getting a resource and being able to sacrifice to Prime Speaker Vannifar.
The whole point of this primer (the entire content) is just to get ALL the ideas out there. It's not for me to decide what's best, but I do have my own opinions on what are correct lines of play.
With that said however, I'm inclined to make sure that people can read this primer and feel that they can get a fair representation of what the wider community might be doing.
It's very early days for this commander, so as it should flux with potential new lines of winning, new innovations, and entirely new approaches.
What my job is to do, is to try and keep anybody who is interested in developments updated as much as my knowledge is at the current time.
The main way of winning with the deck is to get Prime Speaker Vannifar into play and then use her ability to start chaining up and getting multiple creatures into play, using some very specific sequences of creatures.
Once you have infinite mana, you can soulbond the Body Double as one of the Two Drop creatures and chain into Spellseeker or Eternal Witness. Spellseeker can get all your instant and sorcery two or less mana. The main aim is to exile your opponents libraries by using Reality Shift to continuously keep exiling the newly created manifested creatures.
Once your opponents have no cards in library, they will die in their draw steps.
There are ways to use additional untappers to help when combo creatures are in your hand or graveyard.
The main idea is that you can use the untap cards to get an additional use out of Prime Speaker Vannifar, so that you might be able to mitigate a step or creature in the combo chain.
Putting cards back into library from graveyard
You might have a key combo card in your graveyard. You can use additional untap sources on Prime Speaker Vannifar, so that she can search for potential creatures that can help you put them back into your library or hand.
There are a number of ways to do this.
You can use an additional creature and untapper to put a card back into library from graveyard by chaining into Spellseeker getting Noxious Revival.
You can also use Nantuko Tracer to put a card back into your library.
-OR- Timetwister can be used to shuffle your graveyard and hand back into your library. So you can use this if you've got more than one combo card that you want to search up with Prime Speaker Vannifar. You can use Spellseeker to get Mystical Tutor, which then can be used to get Timetwister. Unless you have draw card, you'll have to wait a turn, but you'd probably be having to anyway, unless you have an untapper.
Putting cards back into library from hand
Similar to cards in graveyard, you can use additional untap sources on Prime Speaker Vannifar, so that she can search for potential creatures that can help you put them back into your library.
There are a number of ways to do this.
You can use an additional creature and untapper to shuffle cards that are in your hand back into your library with Whirlpool Rider. There is a chance that you might draw some of them again due to the random nature, but certainly an option, especially if you've drawn too many of them.
You can also use additional untappers to untap Elvish Piper to put multiple combo creatures into play if they are in your hand.
You can also use additional untappers to chain into Spellseeker to get Brainstorm to put combo creature cards back in your library.
When combo cards get exiled
OMG, I can't believe it got exiled! Some people play Riftsweeper as a backup plan for if key combo cards get exiled, but honestly you can work around elements with some knowledge of how the deck works.
I've detailed what your alternatives are for cards below.
This method requires 4G for the first turn, then 2UGG for the next turn.
Because you don't need 3 lands in play, Scryb Ranger or Kiora's Follower will be the optimal Two Drop creatures as you can use them instead of needing the 1U for exiling Prime Speaker Vannifar at Step 10).