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Vish Kal, The Sword in the Darkness [[Primer]]

Commander / EDH Battlecruiser Combo Reanimator W/B (Orzhov)



Watch Queen rock out to the OG Highlander theme song while reading this sick list

Main Deck Goals

So here we are, this Vish Kal deck is my favorite of my EDH decks and I have invested many hundreds of hours in playing and retooling it over the years. It's goals are fairly straightforward: get all the mana, get all the dudes, get ETB effects, keep your opponents off creatures, draw cards and make tokens from creatures dying, deny opponents the use of their own graveyards, and win via Bitter Ordeal + tons of dudes dying or via life drain with Blood Artist, Kokusho, the Evening Star, and Grey Merchant of Asphodel. Of course, there's always the old stand-by of pounding 21 General damage down somebody's throat with Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter wearing some sweet, shiny Lightning Greaves out of nowhere.

Some of the best combos aren't currently in the deck because they've been working too consistently and winning too frequently lately and I'd rather not always win with infinite combos so I've removed the most frequent offender/enabler, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed. It's a hard balance since almost all of the cards that are just good in this deck end up going infinite with 2 or 3 of the others. Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter just sort of goes infinite with a lot of cards.

Explanation for the exclusion of some typical graveyard abuse card choices

This deck is a little unique for black decks in that it actively doesn't want opponents to have access to their graveyards or even for their creatures to die. Ergo the avoidance of Massacre Wurm, Puppeteer Clique, Sepulchral Primordial, Bloodchief Ascension, etc. Through primarily Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet the idea is to keep opponents' creatures from dying at all, while constantly reanimating your own with Lifeline so all board wipes or Grave Pact effects become asymmetric board control. I want to add Leyline of the Void back in to assist with this graveyard hate theme maybe but haven't really figured out where to put it.

The Newest Tech

Plague of Vermin is the newest addition and one of my newest discoveries found on Tapped Out. I'm interested to see it play some politics and see if people get greedy or completely turn it down. Of course if I have Soul Warden out I can pay as much life as I want with impunity, gain it back and then abuse the 30-100 or so tokens I just got for the low low price of 7 mana. I want to put Abhorrent Overlord back in this deck eventually too as it has such a strong devotion theme and he is another great dude-generator like the plague but I haven't figured out where he would go either.

The cards in the sideboard are the cards I either want to slot in the most or cards I rotate in dependent on how degenerate the meta around me becomes.

Note on overall card choices and deck design

I am not personally interested in making the most expensive deck possible; I much prefer making interesting and novel decks (which I think this is in many respects). This deck has been a personal art project really from 2011-present and was one of my first decks ever. The cards in it are chosen as much for their beauty and art as they are for the themes and functions.



K34 says... #1

First, I would consider mainboarding that Thoughtpicker Witch. She's a serious threat to someone using a tutor like Worldly Tutor or Enlightened Tutor.

Second, why are your basic lands not foil? Everything else is, lol.

April 6, 2016 8:49 p.m.

yeah the deck has undergone some changes since I first posted this and I haven't gotten around to updating it on here yet. Thoughtpicker is definitely back in the mainboard and the basics aren't foil because that would be a few hundred dollars and unnecessary since I already have the actual basics that are shown in here. Maybe someday if I have nothing else to do with the $600 :)

April 10, 2016 11:32 p.m.

Citridon says... #3

To upload your custom commander, go to your "alters" and add him as a new alter. Then, find his alter code (it will be a=SomeNumber) add it next to your commander in asterisks, like the F you use for foil

August 16, 2016 9:29 a.m.

llRonin says... #4

Where did you commission your alter from? It looks amazing. Also, +1 for a well-made deck

August 19, 2016 12:46 a.m.

Thanks, why no actual upvote though? Are you having problems with the upvote button? A lot of people have been saying that lately and I'm wondering if there is a bug I should report to Tapped Out. The alter is a foil alter I made with some cool random art I found on Google. It's not painted over an actual Vish Kal unfortunately. Hopefully some day WotC will realize he needs to be reprinted in foil with this exact art :)

August 19, 2016 7:09 a.m.

endersblade says... #6

No Demonic Tutor? :-)

September 23, 2016 1:43 p.m.

Nope! I'm not interested in playing the optimal cards in every deck just because the colors enable it. I prefer to build for fun and flavor. Also, I like the 75% EDH ethos. Fun should be the goal of an EDH game, winning often ensues from that, but it's not necessary.

September 23, 2016 6:10 p.m.

Profet93 says... #8


You mention some of the best combos aren't in the deck. Would you be able to tell me what those combos are?

November 8, 2016 6:13 p.m.

Steaditup says... #9

I love decks like this. Nothing spike-y but tons of fun and personality. I've personally never seen a Vish Kal deck in action. Have you considered Aetherflux Reservoir? I don't know if your life total gets to be very high but a battlecruiser-y lifelinking general probably helps that along.

November 8, 2016 10:11 p.m.

Profet93 like I said in the description, Bitter Ordeal, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, Ashnod's Altar and Nim Deathmantle aren't currently in the deck. Mikaeus combos with Vish Kal to kill everybody's creatures or set up Bitter Ordeal or Blood Artist to kill everybody. Nim Deathmantle and Ashnod's Altar allow sacing dudes over and over for degenerate ETBs. There's no Triskelion because I despise the combo with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.

November 8, 2016 11:29 p.m.

Steaditup thanks a lot, I'm glad you enjoy the deck and cited those reasons. That's exactly how I like building decks: lots of personality and synergy. I have thought about the Reservoir but I don't think I really need it and lifegain isn't especially the goal of the deck. It's an interesting thought for sure.

November 8, 2016 11:31 p.m.

Awesome deck. +1. Love the tittle too.

November 10, 2016 2:49 p.m.
November 10, 2016 2:52 p.m.

Thank you

November 10, 2016 3:06 p.m.

Dpooser says... #16

Have you considered Gonti, Lord of Luxury? I run him in my ayli deck and it's a lot of fun to steal stuff from people. We have similar deck lists, but mine focuses on life gain a bit more.

December 22, 2016 12:05 a.m.

Yeah I like him a lot and want to play him in more decks but there's already like 20 cards I want to fit in this deck that work with it more directly. I think I'll put him in my second deck when I build it.

December 22, 2016 12:14 a.m.

Blard says... #18

How do you add backgrounds? And also +1

December 26, 2016 9:26 p.m.

check out the comments on my deck Infernal Tribute to Rakdos. We discussed adding the backgrounds at length over there. Thanks for the affirmation and appreciation! :)

December 26, 2016 10:41 p.m.

I would 100% recommend mikaeus, he goes infinite with vish kal, works great in my edh deck. +1 upvote

also, what's up with your commander? is it an alter?

December 31, 2016 6:40 p.m.

captainawesome3 You may have missed in the description where I mentioned the combo with Mikaeus in passing. Of course I know how it works but as I've discussed in the description and comments, this deck goes infinite too many ways too often for my taste. I am not the kind of deckbuilder who seeks infinite combos or enjoys winning that way in particular. Besides being repetitive, it leaves a bad taste in your opponents' mouths since it is basically uninterruptible except with Sudden Spoiling.

My general is a proxy I made on a decal that I laid over a de-inked foil. All of my generals are pimped, usually just by being foiled but since no foil Vish Kal exists, I made my own. Thanks for the upvote and discussion; I'm updating the decklist right now with a bunch of changes actually as I'm always tooling around with this deck.

December 31, 2016 7:50 p.m.

Also, captainawesome3 if you meant to upvote (which I very much appreciate), you don't appear to have clicked the button yet. Thanks again.

December 31, 2016 8:10 p.m.

chirz2792 says... #23

+1 for an awesome deck. Never actually read vish kal before this. He seems powerful.

January 1, 2017 2:15 p.m.

Thanks! Yeah he's incredible and very underrated/ignored unfortunately. IMO he's the most powerful creature ever created.

January 1, 2017 2:54 p.m.

chirz2792 says... #25

@EternalBrewmaster: He looks like it. I might have to find room for him in my teneb deck.

January 1, 2017 10:20 p.m.

Yeah he's sick in Teneb and any deck that wants dudes in the yard. He's also just gas in deck that want +1/+1 counters on your stuff.

January 1, 2017 10:24 p.m.

Hey, um, it's nightcrawler22 from that game we just played? I wanted to say thanks for the help and that this deck is awesome! Sorry I couldn't say it earlier but my computer decided to crash right after the game :/ Anyway, thanks and I'll do your deck justice in my future EDH endeavors!

January 2, 2017 12:40 p.m.

Haha, I'm glad I was able to help! Best of luck and if you make your version tag me in the description so I can see it.

January 2, 2017 12:46 p.m.

I was thinking about converting it to a Standard deck so I personally can get more enjoyment out of it, but yeah sure I'll give it a whirl!

January 2, 2017 4:40 p.m.

Ajuntoson says... #30

Have you ever considered Athreos, God of Passage? He would provide a way to drain your opponents life, as people rarely want your cards coming back.

January 7, 2017 9:50 a.m.

Yeah I tried him for a while but giving people the option to put them back in my hand is bad because if I want to reanimate them then I can't. He's generally a bad card for EDH because he gives the control over your strategy to your opponents.

January 7, 2017 11:10 a.m.

Ajuntoson says... #32

I guess that would be bad. I usually don't worry about giving my opponents options because I use nekusar as my commander, but I see how that can backfire.

January 7, 2017 12:53 p.m.

Lol Nekusar can be really brutal and you give your opponents tons of options via extra cards but they usually die too fast for it to matter. As you can see, I have decks built in every color combination possible almost so I dabble in lots of different strategies.

January 7, 2017 1:11 p.m.

The_Angry_Man says... #34

EternalBrewmaster - excellent deck! +1

February 20, 2017 6:52 p.m.

Thanks dude! How'd you find it? Just looking for Vish kal decks?

February 20, 2017 7:23 p.m.

Ajuntoson says... #36

I've been thinking, have you ever considered Sword of Vengeance or other effects that give trample?

February 21, 2017 5:10 p.m.

Sure, but I don't like attacking or winning via the combat step and I hate the art on Sword of Vengeance so I don't play it. It's much easier to win in interesting ways that don't involve attacking, which is why I recently removed Lightning Greaves too. I'd rather use Vish Kal as a sac outlet to abuse and remove creatures than just to attack with.

February 21, 2017 5:35 p.m.

Ajuntoson says... #38

Fair enough, I just figured he could get really big really quick. I personally never attack when I play EDH, so I know that feeling.

February 21, 2017 7:01 p.m.

Oh yeah he can get gigantic instantly, but the art on SoV is just too terrible. Nice to hear somebody else also doesn't like attacking.

February 21, 2017 7:10 p.m.

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