pie chart

Toxic Relationship: Hapatra EDH | *PRIMER*

Commander / EDH BG (Golgari) Combo Counters Stax Tempo Tokens




This deck abuses -1/-1 counters for fun and profit: it's a token/stax deck, killing and maiming your opponents' creatures, with many possible combo kills thrown into the mix for good measure.

Hapatra's first ability is very relevant, surprisingly. You can take advantage of the fact that most tables will have at least one player without a creature on Turn 3, so you can usually swing to kill small utility creatures and get snakes. My favorite target to murder is Dark Confidant, hehe. Riding the Dilu Horse is a good way to guarantee you will be able to connect with her every turn.

But her second ability is the reason to build around her. Spells like Black Sun's Zenith give disgusting value here: when you kill the board, you retain an army of deathtouching snakes! The snakes work equally well as attackers or defenders - deathtouch is a powerful ability on expendable creatures. It's also ludicrously easy to get more than 20 snakes, sac them for mana/cards, then win.

There are four major infinite combos (detailed below), which can yield many early wins. If the combos fail, for whatever reason, the deck can easily transition to being a stax build (with Smokestack, Mind Slash, etc) and/or classic beatdown (with Eldrazi Monument, Triumph of the Hordes, Craterhoof Behemoth, etc).

There are five main infinite combos in this deck:

-- Blowfly Infestation + Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is the most well-known combo. It gives infinite token ETBs, infinite counter placement, and infinite death triggers (as long as you have two snakes when you begin the combo). With this combo working, Nest of Scarabs gives infinite creatures, Blood Artist/Obelisk Spider gives infinite life loss, et cetera. (Be aware that this first combo does not work with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed on the field, unless you also control a free sac outlet like Ashnod's Altar or Sadistic Hypnotist.)

-- Devoted Druid + Quillspike creates infinite power, even without your commander. Paired with Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons or Nest of Scarabs, it also gives an infinite number of snakes, and paired with Obelisk Spider, it gives infinite life loss! Both pieces of this combo can be fetched with Protean Hulk (thanks for unbanning that, Sheldon!) along with Sylvan Safekeeper to protect the combo from spot removal.

-- Devoted Druid + Mikaeus, the Unhallowed gives infinite death triggers and infinite -1 counter placement. With Obelisk Spider or Blood Artist, this causes your opponents to lose infinite life. Paired with Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons or Nest of Scarabs, this creates infinite tokens. Paired with Lightning Greaves or Ashnod's Altar, this also creates infinite mana.

-- Devoted Druid + Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons + Ivy Lane Denizen generates infinite green mana and infinite snakes. I discovered this combo by accident, heh. Unlike the other combos, Nest of Scarabs does not work as a replacement for Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons here. This is my default combo to fetch with Protean Hulk, as it generates immediate snakes without waiting for summoning sickness to wear off.

-- Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + any creature that ETBs with a -1 counter on it + any free sac outlet (such as Sadistic Hypnotist) goes infinite without needing your commander. This combo is handy when other combos have been disrupted, or when Hapatra has been somehow neutralized, although it tends to be a backup plan (as it requires 3 non-commander pieces, and a lot of mana).

Also, while not strictly infinite, Earthcraft + Survival of the Fittest + Archfiend of Ifnir creates a gigantic number of snakes, equal to the product of the number of creatures in your deck multiplied by the number of creatures your opponents' control.

Your best mass distributors for -1 counters are Harbinger of Night, Midnight Banshee, Soul Snuffers, and Black Sun's Zenith. They will put counters on your snakes too, but your snakes will return if you control Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons (or Nest of Scarabs). Functionally, Harbinger of Night acts like casting Deploy to the Front each turn! Archfiend of Ifnir can fulfill this role as well, although it tends to be cycled away unless it was fetched with Survival of the Fittest.

I've frequently netted more than 60 deathtouching snakes by doing this. Just try to ensure Hapatra has a way to survive the global counter placement, such as Ivy Lane Denizen or Defiant Greatmaw.

Earthcraft is one of the most integral cards in the deck. It creates what I personally call a "chaining effect", where many spells will generate more mana than they cost (analogous to casting spells while controlling a Paradox Engine). If you create snakes with some -1 counter placement effect, they can be immediately tapped to untap your lands and continue casting further spells.

Generous Patron is our only addition from Battlebond, but hoooooly mother of god, that card is good. She frequently will draw 5+ cards per turn, and nearly always draws 2 cards upon ETBing. She's an extremely good tutor when you simply need to refill your hand.

Natural Order (and similar effects) frequently grab Protean Hulk T4 or earlier. This can be enough to close out a game alone against an unprepared opponent.

Smokestack is of course one of the most vicious stax cards ever printed. You should have many expendable snakes to sacrifice, while your opponents lose more vital cards. Just don't forget to use it in the right way: sacrifice then increment the counters, so that you sacrifice less permanents than your opponent. Meanwhile, if a creature has even one counter on it, Vhati il-Dal can kill it - even if it's indestructible! Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre cannot stand up the power of Hapatra's poisons, muahahaha! These were both recently cut from the deck, but are still viable swaps if you want to go a bit more stax-y with the list.

Triumph of the Hordes forces your opponents into a sadistic choice: if they block, you get more snakes because the infecting creatures deal combat damage in the form of -1 counters. If they choose not to block, even five snakes can prove deadly.

Ulvenwald Tracker is one of the most powerful creatures in this deck. It allows your snakes to Murder almost any threat on the field at instant speed - it's a powerful incentive for your opponents not to attack or mess with you.

Most of the tutors in this deck grab creatures. And while a large portion of the strategy in the deck is learning to tutor for the right thing at the right time, here's a rough outline:

Defense of the Heart usually tutors for Protean Hulk and Sadistic Hypnotist. This does leave a very brief gap for your Protean Hulk to be Path to Exile'd, though. You could include Viscera Seer in the list to remove that possibility, if you're worried. Or you could tutor for Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Devoted Druid to go infinite immediately, as long as you control your commander.

Natural Order also usually grabs Protean Hulk, but it can also grab your other combo piece directly or just a useful creature at the time. Eldritch Evolution, Chord of Calling, and Worldly Tutor usually vary heavily based on board state.

Protean Hulk, in turn, usually tutors for Devoted Druid, Quillspike, and Sylvan Safekeeper. Unfortunately there are not any 1-mana creatures that can give haste in Golgari colors, but Sylvan Safekeeper can protect the combo pieces against spot removal. The other major Protean Hulk combo is to grab Devoted Druid and Ivy Lane Denizen. This combo trades protection (no shroud) for speed (can ignore summoning sickness).

Survival of the Fittest deserves its own section. This deck has a lower creature count than Survival would want, but it's still an absolutely vicious card. If you want to play a bit more of a long-game, you can tutor for Meren of Clan Nel Toth to guarantee you have a card in hand to discard every turn to continue tutoring with Survival. If you need more snakes, Survival of the Fittest pairs beautifully with Archfiend of Ifnir, letting you generate obscene amounts of snakes without even affecting your own creatures. Finally, you can obviously tutor for whatever combo or aggro creature you need at a given moment in time. Don't forget that you can reanimate the creatures you discard using Reanimate, Atzal, Cave of Eternity, Victimize, etc - tutoring for a Craterhoof Behemoth, discarding it, and reanimating it is an easy trick to murder an unsuspecting opponent.

And your non-creature tutors will usually grab Blowfly Infestation for the one-card combo with Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, of course. Just remember that you need to start with two snakes to execute this combo, although killing your opponents' 1-toughness creatures can do the trick...

There are some other tutors I used to run, which I'm listing here for posterity. Uncage the Menagerie was cut from the deck, but it's still a budget option. It's heavily dependent on context - if you control Quillspike, X=2 can grab Devoted Druid + Blood Artist. If you control Devoted Druid, X=3 can grab Obelisk Spider + Quillspike + Necroskitter. If you are in the late-game and cannot combo for whatever reason, X=4 grabs Ivy Lane Denizen + Soul Snuffers + Meren of Clan Nel Toth + Vhati il-Dal for a more long-game token approach. If you include Birthing Pod in the deck, it almost always goes for Ulvenwald Tracker first - after all, he does basically read ", : Murder" when paired with a snake token. After that point, it can tutor for several options, but most often hits Devoted Druid.

This deck thrives in a "mixed meta" - as in, where at least one player has very few creatures (so you can connect with Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons) and at least one player has many creatures (so that you have targets to put -1 counters on).

These are not insurmountable challenges - if all of your opponents have creatures, you can rely on cards other than Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons to place -1 counters. If none of your opponents have creatures, you can place counters on your own creatures without harming your gameplan TOO much - indeed, your infinite combos rely on doing so. They just tend to slow down the deck's tempo.

The deck is geared very much towards multiplayer (simply because more creatures = more -1 counters from global effects like Black Sun's Zenith). However, if playing in 1v1, the best plan is to prioritize stax cards against a controlling opponent, and early "rattlesnake" blockers against aggro decks.

Against a control deck, your combos will usually be disrupted. If you control Mind Slash or Sadistic Hypnotist, you can empty their hand before comboing. If this is not feasible, you can force them to waste their counterspells on your combo pieces, then push for a win through a token-aggro approach.

As is typical for me, I started building this about 2 minutes after she was first spoiled, so this is likely the oldest Hapatra deck on the internet! :)

What remaining cards would you add/cut?

Now exists as a (slightly untuned) $25 budget deck! Check it out!

$25 Extreme Budget Hapatra EDH

Commander / EDH Daedalus19876


Like the God-Pharoah, I shall return - Give an upvote if you like the deck!

...to support the Snake Revolution!


Updates Add

I had some time to mess with this deck (and some spare cash), so I revamped a lot of things. Overall changes were as follow:

Removing Song of the Dryads, Grim Poppet, Sylvan Safekeeper, Helm of Possession, Serrated Arrows, Smokestack, Evolving Wilds, and Hissing Quagmire in favor of adding Chrome Mox, Earthcraft, Survival of the Fittest, Archfiend of Ifnir, Reanimate, Demonic Tutor, Dismember, and Chord of Calling.

With a change this large, I'll have to do quite a bit of testing before I'm confident in the deck, but I'd appreciate your thoughts! Anything else I've missed that's worth adding?

Comments View Archive

Compare to inventory
Date added 1 year
Last updated 4 days
Key combos

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.96
Tokens 0/1 Insect, 1/1 Spirit, 0/1 Plant, 3/3 Beast, 1/1 Snake, 1/1 City's Blessing, Experience
Folders commander, Favorites, Other Hapatra Decks, Favorites, Commander, Not My Decks, interesting ideas, blablabla, EDH Decks to Build, favorites, See all 155
Top rank #1 on 2017-04-12
Ignored suggestions
Shared with

Revision 56 See all

4 days ago)

-1 Skullclamp main
+1 Forest main
+1 Skullclamp main
-1 Pendelhaven main