The Great EDH Challenge: Rakdos – Kaervek’s Merciless Enchantments

Kaervek, the Merciless


Power Level: 5.75

This is a typical Rakdos “Hazard” deck, where I play a bunch of permanents whose purpose is to slowly and passively damage and drain players of their life totals. I simply play nasty things, and watch as my opponents (and sometimes myself) die from playing the game. It just so happens that most of these permanents are enchantments, making this a weird Rakdos enchantress deck.

Kaervek the Merciless is a vicious, hateful, high-cmc creature that damages any target I choose when an opponent casts a spell, based on that spells cmc. Most people I’ve played with are always shocked by his ability, especially when I use it to kill their own commanders, even their planeswalkers. He is the finisher of this deck, what I play when I have no useful cards in hand and plenty of mana. He allows me to team up with my opponents to take down a problematic creature, planeswalker, or player; by simply having those opponents cast their spells.

There are many “mean” cards in the deck, that target certain players for extra cruelty. Rakdos’s Return is probably my favorite B/R card, and is usually my way for punishing a player for coming at me too hard. “Discard your hand and take X damage.” is what I say cooly as I cast it, followed by a gleeful chuckle. Mind Shatter accomplishes the hand hate angle as well. Captive Audience is a slow burn mean card, that usually spells the end for the player it enchants. Sorin Markov makes someone’s life total 10, which is usually merciless in a 40-life format. Thought Distortion is especially funny to play against a control player. And finally, most people new to the deck are shocked by Head Games. This cards lets me either king-make by giving someone a perfect hand for victory, or a hand full of lands. I usually choose the latter.

Death Cloud always pisses everyone off, as it is mass land destruction, hand hate, board wipe, and loss of life; all in one convenient package. It is the most hateful card in the deck.

As a Johnny (combo-player), I had to put an infinite combo in the deck. This one is a classic in Black/Red, and can be tutored for in it’s entirety with Final Parting.

Worldgorger Dragon in the graveyard + Animate Dead = Infinite Leaving/Entering the Battlefield of all your permanents.

This combo allows us to do a variety of things, such as make infinite mana for spells like Torment of Hailfire, gain infinite life with Bloodfell Caves, or draw most of my deck with Coveted Jewel.

This deck has a lot of fun pieces to it, and it lets me get my mean-spiritedness out of my system. However, it is a pretty bad deck. Many times I have gotten so low myself that I wind up dying to my own pieces. Also, it takes a long time to play my many costly spells and permanents. I take this deck out when I want to be casual, while passively affecting the game the whole way through.

I sometimes swap the commander out between 2 others:

Tsabo Tavoc when I want to be especially casual, and Xantcha, Sleeper Agent when I didn’t have a chance to play Kaervek in the previous game.

The Great EDH Challenge: Blue – Memnarch Control Combo



Power Level: 11.75

This is my pride and joy, the deck that best represents my passion for Magic the Gathering. Memnarch was the first foil legendary creature I drew, and remains my favorite character in the lore.

What’s easier than having an awesome mana sink that’s always available to you? Just make infinite mana and take all their stuff. ControlCard Draw, and Tutoring helps you get there, since you have to get your combo pieces and survive along the way. Counterspells are notoriously difficult to play in a game consisting of 3+ people, especially in a format as threat-rich as EDH. It is vitally important for me to keep my counterspells to either protect my own combo, or prevent other people from making a game-winning play. The sheer density of tutors that this deck possesses allows it to assemble combos with ease. The density of fast mana accelerates my gameplan, letting me do a lot of things early in the game.

This deck is a significant threat at all stages of the game, and most people who sit down with me realize how toxic Memnarch can be once they realize that he can permanently gain control of any permanent. I usually only cast Memnarch under two circumstances; when I have infinite mana, or when I need to put pressure on the board while I work on getting my combo together. Memnarch is a “Kill-on-sight” commander, and it is normal for people to hold up removal just to kill him when I play him. This deck is very rough to play when I’m not in the mood to get focused down, but it can be very rewarding when I unleash an easy two-card combo to make infinite mana and win the game. It is also fun when I set up a toxic board-state that allows me to steal multiple permanents each turn, such as having Unwinding Clock and Memnarch out with plenty of rocks. My opponents will usually scoop when they hear “On your upkeep, I’ll take two of your lands” multiple times. Fewer things bring me as much joy as taking my opponents’ lands!

This deck has quite a few number of game-winning combos. Here are the most relevant:

Chromatic Orrery + Filigree Sages = Infinite Mana and Unlimited Draw

Grand Architect + Pili-Pala = Infinite Mana

Grim Monolith/Basalt Monolith + Power Artifact + Walking Ballista = Infinite Colorless Mana and Infinite Damage

Etherium Sculptor + Sensei’s Divining Top + Mystic Forge = Unlimited Draw

Isochron Scepter + Dramatic Reversal + Gilded Lotus/Rocks that Produce 3+ Mana = Infinite Mana

I seldom play this deck, mainly because my friends refer to this as a toxic deck. Many of my friends refused to get what they call “Memnarched”, as no one likes having their permanents (especially their lands) stolen. I do tend to win relatively easy against low-interaction, slow decks, which are the majority of commander decks out there it seems. It may seem powerful, but having minimal access to boardwipes and permanent removal makes this deck very vulnerable to aggro and go-wide strategies. Also, mono-green really has fun crapping all over this deck, as a well-timed Bane of Progress usually destroys my entire board. Despite all of that, I love playing this deck, even if it is a constant struggle just to stay alive during a game! đŸ˜€

The Great EDH Challenge: Black – Sidisi’s Ad-Nauseam

Sidisi, Undead Vizier


Power Level: 8.05

This is the deck you pull out when you want to win in a shocking and unexpected way. This deck is a glass cannon, winning pretty consistently, pretty early, but only when playing it for the first time against unsuspecting prey. This deck can win subsequent games, but it will become increasingly difficult. What makes this deck this way? It wins with a single card: Ad Nauseam

Ad Nauseam is an instant that allows us to draw our entire deck, for the low cost of 5 mana and 35 life. Yes, the total CMC of our deck (minus Ad Nauseam) is around 35. Keeping our life total above 20 is important before casting Ad Nauseam, so that we can utilize our all-or-nothing package to win without dying to our own win condition.

In order to win, we first get Ad Nauseam by casting and exploiting Sidisi, Undead Vizier to herself. We will try and avoid casting any spells other than Sidisi if we can help it before we cast Ad Nauseam, unless we are ramping up to an early Sidisi/Ad Nauseam. We then cast Ad Nauseam on our turn, at sorcery speed. Draw as many cards as you can, as long as your life total is above 5. Ensure that you at least have Skirge FamiliarDark RitualLotus PetalMana CryptExsanguinate, and 40+ cards in your hand. This is the easiest combo to win with, that doesn’t also kill you. Many first-time observers/opponents of this deck will be amazed at how you use Skirge Familiar to generate 40+ mana, or how you draw your deck (or most of it) while still being alive afterwards.

Other ways you can win include storming-off with zero-drops and one-drops, casting Tendrils of Agony to kill someone and gaining 40+ life, using Conjurer’s Bauble to put Tendrils back into your empty library, draw it, then cast it again to kill someone else, then cast Sickening Dreams to kill off the last remaining players while still surviving with your padded life total. Or, you could just draw your deck, play Glacial Chasm, then cast Sickening Dreams, discarding 60+ cards to deal 60+ damage to each creature and player other than yourself. There are…multiple options once you draw your deck. đŸ˜€

This is a deck I wanted to build for years, and finally did so thanks to my recommitment to completing The Great EDH Challenge. This deck is very fun to play, especially when you get a turn 3 Ad Nauseam using Lake of the Dead shenanigans combined with fast mana. It’s always funny to see people’s response to this weird deck, ranging from salt to genuine amazement. This deck really highlights how crazy powerful EDH can be, or perhaps just how busted Ad Nauseam is when you have a tutor for it in the command zone.