The God-Pharaoh has Returned...and has found you Unworthy.

This is my absolute favorite deck, and I'm actively working on foiling it out.

This is a Nicol Bolas Vorthos deck. There is a focus on Nicol Bolas related cards (flavor text, cards that feature him in the artwork, etc), but also simply things that Nicol Bolas would do in his quest for omnipotence. More important than quotes or artwork is procuding the feeling of Nicol Bolas - subtle scheming, hidden planning, followed by brutal displays of overwhelming power. Nicol Bolas takes what he wants, and he is both patient and powerful enough to succeed.

His enemies are left shattered in mind and body, and the most worthy opponents will be his possessions, willingly or unwillingly, alive or undead.

The God-Pharaoh

Previously this deck featured the original Elder Dragon Nicol Bolas as the Commander. I've had a soft spot for discard since I was a kid and saw Chains of Mephistopheles , and as a returned Magic player I've found myself gravitating toward control builds. Nicol Bolas, with his schemes and machinations and discard ability, was an obvious choice.

With the release of Nicol Bolas, the Ravager  Flip, we've gotten a significant improvement in the quality of the Commander. OG Bolas has an amazing ability, but his base mana cost and upkeep cost are prohibitive. I found myself rarely wanting to actually cast the Commander. Now, Nicol Bolas comes out virtually every game. A 4/4 flier for 4 makes a decent blocker and can pressure life totals with evasion. His ETB ability, however, is raw card advantage in Commander. Effectively it's a 3-for-1...and we can make it even better.

What's more, this card perfectly embodies Nicol Bolas in both his creature and Planeswalker forms. The Ravager truly is the Nicol Bolas Commander this deck needed.

Nicol Bolas thrives on shattering the minds of anyone who dares oppose him. His simple touch brings madness. Fortunately, discard has been supported in Magic since the very beginning, and we have some key mechanics we can exploit.

Geth's Grimoire and Waste Not are amazing. We can turn all of that discard into card draw, amplifying the card advantage and providing the resource that control/combo decks need the most: cards. Waste Not can potentially also give us an army or a bunch of mana. We want one of these on the board ASAP, preferably before casting Nicol Bolas. These are nearly always my first tutor targets, unless I'm specifically looking for an answer or just going to combo off. Syphon Mind is already great in multiplayer, but turning it into "each opponent discards a card; you draw 6 cards" is amazing. This is the very definition of "card advantage."

In a similar vein we have Notion Thief . While this is not a Nekusar deck, we are definitely running some of the best Wheel effects to trigger more discard and draw a new hand...and with Notion Thief, only the God-Pharaoh gets to draw. One of my first games featured Thief and Wheel of Fortune in a 5-player pod. That was fun.

Discard is already a strong form of proactive control on its own. We have to trade some of the better discard effects available ( Thoughtseize , Duress , etc) that would let us see hands and choose what's discarded in favor of either very impactful/flavorful effects like Wit's End , or effects that hit multiple opponents so that we can scale in multiplayer. Still, attacking card advantage is good even when we can't specifically remove the threats of our choice. The disruption offered by stripping cards from hands is amazing.

The main plan of this deck is to keep control of the board to prevent anyone else from winning or knocking us out, and win with a combo. Nicol Bolas seeks omnipotence, and this exemplifies his achievement of that goal.

1) Isochron Scepter and Dramatic Reversal , usually into an arbitrarily large Torment of Hailfire . The flavor here is pretty obvious.

2) Doomsday . Doomsday is a risky, all-in line of play where we win or lose on the spot. Never, ever cast Doomsday and pass the turn.

3) Omniscience into Obliterate . "This place has outlived its usefulness." Once this world has served its purpose and Lord Bolas no longer has a use for it, we can use our near-omnipotence to annihilate everything and crush those who remain. This works particularly well with the Bolas planeswalkers, or after we've flipped the Commander.

In the meantime, we do Nicol Bolas things. That means scheming, playing politics, and making bargains that always work out in our favor. It also means control. We're going to let people do...whatever they want to do, as long as it hurts our other enemies and does not hurt us. But when our enemies join against us, we will murder them. With Damnation:AKHMPS.

We'll steal those creatures we deem worthy, and kill the rest. Sometimes we'll kill them, and then resurrect them as our own undead pawns.

We pack several counterspells. These must be used very carefully, as we don't have an unlimited supply. Counterspells should be used to prevent an opponent from winning, or to protect our own win, and almost never at any other time.

We have several board wipes, as well as No Mercy:AKHMPS to discourage attacking us. Cyclonic Rift is an obvious include...and can be used with a Wheel to great effect. Rift followed by a Windfall with Notion Thief on the board would nearly always secure a win. AEtherize should be used carefully - it'll bounce all attackers, so we want to use it when we'd otherwise take too big a hit. Don't just bounce a couple of vanilla 5/5's when we have 40 life - this card is for saving us from losing on the spot.

Kess, Dissident Mage is here to help us re-use our control spells. Avatar of Woe:AKHMPS is here for murder. The Scarab God reanimates while being entirely on-theme, and potentially could work with Waste Not to drain opponents out.

Games typically start out slowly and build toward a crescendo of brutally oppressive power. I build my mana base, I tutor for needed pieces. I try hard to not be the first one to overextend, and to look non-threatening. Most of what the God-Pharaoh can do happens seemingly "out of nowhere," after some careful hand sculpting and mana buildup, so there's no need to be the threat at the table. At least, not the obvious one. I play politics heavily. I make bargains, sometimes by offering up assistance in exchange for reciprocation, sometimes by threatening the opponent with retribution. Recently I've been adding a few thematic token producers like The Locust God . These have been very valuable in providing early blockers, and the Locust God in particular potentially can provide another win condition given the raw card draw available in this deck. If I manage to add enough token generation I might add Mind Slash as a way to strip opponents' hands of specific threats.

Eventually, I set myself up with Geth's Grimoire, Waste Not, or Notion Thief, and I Wheel into a big fistfull of cards. Hopefully from there I'll have at least one win condition available; if not, hopefully I'll have a tutor to get one. At the very least I should have enough control available to stay alive and make it through.

Bolas usually comes out after Grimoire but before the first Wheel, unless I'm in dire need of a blocker.

Flipping Bolas is somewhat rare simply due to the mana cost, Sorcery speed, and lack of protection. When it happens, it's generally awesome. I have played 1v1 and won off of his ultimate once, which was epic.

Nicol Bolas would not rest until he was restored to his former glory.


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Date added 1 year
Last updated 4 days
Exclude colors WG

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.66
Tokens 0/1 Insect, 1/1 Thopter, 2/2 Zombie, None Copy Clone, Tezzeret
Folders Uncategorized, Commander Ideas, Bolas plans, Fun with Combos and Gimmiks, Uncategorized, Pussybilities, Ideas, Interesting Deck Lists, Nice Deck Ideas, Decent Decklists, See all 24
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