The Great EDH Challenge: Rakdos – Kaervek’s Merciless Enchantments

Kaervek, the Merciless


Power Level: 5.75

This is a typical Rakdos “Hazard” deck, where I play a bunch of permanents whose purpose is to slowly and passively damage and drain players of their life totals. I simply play nasty things, and watch as my opponents (and sometimes myself) die from playing the game. It just so happens that most of these permanents are enchantments, making this a weird Rakdos enchantress deck.

Kaervek the Merciless is a vicious, hateful, high-cmc creature that damages any target I choose when an opponent casts a spell, based on that spells cmc. Most people I’ve played with are always shocked by his ability, especially when I use it to kill their own commanders, even their planeswalkers. He is the finisher of this deck, what I play when I have no useful cards in hand and plenty of mana. He allows me to team up with my opponents to take down a problematic creature, planeswalker, or player; by simply having those opponents cast their spells.

There are many “mean” cards in the deck, that target certain players for extra cruelty. Rakdos’s Return is probably my favorite B/R card, and is usually my way for punishing a player for coming at me too hard. “Discard your hand and take X damage.” is what I say cooly as I cast it, followed by a gleeful chuckle. Mind Shatter accomplishes the hand hate angle as well. Captive Audience is a slow burn mean card, that usually spells the end for the player it enchants. Sorin Markov makes someone’s life total 10, which is usually merciless in a 40-life format. Thought Distortion is especially funny to play against a control player. And finally, most people new to the deck are shocked by Head Games. This cards lets me either king-make by giving someone a perfect hand for victory, or a hand full of lands. I usually choose the latter.

Death Cloud always pisses everyone off, as it is mass land destruction, hand hate, board wipe, and loss of life; all in one convenient package. It is the most hateful card in the deck.

As a Johnny (combo-player), I had to put an infinite combo in the deck. This one is a classic in Black/Red, and can be tutored for in it’s entirety with Final Parting.

Worldgorger Dragon in the graveyard + Animate Dead = Infinite Leaving/Entering the Battlefield of all your permanents.

This combo allows us to do a variety of things, such as make infinite mana for spells like Torment of Hailfire, gain infinite life with Bloodfell Caves, or draw most of my deck with Coveted Jewel.

This deck has a lot of fun pieces to it, and it lets me get my mean-spiritedness out of my system. However, it is a pretty bad deck. Many times I have gotten so low myself that I wind up dying to my own pieces. Also, it takes a long time to play my many costly spells and permanents. I take this deck out when I want to be casual, while passively affecting the game the whole way through.

I sometimes swap the commander out between 2 others:

Tsabo Tavoc when I want to be especially casual, and Xantcha, Sleeper Agent when I didn’t have a chance to play Kaervek in the previous game.

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! đŸ˜€

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

Sidisi, Undead Vizier


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. đŸ˜€

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.

The Great EDH Challenge: Red – Jeska / Rograkh Voltron Combo

Jeska, Thrice Reborn
Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh


Power Level: 8.4

This is a fun deck. Being able to plop out Rograkh turn one, quickly start voltroning him up, and then making him deal triple damage with Jeska is a real joy. If you can manage to sacrifice Jeska with Claws of Gix after using her 0 on a 3+ Power Rograkh, cast her again, then use her 0 on Rograkh again, he will do NINE TIMES damage and swing for lethal! Haven’t managed to do that yet, but I was able to deal 15 in one swing by tripling his damage with Jeska. I’ve only played a handful of games with the deck, but it has already proven to be deceptively powerful.

Jeska is very versatile, with her ability to deal X damage to 3 targets. Most of the time, this will be used to kill 3 problem creatures. Recasting her throughout the game allows her damage to scale very well as the game progresses. She clears the way for Rograkh to deal combat damage, acting as a targeted board wipe later in the game. In the games I have played with this deck, my opponents get very frustrated when they realize how hard it is to have their creatures stick when I can easily destroy them with Jeska. It is this fact that makes me think of her as “busted,” and a return to the thing that makes Red great; dealing damage.

Of course, many have realized that she is a mana sink in the command zone, allowing you to deal infinite damage by making infinite mana. That’s why we run a few infinite mana combos, for when attacking with Rograkh just doesn’t cut it!

Infinite Red Mana Combos

Cloudstone Curio + Kobolds of Kher Keep + Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh

Reiterate with buyback + Mana Geyser that will produce 7+ mana

Reiterate with buyback + Jeska’s Will that will produce 7+ mana

Other combos

Basalt Monolith + Rings of Brighthearth = Infinite Colorless Mana

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

Cloudstone Curio + Kobolds of Kher Keep + Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh + Purphoros, God of the Forge = Infinite Damage to Opponents

Cloudstone Curio + Kobolds of Kher Keep + Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh + Outpost Siege = Infinite Damage to Opponents

I look forward to playing more with this deck, and really seeing what all its weird interactions can do!

The Great EDH Challenge: White – Mangara, the Diplomat’s Enchanted Lifegain


Power Level: 4.25

This is your typical mono-white lifegain deck, with an infinite combo thrown in for good measure. It also has another piece of secret tech; Divine Intervention. Making the game a draw usually causes even more frustration amongst my opponents than if I won, ironically enough. In any case, this deck gains some life and hopefully draws into a win condition with Mangara’s insane passive draw abilities. When I saw Mangara, a character I love from the lore, given a new card that draws a ton in mono-white, I knew I had to make a deck with him at the helm. The deck performs pretty well, and has quite a few ways to win.

Combat is an adequate win condition, and the way I win most of the time with this deck. Playing a bunch of angels, a subtheme of the deck, with evasion can really put the pressure on opponents. Especially when they are buffed by True ConvictionAjani Steadfast, and/or Lyra Dawnbringer herself. Swinging with Angel of Destiny is likely to just cause an opponent to lose on my end step, considering how much lifegain is in the deck. Passive token generators like Griffin AerieCourt of Grace, and Angelic Accord expand my team to put more pressure on my opponents.

Alternate win conditions abound in this deck. I’d forgotten how many of these existed for lifegain strategies. Felidar SovereignAngel of DestinyTest of Endurance, and possibly Aetherflux Reservoir can all win with enough life and a little bit of time. It is always funny to see my opponents frantically look at their hands and ask each other if they can remove these threats from play to stave off my eventual automatic win, especially if I have over 100 life. Ah, it feels good to win without relying on _uncivilized _ combat, if I can help it.

There is one deviously simple infinite combo in the deck, that of Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Walking Ballista. Yes, the combo that got the poor artifact banned from Pioneer. For the total cost of 7WW and two cards, you can deal infinite damage and gain infinite life. Hmm, I guess it is a bit more expensive than I thought, but you don’t have to pay it all at one time!

So that’s the deck folks. Various lines of play that can lead you to victory, with plenty of interaction to keep the game interesting. I will probably be optimizing the deck a bit in the future, once I start playing with it more often. As it stands, it is pretty casual, and I kind of like it that way.

The Great EDH Challenge: Green – Sekki Spirits

Sekki, Seasons’ Guide


Power Level: 4.2

This is my casual mono-green spirits deck. It has been the butt of many jokes by my playgroup, who think that this deck is incredibly weak. Despite their views, this deck has a pretty good win rate. When people see my commander, and the weird spirits that they’ve never even heard of, it takes pressure off of me during the game. I have been able to amass a ton of spirits, lord them up, and swing for lethal several times. This deck may not be fast, or flashy, but it is always interesting to play in a more casual pod.

Sekki can make a lot of spirit tokens, especially when he has been given an additional toughness. His damage prevention / token creation replacement effect makes for very interesting combat, when I am able to get him out. By the time the uninitiated realize that he has this ability, I have probably created dozens of spirit tokens. Heck, even my regular playgroup makes this mistake time and time again.

The rest of the creatures in the deck are primarily incremental value engines and minor threats, to put pressure on my opponents until I play Sekki. There is a good amount of removal in this deck as well, as much casual interaction that I could manage in green while keeping the budget within acceptable limits. I would run Wave of Vitriol merely to watch the wave of vitriol it usually causes when you make a 4 or 5 color deck sac all their lands without replacements to search for, but I run too many utility artifacts and enchantments for that.

I look forward to changing out Sekki for Kamahl, Heart of Krosa and Kodama of the East Tree when I get ahold of them soon. Should make for an interesting boost in power! Interestingly enough, a friend of mine who always speaks ill of this deck told me that changing out the commander would be disrespectful to Sekki. Despite me rolling my eyes at his duplicity, I did feel a pang of guilt about getting rid of Sekki as the commander. But alas, change is the spice of life!

The Great EDH Challenge: Colorless – Ulamog Ramp


Power Level: 5

This deck has a simple gameplan; Ramp up to cast Ulamog. Ulamog is quite powerful, being able to exile 2 permanents when you cast him, as well as kill in three hits on average. And if he wasn’t bad enough, making an opponent exile 20 cards from their deck is brutal and demoralizing. There are a few other pay offs to the ramp, such as It That Betrays and Walking Ballista, and there is a small equipment package to make your smaller creatures into threats in case you stall out before reaching 10 mana.

There have been plenty of times when I have put Assault Suit on Ulamog, and passed him around the table. Opponents are oftentimes giddy to swing him at their declared enemy, and sometimes even gang up on one problem player to eliminate them completely. I have put Worldslayer on Ulamog a few times, and watched as my opponents look helplessly as I destroy all permanents other than Ulamog and his sword. Fond memories!

My friends constantly keep an eye on me when I play this deck, constantly asking “How much mana do you have?” each turn. They know that when I get to 10 mana, I’m going to exile two problematic permanents. There is a lot of pressure put on me when I play this deck, even though it is inherently weaker than others at the table, but I understand the dread of having your board state disrupted in an almost uncounterable way.

Many games have been spent having my artifacts picked off to prevent me from reaching 10 mana before turn 10, which is annoying. But most of the time, I can recover quickly and get Ulamog down. Him being indestructible really helps him stay on the table. Despite knowing that, it is always a surprise for me when he sticks around for more than one turn.

If all else fails, just voltron up a Plague Myr and kill them with infect!

The Great EDH Challenge

Hey there EDH players.

I decided to reattempt the Great EDH Challenge. This challenge entails making an EDH deck of each color combination, 32 decks in total. I aggressively pursued this challenge several years ago, but was never satisfied with the unofficial 4-color options of the time; the Nephilim. But with the C16 Commanders, and their accompanying Partners, I can rightfully complete the challenge.

I will be spending several posts going through the decks I have chosen to create to complete the challenge. This is the ultimate challenge in deck creativity and expression for me, so I look forward to going through my decklists. Deck construction is perhaps my favorite thing about MtG, perhaps even more than playing the game! In any case, this is the list of decks, to be updated upon their completion:

Colorless: Ulamog Rocks

Mono Color
White: Mangara’s Enchanted Lifegain
Blue: Memnarch C&C (Control and Combo)
Black: Sidisi Ad Nauseum
Red: Rograkh/Jeska Voltron
Green: Sekki Spirits

Allied Pairs
Azorius: Raff Superfriends (Teferi Tribal)
Dimir: Silas/Keskit Artifacts
Rakdos: Kaervek Hazard
Gruul: Gallia Satyrs
Selesnya: Saffi Reanimator Combo

Enemy Pairs
Orzhov: Vishkal Aristocrats
Izzet: Aegar’s Giant Burn
Golgari: Jarad Reanimator Toolbox
Boros: Gerrard Sunrise
Simic: Kumena Merfolk

Esper: Sen Triplets Theft
Grixis: Solkanar Demons
Jund: Lord Windgrace Land Destruction
Naya: Samut Anthems
Bant: Derevi Stax

Mardu: Kelsien Human Equipment Deathtouch Pingers
RUG: Maelstrom Wanderer Stompy Ramp
Abzan: Kethis Black People
Jeskai: Gavi Cycling
BUG: Volrath Infect

4 Color
Glint-Eye: Max/Eleven Bad Girls
Yore-Tiller: Breya Goodstuff
Witch-Maw: Atraxa Charge Counters
Ink-Treader: Bruse Tarl/Thrasios Shirtless Studs
Dune-Brood: Saskia Soldiers

5-Color: The First Sliversss

I look forward to sharing and discussing these fun decks with all of you!