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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Apr 18 2012 10:03am
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Here we are, back with another Elder Dragon deck!  This time I am building a deck using Chromium, he of the shiny skin and outdated key words.  But before we get on to the deck I have a confession to make.  As some of you may remember last week I wrote about speeding up game play.  Unfortunately, the deck I am going to show you can get pretty click intensive once it gets going and there's no real way around it.  As a matter of fact this is one of the few decks I have ever played where people complained about the length of my turns.

Putting people to sleep...

Unfortunately despite trying a couple different possible solutions none of them really worked.  This deck can take long turns and I wanted to warn you guys before I got going.  Hopefully you guys will be able to forgive me for the blatant hypocrisy!  With that out of the way, let's get to it!


Let's see what we have to work with:


Hmmm, that isn't much.  He looks cool and chrome plated, and that's about it.  (By the way, since he is made of chrome you should definitely use the foil version, which can be found for about half a ticket.)  His key word is Rampage.  For those of you that are too young to recall, essentially Rampage X gives the creature +X/+X for each creature that blocks the rampager beyond the first.  That means that Chromium needs to be blocked by 2 creatures before he gets his bonus.  Aside from the fact that Rampage seems like a very Green ability and not an Esper one, putting Rampage on a flier seems pretty counterintuitive.  It's going to be difficult to have multiple blockers for Chromium's Rampage to kick in, and even then the bonus isn't that significant.

Of course, in the comments of an earlier article Adam McKenzie mentioned the combo of Mystic Decree plus Nemesis Mask plus Basilisk Collar to make Chromium a truly scary beast!

Mystic Decree basilisk collar nemesis mask
Fun all together with Chromium, but separately, not so much.

I honestly considered adding these cards to the deck, but they didn't really fit with the deck theme I chose.  And that was reanimation!  You see, I felt like shoving a bunch of big, fat creatures that I don't usually play with into my graveyard and returning them back to play.  So many decks nowadays use one shot reanimation but I really wanted to work on the "big play!"  Of course, one shot reanimation isn't bad at all and I would definitely be using some.  

Like our old friend Reya Dawnbringer!

Everyone knows that Sharuum does something similar in Esper colors, but she pretty much limits you to artifacts.  I wanted to break out of the artifact only build and be able to use fatties like Angel of Despair and Palinchron (in a non-broken way).  And I didn't want to build what was essentially another Sharuum deck.  I wanted to be able to get stuff into my graveyard, either by putting stuff directly in there, sacrificing them, or using looter effects.  And then, of course, I needed reanimation effects, plus some tutors to get them.  The bigger the reanimation effects the better! So let's see what I went with:  

A Commander Deck
1 Angel of Despair
1 Archon of Justice
1 Bloodghast
1 Carrion Feeder
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Duplicant
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Gilded Drake
1 Grave Titan
1 Hell's Caretaker
1 Karmic Guide
1 Massacre Wurm
1 Merfolk Looter
1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
1 Mnemonic Wall
1 Mulldrifter
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Palinchron
1 Phyrexian Ingester
1 Puppeteer Clique
1 Reya Dawnbringer
1 Rune-Scarred Demon
1 Sakashima the Impostor
1 Sharuum the Hegemon
1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
1 Sun Titan
1 Trinket Mage
1 Withered Wretch
1 Wurmcoil Engine
32 cards

Other Spells
1 Altar Of Dementia
1 Elixir of Immortality 
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mana Crypt
1 Nim Deathmantle
1 Tormod's Crypt
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Animate Dead
1 Debtors' Knell
1 Necromancy
1 Entomb
1 Flash
1 Frantic Search
1 Insidious Dreams
1 Intuition
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Buried Alive
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Living Death
1 Reanimate
1 Savor the Moment
1 Stitch Together
1 Twilight's Call
1 Unburial Rites
1 Victimize
1 Windfall
29 cards
1 Academy Ruins
1 Ancient Tomb
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Bazaar of Baghdad
1 Bojuka Bog
1 City of Brass
1 Command Tower
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Dust Bowl
1 Fetid Heath
1 Flooded Strand
1 Godless Shrine
1 Grand Coliseum
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 High Market
1 Marsh Flats
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Mystic Gate
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Phyrexian Tower
3 Plains
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scrubland
1 Sunken Ruins
3 Swamp
1 Temple of the False God
1 Tundra
1 Underground Sea
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Watery Grave
38 cards

1 Chromium
1 cards
living death


Some big beasts in this deck!  It is pretty straightforward but let's do a breakdown anyway.

stitch together Hell's CaretakerKarmic GuideMikaeus, the UnhallowedMnemonic WallPuppeteer CliqueReya DawnbringerSharuum the HegemonSheoldred, Whispering OneSnapcaster MageSun TitanNim DeathmantleAnimate DeadDebtors' KnellNecromancyLiving DeathReanimateStitch TogetherTwilight's CallUnburial RitesVictimizeAcademy RuinsVolrath's Stronghold 
Hell's Caretaker, Karmic Guide, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, Mnemonic Wall, Puppeteer Clique, Reya Dawnbringer, Sharuum the Hegemon, Sheoldred, Whispering One, Snapcaster Mage, Sun Titan, Nim Deathmantle, Animate Dead, Debtors' Knell, Necromancy, Living Death, Reanimate, Stitch Together, Twilight's Call, Unburial Rites, Victimize, Academy Ruins, Volrath's Stronghold: So there are lots of ways to get stuff back from your graveyard, either into your hand, on top of your library or directly into play.  Sun Titan is very versatile, getting back land and small creatures.  Mnemonic Wall and Snapcaster Mage are great at getting second shots out of your spells.  Of course, the real all-stars are Living Death and Twilight's Call.  The deck is designed to fill the graveyard, so if you cast either of those two spells you should be in much better shape than your opponents.
Graveyard Filling  
jace, memory adept Carrion FeederHell's CaretakerMerfolk LooterAltar of DementiaJace, Memory AdeptEntombFlashFrantic SearchInsidious DreamsIntuitionBuried AliveWindfallBazaar of BaghdadHigh MarketMiren, the Moaning Well  
Carrion Feeder, Hell's Caretaker, Merfolk Looter, Altar of Dementia, Jace, Memory Adept, Entomb, Flash, Frantic Search, Insidious Dreams, Intuition, Buried Alive, Windfall, Bazaar of Baghdad, High Market, Miren, the Moaning Well:  And this is how we make sure that we get our graveyard nice and full, or at least pick the right creature to use Necromancy on.  A bunch of these cards are sacrifice outlets that give you good stuff in return.  With Altar of Dementia and Jace, Memory Adept I almost always target myself.  I actually had more than a few games where I used Jace's second ability on myself right before casting a Living Death.  He is great in this deck.  I included Carrion Feeder to have another free sac outlet that didn't mill me, since I actually milled myself to death once in an earlier version of the deck and got close several other times.
buried alive Rune-Scarred DemonTrinket MageEntombInsidious DreamsIntuitionMystical TutorVampiric TutorBuried AliveDemonic Tutor 
Rune-Scarred Demon, Trinket Mage, Entomb, Insidious Dreams, Intuition, Mystical Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Buried Alive, Demonic Tutor:  How do you make sure that you can cast Living Death after getting your graveyard full?  Tutors, of course!  I found Insidious Dreams almost by accident, and it has proved awesome.  Dumping a bunch of fat in order to tutor up Living Death works very well.  Trinket Mage is pretty sweet in the deck as well, since it can get Tormod's Crypt to wipe out Karador's graveyard, Elixir of Immortality to keep me from decking myself, and Skullclamp for card draw.  And Intuition is just great, because if you go for creatures you almost always will get them all in play a turn later. 
angel of despair

Angel of DespairArchon of JusticeDuplicantElesh Norn, Grand CenobiteMassacre WurmPhyrexian IngesterPuppeteer CliqueSheoldred, Whispering OneWithered WretchTormod's CryptBojuka BogDust Bowl 
Angel of Despair, Archon of Justice, Duplicant, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Massacre Wurm, Phyrexian Ingester, Puppeteer Clique, Sheoldred, Whispering One, Withered Wretch, Tormod's Crypt, Bojuka Bog, Dust Bowl:  The destruction is almost all creature based since you will be getting most of these guys into play quickly.  Again, having ways of dealing with opponents' graveyards like Withered Wretch and Bojuka Bog is very helpful.  And if you can't deal with them, Duplicant and Phyrexian Ingester are good at getting rid of large threats that come back from opponents' graveyards.  Elesh Norn and Massacre Wurm do a great job of wiping out opposing armies.

Don't forget that Living Death can act as a Damnation that takes out indestructible creatures as well!

Card Draw  
frantic search Consecrated SphinxMerfolk LooterMulldrifterSkullclampJace, Memory AdeptFrantic SearchWindfallBazaar of Baghdad  
Consecrated Sphinx, Merfolk Looter, Mulldrifter, Skullclamp, Jace, Memory Adept, Frantic Search, Windfall, Bazaar of Baghdad:  Some of these are typical favorites, some of these are a little unusual.  Skullclamp works great with Bloodghast, and there are plenty of ways to get the vampire spirit into your graveyard.  Bazaar of Baghdad, Windfall and Frantic Search can all draw you stuff that's on top of your library while filling your graveyard.  As a matter of fact Frantic Search can get a large piece of fat into play on the second or third turn with the right combination of cards and a Mana Crypt or Sol Ring.  It never happened to me but I can always dream!

So in case you can't tell, the deck works by getting stuff into the graveyard either through milling or just putting it in there.  Once a good portion of your deck is in the graveyard you can play a mass reanimation spell and get everything back into play all at once.  Ideally you can wipe out an opponents' graveyard with either Tormod's Crypt or something similar before you do this, but since your deck is dedicated to milling itself you should come out ahead of everyone else anyways.

The deck has a bunch of interactions that can come in handy.  There are lots of ways to draw cards tutored for with the Mirage tutors on the same turn.  Also, with the multiple sac outlets along with cards like Mikaeus or Nim Deathmantle, you can tutor every turn, or destroy something, or draw cards.  There are lots of options in this deck.

One thing I didn't find out until playing the deck is that I have the Puppeteer Clique/Mikaeus, the Unhallowed/free sacrifice outlet combo in here.  It came up more than once but I never used it, basically telling everyone that I assumed that they had an Eldrazi in their deck.  But if you are behind you can still mill opponents with Altar of Dementia and steal all the creatures that get put into their graveyard.  Since they have haste you can typically take someone out the same turn.  Not a recommended path to take, but useful to know if you are backed into a corner.

As a matter of fact Mikaeus and a sac outlet usually leads to some pretty tough plays for your opponents.  Same thing goes for Sun Titan and a creature enchanted with Necromancy or Animate Dead and a sac outlet.  The amount of card advantage you can get out of this is pretty great, even if it is a bit click intensive.  I can't say enough how much Mikaeus is just a beast in this deck.  He is very, very good and if you can always try to make sure that he doesn't get exiled.  He can lead to some crazy plays, like getting to use Angel of Despair 3 or even 4 times in the same turn.  

One of the problems I had with the deck is that I would cast Living Death and have to deal with a whole lot of triggers.  Like, a metric ton of them.  It would slow the game down completely while people waited for me to deal with them all.   The biggest problem is that I wouldn't be able to kill people outright after this happened.  Everyone would get a turn to deal with my creatures before I could even attack since I wasn't playing Red and couldn't give everyone haste.  As such, I added Savor the Moment to the deck.  I wanted a cheap Time Walk effect that people wouldn't freak out over and that I could cast on the same turn as my Living Death.  Turns out Savor the Moment was a great addition and led to quicker games, so I'm happy I added it.  Of course, you can also pay the extra mana to cast Twilight's Call at instant speed at the end of an opponent's turn, but Savor the Moment wins just based on style points.

I originally also had Jin-Gitaxias in the deck figuring that he could cripple opponents' hands, help you draw cards and help you dump cards into your graveyard (notice there's no Reliquary Tower in the deck).  However, he wasn't as good as I wanted.  If you Living Death him into play, everyone gets a full turn to respond to him and deal with him.  He doesn't have an immediate impact and just had a target on his head so I had to cut him.

In my original version I had much more of a token them, since they worked well with Elesh Norn, and they are great sac outlets.  Eventually I had to cut back on them though for the better of the deck.

I tried to go with the biggest game changers in these colors but you could always find other stuff.  I tried to make the deck work even if your reanimation shenanigans aren't always online.  Of course, a well timed Bojuka Bog can always hose you, but the deck is good enough at filling the graveyard that it can often come back from this set back.   Let's see how the deck does in practice.  


In this game I am facing off against Horde of Notions and 2 guys playing The Mimeoplasm.  Facing other graveyard based decks isn't good.  As a matter of fact it is really, really bad for me, so I have to change my plans and be a little more defensive than I want. My opening hand has Withered Wretch but no sources of Black mana.  But if I draw some Swamps I can slow down the Ooze players a bit and I decide it's worth the risk.  My opener also has Wurmcoil Engine, Myr Battlesphere, Debtors' Knell and a couple lands, so I decide to keep.  Looking back this is a pretty risky hand to keep, especially since I don't have the mana for my only early turn play.  Oh well. 

In the early turns one of The Mimeoplasms comes out with a quick infect theme.  He plays a turn 3 Corpse Cur and turn 4 Hand of the Praetors while the rest of us are still building up mana.  He decides the other Ooze player is a threat and starts attacking him.  On turn 5 he plays Evil Twin, copying Hand of the Praetors and poisons out the other Mimeoplasm player.

I have to say, I am not a huge fan of infect in Commander games.  Although it really annoys me to play against them, I do get a great sense of satisfaction when I beat an infect player.  The only consolation if you do lose to them is that usually the game is pretty quick and you can move on to the next one.

Luckily I am able to cast Myr Battlesphere the next turn to provide some blockers, while the Horde brings out Battlegrace Angel on his side.  The Mimeoplasm plays Livewire Lash, equipping his Corpse Cur and cast Grim Affliction targeting the Cur.  He gives me the 3 poison counters that result and then attacks the Horde with the Cur, who blocks with his Angel taking out both creatures.  On my turn I attack Mimeo with a slightly pumped Battlesphere and he doesn't block.  I then play (Debtor's Knell), hoping to get some more blockers.  On his turn the Horde player casts his own version of The Mimeoplasm, getting back his Battlegrace Angel pumped by the Corpse Cur that he removed from the game.  Now there is nothing in the graveyards, which makes me a little sad but I'm fine if it slows down the Ooze.  I get attacked by the two Hands, blocking with some Myr, and then get another poison counter when Mimeo casts Tezzeret's Gambit.  I play Wurmcoil Engine, and the Horde plays Seedborn Muse.

The Mimeoplasm steals my Debtors' Knell with (Volition Reigns) and then attacks me with one of his Hands.  I block and kill it with my Wurmcoil Engine.  I'm not particularly worried as I play Withered Wretch on my turn, and attack him with my small Engine and big Battlesphere, knocking him to (21).  At the end of my turn the Horde flashes in Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir.  On his turn he plays Asceticism and just before his attack The Mimeoplasm concedes.  He didn't have any cards in hand and since there were no creatures in the graveyard he probably thought he didn't have much longer to live.

So I get hit by a large Battlegrace Angel.  Before I get to attack the Horde cycles Decree of Pain, wiping out my little guys.  I cast Chromium(!) to help me block the Angel assault, and he does his job, dying for the cause on the next turn.  On my turn I use the Knell to return Trinket Mage into play, grabbing Skullclamp to go with my Bloodghast and fetch land, drawing a bunch of cards.  I play Archon of Redemption, hoping to take out Asceticism, but the Horde has Duplicant for it.  I finally draw Living Death, and use it as a Wrath effect.

Luckily this leaves me with some wurm tokens.  I have enough mana left over to use Angel of Despair to take out the Horde's Asceticism.  Over the next couple turns I have an answer for everything he plays while whittling his lift total down and manage get out Rune-Scarred Demon with Nim Deathmantle and Altar of Dementia, along with Jace to also mill myself.  I'm even able to come back strong after he uses Kederekt Leviathan to re-set the table, with my favorite play being Puppeteer Cliqueing his Mimeoplasm to become a Primeval Titan made bigger by Vorinclex.  I kill him while at (21) life and with 19 cards left in my library, but probably could have done it earlier if I had a little more experience with the deck (this was an early game).


I have to admit that this wasn't the typical game.  With 2 graveyard based Commanders I had to play more defensively.  Also, this game didn't have a massive reanimation spell.  I wanted to show a game with a ton of triggers on the stack, but unfortunately every replay of one of those types of games was corrupted.  Coincidence?  I have no idea.

So other than the huge amount of triggers and lengthy turns that can occur based upon a big Living Death this deck is pretty fun.  It basically feeds upon the fact that people don't play enough graveyard hate.  I did run up against a couple Bojuka Bogs but not that many.  Just to be on the safe side I tried not to mill more than half of my deck into my graveyard but those Bogs still hurt me.  Luckily the deck is good enough that it can often overcome basic graveyard hate.  Leyline of the Void is a problem but with some tutoring you ought to be able to come up with an answer.

Another card that poses problems is Torpor Orb as it shuts off most of your "enters the battlefield" abilities.  Your main out to the Orb is Archon of Justice and a sac outlet.  Otherwise you just have to hope someone else takes care of it or the Orb player gets killed off.  In addition, graveyard based Commanders like Karador and The Mimeoplasm are also problems, even considering what happened in this game.  I have to admit that this game took place before I remembered to include Bojuka Bog and Tormod's Crypt, otherwise it might have gone quicker.  Plus both of these can be re-used with bounce lands or Academy Ruins.

Finally, the deck has a lot of lands that tap for colorless mana.  It wasn't often an issue, but sometimes having a starting hand with Dust Bowl, Ancient Tomb, Volrath's Stronghold and Miren, the Moaning Well will happen.  Make sure you mulligan these hands!  Yes, the deck is "all in" with the graveyard strategy.  But I liked living on the edge like that.  There are definitely versions that you can make using reanimation to do similar things and be more consistent and controlling with smaller creatures.  These versions would obviously include Wrath's and spot removal.  However this deck was really fun as it is.  I hope you enjoyed the deck!  Until next time.

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com



def enjoying the elder by JustSin at Wed, 04/18/2012 - 12:06
JustSin's picture

def enjoying the elder dragons, I have a lot of love for classics like them

As you know Living Death is by Paul Leicht at Wed, 04/18/2012 - 18:19
Paul Leicht's picture

As you know Living Death is one of my favorite cards and reanimation a favorite theme of mine. Great fun, though I suppose when faced with 3 other reanimation decks your fun is cut a little because everyone is competing for the same resources.

One thing I would do is play the Trinket Mage package: 1 top, 1 nihil spellbomb, 1 elixir of immortality and maybe the removal artifacts at 1cmc.

Great article as always. I by themonkey at Thu, 04/19/2012 - 22:29
themonkey's picture

Great article as always. I like how this series seems to be pushing you out of your normal comfort zone and into playing some different decks.