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Hymn of Darkness: Elenda EDH | *PRIMER*

Commander / EDH* Pox Primer Tempo Tokens Vampires W/B (Orzhov)

Daedalus19876

Maybeboard


Long ago, the Immortal Sun was taken across the sea, and Saint Elenda sailed West to follow.

The last of an ancient order of monks, she had spent her life guarding The Immortal Sun from anyone foolish enough to abuse its great power. When the Immortal Sun was stolen from her monastery, she ventured to Ixalan in her search for its resting place. If only she could find the lost artifact, she could spare the world from the Cataclysms that would result from its misuse.

She devoted her life to the search. She failed.

She grew old, then she grew ancient. And on her deathbed, she made a desperate pact with the demon Aclazotz, to subsist on the blood of the living through dark magic, to never rest until her holy quest was fulfilled, to become something more than merely mortal.

And so did Saint Elenda, the Dusk Rose - last of her order and first of her name - become the first of the vampires of Ixalan.

She sailed back to Torrezon and shared her Gift of Immortality and her Dark Ritual with her followers, so that they could join her in both her quest and her curse. And she returned to Ixalan, to continue her pilgrimage, and disappeared.

Centuries passed. History became legend. Legend became myth. The Church she had left behind began to covet power, and turn its eyes to Ixalan. They strayed from their holy mission, and became vicious conquerors.

And through all of this, Elenda slumbered, having found the Immortal Sun safely locked away in the golden city of Orazca.

And nearly seven centuries later, Elenda awoke into a world very different than the one in which she had gone to sleep. Her followers have forgotten her teachings, there has been a Contamination of her Church's original purpose, and the vampiric race she sired has shed the Innocent Blood of thousands.

It is time for a... reformation.

This is our holy Saint Elenda, the Dusk Rose, eldest vampire on the plane of Ixalan.

As soon as she was spoiled, I fell in love with the art and flavor of this commander. The tragedy of her backstory, the desperation to take an evil burden upon oneself to achieve a greater good...

I knew I had to build her, especially since I've been recently missing my (somewhat similar) Yahenni list. Elenda is very different from most WB commanders. While you COULD take her in a standard Aristocrats direction, she's very suited to a Pox strategy, something that few WB commanders can achieve. She's also somewhat odd in that she has to go to the GY to generate tokens, meaning that we often do not have access to her in the late-game (unless we draw a reanimation spell). Building around her has proven to be a challenge, but I am proud of what she has become.

She is also very under-appreciated. Every time I take her to a table at my LGS, I am ridiculed for "playing such a bad commander", but a few turns later my opponents give a hard swallow as they face down a massive boardstate without any cards or lands. Above all else, this makes me happy to build around this commander.

So! The deck itself!

First, let's get something out of the way. This is not a "nice" or "polite" deck. This deck will do cruel things to your opponents' boards, and lock them out of playing creatures in particular. The land hate in the deck is unintentional (it comes as a side-effect of creature/hand hate like Pox or Cataclysm), but it is still an element. If you play the deck frequently, expect salt from your opponents.

This deck is an experimental hybrid WB Tokens/Pox list, intending to keep the board clear of opponents' creatures while building up armies of your own. You want to generate a large number of tokens, then use nominally symmetric effects like Barter in Blood or Pox to create asymmetric value.

This deck makes it easy to create a large number of death triggers to put counters onto Elenda, either using your own token-makers and sac outlets, or by forcing opponents to sacrifice their own hard-earned creatures.

Once Elenda has many counters, ideally you cast a board wipe and let her go to the graveyard. You will be the only player with creatures after the boardwipe - Elenda is a shockingly efficient producer of vampire tokens - and seal the game off with a Contamination or other Pox piece.

Or just, ya know, beat face with a giant Elenda on an empty board. That works too.

Importantly enough, however, this deck can function completely without its commander, which is a necessity since you must send her to the GY to generate tokens. The deck works perfectly well as a mid-to-late-game token deck and can easily close out games with any one of several staxy board locks.

The heart of this deck is the ability to build large armies of tokens as fast as possible. This is what permits Elenda to grow quickly, what gives us free sac fodder to Pox effects, and forces the board into the late-game, where the deck thrives.

The deck plays most of the standard WB token engines, with a few caveats. First, there is a focus on effects that create one or more token per turn, rather than a single "burst" of many tokens. This allows us to play effects with Contamination-style downsides without fear. The recurring token-makers in the deck vary from creatures with tap effects (like Bloodline Keeper  Flip) to creatures with attack triggers (like Hero of Bladehold) to enchantments/planeswalkers (like Elspeth, Knight-Errant).

There also is something of a subtheme of non-creature sources of tokens (such as planeswalkers' abilities or Bitterblossom). These are important to rebuild after a board wipe, or particularly for their interaction with Death Match (a card I've wanted to use ever since it was printed). Death Match+Elspeth, Sun's Champion is a VICIOUS way to keep the board clear :)

Beyond the token-makers themselves, I am running several token helpers like Cathars' Crusade and Anointed Procession, as well as cards to boost Elenda's power so that she creates more tokens when she dies (particularly Hatred).

While the deck CAN function as a standard WB tokens list, the deck thrives when you can use spells like Pox, Barter in Blood, Contamination, and Death Match asymmetrically. Generally speaking, you are able to sacrifice tokens to these effects, while opponents are forced to sacrifice creatures they paid mana for (or their commander). These spells disrupt your opponents' plans while leaving you mostly untouched (since you have a larger reservoir of tokens to consume), and allow you to capitalize on the disruption and chaos of a devastated board.

Even when forced to sacrifice your own tokens en masse, the deck rebounds quickly by using non-creature token creators to rebuild whatever you sacrificed, and of course Elenda herself grows quickly when you wipe the board using spells like Cataclysm or Tragic Arrogance. Most of the deck's board wipes are tailored to be able to not hit Elenda under most circumstances, so that she can see a large number of death triggers.

In particular, it is worth mentioning that Hymn to Tourach can provide strong early answers for fast combo decks, Martyr's Cause can provide a huge cushion against aggro/voltron lists, Thoughtpicker Witch can function as pseudo-Lantern Control, and Reaper from the Abyss is an amazing source of repeatable, targetable removal.

I will continue to add to this section as I play the deck more, but here are a few non-obvious synergies and strong cards within the deck:

--- Supernatural Stamina is a godsend with Elenda, the Dusk Rose. It automatically reanimates her, dodging removal, as well as giving an additional 2 Vampire tokens.

--- Harsh Mercy has proven to be a good board wipe when needing to just create many death triggers, and can spare your sub-theme of Vampires in the deck.

--- Blade of the Bloodchief and Umezawa's Jitte are both fantastic equipment to put onto Elenda, obviously. Particularly, Umezawa's Jitte can be used to pick off opponents' small creatures (creating more death triggers) OR to pump Elenda in response to a board wipe and generate more vampire tokens.

--- Sun Titan + Gift of Immortality + a sac outlet = infinite death triggers, infinite ETB triggers, etc. This is one of the only properly infinite combos in the deck! While Grave Titan doesn't go infinite with Gift of Immortality, it does create a huge number of expendable creature tokens for sac outlets like Martyr's Cause.

--- And, of course, Hatred is an amazing synergy with Elenda, the Dusk Rose. Cast it on her before combat damage, gain back all of your life, then sacrifice her to create a truly obscene number of tokens and go wide to win. If you have a Hatred in hand, an unblocked creature will often become unexpectedly lethal (and Elenda will easily kill with commander damage).

Leave an upvote to support the Church of the Dusk Rose!

I greatly appreciate +1s and/or comments, if you like the deck. Thank you for reading! :)

...or Elenda will come cleanse your heresy!

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