Introduction

I came up with this deck a while back when I joked that it would be funny if a player lost the game from only Obzedat, Ghost Council ETB triggers. That got me thinking about the logistics and possibilities of building an Orzhov ETB deck. At first I was not very confident in the build since I didn't have access to blue. However, this deck has been extremely consistent in casual play and is one of my favorite decks to pull out at events, I also love how unconventional the deck is, I love building decks that surprise my opponents.

I feel like I've improved and tinkered with the deck to the point where it finally deserves a proper primer.

When I built this deck, I knew it was crucial to find good ETB card draw. I was surprised to find some pretty unique and fun cards that fit perfectly for Obzedat, Ghost Council

Archon of Cruelty: While this is very much a late game card, it has a lot of neat enter the battlefield effects packed into 1 card. Not only do you get to draw a card on the ETB, you also get to force your opponent to discard a card, lose 3 life, gain 3 life, and force your opponent to sacrifice a creature or a plansewalker. Also, ALL of these abilities trigger when attacking too! It's such a great late game card, however it does tend to put a big target on your back.

Blade Juggler: This is one of my favorites in this deck. Blade Juggler has a "spectacle cost" allowing you to cast it for instead of the usual cost if an opponent has lost life this turn. In most cases as long as you are using Obzedat, Ghost Council you will make someone lose life almost every turn. The only issue is that Blade Juggler is pretty much unplayable in the early game.

Callous Bloodmage: This card is a very versatile card draw option. 90% of the time I end up using Callous Bloodmage to draw cards, but the ability to exile any single graveyard comes in handy too.

Clattering Augur: This card is basically the opposite of Wall of Omens which cannot attack, well here is Clattering Augur essentially the same ETB ability (but you lose a life) except Clattering Augur cannot block.

Disciple of Bolas: Bolas can be hit or miss from time to time, though Bolas is the fastest way to draw cards in this deck. Sometimes it's a ballsy play to sac a big creature for cards, in most of my cases I like using Bolas when I have either Lifeline or Luminous Broodmoth in play, this can lead to some spicy ways to get more value on ETB triggers. Bolas is also great when you are hiding either Karmic Guide or Phyrexian Delver in hand so you can just return whatever you sacrifice immediately back to play.

Dusk Legion Zealot: Dusk is real basic, but it's so handy in the early game! Only is super cheap! He's also a pretty good meat shield to throw in front of creatures.

Phyrexian Rager: This is just a slightly more expensive Dusk Legion Zealot, it's at least a 2/2.

Priest of Ancient Lore: This one just recently came out and it's a beast. Essentially It's Phyrexian Rager except you gain life instead of losing life, just a major added bonus.

Skyscanner: I like Skyscanner because it doesn't hurt me on ETB. This card also has no color identity which can be a nice blocker, additionally you do not have to worry about having the right colored mana. Plus, it has flying which means it's a great blocker too.

Wall of Omens: Wall of Omens I like to think about as a better Dusk Legion Zealot. Big deal Wall of Omens can't attack but it's an amazing early game blocker with 4 toughness!

Tome of Legends: Easily one of the best cards in this deck. Obzedat, Ghost Council will be ETBing left and right which will cause the tome to get a ton of counters, I also like that it enters the battlefield with one counter on it already, this is great for draw in the early game before you enough for Obzedat, Ghost Council.

Best way to abuse these cards

Obviously blinking and flickering is the easiest way to gain value off the card draw cards: Felidar Guardian,Flickerwisp,Restoration Angel,Conjurer's Closet,Eldrazi Displacer,Sword of Hearth and Home,Teleportation Circle,Eerie Interlude,Ephemerate,Ghostway)

But there are some other fun ways to get value too, like with Blade of Selves! This card can be pretty explosive. Just equip Skyscanner for and boom! That's pay draw two, that's not so bad!

Cloudstone Curio: Can be a beast with these cards too, especially the cheap ones like Wall of Omens and Dusk Legion Zealot in the late came you can draw a lot of cards VERY quickly with Cloudstone Curio.

Lifeline + Luminous Broodmoth: with either of these in play you can swing in with all of your creatures every combat, eventually someone will need to block and if they do they all go to the graveyard and then come back for more ETB value! Or, you can hold them up as blocks with so players will hesitate when attacking you to prevent free ETB value.

Panharmonicon: What is there to even say ... this card is absolutely incredible!

Strionic Resonator: Basically a weaker Panharmonicon, but it's still very useful and can help out a ton in the early game.

While crafting this deck I knew I wanted to create something that would have a large defenses board state for safety. I wanted to include cards that created tokens on ETB. At first I was a little worried about finding enough but I was not disappointed by any means.

Abhorrent Overlord: is a beast of a card that creates 1/1 flying Harpy tokens equal to your devotion to black on ETB. This means at the very minimum it generates at least two 1/1 flyers. I tend to create on average around 4 - 6 Harpy's per ETB. The main downside to Abhorrent Overlord is at the beginning of your upkeep you must sacrifice a creature. In most cases you sacrifice a Harpy, however with Lifeline or Luminous Broodmoth it can be very advantageous to sacrifice a stronger creature you control to get a bonus ETB trigger.

Evangel of Heliod: is essentially a white Abhorrent Overlord except without the added ruling "at the beginning of your upkeep you must sacrifice a creature" caveat. Additionally, instead of 1/1 Harpy's Evangel of Heliod creates 1/1 white soldiers.

Geist-Honored Monk: I absolutely adore this card. When Geist-Honored Monk enters the battlefield you create two 1/1 white spirit tokens with flying. But that's not all, Geist-Honored Monk is very interesting because it's power toughness is equal to how many creatures you control. This means every time you find a way to flicker or blink Geist-Honored Monk into play it progressively becomes larger and larger. Geist-Honored Monk also has vigilance which definitely adds to it's threat level.

Grave Titan: I think most people know about Grave Titan by now I like to think of Grave Titan as the black Geist-Honored Monk, it's a beast of a card. A 6/6 with deathtouch is already pretty nice, but also you create two 2/2 zombies on every ETB AND on every attack! What more could you want? I really wish Grave Titan had vigilance like Geist-Honored Monk though, but then I think the card would be too good.

Priest of the Blood Rite: I really think this card does not see enough play or get enough credit. Every time Priest of the Blood Rite enters the battlefield you get a 5/5 flying demon. I've closed so many games so fast with this card because of all the ways to blink and flicker Blood Rite back into play. Priest of the Blood Rite does however make you lose 2 life at the beginning of each of your upkeeps but when you are playing Obzedat, Ghost Council you are already going to be gaining at the bare minimum 2 life a turn anyways. I genuinely think this card is extremely extremely under rated. Especially with black being able to sacrifice and reanimate creatures so frequently.

Best way to abuse these cards

Aside from all of the many ways to flicker and blink in this deck, here are the main ways to abuse these cards.

Gruesome Scourger: If I end up creating a ton of tokens or accumulate a lot of non-token creatures I usually try and get a hold of Gruesome Scourger and use that ETB damage as a win con.

Combat: This may seem like a no brainer, but of course when you start creating tons of tokens you have more of a hold on the game and can begin swinging other players.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier + Disciple of Bolas + Phyrexian Tower: sometimes sacrificing creatures that aren't tokens can be brutal, by sacrificing the tokens you can still get the value from these cards and maintain control of your main non-token permanents.

Blade of Selves: Blade works really really well with these token maker cards, especially the ones that care about devotion. When equiping Blade of Seleves to a card like Evangel of Heliod at the minimum you are going to create 12 soldiers, and that's only if the only white creature on the battlefield is Evangel of Heliod, it's even wilder when you have more devotion from other things.

So in a lot of my other decks I don't really run like to run much removal, however, I wanted to shake things up for my playgroup and make sure that this deck has tons of ways to eliminate threats. Another reason that I added a lot of removal is that my deck is very easily countered by cards like Hushbringer, Torpor Orb, Hushwing Gryff, and Tocatli Honor Guard, that being said I needed to make sure that I added answers for these cards just in case someone is using them.

Additionally there are quite a few creatures that have ETB removal in this deck too in order to take out other threats.

Another goal of mine was to make sure that I had more "exile" removal than "destroy" removal. Nowadays almost everything can be recurred and I hate it so much. Graveyard decks are simply too powerful.

ETB Removal

Angel of Despair: I really love this card, just a great late game threat of a card because every one knows I'm going to keep abusing the ETB. It's great because you can destroy ANY permanent including lands, I also really like that it's a 5/5 with flying too, it's a really useful blocker. I only wish that Angel of Despair exiled cards.

Angel of the Ruins: This is easily one of my favorite cards in the deck, basically a replay-able Return to Dust. It's also just a very versatile card, early game you can keep it in your hand and pay two to search for Godless Shrine or Scrubland or any basic plain in the deck, and then it's in the graveyard for some easy recursion with cards like Karmic Guide and Phyrexian Delver. It's also an amazing blocker a 5/7 with flying. The only downside is that it's an artifact creature which makes it more susceptible to removal.

Ashen Rider: This card is very similar to Angel of Despair except it costs extra mana and it can exile any permanent as opposed to destroy. Additionally, Ashen Rider's ability also triggers when it dies, so with some reanimator effects in hand like Karmic Guide or Phyrexian Delver you can do some real sneaky sacrifice and reanimate shenanigans.

Callous Bloodmage: This card is kind of a stretch to "removal" but it can remove threats from graveyards on ETB, this card has been extremely reliable for this! It's a very under rated card. I was even able to ditch my Bojuka Bog once I picked this up because bog is just too slow entering tapped.

Cavalier of Dawn: Here is another very versatile removal piece, it does have a small downside, but it also has a few bonus upsides. It's a basic "destroy any non-land permanent" card, however unfortunately the opponent does receive a 3/3 golem as a consolation prize. Cavalier of Dawn has a sweet ruling though that says when it dies you can return any artifact or enchantment from your graveyard to your hand! This is huge in this deck for cards like Blade of Selves, Cloudstone Curio, Conjurer's Closet, Lifeline, Panharmonicon, Strionic Resonator, Sword of Hearth and Home, and Teleportation Circle. Additionally, Cavalier of Dawn has vigilance which is just always nice in commander.

Massacre Wurm: This card is just such a force in this deck and I love it. It's fun pulling off like 3 different ETB's of Massacre Wurm in one turn and just giving all of my opponents creatures -6/-6 until end of turn. This is such a good mass board wipe card in the deck. Massacre Wurm also makes your opponents lose 2 life every time one of their creatures dies which can add up a lot on ETB's and throughout the entire game too when Massacre Wurm is on board. Massacre Wurm is also an option to get with Netherborn Phalanx transmute effect.

Noxious Gearhulk: This cards amazing, on ETB you can destroy any target creature (including your own to synergies with cards like Lifeline and Luminous Broodmoth) and not only do you destroy any creature, you also gain life equal to that creatures power! It's a great removal card in this deck. It also has menace which is pretty good ability. The only downside is that Noxious Gearhulk is also an artifact making it more susceptible to removal.

Solitude: This is an unreal card and I can't believe it exist. It's essentially a reusable and sometimes basically free Swords to Plowshares. Solitude has evoke, this means you can exile a white card from your hand and cast Solitude for free. In my deck I have some ways to cheat it out for hardly and mana. After evoking, while Solitude is on the battlefield but before you have to sacrifice it, cast any instead speed blinks or flickers to keep it around for good, you can do this with cards like: Eerie Interlude, Ephemerate, Ghostway, and even Restoration Angel because it has flash. Solitude also has lifelink which is really really just good to have.

Sunblast Angel: This removal piece is great for when you are in a pickle where your opponents keep on attacking. It's a fun little sneaky boardwipe that opponents may not suspect.

Non ETB Removal

Anguished Unmaking: This is a great card it's cheap, only exile any nonland permanent, the only downside is losing three life. Plus it's instant speed removal which is always the bomb.

Deadly Rollick: Who doesn't like free spells? Deadly Rollick let's you exile any target creature, what makes this card so good is that you can cast it for free if you control your commander. I like to hold it in my hand and use it when I am in the middle of combat or to get an open attack with Obzedat, Ghost Council.

Despark: I like this card because it's cheap and can exile any permanent that's 4 cmc or greater. Plus the Japanese art looks really sweet

Merciless Eviction: This is a really powerful board wipe that can help in some sticky situations. In most cases I like to use it to exile all enchantments or exile all plansewalkers because that doesn't effect my own deck too much. But sometimes when an opponent is getting way too strong I'll use it to exile all creatures or exile all artifacts. I like this wipe because sometimes in dire situations I need to grab this card with the transmute from Netherborn Phalanx.

Swords to Plowshares: Just such a great piece of removal for only , you can exile any target creature, the only downside is that creatures controller gains life equal to the power of the creature you exiled. I have yet to be in a situation where I would need to exile my own creature, I would imagine the best target for that would be Geist-Honored Monk.

Utter End: This guys a little pricey on the CMC side, but nonetheless it's still such a great piece of removal. It's basically a weaker version of Anguished Unmaking at least you don't lose three life though.

Vanishing Verse: This card is very similar to Despark in that you have a small stipulation determining what you can exile. In Vanishing Verse's case you can only exile mono colored permanents and it's the same casting cost just a mere

Vindicate: Last but not least, Vindicate. I really really wish this card exiled, but then it would just be pretty much the same as Anguished Unmaking. What is really great about this card is that you can at least destroy lands, this can be really handy.

Black is probably most known for graveyard recursion, so you know I had to include some graveyard recursion options.

Cavalier of Dawn: While it's main ability on ETB has nothing to do with recursion, this card does have a trigger that occurs when it dies. You essentially can get back any artifact or enchantment from your graveyard, it's pretty good in this deck as there are 12 different artifacts and 1 enchantment.

Karmic Guide: Is such a great card in really any white deck, but it shines really well in this deck too. For just 5 total mana you can return any creature from your graveyard to play! The only downside is that Karmic Guide has an echo cost so if you want to keep it around you have to pay 5 mana every turn. There are some sneaky ways to get around paying with cards like Eldrazi Displacer, Eerie Interlude, Ephemerate, and Ghostway.

Phyrexian Delver: I like to think of as the black Karmic Guide, in some ways it's better but in some ways it's also not as good. The first great thing is that Phyrexian Delver does not have an echo cost, but instead you must pay life equal to the converted cost of the creature that is being recurred. Additionally, Karmic Guide has flying while Phyrexian Delver doesn't really provide that much protection as a blocker.

Sun Titan: This card is so fun to use and can create a ton of value. Not only does it's ability trigger on ETB, you also get to trigger the ability on combat. It has vigilance too so you always have a blocker. The only issue is that you can only recur any permanent that is 3 CMC or less. Luckily it doesn't have to be creatures plus it can even work with lands! Here all of the 3 cmc or less nonland permanents Callous Bloodmage, Cloudstone Curio, Eldrazi Displacer, Flickerwisp, Phyrexian Rager, Priest of Ancient Lore, Recruiter of the Guard, Skyscanner, Sword of Hearth and Home, Arcane Signet, Blade of Selves, Dusk Legion Zealot, Orzhov Signet, Strionic Resonator, Talisman of Hierarchy, Tome of Legends, Weathered Wayfarer, Wall of Omens, and Sol Ring.

Emeria, The Sky Ruin: Okay this card may seem a little ballsy in my deck. Typically you only see Emeria, The Sky Ruin in mono-white decks, but I promise I get it to go live all the time! With cards like Angel of the Ruins I can plainscycle to grab any plains in the deck. When I get Kor Cartographer into play I flicker and blink it as much as I can to try and hit those 7 total plains, I do the same thing with Solemn Simulacrum too, Sword of Hearth and Home is also a beast of a card for getting my plains as well.

Lifeline: This is easily one of my favorite pet cards, I used to run this card in another one of my decks but it works so so so much better in this build! Things just basically don't die! Unless someone does a huge board wipe. I love purposefully sacraficing cards when lifeline is in play with Disciple of Bolas, Sidisi, Undead Vizier, and Phyrexian Tower. I feel invincible when Lifeline is in play, nobody wants to attack you because they know that blocking is nothing but pure value for you.

Luminous Broodmoth: This card is literally just an upgraded one sided Lifeline. It hits just as well as lifeline does for me. I do like that after a creature card comes into play it enters with the flying counter on it, then if you just flicker or blink the card the flying counter goes away, making it so you can recur those creatures again.

Purgatory: This is the newest card added to my deck that I am experimenting with, so far I really like it, and I think it has good synergy with Obzedat since I usually gain 2 life every turn. I consider it basically a weaker Luminous Broodmoth / Lifeline. The average cmc of this deck is roughly 4, so paying on the upkeep really isn't that bad. The only issue is that you can only bring creatures back 1 at a time, and you only can return creatures to play on your upkeep. The art on it is really sick so that's an added bonus.

Volrath's Stronghold: This is one of the best lands in the entire deck, It's fairly easy to hold up three lands and activate this card just before your turn, or using this on a turn where you have any of the card draw ETB's in your hand. I also like using this land while Obzedat, Ghost Council trigger is on the stack, since it triggers in the upkeep I can activate this before the draw phase which can be pretty handy.

Blinking and Flickering is sort of the entire goal of this deck. It's important that all of these cards can be abused as much as possible and the best way to do that is with these cards.

Felidar Guardian: This card is a classic. I love how simple it is, just a 1/4 with a very easy to understand ability. What's great about Felidar is that you can target any permanent you control. This means you can make any unwanted enchant aura's fall off, or make certain artifacts enter untapped. In most cases I use Felidar on my creatures. You can also use this on Cabal Coffers and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to make them untap and use them again.

Flickerwisp: I like running Flickerwisp because you can exile any permanent that any player controls. I like doing this to creature that belong to me that my opponents take, that way I can get those creatures back under my control. It's also good to use Flickerwisp on any annoying tokens your opponents have created.

Restoration Angel: Restoration Angel is really versatile but it also has one hinderance. What's great about Restoration Angel is that it has flash, it's great for when someone is targeting a creature you control with any removal. It's also great for when casting Grief or Solitude for their evoke costs, you can blink them to keep them from sacrificing themselves. The only downside is that Restoration Angel cannot target angels so it doesn't work with Angel of Despair, Angel of the Ruins, Karmic Guide, Sunblast Angel and Thief of Blood.

Conjurer's Closet: The closet is just a classic card, essentially you get one free blink a turn. Now it's not as good as it's newest predecessor Teleportation Circle, but it's still a really powerful card.

Sword of Hearth and Home: Sword of Hearth and Home is possibly one of my favorite cards in the entire deck. Not only does it let you blink one creature, it also let's you search for any basic land and put it into play UNTAPPED, it's such a great card.

Teleportation Circle: I mentioned this in the Conjurer's Closet section, this card is basically a more powerful Conjurer's Closet. It's an enchantment so it's supposedly harder to remove also it costs 1 total CMC less to cast.

Eerie Interlude: This card is extremely fun to use, you can use it right before a board wipe resolves, or you can just use it for pure aggression after having a big board. I also like that you can pick and choose which creatures you control that you want to exile, unlike Ghostway which can backfire and exile any token creatures.

Ephemerate: This card is so good in the deck, you basically just do a super quick blink for only one mana, in addition to that the spell has rebound so you can do it a second time on your next upkeep. I like using Ephemerate with Massacre Wurm since it's roughly a high cmc card.

Ghostway is basically a weaker Eerie Interlude in my opinion, even though Ghostway is a $17 card. It's still great, I just don't see how Eerie Interlude is cheaper.

This deck has a few ways to win and they are not listed in any particular order.

Combat

This is obviously one of the main ways that people when EDH games. Obzedat being a 5/5 that is hard to remove really makes it a strong contender for voltron, of course you couldn't run aura enchantments, and you have to pay to equip the equipment on every turn, but with one small sword like Sword of Hearth and Home that commander damage can add up pretty quick. Throw in fear from Shizo, Death's Storehouse and your opponents just won't be ready.

Aside from commander damage the build has both a ton of removal, and a ton of big flying creatures to try and get in for flying damage. The flyers include Abhorrent Overlord, Angel of Despair, Angel of the Ruins, Archon of Cruelty, Ashen Rider, Flickerwisp, Geist-Honored Monk (creates flyers), Karmic Guide, Priest of the Blood Rite (creates 5/5 flyers), Restoration Angel, Skyscanner, Sunblast Angel and Thief of Blood.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel

It is probably no surprise that this Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a major win con in an ETB deck with black in it. It's just simply too good of a card, and it can get quickly out of hand with cards like Conjurer's Closet, Panharmonicon, and Teleportation Circle.

Typically when I am going for a Gary win I try and look for cards like Cloudstone Curio so I can continuously return it to my hand and keep recasting Gray Merchant of Asphodel. I also look out for Lifeline + Luminous Broodmoth so that I can purposeful destroy or sacrifice Gray Merchant of Asphodel for extra ETB's. I do this with Cavalier of Dawn (purposefully destroying my own permanents), Disciple of Bolas, Noxious Gearhulk, Sidisi, Undead Vizier and Phyrexian Tower. Sometimes if players are low enough I can even swing with Gray Merchant of Asphodel to get people to block.

I've never been able to do it, but I have always wanted to successfully equip Blade of Selves onto Gray Merchant of Asphodel. It would deal so much damage to everyone. Every time i've tried to do this someone has destroyed or exiled Gary.

[Netherborn Phalanx + Massacre Wurm

Netherborn Phalanx is a super niche card that I've managed to defeat many opponents with. It's very similar to
winning with Gray Merchant of Asphodel, however the life loss is equivalent to how many creatures your opponents control. This single card can absolutely hose token decks and I love it. I usually keep Netherborn Phalanx in my hand until my opponent has just the right amount of tokens, and so that I have ways to blink and flicker Netherborn Phalanx on ETB.

Massacre Wurm Can be even more brutal for my opponents with token decks, as long as they haven't been pumped too much. But, with multiple ETB's I can usually get Massacre Wurm to either -6/-6 or -8/-8 all of my opponents creatures. Massacre Wurm's life loss is way more brutal than Netherborn Phalanx , it's essentially 2 life per every creature that dies, and that effect stays on the battlefield until someone destroys Massacre Wurm. This means Wurm can not only hose token decks, it can also hose sacrifice decks too.

A real easy way to keep token decks at bay is with eithe

Gruesome Scourger

My last main win con revolves around flickering and blinking Gruesome Scourger as much as possible. This deck can accumulate a ton of creatures so quickly, and it makes Gruesome Scourger a pretty easy win. Especially in the late game when most opponents are already under 40 life. The deck has a lot of token makers like Abhorrent Overlord, Evangel of Heliod, Geist-Honored Monk, Grave Titan, and Priest of the Blood Rite. Getting these out typically helps a lot. Usually once I have 10 or so creatures it gets pretty easy to start adding up damage very quickly.

This deck can obviously be beaten by stax decks since many of them run ETB prevention cards like Hushbringer, Torpor Orb, Hushwing Gryff, and Tocatli Honor Guard. But I really don't run into these cards as often as you might think.

The true counter to this deck is really either other ETB decks that include blue, simply because these decks typically just get their engine going much faster and easier and there is more ETB support in blue.

or this deck is countered hard by copy decks, pretty much my entire board is pure value for the opponent, and they can continuously create copies of my own Ashen Rider or any of my other ETB removal cards (and there are a lot of them).

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83% Casual

Competitive

Top Ranked
Date added 1 year
Last updated 1 week
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

13 - 0 Mythic Rares

57 - 0 Rares

12 - 0 Uncommons

8 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 4.16
Tokens Copy Clone, Copy Clone, Demon 5/5 B, Golem 3/3 C, 1/1 B Token Creature Harpy, Pest 1/1 BG, Soldier 1/1 W, Spirit 1/1 W, Zombie 2/2 B
Folders Uncategorized, Tabletop, Stolen Decks, EDH Decks, EDH
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