Archetune-Up – Sea of Monsters

(Wrexial, the Risen Deep l Art by Eric Deschamps)

Release the Kraken!

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!This week, we’re back to playing with the average decks that EDHREC aggregates, and this is a fun one!

I love kaiju, like Godzilla, and huge constructs, like Transformers, so in my hype about Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths releasing in April, I decided to jump the gun and dive into a Sea Monsters deck! Instead of the usual Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle, or Thassa, God of the Sea list though, I decided to try something a bit different, and a bit darker… something that slumbers just beneath the choppy waves of Zendikar!

Average Wrexial by EDHREC

Comander (1)
Creatures (32)
Instants (4)
Sorceries (10)
Artifacts (11)
Enchantments (6)
Lands (36)


Instead of going ridiculously over the top by ramping out lands to cast a bunch of behemoths, the idea here is that we can use Wrexial to reach into our opponents’ yards to leverage their own spells against them while reanimating monsters from our own when needed. We’re still looking to ramp quite a bit, but this deck wants to be a little trickier than other Sea Monsters lists; we want to try and finesse games a bit more than just brute forcing a win right off the bat. That comes later.


Let’s “Sea” Our Options

The deck above started off at a whopping 32 sea creatures and an average CMC of 4.83, which is incredibly high. I was able to cut the average CMC down to 4.13 and curate our list of beasties to a mere 15, allowing us to give them the support they need to function and wreak havoc properly. Seeing as we weren’t forced to seek out more creatures to add in, for the cards that needed to be added to the deck, I waffled between Wrexial’s personal Sea Monsters page as well as the generic Sea Monster’s page to find proper tools to coax our friends from the watery depths.

I only added two creatures from this theme into our deck, and one of them is our smol Worm friend, Reef Worm. This little buddy is a Sea Monster in disguise. Reef Worm is basically a reverse nesting doll, as it successively dies and turns into another, even bigger creature. Granted, we could always just play a huge monster to start with in this slot, but having something lower on our curve to block for us and one that’s also semi-resilient to board wipes is something this deck sorely needs. It’s also on theme and tells a great story (as long as you weren’t the creature being eaten), I’d be remiss to not include it in our list!

Nemesis of Reason is a chonky Leviathan that ended up replacing Fleet Swallower in this list. At two less mana and one more toughness, I’ll gladly trade milling half a deck for only milling ten cards, since milling isn’t our main strategy. Wrexial appreciates mill, but it’s important to not add too many cards that support that strategy, as doing so has the potential to dilute our theme in the end. One or two extra mills cards may not hurt, but it’s important not to get distracted by them, as we just need one or two good sorceries in the graveyard to get proper value from our commander. Nemesis is an early blocker for our deck, and having seven toughness at such an important spot in our mana curve is necessary. Being able to shave some cards from opposing decks for Wrexial to rummage through is also fantastic upside once we decide to go on the offensive, too!

One of the most important angles that we want to leverage in this deck is the ability for Wrexial to connect with our opponents so that we can use the spells in their graveyard. If our opponents don’t have any Islands or Swamps, that complicatesd things quite a bit. To remedy this, I added Aquitect’s Will and Quicksilver Fountain. Aquitect’s Will ensures that a land will stay an Island until your opponents destroy said land or until they’re able to remove said counter, making it a bit more resilient than Spreading Seas, which was already in the deck. Quicksilver Fountain is an extension of this, albeit a bit more mean. Unlike Aquitect’s Will, Quicksilver Fountain will just make lands into Islands: it doesn’t make them Islands in addition to their other types. Once this starts going, it can get quite out of hand, sometimes acting like a pseudo-Blood Moon while also enabling Wrexial to swing at whoever they please! Along with that, thanks to our hefty suite of mana rocks, and our small amount of black in our deck, we won’t drown in our own Fountain once we play it!


Big Monsters are Big Targets

Because we’re playing high-costed, high-power threats, our opponents are going to want to dispose of them as quickly as possible. Luckily, this theme provides a few ways to protect and recur our large friends and keep the pressure on anyone who dares to try and off them.

Thanks to our black splash, death is not the end for our creatures. The average list already included cards like Living Death, Necromantic Selection, Tempt with Immortality, and Animate Dead, so I thought Extract from Darkness, and Victimize would be good cards to help round out our small reanimation package. Extract from Darkness helps our gameplan on two fronts: it mills for us, which helps potentially put cards into opposing yards for Wrexial to commandeer, while also bringing back a huge threat from someone’s graveyard. Victimize will cost us a creature to cast it, but will allow us to get two back. We have Reef Worm and Nadir Kraken tokens to sacrifice on the off chance that we draw Victimize while they’re out, but even sacrificing our Sealock Monster or Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep once they’ve served their purpose is a fine exchange for us once we’ll be getting two behemoths back.

Format staples Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots have once again found their way into our deck, and for good reason. Giving our creatures a mix of aggression via haste as well as protection with shroud and hexproof is invaluable. Our opponents already will be seeking to destroy our creatures whenever they can, so any way to prevent that is appreciated. Giving our monsters the ability to attack as soon as they enter the battlefield, while also limiting our opponents’ ways to deal with them, applies a lot of pressure, which is exactly what we want.


Turning the Tides

The last cards from this theme are cards we know quite well and that have been featured on this series before. I like board wipes, and I like counterspells. Anyone who has read this series somewhat regularly knows my affinity for these mainstays of mine, so it would be strange if I didn’t pick up a few from these pages.

Inundate returns after being last highlighted in my Isperia article in November. While six mana is a lot to pay for a board wipe, it will always be a one-sided board wipe for us since every one of our creatures have blue in their colors. Following the one-sided board wipe trend is a card we all know, love it or hate it: Cyclonic Rift. Rift rounds out our suite of board wipes, since every one of them will impact our opponents’ creatures more than our own. When we’re often paying seven mana per creature, the last thing we want to do is spend even more mana to wipe them all away and put us farther behind. By tailoring our mass removal spells to fit our deck, our list becomes a lot more potent, and said removal can often be used in conjunction with our big beefy beaters to end games outright.

As I talked about in my Yarok article a few weeks back, I don’t feel comfortable playing blue and not including counterspells. It feels wrong, I feel vulnerable, and I don’t like it. Once again, I added two that I rely on consistently: Negate and the original Counterspell. They aren’t fancy, but they are necessary. If I can save my creatures from pinpoint removal or from a board wipe, leaving up two mana is an easy ask. In a deck like this, I felt it necessary to at least add a third counterspell to round out our package. After doing a little digging, I found out that for some reason, Stubborn Denial is not included in enough Sea Monster decks to show up in our data. At worst it’s like Force Spike, and at best it’ll be a one-mana Negate. Nearly all of our creatures will trigger Ferocious on it, so it’s a worthy inclusion, I believe. I don’t think it’d hurt to try and fit another counterspell or two in the list, but these three seem solid enough to start with.


Retreat to the Deep

As we close out this article, I think it’s important to mention how frustrating it was to write. Between Wrexial’s page and the average Sea Monster’s page, the data and cards seemed to be all over the place. Nemesis of Reason was on the main page, but not on Wrexial’s page, somehow; the average deck started with 32 incredibly high-costed creatures, but the auxiliary cards, most notably the ramp, could not support the deck whatsoever.

I’m going to chalk these issues up to the extremely small sample size (merely five Wrexial Sea Monsters decks at the time of writing this), but that’s why it’s important for articles like these to put the data into context. It’s important to dig and do research. Don’t just take the site’s findings at face value.

To this end, I also think it’s important to talk about the cards that I added in my Potpourri section, many of which fell into the same pitfalls as Nemesis of Reason.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth makes Wrexial unblockable and is necessary in this list. Expedition Map can search for Urborg or Cabal Coffers for utility or ramp. I added a bit of draw to the deck to smooth the deck out; things like Frantic Search and Read the Bones so we can filter through our high-costed threats. Whip of Erebos gives our monstrous creatures lifelink and is important in order to race opponents thanks to all the life we’ll gain. It also gives us another way to reanimate things, albeit temporarily.

Theros Beyond Death gave us some good cards to play around with, as well, like Kiora Bests the Sea God, Nadir Kraken, Serpent of Yawning Depths, and Nyx Lotus. Another beater with utility (even if it happens to be an enchantment), a cheap Kraken that can grow every turn and give us chumps to block with, a slippery Serpent that provides our whole team evasion, and another copy of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx are all incredibly strong and are all welcome additions to this archetype.

I can understand the omission of these cards from our data since they just came out last month, but once again, I feel missing something like Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth on Wrexial’s personal page is very strange and points to the pitiful sample size.

Either way, despite the small issues, I am pleased where the deck ended up. There are obviously some things I wish I could still change up, though. More creatures, more draw, finding a few more ways to smooth the deck out overall, but there just isn’t enough space in the deck. It is nice to do something a bit different than the traditional mono-blue or Simic Sea Monsters decks, but this obviously comes with its own set of challenges. This deck is not perfect, by any means. If you’re looking to build this deck, make sure you make your own changes to help personalize it and tune it to your meta, specifically.

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!

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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.