Breaking Carnival of Souls

Commander Deck Help forum

Posted on Feb. 26, 2019, 8:41 p.m. by Mj3913

Reference: Carnival of Souls

Google has failed me in producing anything dazzling. Seen this card today and it has my brewing motor going. Question is, how do we break it?

Colors/Commander thus far are not decided, save Black for the obvious reason. But let's break down the card:

First, A creature must enter the battlefield (ETB) under our control. This costs us 1 life and generates . Given that our life is limited we need to also gain 1+ life per creature ETB. After that we need to decide what to do with the mana. Then we have to repeat... using as little cards as possible.

Gaining Life: Top of head is Soul Sisters like Soul Warden (Enter stage right, and/or added to our non existant commander identity).

Using the : Having more than 1 color means we can use it as . Every color has some sort of spell that could potentially end games, so skies the limit. Shade creatures (like dragons breath only black) maybe?

On Repeat: First thing that comes to mind is Persist Kitchen Finks . However I wonder if there are any cards that say something like "whenever you lose/gain life, create a ~ creature token"? Or an ability with a / cost maybe? Back to persist though, it would require a sacrifice like Ashnod's Altar , which would add more mana. And if creatures are going to die repeatedly... aristocrats? Or are we getting too busy?

So how do we squeeze this into one deck and make it show up regularly. Well Black has many tutors, white has ways of finding enchantments, green can retrieve them from the yard... Abzan? Add a 4th? Sorry if this seems all over the place, been awhile working on this intermittently... anyway, have fun. Look forward to seeing what ideas the hive mind has.

Stardragon says... #2

Mj3913 i can't help you much other than this link it should give you ideas on how you want to build it

February 26, 2019 8:48 p.m.

Hamroids says... #3

Ghave, Lord of the Swamp Leeches

Commander / EDH* goldlion


I was actually just looking at this deck here by goldlion that makes awesome use of this card, and even lists it first among his all-star cards in the deck. Plus it looks to be a lot of fun, to boot. Definitely give that a looking through.

February 26, 2019 8:48 p.m.

Joe_Ken_ says... #4

How about with Teysa Karlov and any token producer on death like Seraph of the Scales or Hangarback Walker then with your sac outlet of Ashnod's Altar then you would get 4 colorless mana (doubling the colorless from Teysa's effect) from the sac and 1 black mana for each token entering the battlefield.

February 26, 2019 8:50 p.m.

Carnival of Souls is truly devastating with Donate .

February 26, 2019 8:56 p.m.

Joe_Ken_ says... #6

Also in a white black deck you could use Soul Warden , Healer of the Pride , Auriok Champion , and Ajani's Welcome so this enchantment won't just kill you from all the creatures you want entering the battlefield. Also remember to add Gray Merchant of Asphodel so you can gain a ton of life in a single burst.

February 26, 2019 8:57 p.m.

Joe_Ken_ says... #7

As for X cost spells for this that would spiral out of control I would suggest Torment of Hailfire and Exsanguinate for black and white you could do Sanguine Sacrament to regain some of that life you lost and Debt to the Deathless doing the same as Exsanguinate but a little more costly and being doubled.

February 26, 2019 9:03 p.m.

goldlion says... #8

This conversation is great to see. I agree, it’s an untapped card (heh heh) and it was fun playing around with it in the deck Hamroids linked to above. This was more of a janky flavour version I built, but I want to do a cEDH version with the altars and cards like Torment of Hailfire and Exsanguinate . Drain Life is the version I used, a card I found in a free box but which works fantastic in here as a single target removal for both creature or opponent. I did throw in Sanguine Sacrament like Joe_Ken_ mentioned, especially for response to an opponent playing a bunch of tokens, but also Suffer the Past , for the same reason and as a response to graveyard tricks by opponents.

It was great to see your thought process leading to Abzan as the colours. Ghave is the king for breaking Carnival of Souls because he has both sacrifice and creature production built on board, both for the magical cost of one.

How about I get started on the cEDH version of what I did then get you guys on board for focusing it on breaking the carnival?

February 26, 2019 9:37 p.m. Edited.

goldlion says... #9

Oh! Adding Auriok Champion , I think! While a two colour cast in a low mana curve 3 colour deck may not be best, I think the protection from two big removal colours is fantastic! Though I guess you couldn’t then target him with Ghaves ability (which you don’t need to in most cases, but..)

February 26, 2019 9:42 p.m. Edited.

Cloudius says... #10

Off the top of my head, the loops I can think of requires at least 4 cards.

Gutless Ghoul as a sacrifice outlet and to sink the generated.

Puppeteer Clique for its Persist ability and to recur a utility creature from opponent's graveyard.

Lastly something to counter the - 1/-1 effect from Persist. Several comes to mind Sage of Fables , Metallic Mimic , Rhythm of the Wild , etc.

This loop will grant you Infinite life. Other interactions depends on the creatures in your opponents ' graveyard.

I'll come back when I've more eureka moments. Cheers.

February 26, 2019 9:47 p.m.

bushido_man96 says... #11

Carnival of Souls , played in Golgari, with Aluren , Endless Cockroaches , and any sac outlet you want. until you die.

February 26, 2019 10:10 p.m.

goldlion says... #12

Elenda, the Dusk Rose + Ghave, Guru of Spores + Elvish Farmer + Carnival of Souls is infinite swamp. Any blood artist type card or Aetherflux Reservoir ... Or with Blade of the Bloodchief or Sadistic Glee on one of the creatures you can get Elenda to infinite size, sac her and make infinite swamps

I’ve got Teysa Karlov and so much other synergy in the deck, it’s really fun to play. With the above cards mentioned I want to add so much more, like Workhorse for example. But then you look at cards like Cathars' Crusade (with hangarback walker!) or Pitiless Plunderer to fuel the token creation, there’s so many options..

I like the idea of giving it to someone else before making a million creatures :D. “Who wants infinite mana?!?”

Geralf's Messenger with Ashnods Altar and Ghave is a wincon that can produce infinite ... though everyone would be dead already. Unless they had a platinum angel, though Karlov of the Ghost Council would settle that.

There’s great potential in combination with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed as well.

February 26, 2019 10:25 p.m. Edited.

goldlion says... #13

Holy, bushido_man96... Aluren is wild! I’m running almost all creatures 3 and under then have Phyrexian Reclamation and was looking at adding Athreos, God of Passage into my cEDH version. I’ve played a game where I had Dark Prophecy and Viscera Seer plus Teysa Karlov on the battlefield... in a deck with 33 low cmc creatures... this is nuts! Gold nuts!

February 26, 2019 10:36 p.m. Edited.

Cloudius says... #14

Athreos, God of Passage looks like a good card to interact with Carnival. Just have to see how to incorporate into my existing deck below and break it further!

Recurring Nightmare

Commander / EDH Cloudius


Simply loves brainstorming. Cheers!

February 26, 2019 10:41 p.m.

Mj3913 says... #15

Amazing ideas folks, keep em' comin'. The only thing I've managed to come up with my sleep deprived/baby addled brain is a nifty name "Carnival of SoulCats" (tm). Given we use all the elements in the OP... but we aren't done yet. More slots to fill and brilliant ideas to see.

To add to our quest though: once things are set up, how shall we keep it that way? Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker as a secret commander of sorts? Seeing as a majority of our creatures would be weenies essentially. Restore effects can get carnival back, though a way to go yard -> field would be better.

Something to think about, Caio for now. La la land awaits.

February 26, 2019 10:43 p.m.

bushido_man96 says... #16

Get Carnival of Souls from the 'yard to the 'field? Muldrotha, the Gravetide as commander.

February 26, 2019 11:05 p.m.

SMASHER101 says... #17

I would say a token strategy. Don't forget Auriok Champion .

February 26, 2019 11:34 p.m.

How about Bloodbond March with lots of Shadowborn Apostle ? Maybe adding in Aetherflux Reservoir , Bontu's Monument and Krav, the Unredeemed ? Your commander could be Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord to throw the fat krav into opposing faces.

February 27, 2019 2:22 a.m.

goldlion says... #19

I like the shadow born apostle idea. Seeing as how there’ll be an Essence Warden out for all the life triggers, a Wall of Limbs could be added as well. It’s worked great in the current Ghave version and in conjunction with Jared, it becomes far better than its current ability, but at least there's a backup ability if Jared's not on the field.

Going off the Krav and Wall of Limbs idea: I’ve got a Kresh the Bloodbraided deck where I use giant kresh to kill people with Dying Wish and Jarad effects. However, I have another where I turn him into many small creatures (for Impact Tremors effects) which I then sac back into big creatures ( Carrion Feeder or Skullmulcher for Blood Artist effects) something that could be an interesting direction with Carnival and the creature etb triggers for into Exsanguinate or swampy tricks.

Korozda Guildmage is an example, but there's a handful of others I've found, though Carrion , Ghoulcaller Gisa and Fungal Sprouting would be the added choices for a Golgari deck.

Here's the deck for ideas/conversation's sake - you all will be the first to see it. It wasn't ready to go public cause I'm editing up the flavour story still and need to balance it a bit more for consistency... It's got a side mill strategy but mainly kills through ''growth and decay'' (hence the name). I think it could inform a strong take on a Carnival version, related to the style seshiro_of_the_orochi is hinting at. I'd add carnival to it actually, if I didn't have to remove much of the synergy the deck needs for the Essence Warden and other life gain effects.

Kresh, Guru of Entropy

Commander / EDH* goldlion


February 27, 2019 12:05 p.m. Edited.

goldlion says... #20

Another card to add to make use of all that and lifegain is something Cloudius runs in their Athreos deck (posted above): Crypt Rats

February 27, 2019 12:12 p.m. Edited.

Mj3913 says... #21

All good suggestions, but we've run up to 5c now. Will take a bit to work something up but I'll post it when it's ready, or an update when I have a firm grasp of the commander/colors. Dont let that stop ya's though, I'm sure there's still some hidden gems out there. Oh and don't hold your breath waiting on the build... I'll pick at it when I am allowed the time.

February 27, 2019 4:23 p.m.

Mj3913 says... #22

Were we to "go wide" with tokens, should a sub theme be included to support p/t growth or dwindle the p/t of the opposition? Or do we forget about it all together and focus on the sacrifice aspect? Other ideas welcome here as well.

February 27, 2019 6:16 p.m.

goldlion says... #23

When it comes to building decks for my meta, I avoid Grave Pact abilities in token decks... in this however, it’d be broken :). Dictate of Erebos would work great cause we could flash it partwAy through a cycle using the swamps.

February 27, 2019 6:47 p.m.

Mj3913 says... #24

So after a little more exploring I'm further stuck on colors. Here's why: We can establish is neccessary for Soulsisters, Aristocrats, and our center piece Carnival of Souls , so do we stick with that or add a 3rd color. My initial thought process was green for the additional sisters and gy retrieval. Green also is the key color of ramp. However, I've come to realize the potential of other colors.

Sticking with there's way too may choices for a commander. Athreos, God of Passage , Teysa Karlov , Karlov of the Ghost Council , Elenda, the Dusk Rose , Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim and Krav/Regna (kinda stretches it, but an option nonetheless). Pick one, the rest I The 99 likely... that's if we don't want/need a 3rd color.

Onto , I'm sure we'd be running Ghave, Guru of Spores , Soulcats, tokens (spore focused?), ramp, recursion, alt win con incase they catch on to CoS plan?

Moving to , we could add things like Purphoros, God of the Forge and Impact Tremors to tie into the mass token creation/sacrifices. Partners Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder and Ravos, Soultender are the closest fit I could muster, though feels we'd have to add some other aggression for bruse's sake.

Lastly we have Blue. This adds a control element as well as more draw/dig options. Who to use other than the Soul Brother Oloro, Ageless Ascetic aka the first eminence commander. Fits the bill...

Well, that's all for now. Let me know what you think.

February 27, 2019 11:17 p.m.

goldlion says... #25

Great points! How about we explore a variety? Build a few versions?

I think the red one would be really fun, using some of the ideas already in that Kresh, Guru of Entropy deck and whatever else we can mastermind up.

seems like it has some pretty great potential. I love ClockworkSwordfish idea with Donate . Muldrotha could definitely be a fun commander there, though he's high cmc and doesn't have the . I wouldn't rule him out yet though. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic wins on flavour/synergy though.

And as for , I was already going to build the competitive version of my Ghave "Lord of Leaches" deck still focusing on Carnival of Souls . So, why don't I get that started and I'll invite you all to chime in? I already have a big card list for it and I can just compose the description to get the ideas thus far condensed and rolling.

Currently I feel the Aluren + Athreos, God of Passage is a great secondary focal point... I'm calling it "The Carousel" combo because

  1. the carousel is everyone's favourite ride at the carnival (flavour win!), and
  2. with one opponent low enough in life (from a Tree of Perdition for example), we can target them with Athreos triggers to cycle creatures battlefield to hand to battlefield, around and around triggering Carnival and all the other enter/exit the battlefield triggers.

It gets nuts when you think about having something like a Dark Prophecy out! Draw your deck and cast all your creatures... For free. I have a few other ideas with it.

What does everyone think?

February 28, 2019 12:56 a.m. Edited.

goldlion says... #27

I had just found Nether Traitor yesterday, and he's one of my favourites so far!

February 28, 2019 11:09 a.m.

goldlion says... #28

Found some new card ideas today.

Check out Plague of Vermin ! Pricey, but we know where to find .

Platinum Emperion could also be a good combo with Carnival of Souls rather than worrying about the Soulcats. Or Phyrexian Unlife if you're on the combo turn or have a Glacial Chasm out.

Children of Korlis could be a safety net in any version, but imagine this card with The Carousel in motion and Carnival of Souls out! Wow. Don't know how I didn't think of this for the Ghave, Lord of Leaches deck.

Plunge into Darkness ? Janky. probably a way to make the mill work to our advantage for getting combo pieces.

Soul Burn for the version with . Is this usable if your commander doesn't have red in his colours?

February 28, 2019 2:55 p.m. Edited.

Mj3913 says... #29

Plunge into Darkness is made extra Janky in a blue version by adding Laboratory Maniac , also works with other cards that draw when a creature dies. I think Soul Burn is black in identity as there are no red symbols on it (though may want to check Oracle text).

Problem with Glacial Chasm is lost of life does not count as damage (but damage counts as loss of life.

February 28, 2019 5:19 p.m.

goldlion says... #30

My thought with Glacial Chasm was just having it in conjunction with Phyrexian Unlife so you don't have to worry about the infect.

Ohhh, great thought with Plunge into Darkness and the maniac! Alternate win con :), I'd say it'd be worth the extra slot.

February 28, 2019 5:50 p.m.

bushido_man96 says... #31

Enduring Renewal can be a backup to Athreos, although it has some drawbacks, but those can be played around if you play with recursion.

February 28, 2019 6:21 p.m.

goldlion says... #32

Alright folks, here's what I have so far for the Abzan version :).

Carny Ghave's Carousel of Souls

Commander / EDH* goldlion


Let's all go to the carnival and ride the never ending carousel... of doom!

March 1, 2019 5:42 p.m. Edited.

goldlion says... #33

I'd say add Fire Covenant to the version

March 7, 2019 2:24 a.m.

goldlion says... #34

Really liking Blood Celebrant as a natural partner to Carnival. If you have two of the Soul Sisters on the field and some big trigger chain for Carnival of Souls , you've got any mana colour you want! Best part is, the picture looks like some sinister carnival clown in the shadows. Flavour win!

March 11, 2019 3:27 a.m. Edited.

Mj3913 says... #35

Sorry folks, for those of you still following it's still in the works. Turns out combo is fortè and keeping track of them all is crazy. Time constraints are a thing too. I may publicize it prior to completion but for now it's way too disorganized still. Hopefully it's not too far off.

March 28, 2019 8:03 p.m.

Mj3913 says... #36

Alright folks, it's done...ish, now to refine it. Tried making it budget but it wasn't working out. So here's what I came up with, let me know what you think.

Carnival of SoulCats

Commander / EDH* Mj3913


Description is a work in progress,

April 1, 2019 9:50 p.m.

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