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There's something special about Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle. A legendary creature that's often a land is such a flavorful card, and Simic is such an extraordinary color pairing in our format, you'd be hard pressed to find a group of players that won't comment on your Commander choice.

Why Play This Color Pairing?

You like comboing out.

For those who seek them, there are options in every color to effectively end a game all at once. Simic is no exception, and can often threaten a win at instant speed, ignoring such irrelevancies as life totals.

You have a meta that supports control decks.

Simic is a natural control player. These decks often can't tutor to a win condition as readily as decks with a black color identity, and therefore rely on interaction in the first few turns. They can then become nightmares in the mid-game, recuperating and going on the offensive. Notably, Simic decks can play a tempo game against other control decks, and can often outrace other grindy players to the finish.

You like putting lands into play, and fighting along that axis.

Many decks in EDH are simply unequipped to fight over land. Players at all levels of play have a hard time recovering from multiple global board wipes or from land destruction. There are play options available to extract value from special actions like land drops, and it can often be very hard to keep up with decks designed this way. Not only can Simic get more lands into play faster than most everyone else, it can protect itself from faster decks for long enough to press that advantage.

You enjoy reactive decks.

Every flavor of Simic plays lots of interaction, and often supports a large toolbox that can be edited based on your local meta. Two color decks in general allow more wiggle room for flex slots, and Simic has lots of great cards to choose from.

You might not enjoy playing Simic if:

You want to win games unexpectedly, or out of nowhere.

Simic win conditions can often be infinite, but don't let that fool you. In general, a resilient game plan using only requires taking several wide strides toward oppressive advantage, before pulling the trigger on a win condition. You won't be able to win the game completely out of nowhere without a lot of luck. There are excep[hulk]tions, but it's true enough.

You enjoy being the Beatdown.

While many Simic decks straddle the line between midrange and control, aggressive strategies (or Voltron win conditions) are hard to support in these colors, for many reasons. It's not impossible you'll find yourself being the aggressor, but it's uncommon.

You dislike having lynchpin pieces in your deck.

Ultimately, Simic decks rely on a few key cards to close out games. Even if you're able to sustain an advantage or grind value out of your deck, there's always the risk you won't see the card you need to finally end it, and games will end before your ticket comes.

You don't have a very sharp understanding of the rules.

Knowing how special actions and The Stack work is usually critical to the gameplay of these decks. They're not beginner-unfriendly, but they can be universally complex.

But Why Arixmethes?

You want a commander that fully embraces Tammy as much as it feels Spike.

Arixmethes is a 12/12 for four mana and, at the end of the day, that's just cool. Some games will end with commander damage knockouts, even if your plan A doesn't prove fruitful. More than any other Simic deck, Arixmethes is a passable Voltron commander.

You enjoy puzzles.

This deck more than many requires forward thinking and managing of cards in your hand, slumber counters, and the amount of available mana sources, which are all critical to effective play. More than anything, deciding whether A Rex should be a threat on the ground or whether you need to keep it safe in the water is a constant mini-game.

You want to keep to a budget.

While my deck is essentially budgetless, this deck doesn't require anything super expensive to work well. In general, the pricier cards only serve to make you faster and more efficient. The only cards above $20 at time of writing that are essential to the essence of the deck are Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, and Strip Mine.

Game Progression

As a wise primer once said: “Before the game begins, sit down and look at the opponents. This is the most important step.”

Generally, Arixmethes wants to play out its game plan in the midgame. Until your commander resolves, most of your early game plays are going to be either ramp or interaction. If you have an inkling that the rest of your pod are all on fast combo decks, your opening hand needs to have ways to get you, alive, into the midgame quickly – or it might all be over before you get started.

On the other hand, just because you're playing doesn't make you the Control Player. If you think there are 1, 2, or 3(+!) players sitting at your table who want nothing but an arms race, you'll need to play accordingly, and your deck has no time to waste: you need to have your game plan in place on turn 1, before playing your first land.

Your first priority once the game begins is to find a way to get Arixmethes into play. Often, chaining two or three ramp spells in the first two turns of the game is going to give you a huge advantage over your opponents; this deck is able to consistently play out turn 4 with seven available mana and a 12/12 in play, and can often do it on turn 3. Even at the highest levels of play, that can mean you're starting your endgame before your opponents have built up much of a board state. That is, if they haven't found a way to win by then.

Once Arixmethes resolves, the next goal is often to remove slumber counters – though you'll rarely need to pull off all five immediately. My experience is that the deck is able to remove as many as seven slumber counters (take that, Atraxa!) in any given turn, providing you have a full grip of cards when you need them**. Keep in mind that even if you can remove all five counters, it's not always worth over-extending. The best way to manage slumber counters is often to keep your hand refilled; don't worry about your Storm Count as much as making sure you always have a draw spell in the wings. You'll often want to keep Arix at 1 or 2 slumber counters for a while, anyway.

**Seven counters a turn is an arbitrary feeling on my part, but my point stands: any turn you really want to make Arix a creature, you can. For better or worse.

Given that slumber counters aren't much of a concern, the real next step is to start striding toward an advantageous board state. Keep in mind an empty board is no issue for you, as long as Armageddon isn't on The Stack. Oftimes, the best play immediately after untapping with your commander is to cast a Devastation Tide to reset your opponents' board states (and bouncing your zero cost artifacts for another slumber counter removal, etc). At minimum, you'll have more lands than your opponents, and a big sleepy Kraken.

There are other ways to build an oppressive board state, of course. Taking a few extra turns to drop lands, refill your hand, and start attacking with large creatures can be hard to deal with on turns 3, 4, and 5. You're absolutely capable of doing just that, even without fast mana. You can often put an Eldrazi into play, and threaten people the old fashioned way. This has the added benefit of drawing answers away from your commander, who is going to be the real threat later on.

Eventually, you'll draw into one of your lynchpins. There are several ways to create large amounts of mana in this deck, whether by untapping your many, many lands on every upkeep, taking several extra turns to simply untap your lands the “hard” way, or by creating an arbitrarily large amount of mana. This deck will rarely stay in topdeck mode for long, so emptying and refilling your hand with all the mana available to you is often the easiest way to harken the end times.

Winning the Game

Plan A: To Infinity...

Resolve Pemmin's Aura or Freed from the Real on Arixmethes-the-Creature (or Arbor Elf, if you have Utopia Sprawl or Wild Growth in play), with a Draw X spell in hand. This version of the deck is capable of resolving Blue Sun's Zenith for =500 as early as turn 2, with infinite and infinite in your pool, and therefore with counterspell protection. However, it is MUCH more likely to represent a win on turn 5 or 6, especially if you want to hold up protection.

Remember, we are in and do not have access to cards like Demonic Tutor. What we miss out on in card selection we make up for via brute card draw, aiming to see a majority of our deck in the midgame, even without going infinite and jumping into the endgame early. However, that means we often have to dig for our combo enabler and an outlet, which can take time.

Plan B: Turning and Turning

Take multiple consecutive turns and grind out wins with your commander or a suitably large beater (or both, in tandem). Prime Speaker Zegana, Kozilek, and Void Winnower especially are all capable of enabling you to get to this point. In addition, they all help to refill your hand or nullify cards held by your opponents, effectively furthering your card advantage strategy at the same time as being large creatures.

Keeping in mind that six turns of unblocked combat with Arixmethes spells victory in a 4 player game at the virtual price of 2 mana per turn (attacking with Arix instead of tapping it for mana), you can often put the game on a clock while still digging for a faster win on the side. Also note that assembling Time Warp, Eternal Witness, Skullwinder, and a mass bounce spell is effectively an infinite number of turns.

Plan C: Flex!

Find and leverage your flex cards. If a game is completely stalemated, everybody is out of answers, and you just can't find a way to combo out, a few cards are available to you. Loxodon Warhammer, in my version, represents a way to win long games where noone is allowing infinite combos to resolve, and life totals are dwindling. I've used it to close out games where my opponents have hexproof (and can therefore not be milled out via BSZ), as well as in situations where I couldn't keep my opponents from resolving blockers for my commander, nor could I resolve an aura for infinite . However, this slot could easily be Genesis Wave or Laboratory Maniac (or Helix Pinnacle, if you don't care to rely on Drift of Phantasms).

Common Scenarios Show


While our combos can win us the game whether they're efficient or not, we're often not in a position to execute those plays through heavy enemy interaction without leaning on our value engines beforehand.

Perhaps most important is our management of slumber counters, and how our zero drop artifacts (or fast mana) interact with mass bounce spells. We might draw a Sol Ring turn 3 and hold it until after Arixmethes has resolved, simply to remove a counter. Unless we expect an early Animate Dead, that Tormod's crypt in our opening hand will probably be best to stay there until after we cast Arixmethes. In both cases, a turn 4 Coastal Breach will allow us to peel a second slumber counter per artifact, which might mean swinging for 12 that turn, or being able to combo out a turn early.

Our deck relies on Blue Sun's Zenith and Stroke of Genius to execute most of our kills, and so relies on recurring these effects. In an average 4 player pod, at least one of these spells needs to be re-cast once (and often twice, as we will often target ourselves first, if Pull from Tomorrow is unavailable). Noxious Revival is clunky, so Eternal Witness is the most straightforward way to facilitate the final kill of a game, can often be cast for "free," and generally at instant speed given that we can Explore into Alchemist's Refuge on our final turn after drawing our deck. Eternal Witness plays a dual role in being both an offensive card in this scenario, and a defensive or resilient one throughout the game. Time Warp and Evacuation are both common targets for Eternal Witness, let alone if our combo pieces ever end up in our graveyard.

Skullwinder is our emergency option, though you'll often need to weave in a kill (or a Tormod's Crypt activation) to avoid being burned by it.

Many of our draw spells are instant speed, so Seedborn Muse allows us to cheat extra turns out of free untaps, progressing our board and refilling our hand all at once in the same round. Because of how many ways our deck can get Seedborn into our hand or into play, and the added synergy of Alchemist's Refuge (tutorable by various means itself), the Muse's ability to turbo-charge our deck is abusable and dangerous, even if she's ultimately superfluous to our overall strategy.


I want to draw special attention to a few cards that shut down our deck on their own, and must be dealt with immediately.

Humility is thankfully rare in many playgroups. This single card shuts down a huge number of decks, and will often be public enemy number one as soon as it resolves, but don't underestimate a player willing to include it in their deck. Even though our commander can ignore its effects in the short term, we are almost incapable of winning through it. Moreover, it turns off our combo pieces, our commander's Voltron form, Seedborn, Zegana, and Void Winnower. Only Kozilek dodges the worst of its effects, and 10 mana for "draw 4, get a 1/1" is not a great play for us.

Unfortunately, our kryptonite isn't rare at all. Indeed, we play it in our deck! Strip Mine answers alot of what we try to do. It's also instant speed, nigh un-interactable, and can be played on any turn of the game by any deck in the format. I've had games Stripped from my Mine at the last moment, and seeing one of these hold us hostage early is one of the hardest situations to play around. The best thing we can do (beyond drawing into Heroic Intervention with open) is find our own Strip Mine to force the issue, but... that usually costs us two lands! Be extra wary of decks that run Crucible of Worlds and kin[etc]: a recurrable Strip Mine is almost definitely in their arsenal.



8x Islands, 5x Forests: We play a high number of basics in this deck, to maximize Traverse the Outlands with Arixmethes out, and to minimize the damage caused by effects like Blood Moon, which already hit us particularly hard.

Tropical Island, Breeding Pool: While ultimately non-critical in a budget version of the deck, these being Forests allow us to reliably see them early via fetchlands, and therefore allows us to run Utopia Sprawl, which is an excellent form of ramp and also synergizes heavily with Arbor Elf: both as a combo enabler, as well as allowing us to produce 4 mana for Arixmethes as early as turn 2 without any other cards. Because of their inclusion, we're able to run more islands than a deck might otherwise, which allows for the maximum amount of blue mana in the late game.

Rogue's Passage: Allows us to break a stalemated game for minimal risk, and without sacrificing card slots for evasion/Plan B.

Dust Bowl: A meta call, this could easily be a Wasteland. Dust Bowl has an inevitability to it, and I feel outweighs the alternative in a deck without Crucible. However, our vulnerability to Strip Mine effects requires us to have a minimum amount of Land Destruction, to avoid being held hostage, therefore warranting a second effect.

Hashep Oasis: Solely in the deck as a synergetic effect with Scavenger Grounds, and is the least damaging desert for the deck to run, otherwise.

Minamo, School at Water's Edge: Rarely relevant, but minimally detrimental for the chance of a free untap on Arixmethes (or other large blocker). In particular, allows us to combo out through Frost Titan effects that would otherwise counter our infinite mana generation.

Reliquary Tower: A greedy include, but often relevant. The deck draws cards quite well, and recurs them quite poorly, so mitigates the disadvantage every way that it can.

Flooded Grove: The only vanilla dual land in the deck, Flooded Grove represents green mana on turn 2-3 to cast Arixmethes, and blue mana every turn after that. Importantly, it turns a Forest into a blue source on later turns (insert grumbling about the non-existence of enemy colored Odyssey filter lands here).

Crystal Vein: Often worth sacrificing to resolve Arixmethes a turn early, or to provide extra mana on the combo turn. Rarely burns us, but will occasionally warrant a mulligan where a Forest would have meant keeping.


Arbor Elf: An alternate enabler for the combo, and capable of winning us the game as early as turn 2 without our commander. Generally able to produce either color of mana, and can hold a Loxodon Warhammer on black days. Enables a Green Sun's Zenith on turn 2 to accelerate into Arixmethes.

Wild Growth/Utopia Sprawl: An alternate enabler for the combo, Utopia Sprawl is notably able to produce infinite blue mana in addition to green, if applied to a dual land. As much of a setback as it is, eating a Strip Mine on a Wild Growth Forest is rarely as bad as Arixmethes staring at one, and can provide suitable bait.

Lotus Petal: Not actually fast mana, but nevertheless provides a quicker Arixmethes cast and removes a slumber counter or two if drawn in the midgame. Importantly, nets one blue mana on the combo turn, between a resolved BSZ on ourselves and the kill.

Explore/Growth Spiral: Better than Farseek in almost every way, these cost effectively one mana most of the time, remove slumber counters and provide reliable if not absolute ramp opportunities earlygame. A much better topdeck than Nature's Lore after our commander is in play. Growth Spiral is instant, which is relevant with Seedborn Muse, and Explore is “free” on the combo turn, netting an extra land drop (~U) between a resolved BSZ on ourselves and the kill. Often as good as resolving a Time Warp, and will never eat an opponent's counterspell.

Skyshroud Claim: Deceptively worse than it looks on the combo turn, as though it's “free” and can pull Breeding Pool and Tropical Island untapped, both lands are often in play (or in hand) by then. Nonetheless, this is one of the few cards good enough to be worth casting before we cast our commander, if we have the chance.

Traverse the Outlands: A very greedy spell, meta dependant. 5-cmc at sorcery speed and requiring a creature (of which we only have 10, several of which have 0-1 power) upon resolution, this is a huge risk of a blow out. On the other hand, it's low risk to include since we're playing so many basics to get around cards like Ruination, is “free” on the combo turn, and will often accelerate us into a win if we're allowed to untap.


Arcane Denial/Dream Fracture: Not purely included for protection, these are tempo cards as much as ways to close out a game. Don't hesitate to counter a flashy midrange spell in order to draw a card, and often you won't draw political hate the same way a hard counter might. Dream Fracture is notable as tutorable via Drift/Transmute, prior to the combo.


Beast Within/Rapid Hybridization/Pongify/Reality Shift: Our basic interaction package, with few downsides other than not being great options to clear blockers for Arixmethes attacks. Personal preference warrants proactive answers to more reactive ones, like additional counterspells.

Bane of Progress/Wave of Vitriol: Our answers to the weirder problems, like a Breya deck, or else the really really bad ones, whether a Blood Moon, Humility, Crucible of Worlds, or Strip Mine. Like bringing a nuke to a knife-fight, but warranted on occasion. Be extra careful to make Arixmethes a creature before resolving Wave.


Coming Soon...

Combo Pieces

Blue Sun's Zenith/Stroke of Genius/Pull from Tomorrow: ...

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth: While mainly in the deck as a graveyard shuffling failsafe, Kozilek gives us the option of cycling through our deck multiple times if a combo kill is interrupted, to say nothing of its other abilities. Drawing 4 cards is often exactly what we want, and if any deck wants 12/12s on the board, this is the one.


Drift of Phantasms: One of the few dead draws in the deck, Drift is nonetheless a blocker and a way to remove a slumber counter in desperate situations, while also tutoring for almost anything we need: Eternal Witness, Pemmin's Aura, Blue Sun's Zenith, to start.

Card Selection and Draw

Prime Speaker Zegana: Not as greedy as it looks, Zegana is an excellent card for several reasons in this deck. If you're reasonably sure you can cast it without losing Arixmethes before its trigger resolves, it's rarely the wrong move. Bonus points for GSZ, which can put her into play without using the Stack, guaranteeing her 12 +1/+1 counters.

Notable Exclusions and Flex Slots

Coming Soon...

Kiora's Follower Finale of Revelation Gemstone Caverns/Elvish Spirit Guide/Mox Diamond (re: sac)/(Jeweled Amulet) Lab Maniac Helix Pinnacle Genesis Wave Flusterstorm, Force of Will and other Counters Wilderness Reclamation Oko/Song of the Dryads Ponder/Preordain Archaeomancer Wasteland Cyclonic Rift Timetwister Worldly Tutor Sapphire Medallion Season's Past Bind

Starting Hands and Mulligans

Coming Soon...

Note on Power Level

Coming Soon...

Note on Budget

Coming Soon...

Want to Write a Primer of Your Own?

Coming Soon... Why Not Zaxara?

Special Thanks to razzliox, who enraptured me with the idea of a primer all those years ago.


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93% Competitive

Top Ranked
Date added 1 year
Last updated 2 weeks

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

8 - 0 Mythic Rares

45 - 0 Rares

20 - 0 Uncommons

18 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.90
Tokens 8/8 Octopus, 3/3 Centaur, 3/3 Frog Lizard, 2/2 Boar, 3/3 Ape, 2/2 Manifest, 3/3 Beast, 1/1 Bird
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Revision 105 See all

3 weeks ago)

-1 Arcane Denial main
+2 Archmage's Charm main
-1 Blatant Thievery main
+1 Capture of Jingzhou maybe
+1 Castle Vantress main
+2 Cryptic Caves main
+1 Fierce Guardianship main
+2 Flooded Strand main
+2 Force of Negation main
-1 Force of Will main
-2 Island main
-1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth main
-1 Kozilek, the Great Distortion maybe
-1 Mishra's Bauble main
+1 Mystic Confluence main
+1 Oblivion Stone main
-1 Opt maybe
+1 Quicken main
+1 Rampage of the Clans main
+1 Reality Ripple main
and 29 other change(s)