Uncommonders – Umezawa’s Tainted Blade

(Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive | Art by Randy Vargas)

A Quick, Clean Kill

They cannot keep us apart, beloved Commander faithful! No matter what they do, no matter what they say, I will always come back to you! For our love is not ordinary: it is quite…UNCOMMON!

Bad introductory jokes aside, welcome to this week’s edition of Uncommonders, the series that explores underappreciated commanders printed at the uncommon level. I am going to preface this article with a bit of a revelation. Often with this series, I will stare blankly at the Uncommonder I am going to write about and pick up little details, make a list of possible deck ideas or archetypes, and eventually pick one or two for the article and run with it. This week was not that easy. I struggled to find a good, unique way to build this deck. In the end, I decided to buckle down and say that if I could not make it super unique or “out there”, I would simply build it to the commander’s strength to the best of my ability in an effort to make the deck as mean as possible. Naturally, I expect you to be curious which uncommon legendary creature we are looking at today, so without further ado, today we are talking about…

Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive

Before we talk about the deck and the cards in it, I do want to point out some of the ideas I looked into and ultimately was dissatisfied with. First, I wanted to build a more aggressive deck and looked up all the blue and colorless creatures that had a toughness of 1 but a power of 2 or more. This would mean that the creatures would be able to slip by with Tetsuko’s ability but deal more damage than creatures with low toughness normally do. Unfortunately, for this idea, the two top cards Scryfall gave me were Snapcaster Mage and Metallic Mimic, which turned me off the idea almost immediately. While looking at this list, I did notice a number of Faeries, some of which were Wizards and some of which were Rogues, and I considered some kind of tribal theme, either with Faeries or Rogues, but those searches did not inspire me much, either. They were especially lackluster when adding the requirement to have either power or toughness equal to 1, so I toyed around with another couple of ideas (there are sadly not enough Ninjas with power or toughness equal to 1 in mono-blue) and threw up my hands thinking “fine, I will just have to be the meanest person at the table with this!”

When thinking about “what is the meanest thing to do with unblockable, small creatures in mono-blue” I eventually settled on what Tetsuko already does very well:

Infect.

That may sound crazy, as there are only six creatures with the Infect ability in mono-blue with power or toughness equal to 1. However, four of those creatures are artifacts, and blue is pretty good at making duplicates of their creatures and their artifacts, so I decided to double down on my idea and Infect the table out. Also, blue is one half of the normal color combination that deals with counter manipulation, so Proliferate shenanigans are not hard to come by for the deck. One poison counter can quickly become fatal in most scenarios, so all we need to do is get the party started with these smaller creatures.


A Pinprick of Poison

In addition to the three cards shown above, the other three main Infect cards are Blighted Agent, Necropede and Phyrexian Digester. There are other Infect sources in the deck and some with interesting roles to play (like recursion on Corpse Cur, and the sometimes-creature Inkmoth Nexus) but I want to focus on some of the other supportive cards for our endgame of infecting the entire table.

With War of the Spark, blue got some interesting new cards for Infect wins with new sources of Proliferate. Naturally, these cards were intended to pump up Standard-legal planeswalkers, but I’ll take a win where I can find one! Guildpact Informant feels like a variant of Thrummingbird, while Flux Channeler can get out of control quickly if we have some card advantage cantrips or just a grip filled with counterspells. Speaking of cantrips, Contentious Plan is a fun new inclusion. Finally, the new Karn’s Bastion is a repeatable effect similar to Viral Drake.

Of all these new cards, the one I struggled the most with did not come from War of the Spark but from Modern Horizons. Sword of Truth and Justice is a continuation of the iconic ‘Sword of X and Y’ cycle and helps get us where we want to be. Unfortunately, there are two major drawbacks to the card with our strategy. For starters, we normally do not want to put +1/+1 counters on our creatures because we need to keep either their power or toughness low enough for Tetsuko to help them remain unblockable. Second, the Sword itself gives the creature holding it +2/+2, meaning even if we put it on a 1/1 body, it definitely is not going to remain unblockable as a 3/3. In the end, I decided to include the Sword because we simply needed more Proliferate abilities, and hopefully the added protection the sword provides can assist with keeping the creature difficult to block. Even if the Sword-wielding creature only hits once or twice, it will also work as a diversionary target, making our opponents want to get rid of it and maybe ignoring some of our other pieces on the table.


Colorless and Deadly

I have recently reignited my love for artifact decks, having built a Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle deck for my 3DH streams. Noticing that four of our six main Infect cards are artifacts and that some of our main synergy pieces were also artifacts (like Contagion Clasp and Contagion Engine), I decided to dive into some colorless shenanigans to round out the deck. Krark-Clan Ironworks has been dropping in price since the Modern ban and is basically a better Ashnod’s Altar for our deck. Ugin, the Ineffable makes many of our artifacts free. I like the idea of having recursion options for Meteor Golem to strengthen our removal suite for things like artifacts and enchantments. Thopters and Myrs mostly come in the forms of 1/1 bodies, so Sharding Sphinx is a walking army in the making, and Sai, Master Thopterist can get that army started just by casting some artifacts.

With all of this synergy, we are going to need to support it with as much ramp as blue can manage, card advantage galore, some Wraths and removal, to ultimately get a list that looks like this:


Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer


The last article about Boris Devilboon was a little on the unorthodox side, even for me. I have to admit, I was slightly worried about how it would be received by you, the readers, breaking so far away from the commander and those printed abilities to do something as janky as Liliana’s Contract. Still, there were some cool comments, like this one by regular commenter Cyberium! They wrote:

Choice of Damnations is oddly fitting here. In addition to chaotic effects, I love forcing opponent to make a decision, that’s something a demon would do.
Slightly off topic: Given the new expansion is Throne of Eldraine, with a royalty-ish feel, perhaps the Round Table deck could be revisited.

I cannot begin to tell you how many of the decks I make for EDHREC articles are listed in the “go back and update now that new, cool cards have come out since writing those articles” mental list I keep! Actually, maybe I can: almost all of them! Honestly, I am the kind of deck brewer that is never truly satisfied with a deck. Wizards of the Coast comes out with so many new awesome cards in each set, I find it impossible to ever stop tweaking and tuning decks, trying to hit that sweet spot where they feel perfect. I even look back at my favorite, Krenko, Mob Boss and constantly think about adjustments to make the deck faster, more consistent and meaner.

Of course, if you like how mean I can be when tossing cardboard around a kitchen table (or sometimes online) then make sure you are following me on Twitter to talk about all things Magic: the Gathering! You can also join the public Praetor Magic Discord server to talk to me there daily, not to mention see our awesome gameplay videos on our YouTube channel! We also have a podcast called Reflections of the Council; new episodes are posted every Thursday after we record them on YouTube at 9 PM EST, so search “Praetor Magic” or “Reflections of the Council” on your favorite podcast platform to find us! And until next time, remember…

Drop bombs and Infect the table!

DM Cross started playing Magic: the Gathering when he was 8 years old. Currently 29 years old, he's become an avid lover of the EDH/Commander format and is constantly keeping an eye on everything coming out to see how to tune and tweak his favorite decks. DM can be found on Twitter @DM_Cross