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7 cEDH Deck Archetypes to Break into Competitive Commander

Competitive commander, commonly called cEDH, is a growing variant of the popular, multiplayer commander Magic: The Gathering format. While there are many things appealing about the format, from selecting the legendary creature to lead your deck to meticulously picking out some of your favorite powerful game pieces, cEDH deck archetypes are ultimately defined most by their win conditions. 

In the myriad of other ways to play the game, a deck may be defined by certain “core” cards, their colors or (of course) their commander, but cEDH is unashamed in how it focuses almost exclusively on the goal of winning – thus, choosing how you want to win is the largest part of deck selection and the first thing you should consider. Notably, a lot of these archetypes have parts that intersect, so you have a surprising amount of freedom in selecting how you want to piece together your victories.

 

 

Ad Nauseam Draw

Ad Nauseam

The plan is simple: get to five mana as quickly as you can, then draw a large pile of cards off of Ad Nauseam and win. This can be strengthened by fast mana, “free” spells and combos that help you generate infinite mana and other resources once you’ve managed to draw a massive chunk of your deck.

In addition, Ad Naus decks may utilize ways to draw their entire deck with Phyrexian Unlife or Angel’s Grace. Essentially, if your deck can’t win after drawing most or all of it, something has gone wrong, and Ad Nauseam can get you there.

Birthing Pod Chains

Birthing Pod

Birthing Pod is a seriously powerful card that gives you a ton of flexibility, but it can also ramp you easily into a win with several chains. For example, a one-drop can be podded into a Corridor Monitor, untapping the Pod. Then, that can be sacrificed for Renegade Rallier, which returns the Monitor, untapping again. Rallier becomes Felidar Guardian, blinking the Monitor to untap once more, and finally the Guardian is thrown from the Pod as Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to start making infinite hasty Monitors. 

Dockside Extortionist Loops

Dockside Extortionist

Does generating infinite enters the battlefield and leaves the battlefield triggers, infinite mana and infinite artifact sacrifice triggers sound good? Then Dockside Extortionist is the best option.

Indeed, the fact that it produces so many infinite effects makes it one of the most lauded win conditions in the format overall. As long as your opponent has a certain threshold of artifacts and enchantments (which is almost a guarantee with all the fast mana artifacts), Dockside can be constantly looped with a variety of cards including Temur Sabertooth, Deadeye Navigator and Cloudstone Curio.

Doomsday Stacks

Doomsday

This card lets you stack your deck for the small price of three mana and half your life. These paltry costs mean essentially nothing if you’re winning the game the turn you cast it. While the piles you make are limited to your deck and your imagination, they will often look something like this.

Serum Visions and Doomsday in hand. Play Doomsday and stack your deck in the following order:

  1. Preordain
  2. Ponder
  3. Sign in Blood
  4. Gitaxian Probe
  5. Laboratory Maniac

Play Doomsday, sequence your draws, play Laboratory Maniac, then draw from an empty library with your last cantrip for the win. Ideally, the rest of your hand is a combination of fast mana and protection to help ensure that you go off. If it goes through you’ve got yourself a win, and the rest of the table should be ready to shuffle up again to try and do the same themselves!

Infinite Mana

Isochron ScepterDramatic Reversal

A deck filled with as much power as possible should have no problem winning once it establishes infinite resources, and cEDH has a large number of ways to generate infinite mana. Of these, the most famous is Isochron Scepter + Dramatic Reversal + mana-generating artifacts. If you add in a Sensei’s Divining Top, you can also draw through your entire deck!

Storm Variants

GrapeshotTendrils of AgonyAetherflux Reservoir

Storm, effects that gain exponentially more powerful as more spells are played, are among the most famous of “overpowered” archetypes in Magic’s history. Storm decks are designed to play as many spells as possibly (potentially even an “infinite” number of spells) before finishing with one of the spells of the same name. Storm cEDH decks don’t just rely on the classics like Grapeshot or Tendrils of Agony, but also take advantage of gunning down the table with Aetherflux Reservoir.

Thassa’s Oracle and Lab Maniac

Thassa's OracleLaboratory Maniac (Timeshifted)

Also known as Thoracle or Lab Man, and already mentioned here for good reason, these cards arguably facilitate the greatest number of wins in the format overall. The paths to victory with them are vast and varied, but they are a straightforward and reliable way to snag victory and define a large number of powerful decks by being the consistent, go-to win.

 

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