Commander change: Ramos ==> Najeela

With Battlebond I change the commander from Ramos to Najeela, the Blade-Blossom. Finally a 5c commander that actually does something for THIS deck.

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. So, why even use a 5c commander, of which almost none are really helping a deck from the command zone?

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. The cmc 3 untapper is Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, who can not combo with Kiki-Jiki, but that is irrelevant for the pod line.
Birthing Pod needs to be in play, then follow these steps:
1. sacrifice any creature with cmc 2, search for Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, untap Birthing Pod
2. sacrifice Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, 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.

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, 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 Body Double and Carrion Feeder
  2. hold priority and sacrifice Body Double which is protean hulk
  3. get Karmic Guide
  4. reanimate Hulk with Karmic guide, sac Hulk and get 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...

Anti-totem-line: Needs in pool

  1. Spellseeker, Leonin Relic-Warder, Carrion Feeder
  2. ETB of Leonin Exiles cursed totem, Spellseeker finds Reanimate
  3. reanimate Hulk and proceed with the usual line

Anti-Linvala-line: same as above, needs in pool

  1. Spellseeker, Gilded Drake, Carrion Feeder
  2. Exchange Gilded Drake for the opponent's Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Spellseeker finds Reanimate
  3. reanimate Hulk and proceed with the usual line

Instant-Speed Kill:

  1. get Body Double and Carrion Feeder
  2. hold priority and sacrifice Body Double which is protean hulk
  3. get Karmic Guide
  4. reanimate Hulk with Karmic guide, sac Hulk and get Felidar Guardian and Blood Artist
  5. blink Karmic Guide with Felidar and bring Hulk back, then sac Hulk to get Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
  6. Use Kiki-Jiki to make Felidar tokens and sac them to kill with lifeloss from Blood Artist

Finally, it's fairly easy to assemble the Schrödinger'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 have to sac two mana dorks to search for flash and hulk, but it's possible to kill with only one creature by using Life to turn all lands into creatures and LED with Eternal Witness for generating at least 5 mana. While I have the birthing pod/kiki-jiki tricks as the centerpiece of my deck, some of the razaketh lines other decks might use can be pulled off as well. Usually I will go for Life first and make all lands creatures. That's a very mana efficient way of using Razaketh and is very hard to disrupt because getting a counterspell at instant speed only requires sacking another creature.

The new commander Najeela, the Blade-Blossom has two functions in the deck. One is to provide a starting point for the birthing pod combo in the command zone, which is really cool compared to Ramos. I could use Ramos to pod into Hulk or use Eldritch Evolution to get Razaketh, but all that meant having to play that big Dragon first, which was possible but often not necessary unless I had already run completely out of gas or the table had been staxed out completely. The second function of the new commander is to provide an alternative win con by infinite combat phases without adding lots of additional and otherwise clunky cards to the deck. I exchanged Deceiver Exarch with Derevi to enable this alternative combo and I've also added Bloom Tender in order to generate the 5 colors needed to activate Najeela. Once I have 5 Colors produced by dorks I can go infinite without further cards, Derevi makes everything easier and Druids' Repository is another way to get infinite combat phases. We will see decks popping up that focus completely on that combat combo but whatever is done there is definitely slower than having hulk and pod as plan A.

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/Druids' Repository.
  • 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 of the 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. Najeela offers a win con without using the graveyard though, so it's not as bad as with Ramos as the commander.
  • 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/Meltdown.

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).

01.02.18: Dack Fayden and Ancient Grudge out, Meltdown and Crop Rotation in. Meltdown hits more relevant artifacts at once, stealing an artifact while putting Dack on 1 is usually not worth 1UR in multiplayer but awesome in 2 Player Matches...and the loot from Dack is replaced by Crop Rotation, which can get Bazaar or Cephalid Coliseum and also Cradle if that's needed more. Updated the deck description to fit all the other changes since the last update. Pod has become a better engine for finding answers and setting up a kill in the current build, Combo pieces have been reduced to those that work both with hulk and pod and/or function as disruption as well. The already available razaketh has recieved an upgrade with Life/Death (instead of Exhume) and LED to be able to kill with one remaining green mana and 3 (tapped) lands in play. Overall quite satisfied with the deck, also with choosing Ramos as the commander...until there's a better 5c commander, the fast growing Dragon with a potential huge mana boost is a nice backup for the deck, especially in stax/Control matchups.

27.02.18: exchanged abrupt decay with Quasali pridemage because I usually don't want to keep mana open for responses but rather jam the creature on curve and activate it when needed - also a starting point for the pod combo. Cut renegade rallier for Priest of Titania because renegade, while being good at recovering lost pieces and even enabling different hulk lines, is too much of a late game plan and with hulk, pod and razaketh there are already numerous ways to play around lost pieces. Added Dismember because sometimes there are creatures that gilded drake doesn't handle, stuff that needs to be gone, no matter who controls it. The draw slots have been changed from brainstorm and crop rotation (into bazaar) to Skullclamp and Careful Study because I find myself more often in need of digging deeper with draw/discard than top sorting or shuffling something back. Skullclamp turns the dorks into gas when needed, but it seems I have completely overlooked that card in the context of my deck in the past.

20.03.18: trying out mental misstep and brainstorm instead of eledamri's call and jin-gitaxias. the deck has already a lot of different win options and while jin is a top entomb/reanimate target on an empty board, razaketh can also win with 1 other creature G in pool and 2 lands so he will be the primary target for entomb. On the other Hand, having an additional free counter makes all Razaketh lines better protected. Exchanging Eladamri's call for brainstorm will be tested because I sometimes feel like the tutor for two specific coloured mana doesn't fit well in the turns in which I'd like to play it. Also trying out Tarnished Citadel instead of Ancient tomb because more coloured mana is often more important than 2 colourless. replaced dismember with pact of Negation because actually there aren't that many creatures that drake doesn't handle but pact protects the combo turns better, especially with Razaketh.

06.06.18: Switched the commander from Ramos to Najeela and had first real life games after the change. 2 wins in a row, one with pod and one with necomancy hulk, solid interaction and fast setup. Moved the Notion Thief/Wheel package to the maybeboard and replaced it with Tymna, Mindblade Render, Skullclamp, Grim Flayer. Cmc 4 alternative slot for pod is now Body Snatcher. This makes draw/discard more in line with Najeela as the backup plan because two of these are even warriors and the others profit from tokens and attacking multiple players at once. Removed discard outlets Faithless Looting and JVP and kept Bazaar in the paper deck (in this list it had been removed for a while). Added Jin again because with the whole lot of draw/discard/reanimate going on here after the thief wheel package exchange the argument against him doesn't feel that strong anymore. Loyal Retainers have a lot more legends to work with now, so the card becomes more threatening and isn't only useful for getting Razaketh out. Also switched Qasali Pridemage with Fire Covenant because Najeela likes to have a clear board to attack and Spellseeker can find my Meltdown and Nature's Claim so it's essentially a possible artifact/enchantment removal packed on a creature too. Mana Drain was cut because UU is too often not available and keeping that open just in case is even harder. So, the change with Najeela was something like 7 cards in total but none of these were part of the deck's core, only draw/discard/disruption pieces have been changed.


Updates Add

Since I've switched to Najeela as the commander I've had a good time playing the deck, also more and easier wins because the commander actually helped a lot in keeping up pressure on staxed out tables. Switching between fastcombo and combat based value, for example with Edric, is really smooth and fits my rather agressive playstyle. However, I've tried to question some Slots that I have thought of as impossible to remove...the deck has changed with the commander being relevant and so might have the importance of certain cards.

One card I have removed for testing at the moment is Body Double. With Academy Rector filling the alternative cmc 4 slot for pod (instead of thief) there is another possible hulk line with rector and Animate Dead/Necromancy that could end directly in the Schrödinger's Cat Loop. With that in mind I have added Renegade Rallier instead of Body double, because it can be cast easier outside of hulk lines and post hulk it fulfills almost the same role. The only thing it can't do is the replacement in the pod line, but from the past experiences with the deck I'd say I don't need to force the pod line up to cmc 5 when it's clear that Karmic Guide is not in the library for some reason. I'd much rather stop at 3 and go for Najeela/Derevi if the pod is what I have to use for assembling a win.

The other changes I'm trying are Dack Fayden instead of Bazaar of Baghdad and Silence instead of the additional backup combo with Druids' Repository. In the past I had Dack AND Bazaar in the deck and more looting in general. There is still the need to discard certain creatures but often I can do that with Survival of the Fittest, Cephalid Coliseum, even Lion's Eye Diamond sometimes. For Bazaar to be used multiple times there has to be another strong draw engine already in play or the hand is emptied very fast. The upside of Bazaar being free and uncounterable is also great but with a rather creature heavy deck I think Dack might provide more flexibility (because he can be protected easier and he isn't negative carddraw). Replacing Repository with another protection/interaction piece is just a test to see how moving from more redundancy to more protection would work. Najeela has already proven to be lethal without going infinite and Derevi should be enough as a backup combo (and it's already needed for the pod line, so it's a double function in one slot).

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Date added 10 months
Last updated 6 days

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 1.97
Tokens 1/1 Warrior, Dack, 1/1 Bird
Folders Reference, Pod decks, Interesting Commander Decks, Inspirace, Excellent Primer, possible future commanders, EDH, Other Peoples Decks, ideckas, Uncategorized, See all 30
Top rank #7 on 2018-06-04
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Revision 40 See all

6 days ago)

-1 Body Double main
+1 Fire Covenant main
+1 Dack Fayden main
+1 Noxious Revival main
-1 Druids' RepositoryFR main
-1 Fire Covenant main
-1 Bazaar of Baghdad main
-1 Noxious Revival main
+1 Renegade Rallier main
+1 Silence main
-1 Windfall maybe
+1 Bazaar of Baghdad maybe
-1 Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur maybe
-1 Wheel of FortuneDE maybe
+1 Druids' RepositoryFR maybe
-1 Body Snatcher maybe
-1 By Force maybe
-1 Notion Thief maybe
-1 Timetwister maybe
-1 Mana Drain maybe