When it comes to choosing a general in EDH, you’ve got a lot of great legendary creatures to choose from. Budget or no, there are plenty of high powered, ready to kill, commanders that can have innovative and solid strategies built around them. There are also a lot of bad commanders and a quick look at gatherer can find generals that are literally unplayable (Haakon, Stromgald Scourge), ones that add nothing to your deck (Mishra, Artificer Prodigy) or just ones that are confusing and useless (General Jarkeld). There are vanilla commanders of course but that’s not what this article is about, no this article will highlight playable bad commanders that also have totally awesome names or at least names that are so dumb they’re pretty funny. So let’s play Bad Commander, Best Name.
If I could go back in time and correct something about Magic’s history it wouldn’t be Avoiding Chronicles or Fixing any of the Jaces or anything dumb like that. If I could go back in time and fix something about Magic: The Gathering it would clearly be making sure the name Axelrod Gunnarson wasn’t wasted on this complete dud of a card. Not only is Axelrod’s ability the equivalent of mild salsa poured into a vat of milk, the art depicts a giant wearing tights blowing snow on a bunch of already-dead trees. So you had a super-nitro-rock & roll name and you made it into “Sven, the Giant Tree Blower”. Sorry Magic, but you fucked up.
Jacques le Vert
Maybe its just because I’m Canadian and had to take French in school up until grade 10 but I think Jacques le Vert (or, Jack the Green to our non-officially bilingual American friends) is a righteous sounding, kickass French-Canadian Robin Hood-style forest guardian type, no? Certainly he’s some mono-green beater who pumps all your… swashbuckling rogues or something? This guy should be Errol Flynn meets Garruk Wildspeaker, right? No, instead our pals at Wizards gave JLV the “I’m 3 coloured but only care about one of the colours” treatment and even then, he only pumps toughness. Toughness? Come on guys, JLV mérite un meilleur traitement que cela!
Am I the only person who sees the name Stangg and can’t help but think of the word “Dang” but said in a super sassy way? Stangg isn’t the worst Commander I guess, he essentially makes a copy of himself. Oh great, two green-red knights who both look like they were drawn by my best friend in grade 6. I’ll admit the picture of Stangg is pretty Metal, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that for some reason if he dies, his token dies too. Dang, Stangg. Also this has to be said, nice name Poole, think you could make it any bigger in this art?
Darigaaz, the Igniter
Look of the dragons with this ability Darigaaz is probably the worst one. But with a name like Darigaaz the Igniter, how could you not want this guy as your Commander? In fact, I think Ronny James Dio wrote a song called Darigaaz, the Igniter, didn’t he? I think it went something like:
Ancient being who flies up high/
Rides the wind with fires come nigh/
Strikes down evil, eyes Topaz/
Igniting Dragon Darigaaz!!
2 and a Red
2 and a Red
2 and a Red
Target player Dead
Pharika, God of Affliction
“Wait this is a new card, how can this be bad?” You maybe asking. Pharika isn’t the worst legend out there to be sure but she just doesn’t hold up to any of the others and it’s kind of like she was created by a committee of trolls and practical jokesters. If she just exiled creatures from graveyards and always gave YOU a snake token, she’d be great! Mess around with opponents graveyard, stop strategies and get value in a small army of deathtouchers. Sounds great. Instead we got a weird multilateral general who somehow ends up not really helping anyone. Pharika’s name on the other hand, is probably the best one. The GOD OF AFFLICTION bit already sounds like a tough Final Fantasy boss, but the ability to nickname your general “Super-Pharik” and always mention how “She’s super-Pharik-ay” is a sweet bonus that will not only have Rick James rolling in his grave, but have you rolling in sweet nicknames and probably a lot of new, very impressed friends. (No promises on that)
Cool names aside, when it comes to actually building around one of these Commanders, I think Pharika outclasses the rest of the crew when it comes to on-board abilities, so here you have a Pharika, God of Affliction budget EDH deck that maybe doesn’t suck. MAYBE. I’m not making promises.
Bad Commanders, Great Names
So to fill up our yard we’ll get some classic dredge going with Stinkweed Imp and we’ll mill ourselves with things like Satyr Wayfinder, Nyx Weaver[card] and Foster[/card]. All solid options that will give us additional upside by grabbing lands, being an enchantment and getting us to more creatures quickly. Pharika is a weird general with weird abilities and weird opinions about how we should treat creatures in graveyards. It’s weird because you want to fill up your graveyard and sac creatures but as a result you also want to recur those creatures because getting a 1/1 snake with deathtouch is only just OK or not even good depending on your situation. I guess we could mill our opponents and give them the snakes? Maybe do something that punishes them for having creatures? That could work, but let’s keep our little slithery pals around and have them pay off by utilizing the Constellation ability – don;t forget those little snakes are also enchantments!
When we get to make those snakes Pharika likes so much we’ll have a few Constellation creatures ready to trigger when they appear. Creatures like Doomwake Giant, Thoughtrender Lamia and even Goldenhide Ox can be deadly when you’re dropping a few deathtouching enchantment snakes every turn or so.
This strategy is pretty middle of the road and even if we get it off, it’s no guaranteed win so why not just jam some Budget Golgari goodstuff in here as well? I’ve been loving Archfiend of Depravity in EDH these days. If you’re in a creature-heavy meta, it’s unbelievably good at controlling the board and keeping your opponent’s boards in check. Palace Siege is another must include in just about any black deck with creatures doesn’t even have to be a mill strategy for this card to pull it’s weight. We’ve got a few sacrifice outlets, naturally, so let’s throw Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest in there to help our snakes become a little more threatening, Mazirek is beginning to look like a decent card even if you plan on sacrificing very little yourself. I’ve played him in some games where only fetchlands have gone off and it’s been more than worth it. Finally, thanks to Modern Masters 2015 Creakwood Liege is a card that is now in the budget cross hairs and thanks to its pumping of black and green creatures, our snakes as well as it’s own worms will be coming out as 3/3s.
All in all, in order to be successful with this deck you need to react to what you’re playing against, get your draw going, mill out your deck and see where the game is flowing, help out the players who need blockers and play the political long game. Pharika isn’t a powerhouse commander and frankly a lot of the cards in this deck aren’t either. But if you literally play your cards right, you can be the deck that no one sees coming, the disease that persists throughout the game and poisons your enemies at the exact right time. I bet the God of Affliction would be pretty pleased.