For a friend.

Uril has the distinction of being one of the first Commander "build-around" decks, yet was born years before Wizards took official notice of the format. This, in addition to being one of the first mythic creatures in Magic, being released at the tail end of Alara block. I suspect WotC was still showcasing/exploring the power level of mythics in the block, meaning that his power is a tad higher than one might expect for a comparable mythic legend today. Unlike most of his mythical-Alara brethren, he also has a reasonable mana cost. All this combines to make him one of the most potent commanders overall, and specifically in the Voltron archetype. Interestingly, his one of his main competitors for best Voltron general came from Alara as well: Rafiq of the Many.

A quick discussion of the hierarchy and capabilities of the current and common Voltron generals:
Isamaru, Hound of Konda was the first true Voltron commander, and remains played to this day. At a single mana she hits the table immediately, and begins to get in for 21. Kytheon, Hero of Akros has begun to push her out as the one-for-twentyone general of choice. Both, however have limits. Being a monocolored commander greatly limits the tools available for deck building, and having only two power means that your deck will rely on its draw to supply the bulk of its damage. I believe there are better options for attacking with commanders.

In the classical sense of Voltron decks, Sygg, River Guide, Sygg, River Cutthroat, and Skullbriar, the Walking Grave are the best two-drops (yes, both of Sygg's personas are aggressive and decent). Sygg, River Cutthroat having only one power is a bit too steep of a drawback for me, and black is generally worse than white for Voltron style play. Drawing an extra cards a turn is a reasonable incentive to play him though. Skullbriar possesses a unique effect (keeping counters across zones), and uses green mana-- which is one of the stronger Voltron colors. Again, black is a little less desirable (though certainly not unplayable). Naturally having haste is a beneficial boon as well. I like Skullbriar quite a bit more than Sygg, River Cutthroat, and more than Isamaru and Kytheon too. Sygg, River Guide is my pick for the best two-drop Voltron general, and personal pick for best pure-Voltron deck overall. Granting access to both Blue and White, wielding one of the best evasions in Commander, and granting protection make the most attractive package overall. The protection is the part that puts him the farthest ahead. Keeping removal spells at bay and giving unblockability gives him staying power and speed.

All this praise comes with the asterisk though of being a true Voltron deck. I keep talking about true Voltron decks- what does that mean? Decks that are built to win almost exclusively to win via commander combat damage. They enter the fray quickly,and can be recast multiple times without great difficulty. Equipment and auras are typically the staples of these decks. Decks such as Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius and Kresh the Bloodbraided are disqualified then, even though they can easily kill opponents themselves.

Returning to discussion of the remaining Voltrons: Jenara, Asura of War, Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, and Geist of Saint Traft are all viable builds, but come with complications. Jenara is simply worse than Rafiq for Bant colors. Derevi lends himself more towards a Stasis deck while also being worse than Rafiq, and Geist is worse than Sygg, River Guide. Hexproof is awesome, but hitting a turn later for the same amount of commander damage is somewhat watery. The angel is neat, and allows for Geist to kill an opponent unassisted in seven turns as opposed to eleven, but the lack of any natural evasion means you'll rely even more heavily on your draws.

I'll wrap up by talking about Rafiq of the Many, as I've mentioned him several times already. Rafiq is a four-drop, and he hits hard. Attacking alone as a 4/4 doublestriker means that he can end games quickly, and owning all three colors of Bant adds significant power to the deck. However, he lacks any natural protection or evasion, meaning that he can be dealt without too much effort, thus meaning that you'll end up having to cast him far more often than others. At four mana, that can be a challenge, though Green mitigates the difficulty. Rafiq builds are usually more bursty, and operate as sort of combo decks. Doublestrike rewards saboteur effects nicely. If I've missed any frequently played Voltrons, let me know and I'll test them, then update.

Now back to Uril. Uril costing five mana to play would usually keep him out of Voltron-ability, but being a 5/5 hexproof means that he dies infrequently. His reward for lacing him up with auras grows him into lethal range fast. More so than any of the other Voltron decks, Uril can kill the rest of the table after taking out his first target the fastest. Once he's big (and he gets big in a hurry), he's a nigh-unkillable threat.

So how does the deck lose? Well, most Voltron decks can largely be ignored by everyone they're not currently attacking: not so with Uril. Remember when I said he mops up the table quickly? Most veteran players will be on high alert once Uril hits the field. It's not uncommon to see players Wrath the board to clear Uril alone even if they've not been targeted by him. Expect to play a fair amount of four-on-one accordingly. If the table can combo off, kill you faster, or put casting Uril out of reach, then the game is over. Recasting Uril is made easier with the presence of Green, but multiple deaths is still a way to lose. To fight this, the deck runs several "silver bullets." There are five different ways to tutor for enchantments in the list; seven if the enchantment is an aura. Rest in Peace, Leyline of Sanctity, and Stony Silence turn off almost every combo in Magic. Blood Moon, Smoke, and Dueling Grounds make it hard for enemies to cut short your career. And Sigarda keeps cards like Sheoldred and Grave Pact in check. She also can wear enchantments reasonably well if needed. To prevent sweepers from ruining the day, Uril has several fancy auras to keep him alive to wear. Shield of the Oversoul, Totem Armors, and even Yavimaya Hollow provide avenues to sticking your Uril.

In previous versions, I ran more inherently powerful auras, but found that often they didn't do all that much. The difference between a 21/21 Uril and a 30/30 Uril isn't all that much it turns out. Extraneous abilities like vigilance, reach, and firststrike also did little. The best option I found was make sure that there was always a steady steam of cards in hand to keep up with the table. That's how I ended up looking at cards like Frog Tongue. On the surface, the card looks comically bad. It just doesn't do much. Yet, with Uril it adds +2/+2, and draws a card. Now, it gets exciting when you add in enchantresses (there are five in the deck, as well as tutors). With an Enchantress' Presence and a Kor Spiritdancer on the battlefield, lowly Frog Tongue becomes a better Ancestral Recall. That's something that I'm interested in. Therefore, the deck is running a heap of odd enchantments that draw cards. Yes, they're ugly, but my heavens are they good.

Beyond playing Uril followed by auras, the deck runs a fair removal suite, and mana ramp. The actual lands count is low, especially for a deck built around a five drop, but cards like Land Tax and Sylvan Library help you find your lands, while cards like Wild Growth and Sol Ring both ramp you and act as pseudo-lands. Most of the ramp is based on enchantments, as they synergize the most. This means that there are some stinkers though. Font of Fertility and Mana Bloom are in there because currently there aren't better alternatives. They're still playable, but aren't nearly as exciting as cards like Trace of Abundance. It's worth noting that Mana Bloom works particularly well with Enchantress effects, as it can be cast every turn.

Rather than go over all the notable exclusions, I'll simply list the top five cards this deck would run if Commander decks were over 100 cards. Ethereal Armor, Blessing of the Nephilim, Abundance, Suppression Field, and City of Solitude. Armor and Blessing don't do anything beyond making Uril large, but they do so with such efficiency, it's hard not to run them. Abundance is just another way to south draws, and it c-c-combos quite nicely with Sylvan Library. Then City and Suppression Field are just more silver bullets aimed at beating various strategies.

Whew, that's quite a lot of words. Anyhow, I hope this helps aspiring Uril players and opponents alike to understand what makes Uril tick. If you have further questions, feel free to message me or leave a comment: I'll answer at some point. God bless; -McDeity


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Date added 11 years
Last updated 5 days

This deck is not Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

7 - 0 Mythic Rares

44 - 0 Rares

18 - 0 Uncommons

19 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.34
Tokens Angel 4/4 W, Wolf 2/2 G
Folders EDH Uril
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