Archetune-Up – Classic Skittles

(Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon l Art by Chippy)

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Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

All will be one this week, as we will be compleating EDHREC’s average Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon list! Skithiryx, or “Skittles”, as I will be calling them throughout the article (because I really don’t want to constantly type out that name), is a hyper-aggressive mono-black commander. Most commanders need to reach 21 commander damage to knock someone out, but Skittles here only has to deal a much easier 10 damage thanks to Infect.

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Infect has a bit of a stigma when it comes to Commander, but as we learned from my Christmas Stax Article, we need to care a bit less about people’s knee-jerk reactions to the decks we talk about or play with. Much like I will advocate playing Narset, Parter of Veils and Armageddon to fight against certain strategies or to help end games, I’m an advocate for Infect strategies to help combat incredibly grindy decks or out-of-control lifegain lists. Nothing in Commander is sacred, especially not your opponent’s life, so let’s see what the Infect Theme has in store for us.


“From Void Evolved Phyrexia…”

Unlike an Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice Infect deck, which is the most-built Infect Commander deck, we are restricted to options that are only available in artifacts and mono-black. There are still quite a few great options for our list, though we are a bit limited due to our restrictions. That being said, there were still three great creatures that weren’t in the list that I made sure to make room for.

There is no way I could make an Infect deck and not talk about The Father of Machines himself, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. While he does not have Infect, himself, Yawgmoth gives us the means to Proliferate, which can be better than Infect once we get the ball rolling. Yawgmoth fills a couple of roles in this deck. First, when our junky little Infect creatures are of no more use to us, we can sacrifice them to cripple an opposing creature with a -1/-1 counter and draw us a card. Then, by simply discarding a card and paying mana, Yawgmoth helps us spread our contagion by racking up any kind of counter on any player or permanent. Most Infect creatures get outpaced by stronger, more efficient creatures late in the game. However, as long as we can connect with each opponent just once, Yawgmoth can then take the reigns from his creations and compound their efforts and spiral your opponents’ infections out of control.

While he may not be Yawgmoth’s literal son, K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth also found his way into our deck. K’rrik is a busted card and continues his dirty work here, as well. Being able to pay life instead of mana is just great, as we can cheat out things quite early on with this ability. This is an aggressive deck, and our life doesn’t mean a whole lot to us if we’re able to have all of our opponents dead. Not only does K’rrik allow us to cheat mana costs, but he allows us to cheat ability costs, as well. With him out, we’re able to tap out and play Skittles with impunity since we can always just pay four life to regenerate him if necessary. Lifelink is also a great ability to have once he gets big enough. We don’t care about having a high life total, per se, but we do care about leveraging our life to use for other effects. An extra four or six life could be the difference between drawing a few cards to find an answer or getting knocked out of the game.

Phyrexian Vatmother was one of the few Infect creatures not in the original deck. I can only assume that the downside of giving yourself a poison counter each turn frightened people away from it. Well, I say that they are playing too conservatively! A 4/5 for four mana with Infect that can help us kill our opponents faster than it kills us is an awesome creature. Heck, we’ll probably be dead in 10 turns, anyway, so where is the downside? There’s no reason to get rid of such an efficient creature, especially when they are hard to come by. There may be times where Vatmother is the cause of your demise, but I have a hard time seeing them being more plentiful than your successes with it.


“…Great Yawgmoth, Father of Machines, Saw Its Perfection…”

There was quite a lot of Equipment on Skittle’s Infect page, so I decided to lean into that a bit more. An Infect creature with four power takes three attacks to kill an opponent. However, if we add just a single extra power, we can kill in two turns, instead….

I’m shocked that Bonesplitter was listed on Skittle’s page over Darksteel Axe, if I’m being honest. I like both of them in this deck, but Bonesplitter ended up making the cut since it was the one actually on the page. A little Equipment that can get us above five power is something we love to have in a deck like this. We want to get Skittles over five power. Anything five or more allows us to knock out opponents in two hits, and ten allows us to one-shot them. These cheap Equipment help us accomplish this by pushing us to six power, and when combined with something like Fireshrieker, they can easily help us close out games. Darksteel Axe is great here, too, as are junky, overlooked Equipment like Short Sword.

Champion’s Helm plays both offense and defense in this deck. It gives us the ever-important power boost that our creatures with Infect need, but it can also grant hexproof to key creatures like Skittles, Yawgmoth, and K’rrik. There isn’t a whole lot more to say about Helm as it’s a pretty bread-and-butter piece in our deck. It does everything we want, and it does it well.

The last two Equipment from this section are both cards that can easily help Skittles or any of our infected friends knock our opponents out in one hit.

Cranial Plating is an incredibly scary Equipment from the original Mirrodin block. Plating pumps up our creature’s power for each artifact we have, and in a deck with 29 of them, it’s not too hard for us to get our creatures to 10 or more power. Being able to attach it at instant speed is also a fantastic option for outplaying opponents.

Inquisitor’s Flail doubles our creatures’ damage output, but also doubles the damage they receive. That’s not something we want on all of our creatures, as most of them will fold in combat if they are wielding the flail, but Skittles doesn’t mind. Having the evasion to be able to hit our opponents while also being able to regenerate if he gets blocked is fantastic. Not many things can stand up to a creature dishing out eight -1/-1 counters each combat. With the Flail, our opponents’ creatures, as well as our opponents, themselves, will eventually join our glorious cause.


“…Thus the Grand Evolution Began.”

This final section of cards represents the glue that keeps the deck together. Nothing here is particularly flashy, but it’s all necessary, and your deck will be better off thanks to these cards. Don’t slack and forego adding them!

This deck needs more card draw. Our life is a resource, so let’s take full advantage of that. Ambition’s Cost, Necropotence, and Night’s Whisper were all added with this in mind. We need card flow, and we want to smooth out our deck as much as possible. Combining these cards with ones we already had in our deck like Read the Bones and Sign in Blood helps us see the cards we need and reach our endgame quicker.

We know that paying life is a core function of this deck. It doesn’t matter if we win at a single life or at 100. That being said, the more life we gain, the more life we can spend, and Gray Merchant of Asphodel (along with Exsanguinate) really helps us along with this line of thinking. Both will allow us to siphon our opponents’ pesky life totals to help bolster our own. While it may seem strange to add these effects in a deck that involves dealing our opponents damage in the form of poison counters, softening up our opponents so they can kill one another, or giving us a secondary game plan of draining their life, is well worth the effort.

Removal spells are important for any EDH deck, and they happen to be some of my favorite types of cards. The deck had a few good pieces already, like Hero’s Downfall and the cheeky Crux of Fate, but I wanted a couple more.

Defile is basically a black version of Swords to Plowshares, and it can put in a great amount of work in a mono-black deck. It will kill what you need it to more often than not. I’m quite alright with variance that scales with the amount of Swamps I have, because I plan to have quite a lot.

Seeking another board wipe, I also added Toxic Deluge. Being able to have a scale-able board wipe adds an incredible amount of versatility. Yes, Skittles can’t regenerate from it, but the versatility that Deluge provides to get us out of a tight spot is often more important than keeping our commander alive.

Speaking of versatility, our final inclusion, Profane Command, was added specifically for that reason. Much like Gray Merchant, its first mode helps us attack opponents on a different axis, threatening an opponent’s life total as opposed to killing them with Infect. The second mode allows us to buy back key creatures like Yawgmoth or Hand of the Praetors if they are killed so that they may continue the glorious work. The third mode gives us another removal spell if necessary, similar to Defile. Finally, the last mode can give all of our creatures Fear, so only black creatures and artifact creatures can block them, meaning we can essentially build our own Triumph of the Hordes!


“We Exalt Yawgmoth in Life, in Death, and in Between.”

With that, another article is compleat. I did add two other cards that weren’t found in this theme, Shadow Spear, and Sword of the Chosen, as cheap ways to help push through damage, but aside from them, everything I needed was found on the Infect Theme page!

I liked building a deck that wanted to be aggressive and attack, but that wasn’t restrained by having to deal 120 damage to our opponents to win. Aggro decks are already at a huge disadvantage in their conversion from 60-card formats to Commander, so having the ability to fight back at that disadvantage by only needing to deal 30 damage is a fun mini-game to play.

Infect is often spurned in our format, but I think we need to embrace it. It is a necessary, and even, dare I say, fun theme to build a deck around.

Once again, we’ve made it to the end of the line. If you’d like to reach me I’m quite active on Twitter (@thejesguy), and I have an email that I do my best to respond to (thejeskaiguy@gmail.com). If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or anything else of the sort, please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! I’ll see you next week, my friends!

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Angelo is a Connecticut native who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. With at least 20 EDH decks constructed at all times, it's an understatement to say that he loves Commander. Angelo trusts counterspells over creatures, and is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation rotation out of Standard.