The Great EDH Challenge: Red – Jeska / Rograkh Voltron Combo

Jeska, Thrice Reborn
Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh


Power Level: 8.4

This is a fun deck. Being able to plop out Rograkh turn one, quickly start voltroning him up, and then making him deal triple damage with Jeska is a real joy. If you can manage to sacrifice Jeska with Claws of Gix after using her 0 on a 3+ Power Rograkh, cast her again, then use her 0 on Rograkh again, he will do NINE TIMES damage and swing for lethal! Haven’t managed to do that yet, but I was able to deal 15 in one swing by tripling his damage with Jeska. I’ve only played a handful of games with the deck, but it has already proven to be deceptively powerful.

Jeska is very versatile, with her ability to deal X damage to 3 targets. Most of the time, this will be used to kill 3 problem creatures. Recasting her throughout the game allows her damage to scale very well as the game progresses. She clears the way for Rograkh to deal combat damage, acting as a targeted board wipe later in the game. In the games I have played with this deck, my opponents get very frustrated when they realize how hard it is to have their creatures stick when I can easily destroy them with Jeska. It is this fact that makes me think of her as “busted,” and a return to the thing that makes Red great; dealing damage.

Of course, many have realized that she is a mana sink in the command zone, allowing you to deal infinite damage by making infinite mana. That’s why we run a few infinite mana combos, for when attacking with Rograkh just doesn’t cut it!

Infinite Red Mana Combos

Cloudstone Curio + Kobolds of Kher Keep + Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh

Reiterate with buyback + Mana Geyser that will produce 7+ mana

Reiterate with buyback + Jeska’s Will that will produce 7+ mana

Other combos

Basalt Monolith + Rings of Brighthearth = Infinite Colorless Mana

Basalt Monolith + Rings of Brighthearth + Staff of Domination = Infinite Colorless Mana / Infinite Life / Mass Draw / Etc.

Cloudstone Curio + Kobolds of Kher Keep + Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh + Purphoros, God of the Forge = Infinite Damage to Opponents

Cloudstone Curio + Kobolds of Kher Keep + Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh + Outpost Siege = Infinite Damage to Opponents

I look forward to playing more with this deck, and really seeing what all its weird interactions can do!

The Great EDH Challenge: White – Mangara, the Diplomat’s Enchanted Lifegain


Power Level: 4.25

This is your typical mono-white lifegain deck, with an infinite combo thrown in for good measure. It also has another piece of secret tech; Divine Intervention. Making the game a draw usually causes even more frustration amongst my opponents than if I won, ironically enough. In any case, this deck gains some life and hopefully draws into a win condition with Mangara’s insane passive draw abilities. When I saw Mangara, a character I love from the lore, given a new card that draws a ton in mono-white, I knew I had to make a deck with him at the helm. The deck performs pretty well, and has quite a few ways to win.

Combat is an adequate win condition, and the way I win most of the time with this deck. Playing a bunch of angels, a subtheme of the deck, with evasion can really put the pressure on opponents. Especially when they are buffed by True ConvictionAjani Steadfast, and/or Lyra Dawnbringer herself. Swinging with Angel of Destiny is likely to just cause an opponent to lose on my end step, considering how much lifegain is in the deck. Passive token generators like Griffin AerieCourt of Grace, and Angelic Accord expand my team to put more pressure on my opponents.

Alternate win conditions abound in this deck. I’d forgotten how many of these existed for lifegain strategies. Felidar SovereignAngel of DestinyTest of Endurance, and possibly Aetherflux Reservoir can all win with enough life and a little bit of time. It is always funny to see my opponents frantically look at their hands and ask each other if they can remove these threats from play to stave off my eventual automatic win, especially if I have over 100 life. Ah, it feels good to win without relying on _uncivilized _ combat, if I can help it.

There is one deviously simple infinite combo in the deck, that of Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Walking Ballista. Yes, the combo that got the poor artifact banned from Pioneer. For the total cost of 7WW and two cards, you can deal infinite damage and gain infinite life. Hmm, I guess it is a bit more expensive than I thought, but you don’t have to pay it all at one time!

So that’s the deck folks. Various lines of play that can lead you to victory, with plenty of interaction to keep the game interesting. I will probably be optimizing the deck a bit in the future, once I start playing with it more often. As it stands, it is pretty casual, and I kind of like it that way.

The Great EDH Challenge: Green – Sekki Spirits

Sekki, Seasons’ Guide


Power Level: 4.2

This is my casual mono-green spirits deck. It has been the butt of many jokes by my playgroup, who think that this deck is incredibly weak. Despite their views, this deck has a pretty good win rate. When people see my commander, and the weird spirits that they’ve never even heard of, it takes pressure off of me during the game. I have been able to amass a ton of spirits, lord them up, and swing for lethal several times. This deck may not be fast, or flashy, but it is always interesting to play in a more casual pod.

Sekki can make a lot of spirit tokens, especially when he has been given an additional toughness. His damage prevention / token creation replacement effect makes for very interesting combat, when I am able to get him out. By the time the uninitiated realize that he has this ability, I have probably created dozens of spirit tokens. Heck, even my regular playgroup makes this mistake time and time again.

The rest of the creatures in the deck are primarily incremental value engines and minor threats, to put pressure on my opponents until I play Sekki. There is a good amount of removal in this deck as well, as much casual interaction that I could manage in green while keeping the budget within acceptable limits. I would run Wave of Vitriol merely to watch the wave of vitriol it usually causes when you make a 4 or 5 color deck sac all their lands without replacements to search for, but I run too many utility artifacts and enchantments for that.

I look forward to changing out Sekki for Kamahl, Heart of Krosa and Kodama of the East Tree when I get ahold of them soon. Should make for an interesting boost in power! Interestingly enough, a friend of mine who always speaks ill of this deck told me that changing out the commander would be disrespectful to Sekki. Despite me rolling my eyes at his duplicity, I did feel a pang of guilt about getting rid of Sekki as the commander. But alas, change is the spice of life!

The Great EDH Challenge: Colorless – Ulamog Ramp


Power Level: 5

This deck has a simple gameplan; Ramp up to cast Ulamog. Ulamog is quite powerful, being able to exile 2 permanents when you cast him, as well as kill in three hits on average. And if he wasn’t bad enough, making an opponent exile 20 cards from their deck is brutal and demoralizing. There are a few other pay offs to the ramp, such as It That Betrays and Walking Ballista, and there is a small equipment package to make your smaller creatures into threats in case you stall out before reaching 10 mana.

There have been plenty of times when I have put Assault Suit on Ulamog, and passed him around the table. Opponents are oftentimes giddy to swing him at their declared enemy, and sometimes even gang up on one problem player to eliminate them completely. I have put Worldslayer on Ulamog a few times, and watched as my opponents look helplessly as I destroy all permanents other than Ulamog and his sword. Fond memories!

My friends constantly keep an eye on me when I play this deck, constantly asking “How much mana do you have?” each turn. They know that when I get to 10 mana, I’m going to exile two problematic permanents. There is a lot of pressure put on me when I play this deck, even though it is inherently weaker than others at the table, but I understand the dread of having your board state disrupted in an almost uncounterable way.

Many games have been spent having my artifacts picked off to prevent me from reaching 10 mana before turn 10, which is annoying. But most of the time, I can recover quickly and get Ulamog down. Him being indestructible really helps him stay on the table. Despite knowing that, it is always a surprise for me when he sticks around for more than one turn.

If all else fails, just voltron up a Plague Myr and kill them with infect!

My EDH Power Level Formula

To aid in better grading the power level of EDH decks using a 1 through 10 grading scale, I have created a handy formula that can be utilized with any deck.

or in Latex: {\frac {2} {A}}+{\frac {\frac {D} {2}+T+{\frac {R} {2}}} {2}}+{\frac {I} {20}}=P

Let’s break down what these variables mean.

A = Average CMC of the deck.

This one is rather straight-forward. The higher the Average CMC of a deck, the slower and clunkier it becomes. By having 2 divide by this value, I am increasing the number of points awarded to decks with lower CMCs, while reducing the points awarded to decks with higher CMCs.

D = Draw that either allows you to see 3 cards, or a permanent that gives you repeatable draw
Examples: Brainstorm, Howling Mine, Fact or Fiction, Phyrexian Arena

Draw is an important way to ensure that you are always able to perform actions during the course of the game. A deck with little to no draw will spend most of the time sitting around doing nothing. The value of the draw spells are just as important as their density, which is why I have restricted this value to draw that gives you more card selection, or generates value over a longer period of time. These factors ensure that you always have things to do on your turns. In graveyard decks, it may be necessary to count self-mill cards that share the same stipulations (lets you see 3 cards, and/or is a permanent with repeatable draw) as draw for this variable.

T = Tutors (with CMC 4 or less) that find combo pieces and other win conditions
Examples: Vampiric Tutor, Muddle the Mixture, Tribute Mage, Demonic Tutor

Tutors get you exactly what you want, usually when you want them. They give EDH decks a level of consistency that more casual players would say is not in the spirit of the format. Their main function in higher power levels are to attain game-winning combo pieces. The cheaper the tutor, the more likely it is that the player will be able to use the card they tutored for during the same turn. Because of this, this variable has the greatest weight of any of the other variables in grading power level.

R = Ramp cards with CMC 2 or less
Examples: Llanowar Elves, Rampant Growth, Plague Myr. Sol Ring

Ramp is a major determinant of how fast a deck will win consistently, alongside cheap tutors. The sooner a player has access to a large amount of mana, the sooner they can cast multiple spells in a turn. A game of magic is usually over when a player can cast multiple spells in a turn before their opponents can. This, of course, is more impactful in the first few turns of the game, which is why only inexpensive ramp makes the cut for this variable.

I= Interaction such as counterspells, targeted removal, board wipes, and even stax
Examples: Mana Drain, Swords to Plowshares, Damnation, Winter Orb

Interaction stops your opponents from winning the game before you do. It is vitally important, but only when there is a high density of it. Having two or three forms of interaction won’t do much to consistently answer threats during a game with 3 opponents. This reasoning is why I have this value divided by 20, to reward a high density of answers.

Stax is a very broad-ranging term that means many things to many people. In this case, I define it as cards that slow the game down significantly as their primary purpose, limit what actions players can ordinarily take, and tax opponents to build value for yourself. This includes Mass Land Destruction (MLD), Hatebears like Drannith Magistrate and Grand Abolisher, even Pillow Fort like Propaganda.

There are a few things that I would like to note, based on community advice.

Commanders count as 2 toward their respective variable, even if they are costed higher than the respective variable’s limitation.

For example, Tymna would count as 2 towards D (Draw), and Sidisi, Undead Vizier would count as 2 toward tutor, since she is always available. This is a workaround to the fact that this formula doesn’t handle commander-centric archetypes well, such as decks like Sram and aggro Tribal decks like Krenko.

Graveyard strategies may require creative consideration for variables.

A card like Mesmeric Orb may not count as draw in most decks, but it could be very powerful draw in a Muldrotha deck. Entomb may not seem like a tutor in most decks, but it can be a very powerful tutor in a Karador deck.

Because of the difficulty of quantifying “Average Win Turn”, this formula focuses on how fast a deck can potentially amass a winning boardstate instead

Having R (Ramp) be limited to spells CMC 2 or less is an easy way to denote that early game acceleration is what it is representing. The same is true to a certain extent with regards to T (Tutors). These values are weighted heavily for this very reason.

With the commander out, the score can actually change.

However, this formula leans heavily on representing the flow of gameplay, focusing on the early game. If you can get your commander out with early ramp, that will be reflected in the formula, actually. It may be interesting to have people compare two results of the formula; for when the commander is not in play, and when the commander is in play. Many cards will suddenly belong to variables that they did not otherwise belong to.

This formula is a generalist tool, not meant to score unique commander-focused decks.

These variables work because they are metrics that can be widely agreed upon to be signifiers of power, speed, and consistency. Synergy in EDH is a very esoteric value, that varies greatly between decks. Because of that, I choose to focus my efforts on providing a tool for most decks, not all. All decks can benefit from Ramp, Draw, Interaction, Lower Average CMC and even Tutors.

Lands are largely a no-brainer, contributing little to power level in a well-constructed deck.

Playing minimal tap lands will make most decks better able to play during the early game. I make the assumption that the decks playing tap lands will be scored lowly by the variables of this formula. because those sorts of decks seldom run low cmc ramp, tutors, and draw.

From my own calculations utilizing this formula, I have been able to create a nice baseline of power levels that are usually below 10 and above 3. I have found that meta-“cEDH” decks seem to consistenly grade above 10, though this formula is not meant to accurately grade meta-specific decks such as cEDH decks. I will go through 5 examples of varying deck types. These formulas may not include changes to the variable calculations that have been implemented using community feedback.

Exquisite Invention -UR Artifact C18 PreCon
A=4.16 D=8 T=0 R=4 I=9

Score: 3.95

Vampiric Bloodlust – RBW Vampires C17 Precon
A=3.71 D=10 T=0 R=4 I=16

Score: 4.8

Jarad Graveyard Combo – GB “70%” Reanimator
A=3.30 D=1 T=7 R=8 I=19

Score: 7.3

Memnarch Control Combo – Mono-U Competitive
A=2.64 D=13 T=11 R=11 I=24

Score: 12.9

Thrasios & Tymna Combo – “Tier 1” cEDH
A=1.60 D=12 T=10 R=14 I=20

Score: 13.75!!!

As you can see, this scoring method is a good metric to gauge a deck’s general power level when factoring in deck traits that define the EDH meta. A deck with a score over 10 is most likely a competitive deck, perhaps belonging to the “cEDH” format. I like that it appears to turn out that way, as it puts those deck in a “tier of their own”, as many remark cEDH decks as being already.

Moving forward, I will be grading any EDH decks I discuss on this site using this formula. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this grading formula, and seeing your own deck power levels as defined by this formula.

The Great EDH Challenge

Hey there EDH players.

I decided to reattempt the Great EDH Challenge. This challenge entails making an EDH deck of each color combination, 32 decks in total. I aggressively pursued this challenge several years ago, but was never satisfied with the unofficial 4-color options of the time; the Nephilim. But with the C16 Commanders, and their accompanying Partners, I can rightfully complete the challenge.

I will be spending several posts going through the decks I have chosen to create to complete the challenge. This is the ultimate challenge in deck creativity and expression for me, so I look forward to going through my decklists. Deck construction is perhaps my favorite thing about MtG, perhaps even more than playing the game! In any case, this is the list of decks, to be updated upon their completion:

Colorless: Ulamog Rocks

Mono Color
White: Mangara’s Enchanted Lifegain
Blue: Memnarch C&C (Control and Combo)
Black: Sidisi Ad Nauseum
Red: Rograkh/Jeska Voltron
Green: Sekki Spirits

Allied Pairs
Azorius: Raff Superfriends (Teferi Tribal)
Dimir: Silas/Keskit Artifacts
Rakdos: Kaervek Hazard
Gruul: Gallia Satyrs
Selesnya: Saffi Reanimator Combo

Enemy Pairs
Orzhov: Vishkal Aristocrats
Izzet: Aegar’s Giant Burn
Golgari: Jarad Reanimator Toolbox
Boros: Gerrard Sunrise
Simic: Kumena Merfolk

Esper: Sen Triplets Theft
Grixis: Solkanar Demons
Jund: Lord Windgrace Land Destruction
Naya: Samut Anthems
Bant: Derevi Stax

Mardu: Kelsien Human Equipment Deathtouch Pingers
RUG: Maelstrom Wanderer Stompy Ramp
Abzan: Kethis Black People
Jeskai: Gavi Cycling
BUG: Volrath Infect

4 Color
Glint-Eye: Max/Eleven Girl Power
Yore-Tiller: Breya Goodstuff
Witch-Maw: Atraxa Charge Counters
Ink-Treader: Kynaios and Tiro Group-hug
Dune-Brood: Saskia Soldiers

5-Color: The First Sliversss

I look forward to sharing and discussing these fun decks with all of you!