Grixis Tribal Wizard Concept

I previously tinkered with the idea of an Izzet wizard tribal deck for quite a while, but was never overly excited to complete another commander deck...until the release of Arcane Wizardry. Considering my affection for all things black, the upgrade to Grixis from Izzet gave me some much-needed flexible options with which to build, and it became too good to pass up. As I already have my primary cEDH decks in Brains Desired, Not Required and Dang Son! It's a Shiny Rube Goldberg Machine!, as well as several other Tier 1.5 through Tier 3 options, I wanted to avoid the Tier 1 Kess build, and instead shoot for something a little more unexpected and spicy, with a heavy wizard-tribal theme. Here's my current iteration of what that looks like.

Sorting the Wizard Houses...

After Jeleva and Nekusar had dominated Grixis EDH for quite some time, Kess, Dissident Mage arrived and announced her presence with authority as a Tier 1 Commander from the get go. However, not everyone loves cEDH, so I wanted to build something with her where the deck seems thematic and fun, until it's time to dominate the action. Enter the heavy wizard-tribal build, led by Kess and her complimentary ability of playing spells from the graveyard on each of your turns. With her leading the charge, these wizards form a veritable swiss army knife of control (and much more) to go from quirky to oppressive in no time at all.

While each of the included wizards serves their purpose individually, it's when they start to combine forces and augment each others abilities that they become truly overwhelming. I've broken them down by color and intended purpose for a little more flavor:

IZZET - Adeliz, the Cinder Wind for massive wizard aggro, and Goblin Electromancer for spell cost reduction.

DIMIR - Duskmantle Guildmage for the Mindcrank kill combo activation when any opponent takes damage or has a card enter their graveyard, resulting in an infinite loop.

BLUE - Baral, Chief of Compliance for spell ramp and card draw; Cursecatcher for early-turn spell control; Fatespinner for opponent turn/phase control; Glen Elendra Archmage for spell control; Mistcaller for opponent reanimation prevention; Naban, Dean of Iteration for doubling ETBs; Patron Wizard for spell control; Sage of Fables for wizard-tribal counters, card draw and infinite-persist with Glen Elendra Archmage ; Sage of Epityr for top-deck manipulation; Siren Stormtamer for removal prevention; Spellseeker for spell tutoring; Azami, Lady of Scrolls for card draw; Trinket Mage for artifact tutoring; Vedalken AEthermage for wizardcycling; Vendilion Clique for opponent hand control and Venser, Shaper Savant for spell and permanent removal.

BLACK - Maralen of the Mornsong for tutoring and board-lock combo with Stranglehold

Because all of the creatures in the deck enter into play as wizards, the real game-changers are: Patron Wizard , as he allows all wizards to then control your opponents' spell casting; Adeliz, the Cinder Wind , as she allows for a surprise wizard aggro-element that can easily overrun an opponent in a single combat phase (especially if you can exploit a buyback spell with Paradox Engine and mana rocks); and Maralen of the Mornsong , who when played with Stranglehold can essentially lock your opponents' board until the completion of the game.

With an enormous number of wizards printed in the Grixis color-palette (506 per Gatherer at the time of Dominaria's release), there are a ton of additional contenders for the deck as well. If you like a different play style, another wizard-based theme could easily be achieved with the addition of some of those other wizards. For this deck, priority was given to the best synergy among lower CMC options to assist with card advantage, spell ramp, spell control and permanent removal, with a splash of aggro-potential built in to exploit strength in numbers, as the more wizards that hit the board, the more deadly playing Adeliz, the Cinder Wind can become, as she's suddenly the equivalent of a Craterhoof Behemoth ...and who doesn't want to see a control deck overrun an opponent with massive aggro-wizards?

Unexpected options like that make this specific build a bit more suited to a non-Tier 1 driven play style, and friendlier to your non-cEDH players, without sacrificing the best aspects of what Kess can achieve. That said, once you hit enough available mana to start exploiting extra-turn spells or Paradox Engine with buyback spells, you're ability to complete a winning strategy is probably going to be very difficult to overcome.

It's possible I will eventually consider changing it more toward the Tier 1 version over time, but in the meantime, I'm looking forward to playing this version to see how it interacts with my LGS player's decks, even those in the most competitive tiers. If you like it - or if you think I missed an obvious option to include, feel free to upvote and/or comment. Thanks.


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94% Competitive

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Date added 1 year
Last updated 1 month
Exclude colors WG
Splash colors R

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.36
Tokens 1/1 Bird
Folders Interesting Commander Decks
Top rank #24 on 2018-04-02
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