Sorry about last week’s brief interlude; I am back today to finish up the Commander 2013 decks. As I’ve mentioned before, I decided to go with Nekusar, the Mindrazer over Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge, mostly because Nekusar seemed like a more entertaining deck. I mean, I suppose there’s some more strategy involved in a Jeleva deck other than balancing mana, haste-granting-abilities, and force multipliers like Relentless Assault and Sphinx-bone Wand, but I didn’t find it in the first run through, and Nekusar is wickedly fun.

Just as I christened my Derevi, Empyrial Tactician deck as “Twiddling My Thumbs,” Nekusar too earned a name: “Choke on It.” It’s a kind of turbofog deck, only without the fogs. Instead, it runs a few solid mass removal options, and relies on the many ways it has to translate the forced card draw into pain for your opponents to win. It beat almost everything else in testing, losing a single, close game to Prossh when, a turn before Nekusar was to kill the big dragon, Prossh dropped Purphoros, God of the Forge and then brought in about 16 different Kobolds of Kher Keep (thanks to Parallel Lives). It was out of nowhere, and barring that Nekusar would have easily won the day (there aren’t a ton of decks that can beat a 32 point hit, but that might just re-emphasize the power of Prossh). Anyway, here’s my list:


Nekusar, the Mindrazer

Forced Draw: Winds of Change; Howling Mine; Vision Skeins; Nin, the Pain Artist; Kami of the Crescent Moon; Temple Bell; Whirlpool Warrior; Windfall; Wheel of Fortune; Jace Beleren; Jace’s Archivist; Molten Psyche; Font of Mythos; Otherworld Atlas; Wheel and Deal; Spiteful Visions; Whispering Madness; Jace, Memory Adept; Magus of the Jar; Time Reversal; Incendiary Command; Forced Fruition; Chandra Ablaze; Temporal Cascade; Prosperity; Skyscribing; Blue Sun’s Zenith

Pain and Suffering: Kederekt Parasite; Runeflare Trap; Ebony Owl Netsuke; Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded; Cerebral Vortex; Underworld Dreams; Viseling; Psychosis Crawler; Stormbreath Dragon; Toil and Trouble; Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind; Price of Knowledge

Ancillary Strategies: Bloodchief Ascension; Rain of Gore; Rakdos Charm; Darksteel Plate; Mizzium Transreliquat; Sulfuric Vortex; Phyrexian Metamorph; Seer’s Vision; Leyline of the Void; Leyline of Punishment; Mnemonic Wall; Consuming Aberration; Kagemaro, First to Suffer; Charmbreaker Devils; Life’s Finale; Elder Mastery; Cruel Ultimatum; Mind Grind; Black Sun’s Zenith

Mana and Lands: Sol Ring; Wayfarer’s Bauble; Gilded Lotus; Bojuka Bog; Command Tower; Crosis’s Catacombs; Crumbling Necropolis; Dimir Aqueduct; Dimir Guildgate; Dragonskull Summit; Drowned Catacomb; Duskmantle, House of Shadow; Evolving Wilds; Graven Cairns; Grixis Panorama; Island x5; Izzet Boilerworks; Izzet Guildgate; Mountain x3; Nephalia Drownyard; Rakdos Guildgate; Shelldock Isle; Shivan Reef; Spinerock Knoll; Sulfur Falls; Sunken Ruins; Swamp x5; Temple of the False God; Terramorphic Expanse; Thespian’s Stage


Let’s zoom in on some of these cards, shall we? For starters, obviously my categories are a bit loose. Forced draw and pain and suffering are fairly self-explanatory, but the separation of those two suggests that there’s a firm line between what’s a forced draw card and what’s a pain card, but as you can see in Molten Psyche and Spiteful Visions, that distinction is not always clear. I chose to sort them into the draw section, but really Spiteful Visions is just in there as a second Nekusar, and if Molten Psyche does happen to do some damage it’s just value added.

Now, ancillary strategies for this deck boil down to a couple of different things. Phyrexian Metamorph and Mizzium Transreliquat are both ways to copy my artifact pressure points. They’re force multipliers in a very traditional sense. Then there are the mill cards like Consuming Abberation and Mind Grind that, while not really being on theme with the rest of the deck, do allow for the possibility of a mill kill. It’s probably not going to happen, what with Time Reversal and Temporal Cascade, but it’s there if that’s how I need to kill someone. Finally, there are the ancillary combos that work wonders with Nekusar in play. I’m talking cards like Elder Mastery, which locks people out of the game, and Bloodchief Ascension, which turns on after a single turn cycle in a four person game once Nekusar hits the board. These strategies aren’t the most (or really at all) fun, but sometimes you need to have an evil way to close things out.

Anyway, back to the central combo. Since Nekusar is a combo in a box, a nigh-infinitely recastable Spiteful Visions, there’s a lot of incentive to go all in on the “damage when they draw” strategy, especially so that we can have some backup options in case he gets tucked. It’s not like it’s a bad thing to have Underworld Dreams on the board when Nekusar is out; it doubles your clock at the least and it’s got a bunch of black mana symbols for Erebos, God of the Dead when I eventually add him in… he’s an obvious addition, but I don’t yet have a copy, and if I did I don’t know that this deck would get first priority. But! My point is that I am running Kederekt Parasite. It’s another copy of Underworld Dreams, but only if you control a red permanent. Usually, Nekusar handles that duty. In case of emergency, though, I’ve added in a bunch of red enchantments. I’m talking Sulfuric Vortex, Leyline of Punishment, and Rain of Gore. Not only do they help ensure that the Kederekt Parasite isn’t going to be a dead card when I get it out on the table, they also ensure that the steady stream of life loss and damage keep ratcheting down until my opponents are all dead. For that reason I could have easily included Wound Reflection, but that just seemed a little too mean.

Now, there were some surprises. Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded performed shockingly well in this deck. His minus four ability is on point with what the deck wants to be doing, and his minus six ability will probably win the game, but it’s the plus one ability that everyone underestimates. I dropped him turn two in one game, and just kept ticking him up turn after turn. Initially no one paid attention to the worst planeswalker in the game, but when he crested five loyalty people started to worry, and eventually he soaked a fair bit of damage that otherwise was heading towards my face. I’m not saying he’s a good card, period, but he’s definitely not as bad in this deck as I had anticipated. Or as he’s been in every other deck I’ve played him in.

Price of Knowledge was also an over-performer. I hadn’t really expected great things from the card, but I found it a valuable role-player for what this deck wanted people to be doing. Removing the option to have my opponents discard down to seven meant my Viseling was more likely to do some serious damage and my Tibalt strikes could be more than just a turbo-charged lava axe. Add in the damage every upkeep, which could be redirected to kill planeswalkers in a pinch, and the card seemed a valuable member of the team.

I’m not immune to good cards, though, and that’s why I kept in Cruel Ultimatum despite it not being precisely on theme. I may have justified it by telling myself it was there to keep some pieces in from the original deck, but the real reason is just that I don’t get a lot of chances to play with Cruel Ultimatum. So why would I deny myself of such an opportunity? It did save my bacon one game, though, as it knocked a player with Elderscale Wurm on the board down below the seven life threshold, which allowed for Nekusar to sweep in and damage my opponent to death, wurm still in play. And maybe I’ll cut Charmbreaker Devils down the line, when I do move farther away from the original bones of the thing. But in the meantime, that’s how Nekusar wants to play the game.


Anyway, this has been a fun series of decks to play, build, play again, and then tweak. Next week should bring one final wrap-up of the Commander 2013 project, and then off to a new year! Happy Holidays, everyone!


Jess Stirba is a Brooklyn-based player who fell in love with Commander back when it was EDH. She also maintains a Pauper Cube, and is occasionally lured back to more competitive formats. She writes weekly on topics of interest to the Commander crowd. Also, she is one of those people who opt-out of the whole Facebook thing, so if you really want to engage with her, try addressing @jlina on Twitter. She’s much more responsive there!

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