ASalesman here, trying to create the most competitive Unesh possible. It's debatably an optimized deck, but I think there is room for growth. I don't think Unesh can be a good cEDH commander (8-8.5 out of 10 TOPS), BUT lets see how far it gets! 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 good casual commander when built correctly, 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 playing Spark Double as a copy of Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign, with Panharmonicon on the field. Then after that you play Sphinx of Uthuun. That lets you look at more than 1/4 of your deck by casting only one spell!! (At reduced cost I might add). Or more notably, kick Rite of Replication targeting Unesh, each Unesh sees each other Unesh entering the battlefield. That is 6x5=30 times that Unesh's ETB will trigger!!! Getting through your whole deck in one turn!

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 play Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign quickly using ramp and make him stick. From there, utilize his strong abilities to out-value your opponents while holding answers for their plays. The main win con is by swinging with big buff sphinx's, and potentially utilize infinte turns with Nexus of Fate. There is a second wincon in Thassa's Oracle. Be wary of using the Nexus of Fate wincon with Sphinx of the Second Sun or Defiler of Dreams on the battlefield, you can deck yourself if you aren't careful. Unesh does two things really well, ramp (with cost reduction) and draw cards with his baby fact or fiction which I will refer to as BFOF.

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

  1. Is there a better option than Extraplanar Lens? Anytime this card is played and gets destroyed it feels really bad, maybe I am using it wrong.
  2. Which Sphinx should come out for Serum Sovereign? I am thinking Riddlemaster Sphinx. Serum is a bit mana cheaper so it can come out earlier and help us thin the deck more. Riddlemasters bounce effect is great, but at 6 man it feels clunky to me. Enigma Thief and Dream Eater are quite a bit better than riddlemaster.

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, not including your changelings. Cast boots, hold up counterspells to prevent early combo wins, Guardian of Tazeem to prevent problem cratures from untapping, Imprisoned in the Moon to entirely shut off another commander centered deck. Best case scenario, you can cast Unesh on your second turn, with one way to get a BFOF. If you do this, you will be FAR ahead of your opponents. Turn 3 to 4 is still good, and you will do that or turn 4 on average. You can enter mid game when Unesh is on the field.

MID GAME: Find ways to KEEP UNESH THERE. Use the boots, use counterspells to counter removal or boardwipes (unless a board wipe is preferrable), ramp enough to replay him, play other threats that require attention in addition to Unesh himself to confuse your opponents with more decisions they must consider, bounce him with Snap, JUST KEEP HIM THERE YOU NEED HIM. Smart opponents will continue to remove Unesh because they will know your strategy revolves around Sphinxs 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.

LATE GAME: If you are lucky, you will have won before late game rolls around, because the deck usually just wins when Omniscience resolves, or you will have been able to chip enough damage away at your opponent. An opponent will on average die after only 10 sphinx attacks, not including lifegain decks. Mid and late game play style doesn't change much, you essentially want to be doing the same things. I would consider it to be late game if you're opponent is successfully stalling you out, in which case you have to scour your deck for specific cards to help you win. I would consider it late game if omniscience is exiled, requiring you to build your mana in other ways. I would consider it late game if Nexus of Fate is exiled. This causes you to need to be much more careful of decking yourself, and perhaps a Thassa's Oracle win is what you need.

  • At least 20% Sphinx: With card draw and one BFOF on your turn you are statistically likely to run in to at least one sphinx (including changlings and copy cards)
  • 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 currently while still adhering to the themes of the deck.
  • 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.
  • 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. Also, the foil full art hour of devastation islands are so thematic with Unesh.
  • Anti-Control Choices: Cards like Cavern of Souls and Sphinx of the Final Word to bypass other pesky blue mages.
  • Tap 'em & Bounce 'em: Effects like on Guardian of Tazeem and Kefnet's Monument have been my saving grace early game. Keep your opponents big/important creatures tapped down to prevent early damage or prevent an enemy combo or value engine from taking off. Also, Dream Eater and Riddlemaster Sphinx to keep them off the field entirely!
  • Instants vs. Sorceries: I like to minimize sorceries because I like playing at instant speed mostly. But, Rite of Replication is OP, so I included that card in the deck.
  • Speaking of Instants: Leyline of Anticipation lets me play everything at instant speed. When it's on the table it really makes your opponents have a hard time predicting your actions. As a blue player, information disparity between you and your opponents is paramount. An argument can be made for Vedalken Orrery instead, but I personally like Leyline for two reasons: It can start the game on the field for free. It adds to your blue devotion for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Thassa's Oracle. Leyline can also be a card that you pitch to Force of Will.
  • Tech Cards: These niche cards can turn off enemy strategies, things like The Immortal Sun for planeswalkers, or Propaganda to throw a wrench in some combo decks, or Silent Gravestone for graveyard decks, or Back to Basics depending on your opponents' land bases. These cards can be subbed in and out as you see fit.
  • Enchantments with removal: Treachery and Imprisoned in the Moon are hard for some decks to deal with.
  • 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 also helps you play your game winning cards like Omniscience or Rite of Replication.
  • Spells that untap lands: Treachery, Rewind, Frantic Search, Snap, for value with Nykthos and mana doublers.
  • Both Boots: Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots used to keep our commander on the table as much as possible.
  • Play green when you play blue: Burnished Hart, Solemn Simulacrum, Myriad Landscape, and Wayfarer's Bauble put lands on the battlefield. This effect is highly underrated. This is especially true for blue, which doesn't normally have the access to do so. As stated below Nexus of Fate can basically Explore in the early game.
  • 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.
  • The Nexus: Nexus of Fate is just so good in the deck. Every now and then it gives another turn and basically allowing you to Explore, which is good enough for mono blue right there. Sometimes it can even let you play an additional spell you couldn't otherwise. Late in the game, its a win condition because you will be able to continuously put it back into your hand every extra turn. The amount of mana you will be able to generate late game (or using Omniscience) you will deterministically be able to get it back on every extra turn, allowing you to take infinite turns. There are enough answers in the deck to get around any strategies when you have an infinite amount of turns.
  • Infinite Hand Size: Using Reliquary Tower or Thought Vessel. The only situations in which you lose with infinite hand size and Nexus of Fate is the only card that can be put back in the deck is if your opponent exiles it or makes you draw two cards at the same time (making you unable to respond with Nexus in between draws). In my experience, cases like this are EXTREMELY rare, having only been put into this situation once before after much playtesting. This makes me believe that using infinite hand size has a good reward to risk ratio.
  • 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.
  • Long-Term Plans: This card exists only as a second copy of Omniscience or maybe Rite of Replication, because Unesh wins when these cards resolve with the right conditions.
  • 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.

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.

(1) Mana Cheap == Good for your mana (2) Money Cheap == Good for your wallet


Updates Add


59% Casual

41% Competitive

Revision 15 See all

(4 months ago)

-1 Mystic Remora maybe
+1 Spell Pierce maybe
Top Ranked
Date added 5 years
Last updated 3 months

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

12 - 0 Mythic Rares

35 - 0 Rares

14 - 0 Uncommons

10 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.33
Tokens Ape 3/3 G, Bird 2/2 U, Copy Clone, Frog Lizard 3/3 G
Folders EDH, Uncategorized, EDH Inspiration, Remember, Cool decks found, Unesh, Ancient Dinosaur Immortals!, Next Possibile Decks, Mono Color Decks to Build, Potential, See all 17
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