Hello there folks, welcome to MTGCasualPlay.com! Before we get started I have a quick question for you. Did you play the Call the Spirits deck fresh out of the box with no enhancements? I did. It was terrible. Of course, that is my opinion, but after several games of watching Meren and Plunder the Graves run like a well oiled machine, I felt cheated. The whole reason I bought Daxos was because Black and White are two of my favorite commander colors and out of 20 plus EDH decks, an Orzhov build was missing from my collection. I made some adjustments to the deck and gave it a few more chances in my playgroup. Ugh, I was a non-factor every game. Heck, the only time I posed a threat to the group was when I had Underworld Coinsmith and Karlov of the Ghost Council clicking. After a night of watching Daxos’s dead body drag across my kitchen table I had decided that Uncle Karl would be the Orzhov deck I needed for my collection.
The thing was, I kept reading posts and articles on how much fun Undead Daxos can be. It became a real head scratcher. I enjoy enchantments, they are my favorite card type, I dig black and white, and making tokens is gobs of fun, so what the heck, I’ve got to give Daxos one more try.
So here is what I came up with. Sure, cards like Cage of Hands and Flickering Ward sound mechanically solid for getting a ton of experience counters, but honestly, we need to NOT worry about getting experience counters. Our strategy is to keep Daxos on the battlefield, play an enchantment on our turn, spit out a token at end of our opponent’s turn. That’s it. If we follow this simple strategy, the Experience counters will come, but we have got to set up our strategies in the early game. We cannot miss land drops and we cannot worry about beefing up our experience.
The decklist I present to you today has about 35-40 enchantments (give or take a few for future alterations to the deck). We will have one of the most unique combination of cards you will ever see in an EDH deck. This strange brew of Pillow Fort, Token Generation, Anthem effects and Removal DOES work. Sure, we will not be taking this list to competitive tournaments, but we will eek out a few wins and have some fun along the way.
Daxos the Rune-Turned Call the Spirits Upgrade
Strategy for Daxos
As stated above, I found that the best way to get Daxos to work is by keeping him on the table, dropping an enchantment on our turn and spitting out a Spirit token at the end of our opponent’s turn. In order to do this, we will need cheap, yet efficient, enchantment spells. In most of my articles I separate my decklists by function. For Daxos, however, I have separated them by mana cost. Reason being is that I want to amplify the importance of being able to get enchantments on the board as soon as possible. One and two drops will help increase our experience counters and work with increasing the Spirit’s power and toughness. In conjunction with this strategy are a plethora of cheap mana rocks that can be played on turn 2 or sooner. By putting down a turn two rock, we can explode out of the gate with turn 3 Daxos and, hopefully, a one mana enchantment to get the ball rolling.
Once we get our engine going, winning the game can come through token armies or by default of being one of the last players standing. Pillow Fort and Politics will help sway others to leave us alone. In a multiplayer game, we may be underestimated and left to deal with later in lieu of more powerful threats. It is at this time that we need to be ready to take control of the game and achieve victory.
Pillow Fort Runes and Protection
I’m an old school player and I will take any chance I get to inject some nostalgic, ancient tech into a decklist. Right off the bat we will dedicate five deck slots to the Rune of Protection cycle from Urza’s Saga. The great thing about the runes is they are an easy two drop right out of the gate to get an experience counter or we can cycle them to draw a card. In playing this deck Rune of Protection: Black has saved my bacon a number of times while I have mainly cycled away RoP: Blue to draw a card.
With approximately 35-40 enchantments in the deck, Sphere of Safety is an obvious choice and will tax the hell out of our aggressive friends trying to thump us in the noggin during their attack phase. Other pillow fort style cards included are Kor Haven, Gossamer Chains and Soul Snare to discourage players from a pointless attack or swinging into the rattlesnake effect of the Soul Snare. If we put Citadel Siege in Dragons mode we can tap down the biggest threat during each attack phase, thereby protecting us and possibly making some friends along the way. We could also use politics to help gain us some leverage before we decide which of our opponent’s creatures will be tapped pre-combat. Another political and deceptive card is Curse of Shallow Graves. The Strategy behind the Curse is to enchant the most defenseless player (presumably the control player) and selling other opponents on growing their army with zombie tokens. Along the same lines as the curse, No Mercy and Spear of Heliod can also act as deterrents.
The double-edged sword of the deck is Earnest Fellowship. The plan here is to have at least a semi-sturdy pillowfort built up where we are not too worried about being able to block if we are staring down an army of black or white creatures. The Fellowship helps protect our Commander and our Spirits from the two colors with the best spot removal in addition to letting them slip through opposing Black/White/Orzhov defenses. The Fellowship will also hose opponents trying to use same color effects or auras on their creatures. With that in mind, we will need to watch our own aura/enchantment based removal against white/black permanents while this enchantment is in play. Absolute Law gives ALL creatures protection from red. I am hoping this 2 drop enchantment will not only protect our team from the red mage, but also encourage players to take advantage of the fact that their creatures are now protection from red. If red is not at the table, well then, we still get one point of experience and/or an enchantment entering the battlefield or being cast trigger.
Greater Auramancy protects all of our other enchantments and is highly recommended for one of the first upgrades to the Call the Spirits deck. It protects our defense, our Spirit tokens, and our entire game plan. Well worth the investment. Rounding out our protection is Lightning Greaves to protect Daxos and Rootborn Defenses to protect the team from mass removal and populate one of our tokens.
Anthems and Tokens
While I’ve never been a huge fan of Anthem effects in EDH, I have found a smidge of synergy having them in the deck. Honor of the Pure, Intangible Virtue, Spear of Heliod, and Dictate of Heliod provide ALL of our tokens a little extra oomph, nets us an experience counter and can trigger the ETB or “on cast” effect of some of our other cards.
Now then, moving on to the tokens. Daxos the Returned creates Enchantment Spirit tokens with power and toughness equal to our experience counters. Clearly, this is the main goal of the deck. Create Spirits and swing. Realistically, there are going to be many games where Daxos is unavailable, our experience counters are not adding up, or our game plan has gone in the dumpster. We can put a small patch on the hole by including additional token producers as a backup plan. Luminarch Ascension and Sigil of the Empty Throne are the clear cut favorites to rescue our board state as they can provide us with 4/4 angels. While not as good as 4/4 angels, Oath of Gideon and Heliod, God of the Sun can also provide us with enchantment triggers and meat sticks for blocking. Speaking of the Oath of Gideon, now is a great time to mention one of the two Planeswalkers in the deck. All three modes of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar are a tribute to our cause. He can produce sturdy 2/2 Knight tokens or join the battle himself as a 5/5 Indestructible that is hard to deal with outside of instant speed exile. With Oath of Gideon on the board, Planeswalker Gideon enters the battlefield with an extra loyalty counter. This allows us to ultimate him the turn he comes into play for his +1/+1 anthem and he will still have one loyalty counter left so we can attack with him or get our token next turn. The Oath works great with our other Planeswalker too, AND she produces tokens, but more on her in a little bit.
Although Ajani’s Chosen is not an enchantment, it does mold to the token plan by sending out a 2/2 Cat every time we activate Daxos’s ability for a Spirit or have an enchantment come into play. Monastery Mentor is here for playtesting. I’m not sold on this guy yet, but since our deck list is fairly creature-lite, we should have plenty of opportunities to see 1/1 Monks with Prowess join our cause.
Going back to Gideon for a moment, I need to include Daxos’s Torment here. This enchantment is similar to Gideon in that it’s unique ability to become a creature can dodge removal and survive board wipes. A lot of Daxos players remove this from the preconstructed commander deck right away, but I highly recommend leaving this in and giving it a try. Create a Spirit token to trigger the Constellation ability and let the tormented demon do some work! Myth Realized also has a knack for dodging removal. Since most of our deck is non-creature spells, it will ripen quick with a fruit basket full of lore counters. Paying one white mana to bash face or block a big bad with a monk avatar enchantment is a story to pass down for generations.
Specialized Removal Suite
We want to increase the amount of triggers created when enchantments are cast or enter the battlefield, so let’s turn to some enchantment based removal for Daxos. The artifact/enchantment removal was the easiest. Aura of Silence, Seal of Cleansing and Act of Authority all have street credit to pick off bothersome artifacts and enchantments. Meanwhile, Darksteel Mutation can nerf big-bads or threatening commanders.
While I personally am not an advocate for Oblivion Ring and similar effects, we should give them a try and see what shakes. The lone two included in this Daxos deck are O-Ring and Banishing Light. Even though they can draw the aim of an AcidicSlime, hopefully, at the very least, they will give us temporary removal of a permanent or an enchantment trigger. Grasp of Fate was included in the Call the Spirits precon deck, but there is a valid reason why it should sit the bench during the EDH post season. We do not want to draw the ire of the entire table. We only want to remove troublesome permanents and play enough politics to keep opponents focused on each other. If we take a card from each one of them and put it under the Grasp, then we are putting a large target on our head. Opponents will all collaborate to get their stuff back.
Now is a great time to mention our other planeswalker. If you are a Vorthos major and really dig MTG Lore then you will be quite pleased that Elspeth Tirel is a vital part of the deck. Sure, this isn’t the Theros block version of Elspeth, but just one look at original Elspeth’s abilities and you’ll see why she’s here. Elspeth fits into our token theme by giving us three soldiers with her -2 ability. She continues to support our token theme with her -5 ultimate which blows up all non-land, non-token creatures. A brilliant strategy once we have an army of Daxos Spirit tokens on the board. Normally it would take one full round to get the loyalty needed to blow up the board, but with the help of the Oath of Gideon, Elspeth can pop smoke the turn she comes into play.
The lack of board wipes is a little uncomfortable, but Merciless Eviction and Extinguish All Hope are fantastic additions that should tilt the game into our favor. Since most of our cards cast five mana or less, having the higher mana spells should be no biggie at all. Oh, and there is also Doomwake Giant. He helps get rid of the opponents little dudes with constellation triggers. For instant speed spot removal, in non-enchantment form, we can turn to Utter End.
Phyrexian Arena, Mesa Enchantress, Vampiric Rites, Erebos, God of the Dead and Read the Bones provide some card draw while Diabolic Tutor and Plea for Guidance never fail in helping us find answers to a troubled board state.
Our small suite of hate cards have been money in most games that I have played with this deck so far. Rest in Peace is an absolute all-star (and the reason we are not currently running Sun Titan). In a game with Meren, Feldon, Karador, Marchesa, or other heavy graveyard abusers, we want to tutor for this right away. If we are facing this magnitude of graveyard abuse, we will need to be sure to protect Rest in Peace with Greater Auramancy. Eidolon of Rhetoric has also drawn the ire of the table. Since our gameplan every turn is to play an enchantment and activate Daxos for a spirit, we do not need to cast more than on spell per turn. Most opponents however, do. Using the Rhetoric slows the rest of the table down and allows us to set the tempo of the game. Nevermore is included in the list simply because of the commanders in my playgroup, Meren and Prossh in particular, but being able to put the kibosh on any commander is a good option to have. Underrated card, indeed.
What’s Next for Daxos the Rune-Turned?
Blind Obedience + Crackdown, Planar Void, Prison Term, Temporal Isolation, Sun Titan and so many more cards are sitting on my desk in a pile about 4 inches thick. There are so many options and strategic enchantments for Daxos, that’s what makes him so much fun to build around! While land isn’t really mentioned in the article, if I had an extra copy, you could bet all the coin in Dominaria that Serra’s Sanctum would be here.
I will keep playtesting this deck and when I have a card in hand that underperforms, I’ll swap it out for something new to try. In fact, I’ll keep a log of the changes right here in this deck tech so be sure to check back! Hopefully this article and some of the ideas will help you plug some holes that you may be experiencing in your list.
Playtesting – 2/13/2016
IN: Utter End – OUT: Suppression Bonds
IN: Temporal Isolation – OUT: Darksteel Mutation
IN: Demonic Tutor – OUT: Citadel Siege
Have you played the Call the Spirits deck? Are you having a blast with Daxos the Returned? Tell your story or link your deck in the comments below!
On to the Next!