The Great EDH Challenge: Ink-Treader – Thrasios and Bruse’s Shirtless Studs

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/shirtless-studs-thrasios-and-bruse


Power Level: 6.1

The first of my 4-color decks is one with a theme that is very near-and-dear to me. Although the best of them are in black, I decided to go with a shirtless men theme for this one. It was even more of a definite choice when I realized that both Bruse Tarl and Thrasios are shirtless! When I realized that, I felt that my decision to make this deck was divinely-ordained! Haha, but anyway, yeah, this is a deck where each non-artifact and non-land card depicts a shirtless male character.

This deck has a wide mix of cards, but there are two main themes to it; Beatdown and Pillow-fort-y Control. I guess some would call it a Midrange deck, but I have never been too clear about what midrange actually is. In any case, this deck can prevent us from being clobbered by making it harder for our enemies to attack us via interaction and tax effects. It can also straight up clobber our enemies with big, value-generating creatures. It is a bit janky, but that arises more from the gimmick of requiring shirtless hotties on so many of the cards.

We spend the early game setting up, doing things like ramping and protecting ourselves. Playing Thrasios early is usually the best bet, because he can make our draws better as we approach the mid-game. We also tend to play signets and small value-generating creatures like Orcish Lumberjack and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove in the early game. Expect to do very little in the first 4 turns, and spend that time sizing up your opponents so that you can decide what strategy you will be using in the later turns.

For the pillow-fort-aspect of the deck, we have a few interesting tools at our disposal. Collective Restraint and Ghostly Prison are the obvious pillow-fort cards. We also utilize interactive planeswalkers like Ajani Vengeant and Oko, Thief of Crowns to further keep pressure off of us. Oko is probably the best card in the deck, and the games this deck wins usually involve using Oko to turn off enemy commanders. Komainu Battle Armor is great at making threatening opponents attack people other than us, while Frozen Aether slows opponents and keeps hasty decks at bay. Balancing Act is a very interesting Balance-effect that can really save us when we fall far behind our opponents, or when one opponent gets really far ahead of everyone else.

And for the Beatdown-aspect of the deck, we have plenty of muscular studs to crush our opponents. Frost Titan and Inferno Titan do a lot of work when they land, and are absolute houses if they are able to attack a few times. It is a crime that there isn’t a version of Sun Titan that depicts him shirtless, but we make do. Ruric Thar, the Unbowed just shuts down entire archetypes that our opponents are playing while also being a very good attacker. Xenagos, God of Revels turbo-charges our team, especially after we play Bruse Tarl to give our biggest creature double strike and lifelink. Also, never underestimate the power of Garruk Wildspeaker‘s -4 to overrun everyone, especially since he can do it the turn after you play him. And lastly, an entwined Savage Beating is oftentimes enough to destroy at least one opponent when we have at least 3 big boys out.

This deck can be fun to play, but keep in mind that it isn’t much stronger than a precon. If you are playing in a high-power playgroup, this deck will not perform well enough to keep up. This is a slow deck whose win-condition involves attacking with creatures. There is only one infinite combo in this deck that can’t even be tutored for, involving Sage of Hours and Simic Ascendancy. I’ve never pulled it off before, probably because it takes a total of 19 mana to win with it. If you are fine with a silly low-powered deck that has a lot of variance between games, this is a great deck for you. Pull it out when you are playing with a bunch of new players for maximum enjoyment.

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: Orzhov – Vish Kal, Cruel Daddy

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/vish-kal-cruel-daddy/?cb=1613523785


Power Level: 5.55

I hope you guys had a Happy Valentine’s Day! I will be sharing a real heart-throb with you folks today; a Cruel Daddy that really gets the blood pumping!

Vish Kal is the ultimate B/W commander. He combines both sacrifice outlet, removal, and powerful creature into one amazing package. Every creature in the deck can be thought of as both a pump spell and removal, when he is on the battlefield. Instead of a vampire build, I focused my deck’s creature base around etb and sacrifice effects, to synergize with Vish Kal and my recursion. I included plenty of recursion, so that I can get the most value out of my creatures. This is an Aristocrats deck first, and a Midrange Combo deck second.

This deck’s creatures act as a sort of toolbox of utility, providing crucial interaction as I either attempt to assemble a combo, or simply kill with commander damage. This is a pretty slow deck, and I learned over the years that it is necessary to disrupt my opponents during the early and mid-game so that I’m not just being beat down while I wait to play Vish Kal. Cards like Mesmeric Fiend and Tidehollow Sculler knock powerful opponents off kilter by messing with their hands, and therefore their plans. Mindslicer is especially brutal, more so when I have an engine like Phyrexian Reclamation or Bolas’s Citadel out. Ravenous Chupacabra has been a joy since he was released, dispatching even the most powerful creatures on a recur-able body. Ashen Rider is the overkill removal creature in this deck, as recurring it repeatedly with something like Nim Deathmantle usually ends up causing opponents to scoop.

This deck heavily revolves around Vish Kal, despite playing many combos that don’t require him being out. He simply does everything an Orzhov player wants. Vish Kal can kill someone out of nowhere, especially when I have a board full of creatures, or a Hatred in hand. Hatred is a very fun card to win with, but I’d recommend having a Grand Abolisher out if you plan on using it on Vish kal.

Vish Kal is amazingly useful, and puts a heck of pressure on my opponents when they realize he can pump himself as well as kill their creatures at instant speed. He is oftentimes confused with Oloro, Ageless Ascetic , as the art can appear similar. This mistake has gotten people killed, as they realize the Cruel Daddy flies and eats creatures. Many turns with him on the battlefield turn into me calculating how much power I have to have him eat in order to kill a dangerous opponent. The recursion in my deck oftentimes has Vish Kal eating the same creatures multiple times in a single turn, leading me to victory in quick order.

There are numerous combos in this deck, more than most would realize. I will list the best ones:

Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter Mikaeus, the Unhallowed = Infinite Sac of Vish Kal, Infinite -1/-1 of all creatures

Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter Mikaeus, the Unhallowed Cruel Celebrant / Zulaport Cutthroat / Blood Artist = Drain your opponents of their life totals

Leonin Relic-Warder Animate Dead Cruel Celebrant / Zulaport Cutthroat / Blood Artist = Drain your opponents of their life totals

Reveillark Karmic Guide + Sac Outlet = Infinite recursion of Reveillark, Karmic Guide, and another creature with power 2 or less

Ashnod’s Altar Wurmcoil Engine Nim Deathmantle = Infinite Colorless Mana / Infinite Wurmcoil Engine Tokens

Ah yes, and a “funny” combo that infuriated me years ago when my Teysa-playing friend revealed it to me in an especially toxic EDH game:

False Prophet Phyrexian Tower Volrath’s Stronghold to put him back on top of your library with the floating black mana = Exile all Creatures, at instant speed, over and over again…

This deck is a lot of fun, and can be played in numerous ways to fit your own playstyle. Its only big drawback is that it is usually pretty slow, and many of the creatures aren’t much of a threat on their own. But hey, EDH is a format that is all about synergy! 😀

The Great EDH Challenge: Simic – Kumena, Merfolk Tyrant

Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/04-01-21-kumena-merfolk-tyrant/


Power Level: 6

Ah yes, Kumena. My smexy, strong, brash Kumena. Ixalan sure did give us a lot of beautiful and buff merfolk, and Kumena is the tyrant of them all. Well, at least he is in this deck. I try not to think about how pointless he was in the lore…

Kumena is a weird lord that allows his merfolk team to permanently increase their strength with +1/+1 counters, requiring five merfolk to be tapped to do so. This is why I call him the Merfolk Tyrant, as he is not a lord in the traditional sense. He taps a merfolk to make himself unblockable, which usually surprises opponents for some reason. I imagine him deriving strength from lesser merfolk bowing to him.

Anyway, this is a Simic merfolk deck, featuring some of the most synergistic blue/green merfolk in commander. This deck plods along, playing one merfolk per turn for the first few turns as we slowly assemble our value engine. Once we have three or more merfolk with Kumena out, we are usually drawing three cards a turn while assembling a lethal board of merfolk. It is a bit grindy, but this deck can overrun all of my opponents in about 10 turns if it doesn’t have to deal with an un-countered board wipe. I tend to avoid swinging out until I have at least 5 merfolk, so that I can avoid being focused and unprotected as I build up my boardstate.

Being a Simic deck, this list has many moving parts that keep things interesting, and has that signature Simic ability to overwhelm opponents with sheer card advantage and mana. Cards such as Merrow CommerceSeedborn Muse, and Curse of Bounty allow us to tap our merfolk multiple times to draw and give +1/+1 counters to the whole tea, while staying aggressive. A value combo that I adore in this deck is Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Merrow Reejerey. Merrow Reejerey untaps the Nykthos each time we cast a merfolk, leading to absurd amounts of mana being generated in the late game. There have been games where I cast 10+ merfolk in a turn with this combo, constantly tapping the new merfolk to draw into others. Kindred Discovery drowns us in cards for simply playing and attacking with our merfolk. The hard-bodied Seafloor Oracle also draws me plenty of cards when my merfolk hit my opponents.

The downfall for any go-wide decks are board-wipes, such as Wrath of God and even Cyclonic Rift. Fish decks are known to run counterspells, and this fish deck is no different. Counterspells, such as Counterspell and even Negate allow us to avoid having to rebuild our boards by stopping board-wipes from resolving. I tend to hold on to my precious few counterspells exclusively for board-wipes. Heroic Intervention is a staple for the same reason, and serves the same function as my counterspells. Lullmage Mentor is a fun one to have on the field for similar reasons, though I’m usually winning already by the time I have seven merfolk to hold up for his ability.

Now at the end of the day, this deck’s primary win condition is combat damage, so we have plenty of ways to bring the hurt. Deepchannel Mentor and Herald of Secret Streams make the team unblockable, acting as finishers. Hadana’s Climb   has often buffed Kumena enough to kill one opponent, since its flipped land form doubles his power as well. Beastmaster Ascension is a classic way to swing for lethal out of nowhere if you play it on a board full of merfolk. Quicksilver Fountain is in the deck to open all my opponents up to being killed by islandwalking merfolk. And lest we forget, it isn’t a Fish deck unless you are using the power of math to kill with multiple merfolk lords.

This deck tends to be very fun, and it shines at mid-powered tables. It’s never fun to be focused aggressively in the early-game, like this deck usually is by my wise playgroup, but I have found that this deck is capable of rebuilding given a few turns. I still have yet to win with Simic Ascendancy, and I will probably take it out for Cryptolith Rite when I get another one.