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.

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.

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