A Song of Loyalty and Betrayal

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This is the first part of Marchesa's journey to becoming the queen (see the second part here). Do you like the Game of Thrones? Do you like controlling the board with politics and threats? Do you enjoy playing synergistic strategies? If your answer is yes, then Marchesa is the commander for you. Capitalizing on her craftiness, ruthlessness, and wide-reaching influences to secure her throne, who dares question her authority and legitimacy?


The benefit of playing Marchesa is that she is a natural pillowfort. Experienced players will usually not want to lower your life total to enable her immortal army dethrone mechanic. This can help us to have more control over our life totals and effective political maneuvering throughout the game to position ourselves in a favorable state. When it comes down to the foundation of the deck, it boils down to either setting up the game so that Marchesa and her army is immortal and can never be removed or to assemble a winning combo as soon as possible depending on the pod she is playing against. This deck is capable of a consistent turn 6 win uninterrupted but usually is able to fight through the hate with the right setup. The strategy can be divided into three phases:

  1. Deploy phase - Play efficient creatures like Baleful Strix that could be abused with Marchesa later in the game as well as setting up protection and haste like Lightning Greaves/Lightning Mauler/Metallic Mimic.

  2. Offensive phase - After deploying necessary threats and protection, start setting up an immortal board by getting the counters on the creatures. The main goal of this phase is to have Marchesa and her army be in a position to be immortal through her recursive counter engine, however assembling an infinite combo to win at this point is not uncommon too. Graveyard hate like Leyline of the Void/Rest in Peace hurts us the most and needs to be dealt with proactively or reactively using cards like Arcane Denial or Nevermaker/Aura Thief. ETB graveyard hate effects like Bojuka Bog can be stopped with Stifle. Blood Artist can stall opponents' infinite combos depending on any graveyard loops (namely Mike + Trike).

  3. Conqueror phase - You should have a formidable boardstate at this point. Win the game with a massive army or assemble any infinite combo (described in section below) to end the game.


The following are combos that win the game:

The following are combos that grants value:


  • Grave Pact/Dictate of Erebos: Often quickly removed and does not generate enough value worthy of inclusion.

  • Grave Betrayal: It is a huge removal magnet in addition to it's high cmc and does not survive a turn when out which usually translates into me timewalking myself.

  • Living Death: Can backfire and too risky for my liking.

  • Mark of Mutiny/Frenzied Fugue/Helm of Possession: My deck does not go full "take possession" route to warrant the inclusion of these cards.

  • Merciless Executioner/Fleshbag Marauder: Often ends up just being an overcosted Innocent Blood. Contrary to common belief, it is very hard to make them worth the inclusion for abusing since I have to have another creature to sacrifice and get a counter on them to reuse again. Not worth it in this build IMHO.

  • Sidisi, Undead Vizier: Same reasons as above. Often is just an overcosted tutor and is more suitable in Meren than Marchesa.

  • Shriekmaw: The "nonblack" creature clause is a huge limitation in my meta.

  • Scourge of the Throne: Great finisher for more aggrocentric builds but I opt for a combo finish.

  • Abyssal Gatekeeper: Looks like a great card and needs testing.

  • Mimic Vat: Was in the list but cut for mana rocks.

  • Custodi Lich: Could be an interesting inclusion, needs more testing.

  • Thalakos Deceiver: Was initially in the deck but found to be too dependent on Marchesa/haste for my liking.


Are YOU Ready to Dethrone the King?


"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." - Cersei Lannister


Revisited the deck after a year and did a massive revamp:

  • Lowered the overall mana curve down from 3.7 to 2.6
  • Replaced several cards with new toys from KLD/AER
  • Added more interactions and tutors

Comments View Archive

Megalomania says... #1

I like the concept. Have you considered making the deck a bit more combo-centered?

I would make the deck revolve around Kiki-jiki and Splinter Twin. Add cards like Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch, Intruder Alarm, etc. That should give it more consistency.

Also, i'd stay away from the tap lands and the non-essential utility lands like Riptide Laboratory and Volrath's Dungeon. In my experience, they more often than not slow you down.

I'll try and give more suggestions in the future. Hope the ones above help.

March 1, 2017 6:55 a.m.

GMD_1090 says... #2

if you are putting mikey in there why not put in Triskelion since it goes infinite with mikey and marchesa out

March 7, 2017 2:20 p.m.

Enral says... #3

GMD_1090: Hi, Mikey is there for Glen Elendra and redcap's combo..I'm honestly not a big fan of Trisk due to his CMC and being useless on his own although the two card combo is nice. I might reconsider him in the future.

March 7, 2017 5:30 p.m.

GMD_1090 says... #4

Well an additional consideration is that trike is a a solid defensive price as well since he has counters built-in. But I will admit, I do not run him in my own Marchesa deck.

March 7, 2017 6:04 p.m.

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Compare to inventory
Date added 8 months
Last updated 2 months

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.57
Tokens 1/1 Bird
Folders My EDH Collection, Interesting EDH PRimers, EDH Memes, Grixis ideas
Top rank #46 on 2017-01-26
Views 1764

Revision 14 (2 months ago)

+1 Arid Mesa main
-1 Island main

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