The Fort of Pillows and Pain

The first few turns are ideally going to be spent getting mana sources out and laying down some ground rules. Land Tax and Thaumatic Compass   are both solid ways of keeping up with other players' ramp, while Myth Realized and Veiled Sentry can provide early defenses--with the Myth continuing to grow as you continue to set rules. After Propaganda and/or Ghostly Prison land on the field, the deck is often safe enough from early aggression to start focusing more primarily on punishment effects.

While various enchantments make it more painful to swing in against Narset, Heat of Battle makes it more attractive to swing against other players--even if they block, they still take damage. Citadel of Pain and Impatience both encourage players to take actions on their own turns--with Price of Glory being the extreme end of that spectrum. Meanwhile, Sulfuric Vortex takes away some tools that players might use to avoid punishment, while Personal Sanctuary helps the deck avoid losing to its own effects.

Eventually, the deck wants to keep opponents low on resources, either by taxing them or just by locking them down. Kismet and Frozen AEther both slow opponents down by turning off haste and keeping lands one turn behind--and, especially if paired with Smoke , they can keep more aggressive strategies in check. Taxing effects like Rhystic Study and Smothering Tithe make opponents choose whether access to their own resources is worth the cost of giving Narset more cards and mana to work with. Zur's Weirding takes away control over card draws, which can either deny opponents the tools they need or else keep them paying life to keep things from getting worse.

After the fort is online and the deck has enough room to breathe, Narset comes out and starts swinging. Reconnaissance is a good way to protect her from dying in combat, but, even if she does, her attack triggers are usually more important than actually connecting. Hammer of Purphoros lets her swing in as soon as she comes out, rather than having to wait and leaving her vulnerable to indirect forms of removal.

The various rules and punishments the deck puts in place are likely to draw more than a little enchantment removal, which Greater Auramancy , Cloud Cover , and Monastery Siege attempt to combat and Leyline of Combustion punishes. In a less direct way, Possibility Storm also tries to blank removal by turning it into something else entirely, but that's going to be less consistent. The deck will always be vulnerable to Tranquility effects, but that's just life.
While Narset is swinging in as much as she can, three damage a turn isn't a very fast clock. Nobody wants to spend three hours slowly suffocating under a pillow fort while being slowly pinged to death. Dictate of the Twin Gods speeds up whatever clocks are ticking down, be it damage from Narset or from punishment enchantments. While Gratuitous Violence will normally only apply to damage dealt by Narset or various tokens, animating punishment enchantments with Opalescence or Starfield of Nyx will then cause it to apply to those as well.

Tokens from Assemble the Legion and Sigil of the Empty Throne are going to be the main sources of offensive presence, though Opal Archangel , Opal Titan , Myth Realized , Veiled Sentry , and the manlands also provide some options. Hammer of Purphoros can also turn excess lands into tokens in the later stages of the game. Opalescence and Starfield of Nyx turn the various rules and punishments into bodies that can swing in the later stages of the game, turning the very methods of control into a means of finishing up the game.

However, while Smoke blunts opponents' offensive capabilities, it can also smother the token armies generated by Assemble the Legion and Sigil of the Empty Throne . Goblin Bombardment offers the obvious solution of literally just throwing the tokens at opponents, while also providing an additional method of controlling the board through spot removal.
Enchanted Evening sure is a card. On the surface, it doesn't look like it does much, but it clicks well with several cards in the deck. Seal of Cleansing becomes "Destroy target permanent." Sphere of Safety now counts your lands and mana rocks as well. Copy Enchantment can now clone any permanent, and can then be copied again with Estrid's Invocation if both are in hand. Veiled Sentry now triggers off of any spell that is cast, as it remains an enchantment, allowing its statistics to change according to the situation. And it also functions as a bit of a deterrent against Tranquility and similar effects, as opponents must now commit to wiping out the entire board, including their own lands.

Speaking of lands, Enchanted Evening also has a very important interaction with Opalescence and Starfield of Nyx , usually mandating that one of the several anthem effects be on board before the combination comes down: since lands and tokens are all enchantments as well, Opalescence or Starfield of Nyx will animate them as 0/0 creatures, thus sending them to the graveyard as a state-based action. This is very one-sided with Starfield of Nyx , which animates only the deck's own enchantments, thus mandating an anthem. However, with Opalescence , all of the opponents' lands will be animated as well--and, if they don't have any anthems out, that means their lands go to the graveyard. This isn't just mass land destruction--without any kind of anthem effect, subsequently-played lands will also be sent to the graveyard. Be aware and proceed with caution.


Updates Add

Leyline of Punishment —> Leyline of Combustion
Punishing opponents for their spot removal ended up being much more relevant than simply stopping them from gaining life or preventing damage. Moreover, this replacement allows the deck to run its own damage prevention.

Geier Reach Sanitarium —> Hall of Heliod's Generosity
Recursion is always a nice thing to have, and Narset's ability to cast off the top of the deck often means that this doesn't even cost a draw.

Azorius Keyrune , Boros Keyrune , Izzet Keyrune —> Talisman of Progress , Talisman of Conviction , Talisman of Creativity
While I had initially assumed that the keyrunes' animation abilities would be important for board presence, testing and actual play showed that they were very rarely necessary. The lower converted mana costs of the Talismans are absolutely worth an occasional life payment.

Needle Spires , Wandering Fumarole —> Sunbaked Canyon , Fiery Islet
Similarly, the manlands were rarely actually worth animating and were usually just taplands. The life payment on the horizonlands isn't backbreaking, and their ability to be sacrificed for card draw can be useful in a pinch.

Archmage Ascension —> Frozen AEther
While Archmage Ascension is nice in theory, the deck was rarely able to consistently get it online, and so I felt it worth cutting for a second Kismet . Of all the changes in this update, this is the most likely to be later reversed.

Compulsion —> Unifying Theory
Drawing without having to discard is always better, and the incremental advantage being shared with opponents does not seem to have a noticeable impact on games. If anything, having Unifying Theory out along with Rhystic Study and Smothering Tithe makes opponents seriously reconsider when they want to cast things.

Ever-Watching Threshold —> Monastery Siege
With all the Propaganda effects and other cards that discouraged opponents from attacking, Ever-Watching Threshold simply wasn't providing much benefit. Monastery Siege can either dig or provide some soft protection against removal, depending on what else is on board.

Levitation —> Recantation
Narset doesn't actually need to fly all that badly, and the angels from Sigil of the Empty Throne already do. Mass bounce is far more useful.

Lunar Force —> Lilting Refrain
While Lunar Force is a hard counter that goes off immediately, the greater control of Lilting Refrain makes it a stronger choice. Opponents playing around the possibility of being countered, instead of just throwing away a spell once, is also quite nice.

Mind Unbound —> Soothsaying
Drawing lots of cards is nice, but sculpting exactly which cards are going to be cast for free is often a more efficient use of mana than exiling four lands and then having to cast everything manually.

AEther Sting —> Possibility Storm
There was enough general punishment going around already that a single extra damage on creature spells just didn't seem worth it. Possibility Storm makes it far more difficult for opponents to intentionally disrupt the deck, while also providing extra triggers for Sigil of the Empty Throne .

Antagonism —> Outpost Siege
If an opponent had enough blockers, Narset didn't really have any consistent way to make opponents lose life on her own turn. With some of the cuts to blue, the impulse draw on Outpost Siege is a better thing to have—or, if Assemble the Legion and Goblin Bombardment are both out, Outpost Siege can instead double the damage output of sacrificing soldiers.

Five-Alarm Fire —> Torch Song
Five-Alarm Fire was nice in theory, but was too often a dead draw while building up defenses or looking for a win condition. Torch Song can go down early and sit for a while, accumulating Verse Counters, before being used to remove a troublesome creature or player.

Goblin War Drums —> Spellshock
Much like Narset doesn't need to fly, she also doesn't really need menace. Damaging a player whenever they cast any spell, though? That's nice.

Hoofprints of the Stag —> Land Tax
Much like Archmage Ascension , Hoofprints of the Stag just wasn't easy enough to manipulate. Especially with a commander that costs as much as Narset, guaranteed land drops are far more important.

Opal Guardian —> Smothering Tithe
Another tax effect, and one that pairs well with Unifying Theory . Can cover the last few mana needed to recast Narset, or else simply ramp into more enchantments.

Opal Titan —> Personal Sanctuary
One of the biggest changes allowed for by cutting Leyline of Punishment , adding Personal Sanctuary allows the deck to ignore its own card:Mana Barbs, Citadel of Pain , Spellshock , and so on. Also makes Repercussion much less of a liability when on the offensive.

Bident of Thassa , Battle Strain , Glorious Anthem —> Sol Ring , Command Tower , Thaumatic Compass  Flip
The deck's previous mana base was...ambitious, to say the least. Testing showed that the correct move was to cut one card from each color in order to add another land, another mana rock, and a land-fetching artifact that turns into another land.

Irrigated Farmland —> Sea of Clouds
The Battlebond lands are just criminally good in multiplayer formats. No good reason not to run one if you have it.

Battlefield Forge , Shivan Reef —> Temple of Triumph , Sulfur Falls
With the addition of the horizonlands, it seemed prudent to replace the classic painlands by completing the scryland and checkland enemy pairs. Scrying is also particularly nice in Narset.

Inspiring Vantage , Port Town , Spirebluff Canal —> Island , Mountain , Plains
Too often, these lands were just taplands with no other benefits. With the addition of Land Tax and Thaumatic Compass  Flip, it just wasn't worth keeping these over fetchable basics.


36% Casual

64% Competitive

Date added 2 months
Last updated 4 weeks

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.22
Tokens None Treasure, 1/1 Soldier, 4/4 Angel, 3/3 Golem
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