The Great EDH Challenge: RUG – Rampy Stompy Maelstrom Wanderer

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/rampy-stompy-maelstrom-wanderer/


Power Level: 5

One of the first commander decks that I went up against was a Maelstrom Wanderer deck. All it did was ramp into Maelstrom Wanderer, who then cascaded into big, powerful creatures. That deck was deceptively powerful, and won almost every game it was a part of. I hated it with a passion for years, since I mainly played mono-blue decks with little to no creatures. Well, that was long ago and far away. Now I know who freakin’ fun it is to play the big ole cascading crab!

This deck is very easy to play. You simply play lands, ramp spells if you have them, and then play Maelstrom Wanderer. If you have good creatures to play before you can cast him, then play them! All of our creatures are good, and most of them make great offensive threats. Why do we prioritize casting Maelstrom Wanderer whenever we have the mana to, you ask? Well, not only does he usually get us two stompy threats onto the battlefield for free, but he also gives all of our creatures haste, including himself! I can’t tell you how many games that I have played when I cast Maelstrom, get creatures like Pathbreaker Ibex and Siege Behemoth, and proceed to kill a player who asks “Wait, how do they have haste!?”.

And if Maelstrom Wanderer dies, no problem. You want to recast him, so he can quickly build your board up with more threats! You will most definitely have the mana to recast him 90% of the time.

So our deck is primarily split between ramp spells and big creature spells. Casting mana-efficient ramp cards like Farseek and Three Wishes pushes us towards Maelstrom Wanderer quickly and stealthily. Cards like Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma and Ashaya, Soul of the Wild serve as both rampy and stompy cards. We have a few such dual-purpose creatures. Our most powerful rampy/stompy creatures in the deck are probably Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient and Nyxbloom Ancient. Klauth is just…busted. I couldn’t believe when I saw his textbox. He can easily make 40+ mana in any combination of colors from a single combat. And well, everyone knows that the triple-mana Nyxbloom is uber-strong.

Despite this deck being focused on ramping and stomping, there is a large amount of disruption in it. Some of our creatures, such as Phyrexian Ingester and Kogla, the Titan Ape let us get rid of problematic creatures when they ETB. Other creatures like World Breaker and Bane of Bala Ged give us repeatable ways to remove our opponents’ threats. We have a few more traditional spells to interact with our opponents, like Force of Vigor and the classic Aether Gale. But for the most part, our badass creatures are more than enough to mess with our opponents’ game-plans.

Koma, Cosmos Serpent can literally lock certain opponents out of the game by tapping down their lands and even shutting down their planeswalkers on their upkeep. And yeah, I put one of the most toxic creatures in EDH in my deck…Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger. He doubles our mana and ices over our opponents’ lands when they use them. I can’t even cascade into him, since he is eight mana. He is, at worst, a spiteful pet card. And hey, let’s not forget about the most destructive green creature in EDH, Bane of Progress. He usually comes down and destroys 6+ permanents, significantly altering the course of the game. I call him the most powerful green creature of EDH, since the format is so artifact-heavy.

This deck is STRONG. It may not look like it on paper, but when you play it, you will be blown away by how easy it is to win. There is no need for grand strategizing or politics. You simply play your cards, play your commander, and run over your opponents. It really is that simple. If ramping into beaters appeals to you, then this is definitely the deck for you.

The Great EDH Challenge: Jeskai – Gavi’s Cycling Nest of Tokens

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/gavis-cycling-nest-of-tokens/


Power Level: 4.7

So when I saw a commander with a name so similar to my own, I had to make her. (My name is Gavin)

Gavi revolves around cycling, drawing at least 2 cards each turn, and making tokens. Hence, this is a cycling deck with a token subtheme. You’ll feel awesome when you have a hand full of cycling cards with Gavi out. You’ll feel hopeless when you have no cards with cycling in your hand when she’s out. It can be…a very bipolar experience.

This deck is fairly close to the original precon, so I will be careful not to call it completely original. Don’t worry, this is the only deck in my challenge that is close to an existing precon. What can I say; they jam-packed the original precon with a lot of great cycling synergies. The modifications I made are a mixture of toxic and value. Cards like Containment Construct and Nezahal, Primal Tide are amazing value adds, while cards like Decree of Silence and Decree of Annihilation are just…the epitome of toxic. As I said, this deck provides quintessential bipolar gameplay.

We spend the first 5 turns setting up value engines, and ramping to Gavi if we are fortunate to draw mana rocks in our opening hand. An early Fluctuator or Teferi’s Ageless Insight makes our cycling easy and extra effective. Once Gavi is out, we start cycling to success. For long-term survivability, we only cycle to ensure that we are drawing two cards on EACH turn, if possible. We want as many Cat Dinosaurs as we can get, since they block well and attack well. Speaking of tokens, we can make a variety of them.

Ominous Seas and Hoofprints of the Stag provide passive ways for us to turn draws into powerful tokens. 8/8s and flying 4/4s excel at killing opponents, and we make them pretty easily in this deck with our constant cycling and wheeling. Valiant Rescuer and Akim, the Soaring Wind give us additional 1/1s each turn, though Akim’s six-mana ability is often just too costly to be utilized. Anointed Procession doubles our tokens, which is especially powerful when paired with one of our best token generators, the almighty Shark Typhoon.

If you don’t want to win via the slow grind of making tokens to attack with, we have two alternative win conditions that our oftentimes my main ways to victory. Psychosis Crawler and Brallin, Skyshark Rider   work as a lethal pair to allow us to kill our opponents simply by cycling and wheeling through our deck. New Perspectives makes that game-plan trivially easy. Approach of the Second Sun wins us the game when we cast it twice. It is especially great in our deck, as we can often dig to it by our next turn.

If you have cleared the board of major threats and have a value engine setup, you can lock your opponents out of the game using the Decree of Silence/Solemnity combo. It counters all of your opponents’ spells, which is oftentimes enough to make players scoop on the spot. Well, that and blowing up all lands with a Decree of Annihilation cycled for free. This is especially funny when you have a Herald of the Forgotten on the stack when you cycle it, since it will get back some of your lands. I love that big cat; it oftentimes turns the game around for us.

There is a lot of interaction in this deck. Interestingly, a bit of it can be played for free with Gavi out. Dismantling Wave clears the board of artifacts and enchantments when it is cycled, and Nimble Obstructionist can stop a game-winning ability from resolving when it is cycled. Winds of Abandon is my favorite board wipe for aggressive decks, as it clears the way for you to swing for lethal against your opponents’ big board states. Flame Blitz is funny, as it just says no to keeping planeswalkers on the field. We don’t mind, since we only run Chandra, Flamecaller, who can act as a board wipe herself.

This deck may have a few powerful cards in it, but it still isn’t much more powerful than the precon. Blowing up lands and countering all your opponents spells sounds funny, but it isn’t usually a surefire way to win. That is especially true when you can’t reliably tutor for those effects. This is a fun deck to play if you enjoy building up value engines that synergize with drawing cards. Think of it as being a loving mother who watches her kids multiply as she feeds them yummy draws, in the form of cycling and wheels. Just remember to protect your nest.

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!