Obsolescence Warning: Use pao2's Meren

With this list as a baseline and the collaboration of SickRobot (father of Varolz), Shaper (whose influence on the meta is such that not even trolls question his name), and myself, pao2 has developed a Meren deck that I consider superior to mine. His Meren is very, very slightly slower than Honorbru against the goldfish but it grinds so much better, is so much more consistent, and utilizes Meren herself so much more effectively that I have decided to retire Honorbru Meren. These are not the 100 cards that I am personally using; I am using pao2's list with 0-2 changes.

pao2's decklist

Things to expect:

  • attach skullclamp to mindslicer, table scoops
  • T3 hulk trigger, competitive players' heads explode when you demonstrate the win
  • praise of casuls

Things that honorless dogs should do:

  • -1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
  • +1 Walking Ballista

What changes would you make to be 100% competitive (cEDH) if you could go infinite?

  • I'm serious, Gary -> ball
  • I get this question a lot, usually in private messages
  • Did they think I was holding on to some secret tier 0 Meren build?


  • store: "1 nerd point for playing commander, +2 for winning, -2 for any infinite combo, winner at end of month gets foil full art biscuit"
  • self: "infinite, you say?"
  • store: awards foil full art mountain
  • self: misses two weeks
  • store: awards forest
  • self: beats the second place score in one day
  • store: does not modify rules, awards swamp

Real Friends are Proxy Friendly

  • The budget version will function better in a long, grindy game or if your playgroup focuses you.
  • Instead of chains, run eldritch evolution and get mindslicer. Cutting chains for EE is optimal outside cEDH.
  • The next easiest cut is the Razaketh package. LED is $$$ and that wincon isn't necessary. Fill the slots with more stax, I recommend tanglewire and damping sphere.
  • The moxes can be replaced by ramp creatures such as sakura-tribe elder and wood elves. This is why the budget version is more resilient in the long run.
  • The lands can be replaced by basics and a strip mine if you go up to maybe 34 total.
  • Work your way up on the tutors, start with eldritch evolution and birthing pod.
  • Sylvan library, null rod and root maze (in that order) simply belong in green stax decks so pick them up (in any order) as you run out of cheaper important cards.
  • As you grow your collection, learn the reserved list ( and its implications. I owe this part to the comment section. I forgot your name, I'll paraphrase you mercilessly, but really, thanks. This commander is near and dear to my heart and you are upstanding members of the Meren Nation.
Phyrexian Delver, Grim Flayer, Snow-Covered Forest, Command Tower, Eternal Witness, Demonic Tutor, Caustic Caterpillar.
Keep. Ship instantly without tutor. Delver is pretty dead but I have engines and instant-speed interaction. First tutor is stax if I think I can get away with looping tutor. I can't race with just this.
Necromancy, Fleshbag Marauder, Viscera Seer, Abrupt Decay, Forest, Toxic Deluge, Chains of Mephisopheles.
Insta ship.
Contamination, Carpet of Flowers, Demonic Tutor, Scavenging Ooze, Skullclamp, Snow-Covered Swamp, Noxious Revival.
Insta ship. If that one land was a Bayou I might YOLO it, but not a Forest because misstep on carpet would blow me out.
Phyrexian Tower, Dross Hopper, Fleshbag Marauder, Elvish Mystic, Merciless Executioner, Noxious Revival, Birthing Pod
Man, Meren's pissed at me.
Animate Dead, Lion's Eye Diamond, Forest, Oppression, Verdant Catacombs, Apprentice Necromancer
Probably keep. We have stax, relevant combo pieces, and enough to cast everything but Oppression. I'll skip turn 1, turn 2 cast necro if I draw a tutor and otherwise null rod, probably cast Oppression on curve either way.
Viscera Seer, Imperial Seal, Boreal Druid, Protean Hulk, Fyndhorn Elves, Sol Ring, Snow-Covered Forest.
Hell yeah, I'll bite. This hand can hardcast hulk turn 3 and has a sac outlet in hand. The top card will be black mana.
Imperial Seal, Nature's Claim, Birthing Pod, City of Brass, Sylvan Library, Mana Confluence, Green Sun's Zenith
Snap keep. From left to right this hand is black tutor, interaction, gas.
Lion's Eye Diamond, Manglehorn, Dross Hopper, Elvish Mystic, Llanowar Wastes, Caustic Caterpillar, Grim Flayer
If there's Teferi or Blood Pod at the table I might keep this, otherwise mull. If it's Teferi I'm going to jam flayer turn 2 and punch him hoping he has counterspells. If it's Blood Pod instead, I'll hide and outvalue.
Fleshbag Marauder, Polluted Delta, Survival of the Fittest, Fyndhorn Elves, Imperial Seal, Birds of Paradise, Command Tower
Keep. Everything in this hand is good and it's a T3 goldfish without drawing anything. It's directionless so the opponents' mulligans and my first draw are important.
I picked up Meren as my first precon and fell in love. She does everything I like to do: play out of the grave, run every mana dork possible, specialize in inevitability. I built my collection around her, ending up budgetless, but still struggled to close out games. My first remotely practical wincon was podding Avenger of Zendikar into Craterhoof Behemoth. Next, I tried looping Gray Merchant of Asphodel with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed (which is actually quite practical.) Are you sensing the theme here? I, like many newer players, had a distaste for infinite combos. And then Protean Hulk was unbanned. Suddenly I had a lot more opportunities to practice the Gary loop, quickly finding lines for a hulk trigger to cause fatal (but finite!) life drain at instant speed. I proceeded to optimize the deck to the point that it started winning. Winning a lot. I was consistently winning around turn five (not goldfishing, winning pods of four) when I finally gave up and switched to Walking Ballista. Wedge decided I was ready and got me involved in the competitive scene. For the record, Gary is as fast as ball and both suck. I use ball in competitive games because my life total, gradually chunking people down with Linvala in play, etc. don't matter as much as 2 mana 1/1s. Around that time, I put together "the" Blood Pod and "the" Varolz. Playing Blood Pod taught me what real stax looked like and led me to drop cards like Winter Orb. Playing Varolz taught me what real speed looked like and caused me to add cards like Pattern of Rebirth. The deck ended up much faster, often winning by turn four, but now it struggled to find its own identity (aside from the Gary meme,) playing like a severely watered-down Varolz with a smattering of stax sticking out like a sore thumb. I was casting Meren like Karador was cast in 2015. And then inspiration struck.
I'd been pulling my hair out for months, hoping that a reason to run Razaketh was under it, and finally realized that a simple Lion's Eye Diamond fit the bill. Several members of the cEDH Discord helped brew, shoutout to Shaper for the following:
can do L//D -> Hulk -> LED for BBB -> Necromancy
Pretty bread and butter line but god knows how many games I would have lost before stumbling onto it. Requiring a board state of only three lands and a creature, this has become the primary win condition of the deck. I cut my stax package to the bone, retaining only the most brutal, eschewing anything I didn't break parity on. Drop of Honey was dropped, Sphere wasn't spared, Thorn of Amethyst won't be ame-missed, and I even reluctantly cut Tangle Wire. The Animate Dead effects I'd dropped one-by-one over the years returned en masse. The deck finally hit its groove, close to Varolz in speed, with Meren providing late game reach and resilience to many common forms of stax. The most common Razaketh lines are discussed in their own section, but I have to stress that the most powerful thing about Razaketh is the versatility he offers. If winning is out of reach due to an effect like Trinisphere, conservatively sacrificing excess creatures will quickly build an insurmountable board state. If Life resolves with five or six lands in play, Razaketh can force the win through a shocking amount of interaction. With Meren in play, even Aven Mindcensor is no sure bet.


  • Fast, often threatening wins on turn 3
  • Backbreaking stax that makes people quit
  • No baby stax diluting your draws
  • Extreme resilience to opposing stax
  • Meren is a dark horse in the competitive community, expect to be ignored


  • Short on interaction, cannot reliably stop early win attempts
  • Short on combo protection, must rely on repeated win attempts
  • Even other stax decks will spend removal on your stax pieces
  • Crumples under Rest in Peace, Cursed Totem, and Mindcensor effects
  • Meren is notorious in the casual community, expect to be focus fired
Meren has reputations as a predator in the casual EDH community and a parasite in the competitive community. Let's look at why:

Reasons why Meren is Feared by Casual Playgroups

  • Value engine
  • Snowballs in the late game
  • Never out of gas

Reasons why Meren is Considered Parasitic in cEDH

  • Weak color identity, but is only a value engine (unlike Gitrog Monster)
  • Wants a late game, but can't guarantee one (unlike Blood Pod)
  • Out of gas the minute her graveyard gets removed

How Both Groups are Wrong

Having Meren in the command zone means being intrinsically capable of refueling our hand, recovering from board wipes, grinding out value in the late game, and so on. However, none of these characteristics are particularly useful in the competitive sub-format where games are decided by actions taken (or not taken) on the third turn. Comparatively few games are actually won or lost at that point, but win attempts are certainly made turn three. Blood Pod exists to stop those decks, and it stops them admirably. There are even "stax" decks built to parasitically feed on Blood Pod, offering little to no impedance for turn three wins, then winning in the very late game with cards specifically designed to kill its host. This is not one of them. This is a deck that must be answered. This particular Meren list dances the line between fast combo and stax, built to threaten wins as early as turn 3, but free to eschew this plan and grind out a very decent long game; we're eminently able to turn parasite if our first win attempt is answered. A combo deck having its chances of winning unaffected or even improved under stax is a very real merit. The only other fast deck I'm aware of that can operate well under stax is Razakats, but even that crumples under really heavy stax. In contrast, Meren thrives in situations where nobody can cast anything and everything is hell.

This section briefly introduces the individual cards used to set up the kill condition. Feel free to skip this section if you already know them, as it doesn't cover anything in depth.

Protean Hulk (hulk)
  • Assembles your entire combo with one trigger. Killing it with high market or plain old removal is fine.
  • It is prohibitively difficult to hardcast and requires cheating into play from the deck or GY.
  • Don't put hulk in the grave or onto the battlefield until ready to use it. The best place is the library but the hand is also safe.
Viscera Seer and Friends (sac outlets)
  • Omnipresent target for first hulk trigger. Used to kill other combo pieces.
  • A high density of these is important to reliably kill hulk in the first place.
  • It's a good idea to fetch redundant copies of this effect with hulk.
Phyrexian Delver (delver or PD)
  • Common target for first hulk trigger. Returns hulk to play to get a second trigger.
  • Some lines of play require reanimating creatures three or more times, necessitating the use of PD.
  • Its effect is much more than twice as effective with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed in play.
Body Snatcher (snatcher or BS)
  • Common target for first or second hulk trigger. Multipurpose.
  • Its enter the battlefield trigger lets you discard any expensive combo piece that would otherwise be stuck in your hand.
  • To avoid discarding anything, sac it with the ETB trigger on the stack.

Walking Ballista and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

  • Requires Ball, Mike, and a repeatable (free) sacrifice outlet in play
  • Sac Ball (undying trigger)
  • Remove +1/+1 counter from Ball, deal 1 damage to an enemy
  • Repeat previous steps (infinite damage)

Basic Hulk Combo

  • Hulk dies in any way, fetching Bodysnatcher (BS,) sac outlet and 1 CMC creature of choice (preferably another sac outlet)
  • BS ETB on stack, sac BS, BS LTB on stack, BS reanimates Hulk and is exiled, BS ETB fizzles
  • Sac Hulk, fetching Mike/Ball

Mikaeus Stuck in Hand, Hulk Dies (Phyrexian Delver)

  • Hulk trigger fetches BS and choice of 1-2 drops
  • Allow BS ETB trigger to resolve, discarding Mike
  • Sac BS, returning Hulk to play
  • Sac Hulk, fetching Phyrexian Delver (PD,) Ball, and choice of 1-drop
  • Ball dies as state-based action
  • PD ETB reanimates Mikaeus
  • Sac PD (undying) returning Ball to play

Mikaeus Stuck in Hand, Hulk Dies (Golgari Thug)

  • Requires repeatable sac outlet in play or two one-time sacrifice outlets
  • Hulk trigger fetches BS and Thug
  • Allow BS ETB trigger to resolve, discarding Mike
  • Sac Thug, putting Mike on top of the library
  • Sac BS, returning Hulk to play
  • Sac Hulk, fetching Mike/Ball

Hulk Combo (Honorbru)

  • hulk dies in any way, fetching phyrexian delver (PD) and sac outlet
  • PD reanimates hulk (7 life paid)
  • sac hulk, fetch mike
  • sac PD (undying,) reanimate hulk (14 life paid)
  • sac hulk (undying,) fetch gary and 1 devotion (9*3 life drained)
  • sac gary (undying, 18*3 life drained)
  • sac gary, sac PD
  • sac hulk, fetch bodysnatcher (BS) and 2 devotion
  • BS ETB on stack, sac BS, BS LTB on stack, BS reanimates PD and is exiled, BS ETB fizzles
  • PD reanimates gary (19 life paid, 29*3 life drained)
  • sac gary (undying, 40*3 life drained)

the part where bodysnatcher gets exiled is what makes you honorable, you're honorable as long as you don't go infinite

(mad hate to beauofnylea from cEDH Discord for pointing out the infinite combo in this deck, +100 where's waldo points for finding it and posting it in the comments) (mad hate to malens from the comments section for finding a completely different infinite, +100 where's waldo points for posting the most efficient Razaketh line for his infinite in the comments)

Life Line

  • Bread and butter line shared by all razahulk decks. Lowest life cost.
  • Requires 3 lands, Razaketh, and one other creature in play, G mana, >10 life (>24 if using Gary)
  • Sac creature, tutor Life//Death, cast Life (0 floating)
  • Sac land for Lion's Eye Diamond
  • Sac land for Protean Hulk
  • Crack LED for BBB, discarding Hulk (BBB floating)
  • Sac land for any reanimation
  • Reanimate Hulk (0-BB floating)
  • Sac Hulk for card of choice, go to basic combo

Eternal Witness Line

  • An omnipresent manaless, land-free alternative. Low risk but the two creatures can take time.
  • Requires 2 creatures and Razaketh in play, 0 mana, >16 life (>30 with Gary)
  • Sac creature for LED, crack for GGG
  • Sac creature for ewit, cast ewit returning LED, crack for BBB
  • Sac ewit for Reanimate, reanimate ewit returning Reanimate (BB floating)
  • Sac ewit for hulk
  • Reanimate ewit for LED, sac ewit for any reanimation, crack LED in response (BBBB floating)
  • Reanimate hulk, go to basic combo

Hybrid Line

  • I found this pretty obvious line while goldfishing, it turned out to be original.
  • Requires 2 lands, Razaketh and one other creature in play, G mana, >18 life (>32 with Gary)
  • Sac creature, tutor Life//Death
  • Cast Life (0 floating), go to eye witness line

Mikaeus in Exile

  • Same requirements as Life Line plus a land/dork, 2 life and G
  • Sac dork for L//D, cast Life (G floating)
  • Sac for LED, crack it for BBB (BBBG)
  • Sac for and cast Riftsweeper (BB)
  • Sac for and cast Entomb on Hulk (B)
  • Sac for and cast Reanimate (0)
  • Sac Hulk for card of choice, go to basic combo

Both Mike and Ball in Exile

courtesy of Acnophobe from the meren discord. i paraphrased him for these bullet points. - Same requirements as Life Line plus 14 life - Use hulk to get delver and seer, delver getting back hulk - Play Riftsweeper to shuffle in Mike - Sac hulk for Mike - Sac riftsweeper, undying, get back ballista - Sac delver, comes back with undying, recur hulk - Sac hulk for ballista

Some of the following are matters of personal preference or based on empirical results. An example of this is Eldritch Evolution, a worthy card, but one which I can't remember justifying its comparatively steep costs in any game I've drawn it. Other omissions are fundamental; a deck that is trying to race for early wins does not run Sphere of Resistance. - Triskelion (dead card, dies to everything that kills ball except Elesh Norn) - Nooze package (dead cards, null rod is easy to deal with, still dies to cursed totem) - Sphere, Tanglewire, Winter Orb etc. (can't break parity, not crippling) - The Abyss (slow, never hits what I would want it to, occasionally kills Meren) - Nether Void (Meren doesn't break parity on it as completely as you'd think) - Eldritch Evolution, Chord of Calling (too expensive after additional cost) - Strip Mine (mulling a hand with no Forest happens more often than the second ability) - Scavenging Ooze (slow, doesn't stop flash hulk; i would rather have leyline or ravenous slime)
Although it's by far the notable feature of this particular Meren build, the Razaketh package is not mentioned here. Other sections of this primer discuss it in sufficient depth. - Gary (meme value) - Oppression (I have no idea why this card is obscure, it's incredible) - Grim Flayer (insane value engine, turns Worldly Tutor into Entomb) - Noxious Revival (answers many win conditions and protects our own graveyard)

Updates Add

  • -chrome mox +collector ouphe
  • -cavern of souls +nurturing peatland
  • -utopia sprawl +force of vigor
  • -priest of titania +compost

thanks to pao2 for pointing out that i was on 17 pieces of 0-1 mana ramp. cut that back to 15 and put in good cards from the new set. cavern of souls was always awkward and since i cut nether void there's really no point. priest of titania is strong in my meta, but i've been finding myself with plenty of mana and nothing to do in the mid to late game, i replaced it with compost to swing the balance in the other direction.

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Date added 2 years
Last updated 4 months

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

8 - 0 Mythic Rares

48 - 0 Rares

22 - 0 Uncommons

13 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.22
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