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Endless Forms Most Beautiful: Vadrok EDH [PRIMER]

Commander / EDH Control Infinite Combo Primer Tempo UR (Izzet) Voltron



This is a hybrid Izzet voltron/combo/control list. The initial plan is to glue "commanderness" onto any "host" creature (in addition to flying and first strike), and use Vadrok's mutation ability to cast protection, removal, or draw spells from the GY -- we want to gain tempo with every time we mutate Vadrok.

Whether mutating onto a Cephalid Constable or a Malignus, our commander can manifest in many different forms, but always present a threat. If / when our initial voltron plan fails, the deck smoothly transitions into playing as a powerful graveyard-based combo deck, with the following major lines:

  1. Lore Drakkis/Vadrok, Apex of Thunder + Dockside Extortionist + Snap/Chain of Vapor/Winds of Rebuke = infinite mana and infinite re-casts of spells from my graveyard (infinite draw, leading into a combo-kill with Reality Shift). This combo can be iteratively tutored with Imperial Recruiter + Snap, if necessary. This assumes that my opponents collectively have at least 6 artifacts/enchantments.
  2. Narset, Parter of Veils + Wheel of Fortune/Windfall = strip our opponents of their hands while refilling our own. Both halves of this can be recurred from graveyard with Vadrok, and in fact this combo can be executed multiple times when necessary. The wheels are also useful with Consecrated Sphinx, the bomb at the top of our curve, which can easily dig until we find Thassa's Oracle.
  3. Underworld Breach + Frantic Search allows us to dig very deep into our deck at zero mana cost, until we can find the pieces to a different combo -- or until we find Jeskai Ascendancy to make the combo properly infinite (and our creatures very, very large). Underworld Breach can be recurred by Vadrok's mutation trigger as well. Thassa's Oracle is a potential finisher off of this combo. Dockside Extortionist + Winds of Rebuke + Underworld Breach generates huge amounts of mana, and can also go infinite with the addition of Jeskai Ascendancy.

The deck can consistently present lethal Voltron damage by T5 or earlier, and can combo anywhere from T3 forward with the right hand.

Note that I have actively chosen to build with Izzet cards only, apart from one or two white cards which are meant to only be cast with Vadrok’s recursion trigger.

I am not interested in adding any more white cards at the moment, because I highly prefer playing two-color decks. But even with only two colors, this deck can still be a powerful threat, capable of holding its own at mid-to-high power tables! The hybrid approach between tempo, voltron, and combo allows us to dodge most stax and interaction, since very few cards stop BOTH of our plans: we have infinite versatility in how we play, fed by powerful card advantage engines and efficient responses.

Plus, this versatility keeps games from always ending the same way! Every game is a little different, depending on which cards we find.

Our commander experiences constant evolution: Vadrok becomes stronger, faster, and bigger over time as she mutates onto better hosts. This deck uses bounce spells to move her around, while those same spells also offer tempo swings when used on opponents’ threats. She is the cheapest legendary creature with mutate, which allows us to use her as an efficient threat rather than an overwhelming beatstick such as Illuna.

Even if Vadrok is removed, she can immediately come back stronger with a new host. She doesn’t even have to wait for summoning sickness to wear off before attacking, if the creature she mutated onto already existed on the battlefield -- essentially, she always has “haste” as well as first strike and flying.

At worst, our commander is essentially a Snapcaster Mage in the command zone, who brings back spells for free and can even recur threatening planeswalkers such as Narset, Parter of Veils. At best, our commander enables powerful Voltron strategies and terrifying combo wins, because the spells she casts aren’t exiled -- no other commander can loop the same spell repeatedly in quite the same manner.

Vadrok is the cheapest of the legendary mutate commanders, while also guaranteeing significant card advantage every time she mutates. Moreover, unlike Kess, Dissident Mage, the spells that Vadrok casts are not exiled -- once we put something powerful in graveyard, such as Frantic Search or Sevinne's Reclamation, we're free to cast it as many times as we can mutate. Moreover, Vadrok can recur artifact, enchantment, or planeswalker spells, giving us massive versatility in our recursion. Overall, Vadrok gives astonishing value at a low CMC, while serving equally well in our combo lines and as a Voltron threat.

However, mutate does have one significant downside. To get a mutation trigger, we have to attach our commander to an existing creature we control. Any removal used against our commander is guaranteed to 2-for-1 us, since it removes both the “host” creature and Vadrok herself. To avoid this problem, we run counterspells, defensive bounce spells, and several host creatures with inherent protection. Also, as mentioned above, Vadrok tends to gives card advantage every time her mutation trigger resolves, so we rarely get truly blown out by a single removal spell -- we managed to get some value, even if our commander is removed.

There's a lot of confusion over how mutate WORKS, so I thought I'd clear some things up:

Mutate turns two creatures into one creature -- a host which was already on battlefield, plus the mutating creature. The newer card (the mutating creature) can be placed either on top or bottom of the pile. In more detail:

  • Colors, mana cost, card/creature types, power and toughness are inherited from the top card ONLY. The merged creature has all text from BOTH of the original creatures' textboxes. Any counters or static power-toughness boosts (or other ability-granting effects) will apply on top of the merged creature.
  • The mutated creature is your commander if EITHER card in the pile is your commander -- it doesn't matter if your commander is on top or bottom.
  • The two cards will change zones together. A single Doom Blade will kill the merged creature. There will only be a single death trigger (from something like Blood Artist), but something like undying will bring BOTH creatures back to the battlefield with a +1 counter, no longer merged. An effect like Snap will bring both halves to their owner's hand. An effect like Ghostly Flicker will return the two creatures to the battlefield unmerged.
  • Mutate is an alternate casting cost, and is cast targeting a *non-human creature you own*. You cannot mutate from graveyard with Underworld Breach, and you cannot mutate off of something like Omniscience. You cannot mutate onto creatures stolen from other players, even if they are non-human.
  • If the host creature is removed in response to the mutating creature being cast, the mutating creature will not fizzle (unlike an aura) -- it will still enter the battlefield, but be *unattached* (thus, not granting any mutation triggers).
  • Even if your commander is inside the pile, only the actual *commander card* goes back to command zone -- other cards in the pile will go to graveyard or exile when the merged creature is removed. This also means that death triggers from the host WILL happen (such as Chasm Skulker), even if Vadrok returns to the command zone.
  • You can mutate multiple times onto the same creature -- for example, with both Vadrok, Apex of Thunder and Lore Drakkis. The second mutation will trigger BOTH Vadrok and Drakkis's "whenever this mutates" effects, which means you can trigger Vadrok's ability again without re-casting Vadrok herself.
  • When something like Phyrexian Metamorph copies a mutated creature, it copies ALL characteristics, including abilities gained by mutation. This means that if you have Vadrok mutated onto a host, and copy the merged creature with Phyrexian Metamorph, Metamorph will inherit the "whenever this creature mutates" ability. Which also means that you can re-mutate Vadrok onto the clone, and "double-dip" by triggering Vadrok's ability twice.
  • If the top card of the pile is face-down, the entire merged creature is a 2/2 with no abilities -- the abilities granted by mutation are erased as long as the top card is face-down. This can be a problem with Ixidron, if you do not sequence carefully.
Of course, Vadrok requires a significant number of creatures to mutate onto. I would generally categorize our hosts into two types: creatures with high power or abilities meant to serve our voltron strategy (such as Markov Blademaster and Stormsurge Kraken), and creatures that serve our combo/control goals by abusing Vadrok’s base stats and inherent evasion (such as Cephalid Constable or Surrakar Spellblade). Further explanation is given in the sections below:
These hosts emphasize pure power boosts, inherent protection, or keywords such as double strike.
  • Chasm Skulker: Skulker allows Vadrok to grow consistently and quickly, without any further mana investment. We draw a LOT of cards in this deck, especially when we can recast something like Cathartic Reunion off of Vadrok’s mutation trigger. Because Vadrok automatically raises the base creature’s power and toughness to three, it’s easy for Vadrok to immediately swing as a 7/7, and she usually threatens to kill in three hits. Moreover, Chasm Skulker DOES get its death trigger, even if Vadrok returns to command zone -- so you’ll immediately have many tokens with islandwalk to mutate Vadrok onto, to swing in for those last few points of damage. Finally, Skulker threatens to leave behind an army of tokens when removed, giving Vadrok an indirect form of “protection”.
  • Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin: This host gives a +1/+1 counter every turn, without requiring mana investment, and generates four or more tokens every turn -- Vadrok basically becomes Assemble the Legion on steroids.
  • Malignus: This is the biggest of our potential hosts. Should never take more than two hits, and often should be able to kill someone in one hit (if any opponent gained life). Should be self-explanatory. While it doesn’t actually matter much, practically speaking, note that Malignus’s characteristic-defining ability will overwrite Vadrok’s power and toughness no matter which is on top of the stack. This is currently fighting for a slot with Ixidron.
  • Markov Blademaster: This is actually one of our best hosts for combat. Vadrok immediately swings for 7, then 9, then 11… This is a very fast clock for our opponents to race, especially when we can counter removal aimed at Vadrok. This gets even nastier if we make Vadrok larger with something like Jeskai Ascendancy.
  • Pyreheart Wolf: Pyreheart gives undying to Vadrok (all creatures mutated onto Pyreheart will come back to battlefield, with one +1/+1 counter each, though they will not be mutated when they return to battlefield. Moreover, Pyreheart grants menace to ALL of your creatures when it attacks, which makes it useful even when not acting as Vadrok’s host.
  • Stormsurge Kraken: Hexproof, 7/7, draws cards when blocked. Only 5 mana. What else is there to say?
  • Toothy, Imaginary Friend: Toothy is similar to Skulker in most ways, but almost never causes card disadvantage when removed. The four mana is slightly awkward, but Toothy can still be a powerful threat: a host for our commander that grows without additional mana investment, and which gains significant value off of recasting a draw spells with Vadrok’s mutate trigger.
These hosts are often related to card draw or tempo plays, and are focused on generating value to aim for one of the combo lines detailed in the next section.

  • Cephalid Constable: This is one of the most aggressive openers for the deck -- cast Constable early, then mutate Vadrok and immediately bounce three permanents belonging to the defending player… including lands. If your opponent doesn’t have immediate removal, or flying blockers, this can easily lock down an opponent while you make your way towards a win by Voltron damage. Bonus points if you cast Wheel of Fortune after bouncing an opponent’s threats!
  • Dockside Extortionist: This host gives a number of combo lines, all centered around bouncing the merged creature back to hand and re-playing them both to gain mana. See the combo section below!
  • Ixidron: This is being tested, fighting for a slot with Malignus. The idea is to "permanently" lock down your opponents' commanders, then mutate onto Ixidron and swing. Everything apart from Ixidron has been turned face-down, and thus can never block Ixidron once Vadrok gives it flying. The only issue is that we don't want to lock down our OWN commander, since a face-down card cannot access any abilities it gained from mutation, so we have to wait until our commander is not on battlefield to use Ixidron's ability.
  • Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion: Neheb is a good all-around host -- he helps dump cards into your graveyard (amazing with Rielle, the Everwise, generate mana, and give trample and a nice power boost to Vadrok. Note that giving Neheb first strike can have some nice effects: you can potentially cast instants before any blocking creature deals damage.
  • Surrakar Spellblade: This is one of the more interesting creatures to mutate Vadrok onto. While Spellblade *can* potentially lead to blow-outs, if you’ve invested heavily in giving him charge counters but he’s removed, Vadrok gives him evasion and a “free” counter off of the mutation trigger. If you can hit an opponent with Spellblade even once, which isn’t tricky due to Vadrok’s evasion, it recoups the card disadvantage of having a merged creature removed.
  • Thing in the Ice  : This host requires some tricky sequencing, but can be absolutely spectacular on the right hand. You want to have this as the top card in the pile, so that the 7 power of Awoken Horror can apply to Vadrok. The goal with Thing in the Ice   is to have only one ice counter when you mutate Vadrok, then remove the last ice counter with Vadrok’s mutate ability. You can then immediately swing for 7 commander damage on an empty field. Bonus points if you cast Wheel of Fortune as you remove the last ice counter, since you’ll make your opponents discard all the creatures returned to hand!
These hosts are less easy to define -- they give characteristics that may serve both lines of play equally, or just offer general value.

  • Looter il-Kor: He’s mostly intended to be an early looter, pitching cards that you want to recast into the graveyard. But in a pinch, Looter can act as a host to Vadrok and give almost perfect evasion. Just remember that Shadow also means that Vadrok can’t *block* either. Amusingly, because Vadrok still has flying, she can only be blocked by something with shadow AND flying or reach.
  • Phyrexian Metamorph: Cloning effects have interesting interactions with mutate. *All* characteristics of the copied creature are cloned over to Metamorph, including any abilities that the mutated creatures granted… so if you control Vadrok, copy her with Metamorph, and then mutate the “real” Vadrok onto the Metamorph, you get DOUBLE triggers for Vadrok’s mutation ability (in addition to any innate abilities that the previous host had). In other words, you can mutate Vadrok onto herself. Metamorph also lets you clone the best creature on an opponent’s battlefield, give it first strike and flying, then have your clone attack for commander damage. Metamorph is terrifyingly versatile in this list.
  • Pollywog Symbiote: This is an efficient way to get a free looting effect, and lets you discard a card to immediately cast with Vadrok. Plus, this is an easy way to attack on turn 3 with your commander!

Any of the other creatures with mutate can also act as a host for Vadrok, though they are rarely your first choice. Still, if you don’t have another option, mutating Vadrok onto Lore Drakkis or Everquill Phoenix isn’t bad. I would highly recommend against using Sea-Dasher Octopus or Pouncing Shoreshark as the base creature for Vadrok’s mutate, however: they are too useful to trigger Vadrok’s ability with flash (allowing you to cast counterspells off of Vadrok’s recursion trigger). I would also recommend against using Consecrated Sphinx as a host, since that opens you up to have TWO major threats removed with a single Doom Blade.

I think it is clear from this summary that the deck plays dramatically differently depending on what hosts you draw: infinite versatility and evolution, expressed as endless forms most beautiful.

There are three central combo lines in this list, for when the Voltron plan has stalled. In general, they center around three cards in particular: Dockside Extortionist, Wheel of Fortune, or Underworld Breach.

Obviously, Dockside Extortionist is an awesome card all by himself. However, he easily goes infinite with 1) any bounce spell in graveyard, and 2) either Vadrok, Apex of Thunder or Lore Drakkis mutated onto him. You can cast Dockside Extortionist, mutate either of them onto Dockside, recur/recast a spell like Snap from graveyard, then bounce both Dockside and the mutated creature to start the loop over again.

All together, this list runs three bounce spells that can function in this combo: Snap, Chain of Vapor, and Winds of Rebuke. We can also fetch these pieces with Merchant Scroll or Mystical Tutor, both of which can be recurred by either Vadrok or Drakkis.

Once you've generated infinite mana, the cleanest way to win is by finding any other creature with mutate:

  1. Execute the same line as in the steps above, but double-mutate Dockside Extortionist before bouncing him back to hand (with any other mutate creature, after you've mutated Vadrok/Drakkis). This gives an additional Drakkis/Vadrok trigger in each iteration of the loop.
  2. This lets you recur/recast every targetable spell in your graveyard infinite times -- instants and sorceries with Lore Drakkis, or all non-creature spells with Vadrok, Apex of Thunder.
  3. Once you have infinite mana and infinite recasts, you can loop any draw or loot spell to draw your library.
  4. With your library in hand, it's easy to either win with Thassa's Oracle, or with infinite re-casts of Reality Shift to exile your opponents' libraries. In the latter case, if they do not control any creatures, you can give them creatures with Forbidden Orchard first (casting Snap as many times as needed to untap Orchard). If you've used your land drop for turn, Forbidden Orchard can be discarded then recurred by Sevinne's Reclamation.

Be aware -- this combo line does depend on the number of artifacts and enchantments your opponents control. Moreover, the number of artifacts/enchantments required to go off is different depending on which bounce spell you have, and which creature is being mutated. In rough order from what I consider the best to worst combinations:

  1. Dockside Extortionist + Lore Drakkis + Snap: This is the best and cleanest option. Goes infinite if opponents control 5 artifacts/enchantments. You can use Vadrok herself as the second mutate creature necessary for the winning line.
  2. Dockside Extortionist + Vadrok, Apex of Thunder + Snap: Also requires only 5 artifacts/enchantments to go infinite (since Snap helps reduce the net mana needed). Slightly worse than the previous option, because you need to find a second mutate creature before you can achieve infinite recasts.
  3. Dockside Extortionist + Lore Drakkis + Chain of Vapor: Requires 6 artifacts/enchantments to go infinite. Can use Vadrok as second mutate. Chain of Vapor lets you potentially reuse ETB effects like Imperial Recruiter, to find potential winning lines.
  4. Dockside Extortionist + Vadrok, Apex of Thunder + Winds of Rebuke: Requires 7 artifacts/enchantments to go infinite. This line is slightly simpler, as it does not require a second creature with mutate -- since Winds of Rebuke already empties your library into your graveyard, you can simply end the combo by casting Sevinne's Reclamation (or Underworld Breach) to fetch Thassa's Oracle and win.
  5. Dockside Extortionist + Lore Drakkis + Winds of Rebuke: Requires 7 artifacts/enchantments to go infinite. Works essentially the same way as the previous line, except that Drakkis's recursion is more limited.
  6. Dockside Extortionist + Vadrok, Apex of Thunder + Chain of Vapor: Requires 7 artifacts/enchantments to go infinite. This line functions fine, but there's really no *upside* to it relative to the better options listed above.

This combo can be iteratively tutored with Imperial Recruiter + Snap (or any other bounce spell), if necessary -- Imperial fetches Dockside, cast Dockside, Snap bounces Imperial, cast Imperial and tutor for Drakkis, mutate Drakkis onto Dockside to recur Snap, go infinite. This particular tutoring line requires ridiculous time and mana investment, however -- I've only pulled it off when a stax deck is at the table to slow things down to a crawl.

Obviously, the critical piece in all these lines is Dockside Extortionist: there's really no other creature like him, and thus no backup that can take his place in this combo. This means that 1) he's a critical card to fetch with Gamble or Imperial Recruiter, and 2) if he's exiled or otherwise unavailable, these lines cannot be executed. Protect him with counters or defensive bounce if possible. Luckily, not many opponents will pay much attention to Dockside after his ETB trigger, so he tends to slip under the radar.

There's two primary types of combo here -- both simple but effective.

First, Narset, Parter of Veils + Wheel of Fortune/Windfall strips our opponents of their hands, while refilling our own. Both halves of this combo can be recurred from graveyard with Vadrok, and in fact this combo can be executed multiple times if necessary -- I've done it three or more times in a game. While this does not win the game outright, it generates so much advantage that it's easy to win with one of the other combos, or just simple Voltron beats.

Second, Consecrated Sphinx + Wheel of Fortune/Windfall allows us to dig into our deck at an astonishing pace. If we can chain two wheels back-to-back with a Consecrated Sphinx (potentially by casting Dockside Extortionist and bouncing him for extra value), we'll reach the bottom of our library. From here, Thassa's Oracle is a clean and hard-to-disrupt winning line. Note that Consecrated Sphinx and Narset, Parter of Veils interfere with each other -- you want to pick one or the other.

It's also worth mentioning the synergy of Niv-Mizzet, Parun or Rielle, the Everwise with either of our wheel effects, since they ensure we will gain far more value than our opponents, despite the effect being nominally symmetric. Moreover, Rielle, the Everwise can be tutored with Imperial Recruiter, which is a good way to leverage card advantage in a otherwise "meh" hands.

Wheel of Fortune/Windfall are also helpful in the early game, for filling up your graveyard -- especially off of hands with nothing but ramp. Mountain, Mana Crypt, Wheel of Fortune can sometimes lock down a game: it damages all of the card selection and strategies from opponents' mulligans, and leaves you two mana ahead.

And of course, if you Cyclonic Rift at end of turn, then cast Wheel of Fortune during your main phase... that's the kind of brutal play that opponents never recover from.

It's almost harder to list things that Underworld Breach doesn't combo with.

But the primary lines I've found useful with Underworld Breach are as follow:

  1. Underworld Breach + Frantic Search allows us to dig through our library at zero mana cost, looting two cards "deeper" per card in our graveyard when we begin the loop. I usually dig for another combo piece... or until I find Jeskai Ascendancy to make this line properly infinite. From here, we can either win by making our creatures very large off of Ascendancy, or simply cast Thassa's Oracle as the finisher.
  2. Underworld Breach + Snap + Wheel of Fortune lets us bounce all opponents' creatures to hand, then force them to discard. This is a good way of dealing with pesky indestructibility, especially on flying blockers that prevent us from hitting with Vadrok.
  3. Underworld Breach + Dockside Extortionist + Winds of Rebuke + Jeskai Ascendancy also goes infinite, assuming my opponents have at least 5 artifacts or enchantments. Like the line above, this can also be used as a way to dump cards into my graveyard until I find a "better" combo, even without Ascendancy on battlefield.
  4. Underworld Breach + Wheel of Fortune + Dockside Extortionist + Snap: This is our off-brand version of the Lion's Eye Diamond/Wheel of Fortune loop. Not remotely as good as the "proper" version, but it doesn't require playing a dead card like LED. This is at least a nice corner case to keep an eye out for in the late game. Requires my opponents to control at least 6 artifacts/enchantments to gain mana off each loop.

Note that you CANNOT cast a creature for its mutate cost off of Underworld Breach. If you want to mutate a creature from your graveyard, you must cast the creature to battlefield, then bounce it to your hand with a separate spell (once again, Snap is best). The same applies to Cyclonic Rift's overload cost.

And finally, remember that you can always bounce Underworld Breach to hand with Chain of Vapor or Winds of Rebuke at end of turn, to avoid the sacrifice trigger and try to combo off with it a second time the next turn.

There are also many non-infinite "combos" (or strong synergies) in this list that deserve a mention! Rielle, the Everwise is great with most any looting spell (of which we play many), but her best pairings are Dack Fayden or Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion. Toothy, Imaginary Friend can get VERY silly with bounce spells. Sea-Dasher Octopus can recur enchantments, sorceries, and artifacts during opponents turns, when mutating onto Vadrok, Apex of Thunder... or simply act as a pseudo-counterspell with her out. Et cetera! I'm still discovering new lines every day with this list.

Vadrok's ability is only valuable if you already have cards in graveyard that she can cast. To fill your graveyard, the best effects are spells like Frantic Search and Cathartic Reunion, which let you dig while also pitching relevant spells into graveyard. However, we also run effects such as Winds of Rebuke, which fill the graveyard in more haphazard ways, as well as more general wheel effects (Wheel of Fortune and Windfall).

In this deck, it's good to burn your removal spells early and often, to gain tempo. If you can shoot a low-CMC commander with Pongify in the early game, it's often a good idea -- since Vadrok's mutation trigger will let you cast the removal spell a second time, for additional advantage. Moreover, this is the only deck where it's plausible to cast Narset, Parter of Veils or Dack Fayden without any protection on battlefield -- even if you only get to activate their abilities once or twice, when they die you can recast them with full loyalty.

More detailed explanations are given below:

Frantic Search and Snap: These are by far the best two cards to recast from graveyard, because they recoup mana when we cast them for free -- this makes our mutations effectively cost 2-3 less mana, while also generating advantage and holding up mana for interaction. Also, they allow us to effectively "chain" mutate creatures together, triggering Vadrok three or four times in a single turn for massive advantage -- remember that when a creature mutates, ALL of its mutation abilities are put on the stack again, including Vadrok's own recast trigger.

Curator's Ward: This allows Vadrok to "enter" with additional protection, and will draw cards when Vadrok leaves battlefield (helping to avert the normal 2-for-1 when Vadrok dies). This is especially good when Vadrok is mutated onto something menacing like Markov Blademaster, or something small and vulnerable like Cephalid Constable or Surrakar Spellblade.

Jeskai Ascendancy and Sevinne's Reclamation: These two cards are included in the deck for the explicit purpose of casting them from graveyard. We can abuse Reclamation in particular, by getting its "double" mode with each mutation trigger... and Jeskai Ascendancy is a critical piece in many of our combos (as well as giving Vadrok prowess and "vigilance".

Mystic Remora and Rhystic Study: You've never seen your opponents cry until you recur these multiple times in the same game, ignoring removal. Mystic Remora can also be sacrificed when its upkeep cost grows too high, then recurred for free with zero counters again.

Underworld Breach: Oddly, Breach is less good than one might expect, when recurred off of a mutation trigger. It's hard to both mutate AND hold up the necessary amount of mana to go off with Breach. Still, it's often possible to re-cast Breach from graveyard, then immediately bounce it to your hand with Chain of Vapor or Winds of Rebuke, to prepare for the next turn.

Dack Fayden and Narset, Parter of Veils: Our deck doesn't care too much when either of these planeswalkers die, because we can recast them easily with Vadrok's ability. In particular, Dack often comes down T3, steals an artifact, then dies... at which point we can recast him at a full three loyalty and immediately steal a second thing! My opponents have learned that it's often more dangerous to kill Dack than leave him alive at 1 loyalty.

Cathartic Reunion, Chart a Course, Faithless Looting, Impulse: These are simple sources of card advantage when cast from graveyard. Simple, solid, effective. They are the bread and butter of this list -- helping fill our hand and graveyard in the early game, still useful in a pinch when recast off of Vadrok's trigger.

Gamble: This can be very context-dependent, but the discard effect is rarely as bad as one might expect, since we can recast most of the nonland cards in this deck from graveyard. In particular, Gambleing for Frantic Search is a win-win, whether we discard it or not.

Merchant Scroll: This lets us tutor for Snap or a solid counterspell (often Fierce Guardianship or Force of Will), ensuring that we have protection for Vadrok in hand. And as mentioned above, Frantic Search is monstrously good in this list, both as part of our combo lines and as general value and mana ramp when mutating with Vadrok. Mystical Tutor can also do something similar, though unfortunately it does not gain card advantage in the same way.

Wheel of Fortune and Windfall: These can be fine when recast off Vadrok, especially if we control Narset, Parter of Veils or Consecrated Sphinx. But be cautious about recasting these, as someone will usually find removal for Vadrok in their new hand.

Abrade, Pongify, Rapid Hybridization, Reality Shift: It's always helpful to cast removal off our commander, making her into a Ravenous Chupacabra as she enters. Plus, all of these options can also kill troublesome blockers, letting her swing unopposed.

Normally, we cannot cast counterspells off of Vadrok's recursion trigger. However, Sea-Dasher Octopus or Pouncing Shoreshark can allow us to cast counterspells or Deflecting Swat at instant speed with Vadrok's trigger, acting as additional "counterspells" when necessary.

The most critical things to keep in an opening hand are at least one non-human creature (as a mutation host) and either a removal spell or a looting spell (to have something in graveyard by the time you cast Vadrok on curve).

The landbase is a little odd: you need at least two red mana by turn 4, but after that point only a single spell in the deck (Niv-Mizzet, Parun) requires more than three red. I generally try to keep 3-land hands, when possible, but lack of double-red in my opening hand concerns me.

The biggest concern are hands where you don't find any form of card draw OR protection. The mutate mechanic always opens you up to 2-for-1s, and this deck doesn't run a huge amount of ramp -- even at 8 mana, Vadrok is hard to cast. It's important to either protect Vadrok (with cheap counterspells or reactive bounce spells), or to have card draw to make up for the disadvantage of losing her. Having two hosts in hand is also a priority when feasible, since it allows Vadrok to come back down and swing immediately, without having to wait a turn for summoning sickness to wear off.

On a related note, most hands with Rielle, the Everwise and any type of good discard effect (especially Dack Fayden) are Snap-keeps. The card advantage is undeniable.

This deck is actually surprisingly affordable: most of the mana is tied up in the manabase, or in a few specific high-value cards (none of which are necessary for the deck to function). Once you remove things like Mana Crypt, Force of Will, Wheel of Fortune, and the fetchlands, the deck will still function absolutely fine (albeit slightly less smoothly). The heart of the deck is the combination of hosts and cheap looting spells, none of which cost almost any money.

Moreover, a significant part of the deck's pricetag is tied up in foils: if you don't care about foils or condition, the core of this deck can be acquired for less than $250. The only expensive card that is absolutely necessary is Dockside Extortionist -- all of our other combo pieces are a few dollars or less. It hurts to lose Wheel of Fortune, but something like Reforge the Soul or Molten Psyche or Wheel of Fate can be a decent substitute.

Moreover, a significant amount of this deck can be found in local junk-rare boxes: it's mostly built from silly junk rares that suddenly become threatening when paired with our commander, or cheap-but-efficient commons such as Cathartic Reunion.

If you are looking to build on a budget, I would embrace the slight reduction in speed to run more interaction -- more 2-mana counterspells as well as cheap draw like Thirst for Knowledge, Manifold Insights, et cetera. I'd also look into Voltron options such as Dust Corona, Madcap Skills, Forebear's Blade, or O-Naginata. Finally, I would add some of the Azorius/Boros mana rocks (and potentially raise the land count by one or two), to offset losing powerful ramp like Mana Crypt.

As an experiment, I loaded this deck into TCGPlayer. As of 5/16/20, the heart of this deck (85/100 cards) cost only $177, once the expensive-but-unnecessary things were stripped out. In conclusion, this deck is quite affordable, while also being extremely fun and surprisingly threatening even at a lower price point.

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Date added 3 months
Last updated 1 day
Exclude colors W

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

12 - 0 Mythic Rares

45 - 0 Rares

17 - 0 Uncommons

16 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.12
Tokens 1/1 Spirit, 1/1 Squid, Dack, None Treasure, 3/3 Frog Lizard, Feather, 3/3 Ape, 1/1 Goblin, 2/2 Manifest, 1/1 Bird
Folders Uncategorized, Vadrok daedalus, EDH, Inspirational Decks, Jeskai EDH, Commander, Uncategorized, Commander, Commander, EDH, See all 17
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Revision 46 See all

3 days ago)

-1 Mountain main
+1 Narset's Reversal main