Introductions are in order… Hey there my fellow Commander-playing cohorts, my name is Thomas! This is my first foray into the realm of writing about my favorite addiction, Magic: the Gathering. It’s going to be a fun maiden voyage, but before we begin to delve into this monstrous deck I must expel some quick factoids about myself. I have been playing for about 15 years (which is more than half of my life!!!) and began playing seriously about 9-10 years ago when Onslaught block was in Standard rotation. In the last few years, Standard has been boring at times but fortunately enough I discovered Commander to fill the void. I was immediately hooked with sheer level of crazy interactions as well as the nostalgic aspect of busting out all my old goodies from the multitudes of boxes in my closet.
When not playing lands or casting spells, I’m a freelance graphic designer and musician who works at a cookie factory… Tis quite the life! Now I must add Commander Article Contributor to my resume. Bahahaha! And off we go to the meat and potatoes of this delightful dish…
Sedris, the Traitor King Decklist:
My Sedris, the Traitor King deck is a pile of fun and synergistic ridiculousness that, if left unanswered, will run amok reusing and recycling cards to go the extra distance and get some really fun wins under your belt. The list is full of technology and tricks, card advantage and complicated decisions. There have been times where turns get long due to the multitude of things you can do in the span of upkeep to end step. Our Commander, the treacherous Traitor King, has a built in reanimate ability which allows us to bring back our bombs for more beatings and bludgeonings for our opponents. That combined with various cantrips and sacrifice outlets to get creatures into the graveyard creates a powerful engine that generates a lot attention…
As you can see by the list, half of the nonland cards are creatures of varying size and ability. Since the deck is built around our Commander, and deity of destruction, I wanted to include a good mix of creatures that can be utilized over and over again to our benefit as well as exploit, destroy, and/or steal fun stuff our opponents have on the battlefield, in their graveyards or libraries.
I have loosely divided up my creatures into several categories: card draw, recursion, kill, cloning, disruption and deck search. Even in the early game there is good stuff to play while you get set up. I will discuss the card choices as the mana curve progresses for each type of tech creature and probably throw in a couple of my favored applications of some cards I like the most.
Card drawing and cantrips are an integral part of any Commander deck, a way to avoid losing steam so that you can continue to thwart your opponent’s plots and establish your own board position while keeping other options in hand. Thank goodness for Blue’s contribution to the color pie, because we have access to the Harlem Globetrotters of hand-stocking hijinx. If you want to evoke a creature for a quick fix to replenish your hand, then there is Mulldrifter to get a couple cards or Slithermuse to potentially refill your entire hand and then some depending upon what your opponents have. There was a card printed in Mirrodin Besieged called Consecrated Sphinx, it is one of the most powerful stand-alone creatures in Commander with its ability to turn a game in your favor simply based on the huge amount of cards you can accumulate in your hand if it remains alive. It’s a must for almost any deck with blue. The sphinxes don’t stop there! Sphinx of Lost Truths is great whether or not you can pay it’s kicker cost, giving you the option to dump a few creatures into your graveyard to bring back later. Our biggest sphinx in the list is the Sphinx of Fact or Fiction, I mean Sphinx of Uthuun, with a large frame and evasion, also puts the pressure on your opponent to correctly pick what cards go in what piles for you to choose. River Kelpie is definitely an MVP in the deck. The Kelpie is one of the most synergistic creatures which can allow you to draw tons of cards in concert with Sedris himself, the plethora of reanimating spells as well as spells with flashback(or ones which gain flashback with Snapcaster Mage), recursive creatures abilities including Persist, Goblin Welder‘s shenanigans and Sheoldred’s free reanimation every turn PLUS whatever graveyard tricks your opponents may be employing. Did I mention that the Kelpie has persist too?! Its just a great card for anyone utilizing their graveyard to gain card advantage.
Utilizing the graveyard to gain card advantage? There are plenty of creatures for that too! Each Commander deck has 100 cards in it, with about 60 or so being nonland cards you use to win. In this arena in which we are slinging singletons, why not get more than one use out of them? Sedris is not an environmentalist, but he is an advocate of recycling. Early on, you can use Goblin Welder to switch out discarded or destroyed artifacts for ones in play or simply swap out stuff your opponents have in play to shake things up. The Welder helps reuse your Phyrexian Metamorphs and Duplicants for utility or in some cases I have tapped a Mana Vault in play and exchanged it with a Sol Ring in the graveyard to accelerate my other tricks. Even with my focus on the creature aspect of our recursion, there are also ways to get more milage out if our spells too. Izzet Chronarch and Snapcaster Mage allow you to replay your removal and card drawing spells to pull ahead and help secure your win. If your opponents happen to have good spells hanging out in their discard pile(which usually happens) there is the killer kraken, Wrexial, the Risen Deep, which when he deals damage to an opponent allows you to cast an instant or sorcery from that players graveyard(River Kelpie triggers!!! *wink wink*). Free spells are always good, especially when it leaves you with extra mana to do more fun stuff on your turn. While you are borrowing things from an opponents graveyard, feel free to grab a creature with Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni or Puppeteer Clique. I’m sure they won’t mind too much as long as you don’t smash them with it, that is just good politics, right? The final piece of the recursion package is the queen of mean, Sheoldred, Whispering One, one of the few creatures in format that literally makes people poop their pants when she hits the board. She contributes to our removal suite as well as brings back one of our nifty creatures from the graveyard every turn. If you have ever dropped Miss Spider-Booty then you know firsthand.
In my opinion, being able to kill a first or second turn Serra Ascendant is key to staying alive and staying in the hearts of other frightened opponents, which brings me to my quick “comes into play” killers, Fleshbag Marauder and Shriekmaw. Aside from those sniveling White players and their lifelinking 6/6 beaters, these two black creatures get rid of plenty of other stuff you would not want sticking around, like Scavenging Ooze for example. Higher up the ladder in regards to targeted spot removal we have the ever useful and exile-savy Duplicant, which is not only a great way around protection from specific colors but also permanently removes problematic creatures you don’t want hitting the bin, such as Genesis or Anger. Lastly there is Bogardan Hellkite, a big body with evasion that can nuke a board of tiny opposing dudes or simply send extra damage to your least favorite opponents dome. If sweepers are more your thing then the list is also packing Crater Hellion and Balefire Dragon to really get rid of some critters. One of the cross category all-stars of the deck is Sheoldred, Whispering One, with built-in recursion for you and non-targeting kill for your opponents possibly protected team, she truly shines in this build.
A lot of times in the vast card-pool available to the Commander format there is only so much stuff you can put into one deck. In order to get the full effect out of our list and not stray from cohesion and wander towards a stack of random good stuff, I like to utilize repetition to bring consistency to the table with me. Having a couple different cloning abilities in one’s deck provides several extra copies of your creatures to bring the pain. In the list I have Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph to make copies of key creatures on the board and sometimes they aren’t even my own permanents being cloned. These cards even produce dirty looks from opponents when coming into play as nasty Generals with Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots equipped. Another good creator of copies is Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and although he only makes copies of creatures you control, it can still get deadly. Making a copy of one of the many creatures that enters the battlefield and does something cool is nothing to scoff at, especially when that critter is netting you more cards, allowing you to search your deck or just kill another guy on the board. It is understandable that creatures die quite frequently, so Body Double is included as well to provide more options for one’s dastardly schemes. A Swiss Army Knife crawling out of a shallow grave to wreak havoc is just what a deck like this needs…
If you’re wishing to swipe creatures and disrupt an opponent’s game plan, Sower of Temptation and Gilded Drake is here to snag a pesky or potent early drop or borrow a Primeval Titan (one of my favorite things to borrow from a green mage…) that some troublesome ramp deck powered out way too quickly. Even with all the amazing blue cards in the list there is not much countermagic, but we do have a little in the form of Glen Elendra Archmage. The Archmage is a creature with persist which comes back for more denial after you sacrifice it and can always be returned to play by other means if you just have to say, “NO!” to something that may attempt to inhibit the crushing dominance this deck establishes.
Tutoring with Trinket Mage can find everyone’s favorite artifact Commander staple, Sensei’s Divining Top, or just get some artifact acceleration out of our library if you happened to ‘topdeck’ the former. Seeing as we are not using one if the best support colors (green) in this deck we must stick with the simple but effective Solemn Simulacrum to get some extra lands, but in concert with the potent necromancy we possess, he can continue to pop into play and net us land after land putting us further ahead to bring down our destructive high-end creatures. One of those creatures just happens to be my favorite cards to abuse in this deck, Rune-Scarred Demon. He fetches up clones (Metamorph or Image) to make a chain of flying 6/6′s to wipe out life totals or just finds whatever you so desire. Don’t worry about the initial search when he hits the board because with the recursion available, he will more than likely be back for more fun.
Sometimes there are creatures that are just good that simply just serve the purpose of being that one awesome guy hanging out causing trouble. That would be Wurmcoil Engine… He we was a recent inclusion due to the fact I really needed a little lifegain to offset the lose of life from fetchlands, Ancient Tomb, Hall of the Bandit Lord and Phyrexian Arena. Especially if I get any of those in the early game. Usually once I have painted a huge target on my head from all the ridiculous stuff I have been doing, my life total can get pretty low and if several opponents are smashing my face, it doesn’t help. Wurmcoil is just amazing to attack/block with, make dudes to cause more trouble, and/or get recurred over and over and over with Goblin Welder. Dealing with Wurmcoil coming back requires extra underwear I’m pretty sure… Other goodness available to us is Anger, a scowling little man of magma who will allow our team to smash without that debilitating summoning sickness, if he is in our graveyard… but that should be easy if you have opponents attacking into this gnarly little chump blocker or extra cards to pitch at the end step from all the stuff you drew on your turn from River Kelpie. Muahahaha!
Other Awesome Stuff – Instants and Sorceries
Much like the creature package of the deck there is redundancy in the spells of the list to make it consistent. I only chose the best of the best to make sure any card you get off the top is just as amazing as the last, unless of course you’re getting mana flooded or mana screwed in which case Sensei’s Divining Top is your best friend…
There is a recursion spell at almost every converted mana cost up to six to insure that you get amazing beaters or tech creatures back into action even without Sedris in play. After all, you want some of them to stick around as opposed to having them get exiled at the end of turn if unearthed.
Each of the four cantrips in the deck not only allow you to gain card advantage but also provide an opportunity to discard or put creatures in the graveyard to get back into play by other more shenanigan-enriched ways. (Forbidden Alchemy, out of Innistrad, is so awesome for this build with its flashbacking and deep digging abilities. Thank you WotC…)
There is a point in games of Commander where dudes must be vanquished, but without muddling the build with excessive amounts of spot removal, I have simply put four of the best spot removal/sweeper cards available. Chaos Warp was a godsend when it was created for the Commander preconstructed decks, a staple for any deck with red in it. Shuffle away those pesky generals and hope its not revealed off the top; which I’ve seen happen! Terminate. Just Terminate. Done. It’s just that simple. Shank a dude and move on with business (it does say, “Sadface,” to combolicious newcomer Animar, Soul of Elements though)… We are running black, so Damnation is a must-have sweeper and if you have a bit more mana available at the time, then draw a bunch of cards while you wipe the board with Decree of Pain.
All of our tutors that don’t have legs (Demonic Tutor, Mystical Tutor and Vampiric Tutor) can search up any of these removal spells whenever you need them or most anything for that matter with two of the three being magical cure-all search spells!
Although Bribery is not really under any of the previous umbrella classifications, it serves it’s own purposes in the deck. If you don’t have what you need, then simply borrow it from one of your opponents! Don’t get me wrong, they usually DO mind and will continue to give you heinous looks for the remainder of the game, but the ability to grab whatever critter to suit your fancy from your former buddy’s library is too good to leave out.
Earlier I spoke about my problem with the constant drain on my life total that comes with being a gnarly necromancer; a quandary I quashed with the inclusion of Exsanguinate. Every life point counts when they are being chipped away while on the long haul to historical wreckage upon thine enemies!!!
It is my thought that every Commander deck is essentially 98 cards with one legendary creature as the General and one Sensei’s Divining Top. If you see someone tutor on the first turn, they are probably searching for it. If you don’t have the Top in your deck, GO GET ONE!!!!!!!!! (it’s just that awesome..) It smooths out subpar draws, it nets you an extra card sometimes, it slices, it dices, and needs to be in every Commander deck you build. Period.
Playing Grixis colors lends itself to requiring the accelerating power of artifacts to speed up the shenanigans. There are some land-searching artifacts one can run in their deck, but I have chosen to stick with a few artifacts that stay in play to provide the extra mana I desire. Plus, with artifacts in play, it makes it easier to abuse Goblin Welder for our own mischievous ends. Coalition Relic is great considering this is a tri-color build; it gives us ease of access to those colors. There is also Sol Ring and Mana Vault to pump out the beasties. These two cards are tutorable with our friend Trinket Mage, and if you’re not searching for Sensei’s Divining Top, then feel free to make people shiver in anticipation as they contemplate what you’re going to play with all your extra mana artifacts!
I’m a fan of technology and reusing it, if you haven’t noticed, so I even have a few artifacts that suit my fancy to go with my already ridiculous creature package and spells. Crystal Shard is one of my MVPs here. I’m usually bouncing my own creatures at the end of turn to get more enter-the-battlefield triggers or possibly cause headaches to people who foolishly tapped out with a gnarly dudes on the board.
Lightning Greaves is a card that needs little explanation, even players new to the Commander format have acquired one if they purchased a preconstructed deck at their local shop. Shroud and Haste makes people uncomfortable, so I run it.
The final artifact to blather about is Helm of Possession, with it’s classy old-school brown border, which makes opposing players reconsider playing anything fun for fear of this card’s purloining abilities. Part of it’s appeal in this deck is that it is also a sac’ outlet to get my own creatures in the bin while also disrupting my opponents. One of the dirtiest plays I have accomplished with this card was as follows: Snagged a Primeval Titan from one of my opponent’s graveyard with Puppeteer Clique, searched and smashed, and then sacrificed it to steal my OTHER opponents Primeval Titan with my Helm…. SOOOOO DIIIRRRTTTYYY!!! Needless to say, I became Public Enemy Numero Uno with the quickness. Hehe.
In this card category, though the slots are limited, there are six cards that are what one would call the “bee’s knees” or the “cat’s pajamas,” whatever that means… Let’s begin on curve. Teferi’s Veil is a card specifically placed in the list to interact with Sedris. Whenever a creature I control attacks, it Phases out at the end of combat, which with the Traitor King‘s Unearth ability turns recurred critters into fresh creatures when they return to play(though this does not trigger enters-the-battlefield abilities). The trigger in the Unearth mechanic states that at the end of turn or if the unearthed creature were to leave play, exile it instead, BUT the Phasing mechanic does not count the creature as having left the battlefield, leaving you with fresh fang-bearing beasts to smash with over and over and over once they phase back in!!!
Animate Dead is a classic reanimating creature enchantment which brings back guys for cheap; not too complicated. To drive the point home about my affinity for redundancy, I have Oversold Cemetery to also let us enjoy the luxury of having numerous creatures in our graveyard. I have loved this card since the namesake standard deck popped up during Onslaught block. In this build, it is always providing card advantage every turn, which can be really helpful for keeping the pressure on when the board has been recently wiped.
Speaking of preventing loss of steam and forward motion to our frightening freight train, we have MORE CARD DRAWING stuff for you. It comes in the form of Phyrexian Arena. While it is one of the constant drains on our life total, it does provide a constant drain on my opponents sanity as I continue to draw more cards than them throughout the game to push further ahead. Sometimes, you must barter with someone to remove it for you if you’re getting a little too close to dead, but hey! That’s what being a necromancer is all about, creating death and destruction to rain upon your friends while slightly shanking yourself in the process.
This next card needs no bartering to get removed because of how ridiculous it is. It’s a new red staple out of the Commander set with such an apt name: Stranglehold! Choke out your opponents while they desire so deeply to search for lands or creatures or whatever! If you thought your friends hated you before, just wait until you drop this gem and see if you can even keep up with the amount of daggers shot out of their eyes at you… muahahahaha!!!
Sneak Attack is one of the cards that has won many games by itself(but not completely by itself, because it still needs creatures to make it broken) with it’s sheer power and devastating amounts of damage it can deal in a couple turns. It does not cheat creatures into play from the graveyard, but it cheats them in none-the-less, so Sedris approves. At the end of turn you must put them into your graveyard but then they just come back anyway, so it’s a fun and vicious cycle to subjugate your opponents to and a great way to keep them whining.
Every Commander deck needs a bitchin’ mana-base to get running, and this one is no exception. Playing with three colors requires having lands that produce multiple colors in order to run smoothly so I only have the best of the best to help meet my ends. In the list I have each of the original dual lands (please don’t hate me for having expensive cards, because I did not buy them with actual money but instead traded lots of unused junk to get them! Hehehaha!) as well as the Ravnica shocklands in order to have access to my colors without running too many lands that come into play tapped. To complement these dual-landtype cards, I also have six fetchlands to search them out of my library (or get basics, but who does that?!). A cheaper alternative that is effective is the use of the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block filter lands, which I have in the list too. Producing two colors with a land is cool but sometimes you need the option to produce three, so this is where Crumbling Necropolis, Command Tower and Reflecting Pool come in to facilitate our fun stuff. There are a few basic lands; I’m never too high and mighty to get rid of all of my basic lands!
This Sedris deck is a creation rich with technology through and through, even my lands do awesome things besides tap for mana! I run more recursion with my Academy Ruins, Volrath’s Stronghold and Buried Ruin and sacrifice outlets Phyrexian Tower and High Market to really get the ball rollin’ in several forms and fashions. Did I mention that my lands net us extra cards? Cycling lands are always a good choice and help mow through your deck to get cards you actually want (one downside about not playing green is the lack of Life from the Loam here… *sadface*.). With all this talk of graveyard giggles, there is a Bojuka Bog to shut down opposing recursion decks. Looking back at Sneak Attack and the amount of damage it can bring down upon an opponent, I thought that Spinerock Knoll would be a good fit for the deck, and it has turned out quite well because free spells are nice. I have tried to limit the amount of lands that produce no colored mana to a minimum, but when you give guys Haste like Hall of the Bandit Lord does, you just gotta suck it up and smash face because it’s Sedris‘ favorite thing to do!!!
If you seek to smash your foes ruthlessly and leave them toothlessly, then throw this deck together. It is one of the funnest and nastiest decks I have constructed since I became addicted to this amazing format. I hope you found this first article to be entertaining and informative (but I know you probably found it lengthy…), thanks for reading! -Thomas