The Great EDH Challenge: Abzan – 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: Bant – Derevi’s Evasive Stax


Power Level: 6.2

I used to hate Derevi. I used to think that she deserved to be banned. Having the ability to always pay only 4 mana to put her onto the battlefield from the command zone at instant speed infuriated me. I thought that she violated the spirit of EDH, and that her insane value eclipsed all other commanders. She was the advent of the end of “EDH”, and the dawn of this corporatized version then officially dubbed “Commander”.

Then I built a Derevi deck.

So this deck is not as powerful as many of the Derevi decks I’ve seen over the years. It is a stax deck, so it is definitely still annoying to play. However, it always feels a tad bit slow and janky, so I think I have reached a casual-compromise, if that is possible with such a powerful commander. This deck plays a mix of evasive and value-generating creatures to put pressure on opponents. We hopefully lock our opponents out of playing a normal game by assembling a lock with combos like Heliod, God of the SunStasis, and plenty of evasive creatures while Derevi is out. It is a simple mission, and one that I have rarely actually achieved with this deck.

This deck tends to durdle a bit, not having the tutors and sheer draw necessary to get the pieces we need consistently. This is intentional, as a consistent Derevi Stax deck is hell on earth. This deck takes it easy for the first several turns, as you play your unblockable, otherwise vanilla one-drops like Triton Shorestalker. We essentially slowly begin locking down the game and changing its rules by the middle of the game, playing cards like Hokori, Dust Drinker and the always-hated Static Orb. With Derevi out, we break stax parity with our opponents by using our attacking creatures to untap our own mana sources while sometimes tapping down our opponents’. This strategy is only good with cards like Brave the Sands out, which gives all of our creatures vigilance.

I leaned much more heavily into the blue/green side of things with this deck, enjoying the value Simic tends to generate. Cards like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Oko, Thief of Crowns generate a ton of value all on their own. Speaking of Oko, we have a planeswalker subtheme, running powerful walkers like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Tamiyo, Field Researcher to further outvalue our opponents. Since our deck is full of creatures, we oftentimes have little trouble protecting our planeswalkers. And hey, planeswalkers are pretty much unaffected by stax cards, making them even more powerful in breaking stax symmetry with our opponents. And speaking of cards that break symmetry, Narset, Parter of Veils is the definition of that concept.

I made this deck because I wanted to challenge my assumptions about the power level of certain cards. If anything, this deck has helped show me that it’s more about how you play certain cards that decide whether they are toxic or not.

This deck is what I’d like to call a “casual stax” deck, lacking many of the pieces that could make it far more powerful. I guess Derevi’s reputation has waned over the years, as I am rarely if ever complained to about running her. She tends to be a small bird that helps my creatures untap lands when they hit my opponents. Not very threatening sounding, is it? Well, looks can be deceiving.

The Great EDH Challenge: Izzet – Aegar’s Giant Burn


Power Level: 4

I’d always wanted a Giant deck, but none of the Giant commanders really moved me. Then Aegar appeared recently, and I fell in love. I used to have a Keranos burn deck, but it felt clunky, and the commander wasn’t all that synergistic with what I wanted to do. Aegar incentivizes all my damage-based removal, and even synergizes with the X-based removal scaling over the course of the game. I didn’t have to make that many changes to the original UR burn deck; I just added a bunch of Giants!

Every nonland card in this deck can deal damage, whether it be the bird from Swan Song , the birds from Alrund’s Epiphany , the creatures, or from a classic Lightning Bolt . Being a damage-dealing deck, aka Burn, we can win through direct damage to our opponents. Spells like Comet Storm and Giant’s Ire usually end up finishing off low-life opponents. However, we put the most pressure on life totals by attacking with our high-powered Giants (and a few useful Wizards, too).

Our Giants have a lot of synergy. Calamity Bearer is a damage-doubler for a third of our deck, even for our upkeep-pinging Quakebringer Sunrise Sovereign remedies the problem of our powerful Giants not having trample, while Cyclone Summoner can clear the board of blockers completely (most of the time). Giants like Hammerfist Giant Magma Giant and Thundercloud Shaman double as removal, potentially being one-sided boardwipes. This includes my favorite Giant, Bloodfire Colossus , who sacs himself to deal 6 to everything!

We refill our hand pretty easily in this deck. For 3+ mana, we play Aegar, and then wipe the board with spells like Blasphemous Act . For each of our opponents’ creatures we deal excess damage to, we draw a card. It is important to save our high-damage boardwipes for boards full of creatures, so that we aren’t killing Aegar just to draw a few cards. Yup, most of these boardwipes will result in Aegar dying, so be mindful of that. Think of Aegar as “Sac, 5 mana (For the Board Wipe): Draw 7 cards”. There will be times when we are picking off our opponents’ commanders every other turn and drawing a card each time, but that doesn’t happen as often as you might hope.

This is a fun, yet powerful casual deck that swings big creatures while burning our opponents and their creatures. We find it difficult to remove non-creature threats, so save the few counterspells we have to deal with powerful enchantments and game-winning instants and/or sorceries. If your friends only have precons, this deck is a great choice to offer them a challenge while not overwhelming them. Quite an accomplishment for a Johnny like me. 🙂