New product release is always an exciting time in Magic. We get to rummage through all the new toys and tinker with them until we find what we like most. I was lucky enough to have a reader comment on my last article with a request that gave me the opportunity to tinker with purpose. The request was to build a tribal deck that focused on treason effects. I asked for some ideas from my fellow EDH writers, who offered some great suggestions, but in the end, I decided to try out one of my favorite new generals from the Commander 2017 release, Kess, Dissident Mage.
Wizards as a tribe aren’t typically combat-oriented. Their power is seated mostly in their activated and triggered abilities. We could go the typical tribal route and jam a bunch of stuff like Adaptive Automaton and Coat of Arms, but then we would be left with a very narrow and easily disrupted build. It’s possible to avoid that pitfall when building tribal by instead just leveraging cards within the tribe that have good synergy with each other. A card like Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy has a wonderful way of turning on all your graveyard recursion for instance. Jalira, Master Polymorphist has no drawback if we have Marchesa, the Black Rose on the field since we get our sacrificial lamb back. Avoiding the typical tribal trap then allows us to focus our slots on running high impact spells to abuse with our general. Who am I kidding? We’re just going to build this way to run more jank.
Theft-oriented cards are a quick way to anger an opponent in Magic. It’s understandable because unlike destroying or exiling something that a player spent a turn and an amount of mana to cast, it hangs around to make their life miserable. Lucky for us our general’s color identity has several ways to help us ensure this happens frequently.
Helm of Possession: One of the most powerful things you can do with a treason effect is sac the creature you take control of to ensure the opponent doesn’t get it back. This card is amazing in the sense that we can sac a creature we take control of to get yet another creature. Talk about insult and injury. Clocking in at 1,212 decks this card is hardly obscure, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I think the number should be higher.
Ritual of the Machine: This card is good for the exact same reasons as Helm. Couple the above reasons with the fact that this card has an ability not typical for its color and a respectable casting cost and you have a winner. With only 208 decks seeing play I must say that it’s time we give this card a chance to shine.
Treacherous Urge: I can’t say enough good things about this card. At instant speed, this can be absolutely devastating. EDH is a format that loves to tutor, and this card has the potential to effectively nullify a tutor if timed properly. At only 197 decks utilizing it I think this card is a perfect example of a way to jank up our deck while adding style points.
Given that we are building a tribal deck and our general is a wizard, it only makes sense to focus on mostly wizards to compile our creature base. The Grixis (black, blue, red) wedge has an excellent mix of relevant wizards to draw from.
Coffin Queen: While not exactly a treason effect, graveyard theft is still in keeping with the spirit of our strategy. The queen lords over 1,241 decks currently and it’s certainly due to her ability to produce the effect with so little input.
Willbreaker: Nothing is cooler for treason effects than making them permanent. This card is ridiculously powerful. It currently sees play in 1,791 decks and it’s certainly due to how many ways there are to trigger it.
Jalira, Master Polymorphist: This crafty mage has polymorph built right into her. We can sac a creature we’ve taken control of to dig for one of our own whenever we see fit. She’s utilized in 287 decks currently and she’s janky enough that we should add to that number.
A deck like this tends to be a bit of a glass cannon. To put it plainly, we live and die by our draws. We can mitigate that effect by sculpting and looting aggressively. We can leverage our wedge’s vast pool of sculpt and loot cards to ensure that we are drawing what we need, when we need it.
Soothsaying: I love this card. As a mana sink I think it is perhaps one of the best that blue has to offer. For one mana, you get two relevant abilities. If you haven’t yet, join the 1,145 decks that make use of this amazing card.
Information Dealer: How luck are we that we have a tribal offering that helps fix a problem of ours? For 2 mana, this is an example a tribal creature with an impactful ability. This card is in 456 decks now and I can guarantee all of them are wizard decks, probably.
Dack Fayden: This planeswalker does everything we want. It loots AND takes control of things. There’s literally nothing else to say. We join the ranks of the 4299 decks that use him because he’s just that good.
The plan is simple. We let creatures resolve so that we can take them over. Once we have them at our disposal we cause as much trouble as possible and then sacrifice them so that everyone understands that we are the kid that rules the sandbox. Everyone’s toys are ours and if we can’t play with them then nobody will. If the board state gets to slanted in someone else’s favor we fire off any one of our one-sided board wipes and get things back to a more manageable state. Along the way we get help in the form of graveyard recursion to help rebuild from the chaos that we are likely causing. Here’s the list that I came up with.
We could go the traditional “counter everything because I jam blue” route, but that wouldn’t be janky or unexpected. There’s something to be said about the road less traveled, or abstaining from things in general really. Building and playing a deck like this can be a very useful exercise to help you develop new skills as an EDH player. Without the normal cache of counter magic to draw from we must alter our play style. Even better, our opponents must alter how they play against us. The idea behind playing jank isn’t just to fanboy out on a bunch of obscure and sometimes bad cards. When we do it purposefully it gives us the ability to shed crutches that we may not be aware that we have as players and approach the game from a different angle. Just kidding, we just fanboy bad cards. As always comments, feedback, and suggestions are welcome. Keep on tapping in the free world.