EDH Deck Tech: Rona, Herald of Invasion's two faces | Magic: The Gathering
May 4, 2023
Magic: The Gathering
Deck Tech, MTG, Commander, EDH, Magic: The Gathering
After the release of March of the Machine, undoubtedly one of the cards that has caused the most hype among Commander players is Rona, Herald of Invasion. It is one of those cards that your brain automatically starts looking for ways in which it can win you the game. What's most curious about Rona, Herald of Invasion though is that it has a backside with a completely different ability and strategy. But both faces let us think the same thing: "This card can win games!"
This is exactly how Rona, Herald of Invasion impacted me the first time I saw the card. Its front face begs us for synergies with legendary cards that allow us to repeatedly draw until we empty our library. But upon transforming, its Phyrexian side Rona, Tolarian Obliterator offers us a completely different style: A control deck capable of playing its entire hand (and our opponents' ...) without using mana. This lets us cheat in cards with very high mana costs.
So ... what's the best way to build a deck around Rona, Herald of Invasion? And the most important question: Can both strategies be combined into one?
Today we'll explore some of the most notable and interesting synergies we can achieve with Rona, Herald of Invasion as our commander.
Rona, Herald of Invasion in EDH: The front face
Looking at the main face of Rona, Herald of Invasion, it's almost as if the card itself builds the synergies and the deck around it.
For example: We want effects that tap and untap Rona, Herald of Invasion over and over again, so we need the maximum number of possible legendary spells. However, we won't be able to cast those spells constantly if we don't have mana for it. That is why we are interested in having low-cost legendary cards. And above all, we are interested in Mox Amber.
Mox Amber and Rona, Herald of Invasion are two cards that will often be seen together. Not only in Commander, but also in formats like Modern or Pioneer, since in combination with cards like Emry, Lurker of the Loch or Retraction Helix, we can cast Mox Amber as many times as we want.
In Commander these combos are more complicated to assemble as it is a singleton format. However, we have many ways to make up for this deficiency. Plus we can add tutors to find our key pieces.
Another key aspect of building a Rona deck is making sure we have ways to protect our commander. Cards like Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots can give Rona hexproof and haste, while counterspells can help protect her from removal. Here we should prioritize low cost and synergetic interaction.
This build of Rona being mostly blue, there are tons of options to choose from in terms of counter magic. I really like the combination of Rona, Herald of Invasion with Circular Logic, using Rona's ability to draw, discard Circular Logic, and counter for just one mana thanks to Madness.
Rona, Herald of Invasion, Mox Amber and Retraction Helix: The combo explained
When casting Retraction Helix targeting Rona, we can tap it to bounce any nonland permanent to our hand. Add Mox Amber to the mix and we can cast the artifact as many times as we want: Rona, Herald of Invasion taps to return Mox Amber to hand, then play Mox Amber for free, which untaps Rona.
By itself, this interaction generates as much mana as we want, since we can add one mana of any colour with Mox Amber every time it's on the board before returning it to our hand. But what do we do next? That's where it gets interesting...
When we use Rona, Herald of Invasion and Retraction Helix to repeatedly bounce Mox Amber to our hand, we won't be able to use her main ability to draw and discard cards, as we need her ability to get the loop going. That's where Unctus, Grand Metatect comes in, allowing us to draw a card for free each time Rona, Herald of Invasion becomes tapped. However, this effect is mandatory, so if you don't want to deck yourself, remember to return Unctus to your hand at some point to stop drawing cards! By adding Unctus, Grand Metatect to the equation, we guarantee ourselves the ability to draw our entire deck while generating as much mana as we want from Mox Amber, allowing us to finish the game however we choose.
Aetherflux Reservoir triggers every time we cast a spell, gaining us one life for each spell we've cast that turn. As we can cast Mox Amber as many times as we want, we can gain 200 life and activate the Reservoir's ability to deal 50 damage to any target until all opponents are eliminated. Do they have more life? No problem! We'll gain a few more and deal more damage.
If shooting damage is not your thing, you can opt for a more "peaceful" route by using cards like Blue Sun's Zenith to make your opponents draw their entire library. As Blue Sun's Zenith will shuffle back into your deck, you just need to draw it again and cast it on the remaining opponents. After all, with infinite mana and your whole library in hand, you will only have to play and bounce Unctus, Grand Metatect to redraw your Blue Sun’s Zenith.
A welcome fact is that several of our key pieces (such as Unctus, Grand Metatect, Mox Amber, or Aetherflux Reservoir) are artifacts, so we can tutor for them up with cards like Arcum Dagsson, Fabricate or Trinket Mage.
Additionally, we can add other low-cost legendary cards like Hope of Ghirapur to the mix that allow us to get the loop going with Rona, Herald of Invasion in case we have an effect that reduces their cost to 0 - such as Cloud Key. Mox Opal is another great option to combine with Rona, Herald of Invasion. It's basically a second copy of Mox Amber if we have metalcraft.
Another option is doing the same loop without the need for legendary cards. Using Intruder Alarm with a 0 mana value creature like Ornithopter will untap Rona, Herald of Invasion each time Ornithopter enters the battlefield. We could also add cards like Thousand-Year Elixir to speed up our activated abilities.
Rona, Tolarian Obliterator in EDH: The Phyrexian face
And what about Rona's compleated side? There might be fewer combos to mention here, but Rona, Tolarian Obliterator is certainly no less fun!
Whenever a source deals damage to Rona, Tolarian Obliterator, the controller of that source must exile a random card from their hand. If that card is a land, we can put it onto the battlefield under our control. And if that card isn't a land, we can cast it without paying its mana cost. Sounds good, right?
The thing is, this abilty is a huge warning sign to our opponents: "If you attack or block me, I will play your cards for free!" But - and that's where the fun comes in - we can damage Rona ourselves to play our own cards without paying their mana cost.
We can't control what's in our opponents' hands, but we do know the cards we hold. So if our deck is packed with ... let's say ... enormous threats, we have a party!
March of the Machine also brought us new fun toys to add to this strategy, like Hidetsugu and Kairi, who will take advantage of our high-cost cards to deal damage, or Breach the Multiverse, which seems super fun to cast without paying its cost.
But without a doubt the most important question regarding this build is: How do I manage to deal damage to Rona, Tolarian Obliterator if I'm playing a blue and black deck? Well, this is the best part!
Both blue and black have access to a wide variety of cards that allow us to deal one point of damage to any target, multiple targets, or directly to all creatures on the board. So there's plenty to choose from, from creatures to enchantments.
So are you more into Rona's combotastic front side or prefer to cheat out nightmarish threats with her Phyrexian form? Or are you daring to mix both parts? It's up to you!
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