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Chulane CIA (cEDH Chulane Primer)

Commander / EDH* GWU (Bant)

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Chulane, Teller of Tales Combo Primer

Chulane is an Anglicisation of Chulainn, from the Ulster cycle of Irish myths of Cu Chulainn (Chulainn’s Hound). While the “ch” at the beginning should actually be the voiceless velar fricative (like a rolled “h”, or an “h” crossed with an “x”), that’s not a common place sound in English, so use a standard “h” sound. The rest of the word is pronounced “HULL-en” (rhymes with “sullen”). Not CHOO-lane. Please.
CIA stands for the three primary combos in the deck: Cloudstone Curio , Intruder Alarm , Aluren
You should play Chulane if you are looking for a creature-based combo deck that has good long game potential and good hate resilience. It is also a very unique deck, so if you are looking to do something different, Chulane may be for you as well. The most obvious comparison is The Gitrog Monster, they are both 5 mana, commander-centric decks, though obviously they have different strengths and vulnerabilities.
Chulane provides an absolutely insane amount of value. Once he is in play, you can draw a huge number of cards each turn, and even cards you typically don’t want to draw in the late game, like mana dorks, cycle and let you put extra lands in to play. He also enables a huge number of slot-efficient combos, meaning you can have as many or as few ways of winning as you like in the deck. His stax resilience is also nice, he enables many combos that completely ignore Rest in Peace and Null Rod, and can even win through Cursed Totem effects.
Chulane is very much an “eggs in one basket” deck. Chulane provides both your necessary combo piece and primary value engine, so if your opponents put in some effort to keep him out of play, the deck will struggle. He also has the downside of being 5 mana, which can be difficult to cast, and not being black, which means he is low on tutors, particularly for non-creature spells.
Step one for this deck is nearly always: Ramp in to Chulane. While occasionally another path is appropriate, such as playing out a value engine like Mystic Remora or Sylvan Library , or a hate piece like Rest in Peace or Collector Ouphe , you really want to cast Chulane on turn 3 whenever possible. The deck runs an exhaustive dork package to help with this, so your typical opener should have something like: 3 lands, 2 Mana Dorks, and 2 of Utility Creatures, Interaction spells or tutors.
It is often not difficult to combo the turn after you play Chulane, though often it’s correct to simply tap mana that you won’t use for interaction spells to cycle out various creatures like extra mana dorks, and pass holding up mana. It will depend on your table and meta how safe you will feel trying to combo very early.

There can also be some advantage to waiting a few turns to combo to avoid conditioning your opponents in to believing that Chulane in Play=About to Combo. This also helps you get some extra lands in to play in case you need to recast Chulane. Using a tutor to find Whitemane Lion or Shrieking Drake (hereafter refered to as “self-bouncers”) is often a good play as they can be combo pieces, but also just value engines while you are waiting for your opportunity to win. Holding up Chulane’s ability is also nice, either to save a value creature/hatebear or Chulane himself.

Mana will quickly cease to be an issue as you continually draw more mana producing creatures and play extra lands. In the late game it’s not uncommon to assemble wins with lines like Spellseeker / Eternal Witness , bounce it with Chulane and play it again. This is when you can go for your safest combo lines, assembling protection like Veil of Summer , Silence or Ranger-Captain of Eos to ensure you can force the win through.
This is a tricky aspect of the deck to master, there are several considerations. Typically, the deck will produce enough green mana on its own without distorting your play patterns. There are, however, a few considerations to think about.

Managing Fetchable sources: When you really start to get going, if you pull out all of one type of land, you can run in to the situation where you draw a fetch with no target.

Setting up for Whitemane/Shrieking: You want to have as many of your lands produce the colours necessary to cast these two as they become crazy recurable draw engines.

Not feeding Carpets: while you may want to put as many islands as possible in to play, you don’t want to feed a Carpet of Flowers 5+ mana per turn.

Setting up for Earthcraft : If you want to use Earthcraft to its full extent, you will typically want both a basic Forest and a basic Island. This must be weighed against the above points, as fetching basics hurts colour availability and fetching islands can be punished by carpet.

Cavern of Souls : Typically, the correct decision is to name Human. While there are nearly as many druids as humans in the deck, the druids have low colour requirements (as many of them are just 1 cmc mana dorks) and are also less crucial to resolve. In particular, uncounterable Recruiter of the Guard , Ranger Captain, Spellseeker and Eternal Witness can be very strong.

Basic Combo setups:
Requires: Chulane + Cloudstone Curio + a 1 drop in hand + a land in hand + a 1 drop in play + a land drop in play.

Steps:

  1. Cast your 1 drop. Chulane Trigger
  2. Draw a card and put your land in to play. Curio Trigger
  3. If you don’t have a land in hand for the next iteration, Bounce another land with curio trigger
  4. 1 drop resolves, curio trigger
  5. Curio trigger bounces your other one drop.
  6. Repeat

Results: You will draw your deck, put all your lands in to play (though you will need to tap them for mana), and can cast all your 1 drop creatures. It is possible to net mana off of Gaea’s Cradle, and try and get a way to net more mana in to play, such as Lotus Cobra or Earthcraft.

Requires: Chulane, Aluren , Self Bouncer Steps:
  1. Cast your Self Bouncer, Chulane trigger
  2. Draw a card and put a land in to play
  3. Self bouncer enters, use its trigger to return it to your hand Results: You will draw your deck and put all your lands in to play untapped, and can cast any number of creatures with CMC 3 or less for free.
Requires: Chulane, Intruder Alarm / Village Bell-Ringer , Mana dorks producing enough mana

Steps:

  1. Cast a creature that will untap all creatures on ETB
  2. Tap all your mana dorks
  3. Creature ETBs
  4. Untap all your creatures
  5. Use Chulane’s ability to return it to your hand

Results: You will draw your deck and put all your lands in to play untapped. You will need mana dorks producing at least 3+the cost of your creature you are bouncing

There are many Shrieking Drake combos, essentially any way to guarantee you can play a land off of every Chulane trigger + Shrieking Drake. Some examples are:

Overburden / Mana Breach + Shrieking Drake

Cloudstone Curio + Shrieking Drake

Lotus Cobra + Oboro, Palace in the Clouds + Shrieking Drake

Earthcraft + Island + Shrieking Drake

All of these will let you draw your deck with various abilities to play other lands and creatures.

Requirements: Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Steps:

  1. Use Yisan to find Wirewood Symbiote
  2. Use Yisan to find Priest of Titania / Bloom Tender (you will need all 3 colours for Bloom Tender)
  3. Use Yisan to find Mirror Entity
  4. Activate Mirror Entity for 1
  5. Activate Wirewood Symbiote, returning itself (because it is now an elf thanks to Mirror Entity) and untapping the creature from step 2.
  6. Cast Wirewood Symbiote
  7. Repeat steps 4-6

This will make infinite green (with Priest) or infinite nongreen (with Bloom Tender) mana. You can cast Chulane and then draw your library by casting Wirewood Symbiote, or just activate Mirror Entity for infinity and kill with combat.

Actually winning:
This part gets a little bit Hazy. Often, just casting a few creatures and a big Finale will be enough, but if that isn't an option for one reason or another, here are some tips on turning Chulane Combos into actual infinites.
First things first, in order to transition to some other combo, we are going to need at least a couple mana. Usually, the best ways to do this are either play fast mana rocks that you draw, (if you are using a combo that requires mana to draw), or lands that tap for more than one, most notably Gaea's Cradle . Once we have some mana, we can move on to step 2.
So we got a few mana, now, we need a way to modify whatever combo we are doing so that it makes mana. If we got enough mana to play Lotus Cobra , that's a great way of doing it. Modifying our combo to recur Gaea's Cradle can also work, as can using either of Earthcraft or Intruder Alarm . Now that we have enough mana to play around with, and a path to making more, move on to step 3.
This one's pretty self explanatory. If you draw with no cards in library, you lose the game. That's bad. So either use Timetwister to ensure the deck is always full, or get Chulane out of play so you aren't forced to draw. Now that we aren't at risk of dying, we can move on to step 4
There are a few ways of accomplishing this without Chulane in play. Some combination of Earthcraft, Intruder Alarm, Cloudstone Curio, Self Bouncing Creatures etc. Note that you can give dorks haste with Finale, or just use Earthcraft.

Now you can move on to one of the actually infinite outlets.

The deck contains several cards that can function as outlets: Mirror Entity for infinite combat damage

Finale of Devastation for Haste and infinite combat damage

Eternal Witness + Winds of Rebuke for infinite mill

Timetwister Loops with Strip Mine , Swords to Plowshares and Nature's Claim to destroy all their permanents, and Swan Song to make infinite birds.

This card is insane, it finds a combo or value pieces such as Shrieking Drake , Quirion Ranger or Wirewood Symbiote
While we do have some effects that this stops, it’s a pretty minor impact and stops Pod, Hulk and Reanimation from our opponents.
Similar to Containment Priest , while this does impact a few of our cards, it’s much worse for our opponents.
The adventure mode on this is basically Cyclonic Rift , but the ability to cast it an bounce it to recast is arguably more likely to be useful than the possibility of overloading Cyclonic Rift which is unlikely to resolve.
Our combos typically involve either 1 or 0 noncreature spells and then repeatedly casting creatures. This will barely stop us from comboing, but is a severe restriction on many other decks, meaning they can't combo at all, or have to combo with no backup.
While finding Gaea's Cradle is nice, if that were the sole use case, we probably wouldn't run this. As is, it finds Oboro, Palace in the Clouds which can either be a combo piece or a combo extender of sorts, Homeward Path to combat Gilded Drake , Strip Mine for problematic lands out of our opponents, and occasionally basics for our Earthcraft
These are out because they nombo with Grafdigger's Cage / Containment Priest , and because typically, the creature we most want to find is Shrieking Drake , which is a 1 drop and thus inneficient to find with these.
While this combo does work without Chulane in play, I don’t like how non-useful both pieces are individually. With no forbidden tutors, the major upside of Food Chain is gone.
Flash hulk combos in Chulane either need Chulane in play, thus losing most of the benefits of Flash Hulk, or require a package of many creatures, reducing our card quality.
While this is the best costed bounce spell, it too often reflects on Chulane, so I opted to run Winds of Rebuke (which is an outlet) and Brazen Borrower instead.
The short answer here is that we don't need a dedicated win outlet. We already have so many non overlapping wins that running a dead card to make winning take fewer steps is wholly unnecessary.

The long answer is here: https://www.reddit.com/r/CompetitiveEDH/comments/cqtld5/whats_in_a_wincon_a_brief_primer_on_when_to_run/

For more discussion, feel free to check out the Chulane Discord: https://discord.gg/NakeK4d

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Top Ranked
  • Achieved #2 position overall 3 months ago
  • Achieved #1 position in Commander / EDH 3 months ago
Date added 5 months
Last updated 4 days
Legality

This deck is not Commander / EDH legal.

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Rarity (main - side)

8 - 0 Mythic Rares

51 - 0 Rares

15 - 0 Uncommons

14 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 1.87
Tokens 1/1 Bird
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4 days ago)

-1 Village Bell-Ringer main
+1 Destiny Spinner main