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Arixmethes: Early to Bed, Early to Rise

Commander / EDH* Control GU (Simic) Multiplayer Ramp



It's hard out there for an aquatic behemoth. Arixmethes carries an entire island around on his back all day, every day; Thassa and Kiora won't stop fighting over him; and just when he thinks he's getting a moment of peace and quiet, a tidal wave has to appear and get him all out of sorts. He just wants to have a nice long nap -- is that too much to ask?

Yes, it is! You didn't spend a bunch of mana to summon him as the supreme leader of your deck just so he could sleep the day away. This deck is designed to limit the number of times Arixmethes can hit the snooze button before you roll him out of bed and send him thundering over to your opponents for a hearty full Planeswalker breakfast.

Release the Kraken!

The goal of this deck is threefold:

  1. The sooner you get Big A onto the battlefield, the sooner you can start shaking him awake. Ramp up to four mana ASAP and get him into play.
  2. Get those slumber counters off the big guy! Play as many spells as you can as fast as you can. Ideally, Arixmethes won't sleep for more than a couple of turn cycles.
  3. Chow down on your enemies. This deck doesn't have a lot of resilient protection, so you need to eat your opponents fast before they gang up on you and overwhelm you.

Seems straightforward enough. How does it get there?

  • Sol Ring - Duh, right? The number-one Commander staple is especially good in this deck. A second-turn Arixmethes means you can start attacking with a 12/12 as early as turn 3 or 4.
  • Rampant Growth/Nature's Lore/Farseek - Again, duh. This deck is extremely hungry for blue mana, so here Farseek is basically a Rampant Growth that can also fetch Breeding Pool.
  • Into the North - I added a snow-land subtheme just so I could play this as my fourth Rampant Growth effect.
  • Edge of Autumn - Normally a mediocre card in Commander, Edge of Autumn's focus on early acceleration is just what the doctor ordered for this particular deck. In the late game, you're usually happy to trade a land for whatever is on the top of your deck. Maintaining momentum is important once Arixmethes is out, and you don't want to flood out on ramp spells once he's awake.
  • Sakura-Tribe Elder - If he's in your opening hand, he's basically Rampant Growth #6. However, unless he's helping you power out Arixmethes early, you will often hold on to him until you can block and sac. As I mentioned above, this deck doesn't have a ton of defense, so soaking up early incidental attacks is important.
  • Kiora's Follower - A turbo-charged Llanowar Elf. Because Arixmethes taps for two mana, untapping him with Kiora's Follower often makes the Follower feel like a second copy of Sol Ring. Plus, she also provides pseudo-vigilance to an awakened Arixmethes! Honestly, this might be my favorite card to see in my opening hand. It's certainly this deck's best two-drop.
  • Wood Elves - Because you want to play multiple spells a turn once Arixmethes is in play, Wood Elves gets the nod over Farhaven Elf and Cultivate thanks to the forest entering play untapped and ready to use.
  • Kodama's Reach - Another staple. I only really want one copy of this effect in this deck, and this card has a much cooler name than Cultivate.
  • Search for Tomorrow - Suspend is an A+ mechanic in this deck. (See below.)
  • Circuitous Route - Normally, I reach for Skyshroud Claim over this card, but as I mentioned earlier, you really want as much blue mana as you can get. This will usually search up Simic Guildgate and an island, or two islands if the Gate is already in play.
  • Hour of Promise - The fact that this can fetch nonbasics is important because you have a couple of utility lands that are very useful. Every now and then you'll have a chance to get the zombies, but it's still plenty good without Deserts.
  • Lotus Bloom - If drawn early, you can often time it so that the last suspend counter comes off after Arixmethes is in play, which serves two important purposes: it removes a slumber counter, and it provides a huge mana boost to help you cast enough spells to remove the other four slumber counters.
  • Lotus Petal - I'm not a competitive/combo EDH player, so the Petal usually doesn't merit inclusion because my decks can't fully take advantage of such a short-term mana boost. Here, though, it's quite good. Counter-intuitively, you never want to drop Petal in the first few turns; you should always save it for the turn you cast Big A so that it takes off one of his slumber counters.

Buyback and suspend are awesome in this deck. With suspend, you cast the spell as soon as the last suspend counter is removed, which allows you to time your spells so that they all un-suspend on one big turn, suddenly waking up Arixmethes. Buyback is also a great way to use spells efficiently to remove slumber counters. There's one exceedingly stupid buyback card in here that is the main reason I built this deck in the first place.

  • Brainstorm/Preordain/Ponder/Serum Visions/Sleight of Hand - The gold standard for cheap cantrips. If possible, you save these for when Big A is slumbering away on the battlefield, though it's okay to burn them early if you need to dig for mana.
  • Clockspinning - Man oh man, I love playing such a janky card in Commander. Every time you cast it, you remove two slumber counters from Arixmethes: one for his trigger, and one for Clockspinning's effect. As an instant, it can surprise the entire table when you cast it twice at end-of-turn to remove four slumber counters, which is usually good enough for a 12-damage attack on your next turn. (Clockspinning also benefits your suspend spells, though that's more of a fringe benefit.)
  • Crop Rotation - Essentially a zero-mana spell for slumber counters that also has the amazing effect of tutoring for your utility lands.
  • Frantic Search - The free-spell mechanic from Urza's block is awesome with Arixmethes. Not only does it let you cast more spells per turn than normal, but because Big A taps for two mana, Frantic Search nets you +1 mana if you cast it while he's still in land form.
  • Treasure Cruise - With all your cantrips and ramp spells, delving is easy in this deck. Cruise often does a passable imitation of Ancestral Recall.
  • Whispersilk Cloak - While this deck isn't straightforward Voltron (a style of deck that I personally find super boring), you do want to make sure that Big A is protected from spot removal and can actually connect with your opponent's face. Few Auras or Equipments do both as simply as the Cloak.
  • Shadowspear (formerly Loxodon Warhammer - It's embarrassing to send your oceanic leviathan barreling at your opponent ... only for him to trip over a 0/1 Plant token and fall on his face. Trample ensures that Big A starts racking up commander damage quickly. Plus, once Arixmethes is awake and attacking, you're going to become public enemy #1 for the rest of the table. Shadowspear's lifelink ensures that you stay alive long enough for him to eat everyone.
  • Batterskull - More lifelink. The Germ can also help keep you alive while you frantically ring Arixmethes' alarm clock.
  • Vorrac Battlehorns - Sometimes trample isn't going to be enough if your opponents have enough reanimation or token production. And sometimes your opponents are going to cheat by having a couple of dragons or whatever that can work together to bring down your sea monster. The Battlehorns ensure that any fights Arixmethes gets into are short, brutal, and unfair.

Obviously, this deck is a bit of a glass cannon. You're putting all your eggs in the Arixmethes basket, which often means your opponents can cripple you if they can neutralize him. The rest of the deck is devoted to keeping you alive and protecting Big A from harm.


Counterspells are very good in this deck because they are simultaneously proactive (they advance your gameplan by removing slumber counters) and reactive (they stop your opponents from doing scary things). This deck has more than the average amount of countermagic for this reason. Most of them either do more than one thing (Cryptic Command, Plasm Capture) or use your opponents' resources against them (Desertion, Spelljack).

Board wipes and defense

  • Oblivion Stone/Perilous Vault - The nice thing about on-the-battlefield board wipes in this deck is that you can end-of-turn wipe the board, then wake up Arixmethes and swing into an empty battlefield the next turn. Oblivion Stone is especially good at this, since it comes down early and puts you in the driver's seat when it comes to the pace of the game. With the extra mana that Arixmethes provides, you might even have the leisure to put fate counters on stuff!
  • Cyclonic Rift - I know, I know. But if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
  • Whelming Wave - You know what's better than Cyclonic Rift? Two Cyclonic Rifts.
  • Crush of Tentacles - This deck is built around casting multiple spells a turn, so you'll always be casting this for the surge cost and giving Arixmethes a nice tentacled friend to greet him when he wakes up.
  • Thing in the Ice   - Basically a second copy of Arixmethes, stapled to a board wipe. You're already playing tons of instants and sorceries, so it's not hard to thaw out the Horror. NOTE: The counter removal on Arixmethes is an optional trigger, but it is not optional on Thing in the Ice. Keep this in mind if you have both of them out on the board at the same time.
  • Propaganda/Ever-Watching Threshold - You need ways to divert attacks away from you while you wake up Arixmethes, and you need to make your opponents' lives more difficult if they try to race you.
  • Ice-Fang Coatl - When I first built this deck, I looked with envy at Baleful Strix, wishing that I too could play a cantripping speed bump with deathtouch. Then Modern Horizons came out and gave me a Baleful Strix with flash!
  • Constant Mists - Once Big A is awake and attacking, your opponents will be faced with a hard choice: dogpile you with everything they've got, or keep their army at home to ward off your Kraken. If they choose the former option, a reusable Fog is a nasty surprise.
  • Spore Cloud - What's nastier than a Fog? A Fog that not only keeps you alive but locks down the attacker for long enough to die in two swings from Arixmethes.
  • Maze of Ith - Tutorable with Crop Rotation and Tolaria West. If the battlefield bogs down, this combined with your untapped 12/12 are usually enough to encourage opponents to attack elsewhere
  • Sandwurm Convergence - With a giant Kraken holding the ground, the only place opponents can safely attack you is in the air. Convergence makes your side of the board a no-fly zone and starts popping out 5/5s that will quickly overwhelm your opponents if they don't find an answer.

Miscellaneous tricks

  • Sheltering Word - Helps you protect Arixmethes from your opponents' naughty tricks and gives you a nice life cushion in the bargain. Sometimes you might cast this just for the lifegain.
  • Snakeform - Admittedly, this is a bit of a pet card for me, and I rarely get to play it. It's one of your best options for dealing with indestructible or hard-to-kill creatures, and the fact that it cantrips at just three mana makes it even more attractive.
  • Capsize - Buyback is a nice way to remove slumber counters without spending a card, and Capsize allows you a second swing at a problem permanent if it slipped through your net of countermagic.
  • Windfall - Even with all your cantrips, you will often find that your hand will be nearly empty after casting everything you can to wake up Arixmethes. Windfall will either refill your hand or replace a hand full of lands and less-than-useful spells with gas. Also, there's no feeling quite like casting Cyclonic Rift at end of turn, then untapping and making your opponents discard their newly bounced battlefields into the graveyard while you draw twenty cards.
  • Temporal Mastery - Extra turns (and thus extra attack steps) are a much bigger deal when you're attacking with a 12/12, and they can mess up your opponent's survival calculations. Also, your high density of cantrips increases your likelihood of getting a miracle.
  • Krosan Grip - It's a great feeling to catch someone off-guard with split second.
  • Mirage Mirror - In addition to being a generally useful utility card, the Mirror also comes in handy for situations where somebody steals or otherwise incapacitates Arixmethes without sending him back to the command zone. It also allows for a hail-Mary play where you just need one more attack with Arixmethes to get the kill but don't have the gas to get the slumber counters off.
  • Thespian's Stage - Getting Arixmethes sent back to the command zone can often be a fatal setback because every time you re-cast him, you have to wake him up again. But with Thespian's Stage, all you have to do is re-cast him and copy him. This is usually the first utility land I fetch if I have the opportunity, as the extra insurance against Arixmethes removal is invaluable.

So that's it - your handy guide to winning with narcoleptic sea monsters. Happy kraken-ing!


Updates Add

With Ravnica Allegiance and its plethora of Simic goodies available, it seems to be time for another polish on this deck. Thanks to everyone for the upvotes, and feel free to share this deck (with credit) among other Arixmethes fans!

OUT: Explore /// IN: Growth Spiral

This is a simple enough upgrade. In 99% of situations, Growth Spiral is strictly better than Explore simply by virtue of being an instant. Spiral allows for the possibility of an end-of-turn wake-up for Arixmethes, and in some corner cases it allows you to flash a land onto the battlefield during an opponent's turn for shenanigans (e.g., surprise! I have a Maze of Ith now!). The mana cost is slightly more prohibitive, but this deck is already heavily blue so you'll almost never find that Spiral is more difficult to cast than Explore.

OUT: Rancor /// IN: Impulse

This was an unexpected cut. Rancor is such an excellent staple for green decks that want to attack with their commander, so why cut it? The problem is that, unlike equipment, I can't cast Rancor until Arixmethes is already awake. This means that Rancor usually rots in my hand while I desperately try to cast other spells to remove Big A's slumber counters. Impulse was a cantrip I've been trying to cram into the deck for a while, so the swap seems logical. Impulse's ability to dig four cards deep into the library is also a huge help in mitigating this deck's relatively low land count. Speaking of which...

OUT: Vesuva /// IN: Shimmer of Possibility

Vesuva was rarely as good as I wanted it to be. Thespian's Stage already gets the same job done while being more flexible. Also, as I've gotten more experience with the deck, I felt comfortable cutting a land. The overabundance of cantrips and cheap ramp makes the deck resilient to mana screw, and having what amounts to Impulse #2 in Shimmer of Possibility is a huge boost to my overall game plan.

OUT: Predict /// IN: Coiling Oracle

Coiling Oracle was another card that I was wanting to fit into the deck, since it's basically an Explore that can chump block. As the deck primer above makes clear, Arixmethes often needs a random dork or two to absorb some attacker damage so that he can survive long enough to eat his opponents. Predict is a fine cantrip, especially in a deck with so many scry and Brainstorm effects, but I've determined that having an occasional chump blocker is more desirable than occasionally getting to draw two with Predict.


Top Ranked
Date added 5 years
Last updated 4 months
Exclude colors WBR

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

8 - 0 Mythic Rares

29 - 0 Rares

18 - 0 Uncommons

32 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.05
Tokens Copy Clone, Octopus 8/8 U, Phyrexian Germ 0/0 B, Wurm 5/5 G, Zombie 2/2 B
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