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Crouching Kadena, Hidden Phage [Primer]

Commander / EDH BUG (Sultai) Combo Jank Morph Primer Unblockable



This deck is sort of an amalgamation. It’s a deck where you use Kadena to build a draw engine to gain massive card advantage and find your tutors and win pieces. It’s a deck where you control the board mid and late game with more morphs than you can keep track of. It’s also a secret commander deck where the premier “combo” is equipping Phage the Untouchable with a Whispersilk Cloak and picking off opponents 1 by 1. This is janky and can be interacted with but there’s a few things that are gonna help pull it off. There’s a lot of tutors, ramp, interaction, and a ton of card draw in this deck. There’s other ways to win, card synergies to explore, nuances, and much more down below. PRIMER STATUS: Up to date (I think)

A card with the morph keyword can be played facedown for and then flipped face up later at any time, for their morph cost, to trigger an effect on the card. These effects vary and are largely situational. Take a look through the morph list to get an idea. The morphs are the weakest part of the deck until Kadena is in play. The first morph you play face down each turn is now free and also draws you a card. Note the last sentence as this is what we seek to abuse. This gives morphs a new role in our deck. They help dig through our deck and can now be thought of as draw engine fuel. Also note: Manifests entering your battlefield cause you to draw a card as well.
Typically the first step of the game plan is to build a draw engine. Sometimes you don’t have the fuel or the right pieces in your starting hand to make it work, or the cards in your hand may point to a different strategy. But typically the first thing you want to do is:
Giving morphs flash allows us to play a free morph and draw a card on each of our opponents turns. With enough fuel this results in a high amount of card draw and a way to build a board of morphs extremely quickly.

Vedalken Orrery - 4 CMC, can be cast with any mana

Leyline of Anticipation - 4 CMC, more restrictive casting cost, BUT can be put onto the battlefield for free if it’s in your opening hand. Don’t let this tempt you into not mulliganing a hand you can’t work with.

Tidal Barracuda - 4 CMC, easy casting cost, provides a body, protects your combos, but can be removed with creature removal.

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir - 5 CMC, quite restrictive casting cost, provides a body, protects your combos, but also can be removed with creature removal. Flash allows some spicy tech with Shared Summons which is detailed later. Also be prepared to be the only person who can stop someone from comboing off as long as he’s in play.

I’d play more of these cards in my deck if they existed. All of the following are 4 CMC and allow you to draw an additional card every time you play a morph. With a Give Morphs Flash card plus one of the following your draw engine will really take off, putting up to 4 morphs down and 8 cards drawn for free every run around the table.

Beast Whisperer - On a small body, double green casting cost, vulnerable to creature removal, only gives card draw for casted creatures. Our weakest option but it gets the job done

Guardian Project - Easy casting cost, requires enchantment removal, doubles up draw on all creatures entering our battlefield including manifests from Thieving Amalgam

Teferi's Ageless Insight - Double blue casting cost, but doubles all card draw besides our draw step. This synergizes with a few additional cards in our deck that draw cards (Grim Haruspex, Riptide Survivor, Sea Gate Restoration  ) Especially powerful is getting this in play with one of the above two cards and drawing 4 cards every time you play a morph.

This is a game ending synergy that can be stopped by boardwipes. But it’s oh so fun. I don’t think anyone is gonna see this coming.

Step 1: Cast Phage the Untouchable

Step 2: Equip protection as fast as possible

Lightning Greaves - Free to equip and can be attached the moment Phage hits the battlefield.

Swiftfoot Boots - Due to the equip cost I would consider carefully waiting a turn to cast Phage if it means having the mana to equip the boots instantly.

Whispersilk Cloak - 2 to equip but provides the necessary Step 3 in one package. It’s probably still a good idea to wait to cast Phage and equip the same turn. If this is on the board when you cast Phage someone might put two and two together.

Sometimes you’re just gonna have to just cast Phage and pray no-one removes her or rely on protection morphs to keep her around. This can be effective but is less reliable and less long term. What to do is a situational judgment call but if Phage gets removed it can easily turn a win into a loss.

Step 3: Make Phage Unblockable

Thassa, God of the Sea - Very hard to remove plus a nice bonus of repeated scrying if played early

Rogue's Passage - The most expensive way to get the job done. More mana available for morphs is always good.

Whispersilk Cloak - Protection and unblockable rolled into one equipment. See above.

Step 4: Kill everybody with Phage and pray nobody has a boardwipe or that you have an answer. Also, control the board as much as possible with morphs and removal.

This is probably my least favorite, but most consistent and reliable way to win with this deck. For anyone who doesn’t know you use Vesuvan Shapeshifter to recur Brine Elemental’s flip effect every turn for 2 mana. It grinds the game to a halt for everyone else and the locking player gets so much value out of it there’s no point in continuing the game unless someone happened to hold up removal. It’s possible to get the juice and squeeze out a pickle lock turn 5 by having enough lands, two ramp sources, and the pickle lock pieces.
Cyclonic Rift + Den Protector + Vesuvan Shapeshifter

Overload Cyclonic Rift and bounce all your opponent’s stuff, morph Den Protector to get it back in your hand, use Vesuvan Shapeshifter to recur Den Protector’s ability every turn and now you can overload Cyclonic Rift every turn. This falls apart if Vesuvan Shapeshifter or Den Protector is removed but until then this is going to be oppressive to say the least.

Aphetto Alchemist + Illusionist's Bracers for infinite untap. Add Fledgling Mawcor for infinite damage. Add a mana rock for infinite mana. This deck doesn't have a particular way to abuse infinite mana.
Play Beastmaster Ascension and pick your targets to swing at with morphs and build quest counters. With the amount of morphs this deck can poop out it's quite easy to build an army of 7/7s. With Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar you can swing and build quest counters without risk and with potential to refuel your hand with morphs.
Razaketh, the Foulblooded

8/8 flying trample Demon that can tutor as many times as you have other creatures. If this resolves, you will likely have more than enough creatures to tutor any wincon you want and leave some choice morphs alive. In the rare case where all you have is Razaketh, one creature, and nothing else, I would recommend sacrificing that creature for Thieving Amalgam. This will immediately build your board, draw cards, and provide manifests for Razaketh to sacrifice and tutor with. Plus, every sacrificed manifest is gonna drain its owner for 2.

Basic Tutors

Vampiric Tutor

Demonic Tutor

Scheming Symmetry - Make sure to wheel and deal to get the most out of this one. I like the idea of having players bid for the free tutor.

Not much to say about these other than discuss what you want to tutor. If I start with one of these, no wincon pieces, and a couple of morphs I typically tutor up a draw engine piece. Sometimes it’s just fun to build a beastly draw engine. If you have one or more wincon pieces, you probably want another. Maybe you need interaction. It’s really situational but here’s an edge case to be aware of: Sometimes you get a hand that is pretty much lands and a tutor. A good choice in this situation is The Amalgam as with Kadena it’s a draw engine / board builder on it’s own. Another target could be Razaketh, the Foulblooded which can tutor a bunch of late game wincon pieces so long as you have creatures to sacrifice.

Notable Tutors

Razaketh, the Foulblooded - 8/8 flying trample Demon that can tutor as many times as you have other creatures. If this resolves, you will likely have more than enough creatures to tutor any wincon you want and leave some choice morphs alive. In the rare case where all you have is Razaketh, one creature, and nothing else, I would recommend sacrificing that creature for The Amalgam. This will immediately build your board, draw cards, and provide manifests for Razaketh to sacrifice and tutor with. Plus, every sacrificed manifest is gonna drain its owner for 2.

Shared Summons - Tutor and reveal any two creatures at instant speed. You could tutor a pickle lock lock with this but your opponents will see it coming and be able to play around it. You could also tutor up a draw engine. If you desperately need Phage you could tutor her and whatever situational creature you need. People who don’t know the deck likely won’t worry about the Phage but if your playgroup knows the deck it’s gonna set off some alarms. The real spicy tech with Shared Summons is originated by Abzkaban. Hold up the mana for Shared Summons, in response to the end step before your turn cast it and tutor Seedborn Muse and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. Cast Seedborne Muse your turn and flash in Teferi the next opponent’s. This is essentially the banned Prophet of Kruphix in a can and provides insane value for our draw and morphs extremely quickly.

The Amalgam: I will list all synergistic cards and discuss them here.

Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer - Every manifest The Amalgam thieves will net you a card

Guardian Project - Every manifest The Amalgam thieves will net you an additional card

Teferi's Ageless Insight - Every manifest The Amalgam thieves will net you an additional card

Razaketh, the Foulblooded - The Amalgam's manifests will fuel tutors an drain their owners for 2 life when sacrificed

Westvale Abbey   - Provides disposable sacrifice fodder that simultaneously drains opponents and transforms Westvale Abbey into Omerdahl

Ashnod's Altar - Turn those manifests into mana all whilst draining your opponents

Lightning Greaves or any sort of protection - After a couple runs around the table The Amalgam is gonna get out of hand and people will notice. Protection from targeted removal is gonna force someone to burn a boardwipe if they want The Amalgam dead. All of the manifests that die from that boardwipe will drain their owners for 2 as well.

Protection + Thieving Amalgam + Grim Haruspex - Same as above but now you’re drawing a card for every creature that dies on the likely large board you will have.

Toski, Bearer of Secrets - More bodies to swing with and draw cards off of

I think this is all of them but it’s possible I’m missing something.

Vesuvan Shapeshifter

This card is your MVM (Most Valuable Morph). It can recur any morph flip effect each turn for 2 mana as long as that morph is face up on the board. Really just take any morph and ask the question “Would I like to do this more than once?”. If yes, it pairs well with Vesuvan Shapeshifter. It’s used in pickle locks and for blasting your opponents with an overloaded Cyclonic Rift every turn as under How To Win. With Chromeshell Crab you can steal a high value creature, or dare I say it, commander? Every turn. For 2 mana. It can be a repeatable 2 mana spell steal (Kheru Spellsnatcher). It can hose artifacts and enchantments (Ainok Survivalist). Or change it up every turn if you have the morphs to be that flexible.

Seedborn Muse

You’re pretty much always happy to draw this card. Tons of free mana for morphing to your heart’s content. Also a great target for Shared Summons (tech fully explored under Tutors: Shared Summons)

Combined with the two lands that can enable flash, Winding Canyons and Alchemist's Refuge you can give your morphs flash, play one, and draw a card each turn a la the Give Morphs Flash cards.

Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar fits an interesting role in this deck. You can swing with all your morphs at no risk, even to your benefit. If they're blocked, just replenish your hand with the morphs/draw engine fuel. Pair with Beastmaster Ascension for easy quest counters. Pair with Toski, Bearer of Secrets to swing with your morphs, draw cards, and refuel your hand to your heart's content. The draw on Grazilaxx is just a bonus really.

Necropotence - The premier card ‘draw’ in black. As our mana base leans towards producing black mana we can cast this at a reasonable time.

Rhystic Study - It's a staple for a reason

Riptide Survivor - Helps us dig through our deck for an answer or some fuel. Gets out of hand with Teferi's Ageless Insight in play.

Grim Haruspex - Allows us to capitalize pretty well if our board gets wiped. Cheap and always good to have around. Benefits from Teferi's Ageless Insight.

Sea Gate Restoration   - As this card is also pretty much an Island it can’t hurt to run it. In situations where you have a very strong draw engine this card can provide very high draw and remove your hand size limit. Also benefits from Teferi's Ageless Insight.

Thieving Amalgam - Explored under Notable Cards.

Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar - Explored under Notable Cards.

Den Protector - 2 mana to return something from your graveyard. You pretty much always hope you have this one in case something you need to win gets blown up. Could be a good tutor target in the right situation.

Echo Tracer - Can return a flipped morph to your hand to replay, draw a card, and flip said morph again. Also in a big pinch can return an unflipped morph to your hand if you’re desperate to draw a card. Also offers the protection through the bounce effect and can bounce something of your opponent’s.

Icefeather Aven - Same as Echo Tracer but on a flying body.

Vesuvan Shapeshifter - Explored under Notable Cards. Our Most Valuable Morph

Noxious Revival - Pretty much free and with the amount of cards this deck draws, the card being placed on top of the library isn't much of a downside.

The following equipment offer hexproof or shroud. They are a key component to the Make Phage Unblockable strategy and can keep cards like The Amalgam and Vesuvan Shapeshifter around a lot longer than your opponents want them to.

Lightning Greaves

Swiftfoot Boots

Whispersilk Cloak - Makes your creature unblockable as well.

The following morphs offer more situational, less encompassing, or less long term protection.

Echo Tracer - Can bounce something to avoid removal or a boardwipe. Can also recur a morph or bounce an opponent’s creature if needed.

Icefeather Aven - Same as Echo Tracer. The addition of a flying body is nice.

Gift of Doom - Pretty self explanatory. Can be attached to Phage or The Token in a pinch

Willbender - 2 mana to change a targeted removal spell blowing something of yours up to blow up something you want blown up.

Don’t underestimate the politics that can be had in protecting someone else’s permanent for a price.

Ainok Survivalist + Nantuko Vigilante - These may as well be the same card. Destroy an artifact or enchantment for 2. Good tutor targets.

Beast Within - Staple removal

Reality Shift - Possibly one of the best creature removal spells around? The manifest it creates is also on theme. Reality Shift an opponent’s creature after they resolve Vampiric Tutor and watch the salt flow. Also our only exile based removal so keep that in mind if you need an answer to an indestructible creature.

Silumgar Assassin - Destroys a low power creature. Keep an eye out for commanders and synergistic creatures to snipe with this guy.

Skinthinner - Rather expensive and somewhat limited creature removal. But hey, it’s on a morph so we want it in this deck.

Kadena's Silencer - To get the most impact out of this card you’re gonna have to do some big brained board analysis and threat assessment. This card can change the outcome of a game if flipped at the right time. It can stop combos, it can delay Krenko pooping out 100 goblins for a turn, it can stop anything involving an ability. A good tutor target in the right situation.

Kheru Spellsnatcher - One of the big daddy morphs in the deck. It can swing the game wildly into your favor if you steal the right spell. Things to know from the gatherer page: You can target a spell you control with Kheru Spellsnatcher’s triggered ability. This will give you the ability to cast the card later without paying its mana cost. (I don’t know why you would want to do this but if you can think of a reason let me know in the comments. I guess you could do this in response to one of your cards being countered?) Because you’re already casting the card using an alternative cost (by casting it without paying its mana cost), you can’t pay any other alternative costs for the card. You can pay additional costs, such as kicker costs. If the card has any mandatory additional costs, you must pay those. If the card has X in its mana cost, you must choose 0 as the value for X when casting it.

Stratus Dancer - Pretty self explanatory morph

Voidmage Apprentice - An overcosted Counterspell on a morph. Not much to say about it other than it can be recurred.

Cyclonic Rift - I really debated putting this one in because it’s so obnoxious but decided to because how it works in the deck outside of just being a great card in a vacuum. With Vesuvan Shapeshifter and Den Protector it can be cast every turn (see How to Win: Rift Overload). In a scenario where you have Phage out and no unblockable piece this can clear the way for a kill. It’s just one of the best boardwipes around too. Too good to not include.

Bane of the Living and Toxic Deluge are just a couple of nice, flexible -X/-X boardwipes. They get around indestructible and can be cast to suit your needs.

Most of the ramp in this deck can be cast turn 2 so we can cast Kadena turn 3. Pretty standard stuff.

The following are the ramp cards that kinda do their own thing:

Ashnod's Altar - Sacrifice morphs and manifests for juicy mana. There will probably be a couple of morphs that are not useful or that have been flipped that you will be happy to sacrifice. Use your best judgment when sacrificing morphs and try not to regret your decision.

Zoetic Cavern - A land, land ramp, and a morph rolled into one. Real good.

I tried to build a pretty boilerplate Sultai mana base with off-color fetches that leans towards black.

Winding Canyons and Alchemist's Refuge - These two lands can give your morphs flash for a turn for 2 mana and tapping one of em. This is pretty inefficient compared to the Give Morphs Flash cards but they serve as a good back up. However, either combined with Seedborn Muse you can play a morph and draw a card every turn with ease, increasing the consistency with which we can Give Morphs Flash. Alchemist's Refuge can give any nonland card flash (rather than just creatures) at the cost of requiring colored mana.

Bojuka Bog - Classic graveyard hate

Rogue's Passage - Really just here to make Phage and The Token unblockable.

Sea Gate Restoration   - Really no reason not to include this. Discussed in more detail under Draw

Westvale Abbey   - In most games you are going to have a large board of morphs, some of which are flipped and some not relevant to the situation. With 5 mana you can turn these morphs into the value bomb that is Omerdahl, Profane Prince. Getting him out probably isn’t gonna win you any games but it’s hard to argue against smashing face with Omerdahl and gaining a ton of life.

Zoetic Cavern - A land, land ramp, and a morph rolled into one. Real good.

New morphs could take this deck to the next level. Anyways if you read all that up there, thanks for taking the time to learn about my first fully-realized deck.

Also be sure to check out Crouching Kadena, Hidden Phage [~$20] edition courtesy of thijmnesoy!


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Date added 1 year
Last updated 5 days

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

8 - 0 Mythic Rares

55 - 0 Rares

21 - 0 Uncommons

10 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.05
Tokens Beast 3/3 G, 1/1 BW Token Creature Human Cleric, Manifest 2/2 C, Manifest 2/2 C, Morph 2/2 C, Morph 2/2 C, Morph 2/2 C, Morph 2/2 C, Morph 2/2 C, Morph 2/2 C, Morph 2/2 C
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5 days ago)

+1 Counterspell main
+1 Diabolic Intent main
-1 Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar main
+1 Mana Drain main
-1 Shared Summons main
-1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir main