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: 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: 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: White – Mangara, the Diplomat’s Enchanted Lifegain

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/mangara-the-diplomats-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.