Welcome back to the doctor’s office! Before we get to this week’s patient, I want to extend another thank you to everyone who has sent in decks since my previous article, I often get very good submissions, but the ones sent in now have been delivered by prospective patients who have clearly read and taken my advice to heart. Well done, all of you!
One of these submitters is Kyle, and we’re going to take a look at his brew this week. Kyle has not only sent me a well-written submission of his deck (detailing what it tries to do, how it tries to win, and what ails it), but his brew is also very unique: it’s a five-color enchantment deck featuring a Donate-style package with a “hidden commander” in Zedruu, the Greathearted.
Before we get into the list, I want to expand upon the deck’s theme in general and on “hidden commanders” in particular.
I’m going to be perfectly upfront about this matter: I am not a fan of running decks with hidden commanders. For the uninitiated, this essentially means that while your deck has a formal commander (almost always a five-color one), it has another card within the 99 that is its “true” commander which the deck is really built around. The deck has the other, official commander just to unlock all the colors.
While there is nothing wrong with building a deck around a particular card that happens to not be able to be your commander, say Wild Research for example, there is just something that feels wrong to me to build, for example, a traditional Nekusar, the Mindrazer deck and just throw Child of Alara into the command zone to get access to the green ramp spells.
To me, the art of building around a commander that has a few drawbacks can be highly rewarding. As Mark Rosewater often says, “restriciton breeds creativity,” and even if a commander happens to not be in the exact right colors for what you have in mind, the deck can still turn out excellent. As an example, a good friend of mine has for a long time played an Esper-colored “lands matter” deck using none other than Dakkon Blackblade himself as commander! Personally, I would much rather play a deck around its commander, building to its strengths and trying to overcome any drawbacks, rather than chuck a five-color legendary creature into the command zone and load up on tutors to get the “real” commander out of the 99 when needed. To each their own, though.
All of this aside, Kyle’s brew is a very spicy one and it’s not exactly guilty of the sins detailed above, since it’s essentially doing two things at the same time: the deck is both an enchantress deck and a Zedruu the Greathearted deck at the same time. Kyle writes, however, that he is thinking about cutting the Donate part of the deck, which I won’t do in this analysis. The thought of Zedruu the Greathearted giving away a Demonic Pact is just too hilarious for me. Another issue with the deck, Kyle writes, is that it has issues finishing a game, and we’ll try to do something about that too.
Link to the deck on deckstats: click!
As alluded to before, we’re looking at a fairly enchantment-heavy deck, full of synergies with that card type, as well as the Donate subtheme discussed before. What we need to do is sharpen up the edge of the blade here, to allow the deck to actually close out a game once everything else is said and done.
It’s difficult to use the raw Rec tool to analyse this build, since it’s so unorthodox. When inputting it into the Rec feature there are a number of recommendations with quite high marks, specifically cards that are just generally good in EDH: Cyclonic Rift, Swords to Plowshares, Commander’s Sphere, and Kodama’s Reach/Cultivate. Clearly, we need to approach this deck from a different angle, but this site can still be extremely useful. Enter the EDHREC “Themes” section, specifically the enchantment one.
Commander 2018 brought us Estrid, the Masked and her deck, which was full of new goodies for any enchantment deck. Aside the face legendary herself, the other two commander options in the precon are nice additions: Tuvasa the Sunlit and Kestia, the Cultivator both support and can be included in an enchantmet deck, though especially the latter might belong in a more aggro style build.
The other cards listed under “New Cards” in the enchantments theme section could all be worth considering for the deck. This is a neat tip for any deck and any commander; even if you have an old deck which you’ve played, tuned, and perfected over time, it’s still worth it checking the “New Cards” section underneath that commander every now and then: perhaps there is an obscure uncommon from a recent set which you’ve missed!
There are plenty of other cards EDHREC lists in the enchantment theme section which are worthy of inclusion. Two that practically jumps off the screen are Sigil of the Empty Throne and Starfield of Nyx. Both of these would add to the deck’s offensive power and allow it to close the game once establishing contol.
To consider the Donate subtheme of the deck, we could actually just input the deck as-is, but mark Zedruu the Greathearted as our commander. The output is a bit similar to the one before; we get Cyclonic Rift and Swords to Plowshares, but we also get the classic Zedruu the Greathearted pieces (Akroan Horse, Bazaar Trader, Steel Golem) and two other cards that fits this build very nicely: Oblivion Ring and Detention Sphere! Both work well with our enchantment theme, and both could be donated by Zedruu the Greathearted with little to no downside, should we manage to get our commander on the field early on and not just for the “Donate for the win” play.
All in all, I think one of the issues with the deck is the large number of pillowfort pieces. There are so many of these, in fact, that they will likely clutter up the hand when playing, and even though it’s safer to cast both Ghostly Prison and Propaganda (and for good measure, Sphere of Safety!), there are many instances where just one is enough to keep the worst heat off our backs. Wearing a helmet with your seat belt is fine when driving, but the seat belt and the airbag will likely suffice in most instances, and in the cases where they won’t, it’s unlikely the added protection of a helmet would make a difference.
As such, we will remove some of those pieces in favor of primarily two types of cards:
We will keep Donateing things, and I won’t go into that too much, but I will tro to sharpen the enchantment theme quite a bit.
Perhaps the most controversial suggestion I have for Kyle – and this is a first for me – is this: “swap your commander!” Cromat opens us up to all the colors we need and it is a very cool card indeed, but I think O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami could work a little better. Cromat doesn’t really add anything to our strategy, though he is a very versatile creature, while O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami is a very political commander who assists with the pillowfort strategy.
The changes I would make thus are:
Aside from the cards already discussed, we’ve got Nylea’s Colossus to finish off opponents in no time. With it on board, all it takes is three enchantments cast in the same turn for it to one-shot anyone who hasn’t gained life during the game, and this is very doable. Granted, it doesn’t have any form of evasion, so it takes careful play, but following up a board wipe with Colossus in the late game might just take someone out. Crysal Chimes is expensive mana-wise, but enables this type of play further, and also allows us to reuse enchantments that have been destroyed. Supreme Verdict is, in my opinion, a straight upgrade to In Garruk’s Wake in this deck, less than half the total mana cost, and since we’re not running many creatures, the effects are more or less the same. Estrid’s Invocation is a straight upgrade to Copy Enchantment, since we’ll only really want to copy our own enchantments anyway, and in my opinion, no decks that could play them should go without Swords to Plowshares and Fact or Fiction.
As for the other cuts, they were quite diffucult to make, but as stated before, I’ve elected to axe some of the pillowfort cards – Propaganda and Mogis, God of Slaughter most notably, but keeping Ghostly Prison since we might need the effect, but not the redundancy. Form of the Dragon is a cool card if it can be donated immediately, but if someone were to, for example, remove Zedruu the Greathearted in response to us casting the enchantment, we’re in big trouble. Similarly, Nefarious Lich is too high-risk in my opinion, while Grave Betrayal is doubtless a very powerful card, but it’s also expensive to cast and we don’t have many ways to activate it. Lastly, the alternative win conditions of Test of Endurance and Triskaidekaphobia are cute, but too difficult to activate.
The changes leaves us with this decklist:
Link to the deck on deckstats: Click!
I’m therefore discharging the patient with the hope that it will recover completely from my surgery, and end up a stronger, more offensive deck that can close out and win games it’s in control of.
Did I miss out on any cards? What cards would you consider for the deck yourself? Leave a comment below, and help Kyle with his deck!
General Medicine is a bi-weekly column where I take a look at your EDH deck, run it through our own EDHREC analysis, add some twists and turns of my own, and present your deck with an analysis for the world to see, right here on this site! Sound exciting? Want your sweet brew featured (as in, picked apart, analyzed, and written about – it’s not as scary as it might sound!) in my series?
Here’s what you do:
I am not using some sort of first-come, first-served policy, I am choosing the most interesting deck, and I am also looking at the best write-ups! Make sure you read the submission guidelines above, and take your time when writing me your e-mail; the better the write-up, the higher the chance I pick your deck! And if you’re not picked next time, fear not – I will be keeping any unused lists and write-ups in my log, from which I will pull the nuggets every other week.