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Commander / EDH Control Group Hug Primer UB (Dimir) Voltron



Welcome to my Atris primer!

A while ago (close to the beginning of quarantine and the end of the world) when I was super bored I decided to build a new EDH deck. At the time I only really had one EDH deck (a combo eggs Slobad deck that took 30 minute turns even after the amount of time I spent to get good at it) and I was … less than excited to play it. So, I sat on my ass for a little while and thought about what I wanted to do. The thing I finally settled on was a small logic chain:

  1. I wanted to have fun with the game every time I played it (no duh dude)

  2. I wanted to have varied gameplay experience so that the game isn’t the same thing every time

  3. I wanted to make it so I have to interact with other people so I have 400 cards to work with instead of 100

  4. I wanted to give everyone as many options as possible

  5. What is the best commander for creating the biggest mini-game in the entire game of Magic: the Gathering? Answer: Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths.

And thus, this deck came into existence.

This deck is not a theme deck. I promise. There isn’t a “group hug” theme (hint: it’s always a scam, never take the offer unless it’s me with Tempt with Reflections, which I’ll get to later); there isn’t a “intrigue” or “subtlety” or “insanely attractive spy” theme. Yes, despite playing Dimir.

Let’s talk about Atris. First, their mana cost: . They have relatively few colored symbols in their cost, so they are fairly easy to cast off of most lands as long as you get a second colored source. This means our mana base doesn’t really have to take the commander into account, unlike a deck like Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Also, they have the magic converted mana cost: four. At four, it is really easy to get them out one turn early off of cards like Fellwar Stone, Mind Stone, Talisman of Dominance, Sol Ring (turn two Atris?), and Dimir Signet (still not in the deck because it is apparently impossible to find). In this particular deck, this isn’t a super big deal as we don’t really need Atris to complete a combo or something, but it is a good thing to keep in mind.

That is actually the next point: this deck doesn’t really need its commander to function. If someone came to me during a game and challenged me to not cast Atris in an entire game, I wouldn’t have as much trouble as, say, Animar, Soul of Elements or Rakdos, Lord of Riots. He mostly serves the purpose of giving me card advantage when I really need it and giving people options and forcing people to interact when the game gets sour and quiet. You’d be surprised how well it works.

And last but not least, Atris is actually a win condition in this deck. Not as a meme or a joke, but more out of a self-induced necessity for new win conditions. I really didn’t want to do a mill win condition and, as I mentioned, my other deck is a combo deck, so I didn’t want to do another. That only left a couple of win conditions, and I chose Voltron. Fortunately, Atris has a nice evasive 3/2 body with menace, so if you can just get in that chip commander damage, someone is going to eventually be helpless and have to start making bad blocks or just getting dangerously close to death. Eventually I want to get a Hatred so that I can kill someone turn five (hehe).

As with most commander decks, we actually have content between the awesomeness of our commander and our sleeves. In this deck I’ve broken these down into the following categories:

As with most Dimir decks and decks not playing green or mono black decks, I have a fairly slim ramp package consisting largely of mana rocks.

My boring ramp: Mind Stone, Talisman of Dominance, Sky Diamond, Charcoal Diamond, Sol Ring, and Fellwar Stone. These are all fairly standard mana rocks that you would see in many Dimir decks, but or maybe because of that fact, this actually adds up to about $20. If you don’t really want to throw down this much on a couple of mana rocks, a) I get it, mana rocks are sooo boring to buy, b) you’ll have to eventually, I promise, c) you might already have a bunch of these, and d) if not, just replace them with whatever ramp you want. As with most parts of this deck, this is a variable category that can be changed and fitted to your own budget and the competitiveness of your meta. Maybe you trade the Mind Stone for a Hedron Archive, or say fuck the budget and put in a Cabal Coffers. Up to you. And before you post that comment, yes, I will add a Dimir Signet eventually, they are just currently impossible to find.

My interesting ramp: Burnished Hart, Peregrine Drake, and Dreamscape Artist. Now, one my one: The Hart. This is a really, really good card for less competitive groups. I believe this little elk belongs in almost every nongreen deck, and even some green decks. The Drake: often not actually ramp and just a free 2/3 flying. But with a Conjurer's Closet … The Artist: This card should absolutely see more play than it does. As of today, 10/15/2020, it is less than $1 and is in 2460 decks according to EDHREC. That sounds like a lot, but put it next to the 62,000+ of Fellwar Stone and you realize that almost no one is playing this card. It’s a blue Harrow, but repeatable. Just try it out in a deck and tell me how it goes. It feels so good to have in your opener, I promise.

I don’t have a ton of these, but as a control deck I should probably have more. Currently I am running Necromantic Selection, Evacuation, Scourge of Fleets, and Sudden Spoiling. I want to get my hands on a Cyclonic Rift while it’s cheap, but … oh well. The thing is that I want as much of the stuff I do in this deck to be at instant speed, but instant speed board sweeps are rare and expensive, either in mana, money, or both.

This is probably the category you care about. This category focuses on turning our opponents away from us, towards each other. Some of these cards give us mere card advantage, and some will outright win games for us. In the second category are cards like Tainted Strike, Unspeakable Symbol, Sudden Substitution, and Reins of Power. All of these cards depend on using our opponents and seizing control of them in order to cripple not one, but two players. Some more cards I want for this category are Hatred, Aethersnatch (maybe? Opinions?), Blatant Thievery, Agent of Treachery, Mnemonic Betrayal, Praetor's Grasp, Psychic Possession, and Worst Fears. You might suggest Cruel Entertainment, which I get, but my opinion on that card is that it is likely that both players will just use each other to kill me, which is bad. The other part of this category is cards that make my opponents make decisions about what to take or what to give. It is this category that defines the deck -- Atris themself falls in here. Others in this category include Deliver Unto Evil, Tempt with Reflections (try that targeting Atris and see what happens), Manifold Insights, Necromantic Selection for all your friends with big swinging commanders (especially with double strike), and Fact or Fiction, one of my favorite cards of all time. The final category is straight retaliation if people don’t cooperate at all -- Bloodthirsty Blade, Illusionist's Gambit, and Rogue's Passage. If people have more ideas for this category, I would love to hear it!

This category is pretty big, but then, it is kind of the engine this deck runs on. You might have surmised at this point that I will be blinking and bouncing and reanimating things a lot in this deck, and these are the creatures that make me want to do that.

The first type of creature in this category in creatures that give me straight card advantage -- Baleful Strix, Riverwise Augur, Dream Eater, Mulldrifter, God-Eternal Bontu, and Gonti, Lord of Luxury. A fairly small team of dudes, but mighty.

The second type is my creatures that recur other stuff out of my graveyard -- Archaeomancer, Possessed Skaab, and Phyrexian Delver. This may sound like a small number, but as you will see later, I can find at least one of them fairly quickly, and I have other recursion in the deck.

Next, I have four creatures that come in and remove other creatures --Ravenous Chupacabra, Phyrexian Ingester, Dream Eater again, and Overseer of the Damned. This is a category I would like to expand, but it is hard to find creatures like this that don’t hurt me in some way like Fleshbag Marauder or something. I might add a Nekrataal? Just if I need it.

And the last category is just sort of oddball creatures. The first two are win conditions -- Grave Titan and Gray Merchant of Asphodel -- and the second is a tutor in Sidisi, Undead Vizier. You might wonder why I run Sidisi over something like Rune-Scarred Demon, but I often feel like I want a sacrifice outlet when I play the deck -- this is also why I added God-Eternal Bontu in the first place. I also have Man-o'-War and Cavern Harpy, but I’m not sure what part of this category they belong in so here they are.

This part of the deck is meant to reuse all of my ETB triggers and all of the shit that hits the bin over the course of the game -- which, I promise you, is a lot (I play against a mill deck a lot, check it out if you haven’t already: Milling Gone Rogue (Precon Upgrade Guide)[PRIMER]). Now, this is the category I would most like to expand, but it is difficult to find cards that can blink creatures at instant speed for cheap. This category currently consists of Siren's Ruse, Victimize (so good, run it), Conjurer's Closet, Wretched Confluence, Mystic Confluence, Silumgar's Command, Unsubstantiate, Teferi's Time Twist, Deliver Unto Evil, and Nephalia Smuggler.

HhhhmmmMMM -- deep breath -- ok, here it is. Card advantage. I will allow you to go back through the primer and find any card that doesn’t give me straight card advantage or at least virtual card advantage. Everything does. Well, ok, maybe not Gary, but still. Everything at least gives me better card quality. Ok, another deep breath -- Ancient Excavation, Skeletal Scrying, Necrologia, Brainstorm, Syphon Mind, Arcane Denial, Pain Seer, Fact or Fiction, Deliver Unto Evil, Tempt with Reflections, Manifold Insights, Mind Stone, Scourge of Fleets, Phyrexian Delver, Possessed Skaab, Archaeomancer, Baleful Strix, Riverwise Augur, Dream Eater, Mulldrifter, God-Eternal Bontu, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Grave Titan, Sidisi, Undead Vizier, Overseer of the Damned, Victimize, Wretched Confluence, and Mystic Confluence. Wooo. Think it’s enough?

I have about three main win conditions -- Voltron, tokens, and drain. And technically forcing other players to kill each other, but that won’t generally actually win me the game.

I went over the Voltron game plan at the beginning, but basically I am just taking advantage of the fact that Atris is a 3/2 with menace, so they are fairly annoying or difficult or impossible to block. I have a couple of pieces to speed up this process -- Blackblade Reforged, Grafted Exoskeleton (5/4 menace infect, anyone?), Lightning Greaves, and Unspeakable Symbol.

The next, tokens, is kind of a stretch, but it works. This is only two cards, so let me know if I should expand this idea or just drop it or anything -- Grave Titan wins games if left unchecked all by itself, and Overseer of the Damned is always a two-for-one.

On the topic of drain, I think this is a really powerful win condition -- in mono black. Outside of that I have noticed that the power level of cards like Exsanguinate or Gray Merchant of Asphodel goes down drastically. I run Gary anyway, but I am still a little concerned about whether these can actually win games. I might add Dire Fleet Ravager at some point.

Go away, I am playing a partially blue control deck. No duh, I have counterspells.

Sudden Substitution is a really cool card, but I’m not sure how much of a blowout it will actually be. I haven’t really played it very many times, but I’ve seen other people do crazy ass shit with it. Also, I’m going to mention Silumgar's Command yet again, but that’s because it’s an awesome modal spell; the same is true for Mystic Confluence, of course. My last five counterspells are Arcane Denial, Rewind, Drown in the Loch, Unsubstantiate, and Memory Lapse. Don’t worry, I’ll get a better Lapse eventually (the art on the Eternal Masters one is pretty bad, at least in comparison to this Memory Lapse).

Seven counterspells may sound like a lot, especially in EDH where basically every counterspell is card disadvantage, but remember the amount of card draw I have. And, the deck is supposed to be political; these spells are to make sure people stay honest about their intentions in relation to me.

You guessed it. Silumgar's Command, Wretched Confluence, and Mystic Confluence all get another mention.

In addition, I have some more modal spells, all of which I have already mentioned: Phyrexian Ingester, Ravenous Chupacabra, Unsubstantiate, Dream Eater, Overseer of the Damned, Drown in the Loch -- and some new ones: Rapid Hybridization, Reality Shift, and Dissipation Field. All fairly basic; I want to get my hands on a Curtains' Call and a Pongify at some point in the future. Any ideas for enchantment or artifact removal that doesn’t cost seven mana is appreciated; I should probably add Feed the Swarm, yah?

The land base in this deck is fairly basic and basic heavy, but I want to say a couple of things. No, it’s not optimized, I don’t have an Underground Sea or a Polluted Delta. Yes, it might be annoying for some people to buy a Watery Grave. But, as long as you get good at playing the deck, I think it could survive on a bunch of tapped lands -- it’s not an aggro deck or anything.

I really only have three utility lands in the deck -- Detection Tower, Reliquary Tower, and Opal Palace. The first tower is pretty nice, but, depending on your playgroup, might not be necessary for you. The second tower is probably necessary for the deck, depending on what changes you make -- after all, discarding is better than not having enough cards to have to discard -- but it is annoying and it adds one more place for you to mess up if it’s not in the deck. The Palace is here because of my Voltron plan, but again, you might not have the restrictions on yourself that I put in place and you can just play a bloodcrank combo or something. For anyone wanting to build this deck or a similar one that’s heavy on counterspells and stuff like that (playing off your own turn), I have one piece of advice: play as few colorless lands as possible. I have played this deck a lot, and they often get in the way. Be careful.

So, those are the pieces of the deck! I want to reiterate: every single piece of this deck is variable. I only use Atris because I like them as a card; I have had several people tell me I should play Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow or something, and I can see arguments for all of them. In fact, I plan on trying out having Yuriko in the zone or the 99 at some point just to gain that knowledge. Every land, every win condition, every counterspell, everything can be changed or fitted to your own group or playstyle. Maybe you want to make it an actual Dimir token deck with Vela the Night-Clad or something and just use my control pieces. Maybe you want to keep the “control other players” part of the deck and switch to Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder group hug or some other abomination of a deck. Whatever your inspiration is, the only thing I have to say about it is: let me see! Can I give some feedback? Can I play it? Every abomination every Magic player has ever built has been awesome and fun, so tweak every single one to be even more awesome and fun according to your own style, aesthetic, and group. I literally built this deck out of crap I had lying around and tweaked the power level up over time, and I absolutely adore it. Change every single card so that you can spend $0 on it, as long as you keep the spirit of the deck in mind I’m sure you’ll enjoy it once you get good at playing it; plus, everyone in my playgroup likes this deck (right, guys?) right along with me.

Final final thoughts: I want to sincerely thank my playgroup for help with playtesting and for being ok with me taking back an entire turn in order to win a game (oops ...) so that I could get good at the deck. For anyone who wants to find some of them, I know VorelNailo and This_is_your_commander_speaking are on T/O regularly.

Thanks for reading!

May your truth always hold deception and your deceptions all be layered in a madness of lies even you can not unravel.


Updates Add

Primer's up and running now, I'm still working on adding everything to its respective category.


Date added 2 weeks
Last updated 12 hours

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

4 - 0 Mythic Rares

29 - 0 Rares

29 - 0 Uncommons

17 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.57
Tokens 2/2 Zombie, 2/2 Manifest, 3/3 Frog Lizard, Copy Clone
Folders EDH
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