Underdog’s Corner – Krav and Regna

Breaking Trends

Hello, everyone and welcome back to another installment of my series, the Underdog’s Corner! If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll remember that I’ve been going through lesser-played commanders from the various Ravnica sets of old for the past two and a half months. While we won’t be abandoning the Ravnica series quite yet (I haven’t even gotten to Guilds of Ravnica!), I am planning to take a quick respite for the month of December for two special articles where I slightly modify my content. Without further ado, let’s meet our commander for this week… or should I say, our commanders? Introducing possibly the most literal definition of star-crossed lovers: Krav, the Unredeemed and Regna, the Redeemer!

(I don’t know if they are canonically lovers, but Together Forever and the flavor text on Regna’s Sanction give enough plausibility for me.)


No One Cares That It’s My Birthday

If you don’t immediately recognize the flavor text referenced by this title, let me introduce you to the card Carnival of Souls. As one of my favorite pieces of flavor text, I thought it would be great to highlight this specific card as the focus of this deck. Why this card? Mainly because this article releases on my own birthday! Happy birthday to me!

Now, how can we best leverage this card in this build? Let’s look at its EDHREC stats:

Carnival of Souls is currently played in 349 decks, and the most predominant color combination that plays it (outside of mono-black) is the Orzhov combination. This small collection of decks is headed up by Teysa, Orzhov Scion, with 106 lists including Carnival in the 99. Following her, we see the likes of Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker, Chainer, Dementia Master, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, and Athreos, God of Passage in various numbers. Teysa quintuples the closest contender’s number, so why didn’t I pick her? There are a few reasons. First, I don’t think she quite fits the mettle of “underdog.” Despite being over ten years old, Teysa still holds fast to the #5 slot for Orzhov commanders, and I think once she (probably) gets reprinted in the upcoming Guild Kit products, we may see her numbers rise. Second, I think that Krav and Regna fill this role a bit better. Lastly, I’ve been watching a lot of MTGMuddstah videos recently, where one of the player’s Krav and Regna has impressed me mightily.

As an aside, if you don’t watch MTGMuddstah’s videos or have never heard of him, please go check out his channel! He makes my favorite Commander video content, and he deserves and earns every single view and subscriber. Phenomenal work.


Together Forever

So what does our dynamic duo bring to the table?

Let’s start with Krav, the Unredeemed. A 3/3 beater is a fairly mediocre rate for stats, but he won’t stay that way for long. At a converted mana cost of five, he’s in the range of expensive commanders that will likely be difficult to cast more than twice in a game. As a fun extra, since he has Partner, we can get a free shuffle effect when he comes into play. If your deck cares about that, it’s just a plus.

So what’s the reason we want to put this Demon into our command zone?

{B}, Sacrifice X creatures: Target players draws X cards and gains X life. Put X +1/+1 counters on Krav, the Unredeemed.

Krav makes math very easy, which is a boon for when board states start to become clogged. We sacrifice X creatures for X life, cards, and counters. Easy.

Let’s move to Regna. She’s got the same mediocre body-to-stats ratio as Krav, so maybe they bonded over that. With a CMC of 6, I’ve always viewed Regna as a bit expensive, but I think that isn’t as much of an issue as it can be made out to me. Honestly, I just wish she had a way to gain life on her card. However, that’s what Partner is for.

At the beginning of each end step, if your team gained life this turn, create two 1/1 white Warrior creature tokens.

Krav sacrifices creature and gains life, and then Regna makes Warrior tokens. It’s a funny image when you think of it. Regna is basically leading these poor souls to their doom. Oh well, that’s not my problem.

At face value, Krav definitely reads as the more “potent” option. Drawing cards, gaining life, and creating an increasingly larger Demon is a powerful set of abilities. While I still think Krav will be the focus of most decks built around these two, don’t scoff at Regna’s abilities. As someone who recently put together a token deck, being able to generate upwards of eight bodies with minimal cost in a turn cycle is incredibly powerful and should be taken seriously.

So how is this deck going to shape out?


Carnival of Souls

Well, since I wanted to focus on this card, let’s start with it. Carnival’s rules text isn’t very long, but there’s a lot to pay attention to. First, its ability triggers on any creature entering the battlefield. Ours, our opponents, and even Bill’s across the table in the next pod. While only two of those are true, it’s important to keep in mind, as those triggers cause us to lose life. If we’re playing against a token deck, this could kill us out of nowhere. If we’re playing against an infinite creature loop? Well, we were likely dead already, but the Carnival just speeds up that event. We also gain a black mana, but we can’t control how much mana is generated, and in 90% of cases we’re left to only use it in the main phase.

So what exactly do we do with Carnival of Souls? It seems mostly negative as we can only use the mana generated in one phase of each turn, and it’s a slow drain of our life total. The obvious choice, to my mind, is a mana sink. Powerful activated abilities typically require some amount of resource expenditure, and getting free mana from our opponents simply playing the game is a good way to get ahead.

Half of our commander pair does just that. We can use the black mana generated from Carnival to let Kravto sacrifice our creatures, gain that life back, and draw cards. If Regna is also on the board, we can consistently start drawing cards on every single turn.

Let’s look at the other options we have. Greed is another great option for errant mana. While three life is a lot to pay for a single card, if we build our deck correctly, it becomes one of the strongest card engines we can play. As longtime readers know, I love both the word and definition of “redundancy,” and with Greed, we have just that. The newly-minted Bloodtracker is the same draw effect in terms of payment, though the payoff is slightly different. We trade resilience and longevity with the enchantment for offense and draw-security with the creatures. “Leaves the battlefield” is truly one of the best lines of text in Magic.


Merry-Go-Round-Again

Maybe it’s just because I’ve written about these cards so much, maybe it’s because they feel obvious, but I always dread writing about archetype staples. I assume people know them. However, in the sense of thoroughness, here are some of the backbone cards of both this deck and archetype.


Soul Sisters

You know them, you love them. The “Soul Sisters” are the backbone of the eponymous archetype in other formats, and they fulfill that job just the same in EDH. Soul’s Attendant, Soul Warden, and Auriok Champion gain us life whenever any creature enters the battlefield. This will keep Regna producing tokens as well as bolstering our life total, especially if we’re able to play one early. There are other variations of these effects, though most of them only gain life when a creature we control enters the battlefield. However, this trade-off is often met with an upgrade as well; for example, Suture Priest actually punishes our opponents.


Aristocrat Effects

Draining life and gaining life from creatures dying is one of the most Orzhov abilities out there, and there’s less than zero reason to exclude these from the build. Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat are the marquee cards for this archetype for good reason, but don’t neglect others like Falkenrath Noble. While paying four mana for a Blood Artist may not be the most exciting prospect, you’ll be thankful to have that… wait for it… redundancy.


Taxes

Authority of the Consuls and Blind Obedience allow us to gain life over time while also slowing down hasty threats from our opponents. While Authority may seem lackluster at a glance, scaling with multiple opponents is where this card shines. While not in exactly the same category as the enchantments, Leonin Arbiter is a great taxation effect for our opponents, as we should be drawing through our library at a faster rate than our opponents. If they want to find an answer, they’re going to have to pay for it.


Let’s Have a Party

One of the benefits (and frankly, weaknesses) of the Orzhov commanders is that a lot of the themes of the legends overlap. This deck wants to gain life, sacrifice creatures, and gain benefit from doing those. Many black-white legends overlap quite a bit with that strategy. So why not invite all of them to the fun, too?

This deck will need to be able to win outside of combat, and Kambal, Consul of Allocation highlights one way to do so. “Drain and Gain” is a core tenet of the color combination, and having access to another taxation effect is great. Kambal won’t draw the immediate ire of our opponents as it only hits noncreature spells, but he’s certainly going to hurt spellslinger, enchantress, and artifact decks. Two life doesn’t seem like much, but it will start to add up against decks that don’t have a way to manage their life totals.

So what do we do with the life that we’re taxing from our opponents? Well, let’s take a look at the patriarch of the Karlov family, Karlov of the Ghost Council. Karlov not only gains counters from each instance of lifegain, but we can pay {B}{W} and remove six counters to exile a creature. Coming in at the bargain price of two mana, Karlov is a force if left unchecked. One of the requisites of playing Karlov to maximum effect is maximizing the number of lifegain triggers, and with Regna, the Redeemer in the command zone, we’re going to do just that.

Sacrifice outlets are important piece of aristocrat decks, and both Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim and Teysa, Orzhov Scion have great abilities for sacrificing creatures. Not only that, they also bring powerful removal options to bear. While Teysa is more suited to abuse her ability from the throne of her own deck, she can still bring the pain in our version. With cards like Twilight Drover and Requiem Angel bolstering our ranks, we should always have some fodder. While Ayli has a hurdle, that obstacle also comes with a greater reward. If we can put our life total at fifty or higher, we have access to a repeatable, painless, Anguished Unmaking. All in all, we have plenty of legends at our disposal.

Now, let’s look at the decklist!

”Together Forever: Orzhov Archetypes and You”

Commander (2)
Creature (26)
Artifact (15)
Instant (5)
Enchantment (8)
Sorcery (7)
Land (37)


Black and White Design

That’s it for this week. While they may not reinvent the wheel, Krav, the Unredeemed and Regna, the Redeemer offer a powerful and effective engine that can helm typical Orzhov shenanigans. I really think they’re underrated as a partner pair, and I think they should see more play than their current 170 decks. Krav is an obviously powerful engine, and Regna has been underrated ever since her release. Remember to check out the MTGMuddstah videos featuring this pair! I think once you see them action, they’ll garner more respect than at first read.

Thanks for joining me in the Underdog’s Corner!

Mason is an EDH player from Georgia, who is a self-proclaimed Johnny and Vorthos. His MTG career started with a casual lifegain deck with only a single win-condition. When not consuming MTG, he spends his time being a full-time student, an avid sports fan, and a dabbling musician. Mason can be found on twitter @K_Mason64