Command Tower (EDH/Commander)A Guide to Building an EDH/Commander Deck

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A Guide to Building an EDH/Commander Deck

Post #1 by DroppinSuga » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:21 am

Credit to Blackjack68

Welcome to the greatest format in all of Magic!

I'm going to assume that you know the basics of the format and are looking to improve your EDH/Commander deck or maybe even just get started building or planning your first one. That's where we're starting. This guide is far from comprehensive, but I'm hoping it's a good starting point for the new EDH deck builder or a good review for the more experienced one.

If you have any suggestions for things I should add or change, please post here about it and let me know. I've tried to keep this guide mostly as a list of points and tips pretty much agreed upon by the majority of experienced EDH players, but there will always be particular points of disagreement, and honestly, it's impossible to keep my own opinions and biases completely out of it.
Here we go:
Now before you do
anything, realize that if you’re playing EDH as a casual format with friends instead of a competitive format that you will want to stay away from cards and strategies that make the game "unfun" (I know, not a word) for the other players. Playing cards like Knowledge PoolStasis or Winter Orb might be fun for you, but a lot of people despise playing against those cards, and they might not invite you to play again. Remember, unless it's competitive, keep it fun for everybody, not just yourself. If the deck is specifically for competitive play, then run what wins.

My personal guidelines that I try my best to adhere to with each deck I build are:
Be able to win.
Be mostly true to a flavor and a theme
Be very interactive
Be fun to pilot or to play against (without a lot of excessive effects to keep track of)
Have multiple paths to victory
Have lots of
cool interactions and synergy
Play out differently every game to keep it fun over a long time
Integrate the Commanders abilities into the strategy at least a little, but...
Be able to win without ever playing the commander.

And keep in mind that EDH decks ARE NOT MATHEMATICAL EQUATIONS. There is almost never a "single best answer/card" or "best" way to approach something. EDH decks are more like living, breathing works of art that adapt and evolve over time. Chasing perfection is fine as long as you understand that not only can it never be achieved, but that it doesn't even exist in the first place. Never think for a second that you've assembled the "best possible decklist". Listen to others and learn what you can from their experiences, and always strive to improve what you've got.

The Nine Prime Elements of EDH Deck Building
Before you read these, do not forget, this advice is almost strictly aimed at multiplayer games. Dedicated 1v1 EDH decks are
a VERY different thing.
1) Think Big - This is not Standard, or Extended, or Legacy - Get out of the mindset that if "x" card is good in every other format, that it will be good in EDH. You're not playing against one player with 20 life and a few mana sources, you're playing against one or many players with 40 life and huge amounts of mana at their disposal.

Some cards/types of cards that you should avoid and why (note there are exceptions to each).

Small Removal - EDH, at least in multiplayer, is a game for big, scary creatures and big spells. Lightning Bolt or Arc Trail may be great in Standard or Extended, and can even prove useful in 1v1 EDH, they don't kill much in a game full of Multiplayer EDH fatties. It has it's place in EDH in certain situations, and will generally find a utility creature to kill, but if you're going to use a card slot for a kill spell, it needs to be able to kill
something big that's threatening to kill you in the next 2 turns. Your Arc Trail may hit the Rafiq pumped Darksteel Colossus for 2 damage and take his controller from 40 life to 38, but you're about to get smacked in the face with 24 points of trampling death. You're not going to win this race. There are lots of cheap removal spells that are very effective in EDH like Swords to Plowshares, Mortify, Putrefy, and Go for the Throat.

Small Non-Utility Creatures - A 2/2 First Striker like White Knight might be ok in standard, but it will get run over like roadkill in EDH. There are very effective decks out there that successfully run lots of small creatures like goblins, wizards, elves, tokens, but the point of those creatures is that when played together, their synergy gives them
really big effects. Goblin Guide and Hellspark Elemental may be staples in Standard Aggro Decks, but in EDH, you're not trying to kill one person with 20 life, you're trying to kill multiple opponents with 40 life. So using small aggro creatures like those in EDH is usually a wasted card slot (unless they have particularly powerful synergy with the rest of the deck).

Unless they pay "x" cards - Forget about counterspells with "unless they pay x" like Daze, Mana Leak, or Mana Tithe. They very rarely belong in multiplayer EDH. Huge manabases are common in EDH, so much of the time, you're Mana Leak is a wasted card. If you're running countermagic, you need hard counters like Counterspell, Cancel, or better yet, [card:
25hdjele]Hinder[/card], as it puts a countered commander on the bottom of the library instead of in the graveyard where your opponent can just exile him and play him again next turn. Mana Drain, Hinder, Counterspell, Force of Will, Pact of Negation, Desertion, Time Stop, and Cryptic Command are all counterspells that see lots of play in EDH. You'll notice most of them are not only hard counters but have added value or flexibility.

Single use/opponent discard - Forget about ripping single cards from an opponents hand. Unless your EDH deck is specifically for 1v1 matches, cards like Thoughtseize, [/card]Duress[/card], and Inuqisition of Kozilek don't belong. Even cards like [card:
25hdjele]Blightning[/card] which are great in standard are completely underwhelming in multiplayer EDH. You cannot effectively control, or even really affect in any meaningful way a table full of EDH decks with single discard. The card slot is much better left to something else. If you really want to make someone discard, do it big with cards like Mind Twist, Mind Shatter, and Mind Sludge. A great multiplayer discard spell is Syphon Mind, as at a 4-player table you're getting to draw 3 cards for it, but don't forget that it could paint a target on your head. Identity Crisis is very good discard for EDH as it not only takes out the entire hand, but also the graveyard which is a valuable resource in most EDH decks (just make sure you're ready to finish the player off after you hit him with it).

Lifegain only - Cards that only
gain you life in EDH like Landbind Ritual, really have no place in EDH, though there are exceptions. There's really not much that gaining a few life is going to do for you in EDH, and even large life gains from cards like Beacon of Immortality may do nothing for you as an opposing commander still only has to hit you for 21 points to kill you. Even more often, you'll be killed by combos that don't care what your life total is. Exceptions to this are if your strategy is to win with life total using cards like Felidar Sovereign and Test of Endurance, which is a somewhat viable strategy. Cards that add a little lifegain as an added benefit and creatures with lifelink are great, but you should only view the lifegain as a small added benefit, not the main reason for including the card. With the rising popularity of Sorin Markov and [card]
Magister Sphinx[/card] knocking your life total down to 10 in a single shot, some lifelink/gain can be useful in battling your way back into the game, but the cards should ideally still have some other purpose than just gaining life.

Single use damage prevention - Damage prevention is good in EDH, but single use cards like Fog and Holy Day are usually very sub-par. A card used for damage prevention in EDH needs to do it repeatedly or add other useful things. Knight-Captain of Eos sees lots of play in EDH for damage prevention as it gives you 3 bodies to use, multiple damage preventions, and can be recurred once dead or "blinked" to provide even more tokens to prevent damage with. Kor Haven finds it's way into nearly every white EDH deck as it's first and foremost a land to use for mana, but then has the added benefit of being re-useable damage prevention,
and Maze of Ith is nearly a staple of the format. Story Circle sees some play, but is most often inadequate as you can only prevent damage from one color. It has much more use in 1v1 than multiplayer.

** Very Important Point Here - While I love to say "EDH is for big, scary stuff", it does have limits. There has to be balance. You can't completely ignore the early or mid-games, and just because a card isn't "big", doesn't mean it isn't good. While Lightning Bolt may not be good in EDH, there are other low cmc removal spells that are great, like Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile, or Terminate. These cards are great because they cheaply and quickly deal with a vast array of threats, bolt doesn't. All EDH decks need their smaller "utility" creatures and spells. Cards like
Glen Elendra Archmage, Mistmeadow Witch, and Azorius Guildmage all see lots of play in EDH, and they are far from "huge", but they all do really useful things.

2) Versatility and Added Value is paramount - Cards that give you options are a staple in EDH. Cards like Profane Command, Austere Command, and Bant Charm. Cards that have "cycling" or "transmute" all give you much welcome options, as well as cards with "Kicker", and "Entwine" offer some added value when you've got the extra mana to spend.

A good example of this flexibility and added value would be - you could use a card like Naturalize to kill an artifact or enchantment, or instead, you could use Krosan Grip which gives you the added benefit
of being "split-second" to get through counterspells and bust up some potentially lethal combos, or Return to Dust which gives you the option of killing 2 things at once if you play it main phase. You could also use Acidic Slime to kill it, and have the added option of killing a troublesome land, and have a body left to beat face, chump block, or trigger a sacrifice effect from something like Grave Pact. So go with the Grip and/or the Slime and leave the Naturalize at home.

Another prime example would be using Doom Blade to kill a creature. What if the creature you need to kill is black? What if the threat isn't a creature at all, but an enchantment? Upgrade your card choice to Mortify and deal with a lot more. Take it a step farther and have the flexibility to destroy any permanent with a card like Vindicate.
You only have 100 card slots, they each need to count for as many different uses as possible.

Transmute cards are a good example of flexibility. Dimir House Guard serves as a blocker, sacrifice outlet, sacrifice target, and library search all in one.
Cards with "cycling" are also very useful in this regard as you can use them for card draw or getting additional mana sources if they aren't needed on the battlefield. Eternal Dragon is the perfect example of this flexibility. During the early game he fetches lands for you, then later in the game he comes back as a beater.

Along these lines you don't want to play many cards that are "situational". For instance, cards like Vexing Shusher. Shusher is fantastic against blue decks, but you might not be facing blue. Flashfreeze is a great counterspell against red or green, but useless against anything else.
Unless you're specifically running a "toolbox" build you want all your spells to be good no matter what your facing. You never want a "dead" card taking up space in your hand.

3) Synergy - I'm sure you're probably familiar with this concept already, but just in case you're not, it needs to be mentioned as it's probably the single most important factor in building any deck in Magic.

In general, synergy may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently. To simplify that a little, it's two or more cards that, because of their abilities/attributes, make each other much better than they could be by themselves, or the "whole" is greater than the sum of the parts. Whenever possible, the cards in your deck need to "synergize", or work together with all the other cards in your deck.

For an example, let's look at two cards. [card]Emeria Angel[/card:
25hdjele], and Indomitable Archangel. Both are flying angels with the same mana cost, But they both have abilities that make them each very suitable to very different decks. If you're commander is Teysa, Orzhov Scion, who likes lots of tokens to sacrifice, you want to choose Emeria Angel for the deck because of it's synergy with this strategy/commander. If your commander is Sharuum the Hegemon and your deck runs lots of artifacts and artifact creatures, you'll want to choose Indomitable Archangel from the two for it's synergy with your commander and your strategy.

When building your deck, and choosing the cards to go into it, ALWAYS ask yourself "does this card have good synergy with the rest of my deck".

4) Multiple cards serving the same function/"Functional Density" - The chance of drawing a single card by
turn 6 in an EDH deck is only 13%. That's not good. So if you need a type of card, say a sacrifice outlet, by turn 6 at the latest, you need to find several cards that will serve that function. Upping the count of cards serving a particular function to 4, increases your odds to 44% that you'll see one by turn 6. Further increasing the count to 8 cards gives you a 69% chance. Now we're in business.

5) Tutors - Being able to search your library for a particular card you need is a huge bonus. This is especially true for combo decks. Some good tudors would be:
[cards]Enlightened Tutor
Vampiric Tutor
Demonic Tutor
Mystical Tutor
Diabolic Tutor
Eladamri's Call
Idyllic Tutor
Chord of Calling
Natural Order
Trinket Mage
Expedition Map
Tezzeret, the Seeker
Steelshaper's Gift
Worldly Tutor[/cards]
and there are many more.

Also cards with "transmute" or "transfigure" serve very well as tutors. Cards like [card:
25hdjele]Dimir House Guard[/card], Dimir Machinations, Fleshwrither or Shred Memory are very useful for tutoring up a card you need, while being flexible enough to serve other purposes that you may need more than the tutor at the moment.

There are also a lot of creatures that tutor for various cards like:
Fauna Shaman - For creatures
Academy Rector - For enchantments (when he goes to the graveyard)
Weathered Wayfarer - For lands

Tutors that put the cards they search for straight onto the battlefield (like Natural Order) are generally(but not always) preferred over tutors that put the card in your hand or on top of your library, and instant tutoring is always preferred over sorceries.

6) Re-useability - Why settle for using a card once, when you
can use it multiple times. There are a lot of possbilities for graveyard recursion and buyback or flashback in EDH. Use them. Again, why use a card like Naturalize to destroy an artifact, when you can use a card like Indrik Stomphowler, and then recur him from the graveyard later to kill another artifact. Cards like Eternal Witness, Regrowth, and [card]Yawgmoth's Will[/card], and any card that recurs other cards from the graveyard are great in EDH. Cards with the keyword "Flashback" like Dread Return have some built-in re-useability.

A Great Example - I used the example of Mulldrifter earlier for card draw. He's great because of re-useability. You can blink him or bounce him to be played again, or recur him from the graveyard over and over to give you two cards every time. And what will
you use to blink him? Turn to Mist? Why not upgrade to Momentary Blink, as it lets you use it again later from the graveyard. Better still how about Erratic Portal to do it every turn!

7) Card Draw/Card Advantage - Card advantage is huge in EDH, so make sure to have some card draw in your deck. Some of the best draw cards in EDH are:
Phyrexian Arena
Recurring Insight
Promise of Power
Necropotence (be careful with this one)
Rhystic Study
[card]Mind's Eye[/card] (not the best, but popular in decks that don't have access to a lot of draw)
Momentous Fall

Even better can be creatures that draw you cards since they can be bounced/blinked/
recurred to do it again, and their bodies can be used for other purposes:
[cards]Consecrated Sphinx
Graveborn Muse[/cards]
Then there is everyones favorite card drawing engine:
The clamp is amazing with token decks or self-recurring creatures like Bloodghast and Reassembling Skeleton.

A few other cards worth mentioning are Dark Confidant, Ad Nauseam, and Dark Tutelage. The usefulness of these cards is a hotly debated topic. They can be fantastic in the right deck, but if you're running a lot of high cmc cards, you will want to avoid them.

It should also be noted that a few cards, while technically not card advantage, can be used to "smooth out" your draws very effectively and are considered by many to be EDH staples. Cards like [card]Sensei's
Divining Top[/card], and it's very budget little brother Crystal Ball are both very good at this as well as giving you something constructive to do with leftover mana at the end of your opponents turn. It should also be noted that "the top" is on one of the banned lists for duels.

Card advantage can also be viewed as using one card to cost your opponent multiple cards. Like removing several of his cards with an Austere Command, or making him discard 5 cards by using a single Mind Sludge.

8) Removal - You're going to need a lot of removal in EDH, and you're going to need to be able to kill anything on the board. Creatures, Artifacts, Enchantments, Lands.... they all need killin'. You'll need to be able to kill creatures with shroud, creatures with indestructiblility, and anything
else you can think of. And remember FLEXIBILITY. A card that can remove several, or even "any" type of permanent like Vindicate, is extremely valuable in EDH. Very often you'll need to kill things that are already dead and in the graveyard. So be sure to pack some graveyard hate like Nezumi Graverobber, Necrogenesis, Beckon Apparition, Bojuka Bog, Cemetery Reaper, Identity Crisis, [card]Necromancer's Covenant[/card], or [card]Tormod's Crypt[/card] (again, remembering that the more possible uses a card has, the more valuable it is).
It's important to have both spot removal like Path to Exile or Rend Flesh as well as mass removal, or "sweepers" like [card]Wrath of God[/card:
25hdjele] or Mutilate in your deck.

Unless your deck relies on having creatures in the graveyard, it's also almost always better to exile creatures rather than destroy them. This is because some creatures are "indestructible" but may still be exiled and many decks run lots of recursion spells that bring creatures back from the grave but not from exile.

Tuck Effects:
Some mention should be made here about removal spells that can bury your opponents commander into their library rather than sending it to the graveyard where they just exile it and get it back. This is often referred to as "tucking" the commander. Examples would be Spin into Myth, Hallowed Burial, Bant Charm, Spell Crumple, Hinder, Oblation, and Condemn.

I should also make mention of removal that forces your opponent to sacrifice creatures is often very useful in EDH as so many creatures are indestructible or shrouded or have protection from your removal colors. Cards like Diabolic Edict, Fleshbag Marauder, Smallpox, Barter in Blood, and Consuming Vapors fill this role nicely.

Removal on a stick:
And don't forget that creatures that remove things are also very useful in EDH, as they serve multiple roles and are generally very flexible and recurrable. Shriekmaw, Acidic Slime, Indrik Stomphowler, Fulminator Mage, Angel of Despair, Necrotic Sliver, Harmonic Sliver, [card:
25hdjele]Terastodon[/card], and Archon of Justice are all very popular for this reason.
And if you didn't know already, Instant removal spells are nearly always preferred over Sorcery removal spells as they can be played on the other players turn and in response to a spell on the stack.

Sweepers or Spot Removal?:
Though it's a good idea to have some of each, opinions vary greatly on which is better in edh. Sweepers seem to win the popularity contest a majority of the time, but personally, I like to pack mostly spot removal. My reasoning being that most of the time, I only need to kill one creature that's threatening to cause me problems, and I don't want to lose the creatures I have to a sweeper. My personal favorite "Mass Removal" spell is Austere Command, as it's flexible enough to usually kill what I need to kill and leave my board mostly intact.

9) Evasion - That 6/6 beater that you loved in
your type 2 deck may have been good at Friday Night Magic, but the chances he'll get through for much damage in EDH is very low. Beaters in EDH NEED some type of evasion. Trample or flying at a minimum, both is more like it though. Shroud, unblockable, protection, indestructibility, and the various landwalks all see a lot of play in EDH.

Second - Choosing a Playstyle
How do you want to play? How would you like to win? Do you want to play an agressive beatdown game that puts pressure on from the start, or do you want to control the early game and then lay down big threats. Maybe you would like to win with a large army of tokens, or with graveyard tricks. Maybe by a defensive game with lots of lifegain.This section will lay out some popular deck styles that you can choose from and that will help you choose your commander and make your card choices. It also lays out some general weakness for each archetype.

Keep in mind that these deck "archetypes" are
flexible. Most decks don't actually fit completely into one category but use elements of two or more, and a lot of them "overlap" into others.

The 3 Major Archetypes - Aggro, Control, and Combo are the 3 basic archetypes that pretty much every deck fits into to some degree although they do overlap a lot in edh. All other playstyles are more like "sub-themes".

Aggro/Beatdown - Aggro decks put out threats quickly and keep it pouring on through the whole game. It keeps slower decks from ever getting "set up" and keeps combo decks too busy holding you at bay to get the combo pieces they need. It's shortcoming is that you need to stack your deck with threats rather than answers, so the possibility of not being able to deal with a problem always exists, and overextending yourself into a mass removal spell is something to be carefully avoided. Some popular commanders for Aggro/Beatdown are Rafiq of the Many, [card:
25hdjele]Sygg, River Guide[/card], Brion Stoutarm, Jenara, Asura of War, Thraximundar, Stonebrow, Krosan Hero, Wort, Boggart Auntie, and Wort, the Raidmother.

Control - Control decks focus on controlling the early game and slowing the board development of the opponent while building up their own board, then dropping big threats that can't be dealt with. "Controlling" the early game can be done in several ways including countermagic, heavy removal, hand disruption, and land destruction. Blue is the "go to" color for most control decks, and Black is best at the "disruptive" style of control. A few of the popular control commanders are Dralnu, Lich Lord, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, [card]Arcum
Dagsson[/card], Grand Arbiter Augustin IV.

Combo - Combo decks focus on holding off the opponent while getting combo pieces assembled in hand or on the board to "combo out" and win all of a sudden. You'll see a lot of tutors (search cards) in these decks. Combos weaknesses are against decks that put on lots of early pressure, never letting them assemble combo pieces, or heavy countermagic that disrupts their combo. It should be noted that most every deck packs a couple of possible game winning combos among their 100 cards that they don't necessarily actively seek to pull off, but will use if it happens to conveniently pop-up. Some of the popular Combo Commanders are Sharuum the Hegemon, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, [card]Arcum Dagsson[/

Tokens - Make lots of tokens and then use them to your advantage. They can be used for chump blockers, pumped up and used as attackers, as sacrifice fodder for Grave Pact effects or cards like Victimize, Time Sieve, or Natural Order, card draw with Skullclamp, the list is endless. Pump effects like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite are better in tokens than in most EDH decks and Eldrazi Monument can easily win games. Among the myriad of commonly seen token producers are Ant Queen, Mitotic Slime, Creakwood Liege, Imperious Perfect, Avenger of Zendikar, Bitterblossom, Siege-Gang Commander, [card:
25hdjele]Knight-Captain of Eos[/card], Sacred Mesa, Garruk Wildspeaker, Elspeth, Knight-Errant. Weaknesses are against lots of mass removal spells. Most Token decks will be running either Green or White (or both). Popular Token Commanders are Teysa, Orzhov Scion, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, Savra, Queen of the Golgari, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Rhys the Redeemed, Ghave, Guru of Spores, and Ulasht, the Hate Seed.

Reanimator - Focuses on quickly dumping powerful creatures into the graveyard from the library and then cheating them into play much quicker/cheaper than they could be hardcast. Weakness is against decks running a lot of "graveyard hate". Commonly seen cards are [card:
25hdjele]Buried Alive[/card], Entomb, Exhume, [card]Patriarch's Bidding[/card], Reanimate, Living Death, and cards with the "dredge" ability. Black is the "go to" color for Reanimator style decks. Some popular Reanimator Commanders are Balthor the Defiled and Teneb, the Harvester.

Sac & Recur - A little like reanimator, in that it makes plays from its graveyard a lot, it abuses "Enters the Battlefield" and "Leaves the Battlefield" abilities of it's creatures by continually sacrificing them off and bringing them back from the grave. Commonly seen cards are Grave Pact, Angel of Despair, Archon of Justice, [card]Yosei, the Morning Star[/card:
25hdjele], Reveillark, Karmic Guide, Sun Titan, Mimic Vat, Nim Deathmantle, Natural Order. Weaknesses are against heavy graveyard removal and cards like Wheel of Sun and Moon and Leyline of the Void. So be sure to pack plenty of enchantment removal if you're running Sac & Recur strategies. Black and White are pretty much the prime colors for sacrifice and recursion. Some popular Sac & Recur Commanders are Ghost Council of Orzhova, Teysa, Orzhov Scion, Savra, Queen of the Golgari, and Teneb, the Harvester.

Blink (Sometimes called "187") - ( The naming isn't really accurate as more "bounce" is
used than "blink", and"187" refers to "enters the battlefield" abilities. The number is the California penal code for murder), These decks (like sac & recur) use lot's of creatures that have ETB and LTB (Enters and Leaves the Battlefield) abilities and other spells that abuse those abilities, but unlike Sac & Recur, it doesn't rely on the graveyard as much as it does "blink", "bounce", and effects that temporarily remove cards from the game. Commonly seen cards for this strategy are anything from the sac & recur list plus Crystal Shard, Erratic Portal, Cloudstone Curio, Momentary Blink, Flickerwisp, Turn to Mist, Mistmeadow Witch, Glen Elendra Archmage, [card]Venser,
the Sojourner[/card]. Blue and White are the ruling colors for blink effects, often with some Green thrown in. Some popular Blink Commanders are Rasputin Dreamweaver, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, Venser, Shaper Savant, Merieke Ri Berit, Rafiq of the Many. It should be noted that mostly, those commanders are just for color access.

Dredge - While dredge decks are very popular and effective in Legacy, it's a bit trickier in EDH. With a low density of dredge cards available for your deck, and lots of graveyard hate in the format, pure dredge isn't so viable. But it's completely viable as an enhancement to your deck, especially if the focus is graveyard heavy like sac & recur or reanimator. Commonly seen cards for a "Dredge Enhancement" are Life from the Loam, [card]Golgari Grave-Troll[/
card], Haakon, Stromgald Scourge, Karador, Ghost Chieftain, and Stinkweed Imp.

Thievery or Stealy- Another sub-theme that's very fun and popular. It uses a lot of spells that take control of the other players creatures (or other permanents). After all, it's lots of fun to beat the other guy over the head with his own cards! Commonly seen cards are Bribery, Control Magic, Mind Control, Volition Reins, Blatant Thievery, Gather Specimens, Enslave, and Threaten. It's weakness is against decks that don't run a lot of creatures or decks that use a lot of self sacrifice. Blue is the undisputed king of thievery colors, but Black and Red also have
some use. Some popular Thief Commanders are Arcum Dagsson, Thada Adel, Acquisitor, Memnarch, Sakashima, the Imposter.

Toolbox - Toolbox isn't really a deck type as much as it is a feature that a lot of decks use to some degree. It focuses on having an answer in the deck to every situation/problem and then retrieving that solution and/or having special threats in the deck that cause problems for certain other styles/colors of decks. For example, fetching and using Sword of Light and Shadow against a white or black deck or Relic of Progenitus against a deck that utilizes it's graveyard. Using a toolbox can be an extremely effective strategy, but also note that a lot of toolbox cards in your deck comes with the weakness that you can't always get to the required "tool" in time to save you, and because it
trades card slots that could be used for "always good" cards for situational cards. Blue and White are both very useful colors in most toolboxes. Commonly seen "toolbox" cards are any that can search out the needed tool including Sunforger, Fauna Shaman, Stonehewer Giant, Godo, Bandit Warlord, [card]Artificer's Intuition[/card], Survival of the Fittest. Some popular Toolbox Commanders are Momir Vig, Simic Visionary, Arcum Dagsson, Zur the Enchanter, Captain Sisay.

Voltron - Voltron decks try to put a commander on the field and equip him and/or enchant him with cards that make him hard to deal with to do a quick 21 points of general damage. Some commonly seen
cards are Lightning Greaves, Whispersilk Cloak, Sword of Body and Mind, Shield of the Oversoul, Argentum Armor, Steel of the Godhead, Stoneforge Mystic, and Stonehewer Giant. This archetypes weakness is against really heavy and varied removal suites. Having your Voltron Commander killed or tucked when he's carrying multiple enchantments/equipments can be a devastating setback. Some popular Voltron Commanders are Zur the Enchanter, Uril, the Miststalker, Sigarda, Host of Herons, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Kemba, Kha Regent.

Lifegain - A somewhat defensive style, getting and keeping your life total up while
chipping away at your opponents defenses. The lifegain is used as "padding" for the late game beatdown race, or as a resource for cards like Hatred and Necropotence, or as an auto-win with cards like Felidar Sovereign or Test of Endurance. A good lifegain deck can win a game without ever dealing damage or even attacking anyone. The weakness of lifegain decks is that life total often doesn't matter in edh due to combos, general damage, and poison. Some other common cards are Reverse the Sands, Ivory Mask, True Believer, Leyline of Sanctity, Recumbent Bliss, and Beacon of Immortality. White is the king of colors when you're talking about lifegain. Popular Lifegain Commanders are [card:
25hdjele]Atalya, Samite Master[/card], Treva, the Renewer, Ghost Council of Orzhova, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Gerrard Capashen.

Stax/Tax/Prison - A very disruptive style that actively "taxes" other players for everything they do and/or actively denies resources to everyone while building up it's own, or even creating a "soft lock" on the board that makes it difficult for it's opponents to do anything (hence "prison"). Land Destruction fits in nicely here too. Some cards you may see are Smokestack, Aura of Silence, and Ghostly Prison, World Queller, Life from the Loam Death Cloud, and Smallpox. This strategy can be
very effective, but it won't win you any friends. Some popular Stax Commanders are Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, Savra, Queen of the Golgari, Gaddock Teeg, Rakdos the Defiler, Linvala, Keeper of Silence.

Ramp - Focuses on using various types of mana acceleration (artifacts, specialized lands, creatures and spells that put extra lands in play) to get lots of mana really quick and play huge, scary stuff. Commonly seen cards are Sakura-Tribe Elder, Yavimaya Elder, [card]Gaea's Cradle[/card], Rampant Growth, Solemn Simulacrum, Darksteel Ingot, Coalition Relic, The Signets (Orzhov Signet, Golgari Signet, Azorius Signet, etc). Green is
the usual color for ramp, though most all good decks include at least a little bit of mana acceleration. Some popular Ramp Commanders are Azusa, Lost but Seeking, [/card]Omnath, Locus of Mana[/card] and Mayael the Anima.

Big Mana - Could be considered a sister deck of "Ramp" as the two overlap quite a bit. The difference being that instead of quickly "ramping up" your mana sources, it relies more heavily on the use of spells like Caged Sun, Extraplanar Lens, Mana Geyser, Mana Flare, Mana Reflection, Gauntlet of Power, Gauntlet of Might, and Cabal Coffers to make truly huge, explosive plays. How about a Consume Spirit on turn 7 for 30 points of damage
and 30 more in lifegain sound? Green, Black, and Red all have good "big mana" cards available. Some popular Big Mana Commanders not seen in the "Ramp" list are Kresh the Bloodbraided, Akroma, Angel of Fury, Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief, Geth, Lord of the Vault. Other popular cards for "Big Mana" decks are ones that are able to use all the extra mana you can produce like Steel Hellkite, Mana-Charged Dragon, Banefire, Exsanguinate, and Profane Command.

Land Destruction - While not many decks focus exclusively on this, a lot of decks use it as a sub-theme/strategy. They try to take away your mana-fixing lands with cards like Wasteland, Strip Mine
, Dust Bowl, Fulminator Mage, and Acidic Slime while they build up their own mana bases including a lot of artifact mana sources. They also tend to use a lot of land recursion like Life from the Loam, Grim Discovery and Crucible of Worlds (where not banned). Some commonly seen cards are Sundering Titan, Dwarven Blastminer, Wake of Destruction, and Avalance Riders. Some popular LD Commanders are Numot, the Devastator, and Wort, the Raidmother.

An additional land destruction strategy that a lot of decks use is gaining board control, then blowing up all the lands with something like Armageddon, [card:
25hdjele]Ravages of War[/card], Desolation Angel, or Catastrophe and finishing you off. While a perfectly viable play style, it generally won't win you any friends, and is much better used in duels than in multiplayer.

Artifacts - Taking advantage of large numbers of artifacts can be extremely effective in EDH and can be used to aid in beatdown strategies or combo. Sorry, Tolarian Academy is on the banned list. The mechanic "Metalcraft" can be of significant use in artifact heavy decks. Darksteel Citadel and the cycle of artifact lands from Mirrodin (Ancient Den, Seat of the Synod, Great Furnace, Tree of Tales, and Vault of Whispers) can be used to increase your artifact count. Some commonly seen and
useful cards are Scourglass, Open the Vaults, Cranial Plating, Inkwell Leviathan, Master Transmuter, [card]Steelshaper's Gift[/card], Enlightened Tutor, Trinket Mage, Treasure Mage, and Tezzeret the Seeker. Weaknesses are mass artifact removal like Austere Command. Blue and White are the colors most synergistic with artifacts and popular commanders for the decks are Sharuum the Hegemon, Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, Arcum Dagsson, and Memnarch.

Mill - Filling your deck with cards like Traumatize and [card]Tome Scour[/card:
25hdjele] in order to slowly mill an opponent over the course of a game can work, but is generally NOT an effective strategy in EDH. This is because, not only is it tougher to mill a 99 card deck than a 60, not to mention having to mill multiple 99 card decks, but there are also lots of Eldrazi creatures and other spells commonly played in EDH that instantly stops your mill strategy. There are, however, LOTS of combos used in EDH that instantly mill one or more opponents, and a couple of commanders that can easily mill an opponent if they have enough mana available. So, if you want to win by milling your opponent, it's best to do it in one or two shots rather than a few cards at a time over the whole game. A combo that does this would be Spin into Myth or Hinder coupled with Tunnel Vision. Another would be Karmic Guide and Reveillark with [card:
25hdjele]Altar of Dementia[/card]. The commanders that can mill are Oona, Queen of the Fae, and Geth, Lord of the Vault. Big or Infinite mana combos with either of these commanders can mill out an opponent very quickly. Milling some cards from your own library or an opponents in order to stock the graveyards with cards you can use or to make creatures like Lord of Extinction more powerful can be useful at times too.

Infect/Poison - Since the release of the Scars of Mirrodin block, winning by putting a quick 10 poison counters on your opponent has become a viable strategy. Perhaps more for 1v1 than multiplayer, but still a viable option in either. These decks try to make any unblocked creature with Infect or Poison a potential death dealer at any time with cards like Hatred orMight of Oaks. [card]Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon[/card:
25hdjele] is a very effective commander for this strategy and a lot of people like Glissa, the Traitor for her color access. Blightsteel Colossus is an auto-include.

Enchantress - Plays as a somewhat controllish and defensive strategy, using enchantresses like Argothian Enchantress, Mesa Enchantress, and Verduran Enchantress, along with lots of, surprise, enchantments to generate massive card advantage. Commonly seen cards are [card]Serra's Sanctum[/card], Moat, Aura Thief, Karmic Justice, Privileged Position, Enchanted Evening. Popular commanders for this style include Treva, the Renewer, Uril, the Miststalker, and [
card]Hannah, Ship's Navigator[/card]. White and Green are the primary colors for enchantress with some blue showing up very often.

Punisher (Sometimes called "Group Slug") - A little like Stax, but instead of denying and taxing resources, it punishes everything players do like drawing cards, tapping lands, and playing spells with cards like Manabarbs, Ankh of Mishra, Spellshock, Underworld Dreams, Painful Quandary, and Spiteful Visions. The trick is making it hurt your opponents more than it hurts you, and using other effects to mitigate some of the damage like lifegain or cards like [card]Urza's Armor[/card]. Popular commanders for the decks are Kaervek the Merciless, Zo-zu the Punisher, [card:
25hdjele]Kaalia of the Vast[/card], and [card]Heartless Hidetsugu[card]. This is another style of deck that usually won't win you many friends.

Group Hug - A very unconventional and highly political style of play that actually helps out opposing players while setting them up for the eventual kill. Commonly seen cards are [card]Howling Mine[/card], Upwelling, Tempting Wurm, Hunted Wumpus. Pheddagrif is the quintessential commander for group hug. This style of deck really shouldn't be played by EDH newcomers, as it creates a lot of chaos at the table and tends to be heavily disliked by a lot of players. It may be novel and fun for a little while, but usually gets old very quickly. Save your group hug deck for special occasions.

Pillow Fort - A very defensive style of play, a good pillow fort deck dissuades others from attacking you by building up
strong defenses and/or "rattlesnakes" and making other players look like more tempting targets. Wincons in pillow fort are usually game finishing combos or big spells to finish off players that have been weakened by slugging it out with each other while ignoring you. White and Blue, and particularly the combination of the two, are the "go to" colors for pillow fort. [card]Hanna, Ship's Navigator[/card], Lady Evangela, and Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer are popular and effective pillow commanders. Other commonly seen cards are Kor Haven, Wall of Denial, [card]Martyr's Bond[/card], Gomazoa, Propaganda, [card]Norn's Annex[/card], Maze of Ith, Ghostly Prison, [card]Academy Rector[/
card], and Blazing Archon. Be careful to avoid defensive cards that annoy or tax people that are not targeting you, they will have the opposite effect of what you're going for.

Third - Choosing Your Colors
You may decide on choosing your Commander and/or Playstyle and allowing that to dictate your colors, but then you may want to choose at least one or two colors first as some are much stronger for certain playstyles.

Here are some of the strong points and playstyles for each color:

Black - Using the graveyard and your life total as resources.
Creature Removal
Card Draw
Tutoring for anything
Creature Recursion
Hand Disruption
Big Mana (in mono black)
Pre-emptive "gutting" of decks (ex. Sadistic Sacrament)
Zombies & Vampires

Blue - Control Strategies
Card Draw
Big Evasive Creatures
Stealing other peoples
Copying Effects
Wizards, Merfolk, and Faeries

White - Defense
Creature and Enchantment Recursion
Removal of just about anything
Tutoring for enchantments and equipments

Green - Mana Ramp
Aggro Builds
Creature and Non-Creature Recursion/Graveyard Shenanigans
Non-Creature Removal
Elves and Big Trampling Creatures

Red - Aggro Builds
Land Destruction
Direct Damage
Artifact Removal
Goblins and Big Flying Dragons

Fourth - Choosing a Commander (If you haven't already)
Obviously, the most important decision about your new deck is who the commander will be. It needs to "fit" or "enhance" your chosen playstyle for the deck. You can design your deck to focus specifically on enhancing your commander like making lots of black mana for Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief, or putting lots of enchantment and equipment on [card]Uril,
the Miststalker[/card], OR, you can just make your commander part of a larger strategy like using Ghost Council of Orzhova as a reliable sacrifice engine.

A lot of people choose a commander solely based on the colors it gives them access to, and that's ok, but you've got easy/reliable access to the commander card in the command zone, you might as well use it to your advantage.

Your first commander should probably be two or three colors. My opinion is that two-color is the best for newer edh players as they are versatile and easy to make a stable, inexpensive manabase for. Mono-colored decks are viable in EDH, but there is plenty of mana-fixing available for multi-colored decks and the added flexibility is very welcome. I personally love the simplicity, reliability, and flexibility of two-color decks and almost never go higher than that, but that's just personal preference and certainly not for everyone.

For the CMC (converted mana cost) of
your commander, keep this in mind; Even though your commander is replayable after being killed, it costs more and more every time, so if you choose one that starts out at 7 or 8 mana, there's a good chance you may only get to play them once or twice (if that). It seems that most players like to keep their commanders at 5cmc or below but consider up to 7cmc to be acceptable as long as that commander does something "big". Thraximundar is a very popular and effective 7cmc commander.

Here is a list of popular commanders and what type of deck they play well with ***** Though style of play is possible with nearly every commander.

[mana]u[/mana]Azami, Lady of Scrolls - Control and Combo
[mana]u[/mana]Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir - Heavy control
[mana]b[/mana]Balthor the Defiled - Reanimator
25hdjele]b[/mana]Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief - Agressive Big Mana with recursion and some combo. Vamp tribal.
[mana]g[/mana]Thrun, the Last Troll - Voltron
[mana]g[/mana]Omnath, Locus of Mana - An unusual big mana approach.
[mana]g[/mana]Azusa, Lost but Seeking - Ramp
[mana]w[/mana]Linvala, Keeper of Silence - Somewhat Defensive Beatdown. Some lifegain and recursion.
[mana]w[/mana]Eight-and-a-Half-Tails - Controllish/Defensive with Lifegain. Some Voltron.
[mana]r[/mana]Godo, Bandit Warlord - Aggro/Voltron with Equipment
[mana]r[/mana]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker - Combo. Abusing ETB effects.

Allied Bicolor:
/mana]Captain Sisay - Toolbox, Voltron, some Combo. Pretty versatile.
[mana]gr[/mana]Stonebrow, Krosan Hero - Aggro
[mana]ub[/mana]Dralnu, Lich Lord - Heavy control. Sometimes with a zombie sub-theme.
[mana]ub[/mana]Oona, Queen of the Fae - Versatile. Control and Combo. Some Big Mana. Sometimes with a faerie sub-theme.
[mana]ub[/mana]Sygg, River Cutthroat - Aggro/Voltron and Control.
[mana]wu[/mana]Grand Arbiter Augustin IV - Heavy Control, Stax, Blink or Lifegain with some Combo.
[mana]wu[/mana]Sygg, River Guide - Aggro, Control, and Combo. Voltron and Toolbox. All viable strategies.

Opposed Bicolor:
[mana]rw[/mana][card]Jor Kadeen, the
Prevailer[/card] - Artifact heavy beatdown, often with a toolbox.
[mana]rw[/mana]Brion Stoutarm - Play big creatures and fling them at your opponent. Often with a toolbox.
[mana]ru[/mana]Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind - Combo and Control.
[mana]ru[/mana]Nin, the Pain Artist - Combo and Control.
[mana]wb[/mana][card]Ghost Council of Orzhova[/card - Sacrifice and Recursion with some Lifegain and Combo.
[mana]wb[/mana][card]Teysa, Orzhov Scion[/card] - Sacrifice and Recursion with some Aggro, Tokens and Combo.
[mana]gu[/mana]Momir Vig, Simic Visionary - Creature heavy beatdown and some combo, toolbox-ish.
[mana]gu[/mana]Edric, Spymaster of Trest - Versatile and political. Access to lots of tricks, combos,
and big beaters.
[mana]bg[/mana]Nath of the Gilt-Leaf - Tokens and heavy discard. Elf sub-theme.
[mana]bg[/mana]Savra, Queen of the Golgari - Sacrifice and Recursion, Tokens, Stax. Lots of graveyard shenanigans.
[mana]bg[/mana]Glissa, the Traitor - Voltron/Aggro with a heavy artifact recursion sub-theme.

Allied Tricolor (Shards Colors):
[mana]gwu[/mana]Jenara, Asura of War - Popular for Aggro & Voltron but very versatile. Can easily do Combo and Control.
[mana]gwu[/mana]Rafiq of the Many - Aggro with some elements of control.
[mana]brg[/mana]Kresh the Bloodbraided - Aggro, Voltron, lots of sacrafice.
[mana]rgw[/mana]Mayael the Anima - Big creature
[mana]rgw[/mana]Uril, The Miststalker - Voltron. Heavy on auras and equipments.
[mana]wub[/mana]Sharuum the Hegemon - Combo, Control, and heavy on the artifacts
[mana]wub[/mana]Zur the Enchanter - Voltron, Toolbox, heavy on enchantments
[mana]ubr[/mana]Thraximundar - Versatile control and/or aggro or combo.

Opposed Tricolor (Wedge Colors):
[mana]rwu[/mana]Numot, the Devastator - Aggro or Control with a land destruction sub-theme.
[mana]bgw[/mana]Teneb, the Harvester - Sacrifice and Recursion
[mana]bgw[/mana]Ghave, Guru of Spores - Tokens and graveyard games.
[mana]bgw[/mana]Doran, the Siege Tower
- Combination of Ramp, aggro and control
[mana]bgw[/mana]Karador, Ghost Chieftain - Graveyard based strategies (reanimation, dredge, etc)
[mana]urg[/mana]Intet, the Dreamer - Varied. Good at combo, aggro or control.
[mana]urg[/mana]Riku of Two Reflections - Varied, but best abusing etb creatures and copied spells.
[mana]urg[/mana]Animar, Soul of Elements - Creature heavy builds
[mana]gub[/mana]Vorosh, the Hunter - Varied.
[mana]gub[/mana]The Mimeoplasm - Good for graveyard based play.
[mana]wbr[/mana]Oros, the Avenger - Varied
[mana]wbr[/mana]Kaalia of the Vast - Big Angels, Demons, and Dragons.
25hdjele]wbr[/mana]Tariel, Reckoner of Souls - Varied with good sac & recur possibilities.

[mana]wubrg[/mana]Horde of Notions - Very versatile, lots of elementals. Some recursion.
[mana]wubrg[/mana]Scion of the Ur-Dragon - Very versatile, lots of dragons and gy recursion.
[mana]wubrg[/mana]Sliver Overlord - Very Versatile, lots of slivers.
[mana]wubrg[/mana]Child of Alara - Again versatile (like all 5-color decks), with a sweeper in the command zone.

Fourth Part B - A Note About Going Tribal and Sub-Themes
Tribal decks are very popular in magic and a lot of people want to continue that into EDH. That's completely fine if that's what you want to do, and it can also be very competitive if you know when
to "step out of" the tribal zone and keep it to kind of a "sub-theme" or a "semi-tribal" deck. After all, EDH is mostly about having fun, so if you like it, go with it.

Some groups, like my own, build tribal edh decks as their own format. The guidelines we use are:
Minimum 25 creatures (including commanders and changelings) that match a single tribe of the commander.
Maximum 5 creatures not in tribe.
Regular EDH banned list plus Engineered Plague, Extinction, Circle of Solace, Peer Pressure, and Coat of Arms. But again, that's just my group, do whatever your group feels.

A lot of tribal decks shatter the "go big" rule in EDH, as their incredible synergy gives them tremendous power.

Also, don't forget that creatures with "changeling" like [card]Chameleon Colossus[/card:
25hdjele] can be used to fill your tribal slots, and for tribes without a lot of support, other universal cards like Adaptive Automaton and Brass Herald can possibly help out.

Listed here are some popular tribal themes/sub-themes, and some commanders that work well with them.

Goblins - Arguably the strongest tribe in magic. Goblin tribal is definitely doable at a competitive level in EDH, mostly with an Aggro/Combo approach. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Wort, Boggart Auntie, Wort, the Raidmother, and Krenko, Mob Boss.

Wizards - Another very powerful tribe in EDH. Very competitive as Control/Combo. Azami, Lady of Scrolls and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir.

Faeries - [card]Oona,
Queen of the Fae[/card]

Merfolk - Sygg, River Guide and Sygg, River Cutthroat.

Zombies - Balthor the Defiled, Geth, Lord of the Vault, Dralnu, Lich Lord, Thraximundar and Grimgrin, Corpse-Born.

Elves - Nath of the Gilt-Leaf and Ezuri, Renegade Leader

Soldiers -Darien, King of Kjeldor and Captain Sisay

Vampires - Anowan, the Ruin Sage, Garza Zol, Plague Queen, Mirri the Cursed, Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
and Olivia Voldaren.

Artifacts - Sharuum the Hegemon and Memnarch

Dragons - Scion of the Ur-Dragon and Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund

Angels - Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, and Linvala, Keeper of Silence.

Spirits -Ghost Council of Orzhova, Karador, Ghost Chieftain, and Iname, Death Aspect

Elementals - Horde of Notions and Animar, Soul of Elements

Slivers - Lot's of people
love their Slivers. Sliver Queen and Sliver Overlord.

Rats - Marrow-Gnawer

To be continued in the next post!

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Post #2 by DroppinSuga » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:21 am

1v1 Duels or Multiplayer (or both)
Whether you'll be playing mostly duels or multiplayer will have an influence on your card choices.
For multiplayer most people want more sweeping removal like Damnation and Wrath of God, where in duels, you'll want more spot removal like Swords to Plowshares, and Rend Flesh. It's best to have the flexibility of both mass and spot removal in your deck no matter what your focus is, but you can lean heavier one way or the other based on whether your primary opposition will be multiplayer or single. And against popular opinion, I tend to go a little heavier toward spot removal in most of my multiplayer builds. I find that much of the time, I only need to kill one troublesome creature and don't want to destroy my own board position
with a sweeper.

Some cards like Exsanguinate and Syphon Mind are particularly effective with a table full of opponents while being only marginal against a single opponent (for obvious reasons).

A card like Luminarch Ascension can be fantastic in a duel, and it seems like it would be great in multiplayer as well, but if you lay down a card like this in a multiplayer game, you've just made yourself the prime target for everyone. Politics plays a huge role in multiplayer. You want to go about setting up your board position or assembling your combo pieces without drawing fire from everyone at the table, but in a 1 vs 1 duel, your only opponent is directing all his energy at killing you anyway, so politics is unneeded.

Some strategies, like hand disruption/discard, while perfectly viable in a duel or any other format in Magic, are near suicidal in Multiplayer EDH. Remember, you're not playing
against one player with 20 life. You're playing against multiple opponents at 40 life, and each of them probably has adequate card drawing built into their decks. You will not be able to adequately control all of them with discard.

Aggro decks are also more suited to duels than multiplayer. You can do ok with them in a big game, but the amount of sweeper spells that hit the board in multiplayer and the fact you have multiple opponents to take down, make aggro in multiplayer an uphill battle. A lot of people have adopted a "30 instead of 40" life total starting point for 1v1 dueling. This also works in favor of fast aggro decks as you stand a lot better chance of taking down your one opponent before he gets an advantageous board established.

Mana, The Foundation of Every Deck
Fixing your mana is relatively easy in EDH due to the wide variety of lands and mana-producing artifacts available as well as mana ramp creatures and spells.
Most decks run 38
to 40 lands and a few artifact mana sources/ramp spells.
If you want a direct comparison of how many lands in a 60-card deck = How many in a 99-card EDH deck:
23 = 38
24 = 40
25 = 42
26 = 44

Excellent Link Here! I highly recommend the following website by Clanmackay that lets you plug in the colors of your commander and find all possible fixing and utility lands for your deck.

[spoiler=Some lands for mana fixing]
Hands down, the best way to fix mana is with a combination of Original Dual Lands and/or Shocklands along with Fetchlands to go get them, but that can get kinda "$expensive". Besides those the best color-fixing land in edh is:

Command Tower - Comes into play untapped and gives you any color you can use.

Original Dual Lands -They have a hefty pricetag but are the best fixers.
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island[/cards]

Fetch Lands - Handy for fetching Original Dual Lands or Ravnica Shocklands. Can be pricey but well worth it. Allied & Enemy colors
[cards]Bloodstained Mire
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Arid Mesa
Marsh Flats
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Verdant Catacombs[/cards]

Ravnica Shocklands - Very useful, very fetchable with not much drawback. Allied and Enemy colors.
[cards]Blood Crypt
Breeding Pool
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Overgrown Tomb
Sacred Foundry
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Watery Grave[/cards]

Painlands -Good fixers with not much drawback. Allied and Enemy colors available.
[cards]Adarkar Wastes
Battlefield Forge
Caves of Koilos
Karplusan Forest
Llanowar Wastes
Shivan Reef
Sulfurous Springs
Underground River
Yavimaya Coast[/cards]

Shardlands- Good three-
way fixers, ETB Tapped.
[cards]Arcane Sanctum
Crumbling Necropolis
Jungle Shrine
Savage Lands
Seaside Citadel[/cards]

Scars Fastlands - Come in untapped if you control two or fewer lands. Good fixers in allied colors.
[cards]Blackcleave Cliffs
Copperline Gorge
Darkslick Shores
Razorverge Thicket
Seachrome Coast[/cards]

M10 Duals and Innistrad Duals - ETB tapped unless you control one of it's two basic lands. Very good fixers.
[cards]Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacombs
Glacial Fortress
Rootbound Crag
Sunpetal Grove
Clifftop Retreat
Hinterland Harbor
Isolated Chapel
Sulphur Falls
Woodland Cemetery[/cards]

Zendikar Refuges - ETB Tapped but give a little bonus and very cheap.
[cards]Akoum Refuge
Graypelt Refuge
Jwar Isle Refuge
Kazandu Refuge
Sejiri Refuge[/cards]

Worldwake Two-Color Manlands - Turning them into creatures usually isn't too good in edh (though it can be), but they
can help out with the color-fixing anyway
[cards]Celestial Colonnade
Creeping Tar Pit
Lavaclaw Reaches
Raging Ravine
Stirring Wildwood[/cards]

Invasion Duals - Only come in allied colors, but their very good, and very budget.
[cards]Salt Marsh
Coastal Tower
Shivan Oasis
Elfhame Palace
Urborg Volcano[/cards]
Lorwyn Tribals -Good budget fixers for any deck, Great if you happen to be running heavy tribal, but this isn't a requirement.
Ancient Ampitheater - R/W. Giants
[card]Auntie's Hovel[/card]- R/B Goblins.
Gilt-Leaf Palace - B/G Elves
Murmuring Bosk - G/B/W Treefolk. Also is "Forest" type so it's "fetchable". Great 3-way fixing.
Primal Beyond - 5-color, but it's colored mana an only be used for Elemental spells and abilities.
Secluded Glen - U/B
Wanderwine Hub - U/W Merfolk

Vivids - ETB Tapped, but then provide 5-colors for a limited number of times. Very good fixers.
[cards]Vivid Crag
Vivid Creek
Vivid Grove
Vivid Marsh
Vivid Meadow[/cards]

Filterlands - Very good for any two-color deck.
[cards]Cascade Bluffs
Fetid Heath
Fire-Lit Thicket
Flooded Grove
Graven Cairns
Mystic Gate
Rugged Prarrie
Sunken Ruins
Twilight Mire
Wooded Bastion[/cards]

Reflecting Pool - Good fixer for nearly any deck, and useful for all five colors.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth - Good fixer for any deck running black, as well as enabling swampwalk against your opponents.

Crystal Quarry - A consideration if you're running 5-colors

Mirage Tapped Fetchlands - Very small budget form of the very popular fetchlands. Their drawback is fairly small for EDH considering they can
retrieve an Original Dual Land or a Shockland. They are available in allied colors only.
[cards]Bad River
Flood Plain
Mountain Valley
Rocky Tar Pit[/cards]

Bouncelands, also called Karoos -There is a lot of debate about the usefulness of these lands. They are cheap mana-fixers. The only issue is that if there is a lot of players running land destruction (Strip Mine, Wasteland) in your meta, it can be pretty rough getting your bounceland blown up. If there's no land destruction in your meta, go ahead and use them.
Two-Color Bouncelands:
[cards]Azorius Chancer
Boros Garrison
Dimir Aqueduct
Golgari Rot Farm
Gruul Turf
Izzet Boilerworks
Orzhov Basilica
Rakdos Carnarium
Selesnya Sanctuary
Simic Growth Chamber[/cards]

Three-Color Bouncelands (also called Lair Lands):
[cards]Crosis' Catacombs
Darigaaz's Caldera
Dromar's Cavern
Rith's Grove
Treva's Ruins[/cards]

Return to Ravnica
Guldgates - Cheap and effective fixing for two-color decks.

Some Miscellaneous 5-Color Fixers: Most of these are not really highly recommended in anything less than a 5-color deck as they have too many drawbacks.

City of Brass - Not the greatest, but if you're hurting for 5-colors, go ahead.
Ancient Ziggurat - Only useable mana for creature spells, so not really recommended.
[card]Grand Coliseum[card] - Not the best with all it's drawbacks, but it'll do in a pinch.
[card]Exotic Orchard[/card] - Much better in multiplayer than duel.
Rupture Spire - Also not really recommended as it generally loses you too much tempo and we have lots of other lands to choose from. But in a pinch or if you really need to insure you have access to all five colors, go ahead and use it.

There are other manafixing lands, but the best options have already been listed.

There are
lots of Non-land options for mana fixing that also serve as mana-ramp. Artifact mana sources like Orzhov Signet, Sol Ring, and Coalition Relic are staples of EDH. They provide ramp, color-fixing, and they give you a slight buffer against mass land destruction or effects like Blood Moon or Winter Orb.

Non-Land Mana Fixing and Acceleration
Pure Acceleration in Colorless Mana:
Sol Ring - The gold standard in acceleration, but it is on the 1v1 banned lists.
Mind Stone - Great for providing a little ramp and some extra card draw when you need it.
Mana Crypt - Can hurt you, but it's still a favorite of many veteran players.
[cards]Thran Dynamo
Grim Monolith
Basalt Monolith
Worn Powerstone
Ancient Tomb
nMana Vault[/cards]

Some good artifact mana fixers/accelerators are:
[cards]Coalition Relic
Darksteel Ingot
Chromatic Lantern
Armillary Sphere[/cards] (not really acceleration as much as ensuring consistent land drops)
[cards]Wayfarer's Bauble
Coldsteel Heart
Fellwar Stone
Expedition Map[/cards] - Especially good as it can fetch any land at all.
Scapeshift - Not true acceleration (although it can be) but extremely powerful as it fetches lots of non-basic lands all at once.

The Obelisks - Cheap and great fixing/acceleration in allied 3-color decks.
[cards]Obelisk of Esper
Obelisk of Jund
Obelisk of Bant
Obelisk of Naya
Obelisk of Grixis[/cards]

The Signets - Very cheap, very useful.
[cards]Azorius Signet
Dimir Signet
Golgari Signet
Boros Signet
Gruul Signet
Izzet Signet
nOrzhov Signet
Rakdos Signet
Selesnya Signet
Simic Signet[/cards]

The Alara Reborn Borderposts - Good budget option for two-color decks:
[cards]Fieldmist Borderpost
Firewild Borderpost
Mistvein Borderpost
Veinfire Borderpost
Wildfield Borderpost[/cards]

Some Creature-based Mana Acceleration and Fixing
The best creature based fixers/accelerators do so by putting additional lands into play like Weathered Wayfarer, rather than tapping to produce mana themselves like Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch. This is because once you put the additional land in play, it's going to probably be there for the rest of the game. With Birds, or Hierarch, they're going to be gone the first time a sweeper spell hits the board, and it will. Sure, you can recur them from the graveyard, but you can with the others as well, and
now you get them putting even more lands in play.
[cards]Sakura-Tribe Elder
Yavimaya Elder
Farhaven Elf
Weathered Wayfarer
Solemn Simulacrum
Primeval Titan
Civic Wayfinder[/cards]

Some Spell Based Acceleration and Fixing
Rampant Growth
Harrow - Great spell, but it can be risky/costly if there is a lot of countermagic being played.
Land Tax - Absolutely amazing in multiplayer, but not out of place in duels either.
[cards]Kodama's Reach

"Mana Doublers"
Some spells/lands/artifacts/enchants allow you to basically double (or at least greatly increase) your mana output. These can be extremely powerful.
[cards]Mirari's Wake
Mana Reflection
Cabal Coffers
Extraplanar Lens
Gauntlet of Power
Mana Flare
Serra's Sanctum
Gaea's Cradle
nVernal Bloom
Heartbeat of Spring
Crypt of Agadeem
Caged Sun[/cards]

Seven - Utility Lands
Utility lands are lands that do things other than or on top of providing mana fixing. They commonly provide sacrifice outlets, creature recursion, protection, land destruction and lots of other purposes. This list will be far from comprehensive, but it will touch on some of the most popular utility lands that you'll see in EDH.

Land Destruction Lands - Because sometimes even land needs killin'
Strip Mine
Dust Bowl
Tectonic Edge
Ghost Quarter[/cards]

Recursion Lands
[card]Volrath's Stronghold[/card]
Academy Ruins
Unholy Grotto - For Zombies Only
Emeria, the Sky Ruin - Great Recursion for decks with lots of plains
[card]Buried Ruin[/card:

Sacrifice Outlets - Sometimes you need to kill your own
[cards]Phyrexian Tower
High Market
Miren, the Moaning Well
Diamond Valley[/cards]

Cycling Lands - Give you the option to draw a card if you don't need the land and can be especially good with land recursion like Life From the Loam or Crucible of Worlds.
[cards]Barren Moor
Drifting Meadow
Forgotten Cave
Lonely Sandbar
Polluted Mire
Remote Isle
Secluded Steppe
Slippery Karst
Smoldering Crater
Tranquil Thicket[/cards]

Some other miscellaneous utility lands commonly seen:
Maze of Ith - Goes in just about any deck.
Homeward Path - Amazing power level for combatting creature theft
Bojuka Bog - Grave Hate
[card]Boseiju, Who Shelters All[/card:
2if9h29u] - Great for protecting that crucial spell you're about to cast
Crypt of Agadeem - Big mana with lots of black creatures in the grave
Cabal Coffers - Big mana for decks running lots of swamps
Eiganjo Castle - Helps protect your general from damage
[card]Gaea's Cradle[/card] - Big mana if you have lots of creatures
Hall of the Bandit Lord - Haste
Flagstones of Trokair - Protection aganst land destruction
Kor Haven - Protection
[card]Minamo, School at Water's Edge[/card] - Untaps your legendaries
Reliquary Tower - No maximum hand size
[card]Shizo, Death's Storehouse[/card] - Give your legendaries "fear"
Vesuva - GREAT card. Helps fix your mana or it kills an opposing
legendary land.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth - Mentioned before in manafixing it also enables swampwalk against your opponent.
Yavimaya Hollow - Regeneration

Now it's time to choose the rest of the cards
Eight - A List of Universally Good Cards
There are a few cards available to you that are welcome additions to nearly any EDH deck. Nothings ever 100%, but here is a short list of cards that are as close to 100% as it gets. No matter what your colors, strategy, or commander, these cards could very likely improve your deck, and you will see them a lot. There's no such thing as a universal "auto-include", but these cards are definitely worth at least a consideration when building just about any deck.

Sol Ring - The undisputed king of early acceleration.
Darksteel Ingot - Indestructible artifact mana accel
and fixing.
Coalition Relic - Artifact mana accel and fixing.
Mimic Vat - Very few decks couldn't improve by running a copy of this powerhouse.
Expedition Map - Fetches ANY land for you. Not just manafix lands, but powerful utility lands.
Wasteland and/or Strip Mine - For killing problematic lands.
Skullclamp - Slight pump, great card draw. Great for decks that make a lot of tokens or have a lot of creatures dying all the time.
Reliquary Tower - No max hand size in a land. Pretty great unless, for some reason, you don't want large hands.
Homeward Path - Great for protecting against creature theft.
High Market - Also protects from creature theft as well as exile and tucking effects.
[card]Maze of Ith[/card:
2if9h29u] - Top notch protection for any deck.

There are other cards likely suited to this list, but these are the ones you're going to see most often.

Remember, there is no single best way to build any particular EDH deck. In the end it comes down to how you want to play, and what you find fun. Not every card in the deck has to be a game winner. I often choose cards that could be improved on from a competitive standpoint, but I just find fun to play with.

Now build the deck, and have fun!

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Post #3 by DroppinSuga » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:21 am


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