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COMPETITIVE DARGO/JESKA BUDGET cEDH PRIMER $200 cap

It's fun to smack around super-expensive decks with a budget deck. This deck mainly abuses Dargo's cost reduction and Jeska's ability to triple Dargo's damage to 21, knocking a player out by turn 3 or 4.

The deck can take many cEDH decks by surprise with how fast and resilient it is. Even on a budget of $100 and on the Conquest Banlist, the deck can sit well at a competitive table (e.g. Yuriko, Zur, Kenrith, Kinnan, Kess) and too well at any other power level. This deck was originally built for a budget pod, and it turned far too powerful for that, so I splurged just a little to make this the mildly competitive deck it is today.

This is by far the cheapest cEDH deck I own, which can cost under $100 to build. The only pricy cards the deck needs are Phyrexian Altar and Goblin Engineer. Birgi, Gamble, Vandalblast, Lotus Petal & Jeska’s Will are nice to use but you don’t need them. Everything else costs an average of 25 cents and less than $2.

A competitive Dargo / Jeska deck has two routes of play. This deck goes for 21 Commander Damage first and uses the 1st infinite combo as backup;

  1. Infinite Damage: Abuse Dargo’s cost reduction: Phyrexian Altar//Thermopod + 2 or more creatures/creatures + Dargo allows you to cast Dargo an infinite number of times. Then, cast any storm card or cast Jeska, who will enter with an infinitely high number of counters. Use her minus x ability to go for game.

  2. Commander Damage: The secondary route uses Jeska’s first ability to have Dargo deal triple combat damage to win with 21 commander damage by Turn 4. Cheat out Dargo, cast Jeska, and attack. You can also Dargo unblockable, double strike, etc. and burn your opponents’ creatures.

What I appreciate most about a competitive Dargo/Jeska deck is that it has 2 main lines of play, and you are not confined to one strategy. This is a relatively simple deck with a mix of combos and decisive plays that can satiate even the most combo loving players. I began this variant in a budget commander pod with a 50usd limit and focused my original decklist on . Because a significant number of tournaments I have attended have allowed for the use of up to 10 proxies (with alternative/limited prize support), I have included a for posterity’s sake in the maybeboard.

Some other builds focus on getting the altar line and protecting yourself. One person I know who inspired this deck likes to run a lot of discard cards, fill their graveyard with stuff, and run cards like Anger, Scrap Mastery, and Underworld Breach. This is a more consistent altar line. Other decks splash green or black and use Dargo triggers for other purposes, like a one card combo with Food Chain and a different partner. All varied builds you can read up on your own.

The trick is to know which line to for with your opening hands and with which opponents. Generally, so long as you have Phyrexian Altar or a tutor in your opening hand (Gamble, Goblin Engineer, Moonsilver Key), go for the infinite damage combo first. Otherwise, shotgun out Dargo as often as possible and boost through Jeska.

Keep any hand with two lands and a mana rock. Try to calculate an uninterrupted and interrupted play by turn 3 based on your opening hand. Keep any functional hand with Dockside Extortionist if you have a copy; a dargo jeska discord compiled a series of games in 2022 and found that casting dockside wins over 60% of games. Crazy.

Regardless of your choice of competitive Dargo/Jeska build, you want a deck that can abuse Dargo’s cost-reduction mechanism by spamming out many cheap creatures/artifacts. Oddly enough, Dargo decks should avoid too many 0 cmc cards. You don’t want to spam out 0 cmc artifacts like a storm or Jhiora deck would as it is less consistent with the deck’s strategy with no recovery, and I’ve struggled to find the optimal balance of 0 cmc artifacts for most Dargo decks.

The best cards to cast for this deck get a net gain for Dargo for 2 mana or less. For this reason, cards such as Voldaren Epicure and Flayer Husk are incredible because they give a net benefit of 4 cost reduction for Dargo for 1 cmc. For this reason, Chromatic Star / Chromatic Sphere are NOT good solutions because they only net 1 mana off 1 and only draws one card. These and cards like Servo Schematic or Spawning Breath are some niche cards that work very well for Dargo.

personal deck breakdown -33 Lands (can go less, too risky for me, can consider some Zenzidar modal lands. Only need 3 lands for deck to function) 3 counterspell-ish cards, 5 value engines (thermopod, etc.) 4 draws/cantrips, 7 mana rocks, 12 removal/stun, 4 unblockable/double strike spells, 5 tutors.

  • Control/counterspell is oddly enough not a problem, as Dargo’s cost reduction can easily cheat him out again.
  • Stax is a problem, as this deck tries to all in. To mitigate the issue, rush out Dargo faster than stax can be built. Unless you have a storm spell in hand, exert as many spells as possible, or cast 2/turn in case of mindbreak trap
  • Having Jeska, Thrice Reborn become the target of Phyrexian Revoker or Pithing Needle
If you decide or are able to proxy even 5 cards, prioritize these cards 1. Dockside Extortionist for Mogg War Marshall

  1. Mana Crypt for a Mountain

  2. Jeweled Lotus for any 0 drop; lets you drop Dargo turn 1 with any other 0 cmc artifact.

  3. Wheel of Fortune for Seize the Spoils as a better draw engine, which this deck is lacking in

  4. Ancient Tomb in place of a land

  5. Deflecting Swat in place of Bolt Bend

  6. Seasoned Pyromancer in place of a schematic

  7. Ruby Medallion for Mind stone

  8. Any reasonable Mox

  9. Jeska's Will

Other good cards: Treasonous Ogre Anger Prowler's Helm Seize the Spotlight

If you are proxying even more cards, consider these amazing non-essential lands you’ll see in most cEDH decks: Gemstone Cavern, Ancient Tomb, 5 fetchlands, Cavern of Souls

Sideboard: 10 cards to side which are situational cards for a Dargo Turbo build; most of these are removal, Stax, or cards to use against Stax Decks that would otherwise be too mana expensive to use.

War’s Toil

Pithing Needle

Phyrexian Revoker

Blasphemous Act

Scrap Mastery

Ratchet Bomb

Blood Moon

Magus of the Moon

Reverberate

Ugin's Nexus

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59% Casual

41% Competitive

Date added 1 year
Last updated 1 year
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

1 - 1 Mythic Rares

16 - 8 Rares

30 - 1 Uncommons

27 - 1 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 1.99
Tokens Blood, Construct 1/1 C, Eldrazi Spawn 0/1 C, Goblin 1/1 R, Phyrexian Germ 0/0 B, Servo 1/1 C, Treasure
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