The Great EDH Challenge: Mardu – Kelsien Human Equipment Deathtouch Pingers


Power Level: 6.5

Hey there, it’s been a while! I am finally playing EDH again, thank goodness! I will be back to writing a new deck article at least once a month again, hopefully!

The title is a mouthful, but it best describes the smorgasbord of stuff in this deck. You wouldn’t think such an “eclectic” mix of themes would mesh well together, but they actually do! This is a dynamic, powerful deck that assembles all sorts of pieces to gain a firm grip over the battlefield at all stages of the game.

Typically, this deck plays Kelsien as soon as possible, gives him deathtouch in a myriad of different ways, and starts attacking. It is usually best to ruthlessly go after problematic commanders shortly after they are played, so you can get the most out of Kelsien’s pinpoint removal ability. He permanently gets bigger when you do, after all. The fact that he has fast makes it hilariously easy for him to come out swinging if he gets killed. I have always had a love of hasty commanders, and Kelsien is one of the most versatile hasty boys! And hey, he was already masked up before mask mandates were being put in place!

So, let’s break down the 4 themes of the deck, and how they synergize.


The bulk of our creatures are humans. A versatile and diverse lot, this tribe is known for being able to do pretty much anything. In the case of our deck, humans serve two purposes; pingers and support. Our best pingers are humans, including Kelsien. Jeska, Warrior Adept and her brother Kamahl, Pit Fighter are hasty pingers that come out swinging or pinging. General’s Enforcer gives those three indestructible, and Riders of Gavony protects them from a specific tribal deck that we may be going against. Species Specialist rewards us for going after tribal decks (or having our own humans die), and Magus of the Wheel refills our hand. Keeper of the Accord keeps us from falling behind everyone else, as does an early game Weathered WayfarerPuresteel Paladin massively synergizes with our equipment theme, while Onyx Mage turns on our deathtouch theme. Another fun fact is that Sun Titan gets back almost all of our humans from the graveyard, including Kelsien!


This deck boasts over 12 equipment cards, and 4 of the premium swords of protection. These equipment are normally used to voltron up Kelsien, but they can be slapped onto many of our creatures if we need to go wide. Otherwise bad equipment like Gorgon’s Head and Gorgon Flail turn on our deathtouch theme when we attach them to pingers, so they play an important role. When you combine them with Thornbite Staff, you have mass creature removal on a stick. Illusionist’s Bracers sometimes allows Kelsien to get double experience counters from killing a two-toughness creature. And hey, cards like Sword of Feast and Famine are just good. Stoneforge Mystic and Stonehewer Giant are great tutors for our equipment, and Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist saves us from spending lots of mana to equip multiple things.


Lest we forget, our pingers are pretty mediocre as removal unless we give them deathtouch. Weak cards like Aspect of Gorgon and Retreat to Hagra are only useful in decks such as this. Archetype of Finality and Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats give our whole team deathtouch, which is awesome when he have 3+ pingers out. Gift of Doom is one of my favorite deathtouch-enabling cards, as it also gives indestructible, and can be one heck of a combat trick! Vorpal Sword can straight up kill someone, and Quietus Spike is pretty vicious too.


This is lowkey the most important theme of the deck to me. For me, Kelsien is pinger first, and a human second. Spreading death with toxic arrows seems to be what he is all about. He is the Plague, after all. He is what these four themes are built around, and why giving my pingers deathtouch is so important. You usually aren’t killing creatures with one damage alone, after all. Deathbringer Thoctar and Goblin Sharpshooter are board-wipes on a stick when given deathtouch, making them the ultimate plague pingers. Blood Cultist gets bigger with each creature she kills, just like Kelsien. She also lookts like a vampire, though she is a human for some reason. And hey, Death Pits of Rath turns all our pingers into instant-speed murderers, so no need to jump through extra hoops to give them deathtouch.

This deck is a lot of fun, and is also very powerful. When you combine the machinery of assembling instant-speed pinpoint removal engines with efficient tutors, you are constantly dominating the board in each game you play. This deck has little problem winning against creature decks, and can even go low to the ground to put pressure on midrange decks. This deck struggles against removal and board-wipe heavy control decks, as it is a creature deck itself. In those instances, focus on going after the control player first, so they don’t dominate you later on when you’ve already killed the non-control decks. Kelsien has haste, and stays big thanks to his experience counters, so don’t be afraid to have him kill creatures and beat faces!