As the title of this post suggests, I will be posting a series of EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander) aka Commander deck articles, starting it off with the very first EDH Deck I assembled and which I do very much enjoy up to the present day.
This first EDH Deck of mine features Garza Zol, the Plague Queen as the General/Commander, dictating the decks colors to be black, red and blue – a very potent combination – and has no real strategy or deeper meaning or whatever asides from running lots of powerful cards, especially powerful in the EDH context. Hence I simply call the deck “Garza Zol Good Stuff”. I kinda like to play an EDH Deck stoked with “good stuff” which you can just grab and see what you draw and what develops without having any grand, greater strategies in mind. This one certainly falls in this category. I will list the cards I am playing along with my brief comments on each. So here comes Garza Zol:
Garza Zol Good Stuff EDH:
Garza Zol is probably not the best General in her colors, but what speaks in her favor is that she has Haste and Evasion in the form of Flying so, being a 5/5 she is able to deal 20 command damage pretty easily. Plus she draws you a card whenever she deals combat damage to a player. All that comes at the quite costly price of 4UBR – but that does not really matter in this type of deck.
Dimir Inflitrator (UB):
I am mostly playing that one because he can transmute into any 2 casting cost card.
Gatekeeper of Malakir (BB):
If you pay the Kicker cost of B, you will not only get a 2/2 beater but also force your opponent to sacrifice one of their Creatures.
Vampire Nighthawk (1BB):
This one does so much for so little Mana. At the cost of 1BB you will get a 2/3 Flyer with Deathtouch and Lifelink. A great deal.
Trinket Mage (2U):
Conveniently fetches any 1 of your various Artifacts with casting cost 1 or less.
You’d probably want to play this for its Evoke cost of 1B to destroy any nonartifact, nonblack Creature.
Should mostly be used to draw 2 cards from its Evoke ability cositing you 2U.
Empress Galina (3UU):
I stumbled over this card by accident and found it to be a great addition to an EDH Deck running blue, as you can take control of any one legendary permanent at the cost of 2 blue mana. This is a fantastic way to steal your opponent’s Commander.
Draining Whelk (4UU):
A very useful Creature for the slow EDH Format. Can be played any time like an instant to counter a Spell and comes into play with X +1/+1 Counters, whereby X is the converted Mana cost of the countered Spell. And it has Flying to boot.
Visara the Dreadful (3BBB):
A 5/5 Flyer for 6 Mana that can be tapped to destroy any one Creature. If Garza Zol doesn’t do the job, she will!
Mindleech Mass (5UBB):
A decent 6/6 Trampler at 8 Mana that lets you play any nonland card from your opponent’s hand for free if it damages the opponent. It likes stealing stuff and so do I.
Skeletal Scrying (XB):
Potent card draw at instant speed. Losing some life and removing some cards in your graveyard from the game won’t hurt you much.
Diabolic Edict (1B):
Forces an opponent to sacrifice a Creature at instant speed.
Conveniently and efficiently takes care of any one Creature for just 2 Mana – and at instant speed.
Counters any Spell for just 2 Mana – classic. With this in hand you can just say “No” to your opponent.
Counters any Spell, sending it back to the owner’s hand while drawing you a card.
Takes care of any noncreature Spell and makes your opponent lose two life on top of that.
Copies any one Instant or Sorcery for just 2 Mana. I like to use this on Cruel Ultimatum which will lead to the loss of 10 life for your opponent, lets him discard a total of 6 cards and makes him sacrifice 2 Creatures while you would gain 10 life, draw 6 cards and can return up to 2 Creatures to your hand.
Frantic Search (2U):
Draw 2 and discard 2 cards, then untap up to 3 lands.
Arguably the best counter in the EDH Format as it allows you to put the countered Spell on top or on the bottom of its owner’s library. This is a great way to get rid of a Commander for good.
Copies an Instant or a Sorcery and can be re-used if you paid the Buyback cost of 3.
Snuff Out (3B):
Destroys a nonblack Creature and can be cast for free if you control a Swamp by paying 4 life. And you got 40 of that in EDH!
Clutch of the Undercity (1UUB):
While the ability of returning any one permanent to its owner’s hand while letting that player lose 3 life is not bad at all, I mainly run this because it has Transmute so I can pay 3 Mana and discard this to search out anything that costs 4 Mana.
Fact or Fiction (3U):
Excellent card draw which puts the opponent to a tough choice – which is always good for a laugh.
A Counter that lets you untap 4 lands after you cast it.
Cryptic Command (1UUU):
A very versatile Instant that lets you choose two out of four effects: Counter target Spell, draw a card, return a permanent to its owner’s hand and/or tap all opponent Creatures.
Redirects any targeted spell to another target and can be played for free if you remove a blue card in your hand from the game. In a slow format with a control type deck like this, paying the 5 mana to “hard-cast” this is not that unviable either.
Time Stop (4UU):
Ends your opponent’s turn before it even begins.
Chainer’s Edict (1B):
Makes your opponent sacrifice a Creature and can be used a second time by paying its Flashback cost of 5BB.
Demonic Tutor (1B):
Of course I have to run what is arguably THE best tutor in the game. Searches your deck for any 1 card and puts it into your hand for 1B.
Merchant Scroll (1U):
Nice tutor (search card) for any blue Instant. Tutoring is always good in EDH, especially in a deck with lots of powerful key cards like this one.
Buried Alive (2B):
Sends three of your Creatures from deck to graveyard, possibly setting up some nasty reanimation tricks and thus acting as an indirect Creature search engine.
Puts the opponent to the choice of suffering 5 damage or you drawing 3 cards. They’ll probably rather take the damage most of the times.
Compulsive Research (2U):
Draw 3 cards and discard 2 or 1 land. Nice draw Spell!
Opponent discards 2 cards and gets 3 damage on top of that. A nice deal.
Beseech the Queen (BBB):
Similar to Diabolic and Demonic Tutor, but with some restrictions that will hardly matter most of the times.
Diabolic Tutor (2BB):
The costly version of Demonic Tutor which lets you get any card you need straight from your deck.
The black Wrath of God, destroying all Creatures on the field.
A great, great card in an EDH Deck which is much fun to play as it lets you search your opponent’s deck for any Creature, something big and mean in the best case, and lets you put it into play under YOUR control.
Rise from the Grave (4B):
Take any Creature from any graveyard and put it into play under your control. I love nicking Creatures!
Beacon of Unrest (3BB):
Very similar to Rise from the Grave in that it can reanimate a Creature from ANY graveyard under your control. This one however is shuffled into your deck after use so you have a chance of using it once again.
Cruel Ultimatum (UUBBBRR):
This one is just sick and by far my favorite among the Ultimatums. It does so many things at once for “just” 7 mana. Draw 3 cards, opponent discards 3 cards, gain 5 life, opponent loses 5 life, return a Creature from your graveyard to your hand while the opponent has to sacrifice a Creature.
Animate Dead (1B):
Incredibly cheap reanimation. And the cool thing is you can even reanimate an opponent Creature under your control.
This used to rule and make black decks dominate during what was called the “black summer” in the early years of M:tG. Gives you a whole bunch of new cards considering you have 40 life to spare.
Control Spell (2UU):
Take control of any opponent Creature for just 4 Mana.
Tormod’s Crypt (0):
Great against opponent Graveyard shenanigans.
Sol Ring (1):
I find it great that this one is allowed in EDH as it costs only 1 and gives you 2 mana when tapped. Mana ramp like this is much needed in a deck with overall high card costs. What is pretty cool is they even reprinted Sol Ring in the Commander preconstructed deck series with new layout and great new artwork!
Mana Vault (1):
Great mana ramp. Taps to produce 3 Mana which does not untap unless you pay 4 Mana while dealing damage to you each turn when tapped.
Expedition Map (1):
Since you got lots of great non-Standard land, this is an excellent land tutor.
Basilisk Collar (1):
Cheap Equipment that gives the equipped Creature Lifelink and Deathtouch. A great thing to add to Garza Zol’s abilities for example.
Executioner’s Capsule (B):
An artifact that destroys a Creature. Can be fetched by Trinket Mage.
Talisman of Indulgence (2):
Mana ramp – produces either 1 generic, red or black Mana.
Talisman of Dominance (2):
Mana ramp – produces either 1 generic, blue or black Mana.
Coldsteel Heart (2):
More Mana ramp. Costs 2 and produces 1 Mana of one color you have to choose when it is cast.
Lightning Greaves (2):
Probably the best Equipment in any EDH, giving any Creature, preferably your Commander, Haste AND Shroud. Well the Haste part is kinda obsolete for this deck’s Commander but shrouding it can be useful.
Umezawa’s Jitte (2):
An incredibly versatile Equipment which lets you choose from several effects such as giving a Creature -1/-1 or boosting the equipped Creature’s stats.
Worn Powerstone (3):
The “bad” version of Sol Ring, costing 3 Mana, coming into play tapped and producing 2 generic Mana. Still good enough for me to run!
Darksteel Ingot (3):
Produces 1 Mana of any color and survives things like Nevinyrral’s Disk due to being indestructable.
Nevinyrral’s Disk (4):
And excellent boardsweeper. Just be careful that it is not destroyed before you can activate it, as it comes into play tapped…
Planar Portal (6):
A costly but re-usable Tutor, a Tutor Engine as you may call it. I would probably never play this in any other format than EDH but considering the slowness of the EDH environment, Planar Portal is a great card as it lets you search your deck for any 1 card at the cost of tapping it and paying 6 Mana.
Pay 4 Mana and sacrifice Mindslaver to control your opponent’s next turn. Combos with Academy Ruins.
Liliana Vess (2BB):
I mostly use her as a (re-usable) tutor.
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker (4UBBR):
This one should win you the game. Add 3 counters to destroy a non-Creature Permanent, remove 2 to take control of a Creature permanently and remove 9 counters to deal 7 damage to a player and make him discard his hand and sacrifice 7 permanents.
Probably the most versatile land color-wise as it produces 1 Mana of any of your Commander’s colors. I like how they made a dedicated Commander/EDH card like this one.
City of Brass:
Produces 1 Mana of any color at the price of 1 Life whenever it is tapped.
A land that produces either red, blue or black Mana. Can never have enough of those in a Red/Blue/Black deck.
Comes into play tapped but provides either red, blue or black Mana.
Produces black or red Mana.
Produces black or blue Mana.
Produces either blue or black Mana and counts as both Island and Swamp.
Produces either blue or red Mana and counts as both Mountain and Island.
Produces either blue or red Mana.
Produces either red or black Mana.
Jwar Isle Refuge:
Produces either black or blue Mana and gains you 1 Life when it comes into play.
Produces either black or red Mana and gains you 1 Life when it comes into play.
A Mirage Fetchland fetching either an Island or a Swamp.
Rocky Tar Pit:
One of the Mirage Fetchlands that fetches either Mountain or Swamp.
Fetches any 1 Standard Land.
Produces 1 generic Mana, can be turned into a 1/1 flyer. Pretty handy at times!
Another land that turns into a 1/1 Flyer.
You have no maximum hand size with this out.
Pay 1U and tap to return any artifact from your Graveyard to the top of your Deck. This is a great way to make repeated use of Mindslaver for instance.
This has Transmute and hence can be used to search out any Land or Spell with casting cost 0.
Temple of the False God:
Adds two generic Mana to your pool if you have 5 or more lands. Pretty good in a slow, control type deck like this one.
Produces 2 generic Mana at once for the price of 2 Life.
Cycle for B to draw a new card if you don’t need another land.
Cycle for U to draw a new card if you don’t need another land.