Welcome to a brand-new Channel Fireball column: EDH Showcase! Each week, I’ll be highlighting a couple of EDH decks submitted by readers and sharing their genius with the rest of the world. If you’ve got a list you’d like featured, let me know! The best place to send me lists is on Twitter – my DMs are always open, and there’s no restriction on what kind of decks I’m looking for. Fun, competitive, silly, spiky, themed, doesn’t matter – I just want to see cool lists and get as many eyes on them as possible! Today’s list comes in to us from SinBreed, and it’s a sweet one – it takes advantage of an old card from Judgment in combination with the rules of Commander to offer a repeatable and extremely powerful reanimation effect! Balthor the Defiled can be exiled to return all red and black creatures to play – and in this deck, that means every creature it plays, as they are, of course, all black.
Balthor the Defiled by SinBreed
The list is full of gigantic monsters, primed and ready for reanimation – Rune-Scarred Demon, Abhorrent Overlord, Archon of Cruelty, the list goes on. I also really like that there are other ways to reanimate these creatures, so you’re not stuck relying on Balthor all the time – cards like Phyrexian Delver and Puppeteer Clique are perfect in a list like this, and work well with traditional reanimation spells like Animate Dead.
You might have noticed there’s a lot of graveyard hate in the list, from Leyline of the Void to Nihil Spellbomb to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. You might think it’s odd to run graveyard hate in a deck that relies on the graveyard, but it’s actually a very necessary precaution – have another read of Balthor, and you’ll realize he reanimates all red and black creatures, not just yours. Additionally, it’s no accident that all the graveyard hate this deck plays only hits opponents’ graveyards, and leaves yours alone.
Of course, as a mono-black deck, it plays more or less every tutor under the sun, and a handful of these tutors handily put cards in the ‘yard for you to reanimate. It also plays a bunch of other high-powered black cards you’d be foolish not to include, such as Yawgmoth’s Will and Torment of Hailfire and the like, as well as a sensible interaction suite with Epic Downfall, Feed the Swarm and Damnation.
This is a deck that doesn’t mind its creatures dying, and so it makes good use of cards such as Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos, not to mention Black Market. There are other payoffs like Blood Artist and Syr Konrad too, and enablers like Fleshbag Marauder.
My only concern when looking at this deck is that there aren’t too many ways to get cards into the graveyard. Stinkweed Imp and Mire Triton are nice, but I don’t know if there’s a critical mass of self-mill in order to support the mass reanimation we’re hoping to pull off. I wonder if it would be worth including things like Stitcher’s Supplier and Undead Butler, or maybe even Vile Entomber and Oriq Loremage to make sure there are suitably huge monsters in the bin at all times?
Overall, however, this deck is terrific – it doesn’t look oppressively powerful and has a very sweet payoff, and even with the graveyard hate will lead to some fun and interesting moments at the table when you have a huge squad to bring back, but also risk juicing up your opponents’ boards as well. I’m a big fan of weird old legends like Balthor, and this deck puts him to great use!
Once again, feel free to submit lists of your own you’d like featured as part of this column – the best way to do this is on Twitter, via DM.