ASalesman here, trying to create the most competitive Unesh possible. It's debatably an optimized deck, but I think there is room for growth. I don't think Unesh can be a good cEDH commander (8-8.5 out of 10 TOPS), BUT lets see how far it gets! Overall, Unesh's power is severely limited compared to cEDH decks due to the themes that he naturally wants to build. He is a particularly good casual commander when built correctly, and above all he is really fun to play. Imagine a deck, that allows you to sift through your entire deck in one turn. With Unesh, this is a very real possibility. Imagine playing Spark Double as a copy of Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign , with Panharmonicon on the field. Then after that you play Sphinx of Uthuun . That lets you look at more than 1/4 of your deck by casting only one spell!! (At reduced cost I might add).

My goals for this guide:

  1. Maximize the power of Unesh
  2. Help new and returning players alike learn more about Unesh as a commander, mono blue decks, and the game as a whole
  3. Help others enjoy the game to the fullest by offering other budget/casual solutions for Unesh

The first mission of the deck is to play Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign quickly using ramp and make him stick. From there, utilize his strong abilities to out-value your opponents while holding answers for their plays. The main win con is by swinging with big buff sphinx's, and potentially utilize infinte turns. Atemsis, All-Seeing is an alternate wincon included. Unesh does two things really well, ramp (with cost reduction) and draw cards with his baby fact or fiction which I will refer to as BFOF.

Please help me settle some debates on card choices and feel free to offer other input!

  1. Is Force of Negation worth including in addition to the other zero CMC counters?
  2. Chrome Mox should be replaced by Mox Diamond maybe? I haven't made the leap to buy one yet. Should both be included?
  3. Shapesharer or Amoeboid Changeling or both? I think shapesharer might be more valuable, but I haven't tested it out yet.
  4. Is the Laboratory Maniac win con worth including? If it is I would probably also run a card draw cantrip or two, making the slots this wincon take up in the deck perhaps too cumbersome.
  5. What cards should come out for more mana rocks (if any)?
  6. What cards should come out for more counter spells (if any)?
  7. Temple of the False God , I hate having it in my opening hand usually. Can it be worth it to include?
  10. Rite of Replication , worth including or too slow?
  13. Should I include Jace, the Mind Sculptor or is he too clunky?

Please feel free to offer any other feedback!

EARLY GAME: The first few turns you want to spend ramping into Unesh, playing other small CMC cards whenever possible, not including your changelings. Cast boots, Thassa, God of the Sea to filter draws, Propaganda for aggro strats, hold up counterspells to prevent early combo wins, Kefnet's Monument to prevent problem cratures from untapping, Imprisoned in the Moon to entirely shut off another commander centered deck. Best case scenario, you can cast Unesh on your second turn, with one way to get a BFOF. If you do this, you will be FAR ahead of your opponents. Turn 3 is still good, and you will do that or turn 4 on average. You can enter mid game when Unesh is on the field.

MID GAME: Find ways to KEEP UNESH THERE. Use the boots, use counterspells to counter removal or boardwipes (unless a board wipe is preferrable), ramp enough to replay him, play other threats that require attention in addition to Unesh himself to confuse your opponents with more decisions they must consider, soulbond him with Deadeye Navigator , JUST KEEP HIM THERE YOU NEED HIM. Smart opponents will continue to remove Unesh because they will know your strategy revolves around Sphinxs trigerring his BFOFs. You want to be looking at as many cards of your deck as you can, while keeping your opponents' threats at bay with counter magic and removal.

LATE GAME: If you are lucky, you will have won before late game rolls around, because the deck usually just wins when Omniscience resolves, or you will have been able to chip enough damage away at your opponent. An opponent will on average die after only 10 sphinx attacks, not including lifegain decks. Mid and late game play style doesn't change much, you essentially want to be doing the same things. I would consider it to be late game if you're opponent is successfully stalling you out, in which case you have to scour your deck for specific cards to help you win. I would consider it late game if omniscience is exiled, requiring you to build your mana in other ways. I would consider it late game if Nexus of Fate and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth are exiled. This causes you to need to be much more careful of decking yourself, and perhaps an Atemsis, All-Seeing win is what you need.

  • At least 20% Sphinx: With card draw and one BFOF on your turn you are statistically likely to run in to at least one sphinx (including changlings and copy cards)
  • Heavyish Mana Curve: With all the mana reduction cards, it seems like its okay to run the big important sphinx's regardless of the slightly imbalanced curve. I have done a lot of testing though to reduce it to what it is currently while still adhering to the themes of the deck.
  • Cheaper Sphinxes: Universal Automaton is free with your commander on the table. Amoeboid Changeling is 1 blue with your only your commander down, and usually Jwar Isle Avenger will be too. Cheaper sphinxes are necessary to make the deck more reliable in the early to mid game. The more cards you see earlier, the better. Serra Sphinx is a personal choice I enjoy because I like that it has vigilance. It allows you to still chip away at someone while leaving a blocker. Serra Sphinx is easily replacable by another member of the tribe.
  • Basic Islands: I like these instead of snow-covered islands due to politics in multiplayer games. In a 1V1 game I would probably use my set of snow-covered islands to help with Extraplanar Lens
  • Anti-Control Choices: Cards like Cavern of Souls and Sphinx of the Final Word to bypass other pesky blue mages
  • Unblockable: Using Thassa, God of the Sea or Rogue's Passage you can continue to get damage in. Polymorphist's Jest and Cryptic Command could also help with this. If you need to utilize the Atemsis, All-Seeing wincon, then this unblockable effect can be imperative.
  • Tap 'em DOWN: Effects like on Guardian of Tazeem and Kefnet's Monument have been my saving grace early game. Keep your opponents big/important creatures tapped down to prevent early damage or prevent an enemy combo or value engine from taking off.
  • Instants vs. Sorceries: I like to minimize sorceries because I like playing at instant speed mostly
  • Speaking of Instants: Leyline of Anticipation lets me play everything at instant speed. When it's on the table it really makes your opponents have a hard time predicting your actions. As a blue player, information disparity between you and your opponents is paramount. An argument can be made for Vedalken Orrery instead, but I personally like Leyline for two reasons: It can start the game on the field for free. It adds to your blue devotion for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx . Including both will inevitably put a dead card in your hand.
  • Tech Cards: These niche cards can turn off enemy strategies, things like The Immortal Sun for planeswalkers, or Propaganda to throw a wrench in some combo decks, or Silent Gravestone for graveyard decks. These cards can be subbed in and out as you see fit. I will usually always keep propaganda in though to slow down aggro decks.
  • Enchantments with removal: Treachery and Imprisoned in the Moon are hard for some decks to deal with.
  • Quick Ramp: Ramping into Unesh is number one priority when you begin the game. This is the reason for inclusions such as Chrome Mox , Ancient Tomb , Mana Vault , etc.
  • Spells that untap lands: Treachery , Rewind , Frantic Search , for value with Nykthos and mana doublers. Even when Omniscience is down, you might need mana to trigger Deadeye Navigator and keep getting through your deck.
  • Both Boots: Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots used to keep our commander down as much as possible.
  • Play green when you play blue: Burnished Hart and Solemn Simulacrum put lands on the battlefield. This effect is highly underrated. This is especially true for blue, which to my knowledge can't do this with any other cards (If it can LET ME KNOW!). As stated below Nexus of Fate can Explore
  • Zero CMC Counterspells: A staple in any competitive deck, they will make your opponents think twice about doing crazy things even if you are I am still debating whether Force of Negation is worth it or not.
  • Shuffling the graveyard: Kozilek, Butcher of Truth is really only there to stop you from decking yourself. He is more versatile than something like Elixir of Immortality due to how BFOFs work. You don't care if Kozilek goes to your hand or the graveyard because you have ways to utilize his effect regardless. Elixir always has to put in your hand to make it useful, meaning a smart opponent will put it alone in its own BFOF pile. Using Elixir WILL reduce card flux into your hand. Every now and then casting Kozilek can save you by drawing you more cards when you have no other way to do so, and if Lightning Greaves is on the table you might as well utilize that Annhialator. Kozilek is way better than Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre for two reasons: Ulamog won't draw cards, Ulamog is indestructible making it harder to hit your graveyard after you cast him.
  • The Nexus: Nexus of Fate is just so good in the deck. Every now and then it gives another turn and basically allowing you to Explore , which is good enough for mono blue right there. Sometimes it can even let you play an additional spell you couldn't otherwise. Late in the game, its a win condition because you will be able to continuously put it back into your hand. The amount of mana you will be able to generate late game (or using Omniscience ) you will deterministically be able to get it back on every extra turn, allowing you to take infinite turns. There are enough answers in the deck to get around any strategies when you have an infinite amount of turns.
  • Infinite Hand Size: Using Reliquary Tower or Thought Vessel used to be something to be wary of, because Kozilek won't shuffle your hand cards back in to your deck, making it easier for you to be decked. Throughout my analysis though, this hasn't been a problem since the addition of Nexus of Fate . This is because Nexus will always shuffle back into your deck after you use it. The only situations in which you lose with infinite hand size and Nexus of Fate is the only card that can be put back in the deck is if your opponent exiles it or makes you draw two cards at the same time (making you unable to respond with Nexus in between draws). In my experience, cases like this are EXTREMELY rare, having only been put into this situation once before after much playtesting. This makes me believe that using infinite hand size has a good reward to risk ratio.
  • Cyclonic Rift : IMHO any competitive deck running blue that doesn't run this card is messing up. The versatility is nice and its the closest thing that comes to a board wipe in this deck.
  • Deadeye Navigator : At first he seemd clunky to me, but the more I played the more I learned he is essential. He can save your commander from single target removal, get you more BFOFs with no sphinxs in your hand, and he has some interesting intereactions with other ETBs in the deck. For instance, I was able to get infinite turns in the mid game once by soulbonding him with Chancellor of the Spires . I would spend 2 mana to flicker the chancellor, getting a BFOF and casting Demonic Tutor from my opponent's graveyard. This searched me up Nexus of Fate , and I had the mana to cast it. Cycle this interaction again and again for infinite turns. Flickering Solemn Simulacrum for insane mana ramp can be good too.
  • Long-Term Plans : This card exists only as a second copy of Omniscience , because Unesh wins when omniscience resolves.
  • Sacrificing Card Advantage: This is good in Unesh, because he has his own card advantage built in. Using cards for mana such as Chrome Mox , and High Tide don't hurt Unesh as much as other commanders because he will recover the card advantage lost naturally. Due to Unesh's card advantage, card draw cantrips can be omitted which is not common for mono blue decks. This is another argument for why Mox Diamond should also be in the deck.

Most of the expensive cards in the deck can be replaced making the deck far more casual and far less expensive. The deck is weirdly competitive for the casual scene, so these changes might be very welcomed by the casual community. OBVIOUSLY the biggest money saver is buying non foil.


Updates Add


35% Casual

65% Competitive

Date added 1 year
Last updated 1 month

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.80
Tokens 2/2 Manifest
Folders EDH, Uncategorized, EDH Inspiration
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