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Tormod and Esior - Endless Ranks (v1.2)

Commander / EDH Partner Tokens UB (Dimir) Zombie



Updated - 12/31/21

TOP RATED and MOST VIEWED Tormod and Esior deck on TappedOut!!

Hello and welcome to yet another Commander Legends partner deck! My deckbuilding frenzy shows no signs of slowing down and my most recent creation is this graveyard-based deck featuring the partner pairing of Tormod, the Desecrator and Esior, Wardwing Familiar. Tormod is one of Magic's oldest characters, with his first card coming from Tormod's Crypt all the way back in The Dark. Esior is the blue member of the Familiar cycle of partners and is mainly here to grant us access to blue but also because I think the familiar cycle is super cool (if relatively low power). The main strategy of this deck is to dump stuff into and play stuff out of our graveyard to make stupid amounts of zombie tokens. If you've played a Quintorius, Field Historian deck, this one will play very similarly, just in different colors. Sadly, we don't have access to Alms, but we'll make up for it some of the graveyard shenanigans that Dimir is known for.

Before we get into the deck itself, a little bit about me (feel free to skip this part if you want, I really don't mind!). I've been playing Magic since early 2019 and have been playing mostly Commander/EDH since around the release of Throne of Eldraine. My usual playgroup consists of my two brothers with the rare fourth player being my brother-in-law. When I first started playing Magic, the idea of going to a FNM/some sort of LGS event seemed crazy to me and I was content to just play at home. Once I started playing EDH, though, the urge to play and meet new people started to grow. I was about to dive into my LGS scene right around the time the covid-19 pandemic started. Because of that, I still haven't played with anyone outside of my own house, so please keep that in mind when commenting. I'm an avid deck-builder and I build decks around themes, lore and/or characters. I have a LOT of decks but I've only posted a few of them on here because I don't feel like I have anything to new or unique to add to, say, Edgar Markov or Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow lists (I am working on an Urza, Lord High Artificer list, though...). The decks that I post on here are mainly for commanders with little to no decks to their name and by posting them I hope to inspire others to find more obscure commanders to experiment with. The partner pairing of Tormod and Esior, for example, only has 11 decks to their name on EDHREC. 10! That's even less than my Sengir, the Dark Baron and Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar deck! If that's not obscure, I don't know what is! Also, this deck may not necessarily be "budget" as that term means many things to many people, but please do not recommend things like Yawgmoth's Will or Time Spiral. Cards like that are far out of any budget I may have. With all that out of the way, let's get into the deck!

***Note : All cards choices came from research using Scryfall, EDHREC and here on TappedOut.


Tormod, the Desecrator's ability to make zombie tokens every time something leaves our graveyard is the main focus of this deck. We're looking to use this ability multiple times every turn to eventually overrun the board with a critical mass of zombie tokens. Most of the cards for this deck will have some kind of some kind of graveyard synergy. See the MECHANICS section for more.


Esior, Wardwing Familiar is mainly here to grant us access to blue mana. He does provides a nice little defensive buff to Tormod, which is nice. Mainly here for blue, though, and for being a cool looking bird that I could totally see riding around on Tormod's shoulder.

Here's a quick rundown of graveyard based mechanics that I feel work well with Tormod :

Aftermath, Embalm, Eternalize, Flashback, Jumpstart, Persist, Scavenge, Undying, Unearth, Retrace

Any combination of cards with these mechanics should have great synergy with Tormod. Each of these mechanics focuses on ONE card leaving the graveyard, which is what Tormod wants as his ability will only trigger ONCE, no matter the amount of cards that leave the graveyard. It's a "Whenever one or more" ability and not a "That many" ability. He's kind of like Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons in that regard. She doesn't care how many -1/-1 counters are placed on a creature, only that one is. Because of this, there are a few graveyard mechanics that I feel DON'T work well Tormod. Those being :

Delve, Escape, Rebound

Delve and Escape exile multiple cards from the graveyard, which doesn't synergize well with Tormod. Why exile six cards to cast Treasure Cruise and get one zombie when you could cast Chemister's Insight for it's Jumpstart cost, exiling one card, and get the same amount of zombies? Escape is the same way. Sure, you could cast Glimpse of Freedom and exile five cards, but Jumpstarting Chemister's Insight gets you that same zombie token while leaving more stuff in the graveyard to be recast later. Rebound doesn't really work as the rebounded card never hits the graveyard before being exiled.

If cards with these mechanics do interest you, definitely use them! This is by no means a definitive list, it's just some research I did while building this deck that I thought someone would find useful. Something to keep in mind.

Liliana, Waker of the Dead is the only planeswalker in the deck as of right now. She was one that I just happened to have laying around that had some decent synergy. Liliana, the Last Hope or Liliana, Dreadhorde General would probably be better additions for this slot, though. Would love to add another planeswalker as I like to balance these kinds of things. Maybe Jace, Memory Adept?
Master of Death, Scourge of Nel Toth Skyclave Shade, Nether Traitor, Bloodghast, Bloodsoaked Champion, Gravecrawler, Reassembling Skeleton and Persistent Specimen are basically the backbone of this deck. Each of these creatures has some sort of ability to allow it to leave the graveyard, netting us a Tormod zombie. Unless an opponent has a Rest in Peace or something, these creatures will be the bane of their existence and allow us to keep growing our zombie army. Any combination of these is a must for this deck, in my opinion.

While this isn't a zombie tribal deck, we will have a stupid amount of zombie tokens, so Diregraf Captain, Gleaming Overseer, Death Baron, Cryptbreaker, Cemetery Reaper, Lord of the Accursed, Archghoul of Thraben, Hordewing Skaab and Undead Augur all benefit us in some way. Some offer card draw (Crypbreaker and Augur) while others offer some sort of damage buff or keyword (Captain, Overseer, Baron, Lord, Reaper, Hordewing). Newly released Archghoul of Thraben provides us with a pseudo zombie-exclusive Surveil whenever our zombies die. Some sort of zombie tribal buff is a definite include for this deck.

Gisa and Geralf, Doom Whisperer, Gravebreaker Lamia and Vile Entomber are all creature based ways to fill up our graveyard. Some even have the added benefit of being able to bring things back out (Gisa and Geralf) or making graveyard costs a bit cheaper (Lamia).

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, Syr Konrad, the Grim and River Kelpie are cards with graveyard synergy that do insane amounts of work in this deck. There are only like two or three humans in this deck, so Mikaeus basically reads "other creatures you control get +1/+1 and when they die they come back and make a zombie token with Tormod out". Konrad needs no introduction. Cards leave graveyard, Konrad do damage. Simple and efficient. Kelpie helps us draw cards whenever we play stuff from out of the graveyard. Very helpful and synergistic.

Elvish Dreadlord is this deck's version of a boardwipe. Probably best to dump him in the graveyard and leave him until absolutely needed. Daring Fiendbonder is an incredible card in this deck. Dump him in the graveyard, exile him with his ability to make a creature (Tormod) indestructible and probably make a zombie token at the same time? Pure value.

Secrets of the Dead is a must have card draw engine. You'll be playing a LOT of cards from the graveyard so this is a no brainer.

Oversold Cemetery, The Mirari Conjecture and Tortured Existence are all ways to recur cards from the graveyard, netting you a Tormod zombie token at the same time. I've lowered the amount of these in the deck with the past two updates. I'll add more back in later if I feel I don't have enough. Tortured Existence is a stand out card, though. It's as close as this deck can come to getting the Quintorius all-star card Alms. One mana, instant speed zombies? AND it dumps a creature into the graveyard at the same time? A must have. Endless Ranks of the Dead can turn our zombie army into a double sized zombie army in no time. Ghoulish Procession is a new card from Midnight Hunt that could potentially make us a zombie every single turn (a crippled, one armed zombie that can't block and dies after it attacks, but a zombie nonetheless!).

Zombie Infestation and Tymaret Calls the Dead are more ways to fill the graveyard with some sort of zombie token payoff. Liliana's Mastery and Graf Harvest are zombie buffs. Necromancer's Stockpile is an all star card in this deck. Discard, draw and tokens for two mana!

New additions from Innistrad Midnight Hunt/Crimson Vow are Necroduality and Ominous Roost. Pulled Necro from a pack and was extremely excited to jam it into this deck. It makes zombie token copies of nontoken zombies that ETB under our control. TWO Diregraf Captains? Death Barons? Vile Entomber? Undead Augur? Fantastic card. Roost is a card similar to Desecrated Tomb. It gives us a flying creature for interacting with our graveyard. Seems like a great card for this deck.

Windfall, Thirst for Knowledge, Buried Alive, Final Parting and Unmarked Grave are all ways to fill the graveyard. Most of these let you choose the cards that get dumped into the graveyard and are among the best cards in the deck ( Buried Alive and Unmarked Grave ). Some of these also provide card draw (Windfall and Thirst).

Army of the Damned and Dread Summons for MORE zombie tokens.

Chemister's Insight and Dihada's Ploy for card draw with Jumpstart synergy.

Feed the Swarm, Bone Shards, Eat to Extinction and Eaten Alive for removal. Probably need more but I'd like removal with some sort of graveyard synergy such as Never/Return.

Lazotep Plating for protection and Dread Return for recovery.

Not much here. Mainly just ramp. Desecrated Tomb is like another Tormod, but with flying 1/1 bats instead of zombies. Altar of Dementia is a way to fill your graveyard or maybe milling out an opponent using all the zombie tokens (probably a bit far-fetched, as a win-con, though).
Field of the Dead was banned in multiple formats because it's stupidly powerful. No exception here. Mortuary Mire, Witch's Cottage, Mystic Sanctuary, Nephalia Drownyard and Port of Karfell all offer ways to recur a card or to mill cards. Drownyardd Temple recurs itself! Rest of the land is split between black and blue. Probably needs a bit of tweaking to be consistent.

Basic land art for Swamp is an incredibly flavorful zombie graveyard and the Island looks like the inside of a tomb.

Sakashima of a Thousand Faces instead of Esior, Wardwing Familiar? Because my inner vorthos won't let me. Tormod is from Dominaria and would have no way to interact with Sakashima. It's one of the reasons I love the Familiar cycle, they could be from any plane and could match with almost any commander. Ghost of Ramirez DePietro is another commander that would work well with Tormod, but I think the deck would need to be reworked a bit to add more discard synergy.

The Scarab God, Gisa and Geralf, Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver or any other zombie tribal commander? Because those are all extremely popular. This deck brings something a little different to the table. Nothing against any of those commanders (I have a Scarab God deck, as Amonkhet is my favorite plane) but I would hate seeing the same commanders over and over again.

A white mana partner such as Ravos, Soultender? I thought about that while building this deck. I'd lose a lot of zombie/graveyard synergy and I don't know if I'd be able to add enough back to warrant changing colors. We'd lose cards like Master of Death, Secrets of the Dead, Gleaming Overseer and Diregraf Captain in order to add Alms, Sevinne's Reclamation, Dusk / Dawn and a few others. The only white mana partner I'd probably use for this deck is Keleth, Sunmane Familiar, due to the aforementioned vorthos restrictions. Not sure if it's worth it, but something to keep in mind, I guess.

Some cards that I think are must-includes for this partner pairing are :

  1. Skyclave Shade, Reassembling Skeleton, Bloodghast, Scourge of Nel Toth, Nether Traitor, Gravecrawler, Bloodsoaked Champion, Persistent Specimen and/or Sanitarium Skeleton for creatures that recur themselves easily.

  2. Cards like Secrets of the Dead, Ominous Roost, Desecrated Tomb, Syr Konrad, the Grim and River Kelpie that synergize well with casting cards from the graveyard.

  3. Cards that can dump specific cards into the graveyard such as Gravebreaker Lamia, Final Parting, Buried Alive, Unmarked Grave, Tortured Existence and Necromancer's Stockpile.

  4. Some sort of zombie synergy such as Death Baron, Cryptbreaker, Diregraf Captain, Gisa and Geralf etc.

vs. Feldon of the Third Path vs. Sengir, the Dark Baron/Kediss Emberclaw Familiar


First game with the deck! Woo! This deck ran so smoothly. I pumped out multiple zombie tokens every single turn and was able to draw cards with River Kelpie at the same time. I was really impressed. Sadly, Feldon didn't draw into any lands so he was a nonfactor. Sengir came out with a board full of tokens and a sac outlet and hit 28 power in two turns. Insane!! One shot from him took Feldon out and nearly took me out as well (knocked me down to like seven life). Luckily, I was able to recur Ravenform with The Mirari Conjecture to take of him. He quickly rebuilt his board by casting Necrotic Hex leaving Sengir plenty of fodder for his return. With Mirari Conjecture's third chapter, though, I was able to double up on Army of the Damned from my graevyard and took him out next turn with about 30 3/3 zombie tokens with the help of Death Baron. Really fun game (except for poor Feldon lol) and both Sengir/Kediss and Tormod/Esior both ran beautifully! So happy with both of them!

Proxies - 0

Sleeves - Dragon Shield Matte (Night Blue)

Deck Box - Ultimate Guard Boulder 100+ (Onyx)

Playmat - 3rd party Black Lotus (Vintage Masters art)

That's everything I've got for now. Always looking for feedback and recommendations, mainly for ramp, removal and alternate uses for the zombie tokens for this one. Just please keep in mind that I've never played with anyone outside of my own house (YET!).

Thanks for viewing!!


Updates Add

OUT - Sanitarium Skeleton, Ravenform, Undead Alchemist, Magus of the Bazaar, Decaying Soil

IN - Persistent Specimen, Eaten Alive, Archghoul of Thraben, Ominous Roost, Necroduality

Innistrad Crimson Vow update. Decklist is pretty stable at this point. Would still love feedback!


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91% Casual


Revision 8 See all

(1 year ago)

+1 Angel of Suffering maybe
+1 Dig Up the Body maybe
+1 Dogged Detective maybe
+1 Embalmer's Tools maybe
+1 Illicit Shipment maybe
+1 Lethal Scheme maybe
+1 Mask of the Schemer maybe
+1 Tainted Indulgence maybe
+1 Tenacious Underdog maybe
+1 Wave of Rats maybe
+1 Writ of Return maybe
Top Ranked
Date added 2 years
Last updated 1 year

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

6 - 0 Mythic Rares

40 - 0 Rares

28 - 0 Uncommons

12 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.06
Tokens Bat 1/1 B, Bird 1/1 U w/ High Flying, Copy Clone, Emblem Liliana, Waker of the Dead, Zombie 2/2 B, Zombie 2/2 B w/ Decayed, Zombie Army 0/0 B
Folders All Decks, Cool Ideas, Commander Legends Partners, Commander, EDH, Other People's Stuff, Decks to build, Commander Inspiration, deck, Tormod and Esior - Endless Ranks (v1.2)
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