$50 Mavinda, Students' Advocate
01 Aug 2022 - 10 min read
Ever since Mavinda, Students’ Advocate was spoiled, I knew I wanted to do something interesting with them. Fresh off of a Toshiro Umezawa build in early 2021, the whole “whip spells from the graveyard” idea was fresh in my mind and as the almost direct opposite of Kamigawa’s favorite thief… I knew it would be a fun challenge.
Well, I sat on this bird for over a year but when my recipient for Secret Santa had a mono white deck at the top of their request list, I knew it was time for Mavinda to take flight. Get it? Cause they’re a b-… anyway. Let’s dive into why you shouldn’t always ignore your guidance counselors.
The Bird is the Word
Before we get into the cool strategies Mavinda lets us accomplish, let’s take a look at Mavinda as a card. Once per turn (and not just our own!) we may cast an instant or sorcery from our graveyard. However, if it doesn’t target a creature we control we have to pay a steep tax of an additional 8 generic mana. Largely, we’ll be casting spells that target - removal, combat tricks, blink shenanigans. But don’t forget they don’t have to target. In the late game, a 13 mana Tragic Arrogance is still a Tragic Arrogance!
Bird Vs Angel
This also brings us to what I think separates Mavinda from the more popular target-your-own-creatures Commander, Feather, the Redeemed . What Feather provides in consistent value, it loses in the flexibility to also be casting instants and sorceries that don’t target AND casting a spell twice in a single turn. That’s not to say these two cases will happen all that frequently, but having that added utility is great in preventing catastrophic situations like a Wrath of God or an Avenger of Zendikar across the table.
To those ends, Mavinda will play out much more politically and control-minded than the Boros-aligned angel. Our main plan is to coast into the late game with blink and protection subthemes before winning with Approach of the Second Sun or an avalanche of incidental value. Something something slow and steady. Alright, ready to rumble?
The Coolest Stuff
Instead of starting with the bread and butter mechanics, I’m going to first focus on the cool Mavinda-specific payoffs and more recent cards people might have missed. A lot of readers might be familiar with classic blink synergies and value engines, so I’ll save that stuff for the end of the article. Skip if you’re seasoned in that style of play or give it a look if you need a primer or refresher. Anyway, the sweet tech:
While we need to target a creature we control to take full advantage of Mavinda, that doesn’t mean we can’t also target something else…
Settle Beyond Reality - is probably the easiest to explain of the bunch as a five mana removal spell that gives us a cute little flicker.
Fell the Mighty - targets as part of a boardwipe, so as long as we choose one of our own creatures we’ll have an extra board wipe at our disposal.
Excavation Technique - a bit of an odd one but hey, that’s what y’all are here for. From the yard, target one of your creatures and choose to demonstrate - giving you an additional copy to cast for free. Not the cleanest removal spell but hey, it’s good in a pinch.
Mavinda goes HARD
- Something I learned from my recent Sedris adventures is that when faced with two different exile triggers you control, you get to pick which one gets applied! This is incredible with Adventure, making Pegasus Guardian both a solid blink payoff and an endlessly repeatable blink trigger (if the guardian dies).
Ajani’s Influence - Targeting almost as an afterthought to the main effect (my favorite cards), Ajani’s influence gives you some very solid card filtering for mono white.
Approach of the Second Sun - One of our main wincons, we’re hoping to tear through our deck with consistent draw and ramp making this a very viable option. And remember, if you end up late into the night with 15 mana lying around… Mavinda can get you that Approach out of the yard, where that annoying Blue player countered it, and back into your deck.
…And if Approach doesn’t work - well we’ll just have to flood the board and hope for a few Phalanx Leader Triggers.
Cemetery Protector - Good graveyard hate (especially when blinked), but also gives us essentially a Young Pyromancer in white. Bazinga.
Thalia’s Geistcaller - We’re going to be doing some serious graveyard casting, and creating 1/1 fliers at instant speed is certainly nothing to shake a stick at.
Blessed Sanctuary - Netting an extra creature with every flicker gives Semester’s End and the like the ability to double your entire board.
Evangel of Heliod - Perhaps the most fun blink target, with a lot of small creatures we should hopefully have a pretty high devotion when the game gets going.
Hot off the Press
- It’s important to remember that backgrounds don’t always have to live in the command zone. Some can do serious work in the 99. There’s a few more hoops to jump through to get Far Traveler running as opposed to
, buuut it’s amazing for the monetary cost and great backup as the third copy of the effect in this deck.
Rumor Gatherer - With the Cabaretti focusing on “Creature-fall” (Alliance), there’s plenty of great effects for creature ETBs in Naya. Less so in Mono-white, but Rumor Gatherer can give us a lot of scry and hopefully a bit of draw - the kind of card advantage we need in spades to keep up with a mono-white deck.
Illuminator Virtuoso - Illuminator Virtuoso, hailing from the Obscura, focuses more on just crazy amounts of card filtering. Which is much appreciated given we can use Mavinda to get a lot of that back.
Mavinda, fresh off a under 600 defeat, is still a commander worth your time to explore, and given recent reprints, Mavinda can be an absolute banger at sub $50. Really, with a bigger budget you’d mostly just be upgrading the creature package, with blink and protection almost at their apex.
I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into Strixhaven’s best owl and one of mono white’s more interesting commanders! And if you’re still around, check out the more in-depth description of the protection and blink packages below!
Check out the full decklist on Moxfield If Mono Red is more your thing, I did a Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded budget deck for last year’s Deck Exchange - check out the write up over on reddit!
Card Draw -
Wall of Omens
Priest of Ancient Lore
Lands/Ramp - Kor Cartographer , Solemn Simulacrum , Oreskos Explorer , Knight of the White Orchid , Loyal Warhound
Interaction - Skyclave Apparition , Meteor Golem , Cavalier of Dawn , Fiend Hunter
Misc Value - Evangel of Heliod , Karmic Guide , Glorious Protector
Did they take the bait? Excellent. This is honestly where the real heart and soul of the deck is - Mavinda is great, but they alone will not win you the game. Consider this package the blue collar workers of the deck.
If there’s one thing White is really good at - it’s incremental value. ETBs are the name of the game here since most of our value will come from flickering these guys in and out of existence like some great cosmic joke. Nothing really too interesting in this category - besides calling out just how many cards we now have that can tutor lands on a budget. And, it’s imperative we draw attention to the numbers we have should any effect need its percentage tweaked.
For those of you who don’t know the Fiend Hunter madness - since the two abilities are separate (enters the battlefield exile a creature, leave the battlefield return that creature) if you blink Fiend Hunter with the first ability on the stack, his second ability will hit the stack first (along with a second ETB) so you can exile two permanents with Fiend Hunter. And one of them will be exiled permanently since it’ll be from the first ETB ability and triggered after the first LTB has already resolved. It’s fun. Your friends will love it.
We’re running all the classics from Cloudshift to Semester’s End (and we even had room for Teleportation Circle and Conjurer’s Closet in the budget!), but I do want to draw attention to just how much fun Mavinda can be with Settle Beyond Reality . Our stipulation with Mavinda is the spell must target one of our creatures…but doesn’t say it can’t ALSO target an opponent’s! Similar vibes from Fell the Mighty .
We have a ton of “protection effects” of every different variety.
Shelter - is a classic for a reason, and gets us a little card draw to boot. Not as prevalent as Red’s cantrips, but white can hold its own and protect a key piece along the way.
Graceful Reprieve - honestly one of my favorites in the deck. Protection and hexproof are great, but in the face of a board wipe they can’t do diddly. Especially with Mavinda, this spell in hand can save two of your best creatures from the jaws of death.
Dawn Charm - A fog, a counterspell (protect against some graveyard hate mayhaps?), and a creature saver. Sure you’ll have to re-learn regenerate, but it’s better than a dead titan!
Conclusion Part Deux
Thanks so much for sticking around! Mavinda was a ton of fun to develop and I’d love to see what other people come up with so if you’ve got your own list or a couple ideas, leave ‘em in the comments below!
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