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 and

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

Deck Mechanics and Strategy

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 also has quite a lot of moving pieces for it to work. Discard outlets to dump expensive creatures, sac outlets to reuse ETB LTB abilities (and protect our precious creatures from exile, tuck, and bounce effects), 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.

More Than Just a Deck

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 :)


Updates Add

Okay, we are not even remotely close to budget-land anymore! I recently acquired three cards that have long been on my wish-list: Hellfire, Knowledge Vault, and Lake of the Dead. They've been on my list so long because they are all very, very expensive - far more than I have ever paid for a card! Hellfire's near mint price tag alone is double many of my deck's entire budget! Luckily, some random cards in my collection recently gained in price and, as luck would have it, Card Kingdom happened to have some well-loved, relatively cheap copies of all three of my wish-list cards in stock! Everything lined up perfectly and I was able to cash in some cards sitting on a shelf for some pieces I've wanted for over a year now!

Hellfire should be a really fun card to mess around with. Will I blow-up in the processes? Perhaps. But we sure will have fun with it! Timed correctly and with the right board, it can actually lead us to some wins too! Late game (and with one or two players already gone) this card can single handedly clear an opponent's board so our big spooky monsters of the dark can swoop in for the final kill!

Lake of the Dead is a card I've actually wanted for a very long time. That art mixed with the unique ramp is incredibly cool! I am so excited to finally start blowing up my own swamps! :D

Knowledge Vault is so weird and unique! The mechanics of the card are so flavorful too. I think it will pair really well in the deck since it also has an interesting discard ability stapled on, even if we don't get a ton of cards 'drawn' from it. Also, I'm a huge sucker for Amy Weber art and this one might just be my favorite!

I've also added a couple new cards to the deck as well! Ebon Dragon will be a sweet flying beater to the deck. It can also help disrupt opponent's hands a little too, especially after a couple reanimations. Life Chisel enables us to actually gain life now! While not the most reliable sac outlet, its unique effect will hopefully payoff! The last newbie is Banshee . While technically inefficient, Banshee's damage effect is really interesting because it gives us a way to directly kill Plansewalkers, a huge rarity in old-school Black cards!

To make room for these new additions we did have to cut quite a few cards. Though it pained me, I did end up removing Gravestorm for the time being. It is an awesome card but its effect does not do super well against my playgroup since graveyards are regularly full of ramp cards and cracked lands. Another one I am really sad to see go is Ashen Powder. I've actually used this card to get some really great pieces out of the graveyard - it's just that I have other similar effects in the deck already and wanted to make room for more variety. In this same line of reasoning, I also benched Phyrexian Ghoul and Cateran Overlord. As I mentioned in my last update, sac outlets are very important, and these two cards do that quite well; the only problem is I had other, more unique (and in my eyes, interesting) cards that needed a space.

Staples removed: Mutilate (though its status as a 'staple' is certainly debatable)

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84% Casual


Top Ranked
Date added 1 year
Last updated 1 week

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

34 - 0 Rares

15 - 0 Uncommons

16 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 4.09
Tokens 2/2 Zombie
Folders i like dat, EDH, Cheap, Uncategorized, Old-School EDH, Commander, Black, sweet, Decks I'm Interested In, EDH, See all 26
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