The Great EDH Challenge: Abzan – Kethis Black People

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/kethis-black-people


Power Level: 6.5

Yes, I know that there aren’t actual “Black” people in MtG, but I did it. This is a deck featuring dark-skinned characters, many of which are legendary. And hey, there is one actual Black person in the deck; Michonne, Ruthless Survivor!

The rule is if the creature or creatures are humanoid, there has to be a dark-skinned person featured prominently within the card art. In regards to that rule, there are two cards that some may be a bit torn about. Ob Nixilis Reignited in his Secret Lair art looks pretty black, especially when you look at his facial features, though I know that he was portrayed as a white character when he was human. Captain Sisay is quite the redbone, and many I have played with don’t see her as dark-skinned persay, but she is too good to pass up in this deck. Heck, she is Jamuraan, which is basically Dominaria’s Africa, so yeah.

This deck plays much like a precon; we simply play our cards and hope that we can win somehow. There aren’t any obvious combos or anything that high-powered, just a bunch of random cards that are a mix of interaction, value, and threats. Humorously enough, the most powerful card in the deck is probably Peacekeeper. There have been numerous games in which she has effectively stopped all combat for 10+ turns, simply because my opponents couldn’t find a way to get rid of her simple 1/1 body. She can really help us build up our board state without fear of being overwhelmed by our opponents. And hey, we can always sac her on our upkeep so that _we _can then attack.

There are many planeswalkers in this deck, and they tend to put in a great deal of work. Kaya the Inexorable both protects our creatures (such as Peacekeeper) and removes problem nonland permanents. Her ult is stellar in our legends-matter deck, and can be gotten too relatively quickly. Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate is a house who just does it all. She can tutor up creatures (such as Peacekeeper) onto the battlefield, and also make versatile 3/3’s that can be defensive and offensive threats. Kaya, Ghost Assassin can practically o-ring a commander each turn, essentially eliminating commander-dependent decks.

This deck mainly wins by assembling a board of sheer value, then overrunning our opponents. Our planeswalkers definitely help with that, but there are other ways to do so in our deck. Mangara, the Diplomat is phenomenal card draw, especially in the mid-to-late game. Sarulf, Realm Eater is removal-on-a-stick, especially against tokens. Crovax, Ascendant HeroAscendant Evincar, and Kaervek, the Spiteful are all mini Elesh Norns that can hose many go-wide decks.

All in all, this is an original deck that offers a more casual form of play. I always get humorous comments and compliments on this one, mainly because of its silly gimmick. It also harkens back to a day when people made EDH decks to show off their style, not so much their winning ability. Though I must admit, this deck is deceptively powerful, despite being a themed deck. I know many won’t put this together and play it, as it is admittedly jank-city, but I appreciate anyone who can look it over and appreciate what I tried to do. 😀

The Great EDH Challenge: Jund – Lord Windgrace’s Ruination

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/lord-windgraces-ruination/


Power Level: 6.25

There is no sugar-coating it; this is a MLD deck. For those who don’t know, MLD stands for Mass Land Destruction. The purpose of this deck is to continuously destroy all lands throughout the game, while recovering our own lands with our commander Lord Windgrace. His ability to get two lands back from our graveyard to the battlefield UNTAPPED is just begging to abused. Not only that, but he synergizes wonderfully with the best MLD cards such as Obliterate and Jokulhaups, because he is unaffected by them. Being a Planeswalker commander makes him especially powerful, and there is a minor super-friends theme to the deck.

So, blowing up lands is not going to make you any friends. I love doing it, but there are real ramifications to doing so. You can lose friends playing this archetypes. Heck, be prepared to close the door on potential friends if you sit down with strangers and use a MLD deck. If you are playing with old-school MTG players who used to jam Armageddon in Type-2, then you won’t get many complaints. Newer MTG players haven’t had to deal with MLD archetypes very much, so they are especially pissed off when they get their lands destroyed. In my opinion, discovering players who will not scoop after a Decree of Annihilation while you have a Planeswalker out makes it all worth it. Those sorts of players are the sort of people you want as friends, because they’ll stick around during hard times. ♥

If you are still okay with playing MLD after reading that, then let’s get into the finer details of the deck. This deck tends to spend the first four turns ramping, ironically enough. Birds of Paradise into Sakura-Tribe Elder into Harrow is always fun in a green deck. We tend to play our commander on turn five, mainly because our MLD cards become symmetrical without him. We run several creatures to help defend him, such as Geode Rager and Multani, Yavimaya’s AvatarSandwurm Convergence is a great way to protect our green deck from flyers, while also creating tokens to further protect Lord Windgrace from ground threats. It is also an enchantment, which evades our board wipes. Constant Mists works as a great repeatable way to protect ourselves and our walkers from pesky combat damage, especially since we can recur the lands we sac.

I recommend having at least two value-generating permanents out when we decide to blow up everything. Planeswalkers and Enchantments dodge our boardwipes, so these are the two to focus on. Abundance seems harmless to most opponents, but is a great way to refill our hands with lands after a Boom / BustThe Mending of Dominaria gets our lands out of the graveyard eventually, and is a surefire way to especially piss people off if you blow up all the lands with this saga out. Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter can steal lands he exiles from opponents, while Wrenn and Seven digs for lands we may not have in our hands.

There is a Lands subtheme to the deck, though this deck does lean pretty fully into the MLD theme. Repeatable Dark Depths tokens with Thespian Stage can be made slowly with recursive cards like Crucible of Worlds and our commander. Evolution Sage let’s us turbo-charge our Planeswalkers with its bonkers landfall-proliferate ability. I have won this way a few times. Field of the Dead can make many zombies when we aren’t blowing up lands (duh), and The Gitrog Monster can draw us a lot of cards when we are destroying or sacrificing lands (also duh).

This deck tends to win mainly by making opponents tap out of the game of endurance it forces. Destroying all lands multiple times during a game wears on people pretty quickly, especially when we don’t seem that badly affected by it. Despite that, we can still win through more conventional means, such as through attack with big dumb creatures and directly dealing damage with Seismic Assault.

This may not seem like a powerful deck, but I win with it pretty consistently. It is deceptively powerful, mainly because EDH is a very lands-reliant format when you aren’t playing with money-decks full of low-cost mana rocks. Just remember to let people know that you are playing Land Destruction before starting a game with them, if you want to keep or make friends while using this deck. Some men just want to watch the world burn, though. If that’s you, take this deck into a random shop and watch people curse at you for playing such a meanspirited archetype. ☻

The Great EDH Challenge: BUG – Volrath’s Infect

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/volraths-infection-1/


Power Level: 3.25

Ah, Infect. EDH players love to hate Infect. You should see the amount of panic that ensues once people realize that I have brought an infect deck to the table…

I’ve always had a soft spot for Volrath since first reading about him. He is the sort of colorful villain that makes stories worth reading. A rather despicable sort, he makes the perfect representative of the Phyrexians’ powerful keyword, Infect. It also helps that he is a 7/5 that can become a copy of an infect creature while still remaining a 7/5, hehe. The deck is mainly built around having him do just that.

There are only a handful of powerful Infect creatures worth running in Commander, as many are otherwise vanilla creatures with a slight upside. Creatures like Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon and Phyrexian Crusader are better than most, and play invaluable roles in making sure our opponents get to 10 poison counters, since they are reasonably evasive. We usually want counters to be placed on non-legendary creatures though so that Volrath gets the most value. Blighted Agent is a great low mana creature to put a +1/+1 counter on, while Spinebiter is an absolute house to utilize as a copy target in the late game. We usually use Volrath’s -1/-1 counter ability to kill one toughness creatures out opponents control, not to put on our own creatures. We use effect such as a Master Biomancer and Experiment Kraj to put more beneficial counters on our own valuable infect creatures. There aren’t many of these effects in the deck, so you may have to use Volrath’s -1/-1 counter on your own creatures to utilize his copy ability. And don’t forget; you can have Volrath become a copy of your opponents’ creatures if they have any kind of counter on them as well. This is helpful when you are playing against an especially powerful commander with abilities you could benefit from.

There is a clone subtheme to the deck that keeps it quite interesting. Cloning your opponents threats is always fun, especially if you neutralize that effect at the same time with cards like Wall of Stolen Identity. Both our Sakashima creatures allow us to make more Volraths, increasing both his ability to whittle away at our opponents weak creatures AND put pressure on our opponents. Remember, a 7/5 commander only has to hit 3 times for it to kill an opponent with commander damage. There are also effects that aid us in killing with even minimal infect on our opponents, such as Proliferate. Contagion Engine is a powerful threat when our opponents have any poison counters on them, even allowing us to degen their creatures at the same time. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider is a bit of a win-more card that doubles the amount of poison counters we give to our opponents. Giving him Infect with Grafted Exoskeleton can definitely kill an opponent, and is quite flavorful!

Being BUG, we have to run plenty of removal. And hey, there is plenty of fun removal in Golgari colors. Culling Ritual has been a blast to play with since its release. This card really punishes efficient decks, destroying their mana rocks and dorks while ramping us into Volrath most of the time. Soul Shatter is a great threat hoser, since it deals with each opponent’s biggest creature or planeswalker at once. Languish is a great mid-game boardwipe that doesn’t kill Volrath, and Maelstrom Pulse is incredibly versatile, albeit at sorcery speed. Corrupted Conscience just takes an opponent’s creature, usually their commander, and gives it infect! Some of my favorite games with this deck were when I killed an opponent with infect using their own commander.

As you can probably tell, this deck is a bit all over the place. Mixing Infect with Clone effects may seem strange, but it provides us to nearly double the amount of good infect creatures in our deck. And if the infect plan doesn’t work out, we can always use our opponents’ creatures as a way to beat them. And lastly, be mindful that despite this being an oft-feared Infect deck, it really is only about as powerful as an average Commander precon. With a few tutors and more draw power, it could be a lot more powerful. But I’m happy with my sole Infect deck being a bit underpowered. It makes most of the people I play with rethink their fear of the archetype!

The Great EDH Challenge: Esper – Sen Triplets: Masters of Your Mind

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/21-01-22-masters-of-your-mind/


Power Level: 6.56

Esper is my favorite color combination. The lore of the shard, the art direction they took with it…it all really wowed me. What especially wowed me was the etherium-laced humans that inhabited Esper. Whatever the opposite of “body horror” is, that’s what I felt when I saw them. I was captivated by the idea of such filigree beings. Cards like Master Transmuter and Filigree Sages enthralled me with their unique beauty. But the card that I fell in love with the most was Sen Triplets. I love everything about their card, down to the flavor text. After all, They are the masters of your mind.

This is a theft deck, themed after the Sen Triplets’ signature ability. We take pretty much every card type from our opponents, whether they be lands, sorceries, or whatever. I tried to keep a cliché Esper control theme going as well, so we have plenty of interaction. In the early game, we want to ramp using our talismans and other assorted rocks so we can play our mana-heavy theft effects early. Cards like Praetor’s Grasp and Mnemonic Betrayal are efficient theft cards, and are normally used to steal things like Sol Ring and other value pieces from our opponents. But the haymakers in the deck are costly, such as Blatant Thievery and Expropriate. These cards can usually win you the game, or put you so far ahead that your opponents scoop. Agent of Treachery is probably the best creature in the deck, since it is usually drawing us three cards each end step by the time it is played.

Never play Sen Triplets unless you can protect them. They are a kill-on-sight commander if you are playing with competent opponents, so you will need cards like Lightning Greaves and Fierce Guardianship to make sure they stick around for your next upkeep. Once they stick, the Sen Triplets warp the game around them. Our opponents will crap out their hands just to avoid having their cards stolen by us. Just be mindful that the Sen Triplets is an older card, so it doesn’t have that ubiquitous text of modern-day theft effects; “You may spend mana as though it were any color to cast that spell”. You will need the colors of mana of the card you want to cast from your opponent’s hand, so prioritize choosing opponents who are in your color first.

This is a pretty mean deck, and most people will not want to play against it if they are aware of what the Sen Triplets do. That doesn’t change the fact that this is a fun deck to play, though. Maybe it is the sadist in me, but I take such delight in playing theft effects. If you do as well, then this is definitely the deck for you. You can win with your opponents’ threats, which is always interesting!

The Great EDH Challenge: Dimir – Silas & Keskit Take Turns

Decklist : https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/silas-keskit-take-turns/?cb=1624308316


Power Level: 9

So, this is basically a Time Sieve deck with plenty of interaction and ramp. The goal of the deck is to assemble a Time Sieve combo that allows us to take enough extra turns to win. Time Sieve is my favorite non-creature artifact, so I’ve always wanted to build around it in EDH.

Silas and Keskit are at the helm due to their sheer utility. Silas Renn, Seeker Adept lets me recast useful artifacts that have probably been destroyed by my opponents or sacrificed by myself. Sometimes he is just a good blocker too, haha. Keskit, the Flesh Sculptor lets me dig three cards deep to find key combo pieces and interaction. He often sits there to sac things that my opponents are about to destroy. Sometimes I cast Keskit when I’m desperate to find something integral in the late game, or when I find myself with a board full of mana rocks and not much else. These two synergize very well together, though Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator might be a good replacement for either if mana acceleration is more your style.

There are numerous combos in this deck, as usual for me. Combining powerful, synergistic artifacts with versatile tutors makes for a very powerful, consistent deck. However, if you wish to simply play a long game with more casual friends, the deck can be played as more of a toolbox, slowly assembling value engines as you interact with your opponents. A few of the combos:

Chromatic Orrery Filigree Sages = Infinite Mana and Unlimited Draw

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

Thopter Foundry triggering on Upkeep then recasting it on Main Phase + Time Sieve = Infinite Turns

Silas Renn, Seeker Adept dealing combat damage + Myr Battlesphere in your graveyard and the mana to cast it + Time Sieve = Enough Turns to Kill Opponents with no blockers

It is also important to note that this isn’t just an Artifact deck, but a Creature deck as well. We use creatures to tutor, interact, and ramp. We have the full Tutor Mage suite here, getting us our most useful artifacts at all CMCs other than 4, haha. Creatures like Duplicant and Meteor Golem act as premium, repeatable sources of removal. Master Transmuter is a classic favorite, letting us cheat expensive artifacts into play while simultaneously saving others. Chief Engineer Grand Architect , and Etherium Sculptor are excellent forms of artifact ramp. Vedalken Archmage acts as card advantage dynamite in our deck, while Muzzio, Visionary Architect gives us hilarious card selection in the mid and late game.

I love this deck, because it has almost all of my favorite artifacts and artifact interactions. It even has the three best Tezzerets in it! Despite it’s Time Sieve theme, there are many ways to play it, and each game tends to feel fresh.

Ah we finally made it through the 2-color commanders! Next time, we’ll be bumping up the complexity (and the jank!) a bit with my 3-color commander decks!

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

Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/sidisis-ad-nauseam/


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. 😀

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.

Western Traditionalism / Gay & Black

I was recently called a “Black Caucasian” by a guy online, when I told him that I identified more with “Western culture” than with “Black culture.” I laughed, because I’ve been called various things like this since I was 4 years old, such as “Oreo” and “White-Wannabe.” I suppose much of it stems from the fact that my internal vision of myself was that of a white guy when I was a kid. It was a way for me to cope with some severe bullying I experienced from several groups of black kids as I was going through high school. They bullied me because they didn’t think I was “black enough”, so I mentally distanced myself from my own physical appearance, as weird as that sounds. So for the first 18 years of my life, I really did feel like I was a white person, at least mentally.

Because I didn’t have much of a connection with my majority-black heritage, I lacked much of the culture that other black people had, such as a need to act tough and listen to rap. I was instead bookish, always wanting to learn about history and science. At an early age, I saw myself as a junior classicist, reading the works of Aristotle and Socrates, Homer and Sophocles. With an understanding of the building blocks of western civilization, I gained a greater appreciation of it, and sought to learn how all the pieces of society fit together. By the time I was in high school, I had a pretty good idea, and I felt justified in my abandonment of “black culture.” In my mind, I was rooted in a far greater tradition, not one founded on slavery and the oppression it brought about. I did not want to confront that aspect of my heritage, and instead saw the slavery of my ancestors as an “opportunity” for me, and the other blacks who were eventually freed from their chains and allowed a seat at the table of American civic life. To this day, that is my primary viewpoint, that Western Civilization afforded me a wealth of knowledge and understanding, despite the unfairness of slavery in its past, and racial inequality that still exists today. I could understand that no matter what society a person lives in, there will always be hierarchies that form, that will always create inequalities of power.

I came to terms with my homosexuality in high school, which complicated my ideologies for a time. I’d been a believer in traditional values, like chivalry, marriage and family, as well as a belief in God. But when I began to be open about my sexuality, I was told by most of the people around me that these values were incompatible with being homosexual. I was told that homosexuals couldn’t marry and have real families. I was told that homosexuals were all sluts, and that dating and romance were not possible between two highly-sexual men. I was told that homosexuals could not be Christian, because God decreed the homosexual act to be sinful. The society at large hammered me with these facts, especially since I belonged to a conservative community. I saw myself as a conservative, yet wanted to live a homosexual life with a loving husband someday. I chose to abandon my values, and sunk into a period in my late teens and early twenties where I was both promiscuous and an atheist.

It took me several years, but eventually, I was able to gain an understanding that my values were indeed compatible with my sexual orientation. I reshaped my worldview, and gained a greater confidence in my own sense of what was actually right, and what other people said was right. I found that there were other homosexual men who wanted to court and marry. The government then made gay marriage legal, making it a reality in my mind, not something I would only have to do ceremonially. And I found Christian churches that accepted homosexuals not only as worshipers, but ordained priests as well. My relationship with Christ and Christianity has evolved much since I was a teenager, but I have been able to regain a love of Jesus Christ through understanding that he was a kind, understanding man living in a time where homosexuality seemed equivalent to “exploitative pederasty”, and he would surely not condemn a man to hell for loving another man who is capable of loving him as well.

So today, the label that best suits me is that of a Western Traditionalist, with a homosexual spin. I believe in the classical ideals of order, virtue, moderation, and individualism, grounded in a divine morality that exists beyond humanity. I believe that family is the pillar of society, whether that family have a mother and father, 2 fathers, or 2 mothers. I believe that a belief in God combined with a strong religious tradition gives an individual the strength and framework to overcome any challenge, and practice a morality that isn’t changed or discarded on a whim.

And lastly, I believe that race is secondary to culture as far as behavior is concerned, and that we as human beings must see each other as individuals independent of our immutable physical traits. Any member of any race can attain a culture that lifts them out of the violence, ignorance, and irresponsibility of a different culture. I am an example of that reality.