Magic the Gathering “Competitive” EDH Primer: Kangee, Aerie Keeper UW Bird Tribal, Don’t worry just peck their eyes out

Yes, I can’t believe that this is happening either. It dawned on me that while I claim this is a blog is about like 7 different card games, we only ever talk about Yugioh (mostly due to the fact that Yugioh is easy to write about). So in an attempt to try something completely different I’m going to go into way too much detail about my only EDH/Commander deck Kangee, Aerie Keeper which is essentially Blue/White Bird tribal.

 

Why of all the possible EDH generals are you playing this?

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So despite having access to many Magic cards, this became my only EDH deck to not get scraped/sold when my local meta became nothing, but Storm and Infinite Combos. While I had many decks at one point this is somehow only deck I somehow really cared for.

What does this thing actually do and why should I remotely care?

Kangee, Aerie Keeper is a 2 generic, 1 white, 1 blue legendary bird wizard (high ho erratas) that reads Kicker 2x, when Kangee enters the battlefield put x feather counters on it if it was kicked (an additional mana cost you can choose to pay). Other birds get +1/+1 for each feather counter on Kangee (Erratas reee).

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So what does this mean? Kangee is essentially an anthem effect for birds. The issue is that in order to gain any benefit you have to pay a minimum of 8 mana to get a mere +1/+1. Now to be honest this is a pretty good effect if you actually have the mana. I’ve cast Kangee where x was 6 before (which gave my birds +6/+6). While this cost a whopping 12 mana it did create a dangerous board. Kangee is a cool anthem that gets better the later in the game, which is only hindered by the fact that Blue/White are terrible colors for ramp…

Now wait a second here… Isn’t Derevi, Empyrial Tactician a Bird Wizard too? Isn’t he an infinitely better commander in far better colors ???

Yes, that’s all true. Derevi is a good commander that’s also a bird. He also gives access to the birds in Green (one of which we all know about and many others that we don’t). Why don’t I just play Derevi instead? Well think for a moment about the type of mindset that makes one consider playing BIRD tribal at all. If I said I came here with the aspiration of winning that would be a boldface lie.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses of Birds

To be fair birds aren’t a bad tribe. Flying is and will always be a good keyword, giving every bird  essentially pseudo-unblockable. Furthermore, as a result of being fairly common in world-building there are tons of these darn things.

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Another major strength of this deck is that absolutely no one will deem you enough of a threat to waste resources on in the early to mid game. The target should only appear on your head after who’ve hopefully assembled a flock, played an anthem and hit one player for enough damage that they will likely lose the game. After which a board wipe will happen and you won’t be able to recover because you’re playing birds…

And thus we reach the first (of many) weaknesses of this tribe. Birds are completely wrecked by any sort of wrath (board-wipe) effect, which are unfortunately very common in the EDH format. Furthermore, unlike most magic tribes the actual bird specific support cards are beyond sub-par. Here’s a quick example…

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The stats of almost every bird are also pathetically weak as if to add insult to injury. So how do we get anywhere with a tribe of non-synergistic weak creatures?

 

A Clear Bird Strategy

In order to survive the horrible situation you’ve knowingly put yourself into by playing birds you need a solid strategy that makes the best use of these fowls. For example, I play a very low to the ground (hah!) aggro deck that uses very low cost birds and many high-end anthem effects. The creatures I use are typically 2-3 drops like Welkin Tern and the anthem effects are 3-5 drops like Gravitational Shift. I have tried multiple variants of bird tribal and would not claim my current build to be the best one. I’ll discuss some more variants later on.

 

Staple Birds 

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Aven Mindcensor

In a sky of creatures barely above your 5th draft pick, an actually good bird soars above the average mediocrity of the flock. This is one of the only birds in the game that’s actually a good creature worthy of competitive play. Aven Mindcensor pretty much stops your opponents from searching their decks and can be flashed in allowing you to hold up counter-spell mana (You are a Blue deck after all). This card does everything you could possibly want other than hit for big.

Thrummingbird

This card is really good in combination with many cards in the deck. It adds counters to Kangee, Door of Destinies and Soulcatcher’s Aerie. While normally just a 1/1 for 2 mana it synergies very well with many other cards.

Warden of Evos Isle 

It makes your birds cost less. By bird standards this thing is amazing. Need I say more?

Keeper of the Nine Gales

This one is hard to gauge. On paper its effect is adequate, tap it and 2 other birds to bounce literally anything. The issue is that in practice, this means that you’re not attacking with 3 birds…

Mirror Entity

While not a bird technically, this card is on the short list of ways that you can actually kill someone with this deck. Use its effect, make your flock have actually respectable stats and then hit one player for big. This is as close to win condition as we’re going to get people.

 

Staple Enchantments, Artifacts, Sorcery/Instants (Sort of)

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Always Watching

How are we going to play to the Alfred Hitchcock “Birds” theme if the flock isn’t always watching?! This makes it so your birds can attack and block (in theory). It’s also another solid anthem effect.

Marshal’s Anthem

So after your birds inevitably die a painful death and you have nothing to your name, this card is one of the best ways to revive your crew and prepare for another attack on the next turn. Also anthems for the win.

Soulcatcher’s Aerie

This is an absolute gem of a card. It turns your birds dying into a positive as every subsequent bird you cast becomes larger and larger. I’ve gotten 8 counters on this card before which made every bird I top-decked an actual threat. It’s slow in the early game, but amazing late game.

Favorable Winds

It’s a 2 cost anthem for birds…

This is quite frankly amazing.

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I don’t need to explain why EDH staples like Sol Ring and Sensei’s Divining Top are in this deck. If you have them, you put them in every Commander deck…

Skullclamp

Another card that makes the death of your birds hurt less. There are also many birds with 1 toughness you can just kill to draw more cards (until you start stacking anthem effects ofc).

Obelisk of Urd/Door of Destinies

I play Obelisk of Urd over Door of Destinies (gasp!) because I like the immediate +2/+2 boost over the eventual high end boost of the Door. Both do the same thing essentially as an artifact anthem though.

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Migratory Route is the only “staple” here. These are just some of the cards you can play that I find acceptable (or the case of Sphinx’s Rev actually good). I highly recommend Counterspells to protect your birds though.

Well time to stop beating around the nest, here is my actual deck:

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This is by no means the best (or likely even decent) way to build the deck. My greatest success is usually just killing one player before running out of resources or hitting one player for big damage. I do enjoy this deck (more than any normal person should) because once you get the chain of anthem effects going it’s very satisfying to see just how big you can grow a tiny little Storm Crow.

Here are some other ideas I had for the deck.

 

Other Potential Strategies

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Big Bird(s)

You could drop the low cmc birds and focus on ramping into huge birds instead. Some of these creatures actually have decent stats/effects. Aven Fateshaper is efficient card filtering and Aven Brigier is a cheaper anthem than Kangee (he also rewards using bird soldiers).

Birb Tokens

Other than Migratory Route, there are many cards that make bird tokens (more than I listed ofc). With Eyes in the Skies and Scion of Vitu-Ghazi you can make a flock of tokens to attack the enemy. Playing tokens also gives you access to the anthem Intangible Virtue and the wrath protection using cards like Rootborn Defenses (which also makes you even more bird tokens!).

Morph Synergy

While I didn’t have any to pictures, there are many birds with Morph that also care about you flipping cards face-up. Cards like Aven Liberator for example give protection effects when flipped up. One appeal to this play style is that it might be fun to play multiple Morph creatures. The caveat is this that is likely even weaker than my current deck xD

Ishai, Ojutai Speaker

I honestly forgot this was a card until I added it last night. It could be a good general, especially since the partner mechanic can give us access to green and thus ramp! That being said it might lead us down the long and dark path to just being discount awful Derevi deck (my greatest of fears).

Alright, I’ve discussed this more than anyone ever should have.

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Thanks for reading as usual (if anyone could manage to get this far)

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One thought on “Magic the Gathering “Competitive” EDH Primer: Kangee, Aerie Keeper UW Bird Tribal, Don’t worry just peck their eyes out

  1. If you were to go with Ishai as the commander, who do you think the partner would be? I think either Ravos (built in anthem, regrowth every turn) or Ludevic (virtual Phyrexian Arena, curves well into Ishai) could be decent here. It’s unfortunate that red and black have fairly mediocre bird options, except for like Baleful Strix, but I’m sure there’s something to justify the splash.

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