The Deck

This is my value town Tayam, Luminous Enigma combo deck that is taking over the helm of my Karador, Ghost Chieftain deck. Karador can't keep up with the constant powercreep with each new set unfortunately (recurring one creature a turn doesn't cut it anymore) and Tayam fills that role perfectly as a more efficient good stuff/combo commander. Tayam is like a lovechild of Karador, Ghost Chieftain and Ghave, Guru of Spores in which it has the recursion of Karador and combo potential of Ghave. The goal is to play a grindy value town game while slowly assembling the necessary pieces to combo off (see "Win Conditions" section below).

Tayam is one of the most powerful abzan reanimator commander printed to date IMHO since instant speed milling and recursion activated ability is an insane combination. This powerful ability is kept in check with the requirement of needing 3 counters among creatures to activate but it is easily achieved when Tayam itself provides counters for every other creature coming into play and there are a couple of creatures that makes it possible effortlessly (see "Tayam's Food" section below). Milling 3 cards is also technically card advantage since your graveyard is like a second hand that is totally accessible with Tayam at instant speed to boot.

The power level of this deck is right around the 75% range and constructed to be an attrition-based playstyle in which I'll grind with constant stream of value and removals till I assemble my combo pieces. To be honest, this deck is one of the most challenging deck to build around compared to other decks I have worked on. It took me a couple of playtesting and trying different builds to understand which direction I should take the deck to. I initially tried the version with a couple of undying and persist creatures as well as creatures that provide +1/+1 counters but they felt too clunky and do nothing on their own. I realized that only a few key efficient engine enablers are needed to glue this deck together nicely. Mana dorks are also not entirely a dead card later in the game when Tayam is in play as they can provide a cheap way to add the needed counters to activate Tayam. The following are the basic guidelines I've used for deck construction:

  • The deck isn't overly reliant on Tayam to operate
  • Tayam's role is to enhance the value town/sacrifice synergy as well as a finisher to win the game
  • Reduce the amount of cards that does nothing on their own without Tayam to a minimum
  • Include a few ways to protect Tayam and the combo (e.g. Grand Abolisher effects)
  • Include a few ways to tutor for combo pieces
  • Have a plan B and C in case combo pieces are exiled


  • Infinite combo outlet that can outright win the game at instant speed
  • Having a self-mill ability is huge for a reanimator commander and is not found in other similar commanders
  • Self-mill is technically card advantage for all purposes of this deck and the accessibility of the graveyard
  • Tayam also has a self-recursion engine that is fueled by its own self-mill ability that can be activated multiple times over and over again
  • Easy ability to exploit with creatures that comes in with at least 2 counters or token generators


  • Combo is predictable and easily disrupted
  • Tayam needs a little build around to be effective therefore restricting deckbuilding somewhat
  • Tayam is unable to use its ability without an enabler
  • You need Tayam to stick around on the board first before starting to accrue counters by casting creatures after without any enablers

Other Comparable Commanders

  • Ghave, Guru of Spores: This is probably the closest commander that is comparable to Tayam. Ghave is a self counter and token generator and goes infinite easily with a couple of cards. The only difference is that Ghave has less of a restriction in deck building, can activate its abilities without needing any other enablers, but cost one more to cast. When it comes to value and explosiveness, Tayam definitely has a significant edge over Ghave.
  • Karador, Ghost Chieftain: This was one of my first few commanders when I started playing commander and definitely has aged poorly with the recent powercreep of the past few sets. Playing the long game by recurring a value creature every turn is not cutting it anymore. Karador also requires additional deck space for self mill and other recursion mechanics to keep up with the table. Tayam has significant advantage over Karador in which it has a self milling and recursion engine that can be activated as much as you can.
  • Meren of Clan Nel Toth: This is by far one of the more powerful value town/reanimator commander that forms a recursion engine every end step. The advantage over Tayam is that Meren does not require too much of a deck building restriction, easy to build around, and her ability doesn't have any steep requirement. Tayam has an additional white color advantage over Meren and is an infinite combo outlet herself which means that it is more capable of protecting the combo with cards like Grand Abolisher and has access to other combo lines not available to Meren.

There are several notable exclusions where the cards either don't fit in my overall gameplan or just doesn't do enough on its own:

  • Caller of the Claw is basically sitting in my hand till I have all of the other combo pieces in play and I would rather play an additional tutor over it.
  • Weaponcraft Enthusiast does nothing by itself and is basically just another redundant combo piece which I think running another tutor in its place is much better.
  • Young Wolf and many other undying creatures.
  • Lesser Masticore/Safehold Elite and other persist creatures without relevant abilities.
  • Blood Artist and other similar effects as this is not an aristocrat-focused deck.
  • Good-Fortune Unicorn and other similar cards doesn't do anything by itself and deck is not focused around +1/+1 counters.
  • Buried Alive always felt too clunky early game and doesn't really need it late game.
  • Reyhan, Last of the Abzan just isn't high impact enough.


There are a couple of efficient food for Tayam, Luminous Enigma's activated ability (note that not every card listed below is included in the deck):

The key to piloting the deck successfully lies in the timing of deploying Tayam, Luminous Enigma. Slamming Tayam down early without anything going is generally a bad idea. Having protection like Sylvan Safekeeper and a food source is ideal for playing Tayam. When Tayam is in play, it is also unwise to activate its ability recklessly. Usually waiting till the opponent's end step or in reaction of opponent's play to activate it is correct. This is so that you limit your graveyard exposure too much to any graveyard hate that can completely blow you out.

Early Game

Ramp and setup is key. Always prioritize keeping a hand with mana dorks and/or land ramp. This is because the deck is extremely mana hungry despite its low curve. Its easy to deplete your hand once you're done with this phase of the game so looking for card draw like Necropotence is ideal in order to reload and transition to the mid game phase.

Mid Game

This is where you have to try to look for a food source to get the value town engine train going with Tayam. Having protection out for Tayam is ideal so that disruption to the engine is reduce to a minimal. Once you get the ball rolling, you should have no trouble out valuing everyone by the end of each turn cycle and assemble any of the infinite combos to win.

Late Game

This deck does really well in a grindy game where interaction is heavy and you're forced into this phase. Look to resolve an Finale of Devastation to close the game out.

The best thing about Tayam's ability is that it can be activated any time. What this means is that anything in the yard can basically act as an instant speed answer to any situation:

The following are other notable synergies in the deck:

The Endgame

Tayam, Luminous Enigma goes infinite with the following combos to mill my entire library, create infinite tokens, make infinite mana, and to finally bring back Walking Ballista enchanted with Dance of the Dead (to provide +1/+1 buff) or a huge Finale of Devastation with Eternal Witness to win. As long as you are able to mill your entire library, you will be able to win from there even without initially generating infinite mana because you can bring back something like Hallowed Spiritkeeper at the end of the loop to start generating mana. Some of the loops require some mana to kickstart the combo so it is good to be aware of how much mana is needed and plan ahead. The main loop involves Ashnod's Altar/Phyrexian Altar:

The alternative loop in the absence of Ashnod's Altar/Phyrexian Altar involves any other free sacrifice outlet and Earthcraft:

There is an unique infinite combo involving Gaea's Cradle and at least 3 creatures in play (for Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest) or at least 3 creatures with a counter on them for Evolution Sage:

Last but not least, there is a simple infinite combo involving pumping up Devoted Druid:

This is the classic infinite combo that works without Tayam, Luminous Enigma:

There would be a point where the pod just has too much graveyard hate and exile effects (think Rest in Piece) and all of the relevant combo pieces are gone. This scenario is highly unlikely since I have multiple redundancies to each part of the combo but has to be considered nevertheless. The following are ways to end the game:

Don't forget to +1 if you like the deck!


Updates Add

Since I already have Carrion Feeder in the deck, does it make sense including Gravecrawler as another potential infinite +1/+1 counter generator with Phyrexian Altar or is that overkill? With Field of the Dead in the deck, getting it online is trivial.

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