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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Apr 26 2016 11:00am
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Deck 1 Commander Teysa

Teysa, Orzhov Scion

The number one thing to do with Teysa as a commander is to put out a lot, a lot, a lot of white tokens, and then put out more than that. So to start with, what are the best ways to create white tokens? (We'd like to run 30x Spectral Procession, but we're limited to singles only in Commander of course, so let's look at a wider swath.)

mana=1 mana=2 mana=3
Doomed Traveler Gather the Townsfolk Spectral Procession
Beckon Apparition Militia's Pride Even the Odds
  Murder Investigation Gwyllion Hedge-Mage
  Not Forgotten Hallowed Spiritkeeper
  Raise the Alarm Icatian Crier
    Timely Reinforcements
    Waylay
    Promise of Bunrei
mana=4 mana=5 mana>=6
Battle Screech Conqueror's Pledge Secure the Wastes
Captain's Call Increasing Devotion Martial Coup
Field of Souls Cloudgoat Ranger Nomads' Assembly
Seize the Soul March of Souls Storm Herd
Springjack Shepherd Ornitharch Requiem Angel
  Benalish Commander  

(For the spikier readers, there's Lingering Souls, Hero of Bladehold, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion, but this being a casual column, I don't officially recommend them.)

Since we'll be sacrificing so many creatures, let's run cards that benefit from all this dying. For example:

Sadistic Glee  Spoils of Blood  Unruly Mob  Blood Artist

Skirsdag High Priest  Scavenger Drake  Dross Harvester  Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

And let's not forget about Teysa's second ability: she triggers when black creatures die. So let's run some black creatures that die! Augur of Skulls, Wall of Corpses, Dauthi Jackal, even the germ tokens from Living Weapons like Mortarpod can be used. Although Fume Spitter is usually not a great deal, he is when he gives you a free white token, which you can then use toward exiling a creature (and pumping up your Unruly Mob along the way).

    Kor Sanctifiers     Disenchant

We should also look to non-token white creatures who serve some other purpose. For instance, if we run Kor Sanctifiers or Reliquary Monk instead of Disenchant, it provides us with Teysa food. Can never get too much of that.

White-black creatures are an obvious choice, since they use both halves of Teysa. Restless Apparition is my favorite, due to its persist and therefore reusability. High Priest of Penance and Sin Collector have some utility, and Chief of the Scale / Chief of the Edge pair with a surprising number of cards we were already running.

We can also turn our white creatures into white-black creatures with perhaps the best trick in the deck: Darkest Hour. That plus Teysa plus any three white tokens (which is not hard to get) essentially lets you "go infinite" and exile whatever creatures you want for free.

Darkest Hour

Some other tricks the deck has: Righteous War is an oddball card to pump up our army (we won't be sacrificing EVERY token we make). Intangible Virtue is an obvious but deserving inclusion. And Martyr's Cry gives us some resilience if we ever get stuck. (If the loss of our own creatures seems too great a cost, remember how easy it is to rebuild with this deck.)

Here's the list!

 

Deck 2 Commander Godo

Godo, Bandit Warlord

Let's get it out of the way: the rules of commander prevent us from using the single best combo Godo has. The equipment with the highest CMC and lowest equip cost is Elbrus, the Binding Blade, and it may look like a colorless card, but since the flipside is black, it's forbidden under a red commander. RIP Elbrus.

    Argentum Armor

There are still many worthy targets though!!  And unlike most commander combos, we don't need to run 30x of our combo piece, since Godo tutors it up, and he'll probably only trigger once or twice in a typical game. In the end, I wound up only running four equipment for him to fetch. In order of desirability, there's Argentum Armor, Moonsilver Spear, Hedron Matrix, and Runechanter's Pike. (The obligatory Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots could also be grabbed if needed—but we'd be running them anyway.)

So what's the rest of the deck? Just stall while we patiently work toward our 6-mana commander. Casting him will usually do the rest. The way red stalls best is with burn, burn, lots of burn. Use our spells to kill their spells until everyone's resources are eventually depleted; then drop Godo for the win. We have the targeted types (Flame Slash, Scent of Cinder, Fated Conflagration) and the global types (Pyroclasm, Pyrohemia, Chain Reaction). RUN LOTS OF BOTH. I won't bother listing every viable one like I did with the token producers, because there are too many for that to be practical, but you should not have trouble finding enough. Just remember that this is a slower, more controlling deck, so when you run out of the top-tier burn spells, look next to things like Turn to Slag before you look at Shock.

We can also stall with some defense-oriented creatures, and although red isn't the king of this, it has a few respectable choices. Aether Membrane, Hanweir Watchkeep, and Dancing Scimitar will work well enough.

With all of this burn, we might as well capitalize off it, and this goes deeper than the Runechanter's Pike mentioned above. Charmbreaker Devils is the best option, and there's also Magnivore, Bloodfire Enforcers, Dual Casting, Satyr Firedancer, Fire Servant, Pyromancer's Gauntlet, Mirari, and Sphinx-Bone Wand.  Pyromancer's Goggles was less than a ticket when I made this deck, and now it's almost 7, so you may or may not want to include it. (Also keep in mind that Kiln Fiend doesn't really fit this deck's slow, grindy style.)

We can finish the deck up with some accel, utility, and aggro cards. Red has tons of effective creatures, especially from the past few years, and you can see my choices below. The ones I especially recommend are Embermaw Hellion and Covetous Dragon.

The list:

 

And in case you are wondering whether it is worth running some red samurais to benefit off Godo's untap ability: no; no it is not. I would rather attack once with a respectable creature than twice with any of those putzes.

 

Deck 3 Commander Horobi

Horobi, Death's Wail

I spoke six months ago about how to use Horobi in 60-card decks, and I was pretty thorough, but in the end, only four of this deck's 99 cards overlap with that one's. The reason is that, instead of picking and choosing the best repeatable targeters, we basically have to use all of them here. (Also, we can't use blue for the redundancy in Cowardice or the shrouded creatures like Sphinx of Jwar Isle.) Ooh, do I wish black had some large fliers with shroud for this deck!

Fog of Gnats     Quietus Spike    

Since we don't have shroud, we have to look toward another type of protection from Horobi that black is actually quite good at: regeneration. Korlash, Heir to Blackblade is one of the bigger ones, and of course there are plenty of small ones like Fog of Gnats. Sengir Nosferatu can be activated in response to Horobi's trigger, and Manor Gargoyle / Phyrexian Totem can stay turned off until it's safe.

My build ended up with a lot of small regenerators. But we can do more with them than just stall! Let's turn them into threats. Dead-Iron Sledge locks up defense pretty tight. Quietus Spike or Lashwrithe make offense pretty strong.

We'll need a ton of accel, not only to keep regeneration mana open, but also because Horobi is very fragile and we might have to recast him several times. (We can't even protect him with a Lightning Greaves, because the equip activation kills him! Neither does Imp's Mischief work, because by the time he's targeted, it's already too late. The only way to save him would be stuff like Momentary Blink, which black doesn't have. And Voyager Staff isn't exactly worth it.) So yes, accel: don't just run Charcoal Diamond, go all the way up to Gilded Lotus and Gauntlet of Power. Trust me.

The defensive spells I'm selecting are mostly for the early game, like Shrivel and Last Gasp, since Horobi lets you take down the bigger creatures later on. Which brings us to the last point: what do we combine with Horobi to machine gun down the opposing army? I've got 17 of 'em (counting Urborg, listed under Lands), which you can see below.

 

Two quick gameplay notes. 1, equipping targets, and therefore triggers Horobi. Before you put your Empyrial Plate on your Rimebound Dead, either Horobi should be off the battlefield or you should have regeneration mana open.

2, the "Horobi Combos" cards are for just that—Horobi combos—but don't forget they can be used normally in a pinch. (It's rare that you'll want to ever use Belbe's Armor for more than X=0... but it may come up.)

Have fun, and see you next time!