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Alesha, Who Smiles At Death and (s)Taxes [Primer]

Commander / EDH* Aggro Competitive Death and Taxes Hatebears Primer RBW (Mardu)






Pain is temporary, Honour is forever

Greeting and salutations! This is Igor from Elder Dragon Durdle Podcast

This is my Alesha, Who Smiles at Death EDH deck. It has evolved from a quickly mashed up a deck consisting of cards that seemed OK, into my favorite deck for any kind of playgroup, casual or more serious.

Before we begin, I gotta thank my girlfriend for actually putting up with my obsession with Alesha, my co-host Niksa for giving me solid judge advice and selling me that WPN Thalia, and in the end, AsykoSkwrl for actually formatting everything so it looks so well done. It's all him!

When Alesha's Story was released, I was intrigued by her as a character. I quickly PucaTraded for her, getting a Spanish version.I made some janky deck that was losing more often than not, but she was fun to play nonetheless. As time went by, I got more and more things for Alesha, and I became obsessed with her more and more.

I play both 1v1 and multiplayer in a creature heavy environment (and that influenced some of my card choices) however, with small adjustments, this deck can fight off control and combo decks.

Small update on the meta: With the arrival of user: JohhnyCRO to my playgroup has started the proverbial arms race, but in a good way. Decks are now forced to mind the combo aspects of other decks much more, and he adds the much needed presence of a control deck to the control group.

You enjoy aggressive strategies

You enjoy playing with lot of small dudes with big ETB's

You enjoy Death and Taxes (D&T) style of play

You enjoy playing with graveyard

You enjoy playing with lot of answers and removal

You hate people having permanents in play

You enjoy having big creatures

You enjoy heavy ramp style decks

Your playgroup hates staxy and D&T styles of play

You prefer threats to answers

This Alesha, unlike more commonly seen token based version, focuses on winning through taxing our opponents for casting spells,playing creatures and killing our creatures.

Another reason to play Alesha is that we are in perfect colors to hate on permanents. From creatures, to lands, nothing is safe!


We have a few simple categories: Land, Removal, Beatdown, Combo, Utility and Tax.

This list is quite resilient to wraths, and only thing that really stops our creatures is lot of exile. Merciless Eviction and Angel of Dire Hour can be game over if one overextends without sac outlet backup. Also, our deck can operate on small amounts of mana - if Alesha is well protected, only thing we need is 2-3 mana per turn.

Because I build this deck 'cause commander appealed to me so much, we have to go with Mardu. Firstly I was sad, because no blue (If only I could sneak Cyclonic Rift in this deck ...)however, I was quick to find that Mardu can play a control-y game if need be - all while beating face!

Red gives us some good self-discard options, like Faithless Looting , also haste enablers like Anger. White gives us a lot of hate - Aven Mindcensor , Thalia, Heretic Cathar , Thalia, Guardian of Thraben , all of the wrath effects ...

Black lets us play with our graveyard even more, and gives us Oppression style cards, and is generally kill happy. Black also provides us with wonderful card advantage a la Necropotence

Big mana decks can punish us a lot, if their threats/mana bases aren't killed and/or slowed down.Also, decks that move lot faster than us (like Goblins or cEDH style combo decks) can outrace us - however, Trinisphere should be applied in these cases.As it is usual with graveyard strategies, don't dump everything into your graveyard at once, since graveyard hate can hurt. A lot.


Our general strategy is simple - be disruptive as possible. Strip players out of their hands, kill their creatures,destroy their permanents, while attacking with our small dudes and grinding value.

Early game is all about laying our hate down. Turn 3 Alesha is a good way to start, but even before that, we have options - Trinisphere Impending Disaster , or just laying Signets down to prepare for an Armageddon . Whatever we can do to slow their game down is good. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Necrotic Sliver are devastating against proper matchups.

Trinisphere slows down ramp decks, wrecks combo decks. In the similar vein, Aven Mindcensor can screw up people ramping.

If we didn't draw into our hate Mother of Runes does enable Alesha, Who Smiles to Death to sneak some commander damage (which can accumulate quite fast with proper buffs)

One of better things we can do early on is casting Buried Alive getting either hate cards or Master of Cruelties / Murderous Redcap for the combo win.

One of the newer additions are Magus of the Moon and Hokori, Dust Drinker The way we abuse them is by assessing the situation - will this move hamper our opponents more than us? Can we combine Sword of Feast and Famine and Hokori to ignore his drawback? Do we have enough basics and are our opponents greedy with their mana base?

By this time, we have board presence established. Something like Fiend Hunter + sac outlet etc. enable that easily. Reconnaissance and Swords of X and Y are here to enable us get our attacking triggers/sneak in damage.

Also, you keep on killing all of the stuff. Speaking off, don't be worried about wrathing our board if we start to be overwhelmed by small dudes, or overgrown by big creatures.

By late game point, we are either comboing out, or we have critical mass of creatures to swing with, while our opponents got little resources. Even if we are in a pickle, Mother of Runes + Palisade Giant are great ways to stall the game until we get into a better position.

Rakdos Charm straight out kill token players (especially if Blood Artist is out to punish them responding to those spells)

If we get flooded, Mirror Entity makes our dudes stupid.


This deck actually mulligans quite well. All we need is couple of lands and a few small dudes or hate cards to get the ball rolling, so feel free to mulligan aggressively (even with 5 cards, we are okay.) With addition of Ancient Tomb and Chrome Mox our hands get even faster, meaning we can cast many dumb things turn one, from many rocks T1, or Magus of the Moon etc.


One of the most obvious combos is Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit + Murderous Redcap + any sac outlet. (You can have Cathars' Crusade instead of Anafenza for the combo) Unless disrupted, this combo deals infinite damage to any number of players/ creatures. Way to speed up the kill is to have Blood Artist on board while doing this. For those wondering how the combo works:

Step 1. Sacrifice Redcap

Step 2. Persist Triggers and Redcap is back

Step 3. Redcap trigger is put on the stack

Step 4. Anafenza/Crusade triggers - resolve this one first

Step 5. Redcap deals damage

Rinse and repeat.

Note about this combo - if your sac outlet is Altar of Dementia you can mill one player while killing another one, speeding up the whole process, while Viscera Seer gives you infinite Scry.

One of the more sneakier combos to do involves Fiend Hunter + Sun Titan , any sac outlet and our good friend Blood Artist (ain't he a chap?)

Step 1: Either have Sun Titan on the board and than cast Fiend Hunter , or have Hunter in graveyard and than cast Titan, all while Blood Artist is on board.

Step 2. Fiend Hunter enters the battlefield, and it triggers his exile trigger

Step 3. Exile Sun Titan

Step 4. Sacrifice Fiend Hunter

Step 5. Blood Artist drains somebody

Step 6. Sun Titan comes back

Step 7. With Titans ETB ability, bring back Fiend Hunter

Loop it how many times you need to kill everybody. Note that we can do a similar thing with Karmic Guide and Fiend Hunter

Next combo is one Alesha and Kaalia of the Vast are known for, and it includes Alesha, Who Smiles at Death + Master of Cruelties . For this to work, we need Master in the graveyard, and Alesha in the field.

Step 1: Attack with Alesha

Step 2: Use her ability to get back Master of Cruelties

Step 3: Master comes back from the graveyard, and if it somehow and another creature don't get blocked blocked ( Break Through the Line ) you kill a player on the spot

Now that we've listed all of the game winning combos, it's time to delve into some combos that don't win the game, but hurt opponents very, very much.

First, we come back to our good friend Fiend Hunter and his favorite trick "how to make opponents creatures dissapear forever". First time I used this against my girlfriend, it resulted in a 15 minute argument that ended up with words "This is bullsh*t" . Note to the careful reader, Faceless Butcher and Mesmeric Fiend etc.

Trigger warning: a lot of trigger manipulation ahead.

Things needed for this cocktail are a sac outlet and Fiend Hunter

Step 1: Fiend Hunter enters the battlefield

Step 2: Choose a target for the exile ability

Step 3: In response to that ability, sacrifice Hunter

Step 4: Hunters leave the battlefield ability triggers now

Step 5: LTB ability resolves, bringing back nothing, since nothing has been exiled yet

Step 6: ETB ability resolves now, exiling a creature permanently

For bonus points, do that, and than attack with Alesha, bringing back Fiend Hunter again, and doing it again.

Find out how combo players will hate you using this weird trick!

Tidehollow Sculler or Mesmeric Fiend could be used in the same way as Fiend Hunter , only stripping players out of their hands.

Mirror Entity can provide us with wonderful lifedrain loop. What we need are Mirror Entity + Karmic Guide + Reveillark + Blood Artist

Combo works like this:

Step 1: Mirror Entity is out on the battlefield, Blood Artist is either in our graveyard or battlefield, and Alesha attacks, getting back Karmic Guide who in turn gets Reveillark

Step 2: We put infinite Mirror Entity's abilities on the stack

Step 3: Toughness of our dudes is reduced to 0, causing them to die, we drain for a bit if the Artist is out

Step 4: Reveillark triggers, getting back Karmic Guide and a Blood Artist

Step 5: Our creatures are back on the battlefield, and second of infinite Mirror Entity triggers resolve

Step 6: Toughness of our dudes is reduced to 0, causing them to die, we drain people

Repeat steps 3-5, enjoy your win!


This neat little synergy (if angel isn't killed) can lock out people out of combats. And even if they do kill her, guess what. She's coming back!

Each turn you get even bigger and bigger guys. Not a lot of finesse in this one! Pretty self explanatory!

Guess what, people can't cast spells from their hands. When that lock happens, person with graveyard plays often comes ahead.

WARNING - Don't do this on a losing board!

Solitary Confinement enables us to have a discard outlet, gives us Shroud and prevents damage.

And when we finally do lose it, Sun Titan can get it back!

Recruiter of the Guard

So, what are options whilst recruiting? One of better option is getting a sac outlet, so we can sac Recruiter and reanimate him again. If not, just judge by what's happening on the battlefield, and what do you forsee happening.

Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit

Aven Mindcensor

Avalanche Riders

Blood Artist

Duergar Hedge-Mage

Hokori, Dust Drinker

Karmic Guide

Magus of the Moon

Mirror Entity

Mother of Runes

Murderous Redcap

Phyrexian Revoker

Restoration Specialist

Ruin Raider

Scab-Clan Berserker

Stoneforge Mystic

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Tymna the Weaver

Viscera Seer

Vryn Wingmare

Zo-Zu the Punisher

Also, fun times happen once you get Recruiter from a graveyard with Alesha, and than copying it with Kiki-Jiki.

Card Choices
Arcane Lighthouse - It is hard to kill things with spot removal when they refuse to be targetable. Guess who's dying now, Uril?

Bojuka Bog - Because graveyards need to be hated as well.

High Market - Another sac outlet is nothing to scoff at.

Rogue's Passage - Being unblockable is nice, even if it costs 5 mana

Here I'll cover the creatures that didn't get mentioned in previous segments.

Archfiend of Ifnir - He is huge, has a great synergy with an overall gameplan, wields Jitte like a pro AND CYCLES! - Currently not in the deck, but he is a thing to consider.

Aven Mindcensor - Tutoring is good. Unless our opponents do it. Extra benefit - flash makes Dowsing Dagger   work so much better, especially if you equip it, cast Armageddon and than smack somebody in the face!

Big Game Hunter - One of the biggest BAMF's in this deck. A big Zombie? Dead. A huge Dragon? Dead. A almost world sized godlike being that ravages worlds for mana? Think I'll put her tentacles over my fireplace, as a conversation starter. - Not in the deck, but depending of the meta he can be super useful.

Brutal Hordechief - He wins us the games and keeps us in losing ones. Those small drains add up, and 3 is a small price to pay for a dead opponent. - Not in the deck, but depending of the meta he can be super useful.

Duergar Hedge-Mage - More blowing up of enchantments and artifacts.

Eidolon of Rhetoric - To slow the game down, screws with combo and ramp decks. Hope of Ghirapur / Kambal, Consul of Allocation / Scab-Clan Berserker all fall into "fuck control" archetype.

Hokori, Dust Drinker - He's a difficult one to employ. You have to evaluate what is your mana situation, your opponents mana, their artifacts ...

But if you evaluate properly, Hokori can win games all on his own, by sheer value of grinding and slowing up the game.

Karmic Guide - Value on a stick. She gets our hate cards back, including the ones we can't bring back usually, like Sun Titan and Sire Of Insanity

Magus of the Moon - So, people ran no basics in their decks? Cute.

Mirror Entity - One good mana sink/way to make our small dudes not so small!

Phyrexian Revoker - This little guy does work. He doesn't shut off mana abilities, and you don't name the card while casting, but while it resolves!

Restoration Specialist - We have 10+ artifacts and enchantments in the deck, and once they get blown up ...

Ruin Raider - Let me level with y'all - Dark Confidant is expensive. So, this will have to do!

Sire Of Insanity - Since people mostly draw better than we do, let's drag them to our level!

Stoneforge Mystic - Banned in Standard, banned in Modern. Completely legal here, and boy does she work a lot! 7 targets, depending on your needs!

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben - One of the flagbearers of the Death and Taxes playstyle, she taxes people, while not interfering with our reanimation plan that much. Also, look at that gorgeous WPN art (provided by my co-host Niksa) (Also, Vryn Wingmare is a card)

Tymna the Weaver - Why can't we have her as Alesha's Partner? Draws us cards, we can recur her, tutor for her. Truly a perfect creature!

All of our instants are there to murder stuff. All of them.
Blind Obedience - A little more control and a haste hozer! And sometimes Extort is a thing that saves us. - Not in the deck, but depending of the meta he can be super useful.

Key to the City - Makes dudes unblockable, draws us cards and makes us discard. What's not to love?

Lightning Greaves - Protection. Haste. All and all for 2 mana!

Faithless Looting and Reforge the Soul do the same thing - discard cards from our hand, and give us card draw, both things we really love

Wrath of God and Damnation - Do I need to explain?

Necropotence - "But Igor!" you say, as a creepy voice in my head, "we love to discard cards!"

That is true. But paying 15 life to combo off is also one true thing.

Reconnaissance - Protects our guys when attacking, and gives them pseudo-vigilance, because you can untap your guys after they deal damage.

Umezawa's Jitte - If you have a creature out, and this is on it, it is REALLY hard to lose the game. Stupid, broken, powerful.

Smuggler's Copter - Beats face, LOOTS!


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Date added 3 years
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This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.75
Tokens None Treasure, None Copy Clone
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