Monday, October 27, 2014

Commander Mondays: Humans Run When the Demons Go to War

Yes, I do know I completely botched the saying from Doctor Who, so let me offer a different quote that better describes the deck you are about to view:

"Man's enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself." -- Lao Tzu

Now do you know what's about to happen? Hint: Humans and Demons. Want another one? Sacrificing finds demons. Give up yet?


Shadowborn Apostle

That's right. I'm talking of Shadowborn Apostle for EDH. Now, in this format, the only duplicates you can have are basic land, except in this case. With Magic, a majority of the rules are on the cards. Yes, there are extensive lists of rules and PDFs out there with the most well known rules, but the main rule of the game is that what the cards say goes. Since that's the golden rule of the game, the "no duplicates" rule in EDH flies out the window for Shadowborn Apostle. As per this article's title, the humans run (or get sacrificed) for the demons to go to war. And then we'll get the Shadowborn Apostles out of your graveyard and do it all over again... Let's visit the deck:

Commander

x1 Triad of Fates

Legendary Creatures (2)

x1 Athreos, God of Passage
x1 Sheoldred, Whispering One

Creatures (50)

x1 Angel of Glory's Rise
x1 Blood Artist
x1 Bloodgift Demon
x1 Demon of Death's Gate
x1 Desecration Demon
x1 Extractor Demon
x1 Harvester of Souls
x1 Indulgent Tormentor
x1 Kuro Pitlord
x1 Lord of the Void
x1 Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis
x1 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
x1 Ob Nixilis, Unshackled
x1 Reaper from the Abyss
x1 Rune-Scarred Demon
x30 Shadowborn Apostle
x1 Shadowborn Demon
x1 Soul of Innistrad
x1 Stronghold Overseer
x1 Woebringer Demon
x1 Xathrid Demon

Instants (4)

x1 Cloudshift
x1 Erase
x1 Death Denied
x1 Profit//Loss

Sorceries (3)

x1 Empty the Catacombs
x1 Immortal Servitude
x1 Return to the Ranks

Enchantments (2)

x1 Banishing Light
x1 Oblivion Ring

Artifacts (3)

x1 Elbrus, the Binding Blade
x1 Hall of Triumph
x1 Ring of Three Wishes

Planeswalkers (2)

x1 Liliana Vess
x1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor

Lands (33)

x1 Caves of Koilos
x1 Command Tower
x1 Evolving Wilds
x1 Godless Shrine
x1 Isolated Chapel
x1 Opal Palace
x1 Reliquary Tower
x1 Tainted Field
x1 Temple of Silence
x1 Terramorphic Expanse
x1 Thespian's Stage
x1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
x1 Vault of the Archangel
x5 Plains
x15 Swamp

I believe I have streamlined this deck as best as possible. I wanted a deck that includes White because of a couple very important cards for this deck, but there is also enchantment removal to protect some of the Demons you'll pull out of thin air. Let's break down the deck...

Legendary Creatures

Triad of Fates  Athreos, God of Passage  Sheoldred, Whispering One

There are very few white and black legendary creatures, but I chose Triad of Fates for the second ability of blinking creatures and also for the third ability which can be used for politics within a multiplayer game. I'll get to why blinking is important for this deck in a moment, but let's look at the other two legendary creatures.

Athreos is here as a way to bring back your Shadowborn Apostles. Coupled with Reliquary Tower, you should be able to constantly return your Apostles and bring about more demons.

Sheoldred, Whispering One was almost skipped over, but if you can return any creature you desire from your graveyard to the battlefield, you can get any lost demons back or bring back an Apostle for free each turn. Swampwalk is an added bonus if you play against a deck that has swamps.

Apostle Return

Angel of Glory's Rise  Soul of Innistrad

I have too many Angels of Glory's Rise to count. Most of them were those "Big Box Store" foil promos when you buy those three boosters & one promo packs from Walmart or Target. I wound up with something like 10 at one point and I decided I might as well scrub a few with acetone to get myself blank tokens, but my foil token creating is a story for another day. But hey, these actually have a purpose now. Drop it on the battlefield and you instantly get all your Apostles from the graveyard to the battlefield since they're humans. That's the only reason this is in the deck.

Soul of Innistrad might have some costly abilities for returning Apostles and it is just to your hand, but why not have this as an option? You also get a pretty cool 6/6 creature and it's about a dollar or two so it's not too expensive to buy.

Empty the Catacombs  Immortal Servitude  Return to the Ranks

I'm not a big fan of Empty the Catacombs, but you get everything back, and it is to your hand. With Reliquary Tower in play, this isn't a problem, especially when an opponent has to choose to discard certain creatures. Seems good, right? Now Immortal Servitude is just a four mana spell because you'll only be returning the Apostles with any luck, but it could pick up some demons. Easiest way to recur your creatures. Return to the Ranks is a more expensive Immortal Servitude, but it does what you want it to, especially with Convoke so that you can tap your Apostles on the field to bring back the ones in the graveyard.

Demons, Demons, and More Demons

Demon of Death's Gate  Desecration Demon  Harvester of Souls

Demon of Death's Gate may have a less than desirable casting cost, but we'll be searching for it, remember? We're really only paying seven mana (six to cast the Apostles and one to sacrifice six of them) and then we pull it out of the library and put it down. A 9/9 with Flying and Trample is impressive, no?

Desecration Demon is probably my favorite of all demons. It's cheap, it's a 6/6, it has flying, and opponents can make it larger. What's not to love?

Harvester of Souls is good because it generates card advantage for you. If you sacrifice any Apostles while this is in play, you're drawing more cards. Pair that with deathtouch, and you have an incredible creature.

Indulgent Tormentor  Lord of the Void  Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

Indulgent Tormentor isn't the best in the power and toughness category, but drawing an extra card each turn is great. Opponents aren't likely to pay three life or sacrifice creatures to prevent you from drawing a single card, but if they do, you do have a 5/3 with flying.

Lord of the Void lets you take creatures right out of an opponent's library AND you're also exiling parts of their library that they'll never see again. Pair that with flying and a 7/7 body and you're good.

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen is really powerful. You have 33 lands in this deck, and playing one boosts Ob Nixilis AND makes an opponent lose three life. How could this go wrong?

Reaper from the Abyss  Rune-Scarred Demon  Xathrid Demon

With Reaper from the Abyss on the battlefield, sacrificing Apostles allows you to destroy other creatures. Of course, you'll possibly be destroying your own creatures other than demons, but it's essentially a board wipe. It's not bad, but you can search for it when you need it and leave it in your library when you don't.

Rune-Scarred Demon just finds something for you to play. It could be anything, which is what makes this great. Combine that with searching your library for it anyway, you can play it, find a card, and then play that depending on the cost.

Xathrid Demon is probably one of my least favorite demons in the deck because of the mandatory sacrifice ability and the negative effects of not being able to sacrifice another creature. I needed another powerful demon, and the 7/7 for six mana combined with flying and trample is useful, but it was under consideration for removal, I just couldn't find anything better.

Extra Evilness

Blood Artist  Extractor Demon  Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

Hm... Blood Artist, sacrificing Apostles, opponents sacrificing creatures to Desecration Demon, combining with Reaper from the Abyss and we win? If nothing else, we'll just walk away with a lot more life. Seems good.

Extractor Demon and Lord of the Void are deadly for opponents since you mill opponents and exile their cards. Do this to one player, bleed another with Blood Artist, and full on attack another and you'll be the biggest threat in the game and you might just win...

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is also pretty good because you can stop opponents from searching their libraries and combining it with Apostles and you'll have a huge demon with flying and trample. Why not?

Artifact Suite

Hall of Triumph  Ring of Three Wishes

There is only one mono white creature in the deck. Hall of Triumph naming Black is awesome for this deck. That, and your Apostles aren't just 1/1 creatures so you can still swarm an opponent with them if you have to. Ring of Three Wishes is one of my favorite Commander cards. It also finds you anything. Sure, it's for a hefty price and you can only do it three times, but I love it enough to grab any foil copy of it I can find. It's never too early to foil an EDH deck...

Elbrus, the Binding BladeWithengar Unbound

Er... yeah. Withengar Unbound fits in the theme of the deck. It can't be searched, but you can still easily transform it by equipping to any demon with flying and/or trample. It's great for multiplayer games since players losing boosts Withengar Unbound.

Planeswalkers

Liliana Vess  Sorin, Solemn Visitor

Liliana is here to search for cards. That's pretty much the only reason, although the chance to use her -8 ability is pretty good as another way to get back your Apostles.

Sorin is here to boost creatures and also gain you life. Vampire tokens could be useful for Xathrid Demon though.  Also, forcing opponents to sacrifice creatures with his emblem each turn feeds Blood Artist, so Sorin plays into a few different purposes in the deck.

Lands

Reliquary Tower  Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth  Vault of the Archangel

Reliquary Tower, as stated before, is purely for the recursion of the Apostles in the event you return all of them to your hand. This way you don't have to discard them. Urborg is here to make sure you have your black mana any way possible AND it pairs with Sheoldred, Whispering One because it becomes unblockable due to Swampwalk. Vault of the Archangel, well that's just for the lifelink. Deathtouch isn't bad either. Pair Vault with Hall of Triumph and a bum rush with your Shadowborn Apostles doesn't sound half bad.

Tainted Field  Thespian's Stage

The Tainted cycle from Torment is a bit overlooked in my opinion. Sure it taps for just one colorless mana, but the moment you have a swamp (15 plus Godless Shrine) and it makes anything. I find it to be strictly better than Caves of Koilos because you don't take damage from it, it just wants a Swamp paired with it.

Thespian's Stage is another land I feel is overlooked. I even bought a foil one because I found it to be a pretty awesome card. It's a second Command Tower, Reliquary Tower, Vault of the Archangel, or anything else you want or see an opponent has. I once managed to have three Command Towers on the field in a different deck (I forget which one it was) by stealing one from an opponent, copying it with Thespian's Stage, then playing my own. It's just a really awesome land, and non-foils are cheap too.


Well, I hope you enjoyed this crazy deck. It has so much going on, but it has everything an Orzhov lover wants: lifegain, opponents losing life, and graveyard shenanigans.

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