Darien, King of Kjeldor

Darien, King of Kjeldor is a 3/3 Human Soldier (the card says Lord, but the errata says Soldier) that costs 4 generic and 2 white mana. Not good as far as stats go. His ability says that when you are are dealt damage, you may create that many 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens. With a starting life total of 40 in Commander, you have a nice big pool of tokens just waiting for you. Ideally, the more damage that your opponents deal, the more soldiers you will create. Now this is a finite amount, but there are a bunch of ways to get your life total back up to and above 40 for the potential to make more tokens. That’s about all that there is to this strategy. You take damage and make tokens to deal more damage to your opponents, then get your life total back up and get ready to start the cycle all over again. The harder the aggro decks hit you, the more powerful you become.

The first thing I want to talk about is recovering your life total since the more life you have and can spare, the more tokens you can generate. Soul Sisters is a deck that used to be popular in Modern. There are 3 cards deemed as ‘sisters’ in the deck. Soul Warden, Soul’s Attendant, and Auriok Champion. Notice that they read “whenever another creature enters the battlefield, you may…” It doesn’t matter if the creature was cast or not, nor which side of the board it is on. If any creature comes in, you gain life. The next card, Impassioned Orator, is still in Standard at the moment, but has found some success in decks running cards with life gain synergies such as Ajani’s Pridemate. Unlike the three sisters, this card only cares about creatures that come in under your control. Anointer Priest gains you 1 life when a token enters the battlefield under your control. This is fine since tokens are what is going to be triggering these other cards most of the time. And if it ever goes to the graveyard you can pay its embalm cost and you get a token that is almost an exact copy of it.

These are not the only cards that can gain you life based on creatures. Angel of Renewal is overcosted, but it gets you 1 life per creature you control when it comes into play as does Conclave Phalanx and Dwarven Priest at cheaper costs. Two other cards that have high synergy with creatures entering the battlefield are Ajani’s Welcome and Suture Priest. Ajani’s Welcome is just Impassioned Orator on an enchantment and Suture Priest is a Phyrexian Sister that causes you to gain life when your creatures come into play and cause your opponents to lose life when their creatures come into play.

Now let’s mess around with these tokens a little bit. Soldiers are on the puny side of the spectrum, but Angels are on the big side. Divine Visitation turns any tokens that come in under your control into 4/4 Angels with flying and vigilance. This card combos even better with Bishop of Wings. It says when an Angel dies, you make a 1/1 Spirit, but wait, while Divine Visitation is in play, that token is also turned into an Angel so any Angel token that is destroyed just comes right back. It also gains you 4 life when an Angel enters the battlefield. While this is in play with Darien, King of Kjeldor, every 1 point of damage you take nets you 3 life and an Angel token. You also have access to tons of anthem effects to buff your Soldier tokens. Spear of Heliod provides a small buff while also giving you the ability to destroy any creature that deals damage to you. True Conviction gives all of your creatures double strike and lifelink. If you decide to use more cards that require a lot of mana, you can use Ashnod’s Altar to sacrifice one of your Soldier tokens to add 2 colorless mana to your mana pool.

Let’s look at some life gain synergies you can use in this deck. The most popular one is Ajani’s Pridemate. Gideon’s Company is a more expensive version of the Pridemate but it gets two +1/+1 counters and you can pay 4 mana to put a loyalty counter on a Gideon planeswalker if you have one. You don’t have to run these two, but if you are on a budget, go ahead. At the very least they can help draw fire (single target removal spells) away from Darien, King of Kjeldor. Archangel of Thune puts a +1/+1 counter on all of your creatures whenever you gain life, buffing your entire board. You can also use the infinite combo of Walking Ballista and Heliod, Sun-Crowned. Not to mention you can sacrifice a ton of tokens to Ashnod’s Altar giving you two mana each for the Ballista. Also, if you opponents realize that attacking you just helps your game plan and stop attacking, you can start pinging yourself with the Ballista if you need more tokens. Combined with Heliod, you give the Ballista lifelink and start removing +1/+1 counters to ping yourself, dealing 1 damage to you, but since the Ballista has lifelink you heal for that 1 damage which triggers Heliod allowing you to replace that +1/+1 counter and get a token while Darien, King of Kjeldor is in play, and you can start the cycle all over again gaining an infinite number of Soldier tokens. Of course you can also just use it to ping an opponent to death too, but where’s the fun in that? This combo can also be pulled off at instant speed so you can create a ton of blockers if your opponent happens to have like a 60/60 or something ridiculously huge that wipes you out in one hit. There are so many options with this combo, some of them game ending.

Bringing it back down a notch, let’s go to card draw and ramp, two of white’s weaknesses. Skullclamp is the first card to come to mind. When equipped to an X/1 creature, like your 1/1 Soldier tokens, the creature will immediately die triggering the Skullclamp’s ability and basically draw you two cards for 1 mana (the cost to equip Skullclamp). Since the idea is to generate an army of tokens, you have access to all of the card draw that you will ever need with this one card, but it’s only 1 of 99 so let’s look at some others. Dawn of Hope and Mentor of the Meek also help with card draw, but they’re not as effective as Skullclamp. I would suggest running them anyway, because good card draw in white is so hard to come by. Even though I have already mentioned Ashnod’s Altar for mana I feel that Smothering Tithe is also a necessary card for those games when you can’t find the altar. Land Tax can also help you keep up with everyone by getting 3 basic lands into your hand if an opponent has more lands than you.

This deck wants to generate Soldier tokens with Darien, King of Kjeldor, but what if for some reason ( not enough mana or he’s gone back to the command zone too many times) you can’t get him into play? Let’s look at some other token generators. Decree of Justice is expensive when cast for its mana cost of XX 2 generic and 2 white to make 4/4 Angels. I would recommend its cycling cost of 2 and 1 white and then pay X to generate 1/1 Soldiers. If you need a board wipe, I would suggest Martial Coup. Obviously this only works when you can afford to pump at least 5 mana into it. Evangel of Heliod makes a number of 1/1 Soldiers equal to your devotion to white. Entrapment Maneuver causes an opponent to sacrifice an attacking creature and you make a number of 1/1 Soldier tokens equal to the sacrificed creature’s toughness. Played against the right opponent, this can be very good. However there is a card that trumps them all by simply doubling the number of tokens you create, Anointed Procession.

This is a pillow fort deck and Darien, King of Kjeldor is key to the strategy.  Ideally, your opponents cannot win through combat against this deck once you have a few key cards in play. The only ways that they can take you out is through commander damage, mill, poison counters, or some other card that wins them the game or causes you to lose the game outright. That’s about all that there is for Darien, King of Kjeldor in Commander. What legendary creature do you want to see next? Let me know in the comments down below.

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