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

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

Mishraharad

Maybeboard


‘In the Phase of Open Warfare, especially when one is placed in a position of defending or countering, one must be proactive.

Determine what commodities or resources you will need to gain the advantage and place your opponent on the defensive. Establish which of these commodities or resources your opponent possesses. Take them from him. Do not chase glory. Do not force unwinnable confrontations. Do not try to match his strength if you know his strength over-matches yours. Do not waste time. Decide what will make you strong enough, and then acquire those things. Your most desired commodity is always your continued ability to prosecute the war.’

My Cardsphere article on how to Tax in EDH

Primer

Introduction

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 traded 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 mostly multiplayer in a spell heavy environment (and that influenced some of my card choices) however, with small adjustments, this deck can fight off any type of deck.

Small update on the meta: We cEDH now, boiz. We have Tymna/Thrasios, Zur, Food Chain Prossh and the rest of the gang at the table.

You don't need to have your commander in play most of the time

You enjoy aggressive strategies

You enjoy shutting down people's strategies

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 from 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!

Overview

We have a few simple categories: Mana, Taxes, Card Advantage, Tutor, Removal, Combo and Reanimation

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.

Also, you need to taylor your hate pieces towards your meta - if there is more go-wide strategies, usre more wraths, if there is a lot combo decks, go harder on Taxing effects.

Strategy

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.

You want to reach a point where your taxing effects are holding you down the least and enabling you to win the game, while your opponents stay crippled.

Early game is all about laying our hate down. You want to have disruptive Taxing effects in play by turn 2. Turn three can already be too late, depending on meta.

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

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? Do we have enough basics and are our opponents greedy with their mana base? Blood Moon them.

Do they rely on mana dorks and activated abilities? Cursed Totem is the way to go.

Stax Pieces should have already been set, and our efficient beaters should be doing their work, making our opponents life miserable. This is a good spot to Armageddon people, if we have rock/board presence/ Smothering Tithe ready to overwhelm them.

Apply pressure, choose your battles carefully. Always remember you are reliant on your permanents for the most of it, so ponder about your enemies answers and how can they disrupt your disruption.

By late game point, we are either comboing out, or we have critical taxing effects, with army of Bears&Co smashing at our opponents, powered by Sire Of Insanity , Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and/or Brutal Hordechief .

Life is good, life totals are low, and so is our enemies ability to wage war.

Mulligans

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. I do recommend to agressively mulligan with this deck, since we are really reliant on hate pieces early on.

Combos

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 Judith, Scourge Diva/ Goblin Bombardment

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. Judith, Scourge Diva 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

Replace Goblin Bombardment for Altar of Dementia to mill people out.

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 is a standard EDH combo, involving Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Village Bell-Ringer .

Step 1: Have Kiki-Jiki in play.

Step 2: Village-Bell Ringer ETB's, untaping your dudes.

Step 3: Make Copy of VBR, untapping your team.

Step 4: Make another copy of VBR.

Step 5: Get infinite number of VBR's, and either attack your enemies for leathal, or Judith/Goblin Bombardment/Altar of Dementia them.

Synergies

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

Judith, Scourge Diva

Hokori, Dust Drinker

Karmic Guide

Kataki, War's Wage

Kiki-Jiki, Mirrod Breaker

Magus of the Moon

Murderous Redcap

Phyrexian Revoker

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Tymna the Weaver

Viscera Seer

Vryn Wingmare

What Recruiter of the Guard can't tutor for, Imperial Rectuiter can (most of the time).

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

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!

Azra Oddsmaker - Discard outlet, Draw Engine, all this deck needs.

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. Note, you can activate his ability during ANYBODYS turn, making sure right people live or die.

Main reason he's here is to laugh in face of Constant Mists that Tatiyova player deploys.

Eidolon of Rhetoric - To slow the game down, screws with combo and ramp decks.

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite - Lady Gaga is here to kill creature strategies, and make our creatures hit for leathal. Reanimate it for cheap if possible!

Grand Abolisher - Anti-disruption measure that enables us to combo off in peace.

Kambal, Consul of Allocation - Anti-Storm/Anti-Spell measure. Much harder to Ad Naseum with this lad in play.

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

Leonin Arbiter - Cat Jesus is here to save all the formats from evils of Tutoring.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence - Stops dorks, but only of opposing variety.

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

Mindblade Render - Phyrexian Arena on a stick, that works on other peoples turns sometimes.

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!

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

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.
Cursed Totem - Mana dorks? More like mana dont's!

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

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

Uba Mask - Do you hate people drawing a bunch of cards, and using those cards a few turns later to punish you? No more, I say!

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Date added 3 years
Last updated 1 day
Key combos
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 99
Avg. CMC 2.74
Rarity (main - side)

7 - 0 Mythic Rares

41 - 0 Rares

27 - 0 Uncommons

7 - 0 Commons

Tokens 3/3 Elephant, None Treasure, None Copy Clone
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