ASalesman here, trying to create the most competitive Unesh possible! It has seen a lot of improvement over the years and I think it can always get better! DISCLAIMER: I don't think Unesh can be a great cEDH commander CURRENTLY (8-8.5 out of 10 power level TOPS), BUT lets see how far it can get! Overall, Unesh's power is severely limited compared to cEDH decks due to the themes that he naturally wants to build. He is a particularly strong casual commander, and above all he is really fun to play. Imagine a deck, that allows you to sift through your entire deck in one turn. With Unesh, this is a very real possibility. Imagine kicking Rite of Replication targeting Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign, each Unesh sees each other Unesh entering the battlefield. That is 6x5=30 times that Unesh's ETB (enter the battlefield ability) will trigger!!! Getting through your whole deck in one turn! Though my current revision doesn't feature Rite, with this list you will be able to play several sphinxes or changelings which will allow you to get through large chunks of your deck on as early as turn 3 (absolute best case). Unesh does a lot of things well from the command zone, it ramps and it draws cards. Those 2 things alone is what amde me dive into making Unesh. Using Unesh's innate abilities to out value your opponents is the main goal to win.

My goals for this guide:

  1. Maximize the power of Unesh
  2. Help new and returning players alike learn more about Unesh as a commander, mono blue decks, and the game as a whole
  3. Help others enjoy the game to the fullest by offering other budget/casual solutions for Unesh

The first mission of the deck is to quickly play Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign using ramp and make him stick. Once Unesh is safely on the table sphinxes are 2 less to cast. You want to generate value by playing more sphinxes, which allows you to look through your deck for more value! Unesh is insanely good at generating value as the head of his tribe. You will be able to find answers for your opponent's plays, other value engines, and eventually the game wining cards. Meanwhile, you want to swing your big buff flying creatures into your opponents to deal as much damage as possible. If they don't die to battle damage you can win the game on the spot with Thassa's Oracle. See more specific details on all win conditions below.

Please help me settle some debates on my current card choices and feel free to offer other input!

  1. I think Submerge is a great removal piece in this deck, but I also think it is jank. Thoughts?
  2. I think Abjure is a great removal piece in this deck, but I also think it is jank. Thoughts?

Please feel free to offer any feedback!

EARLY GAME: The first few turns you want to spend ramping into Unesh, playing other small CMC cards whenever possible. Try to save your changleings for when Unesh is on the field. Hold up counterspells to prevent early combo wins, Mystic Remora & Rhystic Study to draw extra cards early, Gilded Drake to shut off other commanders or big scary creatures. Absolute best case scenario, you can cast Unesh on your first turn, with one way to get trigger Unesh's BFOF (baby fact or fiction). If you do this, you will be FAR ahead of your opponents. Turn 2 is a possibility which will also put you well ahead. Turn 3 is still great, and you will play him turn 4 on average. You can enter mid game when Unesh is on the field.

MID GAME: PROTECT UNESH. Use the interaction you pick up from Unesh's ETB. Continue to ramp as much as possible to be able to replay him if you need to. Play some lightning rods (lightning rods: other important spells that draw out removal). Lightning rods such as Tezzeret the Seeker require interaction, making your opponents less likely to target Unesh. Bounce Unesh with cards like Snap or Unsummon to protect yourself from paying commander tax. Smart opponents will continue to remove Unesh because they will know your strategy revolves around Sphinxes trigerring his BFOFs. You want to be looking at as many cards of your deck as you can, while keeping your opponents' threats at bay with counter magic and removal. While Unesh is on the field he will generate incredible value for you by saving mana and putting cards in your hand! Eventually you will have enough value, combo pieces, or battle damage to win the game.

LATE GAME: You don't typically see late game in cEDH. In cEDH it is a battle to prevent opponents from winning every turn. And if an opponent wins, this precludes your victory. Knowing what spells to counter and interact with is paramount. Knowing if your other opponents can help you prevent wins is also important. Talking about late game in cEDH doesn't make much sense when everyone is trying to combo off every turn.


  • Battle damage: Sphinxes are big boys and they hit. On average it only takes 10 sphinx attacks to take someone out of the game.
  • Deck yourself and cast Thassa's Oracle: Play enough low cost sphinxes to get through your deck and cast Thassa's Oracle. See 20% rule below, but essentially having your deck comprised of 20% sphinxes will allow you to deterministically find more sphinxes to keep rolling through the deck. You don't need bombs like Rite of Replication to do it. Also Rite will almost always be countered, too risky to play in cEDH.
  • Shoot your opponents with Aetherflux Reservoir: You will be able to cast a lot of spells each turn making this win con feasible. With Cloudstone Curio & Universal Automaton on the field, while you cast non-artifact sphinxs, you can double your Unesh triggers and storm count. (Although Universal Automaton doesn't trigger Cloudstone, it can be targeted by it.) If you need the last couple of casts in a turn to win the game, using Chain of Vapor on all your cheap sphinxes can get you there. Also, this is notably the only life gain in the deck. Hopefully you won't need to gain life because Unesh wants to win before this becomes a problem. Aetherflux does have an infinite combo in this revision with Shrieking Drake, Cloudstone Curio, and Defiler of Dreams. The combo is described below, and it can eb done with other cheap changelings while Unesh is on the field.

Check out Commander Spellbook ( for a database of infinite combos in EDH. I've noticed it isn't quite complete yet BUT it is an extremely good resource! Also if you enjoy commander spellbook and want to contribute somehting that isn't already there, there are ways to do so! I am not sponsored by commander spellbook.

ISOSCEPTER - See the following link:

Defiler of Dreams + Aetherflux Reservoir + Shrieking Drake - See the following link:

Defiler of Dreams + Aetherflux Reservoir + Cloudstone Curio + other stuff - See the following link:

Dockside Extortionist and Cloudstone Curio Combo. Why do I mention Dockside in this deck? Because Dockside is an important red card that a lot of decks run. Using Phantasmal Image with Cloudstone Curio is effectively the same combo when an opponent has dockside on the field. NOTE: Cloudstone does not target, which makes it compatible with Phantasmal Image. - See the following link:

  • At least 20% Sphinx: With card draw and one BFOF on your turn you are statistically very likely to run in to at least one sphinx (including changlings and copy cards). I refer to this as the 20% rule.
  • Heavyish Mana Curve: With all the mana reduction cards, it seems like its okay to run the big important sphinx's regardless of the slightly imbalanced curve. I have done a lot of testing though to reduce it to what it is today. A lot of the more expensive cards have alternate casting costs now. So the average CMC is actually lower than what it appears to be.
  • Cheaper Sphinxes: Universal Automaton is free with your commander on the table. Shapesharer is 1 blue with only your commander down, and usually Jwar Isle Avenger will be too. MANA CHEAP sphinxes are necessary to make the deck more reliable in the early to mid game. The more cards you see earlier, the better. Rescuer Sphinx is a personal choice I enjoy because it can keep your main wincondition ticking. Even Enigma Thief and Conspiracy Unraveler belong in this category.
  • Basic Islands: I like these instead of snow-covered islands due to politics in multiplayer games. In a 1V1 game I would probably use my set of snow-covered islands to help with Extraplanar Lens. But I reeeeeally love the foil full art hour of devastation islands because they are so thematic with Unesh. No that Extraplanar Lens has been cut, there is not much reason to run snow lands anyway.
  • Anti-Control & other Tech Cards: Cavern of Souls is an auto include for anti-control, to protect sphinxes from being countered or you can name merfolk/wizard with it to ensure your thassa wincon can't be countered. Also for anti-control Sphinx of the Final Word is a great casual card to sub in to bypass other pesky blue mages. Other niche cards can be subbed in if you know what meta you are playing in, things like The Immortal Sun for planeswalkers, or Propaganda for token decks, or cards like Silent Gravestone for graveyard decks, or Back to Basics depending on your opponents' land bases. Damping Sphere against storm decks. Field of Ruin for single land removal. Cursed Totem against a lot of activated abilities. These cards can be subbed in and out as you see fit. We don't talk about Torpor Orb on this page.
  • Benefiting from immediate effects: Enter the battlefield effects are very strong. This fact has swayed my card decisions many times. A creature with an ETB is better than a creature that has a delayed effect. FOR INSTANCE, Sphinx of Lost Truths is better than Sphinx of Clear Skies because the card draw from lost truths is immediate. In powerful commander games, playing NOW is playing better.
  • Instants vs. Sorceries: I like to minimize sorceries because I like playing at instant speed mostly. Again playing NOW is playing better. Emergence Zone is in the deck to allow you to win the game at instant speed if the right conditions are met. Leyline of Anticipation is too slow, though. The 4 mana spent setting this up could be better used digging deeper into my deck for a counterspell.
  • Interaction: Cheap interaction is incredibly important in cEDH. If you can't stop an opponent from winning, you can't win. Hold up cheap interaction as much as possible to prevent wins. Honorable mention here is Otawara, Soaring City. This cheap interaction is incredibly hard to deal with for all decks.
  • Zero CMC Counterspells: A staple in any competitive deck, they will make your opponents think twice about doing crazy things even if you are Having these in the deck help you secure your Rite of Replication/Thassa's Oracle wincon.
  • Quick Ramp: Ramping into Unesh is number one priority when you begin the game. This is the reason for inclusions such as Chrome Mox, Ancient Tomb, Mana Vault, etc. This helps you play your game winning cards faster, and get through your deck faster.
  • Mana Cost Reduction: Defiler of Dreams, Sapphire Medallion in combination with Unesh can get you casting all of your sphinxes for free, free with 2 life, or 1-2 mana and 2 life. Incredible value on these cards in Unesh.
  • Mana Doubling: High Tide, enough said. Other mana doubling cards are too slow causing you to take unnecessary risks. Cards such as Extraplanar Lens, Caged Sun, and Gauntlet of Power
  • Spells that untap lands: Frantic Search, Snap, for value with Nykthos and High Tide.
  • Protect Unesh!: Snap, Unsummon, Unsubstantiate are all cards that can be used to protect your commander against spot removal and board wipes. There will be a rare occasion where you want Unesh to die so you can cast him again. This happenes when you have no Sphinxs in hand. We minimize this problem though with the 20% rule.
  • Play green when you play blue: Virtue of Knowledge helps you put lands on the battlefield. This effect is highly underrated for blue, which doesn't normally have the access to do so. I previously went to deep into this idea by including Burnished Hart, Myriad Landscape, & Solemn Simulacrum. These 3 cards feel slow in the strong version of Unesh. You are better off with cheap sphinxes or interaction in these slots. For a casual deck though, these cards are great inclusions because you won't feel punished as much for playing them.
  • Infinite Hand Size: Using Reliquary Tower & Thought Vessel. Infinite hand size lets you hold more options, extremely good affect for Unesh who is constantly putting new cards in your hand.
  • Cyclonic Rift: IMHO any competitive deck running blue that doesn't run this card is messing up. The versatility is nice and its the closest thing to a board wipe in this deck.
  • Sacrificing Card Advantage: This is good in Unesh, because he has his own card advantage built in. Using cards for mana such as Chrome Mox, and High Tide don't hurt Unesh as much as other commanders because he will recover the card advantage lost naturally. Due to Unesh's card advantage, card draw cantrips can be omitted which is not common for mono blue decks.
  • Deck Thinning & Tutors: Using fetch lands and Spellseeker you can pull cards out of your deck. In strong Unesh this is important, because when you are trying to reach the bottom of your deck every little bit counts. Mystical Tutor doesn't quite fit here because it puts the card on top of your deck, but it does ensure the next card you draw is something you need. For example if Food Chain is on the field you will want to grab Trickbind. You might want to grab High Tide to combo off. If it is early game you can tutor up Mana Drain so you can ramp in the early turns.
  • Considering how a card plays throughout the game AS WELL AS your oppening hand: My key example here is Omniscience. If you draw it in your opening hand it is a dead card 99% of the time. You would much rather have just about anything in that card slot in that moment. If there is a card in your deck that you never want to see in your opening hand, that card is not powerful. cEDH games are determined in just a few turns. You don't have time to sit on dead cards when you are trying to win.
  • DON'T COPY Opponent's Spells: This is an easy pitfall for many starting competitive players. Playing a lot of cards that copy your opponents cards is not very good. This is because their deck most likely has a focused strategy that works for them, and won't necessarily work for your deck. You are usually better off filling your deck with cards that work for you 100% of the time. The exception here is Phantasmal Image. It is cheap and can be used to copy your own things. Copy cards are a FANTASTIC option for casual though. A lot of fun.

For this section I want to talk about other suites of cards that work well together, but aren't necessarily max power for Unesh. Some of these suites could help your budget, or have a more fun casual game.

Most of the expensive cards in the deck can be replaced making the deck far more casual and far less expensive. The deck is weirdly competitive for the casual scene, so these changes might be very welcomed by the casual community. OBVIOUSLY the biggest money saver is buying non foil. None of these subs are absolute, they are just suggestions. If you want to make subs please carefully consider each sub based on your play-group and play-style. Try to keep the mana curve and land ratio reasonable to keep the deck as strong as you can. These subs are aimed directly at replacing the cards in the strong version of the deck to make it more affordable. If you want to replace many cards also consider the alternative strategies above. You may also want to include tech cards like mentioned above.

Generally, the sphinx tribe is cheap. If you want to save money you can just throw sphinxes in the deck and it will perform casually well.

You can edit a copy of the following mtggoldfish list to get a better idea of how much your altered deck will cost. As-Is Price Check:

Other Honorable mentions in no particular order: Control Magic/Spirit Away/Telepathy/Darksteel Ingot/Tome of Legends/Phyrexian Metamorph/Filter Out/Nyx Lotus/Archaeomancer/Commandeer/Solve the Equation/Titan of Littjara/Lightning Greaves/Leyline of Anticipation


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90% Competitive

Revision 39 See all

(1 month ago)

+1 Fabricate maybe
Top Ranked
Date added 5 years
Last updated 1 month

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

22 - 0 Mythic Rares

26 - 6 Rares

14 - 2 Uncommons

16 - 2 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.46
Tokens Bird 2/2 U, Construct 0/0 C, Copy Clone, Elemental 4/4 UR, Frog Lizard 3/3 G, Treasure
Folders EDH, EDH Inspiration, Remember, Cool decks found, Unesh, Ancient Dinosaur Immortals!, Next Possibile Decks, Mono Color Decks to Build, Potential, Fun EDH Ideas
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