About the Author
Andy Hull is a Comedian, Writer and EDH addict from Toronto. He's written and is featured on the Geek & Sundry webseries Space Janitors and co-hosts The Commander's Brew podcast.

Bad Commanders, Great Names

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.

Axelrod Gunnarson should be fronting a Norwegian metal band not blowing salt on these trees!

Axelrod Gunnarson should be fronting a Norwegian metal band not blowing salt on these old twigs!

Axelrod Gunnarson

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.

Brutal helmet Jacques. That nose protector makes you look like a real dweeb.

Brutal helmet Jacques. That nose protector makes you look like a real chooch.

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!

"Then I drew some sick spikes on his gloves too." - Billy, grade 8 student who drew this.

“Then I drew some sick spikes on his gloves too.” – Mark Poole, grade 6 student who drew this.


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 is cooler than his original name, Jeff the Fire Guy.

Darigaaz the Igniter is cooler than his original name, Jeff the Fire Guy.

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

“She’s a very snakey girl, the kind you don’t bring home to Thassa” – Rick Jace

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.

Deck List

[Deck title=Bad Commanders, Great Names]
1 Archetype of Endurance
1 Archetype of Finality
1 Archfiend of Depravity
1 Blight Herder
1 Blood Seeker
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Creakwood Liege
1 Dawntreader Elk
1 Doomwake Giant
1 Dreadbringer Lampads
1 Eidolon of Blossoms
1 Erebos’s Emissary
1 Goldenhide Ox
1 Grim Guardian
1 Humbler of Mortals
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest
1 Nighthowler
1 Noble Quarry
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Nyx Weaver
1 Ogre Slumlord
1 Pharika’s Mender
1 Reaper of the Wilds
1 Renowned Weaver
1 Riftsweeper
1 Ruin Processor
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Satyr Wayfinder
1 Seshiro the Anointed
1 Sewer Nemesis
1 Splinterfright
1 Stinkweed Imp
1 Thoughtrender Lamia
1 Ulamog’s Despoiler
1 Verduran Enchantress
1 Viscera Seer
1 Void Attendant
1 Wood Elves
1 Yavimaya Granger

1 Beastmaster Ascension
1 Daxos’s Torment
1 Deadbridge Chant
1 Deathreap Ritual
1 Decree of Pain
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Dictate of Erebos
1 Druid’s Deliverance
1 Evolutionary Leap
1 Extinguish All Hope
1 Foster
1 Frontier Siege
1 Greed
1 Grisly Salvage
1 Jarad’s Orders
1 Life’s Finale
1 Night Dealings
1 Oath of the Ancient Wood
1 Palace Siege
1 Putrefy
1 Spidersilk Armor
1 Strength from the Fallen
1 Underworld Connections

19 Forest
1 Golgari Guildgate
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Jungle Hollow
14 Swamp
1 Tainted Wood


So to fill up our yard we’ll get some classic dredge going with [card]Stinkweed Imp[/card] and we’ll mill ourselves with things like [card]Satyr Wayfinder[/card], [card]Nyx Weaver[card] and [/card]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!

Best snake ever dude, didn't even need deathtouch.

Best snake ever dude, didn’t even need deathtouch.

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 [card]Doomwake Giant[/card], [card]Thoughtrender Lamia[/card] and even [card]Goldenhide Ox[/card] 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 [card]Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest[/card] 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 [card]Creakwood Liege[/card] 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.

Hey Gugliotta, maybe if you didn't spend all your time singing your glamour shots you'd win a game!

Timberwolves great, Tom Gugliotta, everyone. The Pharika, God of Affliction of the NBA.

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.

Lena Dunham and the Nude Goats of EDH!

So there’s a Magic: The Gathering Movie in the works and everyone from pros, to casuals, former players to current ones and even WOTC employees and the artists are all thinking the same thing: CASTING. Who will play Jace? Who will play Karn? Who will play Fblthp? (My votes on these go: Joseph Gordo-Levitt – yes I call him Gordo, Vin Diesel, and Bobcat Goldthwait, respectively.)

Sorry but this guy sucks.

Sorry but this guy sucks.

I can tell one thing, artists have been thinking about the Magic movie since the game’s inception. You can tell because they’ve been not-so-secretly casting actors and celebrities to play the parts of legendary creatures in their cards since there has been such thing as a legendary creature. But is anyone really interested in a movie about [card]Marhault Elsdragon[/card] starring the always questionably hair-plugged John Travolta? No, of course not. That sounds terrible. But what about some other Legends who resemble celebs? Could their movies turn out to be the cash-cow Hasbro is looking for? Let’s check out 5 commanders who look like celebrities and then build a deck around the one we think is the least terrible.

Look, there's nothing not cool about Sean Connery playing Odric holding a glowing sword, but the guy is like 100 now.

Look, there’s nothing not cool about Sean Connery playing Odric holding a glowing sword, but the guy is like 100 now.

[card]Odric, Master Tactician[/card] – Sean Connery

This is the classic as far as I’m concerned. Sean Connery as Odric leading an army of soldiers into battle against some evil presence, probably something that looks like orcs but we’re not going to call them orcs because we don’t want to be accused of ripping off LOTR even though we fully are. Not a terrible pitch, but we can’t use Connery as Odric, because this movie would have to end up with Odric deciding for the orcs that they just wouldn’t block/fight back and the movie would only last as long as it takes for 3 other dudes to join him.

Lena Dunham was born to drive goats.

Lena Dunham was born to drive goats.

[card]Anafenza, the Foremost[/card] – Lena Dunham

I’d watch a movie about Anafenza just to see Lena Dunham ride a chariot pulled by goats, so I’m going to say this sounds strong to me. I’m not so sure about the clause that I’m positive Lena would write into the contract however; that Anafenza must get sloppily nude at least once in the film. I mean, I’m all for getting tastefully nude, but something about the proximity to the goats is making me uneasy. Wait, the goats are always naked! Lena will LOVE this!

This casting also works out if we ever need someone to play "bored person waiting for storm player to finish turn".

This casting also works out if we ever need someone to play “bored person waiting for storm player to finish turn”.

[card]Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts[/card] – Aubrey Plaza

When it comes to an actor who;s mastered looking bored and angry sitting in a chair, look no further than grumpy cat’s human form, Aubrey Plaza. Her job on Parks & Rec was to basically act as disinterested as possible and if I can judge anything about the character of Teysa by purely going on the art from her card and not reading any of the books or anything, it’s that she is mighty indifferent about most things – especially that chair and possibly even that old cane she is holding. But does all this add up to a Blockbuster film? Probably not, right?

Jason Momoa was on Baywatch. I found that out writing this article.

Jason Momoa was on Baywatch. I found that out writing this article.

[card]Daxos of Meletis[/card] – Fat Jason Momoa

Big Daddy Daxos, or more like Big Dad-Body Daxos could easily be an action star, we just need to get Momoa to eat nothing but burritos and spray cheese for a few months first. Look I’m not saying Daxos is fat, but when he took his shirt off Elspeth tried to jump behind him and choke him out with a chain. Seriously folks, Daxos is so fat when Olivia Voldaren bit him she got diabetes. For real, the guy gets no respect, no respect at all.

How could you go wrong with a Sith Airbender? Wait he's Bant colours? And he sucks!?

How could you go wrong with a Sith Airbender? Wait he’s Bant colours? And he sucks!?

[card]Johan[/card] – Darth Maul mixed with Avatar, the Last Airbender

Gone are the days when you could ask a 7th grader to draw you a picture of a “rude demon”, put it on a magic card where the colours make no sense and have an ability that I get tired of trying to understand about 2 seconds into reading it. No, nowadays the people in charge of Magic make sensible creatures like Chromanticore and make reasonable abilities like Annihilator. Seriously, the text on this card is so brutal whoever writes the Oracle text couldn’t even figure out how to just say “Creatures you control get Vigilance if Johan is untapped” without their head turning into a mashed turnip. I don’t want to make a movie about this card based purely on spite.

Look this hairstyle was obviously as popular in Sengir as it was here in the 1970's... and in the Morlock's Tunnels.

Look, this hairstyle was obviously as popular in Sengir as it was on Earth in the 1970’s… and in the Morlock’s Tunnels.

[card]Veldrane of Sengir[/card] – Joan Jett/Chrissy Hynde/Pat Benatar/Callisto from the 90’s X-Men cartoon

In a bizarre chain of events, if Wizards really wanted to mess everything up, they could go a real “The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus” route and have this obscure character played by 3 former rock goddesses and a fairly obscure cartoon character. Now THIS is the movie I want to see. Admittedly, there’s never ever been a good movie made with the word “Imaginarium” in it’s title, but I think this time it could work. “The Imaginarium of Veldrane of Sengir” is a title that just screams TAKE MY MONEY, does it not?

So which one of these magnificently bad movie ideas/celebrities should I build a budget deck for? Well I’m going to go with Lena Dunham and her nude goats for what I think are pretty obvious reasons. Despite the pure bliss that making a deck around Veldrane would be, I’ll pick something that you may actually be able to win with once and a while.

[deck title= Lena Dunham as Anafenza in NUDE GOATS, the Magic: the Gathering Movie]
1 Anafenza, the Foremost
1 Abzan Battle Priest
1 Abzan Falconer
1 Ainok Bond-Kin
1 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
1 Archetype of Courage
1 Archetype of Finality
1 Attended Knight
1 Bane of Progress
1 Bloodflow Connoisseur
1 Bloodspore Thrinax
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Captain of the Watch
1 Champion of Lambholt
1 Crowned Ceratok
1 Dauntless Escort
1 Elite Scaleguard
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Fertilid
1 Forgotten Ancient
1 Goldnight Commander
1 Gyre Sage
1 High Sentinels of Arashin
1 Knight-Captain of Eos
1 Longshot Squad
1 Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest
1 Mentor of the Meek
1 Mer-Ek Nightblade
1 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
1 Mirror Entity
1 Mycoloth
1 Odric, Master Tactician
1 Pathbreaker Ibex
1 Sigil Captain
1 Skullmulcher
1 Springjack Shepherd
1 Tuskguard Captain
1 Viscera Seer
1 Abzan Ascendancy
1 Abzan Charm
1 Arachnogenesis
1 Ashnod’s Altar
1 Cathars’ Crusade
1 Collective Unconscious
1 Conqueror’s Pledge
1 Decree of Justice
1 Deploy to the Front
1 Dictate of Erebos
1 End Hostilities
1 Hardened Scales
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Martial Coup
1 Mobilization
1 Nature’s Resurgence
1 Nomads’ Assembly
1 Ordeal of Nylea
1 Palace Siege
1 Rampant Growth
1 Return to Dust
1 Shamanic Revelation
1 Sol Ring
1 Titania’s Boon
1 Trading Post
1 Blighted Fen
1 Blighted Woodland
1 Blossoming Sands
1 Evolving Wilds
7 Forest
1 Golgari Guildgate
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Grasslands
1 Grim Backwoods
1 Jungle Hollow
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Orzhov Guildgate
7 Plains
1 Sandsteppe Citadel
1 Scoured Barrens
1 Selesnya Guildgate
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Spawning Bed
1 Springjack Pasture
4 Swamp
1 Temple of the False God
1 Terramorphic Expanse

So Anafenza likes to attack, place counters on things, and she doesn’t let our opponents’ creatures hit the graveyard, so naturally, lets get some things that care about counters, let us attack and kill the other guys’ creatures.

So let’s start things off by playing to the Abzan colours’ strengths and build around token producing and mass +1/+1 counter addition. This is something Green & White love to do and since we have access to black, let’s add some sacrifice benefit since that also synergizes with our token theme. We’ll sac tokens to draw cards and also to force our opponents to sacrifice their creatures. Finally, we’ll use some creatures like [card]Abzan Falconer[/card] to give our team a mass ability like flying and see everyone just sail over our opponents and put them out of their misery.

Of course since we’re in green, ramp should be no problem, especially when we get great synergy out of cards like [card]Gyre Sage[/card] and [card]Fertilid[/card]. The more counters the better on these guys and Fertilid even takes advantage of Bolster triggers which generally look pretty weak in EDH.

As far as token producers go, it just doesn’t get too much better these days than [card]Mycoloth[/card]. Since his reprinting in C15, he’s had a drop in price, and really, if you’re running a sacrifice/tokens build, you just can’t go wrong with the big fungus. Other budget token makers I love are [card]Conqueror’s Pledge[/card], [card]Mobilization[/card], and since we need to represent Lena’s goats, [card]Springjack Shepherd[/card]. Goats are a bit of a theme in this deck and when I say “theme” I mean “joke”.

Release the goats!

Release the goats!

So with an army of tokens, and probably a lot of other guys, the best thing to do is mass pump them all and swing for the win, right? Well, since this strategy tends to ramp up instead of explosively going off in one turn, we’ll take a lot of creatures that add incremental value to the creatures we have out on our board. Something like [card]Elite Scaleguard[/card] or the aforementioned Abzan Falconer do a good job of arriving on the battlefield and letting you win of you have a decent state already, but they also add value to your board state as you get ready to swing for the win with adding damage over many turns and even Outlasting. [card]Crowned Ceratok[/card] is another solid way to add evasion to your creatures with counters and once you get your [card]Bloodspore Thrinax[/card] up and running, everything is huge anyways, so let the nude goats run free!

Finally, you’re not always going to be on the attack in EDH. We know this, Lena Dunham knows this, and certainly [card]Butcher of Malakir[/card] knows this. Naturally, since Anafenza sports a Junk/Abzan colour scheme we’ve included some sacrificing effects that work well with our numerous tokens. Sac outlets like [card]Viscera Seer[/card] and [card]Ashnod’s Altar[/card] are staples in the format and Butcher of Malakir (played by Adam Driver? Nice Girls synergy there.) and [card]Dictate of Erebos[/card] help us out when the board stalls and/or we’re staring down any hexproof voltron generals.

Just picture the Kylo Ren voice: "Ok, so my token dies and now you have to sac a creature".

Just picture the Kylo Ren voice: “Ok, so my token dies and now you have to sac a creature”.

A few hidden gems that help keep this deck competitive but also under $50 are [card]Palace Siege[/card] – now you can sac your non-token creatures too, [card]End Hostilities[/card] – arguably better than [card]Wrath of God[/card] in decks not running much equipment and [card]Titania’s Boon[/card] – not a super powerful effect, but one you will often wish you had in this deck. Put those beside limited all stars like [card]High Sentinels of Arashin[/card], [card]Ainok Bond-Kin[/card] and [card]Abzan Battlepriest[/card] and you have a sub $50 deck that can swing with the big boys in your playgroup. Also you can act out a weird movie starring Lena Dunham as Anafenza, Adam Driver as the Butcher of Malakir, a host of goats and Andy Serkis as the lovable [card]Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest[/card]! You’re Welcome, HOLLYWOOD.

Bagging on Boring Old Boros

Whenever someone on the internet starts a conversation about what the best color pair is in Commander, you get a lot of diverse opinions with a myriad of reasons and arguments. “Izzet is basically a Batman and Superman team up,” they’ll say. “Yeah but Azorius is like Captain America and Thor in a helicopter!” another will post. “Ok but Golgari is like if The Hulk and Dracula were best buds and just opened up a small antique shop in rural Pennsylvania!” I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen on Reddit.

The same reasoning and raging online nerd debate doesn’t exist when the topic is flipped to what the worst color pairs are in commander. Instead, the sad and easy answer people seem to come back to is the dud brothers, the warm milk mixed with stale cereal, the 1995 Minnestoa Timberwolves of EDH, Boros.

Hey Gugliotta, maybe if you didn't spend all your time singing your glamour shots you'd win a game!

Hey Gugliotta, maybe if you didn’t spend all your time singing your glamour shots you’d win a game.

So what is it that makes Boros such a weak colour pair in our format? Is it the keywords? The colour pie? The inevitable connection to Canada? (It’s ok guys, I’m Canadian) What is it? The answer of course is a combination of all of the above except the Canada thing – we’re good at Magic. Boros is made up of the two weakest stand-alone colours in EDH and while White is an excellent support colour, it struggles with the things you want to do in Commander and the same goes for Red. Neither can draw cards very easily and both have trouble ramping up. It’s sort of like when Danny Glover and Joe Pesci were in that fishing movie. You know both of these guys are good (and one of them is like, all time good) but together they just made some forgettable garbage that even your dad who loves fishing is disappointed in. In addition to what I will now call the Pesci-Glover effect, Boros’ abilities always seem to be based around combat, which when playing in a format that loves big, wacky cards that control and combo off, can seem less effective and not nearly as fun. This isn’t to say that Boros can’t put together a mean deck or one that isn’t fun, it’s just to say that if you want to do anything besides combat, you may be in for a less than decent time.



Of course all that could change if we just had a legendary creature who didn’t deal exclusively with combat. This is the main reason people didn’t seem excited about [card]Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas[/card] when she was spoiled. Sure, double strike and vigilance are powerful abilities and the new experience counter mechanic means she would make a solid voltron general, but we really wanted a commander that was completely different and would elevate Boros alongside the other guilds. The worst part of Kalemne’s reveal for me personally was that red-white’s non-legendary creature pool could easily have been treated as a road map of other great ideas to put on a commander. Seeing this, it’s tough to figure out why someone thought two more voltron, damage-based commanders were the way to go.

So let’s use the road map and take a look at some non-legendary creatures that prove Boros could be more than just combat-orietnted, face smashing, nonsense.

[card]Boros Reckoner[/card]

You’re not going to get away from damage-based effects as long as you include red in your colours. Combat damage, however is something we can avoid. Boros Reckoner has a really neat ability that you can build a sort of “deal damage to my own creatures” deck around. If you made the commander version of the Reckoncer have or gain indestructible or maybe it deals damage to each player I think we’re looking at a very interesting and cool new commander.

It doesn't get much better than smashing the words "Minotaur" and "Wizard" together in the creature line.

It doesn’t get much better than smashing the words “Minotaur” and “Wizard” together in the creature line.

[card]Soulfire Grand Master[/card]

One of the most frustrating things to happen in recent sets was the printing of Soulfire Grand Master without the word Legendary in its card type. I know this techincally is a Jeskai card, but it is Boros through and through. Buyback, lifelink, damage spells, come on! How can you give us busted stuff like Mizzix and Narset and then pullback on the commander powere level for a card so perfectly designed to add new spice to potentially Boros coommanders!?

[card]Soulfire Grand Master[/card]

Oh no, I’m not done with this one – Soulfire GM is so good as a potential Boros commander that you could split the card in two and still have two different and great generals. Take the lifelink on spells for a more lifegain, control-oriented deck and give me the buyback ability for finally using those red burn spells that I otherwise get no use out of in EDH. This is the card so nice they should have made it twice!


Speaking of ways to make burn spells viable in EDH, slap a “Legendary” on Hostility and you have yourself a card that begs to be built around. Big hastey creatures born from red burns, maybe toss in an anthem effect from the white side of the new card, play with some red sac outlets and you’re having a doesnt-have-to-be-combat-based laugh!

Sure it's a weird duck-thing, but I swear it'd make a great general.

Sure it’s a weird duck-thing, but I swear it’d make an interesting general.

[card]Chief Engineer[/card]

Ok, so this card isn’t Red, White or any combination of both, so maybe I have no business mentioning it, right? Wrong. The question here is, what in the world is this card doing in blue? I know blue likes artifacts but convoke is a definite white (and green) ability, and artifacts are right at home with either red or white. Seriously, blue, bugger off with Chief Engineer, you get all the good cards as it is. Plus, blue is so filled with good artifact cards that no one even uses this for ANYTHING. This card is basically lost at sea surrounded by way more powerful blue cards that are actually being used. Red and White NEED this card and they need it as a legendary creature because [card]Jor-Kadeen[/card] should not be the only artifact commander Boros gets.

The list (in my own head) goes on too! What if [card]Anya, Merciless Angel[/card] wasn’t the flop many said she ended up being and instead had a Sunforger-like ability that let you search for cheap instants and sorceries? Or perhaps Kalemne had an experience counter mechanic that let her tutor for equipment or auras or deal that number of damage on upkeep or perhaps via an activated or triggered ability? Basically just anything that didn’t say, suit these guys up and attack. I love suiting up and attacking sometimes, too but these colours need and deserve more.

So normally I’d post a decklist here outlining a way to build around one of the featured commanders from earlier in the article but instead since I have featured no actual legendary creatures, I’ll instead give you a list of great Red and White EDH cards that you may or may not want to throw into future EDH decks. I’ll keep each card on the list under $5 and that way if Wizards ever decides to make a decent Boros general, we can refer back to this in order to find some great cards to use.

[card]Assemble the Legion[/card] – One of the craziest token producers in all of Magic. If it lives a few turns, it’s absolutely deadly, and not just because you’ll be hanging around with a bunch of

[card]Boros Charm[/card] – Surviving board wipes can be a game win – so can instant speed double strike on your beefed up commander.

[card]Sunforger[/card] – need your Swords to Plowshares? Sure! How about your Boros Charm? NO PROBLEM HERE IT IS MY NAME IS SUNFORGER AND I AM THE BEST.

[card]Aurelia’s Fury[/card] – I bet you thought you had blockers!

[card]Brightflame[/card] – Token decks fear this card, good against them at any stage of the game.

[card]Deflecting Palm[/card] – Whether it’s against an infinite Splinter Twin/Kiki-Jiki combo or just a gigantic trampling monster, Deflecting palm can sometimes read. RW: Kill the guy who’s attacking you. Plus the art is all “TALK TO THE HAND”

[card]Double Cleave[/card] – Not just something you’d see in an alien ballgown. Instant speed Double Strike can kill, so play safe.

[card]Duergar Hedge-Mage[/card] – Hey look its an ETB Artifact and Enchantment-busting creature in Boros!

[card]Fight to the Death[/card] – This one is quite situational but at the right time, this card can hose a lot of your oppnents’ creatures or just one of em. Either way its often a multiple-for-one.

[card]Orim’s Thunder[/card] – Recently included in the 2015 Commander set, you often get to kill an artifact or enchantment AND a creature! Value!

[card]Powerstone Minefield[/card] – This makes combat a bit of a nightmare for your opponents. It allows your smaller creatures to trade up and can turn off swarm strategies and the aformention Twin/Kiki combos!

[card]Shattering Blow[/card] – Sometimes you gotta exile that artifact.

[card]Waves of Aggression[/card] – A little more specific but when you control how many combat phases and when they happen, that’s a real good thing.

[card]Master Warcraft[/card] – Opponents board of creatures looking a little too good? Let’s fix that by controlling who attacks and blocks this turn. A bit of a mini-mindslaver if you think about it?

[card]Wear // Tear[/card] – It’s played in legacy for a reason guys.

That’s the article for this week! Keep reading and check me out on The Commander’s Brew Podcast for a new budget EDH deck  every week!

Jolrael and her Killer Lands

Land Destruction (it’s not what you think)

People generally hate land destruction in EDH and I think that’s okay. Land destruction is not terribly fun for the affected and tends to make games last forever. So we’re a no go on land destruction – but what about land DESTRUCTION? As in, destroying people with your lands? That sounds about a million times better and way more fun. With Zendikar back in the MTG spotlight, so too is the spotlight back on lands and their effect on the battlefield. So let’s take a look at 5 commanders who give land destruction a whole new meaning.

[card]Kamahl, Fist of Krosa[/card]

Kamahl is one syllable away from having the same name as legendary wrestler Kamala so already this guy has a leg up on most opponents he’ll face. Kamahl is all well and good in an animate land strategy but let’s be honest, he turns the once mighty lands around him into little wiener creatures who get eaten by Sanctuary Cats. I guess it’s a pretty good thing he comes with an Overrun tacked right onto his muscular-dude body. Overrun on a pair of jacked up hams? Count me IN.


Kamala, claw of Uganda. Remember when he didn’t know how to pin guys? Oh Kamala, will you ever win?

[card]Titania, Protector of Argoth[/card]

Titania is a very trendy commander these days it seems, she’s basically the Chipotle of EDH, or maybe Narset is Chipotle and Titania is the term “Netflix and chill” of EDH. Either way, she’s a top trend these days and it’s probably mostly due to the fact that she is a build-around commander that employs a different strategy. Titania’s gameplan is one we haven’t seen much of in Commander and no other general quite recreates the feel of her abilities. Titania (by the way, don’t try and make up a shortened version of her name, it won’t end well) kills people by sacrificing and killing her own lands and if that isn’t doubling up on land destruction, I don’t know what is.

[card]Omnath, Locus of Rage[/card]

What are we calling this guy? The angry cloud? Fire arms? Blob man? For the record, I’m up for any of those but I will need full credit if one goes viral and somehow starts making money. This isn’t related but it really looks like Omnath, Locus of Rage is wearing flared pants in his BFZ card. Blob-bottoms? Omnath is only one of 2 commanders that have the landfall ability and his is by far the best. When you drop lands, this guy drops 5/5 elementals. I feel like we can make this work in EDH and in fact I did in a recent episode of The Commander’s Brew that you can check out on iTunes or your local podcast app.

Check out those slacks!

Check out those slacks!

[card]Borborygmos Enraged[/card]

What is it that Gruul commanders are so upset about? Is it the not being able to remove creatures efficiently in EDH? Is it the not being able to use conjunctions and make full sentences? These guys live in the forest and just hunt, eat and have sex all day. It’s primal but Jesus, it’s basically paradise. Seriously, relax. Borborygmos especially has nothing to complain about, he turns lands into Lightning Bolts and is even getting some play in Modern and he costs 7. GET OVER YOURSELF PAL.

(Fun fact: Borborygmus is an actual word for the noise your stomach makes before you fart or something)

[card]Jolrael, Empress of Beasts[/card]

Jolrael is a commander I didn’t even know existed until recently, mostly because strategies where you animate lands into creatures scare me. I live in fear of turning all my precious mana producing lands into little dudes, having someone drop an instant speed Rout and then I quickly cry like I’m watching the end of Pixar’s Inside Out. While Jolrael does nothing to quell those fears, she does offer up the option to respond to someone’s Wrath of God with an activation that can kill one of your opponent’s lands. Hope you guys like kid’s movies because Sadness might be at the controls when they see Jolrael in your command zone.

Since we can clearly see Jolrael is the queen ofour brand of land destruction, (let’s just ignore Titania, admittedly) AND killing other people’s lands, let’s dive a little deeper into Jolrael and exactly what it is that makes her and her deckmates such a force to be reckoned with.

[deck title=Jolrael and the Killer Forests]


*1 Acidic Slime

1 Avenger of Zendikar

*1 Baru, Fist of Krosa

*1 Borderland Ranger

*1 Budoka Gardener

*1 Farhaven Elf

*1 Frontier Guide

*1 Garruk’s Packleader

*1 Genesis Hydra

*1 Giant Adephage

*1 Grazing Gladehart

*1 Hornet Queen

*1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

*1 Liege of the Tangle

*1 Moldgraf Monstrosity

*1 Nacatl War-Pride

*1 Ondu Giant

*1 Oran-Rief Hydra

*1 Patron of the Orochi

*1 Pelakka Wurm

*1 Rampaging Baloths

*1 Silverglade Elemental

*1 Soul of New Phyrexia

*1 Sporemound

*1 Thelonite Druid

*1 Walking Atlas

*1 Wood Elves

*1 Woodborn Behemoth

*1 Terastodon

*1 Yavimaya Elder



*1 Beacon of Creation

*1 Boundless Realms

*1 Collective Unconscious

*1 Desert Twister

*1 Explosive Vegetation

*1 Gaea’s Touch

*1 Harmonize

*1 Harrow

*1 Howl of the Night Pack

*1 Hunting Wilds

*1 Into the Wilds

*1 Khalni Heart Expedition

*1 Kodama’s Reach

*1 Life and Limb

*1 Natural Affinity

*1 Nissa’s Expedition

*1 Nissa’s Pilgrimage

*1 Overrun

*1 Overwhelming Stampede

*1 Ranger’s Path

*1 Reach of Branches

*1 Rites of Flourishing

*1 Rude Awakening

*1 Triumph of the Hordes

*1 Waiting in the Weeds

*1 Zendikar’s Roil



*39 Forest

*1 Myriad Landscape



It’s often joked that the scariest turn one play is to play a basic Island. In this deck we’ll be taking that joke and turning it into a hilarious twisted nightmare akin to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening for our opponents by having them totally fear the forest. Since Jolrael turns our lands into attacking creatures, we definitely want as many Forests as possible and the more we have the more destruction they’ll cause and the more invisible gas they’ll make.

Cards that usually make people fear the basic forest are things like [card]Kalonian Twingrove[/card] or [card]Oran-Rief Hydra[/card] (both of which we have in this deck) but the real way to make your opponents tremble in fear isn’t to just plant a bunch of trees – it’s to plant a bunch of trees and then make your trees turn into monsters and decimate your competition. I’m talking about Shyamalan-levels of plant murdering creatures here. We’re going to make our opponents say “What? Noo!” like only Mark Wahlberg in a very unconvincing role in a horrendous motion picture can.

This guy is super confused. "Lands... are creatures?"

This guy is super confused. “Lands… are creatures?”

On the top of the “making forests monsters” card list is what I can only assume would be Ravishing Rick Rude’s all-time favourite Magic card, [card]Rude Awakening[/card]. I remember getting this card in a pack of Modern Masters and since I was just cracking them for “value” (I was new, okay?) I swear I could hear the Price is Right noise of people losing at Plinko ringing in my ears as I saw this in y rare slot. Animate lands? Entwine? I wanted a Kiki-Jiki! Well, lucky for us, years later Jolrael inspires me to build a deck and lo and behold, Rude Awakening pops its head out of my binder and becomes maybe the best card in my latest EDH deck.

The whole point of this deck is jam as many forests as possible on the battlefield, turn them into creatures and then swing in for a kill. Rude Awakening not only achieves this, but can also become a massive ramp spell while at the same time surprise blocking an invading army. Honestly, the value is like… wow… I just need a second okay?

Sorry about that, okay back on track here, Rude Awakening isn’t the only card in the deck that springs our lands into battle, in addition to Jolrael we’ve enlisted the help of the instant speed [card]Natural Affinity[/card], [card]Thelonite Druid[/card] which turns our lands into 2/3s but requires a sacrifice first and [card]Hunting Wilds[/card] which is a little mini Rude Awakening plus a bit of ramp. We also have [card]Life and Limb[/card], but I’ll be honest I think this one is a little risky, as once it’s out there, your lands are permanently creatures and thus very open to a mass removal… happening.

So if you haven’t figured it out by now, Jolrael and her forests are going to use a classic swarm strategy of making a million guys and then pumping them all up and swinging in huge. So let’s support it not only with token producers, but with token producers based on how many lands we have. [card]Beacon of Creation[/card], [card]Howl of the Night Pack[/card] and the totally, insanely good [card]Avenger of Zendikar[/card] all make as many tokens as we have lands and in this deck, we will have a LOT of lands. My personal favourite of these being [card]Waiting in the Weeds[/card] mostly because of the amazing art featuring the weirdest cats in the world. (Which apparently were supposed to be squirrels?)

"Well Jerry, your cat is fine but it got into a fight in the forest and now it's ears are 3 feet long."

“Well Jerry, your cat is fine but it got into a fight in the forest and now it’s ears are 3 feet long.”

Playing any mono-coloured strategy in EDH can be risky, so whenever you do it, it’s a good idea to really play to the strengths of that colour. In our case, Jolrael does exactly that by utilizing ramp as a way of building up an army. Any EDH player worth their salt knows a good amount of green ramp spells so I’ll just say that [card]Boundless Realms[/card] is so good it’s sort of like that scene in The Happening when the guy said he was bringing hotdogs on the trip for no reason. Some other ramp spells that may not come to mind right away include [card]Skyshroud Claim[/card], [card]Ranger’s Path[/card], [card]Silverglade Elemental[/card] and [card]Gaea’s Touch[/card]. All excellent ramp spells that you may not normally play in a multi-coloured deck, but really shine in mono-green.

So that’s how you destroy your friends with the very air-bringing trees around them. Throw a few landfall cards in there like [card]Zendikar’s Roil[/card], [card]Rampaging Baloths[/card] and [card]Sporemound[/card] for some reach, a few aforementioned [card]Overrun[/card] effects and watch as your army of tree-beast-monster things take down your enemies’ Commanders, power lines, ill-parked cars and bands of travelers outrunning a mysterious and ridiculous gas the trees are emitting because somehow they’re mad at people for global warming.

You Can Counter on Ephara

Some people hate fun. Whether they’re the dickhead boss that refuses employees nap time and Rock Band in the break room, or are simply an avid fan of TV’s Gotham, having a good time simply doesn’t appeal to some people. The same is often said for those who run a lot of counterspells in EDH.

I’m here to tell you that our dissipate and dissolve-loving brothers and sisters are simply misunderstood. They love fun – in fact, they have a lot of it – they just happen to have it at the personal expense of others.

So as the classic loser-saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” In other words, I’m going to show you how to get back at your counter loving friends by having your own counter-based fun and not letting them play magic. They’ve held you down long enough, the time is now to strike back and we’ll definitely be fighting fire with fire. So to start off, let’s take a quick look at 5 commanders who absolutely adore counterspells in their 99.

[card]Talrand, Sky Summoner[/card]

Talrand falls into the category, “Get MORE from your counterspells!” There are tons of Talrand decks out there stacked to the gills with counters in order to stop your opponents’ plans dead in their tracks and churn out a bunch of drakes. Once you’ve got a million flying Drizzy’s out there it’s pretty much over for the Meek Mills of the world, aka: whoever you’re about to full-on steamroll.

[card]Dralnu, Lich Lord[/card]

Dralnu seems like a dangerous commander to run if you’re not building around his drawback ability, but let’s be honest how many damage-based spells are we really seeing flying around our EDH games? Some for sure, but not enough to have me worried about basically running a slower yet repeatable [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] as my general. Dralnu gives your old counterspells flashback and if there’s one thing that opponents hate only slightly less than the counterspells they don’t know about, it’s the ones they can clearly see coming.

[card]Roon of the Hidden Realm[/card]

There are 3 reasons why Roon loves counterspells. 1) It’s easy (and to your benefit) to leave mana up in order to activate his ability/counter a spell. 2) [card]Archaeomancer[/card] and finally, 3) [card]Mnemonic Wall[/card]. With either of these guys in play and with Roon at the helm, recurring your counterspells is so easy it’s basically a joke – a terrible, cruel joke that everyone hates while you laugh so hard you’ll swear you’re your own dad watching old episodes of Three’s Company.

[card]Grand Arbiter Augustin IV[/card]

What is more annoying than having your must-have, 7 mana bomb/win condition countered? Having your must-have, 7 mana bomb/win condition that you payed 8 mana for, countered by a UU [card]Cancel[/card]. Also is there anything worse than having a guy named Augustin counter your spell? I can just picture the smug look on his stupid weird powdered face.

[card]Ephara, God of the Polis[/card]

Ephara cares so little about her opponents spells, she just spends all day pouring a jug of space water on some building. Why does she seem to care so little when her opponent is casting a huge spell? Maybe it’s because her posters and floating hat and that jug of space water are secretly hiding her favourite thing in the world: a million counterspells.

Ephara can you quit pouring that on my house, my kids are in there!

Ephara can you quit pouring that on my house, my kids are in there!

However you choose to activate Ephara’s ability and draw cards, you’re leaving mana open on your opponents turns and while you may prefer to use it on your creatures in order to draw, you might as well jam a healthy number of counters (or even creatures that counter) to keep your opponents from disrupting your carefully laid plans, which may or may not include pouring a starry liquid on someone’s house.

The 5 commanders listed above make great use of counterspells in a format where focusing on countering spells isn’t necessarily a solid winning strategy on it’s own. However, for this article I’ll focus in on Ephara because her’s is a strategy not built around counterspells, but one that fits them seamlessly and beneficially into her gameplan.

Before we get to the deck, a word of warning about running more than a few counterspells: people can get salty when their spells get countered. I touched on this earlier, but sometimes a harsh counter-based control strategy can be a bit much to bring to a casual EDH game. Especially if the game contains any players new to the format. Of course you can build this deck 75 percent and I believe that I have, but depending on the number of counters you include, your 75 percent may seem more like an 80 or 85 percent deck. Be aware, people like playing magic. That being said, if you can’t take the UU heat, get out of the Magic kitchen, right? Unless the Magic kitchen is a restaurant you’re at, in which case, by all means finish your meal and pay your bill before getting out.

Deck Components

Let’s start out with building the strategy that will actually win us the game. This includes making sure we trigger Ephara’s ability on our opponents turns by having creatures enter the battlefield at instant speed. Instead of focusing on just one of the ways we can do this, I like to employ all three, mostly because it’s just more fun but also a little variance never hurt anyone. We’ve got a few flash creatures like [card]Jeskai Barracade[/card] and [card]Deputy of Aquittals[/card] so we can bounce and recast these same flash creatures and I’ve included. One of the pricier cards in the deck, [card]Vedalken Orrery[/card] also turns the flash strategy on for every other spell you cast, so that seems half decent right?

We’ve also added a few instant speed token producers like [card]Mimic Vat[/card] and [card]Sacred Mesa[/card]. Mimic Vat has the upside of producing big, real creatures with ETB abilities but the downside of only working once per turn, while the Mesa can activate on each of your opponents’ turns (for 1W) but only producing 1/1s. Both are excellent ways to get creatures out and draw cards, which is what we need to do to win.

Finally we’ve gone ahead and included some ways to repeatably blink creatures in and out of the battlefield. [card]Mistmeadow Witch[/card], [card]Nephalia Smuggler[/card] and [/card]Brago, King Eternal[/card] are all excellent ways to achieve this, and the idea gets even better when we include some great ETB creatures like [card]Clone[/card], [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] and [card]Frost Titan[/card].

Finally let’s discuss the reason for all these words you’re looking at: counter magic. You know the ones I’m talking about, [card]Counterspell[/card], [card]Swan Song[/card], [card]Dissipate[/card] – no surprises here, these are staple counterspells that are in a ton of EDH decks. The counters that really shine in this deck however, are the ones where we not only stop our opponents, but steal whatever it was they were trying to play. Hopefully we get some creatures but really whatever they got, we’ll take. [card]Spelljack[/card] and [card]Kheru Spellsnatcher[/card] allow you to take any spell that was countered this way while [card]Gather Specimens[/card] doesn’t technically counter spells, but instead lets you swipe away a creature that was about to enter the battlefield for your opponents. This has the added ability of stopping cheat into play effects while giving you whatever monster they were about to get. Make no mistake, his card is one of your win conditions. [card]Guile[/card] is also a serious force to be reckoned with in this deck, turning all your regular counterspells into Spelljacks and also occasionally sonic booming your enemies to death and then combing his weird hair when you win.


Sounds like we’ve gone through our counterspells category right? Wrong – we’re not just adding counters or counters that steal, we’ve got counters that are flash creatures ([card]Draining Whelk[/card]), we’ve got counters that untap your lands ([card]Rewind[/card]) we’ve got ways to counter your opponents activated abilities ([card]Voidmage Husher[/card] and [card]Azorius Guildmage[/card]). The only thing we’re missing here is a card that says Counter Target Spell, Win the Game, and sometimes Spelljack does just say that.

You may be thinking, counters are all well and good, but they’re one time use and in a game with multiple players, they are often card disadvantage. Well, ignoring the fact that Ephara will draw us a million cards (especially if you get [card]Saltskitter[/card] out) any way to recur those counterspells really helps us get multple uses out of them. Hey remember when I mentioned we’ll blink creatures in and out of play? Sounds like [card]Archaeomancer[/card] and [card]Mnemonic Wall[/card] might be good with that strategy – and by “might be good,” I mean “are the best cards in the deck and your opponents will wish you were literally dead when they see them.” Think of Spelljacking your opponents Ulamog then flashing in Archaeomancer with Vedalken Orrery before the end step to potentially do it all again next turn. That’s not even magical Christmas land, you dont really need the Orrery, maybe you have a [card]Conjurer’s Closet[/card] instead? Either way, your friends will likely call you Than Shwe (Military Junta leader of Myanmar) because that’s how oppressive you’ll be.

When you recur and play a ton of counterspells, your opponents make the saddest faces while you are having a full-on classic laugh, and that’s what EDH is all about isn’t it? (See what I meant by the “your friends will hate you” speech?) Play decks like these with caution and perhaps sparingly, but don’t let your opponents frowning faces deter you forever. EDH is still a game where someone has to win and if winning is how you have fun, no reasonable person is going to be upset with you for pulling out Ephara and her jug of counterspells once in a while.

Darien and the EMO-tional Commanders of EDH

If any of you are like me, you love EDH. If you are even more like me, you don’t have a whole lot of money and you love EDH. If you’re disturbingly similar to me you love EDH, like to play on a budget and your downstairs neighbor only listens to early 2000’s Emo music.

Normally I’d say those first two are an ideal combination of things to write about when thinking of Magic, but just this once I’m going to go out on a limb and include that questionable – and much harder to relate to for the average person – third category. So let’s drape ourselves in darkness, comb our dyed-black hair well into our eyes and turn up the Getup Kids – here comes your 5 most EMO-tional Commanders in Magic.

[card]King Macar, the Gold-Cursed[/card]
King Macar is entirely too sad for what’s actually happening here. He has the ability to not only vanquish his enemies but once he does, his enemies TURN INTO MONEY. I mean, it’s a may ability, why is this guy so depressed? It’s like finding out you can barf quarters and then not inviting your friends to the casino with you when you get food poisoning.
[card]Ghoulcaller Gisa[/card]
For my money it doesn’t get more emo than hanging out in a graveyard while wearing a black wedding dress. I’m sorry, maybe I’ve just seen that one episode of X-Files too much where the teachers are worshipping the devil (remember?) but Gisa really stands out to me as someone who clearly has some emotional issues and is expressing them through regrettable music choices.

[card]Heartless Hidetsugu[/card]
What a terrible life Heartless Hidetsugu must have had before this. I can just picture his mother looking through The Big Book of Baby Names and then just throwing it in the garbage and saying “you know what, I’m going with ‘Heartless.’” That’s the harshest naming convention since they decided “Aiden” was something ok to call a kid. Heartless Hidetsugu may be an ogre but we all know who the true monster is here.

[card]Feldon of the Third Path[/card]
Yikes, poor Feldon. This has to be the saddest Magic card in the world, right? The guy is holding the skull of a robot replica of his dead wife. It’s like someone saw I, Robot and was like, “This needs to be more like Liam Neeson’s real life.”


[card]Darien, King of Kjeldor[/card]
Can we get a better name for the lead singer of an emo band than Darien? “Yeah I’m Darien, and we’re This Beautiful Heartbreak.” Or maybe “Ice Age of the Soul”? Darien is so emo, his actual card mechanics want you to hurt yourself. Darien may be the King of Kjeldor, but he’s the Emperor of Emo in my books.
Of all these EMO-tional commanders, Darien really stands out to me as the one that screams “I hate you DAD!” Luckily, Darien also screams “build around me!” so let’s figure out howto use his wild mood swings and the need for us to hurt ourselves to make a killer deck.

Sure he looks ok here, but this guy is an emotional mess.

Sure he looks ok here, but this guy is an emotional mess.

[Deck title= Darien, King of Kjeldor]
1x Archetype of Courage
1x Ballyrush Banneret
1x Benalish Commander
1x Captain of the Watch
1x Catapult Master
1x Court Street Denizen
1x Crovax, Ascendant Hero
1x Daru Warchief
1x Devout Chaplain
1x Enlistment Officer
1x Evangel of Heliod
1x Gempalm Avenger
1x Goldnight Commander
1x Intrepid Hero
1x Knight-Captain of Eos
1x Kytheon’s Irregulars
1x Loxodon Gatekeeper
1x Mentor of the Meek
1x Mirror Entity
1x Odric, Master Tactician
1x Precinct Captain
1x Relic Seeker
1x Rhox Pikemaster
1x Soul Warden
1x Soul’s Attendant
1x Suture Priest
1x Veteran Swordsmith
1x Ajani’s Presence
1x Angel’s Trumpet
1x Angelheart Vial
1x Caged Sun
1x Cathars’ Crusade
1x Conqueror’s Pledge1x Decree of Justice
1x Deploy to the Front
1x Dictate of Heliod
1x Everflowing Chalice
1x General’s Kabuto
1x Gift of Estates
1x Gods Willing
1x Illuminated Folio
1x Inheritance
1x Jade Monolith
1x Kirtar’s Wrath
1x Marble Diamond
1x Marshal’s Anthem
1x Martial Coup
1x Mask of Avacyn
1x Mind Stone
1x Mobilization
1x Nomads’ Assembly
1x Pearl Medallion
1x Return to Dust
1x Rootborn Defenses
1x Skullclamp
1x Sol Ring
1x Staff of Nin
1x Swiftfoot Boots
1x Torture Chamber
1x Valor in Akros
1x Whispersilk Cloak
1x Worn Powerstone
1x Drifting Meadow
1x Emeria, The Sky Ruin
1x Grand Coliseum
1x Karoo
1x Mage-Ring Network
1x Myriad Landscape
1x New Benalia
1x Nomad Stadium
27x Plains
1x Secluded Steppe
1x Tarnished Citadel

In a lot of ways Darien is a classic token deck with the obvious limitations of being mono white in a format where that may be the worst mono-color to be in. As a result, the first category we need to talk about is overcoming the shortcomings of our colour choice, namely card draw and ramp.

Ramp in mono white looks suspiciously more of a light grey colour (or brown if you’re a bit older) and you may recognize a lot of these cards from some of your existing EDH decks. If so, it’s the same drill here, we need artifact ramp – except this time we need all of it. [card]Sol Ring[/card], [card]Everflowing Chalice[/card], [card]Worn Powerstone[/card], you know, the cheap ones.

There are of course some other actual white “ramp” spells but I decided to only run the deceptively good [card]Gift of Estates[/card] that was recently reprinted in the 2014 Commander product mostly because it’s very cheap and putting plains in your hand on a budget can be difficult. Along with your artifact sources, those 3 plains go a long way to casting Darien a few times and ramping into a huge X-soldier spell. Disclaimer: Gift of Estates is not actual ramp, but you know what I mean.

If ramp in mono-W is difficult to get, card draw is damn near impossible. After absolutely scouring Gatherer for budget sources of card draw I came to the conclusion that I need to reevaluate my time management skills. I also came to the conclusion that there are not very many spells we can use. Obviously we’ll employ things like [card]Mentor of the Meek[/card] and [card]Skullclamp[/card] and while it’ll come much later in the game, [card]Staff of Nin[/card] does double duty when you have Darien on the battlefield.

Here’s where I had to start stretching a bit – [card]Angelheart Vial[/card] is another artifact source of draw we’ll see a little later in the game and will synergize nicely with our strategy of taking damage (to our hearts) and gaining life (to our… souls?). Otherwise I chose to rely on the somewhat situational [card]Inheritance[/card] and an [card]Illuminated Folio[/card]. I’ll admit I’ve never used either of these cards before but they both look like half-decent sources of card draw and at this point, beggars can’t be choosers.

We have some token makers in the deck, but when you have Darien on your side there’s a more interesting and fun way to get those soldiers. Since Darien says for every point of damage we take we get a 1/1 soldier, we will focus on doing the unthinkable and damaging ourselves.

Before we get to the various weird ways we’ll be hurting (and helping) ourselves, I have to stress one thing: you will get hated on very hard when Darien hits the battlefield. The reason behind this is people don’t like it when your commander basically has the text “You can’t attack me or I’ll win for sure, sucker!” Since our general is absolutely central to our gameplan, we have to treat it like Kevin Mcallister treats his suburban Chicago home – we HAVE to protect it. The usual budget sources of protection like [card]Swiftfoot Boots[/card] and [card]Whispersilk Cloak[/card] do the trick but I’ve also added in a [card]General’s Kabuto[/card], a [card]Gods Willing[/card] and one of my favourite white cards in EDH, [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card]. We have some great utility soldiers like [card]Catapult Master[/card] and [card]Intrepid Hero[/card] in the deck, so all this protection stays relevant for the times you don’t have Darien or happen to draw a boots and a cloak at the same time.

The field has been prepared and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and start building some hurtin’ (ourselves) bombs – and speaking of bombs, our first is [card]Jade Monolith[/card]. That’s right, the dusty old crappy looking statue in every Goodwill I’ve ever seen is an absolute bomb in this deck. Not only can your opponents not attack you, but now they can’t block your creatures either. This all comes at the low-cost of 1 colorless mana per source which is kind of insane.

[card]Torture Chamber[/card] is a card I discovered putting this deck together and in a Darien EDH list, it does amazing work by hitting you and giving you soldiers on every end step and serving as occasional spot removal for creatures. Plus if you’re really into MTG-based S&M it has a picture of Karn and a Minotaur chained to a wall. Fetish bonus round?

I don’t blame anyone for getting frustrated when I play out an [card]Angel’s Trumpet[/card]. There is so much text on this card and even I get annoyed by it. Basically it says, everyone has vigilance – then if any creatures don’t attack, they tap at your end step and each deal one damage to you. Wow that was easy! Look at me I could totally work at Wizards in the rarely lauded “errata and oracle text” department. Look out whoever actually does that job, I’m coming for you.

Once you understand what the trumpet does, you see why it’s essential in Darien, not only does it allow you to leave your soldiers up to make more, but it forces your enemies to either attack each other or you, and either way, you’re so happy you’re thinking about starting up your own ska band just so you can use the Angel’s Trumpet in that, too.

Finally there are some sweet lands that tap and deal damage while producing white mana for us and are all excellent in this deck: [card]Grand Coliseum[/card], [card]Nomad Stadium[/card] & [card]Tarnished Citadel[/card]. All budget, and if you’re a sports fan, almost all are arena-based.


You may be thinking at this point, “Well sure, if I survive my enemies attacking me, who’s to say I’ll then survive myself?” and this is where I tell you about our beloved sisters, the clerics. Any good D&D player knows the fighters need healers so we went out and got ourselves 3 of the best: [card]Soul’s Attendant[/card], [card]Soul Warden[/card] and what I’m assuming is the sister they adopted from a family of terrifying monsters, [card]Suture Priest[/card]. Any of these lovely ladies will allow you to deal any and all damage to your own face with impunity. When you gain a life for every creature (not only your own for the human sisters) that enters the battlefield, Darien basically goes from being an emotional mess into Lando Calrissian – aka, surrounded by beautiful ladies and expendable soldier dudes dressed like plumbers.

Once you have your soldiers out you need to pump your team and swing for a crazy win but that’s token strategy 101. You don’t need me to tell you [card]Dictate of Heliod[/card], [card]Cathars’ Crusade[/card] and [card]Marshal’s Anthem[/card] are good cards in a token swarm strategy, but in this deck with the ability to produce soldiers at instant speed, I really like [card]Goldnight Commander[/card] and the new [card]Valor in Akros[/card] from Origins. Any one of these can result in the pump up we need for our group of well-trained military men to run roughshod over our opponents.

So there you have it, a journey through the more emotionally unstable side of Commander, along with a sweet budget build you can bring to your next game and make all your opponents (and doves) cry.