I’ve been working on sorting some of the various piles of cards in my home with an eye toward revamping some of my Commander decks and building new ones. So far I’ve done a good job, but after some travel, I stalled out and need motivation. What better motivation is there than a deck list to aim for? Right now, I’m hoping to work on my Thraximundar deck, which has looked mostly the same for the better part of a decade but no longer gives me the same amount of joy that it used to. So, it’s time for a teardown. A page one rewrite, if you will, but keeping the title the same. Let’s start from scratch by looking at the Commander!
Right now, I have this deck built as kind of a brute force Archenemy-style deck that casts haymaker after haymaker, attaches equipment to Thraximundar, and crashes in for lethal Commander damage. I want to keep the lethal Commander damage aspect, but make the deck more intricate and synergy-based. I’d obviously also like to keep some of the haymakers, but I’ll be ditching the Voltron aspect.
In order to keep the Commander damage angle intact, I’d like to do more with sacrificing. Making my opponents sacrifice creatures is fun, but if that’s all I’m doing, I could just play a Rakdos deck. Instead, I’d like to steal my opponents’ creatures “temporarily” and then sacrifice them for my own personal gain.
Let’s start at the top. How am I going to steal my opponents’ stuff?
These are my top ways to get multiple thefts going, either over time or simultaneously, that don’t just end the game right off the bat (although Mob Rule certainly can). Domineering Will is one of my favorite Commander precon deep cuts, and Captivating Crew is an amazing mana sink in the late game. These all do what we need them to do—they bring us creatures to use temporarily and then hurl in the trash when we’re done with them.
Of course, sometimes you need to end a game, and Insurrection is great at that. If you somehow manage to resolve this spell and not win the game, you’ve still got everyone’s creatures to sacrifice.
Some cards have the stealing and the sacrificing all rolled into one, and these three are the best of the bunch. Grab the Reins can knock out a player at low life or be used as a two-for-one, whereas the other two are more straightforward. Slave of Bolas is certainly more efficient, but Spinal Embrace can be cast on an opponent’s turn to change combat or on your own during beginning of combat to generate another attacker.
It’s important to pack your deck with quite a few sacrifice outlets if this is your strategy. Ideally, most of them should cost nothing to activate, which is why only one of these (the very powerful Vampiric Rites) requires a mana investment past its initial cost. I also varied the permanent types involved—we have creatures, artifacts, enchantments, and lands that we can use to sacrifice things that we’ve gently borrowed. I also considered Claws of Gix, Thermopod, Bloodflow Connoisseur, Disciple of Griselbrand, and a few others. (Miss me with that Sadistic Hypnotist nonsense, by the way. No fun.) Hazoret’s Favor is a particularly charming card that doesn’t require us to sacrifice creatures when we’re not feeling it. We don’t even have to attack with them if that’s somehow bad for us.
These cards all key off sacrificing opponents’ creatures in various ways, either by reanimating them or causing our opponents some pain and suffering as those creatures leave the battlefield. I’m a big fan of Stalking Vengeance, and Thieving Amalgam has really impressed me in Kadena and I’m excited to use it to gain some life—if you’re not familiar with either of these options yet, I’m excited about both of them.
Grave Pact and its ilk are really important in terms of keeping other players’ boards in check. They are also kind of obnoxious to play against, so be ready to get attacked a lot when you play these. They’re also the type of card I might cut if I get bored of them.
Sadly, we’ll sometimes have to get rid of opponents’ graveyards. I know we have some reanimation, but that’s just the price we pay. These three are reasonable targeted options, and Rakdos Charm even has some extra modes in the bargain.
Wraths are necessary from time to time. My old Thraximundar list was bursting with Wraths—honestly, it had too many. Three should be enough, as the Grave Pact effects should give us plenty of ways to keep boards under control.
Point removal is also important to keep pesky permanents under control. We don’t have a ton of great ways to handle enchantments in this color combination, making cards like Chaos Warp and Meteor Golem integral to our survival. Artifacts, creatures, and planeswalkers, however, are not safe from our more efficient spells.
One of the big reasons to add blue to a deck of this type is to dip into some counterspells. Disallow is a great catch-all that can stop a planeswalker ultimate as well as a key spell. Desertion gives us a creature we otherwise have no right to, and Negate, of course, is a really efficient “no thanks” card to have in our back pocket.
Card draw is important. Obvious statement of 2019, of course, but I’d like to get more value out of everything we’re stealing. After all, we’re using a lot of mana and cards to do that. All of these will let you turn creatures into cards, and if those creatures aren’t yours, it’s even better. Disciple is the only card among the four that makes that big wire transfer from creatures to cards in your account, but the other three do a good job of making regular direct deposits.
So, with most bases covered, I still have some room left in the list. Let’s talk about some of the cards I used to fill out the empty space.
Pretty simple—pay 3 mana and 3 life, draw three cards. I love the efficiency.
Tons of value from a single card, as well as synergy with most everything we’re doing.
I said I wanted to keep some haymakers in, didn’t I? Well, this is one of the best. It scales into the late game and deals just as well with three opponents as it does with one—for significantly large values of X, of course.
Another great card for stealing, of course! It’s also another creature we can sacrifice for value, if that’s useful.
Sacrifice Keiga for value and then take something permanently—or, more likely, just attack and block with Keiga until it dies a natural (well, combat-related natural) death and take something.
Another great way to snag a creature or artifact for the long term rather than just temporarily. Make sure you have the mana to cast it quickly, though, or you’ll have wasted your investment.
Those pesky players who eschew creatures in favor of planeswalkers still get hit by this one! And if they’ve got nothing, they can discard a card. Plaguecrafter is the most pernicious of the Fleshbag-Marauder-alikes, and somehow it got an upgrade in toughness as well (not that this is particularly relevant.)
Okay! Toss in some lands, mana rocks, and a Solemn Simulacrum, let simmer, and stir vigorously. Now you’ve got a deck! Here’s the final list for this transformation. Maybe I’ll do one of those 2009/2019 picture challenges with this one when I finally get to it on paper. Watch out for that, or yell at me about Commander, at @RagingLevine on Twitter. Here’s the deck list!
1 Thraximundar 3 Island 5 Swamp 4 Mountain 1 Badlands 1 Blood Crypt 1 Bloodstained Mire 1 Bojuka Bog 1 Command Tower 1 Crumbling Necropolis 1 Dimir Aqueduct 1 Dragonskull Summit 1 Drowned Catacomb 1 High Market 1 Izzet Boilerworks 1 Phyrexian Tower 1 Polluted Delta 1 Prismatic Vista 1 Rakdos Carnarium 1 Reliquary Tower 1 Scalding Tarn 1 Steam Vents 1 Strip Mine 1 Sulfur Falls 1 Underground Sea 1 Volcanic Island 1 Wasteland 1 Watery Grave 1 Butcher of Malakir 1 Captivating Crew 1 Carrion Feeder 1 Disciple of Bolas 1 Dominus of Fealty 1 Greater Gargadon 1 Grim Haruspex 1 Harvester of Souls 1 Hostage Taker 1 Keiga, the Tide Star 1 Meteor Golem 1 Molten Primordial 1 Plaguecrafter 1 Puppeteer Clique 1 Roil Elemental 1 Sepulchral Primordial 1 Sheoldred, Whispering One 1 Solemn Simulacrum 1 Stalking Vengeance 1 Thieving Amalgam 1 Viscera Seer 1 Yahenni, Undying Partisan 1 Zealous Conscripts 1 Damnation 1 All Is Dust 1 Angrath, the Flame-Chained 1 Ashnod's Altar 1 Beacon of Unrest 1 Bedevil 1 Black Sun's Zenith 1 Blatant Thievery 1 Chaos Warp 1 Chromatic Lantern 1 Coalition Relic 1 Commander's Sphere 1 Darksteel Ingot 1 Desertion 1 Dictate of Erebos 1 Disallow 1 Domineering Will 1 Gilded Lotus 1 Goblin Bombardment 1 Grab the Reins 1 Grave Pact 1 Harness by Force 1 Hazoret's Favor 1 Hero's Downfall 1 Insurrection 1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General 1 Mass Mutiny 1 Mob Rule 1 Negate 1 Nihil Spellbomb 1 Painful Truths 1 Phyrexian Altar 1 Rakdos Charm 1 Slave of Bolas 1 Sol Ring 1 Spinal Embrace 1 The Eldest Reborn 1 Torment of Hailfire 1 Vampiric Rites 1 Vandalblast