This entry is part 7 of 14 in the series Peasant Rebellion

Posted by Maxwellian2000
Thanks for coming back for Part 2; if you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

Before I get into the win conditions and other details of the deck, a thought about comboing out FTW. My personal opinion is that a game-winning, three-card, permanent-based combo is socially acceptable. All three have the opportunity to be countered or otherwise removed, and all have to actually exist on the battlefield at the same time. In my mind, if your opponents can’t stop the win at that point, especially if they’ve seen the deck before, that’s just the way it is. Commander players can’t be bitter about three-card combo wins.

Thus, we were going to go with used to be my tried-and-true three-carder in these colors for “Plan A”: Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter, Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Woodfall Primus. I know Andy just threw up a little bit because he hates Melira.  Lucky for him, Wizards recently printed Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.  Now Melira, a grizzly bear that is exciting only if the combo is going off and a virtual dead draw otherwise, is cut and replaced with “Mike”, a combo-enabling utility beatstick.  Thank you, Wizards.  I won’t bore you of the details of the interaction between this guy, persist, and a sac outlet, but suffice to say that the first time Primus dies, choose undying; after that, if there’s a +1/+1 counter on it when it dies, choose persist.  Rinse and repeat.  Because the point, obviously, is to get all three in play and sacrifice the Primus to Vish Kal as many times as necessary to blow up all opposing nonland permanents, then have a huge Vish Kal kill off every non-shrouded, non-pro black or white creature of my opponents’ FTW.  Note that we will not be including Triskelion, because the infinite damage “Mike and Trike” combo is just the sort of thing we are trying to avoid in our deck construction.  Here, the three combo pieces cost 6, 7, and 8 mana, respectively, so I don’t see how anyone can get too upset at this sort of win condition.

That’s pretty splashy stuff, but “Plan B” is the real strength of the deck. It involves a common four-card Reveillark combo with Karmic Guide as the recursive piece to keep getting Rev back, Dimir House Guard as the sac outlet, and Acidic Slime to enter the battlefield as many times as necessary to kill off the artifacts, lands, and enchantments. The Slime can be replaced with Knight-Captain of Eos to swing with infinite creatures (which can be created EOT if your opponents are unaware/unable to stop you). All of these guys get recurred by the Lark, and the House Guard gives us another potentially infinite sac outlet on top of Vish Kal. Lark and Karmic Guide are really alarming by themselves, and the rest of the posse is hopefully sitting in the yard due to discard or dredge, but if not, they are all useful on their own (Knight-Captain’s fog effect has staved off death a time or two). If they don’t die in combat, which is likely given their fragility, they can be sacrificed to Greater Good or one of the land sac outlets to be re-recurred. And Mikaeus just made them all larger and more difficult to deal with.  Just a very flexible suite of cards that happens to also win the game. I suppose it’s debatable that it’s less fair than “Plan A” because things don’t need to be on the battlefield to “go off,” but at least it involves four cards. And doesn’t every white Commander deck play Lark?

OK, so even with the deck’s mana acceleration, it can sometimes have a slow draw, or take a minute to find what it needs to “go off.” Removal buys it that minute. Every deck needs at least one instant-speed kill spell, and Beast Within fills that bill. Qasali Pridemage is amazing artifact and enchantment kill on its own, and even better when Karador is the general. Acidic Slime and Woodfall Primus are also on the lookout for random non-creature threats.

These colors also give us the best sweepers in the game to choose from. I went with Damnation over Wrath of God because white could be considered the splash color in this deck, and because it needs a sweeper for which Dimir House Guard can Transmute. Austere Command is absolutely my favorite sweeper, and I love fetching Pernicious Deed with Academy Rector. Decree of Pain is just awesome. And while I love Hallowed Burial, it won’t work in a deck that values the graveyard as much as this one.

The last component to the deck is recursion. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I am in love with Unburial Rites. Perfect for dredging.  And I usually find that Dread Return is an all-star, especially if the Reviellark is one of the sacrificed creatures when you flash it back.  Eternal Witness is the only creature that gets back dredged sorceries and instants, so it’s in. Finally, with so many lands in the yard, Sun Titan is never without targets, and allows for yet another avenue of mana ramp. Or it can get back the Witness, or Azusa, or Pernicious Deed, or…

Only one spell left to mention, and I bet you can guess what it is: Avenger of Zendikar. With all these lands, multiple ways to put multiple lands into play per turn, and the Primeval Titan, this card makes for a viable “Plan C” all on its own. Yes, I have won with “Plan C.” Again, as soon as no one else is playing Superfriends Avenger/PT, let me know, but as long as you’re going to a gunfight, don’t bring a knife. Along with Prime Time and the Avenger, the deck sports Sun Titan, Vish Kal, Woodfall Primus and now Mikaeus as solid finishers.

As for the rest of the land suite, many props to derbestemann for cluing me in on the Flagstones of Trokair/Glacial Chasm combo. With dual and shock lands, that combo not only prevents you from taking damage, but it fixes and accelerates your lands at the same time. Throw in Sun Titan? Riiiiight. Otherwise, Coffers/Urborg is the other go-to two-card combo, but each utility land has its place: Homeward Path to stop those nasty blue decks, Strip Mine as per usual (but no Zuran Orb/Crucible silliness!), High Market and Phyrexian Tower for emergency sac outlets, Vesuva to copy Mosswart Bridge, Windbrisk Heights or something else useful, Maze of Ith to fight the hate, and Boseiju, Who Shelters All to make sure the tutors and recursion spells go off.  I will probably be testing Grim Backwoods in place of Boseiju, as a card-advantage-generating sac outlet might be just as effective against control and would be way better against everything else.

Now for how the deck plays. While it can get off to a fast start with Exploration or a Lotus Cobra, it is usually better served to develop a little more cautiously. The main reason is to be able to play a boardsweeper on the fifth or sixth turn if necessary and not loose too much of your own stuff. The other reason is political; let’s try not scare the crap out of our opponents right from the get-go. Thus, an attrition-based strategy in the early game, followed by comboing out around turns eight or nine, is pretty typical. Sometimes, you’ll hit the dredge cards, stock the graveyard and play the reanimation game. Sometimes you will find yourself on a more traditional axes, clearing the board or going toe to toe with opposing fatties. And the odds of getting landscrewed, which has got lead to a high percentage of Commander losses in general, are much less with 45+ lands.

As for cons, the deck is certainly vulnerable to a Bojuka Bog, a Vesuva on its own Bog, or other such anti-graveyard tech. That weakness is mitigated somewhat by its ability to play on traditional axes, but exiled combo pieces through graveyard hate or something like Jester’s Cap sucks. It stands to reason, because when you play almost half lands, your business spells are going to be inherently limited. Like many other three-color decks, Moon effects would be a killer, but at least it has five basic lands. Sigh. So it certainly is not without its weaknesses.

Regardless, it has been a lot of fun to play, definitely packs a punch, and gives us the opportunity to use our niche graveyard manipulation cards like Crucible and Life from the Loam in a manner consistent with some semblance of the social contract. Because if I were playing something like derbestemann’s freaking killer build, I’m pretty sure I’d have to play it only online, too.

Karador, Ghost Chieftain

Mistveil Plains
Windbrisk Heights
Flagstones of Trokair
Phyrexian Tower
Bojuka Bog
Barren Moor
Mosswort Bridge
Dryad Arbor
Tranquil Thicket

Homeward Path
Strip Mine
Glacial Chasm
High Market
Vesuva
Maze of Ith
Petrified Field
Boseiju, Who Shelters All

Savannah
Bayou
Murmuring Bosk
Sunpetal Grove
Twilight Mire
Woodland Cemetery
Overgrown Tomb
Temple Garden
Stirring Wildwood
Reflecting Pool
Scrubland
Command Tower
Golgari Rot Farm
Godless Shrine
2x Forest
1x Plains
2x Swamp
Forbidden Orchard
Cabal Coffers
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Bloodstained Mire
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Horizon Canopy
Wooded Foothills
Krosan Verge
Misty Rainforest
Marsh Flats

Lotus Cobra
Wood Elves
Skyshroud Claim
Hunting Wilds
Exploration
Primeval Titan
Crucible of Worlds
Life from the Loam
Oracle of Mul Daya
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Knight of the Reliquary
Mirari’s Wake

Dread Return
Karmic Guide
Sun Titan
Unburial Rites
Reveillark
Eternal Witness

Beast Within
Qasali Pridemage
Woodfall Primus
Acidic Slime
Damnation
Austere Command
Pernicious Deed
Decree of Pain
Knight-Captain of Eos

Stinkweed Imp
Genesis
Golgari Grave-Troll
Golgari Thug

Greater Good
Fauna Shaman
Survival of the Fittest
Recycle
Buried Alive

Avenger of Zendikar
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Dimir House Guard

Memory Jar
Realms Uncharted
Sensei’s Divining Top
Eladamri’s Call
Phyrexian Arena
Academy Rector
Primal Command
Green Sun’s Zenith
Tooth and Nail
Vampiric Tutor
Demonic Tutor
Rune-Scarred Demon

Maxwellian2000 is a former competitive Magic player who now plays mostly FNMs and Commander formats, along with Palladium Books’ Rifts RPG and Legos. He also works as a lawyer in Kansas and produces music at panoramicrecords.net.

Series Navigation<< Peasant Rebellion 06 – Karador Dredge: Keeping it Casual, Part 1Peasant Rebellion 08 – Commander Side Events: Expectation Management >>