Home > Spreading Cheese > Spreading Cheese – A Commanding Position Within a Commanding Position

Spreading Cheese – A Commanding Position Within a Commanding Position

As you all know, the release of MtG: Commander is upon us. Finally the beloved kitchen table format will come to the frontline. Of course, this has made me want to build a Commander deck. For a long while, I’ve been between brews, unsure as to what I want to build. First I fiddled with Zur, playing as many broken enchantments as possible, then I switched to Azusa.
I’ve quite enjoyed Azusa, with the ability to go Crucible, Exploration, Azusa, Strip Mine, Strip Mine, Strip Mine, Strip Mine, Strip Mine, go. Also being able to hardcast Darksteel Colossus on turn 5, among other broken things. But that didn’t feel EDH-y enough for me.

Yes, I will call it EDH. It’s easier to write and more catchy. Bite me.

It’s not that it’s not a good strategy, it’s actually that it’s too good. I would rather have slow, grinding games that never end, where my opponents groan and quit out of frustration. After all, my all-time favorite Standard decks are Jacerator, Proclamation-Martyr, Stasis, and Ponza. For me, a fun game is where I do a million things a turn that are barely relevant in order to keep my opponents from doing anything. The analogue in Eternal formats would be 43lands (Legacy) and Stax (Vintage). But this is EDH, come on! I can do better than those. Yes, there is Carlos Gutierrez’s Child of Alara deck I mentioned on Horde of Notions (I’m on a podcast, in case you didn’t know, check it out!), but again, it’s JUST NOT STUPID ENOUGH. I have to do something that is completely broken, unfair, slow, and tedious (Why? Because that’s what I enjoy in this game. Resources are the most fundamental aspect of the game, and I like attacking resources). Anyway, what card is so broken, so stupid, so grindy that’s even worse than an EDH 43lands deck?


I have no idea why this card isn’t banned in EDH. Sway of The Stars is, but I guess that’s because it resets the game state, whereas when a Shahrazad subgame is done, you can return back to the actual game. Not that it’s any less tedious. So, how do I abuse Shahrazad? Well, first of all, I need to be able to fetch it. Cards like Personal Tutor, Grim Tutor, Demonic Tutor, and Mystical Tutor are ones that are immediately obvious. Card draw engines are also welcome.

Now that we’ve fetched our Shahrazad, what do we want to do with it? Just casting it isn’t good enough! We need a lot of Shahrazad effects to get value out of it. Cards like Twincast are obvious choices. But you know what’s better, especially in multiplayer? Hive Mind. Yes, everybody gets a Shahrazad. That means you play an amount of games equal to the number of players. Want to shoot yourself already? You can also have Cast Through Time. If you want to be really tricky, you can have Cast Through Time, Isochron Scepter with Remand on it, and Remand the rebounded copy. There’s always Mirari or Izzet Guildmage too.

You know what’s even better? You can Burning/Death Wish for Shahrazad in the subgames for extra Inception factor. Not only that, there are a few cool tricks for recurring Shahrazad. The most obvious one is one of my favorite combos, Venser, The Sojourner + Mnemonic Wall. This ensures you will get a Shahrazad each turn. You can also put an instant-speed Regrowth effect (like Noxious Revival, couldn’t think of a better one) on an Isochron Scepter. You can Mimic Vat an Anarchist. I’m sure there are more effects that do this, but I’m not familiar enough with EDH to be able to come up with good ones. For more game restarting action, you can always play Karn Liberated.

So, what General do we choose? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. However, a general that makes games slow and grindy would be good. I don’t know if there’s a general that copies sorceries or something, that would be heaven for me. There probably isn’t so I might as well go with the new UWR general, Zedruu The Greathearted. Having more life means I am less likely to lose the main game. It’s also in the perfect colors. Whatever the choice of general, one should read the rulings of generals and Shahrazad here.

Yes, this is a terrible thing to do in EDH, you might say. But it’s entirely legal! That’s like saying playing Flash Hulk in Legacy (when it was legal) is a terrible thing to do. It indeed is, but you’re allowed to do it. EDH is a “social contract” thing anyway, if your playgroup doesn’t like what you do, they can just scoop and hate you out the next game. If it’s a tournament, well, rules are rules. Maybe this isn’t a strategy that is good to play in the long run, but I want to at least play this deck once and recount my experiences.

Let me make something clear: Even though I would enjoy going ultra-degenerate with Shahrazad, I want a deck that uses Shahrazad as a kill condition, not a stall deck that does nothing but cast Shahrazad. After brining my opponents down by winning subgames (or having them scoop out of frustration), I will kill them in the main game. So I would prefer to have subgames that are as short as possible.

Overall, this is more of a train-of-thought article. Please help me come up with ideas for the deck in the comments, and I’ll make a new post with a better explanation when I finish the deck. Until then, enjoy playing Commander (while you still can)!


Bonus: Modern Dredge

So, I’ve been trying my hand at the modern format myself, and I’ve come up with the following:

4 One with Nothing
4 Chancellor of the Forge
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Street Wraith
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Golgari Thug
4 Dakmor Salvage
3 Dread Return
4 Narcomoeba
9 Swamp
3 Raven’s Crime
1 Phantasmagorian
4 Bridge from Below
4 Darkblast
4 Bloodghast

It’s a prototype list for now, but I’ll keep testing it and see how it does. If it performs well, I’ll do an entire article on it.

P.S. For questions, comments, feedback, send me an e-mail at Spreading.Cheese [at] gmail [dot] com or follow me on twitter @nayon7.
P.P.S I now have my own podcast about rogue deckbuilding and Magic in general called Horde of Notions! Check it out at http://www.hordeofnotions.com
P.P.P.S Your weekly metal fix: Within the Ruins- Infamy
P.P.P.PS Want more metal? I’m now a writer on http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/Heavy Blog Is Heavy , so metalheads can check out my writings about metal on there. See the author called Nayon? That’s me.

  1. June 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

    RE: Shahrazad kill conditions

    Wound Reflection


  2. hamiltonianurst
    June 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

    If you can get enough subgames going, they start to turn really weird; less lands in each subgame, and eventually you get enough layers deep where everyone is a ‘loser’ of the subgame as soon as it starts, by drawing 7 from a <7 card library. I haven't bothered to do the math for how many subgames within a subgame you have to create before you draw/win the main game from this lifeloss.

    • Noyan
      June 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      This is a really interesting proposition. Kinda makes me want to make the deck into a Shahrazad combo deck where the only focus of the deck is to make more subgames and win the ridiculous subgames. Table space is a bitch, though.

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