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Marchesa, Political Queen of Pillows

Commander / EDH Aikido Control Pillow Fort RBW (Mardu)



Queen Marchesa (long may the true queen reign) gained the throne through her cunning. She now uses her arsenal of protective spells, political shenanigans, and combat tricks to maintain her throne.

This is a political control deck that encourages opponents to target each other instead of you. The deck contains a lot of pillowfort effects designed to protect you while your opponents kill each other. Please provide feedback and upvote if you like! Please read the Notable Exclusions section to see if your suggestion has already been considered.

The following cards I have tried or put a great deal of thought into. Marchesa is a very selective queen and these cards were found to be unworthy of her splendor:

Crackling Doom : I list this one first because I'm still on the fence with it. It's been in and out of my deck a million times. It's a Mardu staple and EDHREC shows that a lot of people use it in Marchesa. I just don't like that it doesn't target. Sometimes the biggest creatures aren't the most problematic. Having said all that, it is very good card advantage and gets around hexproof/indesctructibility. It may find its way back in.

Solitary Confinement: Probably the most controversial exclusion. This is the ultimate pillowfort card and deck builders I highly respect include it. I've thought long and hard about this one and I've found that I've never been in a position where I think "oh wow I wish I had a solitary confinement to get me out of this mess". It's card disadvantage is just too steep. The whole point of Marchesa is incremental card advantage with the Monarch mechanic. The Monarch mechanic helps you achieve card parity with this enchantment...but that's not good enough. The pillowfort of this deck is strong enough without it.

Necropotence: Probably the best legal card draw spell in the format...which is exactly its problem. It screams "destroy me and punish my owner". This deck is about subtle incremental card advantage that opponents find non-threatening. Necropotence is the exact opposite of that.

Mystifying Maze: 4 mana always felt a lot for this effect. Plus I didn't like that it "flickered" the attacking creature, giving the opponent an extra ETB trigger.

Skyline Despot, Protector of the Crown, Custodi Lich , Knights of the Black Rose , Throne of the High City and Marchesa's Decree : I tried all of these and they were unnecessary. With Marchesa in the command zone, other monarch cards just aren't needed. Their abilities are mostly too expensive for what they do. Skyline Despot in particular was terrible in this build. He painted a huge target on me. He'd be effective in aggro token builds but not this pillowfort. The only one of these I'm still on the fence about is Marchesa's Decree . It's a pillowfort enchantment and it's CMC isn't bad for what it does. It may find its way back.

Ankle Shanker: Another Mardu staple. It would be great in an aggressive token build of Marchesa, but not in this pillowfort build.

Rite of the Raging Storm: This card does what the deck wants: incentive opponents to after each other. Too often though it was a "non-bo" with my tapping enchantments.

Kaervek the Merciless: This card is a blast but too much of a target in this deck. Has a better home in other Rakdos builds.

Slumbering Dragon : Wow this dragon was sleepy. The "threat" of waking a vanilla dragon just wasn't enough to prevent people from attacking.

Goblin Diplomats and Goblin Spymaster : People are funny. When you force them to attack they will often attack YOU out of spite. I could see these working in an aggro or chaos build though.

Bitter Feud: Similar to the goblins listed above, people often attacked me out of spite for naming them.

Reflect Damage : On theme with the deck but just too expensive for its effect.

Luminarch Ascension and Bloodchief Ascension: These enchantments incentive opponents to attack you to prevent you from turning them on. Exact opposite of what this deck wants.

The main theme of the deck is to dissuade others from attacking you and remain the monarch. The following cards achieve this in various ways:

Ghostly Prison, Sphere of Safety, Windborn Muse, and Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, all impose mana costs on opponents should they attack us.

Maze of Ith and Kor Haven work great against voltron strategies or other large beaters.

Gossamer Chains is similar to the above lands. It can make attacking with one large beater seem futile, redirecting the attack to an easier opponent.

Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, Dread and No Mercy threaten an opponent's army with destruction should they connect.

Master of Cruelties threatens any attacker with death.

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight encourages opponents to attack each other so that they can get the double damage bonus instead of seeing their damage halved when attacking you.

Vampire Nighthawk is a flying rattlesnake.

Ophiomancer can repeatedly create a deathtouch snake that threatens an opponent with the loss of one of their creatures.

Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker, and Karmic Justice threaten our enemies with destruction of their permanents if they dare mess with the Queen's board state.

Delaying Shield protects our queen from commander damage and infect. Also prevents the monarchy from being stolen.

Righteous Aura offers protection against massive voltron swings or burn spells for cheap.

Kismet, Blind Obedience, and Authority of the Consuls slow down the opponent (and make blocking awkward). They can buy Marchesa time to set up the pillow fort.

Marchesa used her cunning to gain the throne. The deck includes political cards that encourage opponents to attack each other:

Besmirch steals and then goads a creature so that it MUST attack someone else.

Mathas, Fiend Seeker encourages opponents to use removal spells on each other, fostering resentment.

Curse of Opulence encourages opponents to attack the cursed player while ramping themselves and you in the process.

Disrupt Decorum creates pandemonium forcing opponents to attack each other even if it isn't in their best interest. It can lead to resentments between opponents, exactly what our Queen loves.

Duelist's Heritage allows you to make deals with opponents. You can offer to give one of their creatures double strike if they attack someone else.

Royal Assassin can also be used politically. Make an ally by offering to kill a creature coming at them. Dissuade others from attacking you with the same threat.

Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion is similar to Duelist's Heritage in that it can buff our own creatures or be used politically to help opponents if they target each other.

The pillow fort and political shenanigans aren't the only trick Marchesa has up her sleeves. She has a few instant-speed tricks to be used in case of the enemy storming the palace.

Sunforger gives our illustrious queen a large mallet that can be unattached in order to conjure nasty surprises.

Pacification Array can tap down naughty rebels and can be used politically to help other others connect with their creatures.

Comeuppance can be an absolute blow out against an opponent's army, crippling their board state.

Teferi's Protection is the ultimate fog. It protects our Queen and her permanents from EVERYTHING. Combat damage, X spells to the face, boardwipes, targeted removal...nothing can touch her until our next turn.

Deflecting Palm is helpful when a burn spell or a voltron commander is coming after you. 21 commander damage? Naw, you take 21 to the face instead.

Selfless Squire absorbs all the damage you take and gives you a giant beater in return.

Dawn Charm fogs combat damage, regenerates a key creature like Gisela or Dread, or counters a nasty X spell aimed at your monarch's beautiful face.

Delirium and Backlash punish opponents for getting too big for their breeches.

Batwing Brume fogs and punishes opponents for going wide.

Word of Seizing steals anything at split second speed. It can prevent voltron alpha strikes or infinite combos from going off.

In order to keep the throne, Marchesa needs to be able to banish troublesome subjects and their toys.

Anguished Unmaking, Utter End, Mortify, Path to Exile, and Swords to Plowshares are instant-speed removal. Most of them are exile effects so they truly can't bother you anymore.

Rakdos Charm can either be used for artifact or graveyard removal. Also punishes armies from going wide.

Rest in Peace shuts down graveyard strategies, reducing opponents' ability to accrue value over the course of the game.

Austere Command, Hour of Revelation, Hallowed Burial, and Merciless Eviction cleanse the board of naughty subjects. The latter two get around indestructible creatures.

The deck mostly wants opponents to do the dirty work for you until you're left with one final opponent. The deck has a few cards that can help finish the job:

Insurrection is the most obvious one. Allow the enemy to build a large army. Steal it and crush them with it.

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight doubles damage and can close out games quickly.

Master of Cruelties brings an opponent down to 1 life, making it easy to finish them off.

Exsanguinate can finish off those long, grindy games (which is how this deck often wins).

Rakdos Charm and Batwing Brume can finish off decks that go wide.

Sunforger gives a big power buff that can be equipped to a creature with evasion like Dread , Gisela, Blade of Goldnight , or Vampire Nighthawk . It can also be equipped to Marchesa for commander damage.


Just want to thank everyone for the votes and feedback. This is my first deck to surpass 100 votes! This deck is a blast to play. I have been more focused on my Ur-Dragon, Wasitora, and Arahbo decks but this will always be one of my favourites.

Just one recent change to the deck:

Exsanguinate--->Thaumatic Compass  Flip: precociousapprentice inspired me to give this card a try. Another Maze of Ith is certainly on theme with the deck. Exsanginate I am constantly going back and forth on. I don't like jamming it into a non-lifegain deck.

Comments View Archive

No, anti-wide is almost always how it gets used. I often hold it, even when I could use it for something else, just so the anti-wide ability can take out my opponent.

June 4, 2017 12:26 a.m.

Your deck disappeared again. I keep trying to explore yours as a way to improve mine, and I find it is not on the decksearch, and even when I go to your profile, it does not appear on the list of decks in your profile. I have to look through your decklists in order to find it. Those people who are just exploring Queen Marchesa decks will never find it, and I think that is a huge shame, and keeps them from seeing the full breadth of possible uses of the Queen. I find that the contrast between each optimized Queen Marchesa deck is as informative as each deck list is on it's own.

As another note, my deck often appears further down the list when searched than any of the tracked numbers would indicate it should be. Do you have an idea of why my deck ends up being 4th or further down the list, no matter what search criteria I use? I would like to optimize how my deck appears in searches, and I am just curious how you and the others who are at the top of the list have done this.

June 4, 2017 10:25 a.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #3

precociousapprentice, I just checked and both of our decks show up at the top of the list when looking for Queen Marchesa decks.

Sometimes tappedout is buggy. Perhaps it was just having another bad day? haha

June 5, 2017 1:11 p.m.

Yeah, very strange. I guess it doesn't matter that much. Just kind of funny that it is a little buggy like that. Sometimes mine is listed lower than it should be, sometimes yours is not listed at all. I guess lower than it should be is better than not listed at all, and I should just not worry about it.

June 5, 2017 1:15 p.m.

Flytrigreen says... #5

Have you considered Koskun Falls as another pillow effect? I use it in my deck, and it works pretty nicely. Tapping one creature isn't all that bad.

June 21, 2017 3:45 p.m.

I like all these changes. My deck evolution has shown me that these same changes worked great in my version. I think you will be happy.

June 27, 2017 12:48 p.m.

I have an Hour of Revelation that I have not yet tried. I may check it out.

July 20, 2017 8:30 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #8

precociousapprentice, yeah...it could fit in your Burning Wish sideboard

July 20, 2017 9:53 p.m.

That has been a consideration. Right now Austere Command has been pulling that duty rather well. I may test it in that spot.

July 20, 2017 11:45 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #10

precociousapprentice, tough call between those two. I really like both. I do enjoy the flexibility of Austere Command though. It's great to be able to tailor the boardwipe so it hurts you the least.

July 21, 2017 12:28 a.m.

lucal13 says... #11

Have you thought about adding Leyline of Sanctity? It's good on its own but even better against storm and spellslinger decks. Another alternative to that is Aegis of the Gods.

July 26, 2017 6:08 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #12

lucal13, thanks for the suggestions. Leyline of Sanctity would be great in here but its price tag is a little steep right now. Perhaps if it gets reprinted. Aegis of the Gods is an interesting budget option. As a small creature I'd be worried about it getting removed too easily. I'll consider it though :)

July 27, 2017 5:45 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #13

lucal13, just looked at other hexproof options and found Witchbane Orb for about 50 cents lol. Hmm i'll think about it. I'm not sure how often I need hexproof as the player. Usually it's my permanents I want to have hexproof.

July 27, 2017 5:52 p.m.

sashaza says... #14

Hey Matt,

Why did you take out Gisella?

July 28, 2017 8:30 a.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #15

sashaza, I temporarily took her out to test other cards. I've found that I've missed her though so she's going back in.

July 28, 2017 11:37 a.m.

joshposhua says... #16

This would be good with anointed procession

July 30, 2017 11:06 a.m.

I had considered Anointed Procession, but in every case I would want it, I figured it would be win more.

July 30, 2017 1:59 p.m.

joshposhua says... #18

That's fair enough. I was taught to play MTG not by winning but winning more and that's usually how I think. This is a pretty solid deck regardless

August 4, 2017 3:43 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #19

joshposhua and precociousapprentice, yeah I could see Anointed Procession being great in a build that more reliably produces tokens. Even Marchesa's own assassin token doesn't come out very often. The deck pillowforts so well that I rarely lose the monarchy and therefore don't get an assassin token.

August 4, 2017 7:58 p.m.

Venomous08 says... #20

Once Commander 2017 releases I could imagine this deck running Stalking Leonin, it's another great card that dissuades all opponents from attacking

August 8, 2017 6:25 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #21

Venomous08, I'm definitely considering that card. It could be a useful pillowfort :)

August 8, 2017 7:40 p.m.

Needs more plains fetches and Mistveil Plains so you can keep reusing Sunforger.

August 10, 2017 12:14 p.m.

Love the C17 changes. Exactly in line with my feelings about the set and Marchesa. Perfect.

August 18, 2017 9:59 p.m.

chiri says... #24

I think Mathas, Fiend Seeker will do you some solid political plays.

August 27, 2017 11:56 p.m.

I love to see the evolution of your deck. Parallel but divergent from mine. I have yet to have a chance to trial the C17 changes. I moved to a different state, and have been way too busy to explore a new gaming venue and meta. I am glad to hear about your experience with Teferi's Protection and Curse of Opulence. I have high hopes.

August 31, 2017 3:16 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #26

precociousapprentice, finally had a chance cast Disrupt Decorum last night and it performed well. Knocked one person right out of the game and left another very exposed. I ended up winning that match.

Played Mathas, Fiend Seeker in 2 games last night and...meh. Both times it didn't really change opponents' behaviour which was the whole point. He drew some cards incidentally (when a creature died in combat or by boardwipe) but didn't seem to encourage opponents to burn their kill spells. If I'm drawing cards incidentally I want it to be just ME who draws them. I'll give him a bit more time in the deck but I may just sub back in Read the Bones.

Erebos, God of the Dead has been performing well and is "turned on" more easily than expected in a 3-colour deck. He ended up winning a game with Sunforger attached.

Underworld Connections has also been performing quite well, giving me a card when I don't tap out with other instant speed effects.

September 1, 2017 1:07 p.m.

That sounds very positive MegaMatt13. I was anticipating Mathas, Fiend Seeker not doing what people were saying he would do. I feel like he could be exploited as a commander, but likely he will not fit in a lot of 99s.

I can't wait to see Disrupt Decorum in action. I have high hopes. It is not quite Insurrection, but it is close, and actually has a slightly different effect in that the attacks come on other people's turns, sequentially exposing them to counter attacks. It will be a player in both our decks.

I have looked at Underworld Connections several times. It is obviously very close to Phyrexian Arena, but you have to activate it, alleviating the danger of accidentally killing yourself while imposing a small price to use. I still think that it doesn't have the raw power of Necropotence, but it is probably a great incremental card draw, and may be better than most other options.

I should probably add a section into my deck description detailing cards like Erebos, God of the Dead, Dread, Rune-Scarred Demon, Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, or other big bomb wincons with added value that can be subbed in depending on meta. Erebos, God of the Dead is probably a total beast against lifegain decks, and adding it simply as a bomb with added card draw is reasonable enough. I traded for one at one time specifically for adding into Queen Marchesa's army, but I never played it.

I love that the core of our decks are super similar, but the trim around the edges is quite different. I am going to put your deck into my inspirations section. Anyone looking to make a Queen Marchesa political control deck should probably look at both decks for a more complete understanding of the archetype.

September 1, 2017 2:14 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #28

precociousapprentice, hope your move went as smoothly as possible. I am thinking of adding an inspirations section too and would certainly add your deck. It's definitely informed some of my choices.

I've already taken out Mathas. He just didn't perform at all. He didn't seem to influence opponents' behaviour... Probably because my opponents didn't want to see me draw cards. Curse of opulence I think is in the sweet spot of enticing opponents without making them fear the value it also gives you.

I look forward to hearing about your playing experiences with the new cards.

September 2, 2017 7:08 p.m.

Mrf1shie says... #29

I'm currently building a Marchesa deck and this and precociousapprentice's write ups have been really useful, thanks. Going a bit of a different direction, forcing opponents to attack with cards like Fumiko the Lowblood, hopefully not at me or my fort! Have you tried any of this type of effect?

September 9, 2017 5:36 p.m.

For my build, Fumiko the Lowblood never added up. I never had enough creatures to attack with the make it a serious threat, and whenever I wanted her to be big enough to survive blocking a huge creature, there were rarely enough attackers to make her big enough. I went with things like Master of Cruelties and other deathtouch creatures. It may make a fine budget alternative to Master of Cruelties in the right build, though.

September 9, 2017 7:10 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #31

Mrf1shie, thanks for taking a look at the deck.

I haven't tried Fumiko specifically but I have tried that effect with Goblin Diplomats and Goblin Spymaster. My experience was that people would agree to attack me out of spite for being forced to attack (even with the pillowfort). That is why I prefer cards like Disrupt Decorum and Besmirch because you force them to attack each other. Curse of Opulence and Duelist's Heritage are great because it gives them a bonus of they attack someone else. Maybe the mindset of your playgroup is different and you won't run into the same problem of people attacking you out of spite. Just want to warn you this MAY happen, especially after they figure out what Marchesa is up to.

September 9, 2017 7:13 p.m.

Mrf1shie says... #32

Yeah, the reason I'm planning on using the "everyone attack" style cards are that a lot of my playgroup likes to sit back and durdle until they can swing out for the win (or just win with combo). I know ow they're not going to make any friends, was just wondering if when you ran them, the rattlesnakes were enough.

September 9, 2017 7:42 p.m.

zenia says... #33

Love the build!

September 29, 2017 11:28 a.m.

zenia says... #34

What do you think about Edifice of Authority over Pacification Array?

It is not able to tap artifacts, however it costs only to activate and once it has three brick counters, it is quite strong blocking activated abilities.

October 2, 2017 7:07 a.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #35

zenia thanks for the suggestion. edifice looks like a decent card. I prefer pacification array's flexibility though. not only does it prevent attack, it can also tap down blockers. this makes it a great political card when opponent A is trying to attack opponent B

October 8, 2017 2:24 p.m.

Agreed, MegaMatt13. zenia, being able to use all your pieces to not just stop attacks, but to redirect them at your opponents, that is the real power of a political Queen Marchesa. edifice of authority may stop an attack, and later may even stop an ability, but I would rather that my opponents keep all their offense at full strength, just be unwilling to target me with it. edifice of authority stops them from being able to attack my opponents, and leaves a blocker around to discourage people from attacking them until later in the game. Interesting, but I think it would not replace Pacification Array.

October 8, 2017 4:31 p.m.

Sismir says... #37

how about Reciprocate it's an exile for 1, and it kinda "displays" what will happen to opponents that attack you and not each other.

October 13, 2017 1:02 a.m.

Sismir, I know this is not directed my way, but I would like to chime in. I think that any targeted removal needs to be the least conditional possible. This is even more conditional than Condemn, in that you can't even get rid of something when it attacks someone else. Reciprocate is only good for those attacking you. I would not run it over Condemn, and I wouldn't run Condemn. That is just me, though.

October 13, 2017 4:04 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #39

Sismir, really appreciate the suggestion. As precociousapprentice mentioned Reciprocate is a bit too conditional. I want to be able to remove a threat before it has the chance to hit me. Also, sometimes I want to remove a threat targeting someone else for political reasons.

October 14, 2017 4:54 p.m.

100+ upvotes! Awesome, and congrats, your deck is freakin' wicked! Queen Marchesa for Victory!!!!!!!

October 20, 2017 8:05 p.m.

Exsanguinate is a card that will always go in an out of my deck. Great wincon, can sweep up several low life opponents, or can stall a loss if you cast it for even a mid range amount. Just an all around solid card. That being said, it comes out regularly to make room for things I want to try. My Wishboard is it's present home, which is a great location for it for me. I can get it for with Burning Wish, but it also gives me access to things like Insurrection and Austere Command. If I cut Burning Wish, I am not sure which I would replace it with, Exsanguinate or Insurrection. Either way, it will alway occupy a flex spot in the deck, because it is not key to the functioning of the deck, but it is amazing when you need it. Thaumatic Compass is pretty great. It has made a great showing in 2 of the last games and played a key role. The last game it didn't show up. What did show up was Teferi's Protection . I won the game against a semi-mirror match against a newly minted Bant Aikido deck. It went Demonic Tutor and Enlightened Tutor to get Master of Cruelties and Key to the City, cast Master of Cruelties. Opponent casts Path to Exile on Master of Cruelties. I cast Teferi's Protection , saving my entire board. Pass the turn, my opponent gets nothing, and passes the turn, knowing she is at least mostly dead. I draw the Key to the City, cast it, and tap and discard to Key to the City on Master of Cruelties, attacking with Master of Cruelties. This bypasses my opponent's Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker, Clever Impersonator cloned No Mercy, and her Delaying Shield, as well as a held Dawn Charm to put her at 1 life. I transmute Shred Memory into Price of Progress and cast it, knowing that she doesn't have enough to pay the mana to Delaying Shield to save herself next turn. Pass the turn, and good game. This was after she let an Insurrection through to take out both other opponents earlier in the game when she could have Dawn Charmed to save them. I was expecting her to hold a fog, so I took out them instead of her. She ended up dyeing with that Dawn Charm in hand. Super interesting to see the deck in a multiplayer against another Aikido deck, this one with arguably more control and defense in the form of blue control and green rattlesnakes, but with less aggression. The aggression won out. Mardu aikido is amazing, super fun, and will probably always be my favorite. Thanks for helping me to build my deck, and congrats on the 100+ upvotes. The deck is truly rad.

October 21, 2017 11:53 p.m.

MegaMatt13 says... #42

precociousapprentice, totally agree with you regarding Insurrection and Exsanguinate as finishers. Ultimately I am going with Insurrection for flavour reasons...it's more of a true aikido card. Nice army you have there...mind if I borrow it for a turn?

Thaumatic Compass is already proving its worth...so easy to flip and it is just nasty combined with any other pillow fort effect.

That sounds like a very intense matchup. Aikido vs. Aikido can lead to very long games of back and forth. What commander was she playing? Angus Mackenzie?

Thank you for all the support you have given. I love how our decks seem to inspire each other.

October 22, 2017 2:03 p.m.

She is my daughter playing a Phelddagrif Aikido deck I am working on with her. "Hey, I'll give you a hippo and a card if you can take out his commander right now." Gifts, clones, stealing, pillow fort, green rattle snakes, and a purple winged hippo. She had been envious of my Marchesa for a while, but when she saw the potential of the gifting purple hippo, she immediately started deck building. I am helping her tune it. Right now we need to work on card draw. We have it disguised as a typical group hug deck with things like Howling Mine, Propaganda, and Ghostly Prison, but I outpaced her with card draw using The Monarch and snake tokens to collect cards off of an Edric our opponent was playing. She didn't get her card draw, chose to Clever Impersonator a No Mercy instead of the Edric, and when she Control Magic'd Marchesa from me, she never got an assassin token in for damage to steal The Monarch due to a Maze of Ith, a Kor Haven, and an Ophiomancer. I just outdrew her, collected 3 tutors and a wish, and then went for the kill. I had Disrupt Decorum Remanded twice before she Counterspelled it. She put up a remarkable fight, considering. I think her Phelddagrif Aikido will end up pretty brutal. Not at all oppressive, since it will play like my Marchesa, but will surprise a lot of people expecting the cute blonde girl with the purple hippo to be playing group hug, only to catch their own creatures and combos in their faces for a loss.

October 22, 2017 5:23 p.m.

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