After years and years of building, buying and tweaking I finally think this deck is worthy of a primer. So without further ado, welcome to this primer! Comments or critique are appreciated!

The Introduction

For the past 7-8 years this deck has been at my side. It went through multiple iterations, changed from being bad to being broken to somewhere in between. Right now it's at a place where I want it to be, it's a powerful deck that I can play at nearly any table (save for the cutthroat cEDH decks) but it plays very well at more casual tables too.

  • **You like flexibility**
  • Whether you like a token strategy, a removal strategy, a value strategy or want to go straight-up infinte, Teysa got you covered.
  • **You like a commander you can build around but don't have to rely on**
  • Teysa is a cheap commander at 3 mana so will be able to see her every game if you want to. But even if you don't, it's abilities mainly support your deck instead of you having to rely on her presence.
  • **You like value**
  • Any black creature that dies on your side generates a token, if you have enough tokens you can start removing annoyances from the table. All without having to do anything besides having your commander in play.
  • **You like Orzhov**
  • Teysa is black/white, got you covered!
  • **You want a high-impact commander**
  • Teysa offers incremental value by doubling up on your sacrifice engines. You generally don't drop the commander and win that turn (excluding infinite strategies)
  • **You like to win with commander damage**
  • Teysa is 2/3 so while you can smash for commander damage, you have to smash a bit more often.
  • **You dislike Orzhov**
  • Teysa is black/white :(
# The Vision I've built the deck according to a few rules:
  • **We don't go infinite**
  • I hate it when a game gets decided by someone drawing their 3 cards (especially playing a color with plenty of tutors. More often than not, it's an anticlimatic finale to what otherwise could have been a good game.
  • **We want focus**
  • Black/white can be easily built as a straight up good-stuff deck. If that's the goal you're better off with a different Orzhov commander. Instead we focus on 1 main theme with two sub themes: tokens as a main theme and lifegain and recursion as sub themes..
  • **We want variance**
  • I want to play the deck for multiple games on a night without it becoming stale. If a deck has one goal and is good at executing it, every game will play out more or less the same. Hence the focus on two themes instead of going all-in on one.
  • **We want multiple small synergies**
  • If we win, we want it to be on the back of the small synergies in the deck like Land Tax + Scroll Rack . So even though you might play 2 games as a token deck, the path towards victories (and which synergies you use) are completely different.
  • **We dislike searching for the obvious**
  • It's very easy to replace Phyrexian Arena with Necropotence but that will only result in every tutor being directed at that card since it's just that powerful. It takes away from the player by not giving them a choice (since one is so much better than the others) and thus makes playing the deck less fun.
# The Omissions There are a few cards that I don't play deliberately.
  • **Necropotence**
  • As mentioned above, Necropotence is such an absurd card in a 40 life format that I refuse to play it. It completely warps the deck idea from identifying your lines of play to getting the skull into play asap.
# The Themes To accomplish our vision the deck is structured around one main theme and two sub themes. It used to be two themes but it’s hard to do things equally well. We are looking for cards that have major synergy with tokens (or a wide board), cards that have allow for recursion and cards that fit with the aforementioned themes and have some life-gain attached to them.
  • **Main: Tokens**
  • Teysa's herself is a good token generator and loads of the good Orzhov cards synergize well with going wide. So if the gloves need to come off, this deck can generate some serious combat damage. Do note that going wide is not a goal of the deck but more often than not a result of the token synergy cards. What I mean with that is that for example token doublers are not in there because their single focus is to go wide. If we're generating tokens we're probably already doing fine, regardless if they are doubled or not. The cards in the deck that synergize well with a wide board also work well on smaller boards (Cathars' Crusade or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite) or have additional synergies strapped to them Archangel of Thune.
  • **Sub: Recursion**
  • One of the restrictions that we put on ourselves is to not go infinite. That means games can get grindy. By focusing on recurring our stuff (not so much cheating overcosted things into play) we can ensure that we always have fuel in the tank until we are the last one standing.
  • **Sub: Lifegain**
  • But lifegain is bad! Yes, cards like Healing Salve are bad so we don't include straight-up gain-life cards. However, we have quite a few cards that allow us to weaponize our life total (Bolas's Citadel, K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth, etc) so when possible we prioritize cards that have life-gain attached to them, Ayara, First of Locthwain for example or any of the lifelink creatures. Besides all the synergy, having a healthy life total is a good thing in multiplayer.
# The Deck I've created 7 categories that a card should fall in to be included with one additional category (Good stuff) for cards that don't really fit any of them but are good on their own. If a card does not fit in the 7 main categories it has to fight for its spot in the Good Stuff category (in which there is very limited space). Bonus points of course if a card covers more than one category.

Solemn Simulacrum

One of the oldest staples in EDH and for a good reason. It's colorless, it ramps and it provides value when it gets killed. Never unhappy to see in my hand and a very good target to recur a few times. * * *

Worn Powerstone, Mana Crypt, Orzhov Signet, Sol Ring

Pretty standard set of mana rocks. All commander decks should include ramp to function properly and Teysa is no different. Since Black/White offers not much land ramp you have to rely on rocks. * * *

Land Tax

While not directly providing you with ramp, it makes sure that for the rest of that game you will have lands a plenty. Additionally, Land Tax + Scroll Rack is a thing. * * *

Knight of the White Orchid

A 2 drop creature that ramps and carries equipments well? Sign me up! You're almost always able to proc him save for the odd occasion where you go first and hit every land drop. In that case you have no issues regardless so you just keep it in hand until you either miss a land drop or someone ramps. * * *

Smothering Tithe

Holy shit this card is good. If in a position to get this out early, do so. It catapults you in front of the other players. * * *

K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth

Very good standalone play. Paying 4 to 6 life for it is fine more often than not because it puts your deck in overdrive. * * *

Bolas's Citadel

Everything is free! Well until you die. Don't die and you will win! Pro tactics. Even if you're low on life it's still a fine play since it allows you to play lands from the top. If you have a Scroll Rack in play you can manipulate the top in a way that allows for the best results. Its activated ability is surprisingly useful since late-game it's easy to have 10-20 non-lands in play (tokens count too), so an end of turn activation into untap, activate again to ding the table for 20 is a real possibility. * * *

Treasure Map   and Thaumatic Compass  

The flip artifacts are great. They are a great early play and once their criteria are met, flip into an additional land. They allow us to play with 37 lands even though it's a mana hungry deck. The map has the added advantage that it can turn treasures from Smothering Tithe into additional cards. * * *

Phyrexian Tower

Highly situational but it's a land that can tap for two in a pinch. Pay the price, reap the rewards.

Erebos, God of the Dead

For when you need incremental card advantage that sticks. Sometimes your board is being targeted so having an indestructible way of getting back in the game is the answer. The "can't gain life" clause is also suprisingly effective/annoying. * * *

Mentor of the Meek

Triggers on any token created by Teysa, on Bloodghast jumping in play, zombies that are created. It can become a bit mana intensive but it's a great source of card advantage. * * *

Read the Bones

If you want to dig deep and you want to dig deep now. Slow card draw like Phyrexian Arena is good to have but is a horrible top deck when you need action. This card gets you all the action. Combine it with Scroll Rack to replace 2 unwanted cards with 2 fresh ones. * * *

Solemn Simulacrum

Already mentioned in the ramp department but the card draw tacked to this card is great (obviously). If you have a sac outlet and a Corpse Dance, go nuts. * * *

Ayara, First of Locthwain

Sac a creature to draw a card has always been phenomenal. The downside of only allowing black creatures to be sacrificed is more than compensated by the fact it can sacrifice tokens. This deck already likes black creatures because of Teysa's passive ability and Darkest Hour turns everything black so it's not really an issue. * * *

Krav, the Unredeemed and Regna, the Redeemer

Playing either one of them will draw you the other, so that's immediate card advantage. Krav on top of that is a BEAST. He draws cards, sacs creatures, gains life and hits for a lot. Pretty much everything this deck tries to accomplish in one card. If only it made tokens but Regna has got you covered there. * * *

Treasure Map  

Smoothes out your draws and creatures three treasures once it flips. That's three cards right there, albeit it a bit slow. Synergizes extremely well with Smothering Tithe. * * *

Bolas's Citadel

Allows you to overwhelm the table if your life total allows it. Don't drop too low though since three enemies can easily make quick work of you if you drop to 10-15 life. There's enough life-gain in the deck to get back up again though so you can take some risks. * * *


One of the primary targets of Stoneforge Mystic. With Teysa tokens it becomes a 1 mana: draw 2. Don't expect this card to remain in play for long so play it when you can immediately create value. If the card stays in play you're well on your way to winning the game. * * *

Scroll Rack

Allows you to replace any card in your hand with a new one from the top of your deck. Plays very well with the fetch lands in this deck since it shuffles away whatever you put on your deck, giving you a fresh set of cards on the next activation. Combined with Land Tax it forms one of the oldest powerhouse combos in the game. Searching for 3 basic lands and replacing them with Scroll Rack giving you effectively 3 extra draws per turn.

Elspeth, Sun's Champion

I'm not really a fan of planeswalkers in EDH since they are quite vulnerable. However Elspeth creates a -ton- of tokens allowing you to immediately exile a creature with Teysa on top of having a selective board wipe. Be careful with Tragic Arrogance and Cataclysmic Gearhulk though, they don't like planeswalkers. * * *

Elenda, the Dusk Rose

It's a bit slow to get going but it does everything we want. It's white to use as Teysa fodder, it's black to produce spirit tokens, it gains life, it grows with creatures dying (of which there will be a lot) and you can cash it in for a pile of tokens. Perfect! * * *

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Very nice card that plays ball in multiple categories. It provides zombies for your token theme, it is a good beatstick that grow to huge proportions on top of having lifelink. It's a sac outlet for your vampires or zombies (Bloodghast says hi!) and it hoses your opponents graveyard-based strategies. All for the mere price of 4 mana. Make sure you equip a Lightning Greaves on it because this card will be public enemy number 1`when it hits play. * * *


If you would look up rattlesnake in the dictionary there's a good chance you will find a picture of Ophiomancer. Very innocent looking creature that can be a major pain for opponents. All-star on defense, consistently providing you with a black deathtouch snake (that will spawn a spirit token). If you happen to have a sac outlet it will create a spirit on each upkeep. If you happen to have Anointed Procession in play combined with said sac outlet it can turn filthy real quick. * * *

Ghoulcaller Gisa

More zombies! If you happen to have Cathars' Crusade in play it only takes a few activations to completely get out of control. Example, end of turn you have a 4/4 in play, Gisa and Crusade. You sacrifice the 4/4, you get 4x 2/2 that give your entire army +4/+4. You untap, sacrifice on of your 6/6 ghouls to give your entire army +6/+6. Even in the worst case scenario where you have nothing else in play but that starting situation, you're able to attack with 3 12/12 ghouls. If you have Anointed Procession in play, that becomes 7 30/30 zombies (with another 20 zombies having summoning sickness). * * *


Cheap enchantment that doesn't attract much hate but provides you with a steady stream of black flying tokens. Plays very well with cards like Skullclamp and singlehandedly pays the "upkeep" for The Abyss. * * *

Divine Visitation

Puts your token shenanigans in overdrive. I mean, Anointed Procession is nice, but getting Serra Angels instead of 1/1 spirits is insane. Any token producer becomes complete bonkers with this card. Grave Titan drops 2 Angels in play. Ophiomancer makes Verdant Force look like a chump by dropping an Angel in play every upkeep (since you don't have snakes). Teysa creates Angels whenever a black creature dies. Army of the Damned becomes an Army of Angels. Ghoulcaller Gisa is promoted to calling Angels. Things will get out of hand -quickly-. * * *

Regna, the Redeemer

One of the pay-off cards in the deck for having quite a bit of life-gain. Magical Christmas Land is of course having this in play with Krav, but even without the evil twin brother this card can do some work. Any life gained will result in two soldier tokens while the card itself is a decent flyer that also tutors for a broken card. Strap on a batterskull and go to town. * * *

Army of the Damned

Another army in a can but this one demands an immediate answer. Make sure you have a Teysa in play as a safety net in case they have a sweeper. If they have a sweeper you get 13 spirit tokens. Plays very well with Geist-Honored Monk and is absolutely bonkers with Cathars' Crusade and/or Anointed Procession. * * *

Phyrexian Plaguelord

Decent sized body that turns any creature you have into removal. Even if you don't need the removal, it's a free repeatable sac outlet. If an opponent doesn't have creatures you can still target one of your own creatures. * * *

Ghoulcaller Gisa

A bit slow to get going but it gives you some great value for anything that's about to die. Since the zombies are (at least) 2/2 you always get at least one more zombie than you had before activating her. * * *

Diamond Valley, High Market and Phyrexian Tower

Uncounterable sac outlets. One provides you with a bit of ramp, one gives you a ton of life and the other gives a bit of life but taps for mana. Just having one of them untapped in play protects all your creatures from exile by cards like Swords to Plowshares or theft by cards like Treachery. * * *

Krav, the Unredeemed

Possibly the best creature in the deck, synergy wise. Even if you sacrifice only one creature per turn, it will still draw you a card, grow Krav and trigger your life-gain synergies. Sacrificing one creature a turn might seem a lot but with cards like Ophiomancer, Bitterblossom and Teysa, Orzhov Scion it’s easy to keep fodder around. * * *

Bolas's Citadel

It sacrifices stuff, it counts. * * *

Ayara, First of Locthwain

Sac outlet for black creatures. Synergizes extremely well with our commander since Teysa also cares about black creatures. The dream of course is to have Darkest Hour in play with the two ladies which means that every creature you sacrifice will result in a new token to sacrifice, a drain to the table and an extra card in your hand. The life-gain seems like a minor thing but the table will think otherwise when you play Army of the Damned. * * *

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Pretty situational but provides a nifty sacrifice outlet for your zombie tokens and vampires: Bloodghast and Elenda, the Dusk Rose. Especially for Elenda, since she tends to catch exile effects, it's nice to have a safety net. It also combo's nicely with Nim Deathmantle since that turns the equipped creature into a zombie, which you can sacrifice with Kalitas and return again for 4 mana.

Animate Dead

It's cheap, it's recurrable with Sun Titan, tutorable by Academy Rector and on top of it all, it allows you to recur from any graveyard. * * *


The gift that keeps on giving. As long as you're hitting land drops (even better if it's fetch lands) this little guy keeps coming back for additional value. He's a vampire that can be sacrificed to grow Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, carries Skullclamp like a pro and overall is a nice guy to be around. * * *

Nezumi Graverobber

Mainly disrupts your opponents but if you get to a stage where you can flip it, make sure you have some mana available. Since it's no tap ability you can immediately grab the best creature(s) available. It also gives you the option to remove opponent's Bojuka Bogs after playing Fall of the Thran, since that card really rains on your parade. * * *

Sepulchral Primordial

One of the finishers in your deck. If you have a sac outlet you can Corpse Dance it into play for every 5 mana you have, generating a huge amount of value in the meantime. It pretty much demands a sweeper from the opponents else it's over. Since you can safely assume said sweeper will happen keep a Thrilling Encore handy. Best part of that play is that it also return the Primordial back into play, more value! * * *

Sun Titan

Doesn't need much explanation. Try and combine it with Lightning Greaves to recur two things immediately on top of protection your value engine. One of the few cards in the deck that allows for recursion of your artifacts/enchantments so take that into account in prioritizing what to recur. Getting that Scroll Rack back might be better than a creature since you have ample ways to resurrect your creatures. * * *

Sword of Light and Shadow

Protects your creatures from the most common removal, pumps them for additional damage, gains you a decent amount of life and returns a creature from your graveyard to your hand. What's not to like? If you have The Abyss in play prioritize getting this equipment. Not only does it allow you to recur your offerings to The Abyss, it also protects your creature from that same Abyss since The Abyss targets and Protection from Black neatly negates that. * * *

Thrilling Encore

I had to read this card a few times before I believed my eyes. It turns any sweeper into a potential gamewinning play for you. It also doesn't require you to respond immediately (like Teferi's Protection) but you can just wait until the end of turn to see if it's still a good play. Can drop a backbreaking amount of creatures into play. Even if your opponents don't cooperate by playing a sweeper or you're not looking for a finisher, you can use it to sacrifice your board for value and then cast Thrilling Encore to do it all again. "Welcome to the winning team" indeed. * * *

Cavalier of Dawn

Straight up recursion for your artifacts and enchantments. If you have no game plan in mind, you can always recur an Animate Dead and keep the cavalier around. * * *

Corpse Dance

It's a crime this card isn't played more. For a mere 5 mana it repeatedly returns the top creature card in your graveyard into play. Make sure you have a sac outlet to prevent the creature from being exiled at end of turn. If you're in a bind you can play it without buyback to throw something in play for 3 mana. Since it's an instant you can use it to throw surprise blockers in play or play it in the end step of the player before you so the creatures survive into your turn, giving you even more creatures to play with. * * *

Yawgmoth's Will

If you play black, you play Yawgmoth's will. Don't get too greedy with it, its perfectly fine to play will, play a land from your graveyard, an artifact and a swords to plowshares. However if you do reach late game where mana is no issue (Cabal Coffers + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth go wild. When given the choice, as with Sun Titan, prioritize playing your non-creature spells first since you have multiple ways of getting the creatures back.

Elspeth, Sun's Champion

Elspeth's other ability. Allows you to selectively clear the board. Even though it can kill your own creatures too, the deck runs loads of creatures that dodge the sweep. * * *

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Another one of your big finishers, sweeps the opponents board of any tokens and small creatures while buffing your army. Has vigilance so loves carrying a Sword of Light and Shadow around to play on attack and defense. * * *

Nezumi Graverobber

Already mentioned before. Mainly there to remove specific problem cards from their graveyard, especially Bojuka Bogs after Fall of the Thran. Can double up as a resurrection monster but that's a bonus if it happens. * * *

Fall of the Thran

Armageddon, we hardly knew you! (just kidding, I love you Armageddon, still friends?). People don't like Mass LD but at least you can argue they get lands back. Since it's an enchantment you can fetch it at instant speed with Academy Rector. The cards fits so well in this deck it's just silly. Yes, people are not going to like you playing the card so don't randomly play it midgame since that will just slow the game down to a halt. Use it hammer an earlier play home. Try and have an Academy Rector in play with a sac outlet available (no-one will try and kill/exile your Rector). Now you can play -any- finisher and immediately follow it up with a "free", uncounterable Armageddon. Try and deal with a Sepulchral Primordial with no lands. * * *

Grand Abolisher

Sometimes opponents want to rain on your parade. Rain on their rain with Grand Abolisher. Locks your opponents out of doing anything on your turn. No counterspells, no instant speed graveyard removal, no combat tricks, nothing. Ok, you can have Maze of Ith. Seriously though, why doesn't it stop Maze of Ith. * * *

Phyrexian Plaguelord

As mentioned earlier, free repeatable sac outlet is the main benefit of this card, those sacrifices resulting in removal is just gravy. Always remember that even if the card has summoning sickness it can still sac itself for -1/-1 if presented with a Treachery or Swords to Plowshares. * * *

Dictate of Erebos

An opponent killing your creatures or forcing a bad trade, make him pay. Incredibly oppressive enchantment in this deck so be careful to not always go for this route since it can make for a pretty toxic environment when people are locked out of playing creatures. Best way to go about it as a single sweeper or as a setup to a finisher. Don't let players suffer turn after turn with no end in sight. * * *

The Abyss

The arguments I brought up with Dictate don't count for The Abyss. The more turns people suffer under The Abyss the better, it's beautiful. The biggest difference between The Abyss and Dictate is that while oppressive, you can still play around The Abyss. As an opponent if you find a line of play that works around The Abyss it feels good: you're managing while the rest are suffering, hell you might even want The Abyss in play since you made it work. So long suckers! There is no way around Dictate, everything dies when the Dictate player dictates. Back to The Abyss. This deck breaks the symmetry with Teysa in play since each black creature provides another body to sacrifice. Additionally Bitterblossom singlehandedly pays the upkeep, Bloodghast doesn't mind throwing itself in The Abyss while leaving a spirit behind. Lightning Greaves and Sword of Light and Shadow protect a creature by making it untargetable. Finally, what arguments do you need? It's The Abyss. Play it. * * *

Murderous Rider

One of the very best black cards to come out this year and a card every deck with black mana should play. It kills creatures and planeswalkers at instant speed without being overcosted (Hero's Downfall and Murder cost the same) and it leaves you with a 2/3 black lifelinker. At the very least you’re getting a two for one. * * *

Cavalier of Dawn

A bit rough on the mana (triple white is a lot harder to get than triple black) but it more than makes up for it in value. A 4/6 vigilance plays great on offense and defense, it kills most problematic things in play and if people finally get rid of it, it returns an artifact or enchantment (of which we have 20+) back to your hand. With an Animate Dead it become incredibly sticky. * * *

Tragic Arrogance

The Cataclysm that still gets you invited the next time. At least that's what it looks like on the outside. There are quite a few situations where Tragic Arrogance is straight up better. Cataclysm is not very good against decks that have big creatures. With Tragic Arrogance -you- decide what they keep (and THEN you let the Thran Fall). Yes, that saproling token is better than Muldrotha. True story. * * *

Vindicate, Anguished Unmaking, Swords to Plowshares, Return to Dust, Bojuka Bog and Strip Mine

Self-explanatory removal. Every commander deck should run a decent chunk of removal for a wide variety of scenarios. Gives your deck a lot of flexibility since more often than not, the solution to a problematic scenario is to just kill the cards (or the player) involved.

Academy Rector

Tutor and rattlesnake. Pop it into play (with a sac outlet ready!) and noone will attack you. While it sits in play you can choose to respond in a variety of situations: assymetrical sweep happing? Fetch Dictate of Erebos and make it symmetrical. Regular sweep happening? Tuck your creatures under Parallax Wave. Of course you can use it proactively by going for card draw (getting Phyrexian Arena is always good), doubling your token production, making your army huge or removing blockers from play or sealing the deal with Fall of the Thran. * * *

Demonic Tutor

We play black, thus we play this. * * *

Vampiric Tutor

Flex card in the deck. Goes in and out depending on slots available. If the deck needs some additional glue for the pieces to work together it goes back in. If the deck hums along nicely and the meta is not too cutthroat, it comes out again. * * *

Krav, the Unredeemed and Regna, the Redeemer

The partner ability is great. Drawing one means you can tutor for the other. * * *

Stoneforge Mystic

The role of this card changes with the stage of the game. Early game you nearly always want to fetch Lightning Greaves. Mid/late game when you have some token synergies going on you can get Skullclamp to turn those tokens into a profit. Late game when mana is readily available and people need to die, get a Batterskull. If none of those situations apply, fetch your Sword of Light and Shadow and enjoy the value.

Thrilling Encore

Already discussed in the reanimation section but disregarding anything that the opponents have in play, it also protects your army. They kill it, end of turn you play this and put everything back in play. Reanimating other people's stuff is just gravy. * * *

Darkest Hour

On its own it does nothing but merely having Teysa in play means you have infinite fodder. Plays very well with Ayara, First of Locthwain and lets your Sword of Light and Shadow make a creature immortal to any creature on the board (Darkest Hour affects opponents too). Be careful though, Sword of Feast and Famine is a very popular card and Darkest Hour gives it free reign. * * *

Teysa Karlov

Why play one Teysa when you can play two? This Teysa does it all. Your tokens become a menace, your life total will skyrocket and your value engines go in overdrive. Especially fun with Elenda, the Dusk Rose in play since it doubles up both of her abilities. * * *

Grand Abolisher

Always nice to have in play. It gives you free reign during your own turn which can be all the difference when you want to resolve one of your haymakers. It’s a must counter to any control deck since letting it through means you’re completely open to Fall of the Thran. * * *

Divine Visitation

5 mana do-nothing. Unless you’re able to create some tokens. THEN WE ARE ALL ANGELZ BOIS! Best buddies with Ophiomancer since Angels are not Snakes. * * *

Cathars' Crusade

Grows your army for every creature that comes into play. With Teysa in play, any black creature that you sacrifice grows your army by +1/+1. Triggers for every creature that hits play so Geist-Honored Monk and Grave Titan grow your army by +3/+3, Army of the Damned by +13/+13. Even without anything in play this card means that any creature you play at the very least comes into play with a +1/+1 counter. * * *

Lightning Greaves

A staple in any deck and no different in this deck. Sometimes you want to protect a creature. Sometimes that Archangel of Thune would look better with haste. Sometimes you just don't want to abide by The Abyss.
# The Strategy
The main priorities of your early game are hitting your land drops, ramping if possible and establishing an engine. An engine being something that will propel your advantage into the midgame. It doesn't need to be a complicated combo, a simple Phyrexian Arena is a good card advantage engine that accomplishes the goal. A perfect early game would be having Land Tax in your opener with some lands and 1-2 creatures. You play the Land Tax, establish some board presence and work your way towards getting a Scroll Rack into play. Playing Teysa on turn 3 is almost never bad since it can save you from a lot of incidental damage (random Wood Elves that feel the need to attack etc).
You're generating card advantage in some way and you established a board. Now it's time to think how you're going to play/win this game and what your position is. Do you need to be aggressive and become the archenemy, get rich on one of your value engines or operate in the shadows and sneak into the late game. Based on your choice your lines of play become different. If you're going to be aggressive keep the board oppressed while taking out the biggest danger. Keep in mind that if you're going to oppressor during the midgame it's hard to shake off that stigma into late game so be ready to deal with repercussions. A combination of going wide with some disruption is a good example of an aggressive strategy. Using Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Archangel of Thune are good ways of asserting your dominance Getting rich can mean that you have a skullclampor Ayara engine going while making sure you can't get punished. Sweepers and cards like Dictate of Erebos can all help in allowing your engines to keep running while ramping into the late game. Operating in the shadows involves taking a passive stance. Using some rattlesnakes (Ophiomancer or Academy Rector to keep you safe. All the while you're building your mana and sculpting your hand. This strategy will need a decent amount of politics to divert attention from you. Whatever your tactics are, identify a winning line and work towards it. Your goal of the midgame is to reach the endgame in the best possible way to do execute that line.
You made it, you reached late game. Maybe some players are dead, maybe not. However its time to put your plan into fruition. Let that Sepulchral Primordial dance with some corpses. Flashback that Army of the Damned with Cathars' Crusade in play. Machinegun the table with Phyrexian Plaguelord and Dictate of Erebos. Hammer it home with Fall of the Thran. Go nuts! Whatever you do, be efficient in it and don't linger around. Don't assume that you can spend multiple turns assembling your game winning combo only to have someone remove your graveyard for example. In a 4 player game your Dictate of Erebos -will- be destroyed by any of the 3 players so get immediate value out of it. You sculpt your hand and execute in one turn. If they can withstand the damage you're causing or even answer it, you use your recursion to keep hammering it home. You don't evenly distribute the damage but you aim for the players that can affect your board position. If you wasn't the archenemy leading up to the late game, you will be once you start hitting your stride so be ready for that. Expect your permanent based strategies to be interrupted.
# The Conclusion Thanks for reading this primer! Hope you all liked it. Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message regarding the deck :) For those interested, you can view the deck here


Updates Add

Zendikar is out and with that, Modal Dual-Faced Cards (MDFC)! Most of should be an autoinclude in every deck, especially the mythic ones.



First the cards that are removed.

Scroll Rack and Reflecting Pool Basically those were needed in my Atla Palani deck. No other reason. The deck might seem budgetless, that doesn't mean I like spending $100 for an extra scroll rack :)

Erebos, God of the Dead This card never didn't perform but it doesn't have real synergies with the deck. Removing an additional draw effect from the deck hurts though so we'll see how this pans out

Path of Ancestry Never scried once in the past years but did have it come into play tapped a few times. Not a real loss.

Plains The deck has pivoted a bit more to the black side so we adjust that with the basic lands and the orzhov pathway

Now the cards that are added.

Nullpriest of Oblivion This is pretty much a perfect fit for the deck. It's cheap if you need some lifelink. It synergizes well with the recursion aspect. It has menacy so works well with your equipments. It's black so it creates a spirit with Teysa and it has 1 toughness so it draws 2 with skullclamp.

MDFC: I count these as lands since that's what I'm using those as the first 6 turns, the spell part is a pure bonus. This is actually huge! Without having to sacrifice mana consistency the deck gained a removal card, a protection card a big recursion card and a finisher. Even if you play them in the early game, if you're able to put them in your graveyard (via card:Fall of the Thran for example you can play them again with Yawgmoth's Will or you can pick them back up again with Orzhov Basilica.

Swamp and Brightclimb Pathway  Flip See explanation of the plains.

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83% Competitive

Top Ranked
Date added 3 years
Last updated 3 months
Key combos

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

28 - 0 Mythic Rares

44 - 0 Rares

12 - 0 Uncommons

4 - 0 Commons

Cards 90
Avg. CMC 3.59
Tokens 0/0 Germ, 1/1 Faerie Rogue, Treasure, 3/3 Golem, 1/1 Soldier, Companion, 4/4 Angel Warrior, 1/1 Spirit, 1/1 Vampire, 2/2 Zombie, 4/4 Angel, Elspeth
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