The Commander’s Chair – The Voltron Matrix

I  like to build decks with a strong overall theme and synergies that flow throughout the entire deck.  During the Reaper King contest, two particular cards were brought to my attention, Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Juniper Order Ranger. I want to build a deck around the strong synergies related to both of these creatures.  To accomplish this, I will use one of my favorite methods of deck construction, the Matrix.  The Matrix isn’t just an awesome movie. It is also a wonderful way to plan out a deck.  You start with a primary focus point for your deck and build around it.  In most cases, this is your general.  However, you can choose anything to be the focus of your Matrix.

There are several advantages to building a deck this way.  First, the deck will have a plan.  A “good stuff” deck tries to stumble upon victory.  A deck built with a matrix has a path it is trying to follow.  Second, every card in the matrix is a threat.  Each card that you add to the matrix has an active role in bringing you closer to victory.  Third, other players need to control you not the other way around.  When you assemble the correct pieces you will win the game. You do not need to worry nearly as much about what other people are doing. Last, you will have a greater understanding of how to play your deck.  Building your own deck will let you play with a purpose.  Magic is a game where you race to victory.  You will know the route you want to take and how you want to go about moving along that route.

To make sure this doesn’t go out of control, I will be sticking with bant colors.  If you do this at home, do not limit yourself to what colors you use until after the Matrix is complete and your getting ready to piece together a deck.   To start, you want to outline the center of your deck.

Next we will add cards that have the most synergy with the cards you are focusing on.  In this particular case, it will be creatures with persist and strong abilities. Glen Elendra Archmage, Woodfall Primus, River Kelpie, Kitchen Finks, Kithkin Spellduster, Twilight Sheppard, Heartmender, and Grazing Kelpie are all good considerations.  We will worry about exactly which of these we will want in the deck later.

Next, you add any cards that support the theme with any cards that normally would not have any synergy.  If your deck revolves around artifacts this might be a Mycosynth Lattice. For a persist themed deck, Cauldron of Souls fits the bill perfectly.

In the next step of the Matrix you will want to add in cards that completes the circuit.  These will be cards that abuse the strong synergy we have already outlined.  We want cards that take something good and make it go infinite.  The combination of persist creatures and either Juniper Order Ranger or Melira will allow creatures to die and come back an infinite number of times.  Cards that will allow us to sacrifice these creatures will let us take advantage of that. Altar Of Dementia, Ashnod’s Altar, Phyrexian Altar, Blasting Station, Fanatical Devotion, Greater Good, Martyr’s Cause,  Perilous Forays and Spawning Pit all let us complete the combo engine within the Matrix.

Once you get the core engine of a deck fleshed out, you can add cards that benefit from the machine.  An infinite engine does not generally win the game itself; you need to have an outlet that lets you use the engine to win.  Our engine creates an infinite number of “enters the battle field” and “goes to the graveyard” triggers.  For “enters the battle field” triggers we can use Aura Shards, Cream of the Crop, Garruk’s Packleader, Genesis Chamber, Intruder Alarm, Mantle of Leadership, and Minion Reflector.  For benefiting from creatures going to the graveyard we can add Skullclamp, Algae GharialFecundity, Blade of the Bloodchief, Deathrender, Field of Souls, Lightning Coils, Proper Burial and Thornbite Staff.  We can also add the combination of Salvaging Station and either Lotus Petal or Lotus Bloom.

At this point you should have mapped out a basic plan for winning the game.  If you stop here, your deck will be ok, but very weak to disruption.  After we have included cards that run off of our primary engine, we want to build in secondary engine that will work well with what we have chosen as a win condition.  Aluren+ Stonecloaker, Fleetfoot Panther, Shrieking Drake, Silver Drake or Whitemane Lion will create an infinite loop to go with comes into play abilities.  Aluren + Enduring Renewal will let us repeatedly play any creature that costs 3 or less.

At this point we should have most of the deck figured out.  The main structure of the deck is complete and now we want to make this as secure as possible. We accomplish this by adding in tutors. We want tutors that can connect with as many pieces as possible.  This is where the matrix get a little complicated.  For this deck I would include;

  1. Academy Rector
  2. Enlightened Tutor
  3. Fabricate
  4. Idyllic Tutor
  5. Intuition
  6. Sylvan Tutor
  7. Survival of the Fittest
  8. Tooth and Nail
  9. Worldly Tutor
  10. Wargate

At this point the Matrix has been complete.  The next step is to flesh out your deck with mana acceleration and fixing and recursion.

  1. Mycosynth Lattice
  2. Prismatic Omen
  3. Joiner Adept
  4. Azusa, Lost but Seeking
  5. Exploration
  6. Burgeoning
  7. Yavimaya Elder
  8. Solemn Simulacrum
  9. Sakura-Tribe Elder
  10. Primeval Titan
  11. Genesis
  12. Eternal Witness
  13. Life from the Loam
  14. Crucible of Worlds

Now we have enough information to put together a reasonable decklist around the cards we have chosen.  We will need to cut some cards to make it all work, as well as add a mana base.  Here is what I put together from this example of a Matrix; 


Jenara, Asura of War


Academy Rector
Algae Gharial
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Eternal Witness
Fleetfoot Panther
Glen Elendra Archmage
Joiner Adept
Juniper Order Ranger
Kitchen Finks
Kithkin Spellduster
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Primeval Titan
River Kelpie
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Shrieking Drake
Solemn Simulacrum
Whitemane Lion
Woodfall Primus
Yavimaya Elder


Altar Of Dementia
Angelic Chorus
Ashnod’s Altar
Aura Shards
Blade of the Bloodchief
Blasting Station
Cauldron of Souls
Cream of the Crop
Crucible of Worlds
Enduring Renewal
Enlightened Tutor
Fanatical Devotion
Field of Souls
Genesis Chamber
Greater Good
Idyllic Tutor
Life from the Loam
Lightning Coils
Mantle of Leadership
Martyr’s Cause
Mycosynth Lattice
Perilous Forays
Phyrexian Altar
Prismatic Omen
Proper Burial
Spawning Pit
Sterling Grove
Survival of the Fittest
Sylvan Tutor
Tooth and Nail
Walk the Aeons
Worldly Tutor

Breeding Pool
Drifting Meadow
Flagstones of Trokair
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Lonely Sandbar
Misty Rainforest
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Remote Isle
Seaside Citadel
Secluded Steppe
Slippery Karst
Strip Mine
Temple Garden
Tranquil Thicket
Treva’s Ruins
Tropical Island
Vivid Grove
Vivid Marsh
Vivid Meadow
Windswept Heath

That’s all for this week.  Thank you  all the contestants from the Reaper King contest.  The remaining prizes will be in the mail tomorrow.  As usual, I can be contacted at for any deck advice, article criticisms or random trolling.  I hope everyone has a great prerelease.



About SwordsToPlow

I like building and tuning decks to make them more fun and more effective.

Posted on May 6, 2011, in Extras, The Commander's Chair and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You’re title made me expect a Voltron type deck! Who do I complain to about article titles?

    • You can always direct complaints about titles to me. What about the deck disqualifies it from being a voltron deck? I consider Voltron decks to be decks that make combos by compiling a number of specific parts into a working machine. In this case Melira or Juniper Order Ranger + Persist Creature + Sac Outlet + Enters Battlefield / Goes to Graveyard trigger. Maybe you have a different definition?

  1. Pingback: Breaking Through the Blog-Flood | Mana Deprived

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