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! 😀

My EDH Power Level Formula

To aid in better grading the power level of EDH decks using a 1 through 10 grading scale, I have created a handy formula that can be utilized with any deck.

or in Latex: {\frac {2} {A}}+{\frac {\frac {D} {2}+T+{\frac {R} {2}}} {2}}+{\frac {I} {20}}=P

Let’s break down what these variables mean.

A = Average CMC of the deck.

This one is rather straight-forward. The higher the Average CMC of a deck, the slower and clunkier it becomes. By having 2 divide by this value, I am increasing the number of points awarded to decks with lower CMCs, while reducing the points awarded to decks with higher CMCs.

D = Draw that either allows you to see 3 cards, or a permanent that gives you repeatable draw
Examples: Brainstorm, Howling Mine, Fact or Fiction, Phyrexian Arena

Draw is an important way to ensure that you are always able to perform actions during the course of the game. A deck with little to no draw will spend most of the time sitting around doing nothing. The value of the draw spells are just as important as their density, which is why I have restricted this value to draw that gives you more card selection, or generates value over a longer period of time. These factors ensure that you always have things to do on your turns. In graveyard decks, it may be necessary to count self-mill cards that share the same stipulations (lets you see 3 cards, and/or is a permanent with repeatable draw) as draw for this variable.

T = Tutors (with CMC 4 or less) that find combo pieces and other win conditions
Examples: Vampiric Tutor, Muddle the Mixture, Tribute Mage, Demonic Tutor

Tutors get you exactly what you want, usually when you want them. They give EDH decks a level of consistency that more casual players would say is not in the spirit of the format. Their main function in higher power levels are to attain game-winning combo pieces. The cheaper the tutor, the more likely it is that the player will be able to use the card they tutored for during the same turn. Because of this, this variable has the greatest weight of any of the other variables in grading power level.

R = Ramp cards with CMC 2 or less
Examples: Llanowar Elves, Rampant Growth, Plague Myr. Sol Ring

Ramp is a major determinant of how fast a deck will win consistently, alongside cheap tutors. The sooner a player has access to a large amount of mana, the sooner they can cast multiple spells in a turn. A game of magic is usually over when a player can cast multiple spells in a turn before their opponents can. This, of course, is more impactful in the first few turns of the game, which is why only inexpensive ramp makes the cut for this variable.

I= Interaction such as counterspells, targeted removal, board wipes, and even stax
Examples: Mana Drain, Swords to Plowshares, Damnation, Winter Orb

Interaction stops your opponents from winning the game before you do. It is vitally important, but only when there is a high density of it. Having two or three forms of interaction won’t do much to consistently answer threats during a game with 3 opponents. This reasoning is why I have this value divided by 20, to reward a high density of answers.

Stax is a very broad-ranging term that means many things to many people. In this case, I define it as cards that slow the game down significantly as their primary purpose, limit what actions players can ordinarily take, and tax opponents to build value for yourself. This includes Mass Land Destruction (MLD), Hatebears like Drannith Magistrate and Grand Abolisher, even Pillow Fort like Propaganda.

There are a few things that I would like to note, based on community advice.

Commanders count as 2 toward their respective variable, even if they are costed higher than the respective variable’s limitation.

For example, Tymna would count as 2 towards D (Draw), and Sidisi, Undead Vizier would count as 2 toward tutor, since she is always available. This is a workaround to the fact that this formula doesn’t handle commander-centric archetypes well, such as decks like Sram and aggro Tribal decks like Krenko.

Graveyard strategies may require creative consideration for variables.

A card like Mesmeric Orb may not count as draw in most decks, but it could be very powerful draw in a Muldrotha deck. Entomb may not seem like a tutor in most decks, but it can be a very powerful tutor in a Karador deck.

Because of the difficulty of quantifying “Average Win Turn”, this formula focuses on how fast a deck can potentially amass a winning boardstate instead

Having R (Ramp) be limited to spells CMC 2 or less is an easy way to denote that early game acceleration is what it is representing. The same is true to a certain extent with regards to T (Tutors). These values are weighted heavily for this very reason.

With the commander out, the score can actually change.

However, this formula leans heavily on representing the flow of gameplay, focusing on the early game. If you can get your commander out with early ramp, that will be reflected in the formula, actually. It may be interesting to have people compare two results of the formula; for when the commander is not in play, and when the commander is in play. Many cards will suddenly belong to variables that they did not otherwise belong to.

This formula is a generalist tool, not meant to score unique commander-focused decks.

These variables work because they are metrics that can be widely agreed upon to be signifiers of power, speed, and consistency. Synergy in EDH is a very esoteric value, that varies greatly between decks. Because of that, I choose to focus my efforts on providing a tool for most decks, not all. All decks can benefit from Ramp, Draw, Interaction, Lower Average CMC and even Tutors.

Lands are largely a no-brainer, contributing little to power level in a well-constructed deck.

Playing minimal tap lands will make most decks better able to play during the early game. I make the assumption that the decks playing tap lands will be scored lowly by the variables of this formula. because those sorts of decks seldom run low cmc ramp, tutors, and draw.

From my own calculations utilizing this formula, I have been able to create a nice baseline of power levels that are usually below 10 and above 3. I have found that meta-“cEDH” decks seem to consistenly grade above 10, though this formula is not meant to accurately grade meta-specific decks such as cEDH decks. I will go through 5 examples of varying deck types. These formulas may not include changes to the variable calculations that have been implemented using community feedback.

Exquisite Invention -UR Artifact C18 PreCon
A=4.16 D=8 T=0 R=4 I=9

Score: 3.95

Vampiric Bloodlust – RBW Vampires C17 Precon
A=3.71 D=10 T=0 R=4 I=16

Score: 4.8

Jarad Graveyard Combo – GB “70%” Reanimator
A=3.30 D=1 T=7 R=8 I=19

Score: 7.3

Memnarch Control Combo – Mono-U Competitive
A=2.64 D=13 T=11 R=11 I=24

Score: 12.9

Thrasios & Tymna Combo – “Tier 1” cEDH
A=1.60 D=12 T=10 R=14 I=20

Score: 13.75!!!

As you can see, this scoring method is a good metric to gauge a deck’s general power level when factoring in deck traits that define the EDH meta. A deck with a score over 10 is most likely a competitive deck, perhaps belonging to the “cEDH” format. I like that it appears to turn out that way, as it puts those deck in a “tier of their own”, as many remark cEDH decks as being already.

Moving forward, I will be grading any EDH decks I discuss on this site using this formula. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this grading formula, and seeing your own deck power levels as defined by this formula.