Editor’s note: We would like to thanks all our loyal readers for their continued commitment to LegitMTG.com. We read/discussed/debated the many amazing entries we received for our Champions of the Maze contest. Each entry was first reviewed by our content manager, who removed the names from each entry before sending them to the appropriate judge to select without knowing who submitted them. We hope everyone had as much fun creating their Commander decks as we did reviewing them.
Different people play Commander for different reasons. At the end of the day, I’m a big fan of doing what you love, whether it’s a deck packed with powerful format staples or obscure stuff from old expansions.
When it comes to my personal preferences, I’m all about synergy. Too many people these days either specifically avoid strong cards because they get overused, or pack them into a list because they’re strong cards. That’s all well and good, but it’s important to look at the end goal before building your deck so you know what exactly to build for.
My pick for the best deck submitted for this contest goes in a different synergistic direction, and one that I love to theory-craft around: theme decks. It takes a pretty serious dedication to throw raw power out the window in favor of something that fits a specific theme, especially when that card is Frankie Peanuts. Sure, it isn’t technically legal in Commander, but let’s face it — the Rules Committee encourages players to break the rules in the name of making the game more fun.
In this case, Teysa, Envoy to Ghosts takes the helm of a Mafia-themed Commander build that still hits on all cylinders and looks like it can stand up in most any game it came across.
I’ll let the designer explain below:
Winner: Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts by Ryan Nightingale
I congregated with some buddies of mine who play a lot more EDH than I do to get their thoughts on the commanders. Emmara and Mirko Vosk were deemed somewhat weak (I’ve personally run szadek, and it’s possible that Vosk costing 5 could make it much better, but still seems disappointing). Many options seemed to have too many “obvious: cards or builds — Lavinia prison with Deadeye Navigator, Varolz voltron/scavenge/value, Melek cantrips, Tajic aggro, Ruric Thar aggro, and Vorel “cool and interesting Doubling Season things.”
Teysa seemed to have some more interesting applications than Exava, and a buddy had an idea a while back when looking at Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter for a Mafia-themed deck, since Vish Kal is sitting down in a chair. Teysa is in a chair … and she is the corporeal head of the Orzhov guild. So we built the deck to represent the Mafia, with Don Karlov at its helm. The deck focuses on what the Mafia does — it extorts, it cajoles, it slowly drains its victims, taking a little from each to sustain itself. (I never realized how much solid flavor work was put into RTR block until I started doing research for this.) We went to work, finding flavorful and powerful/synergistic cards. At one point we had more than 200, so we took the cards that had the greatest overall flavor and synergy.
The deck is powerful, can stay under the radar (and win out of nowhere, with the new and extremely overpowered Debt to the Deathless), and is very flavorful. Extort finds itself very at home in the deck. Vizkopa Guildmage/Sanguine Bond/Exquisite Blood are another strong endgame win condition, especially with a significant number of tutors, and this option is available to those who so desire. For good measure, B/W also happens to have two very good angels (Desolation Angel and Angel of Despair) along with Karmic Guide. I’d like to note that there is a silver-bordered card in the list, but Frankie Peanuts fits flavorfully and has some extremely powerful political implications and strengths.
I believe you could walk into an EDH game at your LGS and play a good game with whoever was there. You can be the Mafia for those who appreciate it, and for those who don’t, you’re playing a reasonable and respectable deck. The key thing to remember whenever you sit down to play: You’re there to make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
Runner-up: Varolz, the Scar-Striped by Larry Rivera
Special mention goes to a Varolz, the Scar-Striped list that really does a good job of following my “Always be playing” mantra. I’m not particularly crazy about infinite combos, so I’d personally be pulling out Triskelion to prevent shenanigans with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, but otherwise, I like what I’m seeing here.
Varolz, the Scar-Striped
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