"Oh, you're playing Dragons?"

Yeah, sort'll see!
But let's have a look at how the deck works when the opponents are well prepared instead of expecting a mildly amusing tribal aggro matchup. Of course, playing a 5c commander means playing combo, but what kind of combo should it be? With the unbanning of Protean Hulk the format got a strong combo engine back, one that works in various colour combinations, the most popular being 4-colour without red.

With the inclusion of red, I get access to Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, one of the most versatile combo enablers. There are a lot of creatures that can untap Kiki-Jiki for an infinite amount of creatures - this is the main plan of the deck.

But I have only included those untappers that are compatible with a birthing pod sequence that can be produced out of a random cmc 2 creature and results in a kill within one turn.
Birthing Pod needs to be in play, then follow these steps:
1. sacrifice any creature with cmc 2, search for deciever exarch, untap Birthing Pod
2. sacrifice Deceiver Exarch, search for Felidar Guardian, blink Birthing Pod
3. sacrifice Felidar Guardian, search for Karmic Guide, reanimate Felidar Guardian and.. blink Birthing Pod
4. sacrifice Felidar Guardian, search for Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
5. tap Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to copy Karmic Guide, reanimate Felidar Guardian and blink Kiki-Jiki

starting with a random cmc 2 creature, this sequence requires 4 mana and 8 life to work. starting with a cmc 3 or 4 creature or having Kiki-jiki in the graveyard reduces the cost and the searching processes. Anyway, the creatures in the deck enable multiple pod uses in one turn to eventually find the kill combo. Searching for Renegade Rallier and getting something like an Animate Dead into play can also be a game ending move with the pod.

The pod sequence above requires all colours except black. As black gives access to the best tutors, especially Buried Alive, which can entomb the whole Kiki-jiki Combo with one spell, there's the reason for going 5-Coloured.

The Undisruptable Hulk

Now let's have a look at the Protean Hulk pieces and the possible ways of assembling a kill combo once the hulk dies. There are numerous ways of getting Protean Hulk into play and letting it die again, the easiest method is of course Flash. Unless there is an obvious way to get the Kiki-Jiki combo directly into play (such as Buried Alive on Kiki-Jiki, Deceiver Exarch/Felidar Guardian and Karmic Guide with a reanimation spell afterwards) getting the hulk to die is what the deck aims at. Letting the hulk die will result in a sequence that ends with an infinite loop on the board. While breakfast hulk will go for self milling, my deck either assembles the Kiki-jiki combo and/or kills with lifeloss through Blood Artist.

My usual line of play will be this:

  1. get Academy Rector and Carrion Feeder+Viscera Seer
  2. hold priority and sacrifice Academy Rector to bring Animate Dead into play enchanting Protean Hulk
  3. sac Hulk to get Karmic Guide
  4. reanimate Hulk with Karmic guide, sac Hulk and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
  5. no need for an untapper now, copy Karmic Guide, sac Kiki-Jiki in response and target it in the graveyard with the ETB of the new Karmic Guide token. Results in infinite hasty tokens.

Step 1 is just in case someone tries to remove the sac outlet in response to step 2. The simplest way involving the least cards would be to start with step 3 and search straight for Karmic Guide and a sac outlet. What if the mentioned cards are not in the library at the time hulk dies or if there's a hate piece on the board that prevents the needed activated abilities, such as Cursed Totem or Linvala, Keeper of Silence? There are lines that play around unavailable cards or ignore certain hate pieces. For example...

only works with Animate Dead/Dance of the Dead in the graveyard
1. Renegade Rallier, Leonin Relic-Warder, cariion Feeder
2. ETB of Leonin Exiles cursed totem, Renegade Rallier Returns animate dead enchanting Hulk
3. sac hulk and search for Blood Artist and Felidar Guardian (targeting renegade rallier)
4. in Response to felidar ETB sac leonin, felidar blinks renegade returning animate dead on Leonin
5. Leonin becomes Schrodinger's cat by targeting animate dead on ETB, creating infinite blood artist triggers

same as above, animate dead needs to be in the graveyard
1. Renegade Rallier, Gilded Drake, cariion Feeder
2. Exchange Gilded Drake for the opponent's Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Renegade Rallier Returns animate dead enchanting Hulk
3. sac Hulk to get Karmic guide or Felidar guardian, proceed with the combo as you wish.

Finally, it's fairly easy to assemble the Schrodinger's Cat Loop manually and just reanimate Leonin Relic-Warder with a Blood Artist in play. Any of the reanimation enchantments work. Having this combo as the way to assemble an instant win with hulk enables a large variety of tricks with Razaketh, the Foulblooded. Often Razaketh will simply sac two mana dorks to search for flash and hulk, but for more complicated ways to use him, I suggest you have a look at the deck Razakats by ShaperSavant. While I have the birthing pod/kiki-jiki tricks as the centerpiece of my deck, some of the described razaketh lines can be pulled off as well.

threats that need to be dealt with

Playing a 5 colour combo deck comes with a huge lot of flexibility and reliability but also has it's weaknesses. There are certain cards that stop the deck from going off:

  • Cursed Totem: obvious. prevents the most important abilities needed for a kill, not necessarily prevents the Combos from being assembled though
  • Torpor Orb: prevents pretty much everything here, worse than totem but not as frequently played. artifact removal will do + mindcensor/kataki are exchangeable especially in my local meta I rather use Kataki
  • Blood Moon/Magus of the Moon: taking away much of the coloured mana hurts but the deck is still somehow playable in the current build. mana dorks, carpet of's not too bad
  • Ruination/Back to Basics: disabling the lands completely hurts more than making them red, only solution is getting nonland mana sources and removal for back to Basics. Playing around it is possible with mana dorks and Carpet of Flowers.
  • Rest in Peace/other graveyard hate: Timing is everything, permanent based gy hate definitely needs removal and instant exiling can set the deck back several turns or cost the game if too much important cards are lost. I don't risk everything by milling myself like BUG Sidisi or breakfast hulk does, but graveyard hate is a known weakness of all hulk and reanimator decks. Anafenza, the Foremost is the most annoying card I've faced so far, but that's only if she's the commander - no one plays her in my meta though, so I'm fine with Gilded Drake and Abrupt Decay. I might add her in my own deck should I face more graveyard based decks than mono U.
  • Humility: just go fuck yourself and I flip the table if I don't have Nature's Claim!

Most of the problematic pieces are artifacts/enchantments and/or blue. For that reason I play some removal that are implemented on creatures and Nature's Claim/Abrupt Decay as well as Ancient Grudge and Red Elemental Blast as a counter-counter or removal. Mana Drain is the universal Counter/ramp here, preferred over the top cmc 1 counterspells which are all more narrow.

06.11.17: After testing the deck both in multiplayer and 1vs1 I have to change some cards especially for multiplayer. I will probably make another decklist to display my decklist for 1vs1 tournament play (not mtgo/duel commander!). Volrath's Shapeshifter, while being useful in some situations, often doesn't do enough. The combo protection with Grand Abolisher only works when Hulk dies without using Flash and if that is allowed to happen, the opponents probably won't have any responses anyway. Therefore I have removed these two cards in favour of more disruption: Aven Mindcensor and Phyrexian Revoker. Mindcensor hurts a lot of decks but in my case it's also a meta choice because I frequently play against Arcum Dagsson. Another of my main opponents is Teferi, so the revoker does a good job there as well. Having some hatebears in the CMC 2 and 3 slot is great because it's fodder for starting the birthing pod combo. Nissa, Steward of Elements will stay for 1vs1 but is replaced in the multiplayer list by Manifold Insights. Search for Azcanta  Flip is also something for the 1vs1 list and will be replaced by Stifle (most graveyard hate is activated or triggered).


Updates Add

After a lot of testing I finally made the decision to cut some of the hatebears (for example Aven Mindcensor or Notion Thief) and replace them with cards that actively help the strategy. With this deck I want to be the threat, not the one who prevents other people's combos. Gaddock Teeg still ruins several plans and everything else is there to find and protect my own win options. Grand Abolisher has replaced Vexing Shusher because while it can be countered, it's better against decks that have no counters but other methods of interaction.

Making the deck faster also required cutting Sensei's Divining Top. While it's a good card with so many fetchlands and tutors, the mana to manipulate the top cards is too often needed for more important stuff. Therefore I rather use the draw and top manipulation engines that don't require any further costs after being cast: Mirri's Guile, Sylvan Library, Nissa, Steward of Elements and Dark Confidant are so much faster and less mana intensive. The late game, in which divining top really shines, won't be reached that often with this deck.

I've been able to acquire a Bazaar of Baghdad, so I have put in Crop Rotation and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in the deck as well. Discarding reanimation targets is really important, because in some cases there is no way to go around one specific card, if it's stuck on the hand.

The Birthing Pod combo has now more options when I'm not able to kill within one turn. Flametongue Kavu now replaces Notion Thief in the alternative cmc 4 slot because fetchable creature removal is often necessary (mostly to get rid of hatebears that stop my combos or fuck up my manabase like Magus of the Moon). I have recursion in the cmc 2 and 3 slots with Snapcaster Mage and Eternal Witness but I'm also testing Renegade Rallier instead of witness because it's probably better in the early game and it brings the cards directly into play (also Animate Dead or fetchlands)

Having a mana sink in the command zone and a deck with lots of reanimation plans makes me consider the use of the Worldgorger Dragon combo. Exhume could be replaced with Dance of the Dead and Mana Echoes with the dragon. Mana Echoes is a great combo piece with the commander but since I don't play Academy Rector anymore (it was in the deck in the very beginning when I played Aluren instead of Hulk) there's no way to get it into play directly and that means it's a 9 mana combo that has to be cast as it is. The dragon is riskier but it's also easier to pull off and does the same with Sliver Queen - produce an infinite mass of tokens. Having lands that can produce all colours (one Command Tower or duals that together contain every colour) also means I would be able to cast Sliver Queen with the combo.

In the last playtests with the current build I've been able to kill consistently (in games with 2, 3 and 4 players) between turns 2 and 4, often with backup plan and/or interaction. I'm really satisfied with the deck now but as written above, there's still room for discussion.

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100% Competitive

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Date added 5 months
Last updated 1 day

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.21
Tokens Dack, Jace, 1/1 Bird
Folders Reference, Pod decks, Interesting Commander Decks, Inspirace, Excellent Primer, possible future commanders, EDH, Copycats, Other Peoples Decks, ideckas, See all 14
Top rank #14 on 2017-10-16
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Revision 19 See all

1 day ago)

-1 Renegade Rallier main
+1 Renegade Rallier main
+1 Arbor Elf main
-1 Academy Rector main
+1 Swan Song main
-1 Pattern of Rebirth main
+1 Body Double main
+1 Eternal Witness main
-1 Elvish Mystic main
-1 Kataki, War's Wage main
+1 Meltdown maybe
-1 Swan Song maybe
+1 Crop Rotation maybe
-1 Eternal Witness maybe
+1 Kataki, War's Wage maybe