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[Mid] Umbris: Shotgun Surgery

Commander / EDH Exile Horror Mill Primer UB (Dimir)



Designed for mid-power games as defined by PlayEDH--very expensive cards and highly-efficient wincons are deliberately excluded.

One of my regular opponents is a fan of anime, particularly a variety called isekai, which seems to revolve around young men being hit by trucks and sent to a magical realm based on medieval fantasy. He's also a fan of recursion loops that repeatedly return something pernicious to his hand. These two facts together gave me an idea--why not build a truck that could send his entire deck to anime world? I've been refining the concept through gameplay for nine months now*, and I think it's ready to hit the streets and create some chosen heroes of legend.

*As of upload date

Early versions of this deck included Psychic Surgery (hence the name), but I found it wasn't getting enough mileage. The basic mechanism of the deck remained the same, though:

  • Efficient mill cards shotgun away large swaths of opponents' decks,
  • Targeted removal surgically isekais priority threats, and then,
  • Umbris wins the game through unholy amounts of combat damage.

Mill is, of course, viable as an altcon, particularly thanks to Bruvac, but it takes very little time to pump Umbris to block-or-die levels and very little investment to make it evasive. The deck is essentially big-blue control at heart, with much the same strengths and weaknesses, but it's particularly effective against self-mill and other recursion-heavy themes.

Because it's Magic's only true isekai truck.

  • It's a wincon in the command zone. As long as your opponents have twenty cards in exile, it's block or die to commander damage, and in a mid-powered game, that's not a hard number to reach.
  • Your opponents can get rid of Umbris, but it still stays pumped, and you can pump it before you even cast it. Getting cards back from exile is hard; most decks can't do it at all, and even the ones that can do it can't do it en masse.
  • Realistically, there are two commanders that actually want to do Horror tribal, and the other one is Captain N'ghathrod. N'ghathrod is great if you want to marry yourself to milling people out as Plan A. If you want to run Horrors with an exile theme, Umbris is your guy... er, your gender-neutral amorphous scary thing.
  • is the best color identity in the game. For an exile theme, specifically, the only better ident is , but that ident has no commanders that directly benefit from mass exile.
  • Five CMC + limited ramp options + no natural defenses besides a potentially big butt = slow and vulnerable. This drawback is partially mitigated by the ability to win without ever casting Umbris, but it still hurts, and dedicated mill decks will always get that altcon out faster.
  • People really don't like having their stuff exiled, even if they weren't going to recur it anyway, and even if a faster deck would have killed them before they had a chance to play it. The psychological effect of what Umbris does is likely to draw hate disproportionate to the actual threat your deck poses.
  • Horrors and Nightmares are not great tribes and generally don't do much to directly advance your strategy other than just being Horrors and Nightmares. Some of the most synergistic creatures available don't actually proc Umbris.
  • Thoracle lines: To keep the deck mid-powered. You could obviously slot them in if you're feeling cheesy.
  • Most tutors: To keep costs down, to keep the deck mid-powered, and because the deck should be too linear to need them. They would make it easier to get a mill victory, but remember, mill victory is plan B. There are much better commanders for going all in on mill.
  • Recursion: So there's no opportunity cost for exiling your own graveyard to get someone else's, and so decks that steal or copy Umbris are less effective against you. I made one exception for Mystic Sanctuary because you're extremely likely to have three other islands.
  • Cards that gain advantage from opponents having cards in graveyard: So there's no opportunity cost for exiling other people's graveyards.

This is a linear deck, not a combo deck. Your best course of action is almost always to pump Umbris to lethal, get it onto the table, and swing. That said, you can also win through Bruvac the Grandiloquent + Maddening Cacophony .

  • Umbris is a bit expensive and a magnet for removal. It's often a good move to hold off on casting it until it's pumped up and you're able to protect it.
  • If you have Umbris and Nightmare Shepherd on the board, Nightmare Shepherd is going to be the first target for opponents' kill spells, so think of it as a bodyguard rather than as the Umbris-trigger machine its rules text suggests.
  • A player who loses the game has no cards in exile, so spread the love around, and don't focus your exile effects on a player you're about to finish off.
  • Horrors and nightmares have more value when Umbris is on the table, but don't be afraid to drop a few early.
  • A copy of Umbris sets off two Umbris triggers if the original is still on the table; Umbris is usually the best target for Spark Double.
  • Because most decks run about 34 lands, the average number of cards exiled with one Umbris trigger is about three. It's good, and it can run away and get much more than that, but it's not likely to be your main source of exiled cards.
  • The graveyard bombs (Relic of Progenitus, etc.) can activate cheaply at instant speed, so don't detonate them prematurely. Use them in response to damage to or from Umbris, enemy recursion, or removal of the bomb.


Updates Add

I'm dropping Elder Brain, a great card that takes too long to get out, and trying out Defiler of Flesh in its place.




31% Casual

69% Competitive

Date added 1 month
Last updated 1 week
Key combos

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

8 - 0 Mythic Rares

47 - 0 Rares

22 - 0 Uncommons

12 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.84
Tokens Ape 3/3 G, Bird 2/2 U, Boar 2/2 G, Copy Clone, Elemental 4/4 UR, Horror, Manifest 2/2 C, Nightmare 2/3 UB
Folders Mine, Decks I like, Deck Inspiration
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