BBEG Deck Ideas

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on Sept. 30, 2023, 9:07 a.m. by Unlife

I've been playing around with the idea of designing an EDH deck for each class in DnD, basically a set of decks to represent an adventuring party. Each deck has a single color identity that doesn't repeat and tries to both match the commander and the theme of the class (I.E. the artificer is boros and know from making and wielding weapons like the battlesmith while the grixis wizard is know for years of magicical studies and repeatedly casting spells)

However, I've hit a roadblock in designing a BBEG deck, something that they would fight against. (If I ever build the decks, I'd also add in archenemy cards for the BBEG) I don't want to just go "Nicol Bolas" or "Phyrexian Invasion", I'd like something that feels as if it would fit easily into a, for lack of a better word, sterotypical, DnD campaign. I'd considered Queen Marchesa as a sort of assassin tribal Evil Queen thing, but it just hasn't come together.

I reach out to the hive mind for ideas, what would you make as BBEG EDH deck, and why chose that?

(I've currently used Boros, Izzet, Abzan, Esper, Golgari, Jeskai, Gruul, Sultai, Azorius, Grixis and Orzhov in my decks so far, so bonus imaginary points if your idea doesn't use those color set)

saluma says... #2

Some of the most notorious creatures in D&D have to be the dragons. The ultimate test of strength for a party. So maybe Tiamat and her dragons would be a nice archenemy?

September 30, 2023 10:05 a.m.

KBK7101 says... #3

I also vote Tiamat. I'd say The Tarrasque but that card is... not the best. Maybe the new Ghalta card from Lost Caverns of Ixalan as a replacement?

Bane, Lord of Darkness, Myrkul, Lord of Bones and Bhaal, Lord of Murder are some more choices that might be interesting.

Maybe Captain N'ghathrod?

September 30, 2023 11:29 a.m.

legendofa says... #4

For my breakdown here, I'm focusing on characters who are villains in their story arc and characters who don't have much specific backstory. Pretty much any legendary creature can be flavored as a villain in front of the right deck. I'm also not focusing on the Forgotten Realms sets, I'm broadening the net.

What's available:

: Eldrazi or artifacts. Most of the artifacts are either hero-aligned or not an independent threat, like Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut. If you want a challenge, Omarthis, Ghostfire Initiate, but I wouldn't, just for lack of depth.

: Villains are oddly centered on Old Kamigawa. Konda, Lord of Eiganjo is a near-immortal emperor and master duelist. Hokori, Dust Drinker is destroying resources and the land. And, of course, there's the apocalyptic, unrelenting evil that is Hazduhr the Abbot.

: Heidar, Rimewind Master is an elementalist fanatic. The manipulations of Orvar, the All-Form or Kami of the Crescent Moon could cause problems, as could a big sea creature like Tromokratis or Charix, the Raging Isle.

: Pretty much everyone. It's easier to count the people who aren't outright villains.

: Relatively few actual villains, but a bunch of manipulators, dragons, and angry people that could fill the role.

: A bunch of wild animals and nature types. No scheming villains, but a good selection of rampaging monsters. Meng Huo, Barbarian King would be a unique choice (if you're willing to.proxy or drop $150+).

: Polukranos Reborn  Flip is the most (only?) villainous character in these colors.

: Lots of options, from the behind-the-scenes manipulation of Lazav, Dimir Mastermind to the illithid Captain N'ghathrod, Gisa and Geralf's necromancer army, whatever Umbris, Fear Manifest is, and a lot more.

: A few options, but lots of depth in them. Insane biologist Momir Vig, Simic Visionary and his magnum opus Experiment Kraj, nature's avenger Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, or maybe Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait is flooding the area.

: A very deep and wide pool for villains. Vampires, demons, dragons, demon dragons, warlords, torturers...

: Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager joins the ranks of the big scary monsters. A more calculating BBEG would probably be one of the death lords like Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord. Vhati il-Dal or Old Rutstein or probably more storyline villains than BBEG material.

: A very shallow pool. Storvald, Frost Giant Jarl, Rubinia Soulsinger, and maybe Falco Spara, Pactweaver or Katilda and Lier (mostly because of Lier) are the best options for an Archenemy villain. I'd throw Kros, Defense Contractor in, but goading is kind of limited when you're the Archenemy.

: This color set will probably be either a cold, distant, merciless villain or a manipulative puppet master. Raffine, Scheming Seer and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic fall into the first category, and Sen Triplets and The Ever-Changing 'Dane in the second. Varina, Lich Queen is another option for a zombie army.

: Big, angry, and violent, with some good dragons. Xira, the Golden Sting and Vazi, Keen Negotiator break out of this mold, but they strike me as more lieutenant-types, not arc villains by themselves.

: Not much; these tend to be either heroic or big smashy monsters. Uril, the Miststalker could work.

: Queen Marchesa is a classic, as you mentioned, and Edgar Markov is right there, too. Actually, this color set has some good depth and variety for an Archenemy. Some are more overtly villainous, and some are just very martial. My top picks would be Edgar, Licia, Sanguine Tribune, or Tariel, Reckoner of Souls.

: Mostly either weird esotericism or "nature's avenger" types. I don't think any of these are outright villainous in-story, but most of them have loose or vague stories. With the right deck, this could be a unique and interesting villain. Riku of Two Reflections is my top pick.

Four-color sets in general: Any of them would work, except for a couple of the .

: Use this color set if you want a truly apocalyptic feel. saluma mentioned Tiamat, which is a very good choice, and finding a way to get through Progenitus or O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami is a story of epic scale.

September 30, 2023 1:03 p.m.

legendofa says... #5

Summary: If you want a classic and evocative villain, something including . If you want something unique, . If you want something apocalyptic, .

My top five:

O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami


Edgar Markov

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

September 30, 2023 1:31 p.m.

DreadKhan says... #6

I feel like you could also look into running a lot of wipes, stax or other salt inducing things, such that the deck will naturally end up the archenemy and everyone will unite against them. Do the other decks compete with one another? If so, something that does Goad or Goad-like effects would be cool. TBH, if I had to pick a commander to try out as an Archenemy type deck, I'd be very tempted to go with Kresh the Bloodbraided. 5 mana for a 3/3 isn't very spicy, but he quickly can get very, very out of hand, it's not unusual for you to do something like Mandate of Abaddon or Phyrexian Scriptures and then one shot people one at a time with your gigantic Kresh. Lots of cards synergize with Kresh, ranging from Grim Feast and anything that works with/is Rite of the Raging Storm. Big Goad effects like Disrupt Decorum and Spectacular Showdown also add a nasty surprise, and Insurrection is a great turn-around-is-fair-play type effect for an Archenemy. You can even make the deck on the cheap using stuff like Fleshbag Marauder (there are a bajillion at this point, especially if you'll pay 4 for a 4 power one), these generate a lot of power if you also have Savra, Queen of the Golgari (or something similar) out. Pestilence and similar effects are very good in here, they let you both clear out weenie blockers while also pumping Kresh ever bigger by winnowing away the chaff. Kresh will quickly crush everyone, you just need to add fun stuff like evasion or trample to make his immense power count. If you build this right it should be quite scary to play against, and the odd Fling can be a nice way to punish the players for killing Kresh.

Another great option might be Sauron, the Dark Lord, the more the party does the bigger the 'threat' gets, and it's almost impossible to remove Sauron. It's easy to sneak in some powerful Changelings to work as a better base army, but the whole 'orc army' thing is in and of itself very stereotypical in D&D. I like Grixis because you get Blue, meaning you have access to the odd counter. In particular I'd look into stuff like Stronghold Machinist, effect-on-a-stick creatures are good for an Archenemy because they tend to soak up the opponent's cards, even something like Royal Assassin is card advantage over time. Since the Army can get pretty big you can use Voltron stuff with it, and if you use Anthems (Berserkers' Onslaught, Dauthi Embrace, and Whip of Erebos come to mind) they'll work on both the Army and Sauron, which is cool Big Bad energy for the deck.

September 30, 2023 2:16 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #7

September 30, 2023 7:55 p.m.

Unlife says... #8

saluma I like Tiamat, it is 100% a DnD BBEG and dragons are big and nasty.

KBK7101 I like The Tarrasque, but it does feel kinda meh, similar to Ghalta who's very strong, but just doesn't feel as 'world-ending'. I'd forgotten the gods though, maybe some sort of aristocrats-animator thing. The captain is fun, but he has the more 'hit and run' thing going for him as a pirate.

DreadKhan I've played with Kresh the Bloodbraided before, he can be fun but he can also feel a bit clunky which was why I;d dropped him previously. Sauron, the Dark Lord has that traditional world ending feel, and his ward cost means he dodges most removal. I'd forgotten goad was a thing, it brings me back to Queen Marchesa, a more political goaded build to manipulate other decks. In terms of the decks competing against one another, I think they're fairly balanced at the moment, but they're also still being tuned and adjusted.

legendofa Well, gonna start with a massive thank you first, that's a wicked great breakdown. With this massive list, maybe I'll add a second in command deck along with the BBEG one....

I'm not worried about it being directly connected to the forgotten realms, just kinda having a DnD class/BBEG 'vibe' for lack of a better word (I mean, my paladin deck design is knight tribal helmed by Syr Cadian, Knight Owl) Among that massive list, Konda, Lord of Eiganjo, Progenitus, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, Umbris, Fear Manifest, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary, and Malfegor all stand out. Your dimir list also reminded me of Runo Stromkirk  Flip as a big monster summoner.

TypicalTimmy Dihada is an interesting choice, maybe a deck full of brainwashed missing adventurers. A lot of these suggestions keep leading me back to mardu, so I may take a deeper dive there.

Either way, this has been massively helpful. Course, now I have the opposite problem, so many choices to narrow down.

September 30, 2023 8:19 p.m.

DreadKhan says... #9

Out of curiosity, what did you find clunky about Kresh? it does require your opponents to have creatures, but most decks have at least a Commander out, and many have way more creatures. There is an endless number of ways to kill a bunch of creatures, and once Kresh has survived a few you can use almost any wipe that is -X/-X or deals damage, meaning he can swing vs a cleared board with some regularity. Jund has a lot of great wipes in it that can be one-sided, and even if all you give Kresh is Trample he's suddenly an actual threat, one that requires an answer or people will start losing. I've recently put together a list, so I'm curious for myself as well the issues you've identified. Is the 'Achilles Heel' that people just remove Kresh?

Queen Marchesa's tokens are useful, but I think Sauron's army will be a more impactful threat, the Assassins are mostly blockers in practice, the army can swing very hard, and Sauron is much stickier once he's out (both bigger and with that sweet, sweet Ward). I think Mardu has a lot of crazy effects that can make for a memorable game. There are few cards funnier for an Archenemy to use than stuff like Axis of Mortality, this not only can make the most dangerous threat the easiest to kill, it can also pump your own life total while tanking an opponent's, it's hilarious with stuff like Exquisite Blood or Sanguine Bond, since changing life totals counts as life gain or loss. White has some really great shenanigan cards for an Archenemy, though Blue offers fun surprises like Mass Diminish (which lasts until your next turn, which always struck me as absurd), so I think either could work well.

I just had a thought from thinking about how good both White and Blue can be for this, are ghosts iconic enough for you? One of the nastiest Commanders that has ever been printed is Brago, King Eternal, he's from the same setting as Marchesa I think. Brago is incredible with stuff like Meekstone, Static Orb, Stasis, etc etc, I'm not sure if that's too 'unfun', but since Brago can also run counters in Blue it's a very valid 'archenemy', representing a villain in the form of a monarch that refuses to give up power. Azorius conveniently is very good at not losing, but is also not very good at actually winning, meaning it can survive for awhile even with a lot of attention, and might kill off a player or two before they can beat him. I can think of very few decks that are better at forcing the table to work together to fight the archenemy than Brago, if they don't follow the plan to deal with him first he'll become a true menace, but if they gang up on him Brago should fold quickly enough.

October 1, 2023 10:33 a.m.

legendofa made a great list of (dis-)advantages of each colour and combination, but missed the one awesome BBEG pick from Jund: Thantis, the Warweaver. A massive spider that induces rage into the hearts of everyone smelling her web? How awesome a villain woulf that be? And you could even make her a multistage boss with the spider only being a brute form of some creator level being (Asura's Wrath, anyone?) What might appear as her downside for the Archenemy position actually isn't one: They already want to attack you, so why not force them to attack with support creatures, as well, basically sealing their fate.

October 1, 2023 1:43 p.m.

DreadKhan says... #11

If you want a more control oriented Goad deck there is Baeloth Barrityl, Entertainer, he's really silly with Raised by Giants as his Background. Baeloth's 'show' was to kidnap random people and force them to fight in his gladiatorial matches, it's not especially hard to raise Baeloth's power even higher, and as long as everything is Goaded he becomes fairly hard to block, and with Raised out he's a fairly hard hitter, though probably smaller than Thantis with the same amount of effort.

October 1, 2023 2:43 p.m.

Unlife says... #12

DreadKhan It's been several years since I built and unbuilt the deck, so I can't give you specific details but when I was playing it, it just never felt smooth. Kresh would die a lot, which I expected, but the other elements of the deck never seemed to come together well, or I'd be always stuck with the wrong cards at the wrong time, or something else. In the end, I just disassembled it and built something new. Baeloth/Raised is a pretty expected synergy for obvious reason, but I think if I go the goad route, I would rather him in the 99 of a 3-color deck deck so I have some more options and flexibility.

If I do go for Queen Marchesa, I actually don't mind have the assassin's as blockers and building in some other sort of wincon. Having goad/running politics can lead to some nasty swingbacks, intentionally so in this case, so have something to disuade opponents does help.

I've played against Brago, don't want to do that again unless I'm much better prepared, but the only reason I haven't been focusing on him or Sauron is I've been trying to keep each deck to their own color set, and Grixis and Azorius have been covered by my wizard (Kess) and warlock (Hylda) designs respectivly.

seshiro_of_the_orochi Thanatis is such a fun design, and I do absolutely love spiders, so if I decide to do a second in command, Thanatis may fit the bill perfectly

October 2, 2023 7:26 a.m.

DreadKhan says... #13

Yeah, I find decks that have too many different pots on the stove can be prone to drawing 'the wrong half of the deck', I'll keep an eye out for synergies where some of the pieces are useless without the other parts in my Kresh list! Interesting, to me running 3 colours is (at this point) mostly a disadvantage unless you're playing really strong decks, 3 colours is way harder to get the fixing right (or perhaps I should say more expensive), and 2 colours is already extremely versatile, but I could see wanting 3 or more for your 'archenemy' deck in particular. It's too bad they didn't give us any weird 2 colour Backgrounds, I don't think having 3 colours worth of Background/Commander is really game breaking.

I think if you're fine using those Assassins mostly as blockers then Marchesa is probably a good choice, there are plenty of Goad effects in Mardu to work with, as well as stuff like Brutal Hordechief and Master Warcraft, I think I've always wanted a deck that used stuff like that effectively. Oh, if you're using Goad, I'm not sure if you'd have enough mana to make it work in Mardu, but War Cadence might do some fun stuff with Goaded attackers.

October 2, 2023 9:36 a.m.

You're welcome. Thantis is one of my favourite decks. And it's basically build to make games grindy.

One final idea: There's a way to build Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis as a giant tribal list. Ever considered that as a pretty terrifying BBEG? Those human rulers obsessed with ruling by the power of giants?

October 3, 2023 2:23 a.m.

plakjekaas says... #15

It's clearly Xanathar, Guild Kingpin. Steal-your-stuff has that desperate and evil feel to play against, and beholders are classical D&D monsters. A big, bad take-over-the-world villain has never been more literal.

October 3, 2023 9:24 a.m.

Unlife says... #16

DreadKhan I agree, they definitely could have added in some 2 color backgrounds/background commanders, but they are being wicked cautious about the color combos in commanders recently

seshiro_of_the_orochi Giant tribal is interesting, but I think I'd actually look into Ruhan of the Fomori instead in that case, with the idea of a blind prophet leading the giants randomly across the world to conquer whatever they want, trampling all in their path, only to find out they were manipulated by some being that was twisting ruhans thoughts.

plakjekaas Beholders are great at the villan role, but I;ve had to deal with Xanathar in a campaign years ago, so how he was played still kinda distorts how I would feel with him as a commander. However Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant might finds its way into a goad deck if I lean that way.

October 4, 2023 7:11 a.m.

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