It’s the week after Valentine’s Day! To go along with the newly on-clearance chocolate, we here at Reasons Past have a sweet, sweet EDH deck tech for you to sink your teeth into. If you had to enjoy your Kit-Kats and Hershey’s Kisses alone, we just want to say that your crippling loneliness doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what the holiday should really be about — (lovingly) beating your friends up in a game of Commander! And what better way to do it than with two best buds?

In the spirit of the weirdly capitalist holiday, I wanted to give myself yet another chance to spend too much paper on cardboard – a new Commander deck! For extra flavor points, I decided to limit myself to the partner commanders. And since the wonderful Riccardo Monico has decided to let me write about my favorite card game, I thought I’d take you all along for the ride.

Our stipulation immediately puts us in an interesting spot. A significant portion of partner commanders act simply as vehicles for four-color combinations, offering mechanics or engines that have already been printed on better, more efficient legendary creatures. A smaller portion of them are undeniably strong, even making their presence known in competitive EDH. As a casual commander player looking to build a deck that’s out of my comfort zone, neither of these options really interest me. Thankfully, Battlebond has got me covered with two one-eyed pals.

I like to take a top-down, commander(s) focused approach to building my EDH decks, so the first thing I do is RTFC. My favorite moments during deckbuilding happen when I’m finding new pet cards four Gatherer pages deep on a rules-text focused “advanced search”. Netdeck sites like EDHrec are powerful tools as well, but I find I enjoy deckbuilding much more if I disregard them until the very end of the process, when I am either running out of steam or attempting to jog my memory for commonly used cards I may have missed.

The first, most obvious thing I see is coins (which happens to excite me very much). An important note before we go on our search for more weird cardboard is that cards that make you flip a coin but don’t specify winning or losing don’t trigger our generals, so cards like Two-Headed Giant are just plain bad (I mean so are the rest of the coin flip effects in the deck but we will be ignoring this fact for the sake of “having a good time”).From the beginning, though, I know that I want to focus on cards that can either generate lots of flips — ideally cards like Frenetic Efreet and Mirror March that flip until you lose — or manipulate the result. Unfortunately for us, the only card in the latter category is Krark’s Thumb, making it one of the most important cards for our strategy.

Since we are so all-in on flips, we want to effectively up our Thumb count by including tutors like Fabricate and Tribute Mage. Both have access to a decent artifact suite, with Tribute Mage being able to fetch up Lightning Greaves/Swiftfoot Boots to protect our one-eyed aficionados or Strionic Resonator to beef up triggered abilities. In order to protect our precious Thumb, we have access to a (perhaps cute) suite of utility lands — Academy Ruins and Buried Ruin to recur it and Tolaria West to fetch it up. 

The coin theme can also be extended to a guiding principle for the deck — Zndrsplt and Okaun would make perfect arbiters of chaos (I mean come on Okaun’s the literal “Eye of Chaos”) at the helm of a deck full of effects like Goblin Game or Confusion in the Ranks. I chose not to take the deck in that direction for this iteration, but I encourage you, dear reader, to tear up your playgroup with as much chaos as your wicked heart desires. I did, however, take the chaotic inspiration in including cards like Gamble and Etali, Primal Storm, both powerful cards in their own right.

Both Okaun, Eye of Chaos and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom trigger at the beginning of combat, meaning that we want as many combat steps as we can get. Cards like Aggravated Assault, World at War, and (my personal favorite) Scourge of the Throne let us turn our creatures sideways twice in one turn. Much more importantly, though, they give us — wait for it — MORE COIN FLIPS. What more could you want?

Friends, or rather, dead friends, ideally. We’re talking about the planeswalker iterations here, though — no murders of passion over yet another loss to Lab Maniac, please. We have a couple ways to get there. Our most standard win condition is using the aforementioned combat step multipliers and beaters that take advantage of the newfound multiplicity, namely Okaun and his friends Inferno Titan and Etali, Primal Storm. For most commander games, though, this plan won’t get there — we’re going to have to get a little more creative.

Back to reading the fucking card(s). Our wiser homunculus, paired with cards like Frenetic Efreet or Frenetic Sliver, can draw us a LOT of cards. Like, an infinite amount (or about 50% of infinity, at least). Even without a friendly efreet or sliver, the incidental card draw can power up draw-centric engines like Niv-Mizzet, Parun and The Locust God that will win the game if left uncontested.

But our more chaotic general is where things get really exciting. The cyclops can get big very quickly — four flips won in a row (6.25%, but I’ve seen magical non-denominational lands that are much lower chance) make Okaun big enough to one-hit even the most healthy of opponents. To facilitate the safest journey for our Cyclops’s big stupid hand to your friends’ big stupid faces, we run a crafty one-of Slip Through Face. But when sneakiness fails, we can just hurl (no, not Fling) our big-bodied cyclops at the victim of our choosing (or all of them).

When our two one-eyed pals fail us, we have a couple of backup plans. One is just resolving Chance Encounter and waiting, which we hope to protect with a deft combination of counterspell backup and pure luck. We also have two infinite combos. The first, which I mentioned earlier, relies on sticking one of our generals and stacking however many activations of Frenetic Efreet we deem necessary for either “infinite” cards or power. The second combines Aggravated Assault and Sword of Feast and Famine for as many combat steps as combat math will allow.

The inclusion of these combos is optional and depends on what you/your playgroup are ok with. The topic of infinite combos in casual play deserves its own article, but in short, I think including at least one is a good idea for any deck that wants to have the ability to break a mind-numbing 40-minute board stall. As long as you are not piloting the deck in a way that prioritizes finding and executing your combo above all else, I think infinite combos are a healthy part of any casual playgroup.

Now we just need to sprinkle in a bit of card draw, removal/countermagic, ramp, and voila! Our thumb-finding, coin-flipping and cyclops-hurling ode to friendship is complete:

Eye See You! by Luca Blankenship

Creature (18)
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Creepy Doll
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Etali, Primal Storm
1 Frenetic Efreet
1 Frenetic Sliver
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Goblin Archaeologist
1 Goblin Kaboomist
1 Inferno Titan
1 Karplusan Minotaur
1 Mulldrifter
1 Niv-Mizzet, Parun
1 Okaun, Eye of Chaos
1 Scourge of the Throne
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Spark Double
1 The Locust God
1 Tribute Mage
1 Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom

Instant (13)
1 Chaos Warp
1 Counterspell
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Dig Through Time
1 Dissolve
1 Dream Fracture
1 Fighting Chance
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Negate
1 Rapid Hybridization
1 Reality Shift
1 Soul’s Fire
1 Wild Ricochet

Sorcery (13)
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Chandra’s Ignition
1 Fabricate
1 Fiery Gambit
1 Gamble
1 Game of Chaos
1 Molten Birth
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Slip Through Space
1 Squee’s Revenge
1 Stitch in Time
1 World at War

Artifact (15)
1 Arcane Signet
1 Chromatic Lantern
1 Coalition Relic
1 Coldsteel Heart
1 Hedron Archive
1 Izzet Signet
1 Krark’s Thumb
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mana Crypt
1 Sol Ring
1 Strionic Resonator
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Talisman of Creativity
1 Thought Vessel

Enchantment (5)
1 Aggravated Assault
Chance Encounter
1 Mirror March
1 Propaganda
1 Rhystic Study

Planeswalker (1)
1 Ral Zarek

Land (33)
1 Academy Ruins
1 Buried Ruin
1 Cascade Bluffs
1 Castle Vantress
1 Command Tower
1 Desolate Lighthouse
1 Fiery Islet
1 Highland Lake
6 Island
1 Izzet Boilerworks
8 Mountain
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Shivan Reef
1 Spirebluff Canal
1 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Swiftwater Cliffs
1 Temple of Epiphany
1 Tolaria West

I want to emphasize before I sign off that deckbuilding in EDH, more than any other format, is a process of expression. That means two things: one, that this deck (or at least my version of it) will look very different a month from now. The deckbuilding process doesn’t end when you sleeve up that 100th card — it continues with every game you play. There is always room for your pile to be more fun for you.

It also means that your take on Okaun, Eye of Chaos and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom will probably look at least a little different than mine. That can mean something as minute as changing up the countermagic package or as drastic as centering the pair around chaos or even storm. What’s important is that the deck is yours and you love playing it. 


Want to climb ranks fast on Magic Arena? Check out the deck that Riccardo Monico has been falling in love with right here at Reasons Past.

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