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Commander Focus — Edgar Markov
The eminence ability allows us to play a commander that is lurking behind the scenes, making the team stronger, and only entering the fray when an urgent decisive strike is needed. With these characteristics, Edgar Markov is literally “The Man“. He’s an authority figure in the patriarchy, he’s white, he has his own private army of fanatic supporters, he hides in the shadows of command zone bureaucracy, and he wants to drink the lifeblood of his enemies’ babies.
Whenever you cast another Vampire spell,
We want to be casting lots of vampires. The more cards in the deck that are vampires, the more times this trigger can activate. Also, if we skew towards the vampires with lower mana costs, then we can theoretically cast more of them per turn, if our card draw can keep up.
if Edgar Markov is in the command zone or on the battlefield,
He can sit in the command zone and still give us the benefit of his presence.
create a 1/1 black Vampire creature token.
Tokens! Vampires! Hey, Queen Marchesa makes tokens in the same colors, but hold that thought for later…
First strike, haste
Not only can he sit in the command zone for as long as we want, he can attack immediately from the command zone and survive most blockers. Maybe this deck doesn’t need Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots.
Whenever Edgar Markov attacks,
Reminder: red and red/white have ways of adding more combat phases…
put a +1/+1 counter on each Vampire you control.
Good thing we have lots of vampires and vampire tokens.
They Have The White Stuff
With the advent of Ixalan, we gained some new vampires, some of them clerics, and some in the color white. So now we can build a deck to roleplay an imperialist colonial invasion by a host of white bloodthirsty militant religious extremists, as if that doesn’t already describe millennia of modern world history.
Rules Text Searches
For the following searches, assume we that we already filter out the colors we aren’t using by adding
Color: NOT green, NOT blue.
Also, let’s omit the vampires that only occasionally put a +1/+1 counter on themselves or only one other creature. In lesser Magic formats that start with one opponent with 20 life, they might be useful. With three or more opponents at 40 life, they tend to fall behind. Vampires that frequently put a +1/+1 counter on themselves are still valid, but there’s only one of those and it’s Taurean Mauler.
Over the following searches, there a few cards that show up in multiple lists, but have been omitted for brevity. Needless to say, if a card meets more than one of the following search criteria, then it is probably more applicable to the deck and should be more strongly considered.
If we plan on going wide with a high number of small vampires, then cards that give a beneficial effect to our tribal creature subtype should give us more value for the mana. This search covers cards that care about “another Vampire” and “Other Vampire creatures”, and it also catches flukes like Blood Tribute that mentions “other costs” in the kicker reminder text.
Text: other, vampire
Of course we will include at least one version of (Legendary) Planeswalker – Sorin, since Sorin is part of Edgar’s family, and blatant nepotism is a key feature of any patriarchy. The word “patriarchy” itself is defined as “the father rules”, which implies that family bonds are more important than things like merit or accomplishment. So throw in all the Sorins you want, even if not all of them are very good.
Triggered abilities are a core tactic of Commander gameplay. Most infinite combos rely on an interlocking set of cards that trigger each others’ abilities without a net loss of additional mana or other costs. If a card has “when” or “whenever” in the rules text, it probably has a triggered ability. Sometimes the word “at” also counts as a trigger, for example: “at the beginning of” some phase of the turn like “upkeep” or “combat”.
We search for “when” instead of “whenever” since searching for “when” will already get all the “whenever” search results and more. In general, to get more search results, try to find the shortest string of letters that fits your search criteria.
If a card has a triggered ability and it also has the word “Vampire”, then there’s a good chance that the trigger either activates whenever a vampire of yours does something, or the result of the trigger does something (probably good) to one or more of your vampires. Let’s look for some of those cards.
Text: when, vampire
“Vampire”, “You Control”
Sometimes a card cares about other vampires but doesn’t actually have the word “other” on it. Sometimes a card has an activated ability instead of a triggered ability, so there is no “when” in the text. Let’s find some.
Text: vampire, you control
Here’s yet another way to get at the wording of what we are looking for. It could be “each vampire”, “each player”, “each turn”, or “each” of something else. We found yet another Sorin, so we must be doing something right.
Text: each, vampire
Note that if we didn’t omit the repeats in the above searches, Edgar Markov himself would have shown up in every list. So the next time you get a new commander with a lot of rules text, consider which individual words or phrases in that text are the most important, pick a couple of them at a time, and search away.
Vampires That Say “Each Opponent”
As a personal preference, my Commander decks tend to enjoy cards that have the phrase “each opponent” in the rules text. In my own experience, these cards are both effective and fun to play. Let’s look for cards with this phrase and add a filter that looks for Subtype: vampire.
Subtype: vampire, Text: each opponent
Ixalan is brings us a new 1/1 white Vampire creature token with lifelink, along with cards that put those tokens into play. Edgar already makes a different type of vampire token, but in a vampire token deck, more is better. Of course, Anointed Procession is a new staple card with relevance, even if the size of the crowd in the picture was vastly inflated by imperial media reports.
EDHREC recently added a new feature to browse the data for decks that have a specific theme instead of a particular commander. You can root around the site’s navigation bars to select among the identified themes or just follow this link right here to Token Themed Decks. Also, commander pages now have a “Theme Selection” section where we can focus the data just on decks for that commander that fit the theme. So in the hypothetical universe where Edgar Markov didn’t already have 465 decks on EDHREC, we could check another commander in the same colors, such as Queen Marchesa. We just might find there are already some Queen Marchesa Token Theme or even Queen Marchesa Vampire Tribal decks on the site.
Low CMC Vampires
If we have lower-costed vampires, then we can theoretically cast more vampires with the same amount of mana and thus get more tokens from Edgar. For consideration, here an edited list of some vampire weenies that haven’t been mentioned yet. Maybe some of them aren’t completely irrelevant to our format.
Subtype: vampire, CMC = 1
Subtype: vampire, CMC = 2
Building a Deck
Since Edgar wants to cast vampires, and all vampires are creatures, we’re going to have a relatively high number of creatures. We can go a bit lower on the land count if we don’t actually have to cast our 6 converted mana cost commander. Throw in some Commander 2017 tribal cards and some new Ixilan vampire hotness, and we have the makings of a deck.