Tayam is, I gather, a deeply-explored card in cEDH.  Most other cards I’ve built decks around have been relatively new, like Jhoira, Ageless Innovator and Zimone and Dina, fringe, like Slogurk, the Overslime, or I’ve gone in a particularly different direction, like Tymna/Thrasios.  With Tayam, I think the script is a bit narrower, but I also think there are a lot of moving parts and it’s pretty interesting to explore.

One reason I think the card’s been pretty thoroughly explored is that the cEDH Decklist Database has three different Tayam decks.  I’ve looked at these, but I haven’t studied them deeply.  There may be things these lists or their discord communities have figured out that I don’t get yet. But, I also think I’m doing some things these lists should really consider.

So, let’s get into my take on Tayam.

Why Tayam?

Fundamentally, the reason to play Tayam is its interaction with Devoted Druid.  If you can get Devoted Druid to 4 toughness, you can tap it for mana and untap it 3 times, giving it 3 -1/-1 counters, then you can remove those counters to activate Tayam. You can infinitely repeat the process, putting any or all permanents with 3 cmc or less from your deck onto the battlefield.  That should win the game pretty easily.

Your deck doesn’t have to rely on that, but it’s such a clean, easy win that it’s the biggest draw of the deck to me.  Devoted Druid is absurdly easy to search for when you have access to all of Abzan’s creature tutors, and increasing its toughness is relatively trivial.  You can also bypass summoning sickness with cards like Earthcraft or Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler.

If your deck revolves around finding Devoted Druid, you should probably also play other Devoted Druid combos in case your graveyard is turned off by something like Rest in Peace or Dauthi Voidwalker, or if you can’t get/keep your commander in play.  You can do this with Swift Reconfiguration or Vizier of Remedies.  Interestingly, none of the database lists are playing Swift Reconfiguration.  It does have the downside that unless you crew the Devoted Druid, you can’t remove its counters with Tayam, so you need another mana sink. Still, I like having this backup option.

This gets into the central question for me with Tayam, which is how much do you want to focus on your angle of attack versus diversifying. Specifically, how much do you want to rely on your graveyard?

You have a graveyard-centric commander and you’re playing Abzan, so you can go as deep into graveyard synergies as you want, but the more you do that, the more you expose yourself to a single point of failure.

My current build might be too graveyard reliant.  I previously had Witherbloom Apprentice and Chain of Smog as a two-card combo I could search for to win outside of my graveyard, but I didn’t like having two cards that are both horrible independently.  I now have Rosie Cotton and Scurry Oak, which can give me infinite 1/1s, but that’s a bit less reliable as a kill than I’d like.

I’m also not playing Ad Nauseum, which is a strong black card that doesn’t use the graveyard. I don’t think I can really take advantage of it, since it’s bad when you have a Rule of Law effect, which I play several of. My fast mana is mostly creatures, which also aren’t properly explosive with it, so it doesn’t seem worth playing to me.

While Devoted Druid is the simplest combo with Tayam, it’s not the only thing the deck is doing.  To start with, as with most Abzan decks, it’s a stax deck.  I have the following stax pieces:

I could go further–I’m notably not playing Aven Mindcensor, Hushbringer, Ethersworn Canonist, Eidolon of Rhetoric, Rule of Law, or Null Rod, each of which would be a reasonable inclusion.

More Ways to Win

So that’s how I’m trying to avoid losing, but I also have plans to win without Devoted Druid.  I have a few different combos:

Carrion Feeder/Bloodflow Connoisseur/Ashnod’s Altar+Cauldron Familiar+Samwise Gamgee wins

Carrion Feeder/Bloodflow Connoisseur+Young Wolf/Strangleroot Geist=unlimited counters for Tayam

Tayam+Sylvan Safekeeper+Gaea’s Cradle in addition to the above, or with enough creatures you can be mana positive while using this engine to make mana. Spending mana to put counters on Hexdrinker or Joraga Treespeaker can give you infinite mana.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, there’s Rosie Cotton+Scurry Oak.  With Tayam, this combo makes infinite counters, and with Earthcraft or Gaea’s Cradle (or technically with Rishkar+Tyvar) it makes infinite mana.

Mana, Creatures, and What to Do With It All

I’m playing a lot of mana creatures.  I think fast mana is really important here, and I want my fast mana to come from creatures because they can be sources of counters if I play them after Tayam.  Also, one card I’m playing that none of the other lists are is Joraga Treespeaker.  I don’t understand the omission of this card.  First off, it’s a generally fantastic mana creature, but more importantly, it gives you the ability to spend 1G to create a counter, so it’s actually a combo/engine piece.

The large amount of mana this deck generates thanks to its mana creatures allows you to play a fair game with Tayam as a card advantage source, provided you have access to counters, so I’m playing several sources of counters.

Wall of Roots is one of the best cards in the deck, since it gives you one free counter on each players turn, and can contribute to one Tayam activation on each player’s turn.  Armored Scrapgorger is a much weaker version

The level up creatures, Joraga Treespeaker and Hexdrinker are good sources of counters, and Managorger Hydra tends to give you more counters than you can realistically use without making infinite mana.

The undying creatures and sac outlets are another good source, Orcish Bowmasters is a great source–there are a lot of ways to get counters in this deck.

One notable source of counters I’m playing that the other decks aren’t is Scute Swarm.  When you start exploding with copies of Scute Swarm, each of them comes with a vigilance counter, so you get a lot of counters, and these can also fuel Gaea’s Cradle or the sac outlets.  This makes comboing with Gaea’s Cradle a lot easier.

One popular class of card I’m not playing any of is the “my stuff resolves” class of cards.  No Allosaurus Shepherd, Veil of Summer, Autumn’s Veil, Grand Abolisher, Dosan the Falling Leaf, or even Silence.  Tayam bypasses the stack, and I’d rather find and present more threats than trying to force particular threats through.  This is a big departure in my list from the database lists.

Instead of these cards, I’m playing Invasion of Gobakhan, which doesn’t help resolve my spells, but does both protect my creatures and function as a source of +1/+1 counters.

One card I want to mention specifically is Culling Ritual.  This card is wildly unsynergistic with my deck.  I have tons of creatures that it kills, no expensive spells, and it interacts unfavorably with Rule of Law effects.  I’m playing it anyway because it’s been so incredible every time I’ve cast it that I currently think every deck that can cast it should be playing it. But if it’s awkward too many times in this deck, I might cut it.

Sans Blue in a Blue World

Overall, I’ve found dabbling in playing cEDH without blue interesting.  I’ve done decently with this build, but I feel like I have meaningfully less control in a game than I do with blue in my deck.  As far as non-blue decks go, I like what this deck is doing, and I think the commander is an interesting puzzle with a ton of moving parts. I think it’s a powerful base to explore and mess around with.  I’m worried that the ultimate win rate ceiling on a deck without blue is lower than a deck with blue, and I’m also a little scared of playing this many mana creatures into a field of Orcish Bowmasters.

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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