4 juicy uses of Ashaya, Soul of the Wild from Zendikar Rising
The new Zendikar Rising prerelease is upon us, and there’s one card you should be working with for Commander… the new Mono-Green Legendary Ashaya, Soul of the Wild. She’s a triple threat. She provides interesting interactions with older magic cards to satisfy you if you’re a creative Johnny; a huge body to stomp some pressure into the game if you’re a Timmy; and dodges a lot of common removal (like Cyclonic Rift) to upset those competitive Spikes-in-the-making.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen Ashaya either. Ashaya originally was a legendary token creature created by the flip-Nissa from Magic: Origins, but now we get to see her stand alone now that Nissa isn’t holding her back.
As you can see above, Ashaya, Soul of the Wild is a 5-Mana Legendary Elemental who grows bigger with every land you play. While this is not of itself a unique ability, it is the cheapest version of this effect on a creature, making Ashaya able to apply pressure throughout a game of Commander.
The interesting twist Ashaya has though, is her static ability to turn all of your nontoken creatures into Forest-type Lands. Even if you’re not interested in building a deck entirely around Ashay, they are still worth including in your 99 and, if you stick around for the end, there’s some spicy ways to abuse Ashaya’s abilities with the addition of other colours.
Before we get down to it though, there’s a few things to note with this passive ability:
- Only Nontoken Creatures are turned into lands. Token-generation is not going to help here.
- ‘Forest’ is a land type, NOT a creature type, so cards like Coat of Arms or Vanquisher’s Banner don’t care that all of your creatures are ‘Forests’.
- This ability only affects creatures that are on the battlefield (it says ‘you control’ and not ‘you own’) so no using ramp spells to tutor or sneaking them into play with Courser of Kruphix or Crucible of Worlds.
Using Ashaya for Aggression
Baru, Fist of Krosa is a weird old card from Future Sight that is easy to overlook when it’s Grandeur ability doesn't work in a format where you can only have one copy of a card, but his other ability more than makes up for it. Baru turns all of your land drops and non-token creature summons into a +1/+1 and Trample bonus across your board, making it easy for you to dish out tonnes of damage every turn.
If instead you want to go wide with tokens, Field of the Dead will count each of your nontoken creatures as “lands with different names” making it that much easier to start churning out a mass of 2/2 Zombies. Also remember that any time you want to run Field of the Dead in a deck, running Snow Basic Lands beside regular Basic Lands is an easy way to get to that magical seven unique lands.
Using Ashaya for Big Mana
If there is one thing Green is known for in Magic, it’s ramp, with Ashaya easily has access to. While she has some extremely favourable interactions with cards like Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Leyline of Abundance, instead let’s focus on some of the weirder interactions.
Jungle Basin is part of a cycle of Mono-Coloured Bounce Lands and with Ashaya as your commander, instead of bouncing a land you get the option of bouncing a creature. Now you’re a land ahead and you get to double up on any Enter-The-Battlefield or When-Cast triggers from your creatures.
Springbloom Druid lets you sacrifice a land to find up two more, but with Ashaya in play, you can instead sacrifice any creature, including the Springbloom Druid itself so you end up with an extra land in play. If you find yourself in a situation where you cast Springbloom Druid before your commander there are still other ways to get more value out of it with cards like Harrow or the new Roiling Regrowth.
Using Ashaya for Protection
Titania, Protector of Argoth is an extremely powerful card in land-focused decks, but when you pair it with Ashaya suddenly an 5/3 Green Elemental Token Creature is created when any of your nontoken creatures dies, meaning a single board wipe will leave you with a whole army. Timber Protector on the other hand, is a tribal lord from Lorwyn where treefolk and forests were strongly interconnected. Here unfortunately the bonus to Treefolk won’t do much good but giving all your creatures and lands indestructible is a huge boon to any Ashaya deck. It is worth noting that even though Timber Protector will be a forest it still does not provide itself with indestructibility.
Using Ashaya for Shenanigans
Quarion Ranger and Scryb Ranger cause problems wherever they go and Ashaya will absolutely squeeze the most out of them. By turning themselves into forests, you can bounce them with their own ability. This gets around the once per turn clause on their abilities and allows you to bounce and recast them as much as you want. All you need is an outlet to draw you cards (like Beast Whisperer or Guardian Project) or the aforementioned Baru to make your creatures as large as you want and swing for the game.
Bonus Spice: Let's talk about the rift in the room.
Ashaya turning your creatures into lands also changes the way your opponents can or cannot interact with them. The best board wipe in Commander, Cyclonic Rift, is a deserving victim of Ashaya, as it only bounces nonland permanents. In fact, blue’s ability to interact with permanents often comes with the caveat of being only creatures or only nonland permanents, meaning your opponents will struggle to deal with your creatures when only some of their interaction works. Of course these big sweeping effects aren’t limited to blue as many permanent board wipes tend to hit nonland permanents, giving you a big edge if one hits the board.
Bonus Spice: How do I make my playgroup hate me?
Finally some secret tech to lose your friends. Ashaya with Destructive Force allows you to sacrifice small creatures that would die to the damage anyway instead of lands, putting you way ahead of your opponents in terms of available mana. Be careful with land destruction though, Ashaya has some extremely unfavourable interactions with cards like Keldon Firebombers and Armageddon.
Regardless as to whether you want to build a deck around them, Ashaya is an extremely powerful card that is going to demand your opponents attention. I can’t wait to get it to the table.
Zendikar Rising cards are now available to preorder. Click here to see what's available from pulled stock and don't forget, you can order your Zendikar Rising sealed product on the regular site by clicking here.
About Mitchell Barfoot
Mitch has been playing magic since Mirrodin and his favourite format is commander. He believes every card has a home and that cards that aren’t in decks are a waste. To that end, he has too many commander decks but can justify why each and every one is unique... even if they have the same commander.