I hope you’re all good!
I have finally finished my reviews of Theros block and am more than glad to dive into more interesting areas! And one of the most interesting areas when talking about multiplayer Magic is Commander. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, here is a short overview of how this immensely popular format works:
1. You start with a life total of 40.
2. Your deck must consist of exactly 100 cards, one of which is your Commander. All cards but basic lands must be singletons and you may only use cards that either have the same color(s) as your Commander or are colorless. This is called Color Identity. Please note that hybrid cards and split cards count as all of their colors. So if your Commander is Rith, the Awakener who is white, green and red, you are not allowed to play Augury Adept (it’s also blue) or Hit/Run (it’s also black). Kitchen Finks wouldn’t be a problem though.
3. In addition to the usual ways of losing the game, you also die when you are dealt 21 points of combat damage by the same Commander over the course of the game.
4. Your Commander has to be a legendary creature and starts the game in the so-called Command Zone, not in your deck. You can cast it from there whenever you could cast a creature spell. If it has flash, you can cast it whenever you want. If your Commander would be exiled or put into your graveyard from anywhere, you may instead put it back into the Command Zone. From there, you may cast it again! However, for each additional time you cast it after the first time, you have to pay an additional 2 colorless mana.
Everything clear? Alright then, let’s dive right in!
“Revel in My Power!”
When Xenagos, God of Revels was first spoiled, it made my heart beat faster. If you’ve read any of my articles, you might know that I really like haste – and Xenagos is one of the best haste enablers in the game. Since he is also a legendary creature, it was only a matter of time until I built a Commander deck around him. Considering the fact that even our own Wally D. seemed impressed after he read my review of the Gruul god and has since then admitted that he’s working on a Xenagos Commander deck, I think it’s time for me to show you what you’ve got to expect when you’re up against Xenagos. There is a whole slew of cards you can expect in basically every Xenagos deck since the Gruul god’s ability is rather narrow. He wants you to play with creatures, the bigger the better. Although I urge you not to forget the medium-sized ones. A 4/4 like Indrik Stomphowler still beats for 8 with Xenagos on the battlefield and can usually be played somewhere around turn 5 or 6. Sure, Worldspine Wurm is much more dangerous, but it also costs a ton of mana! So keep the smaller monsters in mind when you build a Xenagos deck.
All in all, one can say that there isn’t much finesse in a deck like this, no. But there is fun, and lots of it at that! If you are a person who loves face-smashing and ass-kicking, the Gruul god might be the Commander you’ve been waiting for!
So, what does my Xenagos, God of Revels deck look like? Here, see for yourself:
MULTIPLAYER MADNESS VIII – Xenagos, God of Revels
The Deck, Card by Card
Let’s take a look at the individual cards and my reasons for including them.
Acidic Slime – This guy enters the battlefield and kills a noncreature permanent, then proceeds to kill a creature later on. An awesome utility card!
Asceticism – If you’re attacking with a single large beater, spot removal can ruin your day. Asceticism prevents your monsters from becoming targets and even keeps them alive if blockers would otherwise overwhelm them. You only realize how annoying and powerful that card is if it gets played against you.
Balefire Dragon – The only thing this card always lacked was haste. Oh, hello Xenagos! Now our dragon attacks for 12 the turn it enters the battlefield and wipes out the defending player’s board. Roar!
Basilisk Collar – Considering that many of the creatures in this deck have trample or can get it through other cards, giving them deathtouch is very nice. Now you need to assign only 1 damage to a blocker (thanks to deathtouch, 1 damage is lethal damage), meaning that the rest just tramples over. Hm, Xenagos doubles a creature’s power, you say? What a coincidence! Oh, and don’t forget the huge amount of life the collar may provide you with. This can also be searched for with Godo, Bandit Warlord in case you need to push damage through.
Blasphemous Act – Red and green don’t have all that many mass removal spells that don’t require large amounts of mana. This is one of them, and it should easily wipe out most of the board. By the way, the number of times I have seen this getting cast for more than three mana is in the single digits. Blasphemous Act is one of my favorite red spells ever!
Butcher Orgg – Old-school monsters for the win! This guy either deals 12 damage to the dome or eradicates one opponent’s board. I like the flexibility.
Brawn – Since Xenagos, God of Revels doesn’t provide evasion (flying, trample etc.), you’ll have to choose a different route. Either play lots of creatures that already have evasion, or include cards that grant it to others. Normally, I’d go for creatures with the respective abilities, but Brawn also beats for 6 with Xenagos on the field and has the additional advantage that your opponents might not want it in your graveyard. So they’ll take 6. And again next turn. And then again. Until they think it’s enough. By then, you’ll have drawn Hydra Omnivore or Malignus and can go to town, supported by the Brawn that’s now in your graveyard. And don’t forget what I said about medium-sized creatures. They add to your early board presence and keep your opponents in check.
Capricious Efreet – Capricious Efreet makes everybody sit up and take notice, thus adding a little spice to every game it appears in. Try it out! A little bit of chaos now and then might freshen things up. In addition to that, your Commander is indestructible. You might as well make the most of that.
Chain Reaction – When Chain Reaction was printed in Worldwake, it made me very, very happy. Finally, the red Wrath of God! Well, I’ve since been shown again and again that it isn’t Wrath of God but you can still use it to great effect or even build your deck around it (Stuffy Doll & Co. say hi!). It’s also no Blasphemous Act but still a good card.
Chameleon Colossus – In cooperation with Xenagos, this mid-game creature can really dish out the hurts. And depending on your metagame, protection from black might be a highly relevant ability. I know it is in my playgroup.
Cultivate – Just ramp. Necessary but hardly spectacular.
Drumhunter – Ramp on legs that may also draw a fair amount of cards.
Duplicant – In red and green, spot removal for creatures is hard to come by. Luckily, there is a certain amount of artifacts that can take over the responsibility. Duplicant kills something for good, and if it was a large creature, he even hits harder thanks to Xenagos, God of Revels.
Eternal Witness – One of the best cards ever printed. In this deck, she might even beat for 4 occasionally.
Evolution Charm – I love me some charms! Evolution Charm is perfect for this deck as it provides you with (a weak form of) ramp early on but will never be a dead card if you happen to draw it later in the game. Great flexibility.
Feed the Pack – You might be wondering what this is doing here, yes? Well, imagine the following scenario: “Attack you with Worldspine Wurm. Xenagos triggers, the wurm is now 30/30 and tramples. Good game.” – “Wait, I’ll tap my Maze of Ith. This wurm is attacking no-one.” – “$#@%!” So, if a single attacker doesn’t do it, how about an army? Xenagos doubles a creature’s power, and then Feed the Pack essentially doubles it again. This is a powerful option to have. Just be careful when you’re crossing the hunting grounds of Massacre Wurms…
Flametongue Kavu – I’ve heard a lot of people say that FTK isn’t Commander material. Certainly, 4 damage isn’t all that much, and many an opposing creature won’t be killed this way. However, there are the others, you know? Those like Prophet of Kruphix, Arcum Dagsson, Kaalia of the Vast or Ethersworn Adjudicator. Wouldn’t you be happy if you could get them off the table? Believe me, there’ll be more than enough targets for Flametongue Kavu.
Fling – See Bloodshot Cyclops, only this is a one-time effect. In turn, they don’t see it coming. And seriously, dealing 12 or potentially a lot more points of damage for two measly mana and the sacrifice of a creature? I won’t complain. In addition, Fling also functions as insurance against steal effects.
Garruk, Primal Hunter – The only planeswalker to make the list. Garruk’s most important ability is his card draw. Normally, he doesn’t only fill your grip but provides you with so many cards that you’ll have to discard unless you control Reliquary Tower. And if you don’t, there is always the next card on the list.
Genesis – Genesis always feels a bit clunky to me. However, it is recursion you can search for with Green Sun’s Zenith and which you don’t mind discarding to Greater Good or because you have too many cards in hand,which might happen quite easily considering you’re playing the aforementioned Garruk as well as Greater Good, Momentous Fall, Hunter’s Prowess and Hunter’s Insight. Between them, these cards may draw you a stupid amount of cards, and unless you have Reliquary Tower on the battlefield, you’ll have to discard. This is a scenario where Genesis absolutely shines.
Godo, Bandit Warlord – In this deck, Godo can only find two pieces of equipment, namely Basilisk Collar and Mage Slayer. But you could easily add Sword of Feast and Famine to combo with Hellkite Charger, or Loxodon Warhammer to provide trample and gain huge amounts of life. I’ve found the two I’ve already included to be enough though.
Greater Good – In concert with Xenagos, this enchantment spells massive card draw. It also protects your creatures from being stolen or copied if you don’t want that. I would actually go as far as saying that every green deck with a certain number of creatures that isn’t playing Greater Good is doing something wrong.
Green Sun’s Zenith – For only a single mana more, you get exactly the green creature you need. Be it an answer to a problematic permanent (Acidic Slime), more ramp (Sakura-Tribe Elder), creature removal (Gruul Ragebeast), or a large beater (Worldspine Wurm), Green Sun’s Zenith gets it for you.
Gruul Ragebeast – This monster is a lot more powerful than people give it credit. At worst, your creature spells are 1-for-1 removal spells, at best you kill something and keep what you cast. Since your amount of bigger creatures is above average, you should usually come out ahead. Keep Gruul Ragebeast alive for a few turns and see how it can dominate games.
Hellkite Charger – I haven’t talked about it before, so I’ll do it here. Extra attack steps are extremely cool with Xenagos, God of Revels on the battlefield. If you get another combat phase, Xenagos will trigger again, thus effectively quadrupling (!) your creature’s power! So on its first attack, Hellkite Charger hits for 10, and on its second attack it hits for 20, resulting in 30 damage overall! Now imagine this with something like Worldspine Wurm…
Hellkite Tyrant – There’s always something to steal. Just don’t expect to win the game via controlling twenty artifacts. Sorry but that’s not gonna happen, guys!
Hunter’s Insight – I’ve always wanted to play this card since it came out. This is the deck it’s been waiting for.
Hunter’s Prowess – Yeah, the sorcery speed hampers it a bit. To make up for the loss in the reactive capacity department, it pumps your creature and provides trample. If you have Xenagos on the table, the pump is actually +6/+6.
Hydra Omnivore – In general, I’m not a fan of creatures that do nothing on their own, and the Omnivore can be blocked all day long unless you give it some form of evasion. So normally, I wouldn’t even consider adding it to deck. However, with our Commander on the battlefield, this guy’s power is actually 16, so you only have to ensure that it connects to take large chunks out of EVERY opponent’s life total. Rogue’s Passage anyone? Or the aforementioned Brawn? What about Nylea, God of the Hunt?
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker – Not much to say here. Yes, I also play Zealous Conscripts and thus have an infinite combo in my deck. So what? A single Swords to Plowshares or Murder is enough to prevent me from going off. Also, I have no way to search for the combo as my only tutor is Green Sun’s Zenith which can’t even look for non-green cards. If this combo is still a problem for someone even under these circumstances, they need to put more answers into their decks.
Momentous Fall – Cards, cards, cards! Oh, and a bit of life, too.
Nylea, God of the Hunt – According to the storyline of Theros block, the other gods thought of Xenagos as an upstart and tried to kill him. Well, it seems that at least one of them was a secret admirer as Nylea brings two useful abilities to the table that work really well with Xenagos’s power and toughness boost.
Oblivion Stone – In my opinion, every deck needs to be capable of resetting the board. O-Stone leaves indestructible things alone, so I prefer it over All Is Dust. It might be correct to play both though. And the new Perilous Vault from M15 is sure looking nice, too.
Overwhelming Stampede – I know, the synergy with Xenagos could be better as this is only a sorcery and cannot be cast after the god boosted some creature’s power, but whatever. It still makes your opponents wish they weren’t in the way of a horde of gigantic trampling monsters!
Quicksilver Amulet – Flashing in big beaters at a reduced cost is good, you know.
Realm Seekers – In the comments section of Wally D.’s article about his top 10 Conspiracy cards, reader maxwellian2000 mentioned this guy and made me realize that I had misread the card. You see, it says “search your library for a land card”, meaning any land is fair game. maxwellian2000 suggested searching for Rogue’s Passage to start taking out players. I think that’s a neat plan! But depending on the situation, you can also grab Reliquary Tower, Homeward Path, Miren, the Moaning Well or Mystifying Maze. The aptly named Realm Seekers seem to be the real deal!
Relentless Assault – In most situations, getting one extra attack step is enough. If you have a different opinion, play Aggravated Assault. It might just be a tad too expensive to cast and activate it on the same turn when you need to do exactly that, which is why I prefer Relentless Assault. Then again, you can always play both!
Sakura-Tribe Elder – There is almost no situation where this is worse than Rampant Growth. When this guy came out, I immediately ordered eight copies. I now have 16 and could still have more. The elder of the cherry blossom tribe is one of the best ramp creatures ever printed.
Savage Beating – A card that really lives up to its name. This has won me sooo many games already. Awesome. Just plain awesome.
Sol Ring – Just because.
Solemn Simulacrum – Thirteen (!) cards in this deck alone start with an s! Seriously, this letter is so overused!
Soul of the Harvest – Playing lots of creatures means drawing lots of cards. Oh, and it attacks for 12 with Xenagos next to it.
Soul’s Fire – Arguably better than Fling as it doesn’t require you to sacrifice the creature. Being able to attack with that creature next turn easily makes up for the one more mana in its casting cost.
Spitebellows – In most cases, this is much-needed spot removal for creatures. But sometimes it also functions as a rattlesnake that prevents opponents from attacking you as it would guarantee a 2-for-1 against them. And then there are those extremely rare occasions when you can have it hit somebody for 12. I really like its flexibility.
Starstorm – Instant board wipe! At the end of the turn before your next turn, kill everything but Xenagos, God of Revels. Then, on your turn, cast a fatty and go to town. May I suggest Hydra Omnivore?
Steel Hellkite – A large flier that can also destroy things? Sign me up!
Strionic Resonator – Super secret tech! Okay, maybe not, but cool nonetheless. For two mana more, Xenagos now quadruples a creature’s power! And don’t forget all those nice ETB or LTB effects provided by creatures such as Acidic Slime or Spitebellows. In this deck, Strionic Resonator equals pure value.
Sylvan Scrying – This deck has so many cool nonbasics that it would be shame if I couldn’t search for them, right?
Wickerbough Elder – Another one of those important medium-sized creatures that help you set up a nice board position and have a very useful ability.
Worldspine Wurm – The fattest fatty out there. With Xenagos on the battlefield, already the first attack of this titanic monster should be lethal. Should you get another combat phase on the same turn, it attacks for a freaking 60 damage! And if it bites the dust, it leaves an army behind. What’s not to like? Oh, and by the way, the wurm can be searched for with Green Sun’s Zenith…
Yavimaya Dryad – Ramp on legs that may even hit for 4 unblockable damage at times.
Yavimaya Elder – In our play group, this one is always only referred to as “the old man”. Considering how popular he is there, you could sometimes get the impression of us playing in a retirement home…
Zealous Conscripts – You need a fat beater and don’t have one? Or if you had one, your opponents have big blockers? Well, here is the solution. And just in case you’ve been living under a rock, the conscripts are part of that infinite combo with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker that results in as many hasty attackers as you like.
Lands, Lands, Lands
Centaur Garden – A large part of Magic is about managing your resources. In a 40 life format, paying 1 life for 1 mana now and then is negligible, but giving a creature +3/+3 (or rather +6/+6 if Xenagos is on the table) can win you the game.
Homeward Path – What, the evil blue mage is stealing your stuff again?
Kessig Wolf Run – Another trample enabler but one that also pumps the creature. Keep in mind that it may pump creatures you don’t control as well.
Miren, the Moaning Well – Xenagos also boosts toughness, so if you are in need of more life points, this is the land you’re looking for. The activating cost always feels a bit too expensive though.
Mosswort Bridge – Yeah, you won’t have any problems activating this one.
Mystifying Maze – Good spot removal is hard to come by in red and green. Luckily, there are also a few lands that can help you out there.
Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers – There aren’t many legends in this deck but it’s nice to have the option.
Raging Ravine – Fun fact: The most counters I’ve ever had on this was 12! If you control Xenagos, Raging Ravine hits for 8 on its very first attack! This may teach control players and their never-ending streams of removal a lesson!
Reliquary Tower – This deck can draw crazy amounts of cards. If you don’t want to discard most of them, you’ll need this on the battlefield.
Treetop Village – Usually, Treetop Village just wants to be Raging Ravine. Sometimes though, thanks to trample, it’s even a bit better. Whatever situation you find yourself in, having a land that can attack is never bad.
Intentional Exclusions and Hopeful Aspirants
Noteworthy for their absence are:
Tooth and Nail – I already have that card in other Commander decks, namely Karador, Roon and Riku. That’s enough. Also, since I’m playing Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Zealous Conscripts because they are really good cards, I don’t want it here. If I draw both of them naturally, that’s fine, but I don’t want to have the option of putting both of them onto the battlefield at the same time as soon as I draw Tooth and Nail. I know I wouldn’t use it if I had it in my hand, so what is the point of putting it in?
Other haste enablers – I think Xenagos, God of Revels is enough in this regard. He already offers a very high damage potential, and I rarely put more than one creature onto the battlefield at the same time, so there is no need for something like Anger or Fires of Yavimaya.
Cards I’m on the fence about:
Fierce Empath – I really want to like this guy, and in theory, he could be an important asset. However, I’ve used him often enough in other decks in the past, and almost anytime I drew him, I wished he was something else. He just never impressed me, although I keep looking at him thinking he should be good. Oh well…
Hateflayer – The fact that Hateflayer‘s untap effect costs mana throws a spanner into the works, otherwise it would probably be an auto-include. However, this way it costs a hefty 10 (!) mana in total if you want to be able to use the ability the turn this guy enters the battlefield. Nonetheless, with Xenagos on the table, Hateflayer can kill an opponent in four turns at most if they can’t get rid of it, probably even quicker than that, so the idea isn’t a bad one.
Tornado Elemental – This only barely missed my 99, and I’m still not sure whether I made the right call in leaving it out. Just yesterday, at one point the other sides of the table contained a Mana-Charged Dragon, Rorix Bladewing, an Angel of Finality and Medomai the Ageless. Tornado Elemental would have had a lot of fun under these circumstances.
Stalking Vengeance – I can see the value of this card, sure. But there are two reasons why it’s currently not in the deck: First, it already has haste and thus doesn’t benefit from all of Xenagos’ boons. Secondly, is has absolutely no evasion and definitely needs support if it wants to connect. Sure, the same can be said of Hydra Omnivore, but the Omnivore has a much higher damage potential if it gets through. Still, I might try this one out one day.
Fatal Frenzy – Okay, this should probably be in here somewhere. And it most certainly would, if not for one tiny logistical problem. I sold my playset only a single week before I built this deck! Talk about bad timing…
Bear Umbra – It pumps, protects the enchanted creature, and combos with Hellkite Charger if you happen to draw both. Is that enough to demand inclusion? I’m inclined to say yes. My problem, however, is that I just don’t know what to take out in order to make room for it. Any ideas?
Disaster Radius – As I already said above, red and green don’t have all that many mass removal spells between them, and Disaster Radius might be a very good option considering that I’m playing a rather high number of expensive creature cards. So, why isn’t it in the deck right now? As I said, I’m already playing a rather high number of expensive cards…
So, this is my Xenagos, God of Revels deck. Did you like it? Would you cut any of my choices? If yes, which cards would you replace them with? Fire away in the comments!
Let me finish with one point of advice: Never give up! Even if you think you’re too far behind, you can always draw into something that wins you the game out of nowhere. Xenagos makes it happen!
Until next time then! May your attacks always overwhelm opposing forces!