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I saw Xantcha spoiled for C18 and fell in love. Dismantled my Queen Marchesa (long may she reign) deck and built Xantcha from its ashes. As a result, you can see a lot of elements leftover from Queen Marchesa with some elements of Mogis, God of Slaughter and Zo-Zu the Punisher sprinkled in.

This deck is Rakdos incarnate. The whole point of this deck is to accelerate the game as fast as possible, even if it means you might not be the last player standing. This deck carries just as much regard for your own life total as it does your opponents; just try to make sure everyone else is losing life at a faster rate than you.

The best cards for doing this are your damage doublers. Dictate of the Twin Gods, Furnace of Rath, and Wound Reflection all pair up beautifully with forcing your opponent to attack, your multiple sources of persistent damaging effects, and big game-ending cards like Mob Rule, Insurrection, and Exsanguinate.

If you can get your opponents' life totals low enough in the first place, damage doublers aren't even needed! Cards like Heartless Hidetsugu, Dire Fleet Ravager, Fraying Omnipotence, Pox, and Havoc Festival get your opponents to a low enough life total that you can win without the help of damage doublers.

So in short: deal damage, deal more damage, deal even more damage, double the damage if you need to, and try not to die from all the damage you're dealing. Follow this simple plan and you should be able to win!

The meat of the deck. As mentioned in strategy, this deck slings a lot of damage around; even to yourself. The whole strategy is to get your opponents to a lower life total than you and keep them there until they're out of the game. Below are some key cards that will help you do exactly that.

Ankh of Mishra & Zo-Zu the Punisher - Reliable damage while punishing decks who try and ramp by playing more than one land a turn.

Manabarbs - Similar to Ankh of Mishra, it punishes decks that want to ramp with lands and play large spells while offering consistent damage across the board.

Spellshock - Reliable damage that punishes opponents for playing storm or aggro-style decks.

Rampaging Ferocidon - Unlike the above two cards, the damage this card deals is much less reliable because your opponents' decks might not be too creature heavy. Even though the damage isn't as reliable, the potential of this card against token/aggro decks could be devastating while not effecting your life total that much.

Price of Glory and Citadel of Pain - Punishes anyone trying to play instant-speed spells, but is mostly in here as defense against counterspells and end-of-turn boardwipes. This deck doesn't run too many instants and, as a result, rarely needs to leave any mana open. We could either go the route of incorporating more instant speed interactions, or we could try and bring our opponents down to our level. In the spirit of punishing opponents, I love this card.

Pyrostatic Pillar, Eidolon of the Great Revel, and Spellshock - Primarily here to punish aggro and storm decks; any deck that wants to play a lot of cheap cards in a single turn is not a fan of these three cards.

Harsh Mentor - Punishes... well... pretty much everything. Doesn't target any specific strategy aside from maybe a "ping" deck, but just an all-around good card to include for this deck.

Since Xantcha has an activated ability that both deals damage AND draws us cards, we want to use it as much as possible. Here are a couple of cards that help us do that.

Braid of Fire - With the removal of mana burn, this card is just pure upside! The only reason it doesn't see much play is that you can only use the mana this generates on your upkeep and many decks aren't built to utilize this. The best usage of this card is when you have a mana sink in your command zone (which is why you mostly see it in Grenzo, Dungeon Warden decks); thankfully, we have exactly that.

Neheb, the Eternal - What is this deck trying to do again? Oh yeah, a lot of damage. Neheb generating mana based on damage dealt means you can invest that mana into dealing even more damage! Whether that's in the form of dumping it into Xantcha's activated ability or playing some more punishing cards from your hand is up to you since this mana (unlike Braid of Fire) can be used during your second main phase.

Coldsteel Heart, Fellwar Stone, Rakdos Signet, Sol Ring, Star Compass, Talisman of Indulgence, and Victory Chimes - Your standard ramp cards. Helps us to get to larger amounts of mana much more quickly. Victory Chimes in particular also helps your opponents take advantage of Xantcha's activated ability as well!

Xantcha has the ability to make its controller attack every turn if able. While this theme isn't fully explored to its max potential in this deck, I definitely wanted to make sure I included some cards that help synergize with that gameplan.

Disrupt Decorum - Possibly my favorite card in MTG history. This card not only forces your opponents to attack, but forces them to attack EACH OTHER. Really solid card and even though the price is starting to creep up on it, I feel it's massively underplayed.

Rite of the Raging Storm - Similar to Disrupt Decorum this card makes your opponents attack each other and you give them the fuel to do it with. It kind of acts like a second Xantcha without her activated ability. Just be wary that you don't play this on the same turn you play Xantcha. If you do, make sure you give Xantcha to the player on your right. That way you reduce the risk of having another player attack the Xantcha controller with a lightning rager; giving Xantcha's controller a chance to block with her.

Goblin Spymaster - Makes your opponents attack, but be wary because they can also swing at you. Make sure you're at a high enough life total, your defenses are up, or you're not the biggest threat at the table before playing this card.

Sleeper Agent - Truthfully, this card is mostly in here for the flavor. That being said, it's another card that, even though it doesn't explicitly force them to attack, it highly encourages them to. Similar to Goblin Spymaster, don't play it if you think you're going to be on the receiving end of the attack.

Insurrection and Mob Rule - If your opponents won't attack with their creatures, you can attack with them instead. These cards are primary win conditions in the deck, especially when paired up with one of the damage doublers.

War's Toll - Makes Xantcha's controller also swing with everything else they control. Has the added upside of also making sure our opponents are usually tapped out at the end of each of their turns.

This might feel like it conflicts with the "Combat Manipulation" section. Even though we want our opponents swinging big creatures at each other as much as possible, we also want to be able to make sure that things don't snowball out of hand. Us having enough removal helps us ensure that things stay chaotic without getting too terrifying.

Last One Standing - One of my favorite boardwipes ever printed. 3 mana to clear everything except for one random creature? Given the amount of creatures played in a standard game of EDH, the one creature standing is almost never a downside. In the best of cases, you could randomly choose a creature that you control!

Blasphemous Act - Another super cheap boardwipe that should clear practically everything aside from indestructible creatures. This card will almost always cost under 4 mana whenever you want to cast it.

Toxic Deluge - Another cheap boardwipe (are you sensing a trend here?) and arguably the best boardwipe in EDH aside from maybe Cyclonic Rift.

Fraying Omnipotence & Pox - Not quite a boardwipe in the traditional sense, especially since the creatures you're trying to destroy will most likely stick around. That being said, it still reduces their board state, lowers their life total, and makes them discard hands; all things this deck wants to do.

Terminate, Dreadbore, Unlicensed Disintegration, Dismember, and Kolaghan's Command - All cheap single-target removal cards. Great for taking out problematic utility creatures or some scary creature heading your way. Also can be used to take out Xantcha if she ends up back under your control (aside from Kolaghan's Command).

Much like ramp and removal, card draw is one of the essential pillars of any deck. Unforunately, red doesn't draw cards in the traditional sense (looting & impulse draw) and black draw wants you to pay life. Both aren't ideal for this type of deck, but here are the best ones that I could find.

Necropotence - Even though this deck doesn't have a lot of life to play with, Necropotence is just SO good that it's hard to make an argument for not including it. It gives you so much card advantage that it feels like a win condition on its own.

Outpost Siege - Choosing Khans gives you access to reoccurring impulse draw. Because our CMC is relatively low, you should be able to cast whatever card is flipped if you want to. The biggest downside is that it triggers on upkeep; meaning you don't get any benefit from this card the turn that you play it.

Phyrexian Arena - Not the biggest fan of this card since it waits until your upkeep to gain any advantage from it (similar to Outpost Siege) and it loses you life. Both are pretty large downsides for this deck, but given the options that we have access to in black/red, it's one of the better ones we can choose.

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent - Our commander itself is a draw engine! Especially when paired up with cards like Braid of Fire or Neheb, the Eternal she helps you draw cards when you need them most.

Night's Whisper - One-off card draw. Not the most attractive option but can help out in the early game and make your three-land-hand a little more attractive. Also not an awful topdeck because it replaces itself while drawing another card. Trying to remove one-off effects, but, as I mentioned many times earlier, finding good card draw in these colors that doesn't cost massive amounts of life is difficult.

Throne of the High City - Monarch can be a way to get your opponents to start attacking each other and can be a source of card draw. I feel that it's better for forcing attacks than card draw, but could be a potential source of draw.

Lastly, I just really want to say thank you. I know it sounds cheesy but waking up and seeing my deck reach top 10 put a smile on my face for the day. I love getting to build decks and share those ideas with people, so having a deck that I built reach #5 on the ranking made me a lot happier than it probably had any right to.

I'm glad you all enjoy the deck and, as always, please leave any suggestions you have that you think would make it better!


Updates Add

So far I've been really happy with the playtests of the deck so far! Most of my decks are the "amass a massive board state and try and win in one turn" kind of deck. So it's a nice change of pace to have a deck that slowly whittles down your opponents and sets the pace of the game.

Just to spice things up a bit, I'm also trying out Angrath, the Flame-Chained. I didn't want to pay $10 for a card that I feared ultimately wouldn't make the cut, but my friend opened one in a pack that he let me have; so I thought it's at least worth trying for free!

I also have a Thran Turbine coming in the mail because I really want to give that card a try too. It only works once a turn, but I think the option to activate Xantcha's ability for 1 mana a turn is too good to pass up.

Finally, considering adding Mind's Eye to the deck to help out with the less-than-optimal card draw options red/black has. Lets me draw a card for 1 mana every turn similar to Thran Turbine but I can also draw off of my opponents' Xantcha activations! My only fear is the (relatively) high mana cost and the potential of dissuading them from activating Xantcha at all knowing that I could get card draw from it too.

Overall I love the way the deck is performing and a special shout-out to Bloodchief Ascension. This card is putting in serious work. Unfortunately it's always the target for removal in every game I play, but when a 1 CMC enchantment draws out removal it doesn't feel too bad.


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Date added 3 weeks
Last updated a few seconds

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.46
Tokens 1/1 Elemental, Monarch
Folders Xantcha Techs, Uncategorized, deck ideas, Commander ideas, Other people's EDH decks, Uncategorized, Interesting Commander Decks, idee, COMMANDER, dammit, See all 18
Top rank #5 on 2018-08-13
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Revision 18 See all

7 hours ago)

+1 Angrath, the Flame-Chained main
-1 Thaumatic Compass  Flip main
+1 Goblin Bombardment maybe
+1 Mind Slash maybe
+1 Phyrexian Tower maybe
+1 Claws of Gix maybe
-1 Angrath, the Flame-Chained maybe
+1 Phyrexian Altar maybe
+1 Ashnod's Altar maybe
-1 Crawlspace acquire
-1 Victory Chimes acquire
-1 Braid of Fire acquire
-1 Pyrohemia acquire
-1 Thaumatic Compass  Flip acquire
-1 Ashnod's Altar acquire