Where I’m at with cEDH: I’ve realized that I don’t think going especially fast is useful, since going for a combo kill at the first possible opportunity generally results in getting stopped by the table.  If you’re playing a combo deck, the game is fundamentally about choosing your moment.  That likely means waiting until there’s some evidence the table has exhausted their defenses, but also that you’ve had time to build up a lot of protection. Given this, my priority is on finding a deck that can pass turns profitably and outpace other decks at building resources and sculpting its hand.

Finally, a Deck for Tymna

All of this is perfectly in line with Tymna the Weaver and Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus putting up strong showings.  Tymna is incredible at playing a slow value game.  I tried to do this with Raffine and realized it was less effective than Tymna, and I also had to give up a color. So I’m on board with Tymna, but I want to be even better at playing the grindy game.

This lead me to Tymna the Weaver/Thrasios, Triton Hero Stax.  Fundamentally, it seems like everyone has agreed that cEDH decks need to have a combo kill to be viable, and there are a few most popular win conditions everyone fights to try to resolve.  People also play very little removal and almost no sweepers.

Tymna wants you to have creatures in play.  If some of them have evasion, that’s great, but most of the time you can find someone to attack with most any creature.  Creatures are great because they deal some damage, but they also draw cards every turn if you have Tymna. Creatures also stop your opponents from winning if they have text boxes that restrict functionality of other cards in some way.

It’s normal for Tymna decks to play several stax creatures, usually ones with one sided abilities that only interfere with their opponents.  I want to take it a step further and play the most effective stax creatures, which include the symmetrical ones.

I also want to be able to spend all my mana smoothly curving out stax creatures.  This means I want to minimize the number of spells I’m playing that I don’t want to proactively cast

Cantrips Aren’t What You Think They Are

As a side note, I’ve come to really dislike cantrips in cEDH.  Constructed players think of eternal formats as being full of all the best one mana cantrips in a way that can kind of be their defining feature, but in cEDH, I barely even like Brainstorm. I think Gitaxian Probe is downright bad in most decks.  There are so many cards which are heavily played that punish you for casting spells, usually by letting your opponents draw, but also by limiting the number of spells you can cast each turn. A card that’s “card neutral” often turns into card disadvantage when it draws one or more of your opponents and extra card. These can get locked in your hand if there’s any sort of Rule of Law effect on the battlefield.

Also, early turns are critical and spending a mana is very expensive. More importantly, a card that cycles in your opening hand is a card that’s effectively hidden from you during mulligans. Mulligans are extremely important in cEDH, so I don’t like cards that functionally limit my information when choosing a hand.

Playing With and Against Combo

When building a combo deck, it’s generally best to keep the cards required to actually win the game to the smallest possible number. This allows you to maximize the number of cards you draw in a game which you can cast productively.  Thassa’s Oracle+Demonic Consultation is a tighter combo package than some complicated Protean Hulk line, in that you don’t need as many cards that you’re playing for the combo. It’s hard to get a tighter combo than Thassa’s Oracle and Demonic Consultation, either in terms of mana spent or cards in deck which have to contribute to it.  Currently, I’m testing out a tighter combo package, and I want to be proven it’s not enough before I add more cards to it.

My current combo package includes zero cards.

I’m not playing a combo.  I’m just attacking with creatures.  From what I’ve seen of how well combo decks function with stax pieces in play, I think just playing stax creatures and protecting them with countermagic is enough to kill a pod in combat.

Not only am I not playing a combo, I’m not playing Demonic Tutor.  Why? Well, think about what I said about cantrips.  Fundamentally, Demonic Tutor is an expensive cantrip, and I don’t really care which cards I have, I just care about how quickly I can get creatures onto the battlefield.

The List

So what is this deck?

Let’s break it down by functionality, as usual:

Mana: 31 Lands


Mana artifacts: 5

Mana Creatures: 5


Other Mana Source: 1

Protection Creatures: 3


Stax Creatures: 21


Other Stax Permanents: 2


Persistent Card Advantage/Selection Sources: 11


Aggressive Creatures: 2

Counterspells: 10


Removal Spells: 6


And finally, Vampiric Tutor, over Demonic Tutor because being an instant is really important, as it allows me to cast it on someone else’s turn when I have a Phyrexian Censor or similar in play, and I can also use it to get an answer I suddenly need in response to a draw trigger on another player’s turn.

I’m not sure if cards like Ledger Shredder, Rona, Herald of Invasion, and Raffine, Scheming Seer are needed. But, I do want to smooth my draws to make sure I have the right answers throughout a long game.

The creatures in this deck collectively deal a lot of damage while seriously minimizing the number of cards I actually have to counter.  After seeing how hard it’s been for my opponents to make their combos work through a relatively small number of stax pieces, I don’t think it’s worth trying to do that.

Why Play This?

So if I’m just playing a stax deck, why am I playing Tyman/Thrasios instead of Winota, Joiner of Forces or something similar?

Winota is too much of a glass cannon.  If Winota itself is countered a couple times or someone plays a sweeper at the wrong time, the deck tends to fall apart.  Tymna is great in my deck, but I have plenty of sources of card advantage when it’s not on the battlefield. More importantly, I get to play a fairly large number of counterspells.  Here it actually helps that I’m drawing cards rather than just putting more creatures into play because I’m less exposed–I can rebuild and I can interact on the stack.

Honestly, it’s a little weird to me that there don’t seem to be more decks doing this.  Disruptive aggro decks have always been the way to beat combo decks in constructed, but I feel like in cEDH, if someone tries to build a disruptive aggro deck instead of a combo deck they’re just told they aren’t playing a real cEDH deck.  Maybe I’m missing something, since I’ve only just assembled this, but currently I love the look of not worrying about playing a bunch of cards to find and protect a combo, and spamming the battlefield.

A note on the commanders:

This is a Tymna deck.  Tymna wants you to have creatures that attack your opponents, and this deck is all about that.  Thrasios is great if you have some infinite mana combos, but this deck isn’t trying to do any of that.  If this deck runs out of stuff to spend mana on, it can cast and activate Thrasios, but it’s very much an afterthought, and I can see if finishing some games without ever getting around to casting Thrasios.

Thoughts on a few other cards I’m not playing:

I’m not playing Gilded Drake, Endurance, Solitude, Loran of the Third Path, Thieving Skydiver, or White Plume Adventurer all for the same reason: They have enters the battlefield abilities, and I’m playing Hushbringer, Tocatli Honor Guard, and Hushwing Gryff.  Currently none of my creatures have enters the battlefield abilities.

I’m not playing Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Teferi, Time Raveler because I’m worried about these cards potentially making it harder for other players to stop a player who’s trying to win.

I’m not playing Slogurk, the Overslime because I’m a coward (I think it might be good in this deck since I draw a lot of cards and have fetchlands and looting, and I love the interaction with Boseiju and Otawara, but I worry it might be a little too slow).

Play creatures, attack with them, and win games. The rest is simply noise.

Sam Black (any) is a former professional Magic player, longtime Magic writer, host of the Drafting Archetypes podcast, and Twitch streamer. Sam is also a Commander Cube enthusiast, and you can find Sam’s cube list here. For anything else, find Sam on Twitter: @SamuelHBlack.

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