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I originally started this deck as a response to the fatigue I felt seeing and playing the same cards in every EDH deck. I wanted to make a deck completely my own, incorporating all my personal favorite elements of the game.

I've always been enamored with the old borders and style of Magic ever since I was a kid and inherited a box of random Revised-era cards from my uncle. Years later, when I actually learned how to play the game, I also developed a love for jank and embracing sub-optimal cards for weird art, unique effects, and flavor.

With this in mind, these became my deck restrictions:

  1. use old-school cards only printed between Alpha-Scourge

  2. prioritize cards that feature creepy, disturbing, and unique art

  3. use as little 'staples' as possible to leave room for maximum jank!

Balthor the Defiled is actually a deceptively powerful commander! His ability is quite potent and can consistently get us an instant board. As long as you have open, he is also quite difficult for opponents to interact with since he exiles himself as a cost.

The deck has quite a lot of moving pieces for it to work. Discard outlets to dump expensive creatures, sac outlets to reuse ETB LTB abilities, alternative recursion spells, graveyard interaction, and a handful of mill pieces to sustain our graveyard all have to be balanced and work in tandem with each other to get off the ground. My favorite part comes from using sub-optimal cards within these categories - it adds many more layers to the puzzle and makes it that much more rewarding when everything miraculously clicks together!

With this, we obviously also have to balance internal mechanics with necessities like ramp, card draw, and removal. To help keep the deck focused on Balthor's ability, many of these necessary effects are found on creatures. In fact, the deck only has 20 non-creature spells! This helps us rebuild boards very quickly, as long as our graveyard is intact.

This deck is very weak to tuck, bounce, and especially exile effects. In a weird way, Balthor provides us with a strange way to 'protect' our board from these threats. As long as we have a way to sacrifice our entire board in response to these effects, the graveyard acts like a temporary safe haven. Balthor can then bring them back out for more jank fun! This is also the part where we pray no one has graveyard hate...

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With the right setup, we can surprise an opponent with a huge, potentially player-killing swing. Cackling Witch (paired with any other beater) and Dungeon Shade can eat a Bubbling Muck or Songs of the Damned to generate a massive attack! We can also generate huge amounts of burst mana through Soldevi Adnate, so long as we have a high mana value target to sac. This move is much more telegraphed though and usually requires more setup.

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With Soldevi Adnate and Havoc Demon out on the field, we can sac Havoc Demon to Adnate's ability, killing a large chunk of the field and getting us 7 mana to recast and crack Balthor. The end result is essentially a one-sided board wipe (barring any opponents' red or black creatures you happen to reanimate in the process of course). For boards with huge creatures, you can easily do this same process multiple times a turn to rack up several -5-5 modifiers.

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We have a number of creatures that destroy a creature on their ETB. Having two of these along with a Hell's Caretaker gives us a way to remove a creature every upkeep. We can take this a step further if we have a Gloomdrifter with threshold online to continually clear the board of any small creatures our opponents may have. This same process can work with only one ETB creature but, because the weird restrictions around Caretaker, you would only remove a creature every other turn.

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This project has been very therapeutic for me. I have OCD and before I started this deck, I was having a pretty significant relapse in disruptive obsessions and compulsions. I've built a lot of decks over the years but for some reason, my mind completely latched onto this deck in particular in a way I've never had before. This subsequently diverted a lot of that obsessive mental energy away from problematic and disruptive compulsions and focused it instead in a relatively harmless way around these cards. As a result, I have spent an ungodly amount of broken mental processing power over this pile of cardboard which would otherwise be spent cascading into other, more damaging ventures.

Because of this unique situation, it's hard to put into words just how important this deck has become to me.

This deck is slow, has very limited responses to threats, is easily defeated by any mass grave-hate, and generally doesn't win. And that's okay! This deck is for me. Each and every crusty piece of it has been obsessed over, and over, and over again. When I get the chance to play with it, no matter how badly I'm doing or how hard I get stomped, it truly gives me tremendous joy in a way no other deck or hobby has. I hope you enjoy it too :)

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Updates Add

I've been working on cleaning up this deck's page and adding collapsible panels so the layout is more simple and not as overwhelming to look at. I ended up adding some of the cool interactions I've stumbled upon while playing the deck over the last couple years. I hope to continue adding to it as I find more!

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Top Ranked
Date added 2 years
Last updated 1 week
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

34 - 0 Rares

15 - 0 Uncommons

16 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 4.02
Tokens Zombie 2/2 B w/ Haste
Folders i like dat, EDH, Cheap, Uncategorized, Old-School EDH, Commander, Black, sweet, Decks I'm Interested In, EDH, See all 33
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