NOTE: Yep, this primer is a bit out of date. Hope to have full revision within next month or so! Stay Tuned!
Welcome to my Vhati il-Dal Commander EDH Deck. Vhati has been one of my favorite cards since I started playing Magic the Gathering™ during the Tempest Block so long ago. When I was first introduced to EDH I was excited to be able to pull Vhati out of my trade binder and build a new deck around him. The idea behind this Golgari EDH deck is fairly simple: use Vhati il-Dal to give creatures a toughness of 1 and use the supporting cast to give that creature a point of damage or a -1/-1 counter. If you are interested in an EDH General with a unique deck synergy that allows for control and combo, then I encourage you to take a read through my Vhati il-Dal EDH Deck Primer.
In Magic the Gathering™ folklore, Vhati il-Dal was second-in-command of the Phyrexian Skyship Predator to Commander Greven il-Vec. After Vhati’s failed attempt to eliminate Greven on the Predator and take command, Greven il-Vec threw Vhati overboard. Legend has it that Vhati did not survive the fall. Formerly known as “Vhati’s Demons”, this Golgari EDH Deck is now known as “Vhati’s Revenge”. Vhati has returned from the Abyss to rightfully take command of a unique, specialized army of Golgari warriors. The resurrection of this fierce Human Warrior Commander will prove to turn some heads and dominate the battlefield in the multi-player EDH ring.
Be sure to check out the cards I am currently playtesting at the bottom of this strategy guide/Primer. Cards like Necroskitter, Harbinger of Night and Screams from Within are getting their chance to show their value!
Quick List of Vhati il-Dal Combos
Vhati il-Dal equipped with Thornbite Staff + Horobi, Death’s Wail = Kill all non-shroud, non-hexproof creatures on the battlefield.
Want more combos? Read the primer below! 🙂
UPDATE IN PROGRESS!
Vhati has several “scouts” that gather and establish resources such as land and card drawing. Fetching land in EDH is very important and no-one does it more consistantly than Solemn Simulacrum. Sad Robot as he has been called, helps grab a basic land to fix mana and also allows us to draw a card should he find himself on his way to the graveyard. Green EDH Staple Sakura-Tribe Elder also helps the team by serving as a temporary blocker and then sacrificed to get a basic land. The Elder doubles his duty with Undying should Dark Mike be in play. Providing the ability to play an extra land per turn is Oracle of Mul Daya. The Oracle also keeps the top card of our library revealed to allow more access to land and help us plan our next turn. Playing green also allows us to include Seedborn Muse. Seedborn untaps all of our permanents during each other players untap phase. This allows for us to have blockers and mana available every turn or abuse the abilities of Vhati, Lim-Dul, Kamahl, Drana, or Geth. Rounding out the Mana production is a newbie from Gatecrash, Crypt Ghast. Crypt Ghast doubles our Swamp production providing us more mana to cast spells or increase the power of Geth, Drana and our Pestilence Demon. For those of you that are wondering, Crypt Ghast can be played even though his extort ability has a cost of black/white hybrid mana. Here is a link to the Official EDH Ruling on Extort. Providing some card advantage every turn is Bloodgift Demon. Allowing us to draw an extra card every turn while also providing the airborn muscle makes Bloodgift Demon one of my favorite cards in the deck.
Vhati has hired a group of Mercenaries to be able to take out high-threat opposing targets without him needing to be on the battlefield. Fleshbag Marauder completes this roll honorably by sacrificing himself to take out a few of our opponents creatures. Fleshbag is a great card to imprint on Mimic Vat as his ghostly token could wreak havoc on opposing forces. Vampire Nighthawk acts as removal in rattlesnake-fashion with his Deathtouch ability. Vampire Nighthawk also combos well with Thornbite Staff allowing him to eliminate other creatures at the cost of 2 colorless mana per strike. Wickerbough Elder is unique in his artistic ability to destroy an artifact or enchantment. Initially, he only has one -1/-1 counter to give – but with Carnifex Demon or Midnight Banshee on the battlefield he gains the ability to start sniping artifacts or enchantments at least once per round. In my opinion, one of green’s best utility creatures is Acidic Slime. “Slimer” can take out an artifact, enchantment or land when he enters the battlefield and doubles as a rattlesnake blocker or attacker with his Deathtouch ability. Like Vampire Nighthawk, Slimer also has incredible combo capabilities with Thornbite Staff or Mimic Vat. Speaking of Mimic Vat, Shriekmaw is also a favorite for imprintation. His ability to destroy a non-black creature when he enters the battlefield never makes me feel sad when I draw him.
The Bounty Hunters in this EDH Deck weaken enemy creatures with -1/-1 counters or hit targets with a point of damage allowing for our General, Vhati il-Dal, to assassinate a target creature by turning him sideways. My favorite one drop in Vhati’s Revenge is Guul Draz Assassin. Getting this guy out first turn allows us to level him up early and start assassinating creatures right away. Guul Draz is great at taking out 2 toughness creatures, but combined with Vhati il-Dal, all creatures now have a price on their head. Phyrexian Crusader is an interesting choice. If he becomes blocked or blocks, his Infect ability marks the opposing creature for death with -1/-1 counters. The fact that he has protection from white & red AND can poison an opponent for an early game win makes the Crusader instrumental in our battle plans. Carnifex Demon sets up the current board state for assassination by removing his own -1/-1 counter to poison the rest of the board. Also spreading disease is Midnight Banshee. The Banshee infects all non-black creatures with a -1/-1 counter every upkeep, wreaking havoc on opposing non-black creatures and token armys. Our last two Assassins eliminate targets with damage instead of negative counters. Triskelion can ping 3 targets on the battlefield for 1 point of damage or can provide a game winning combo with Dark Mike on the board to allow for infinite recursion and damage. Our highest casting cost warrior in this deck is Pestilence Demon. Not only is he flying beater to deal with, but his pestilence ability allows him to single handidly wipe out armies of smaller creatures.
Officers of the Il-Dal Army
Our Legendary creatures in Vhati’s Army serve as ranking officers and provide their own pieces of havoc on the battlefield. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon fits into our EDH theme by giving infect damage in the form of -1/-1 counters. If left unattended to, “Skittles” can take out an opponent all by himself by delivering 10 Poison counters within 2-3 turns. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is included in this deck for his infinite combo possibilites with Triskelion. Dark Mike also gives our non-human warriors Undying and ensures that humans attacking us will meet their demise. Ascendant Evincar is an auto-include in the officer ranks as he gives all non-black creatures -1/-1 setting them up for General Vhati to take out one at a time. Kamahl, Fist of Krosa coupled with Night of Soul’s Betrayal or Ascendant Evincar, becomes the the Big Green Nasty. With this combo, Kamahl can begin eliminating land resources at the cost of one Green mana each. Lim-Dul the Necromancer may be a bit overpriced in regards to casting cost, but once he gets online with frequent creature destruction, Lim-Dul raises the dead and brings them back as his mindless zombie servants. Speaking of zombies, Geth, Lord of the Vault is a Zombie Legend in his own rights. Once the black mana begins flowing, Geth will begin robbing opponent’s graveyards of their dead creatures and artifacts and enlisting them into Vhati’s Army. One of the most controversial officers in Vhati’s cause for revenge is Horobi, Death’s Wail. For example, if Vhati is already equipped with Thornbite Staff when Horobi makes his appearance, then one-sided battlefield mutilation will occur. However, there are times when Horobi‘s ability will have a negative effect allowing opponents to take advantage or not allowing us to equip our Jitte, Bracers or Staff. In this situation, sadly, Vhati may be forced to destroy Horobi for the good of the cause. Amongst his entire army, Vhati relies on his highest ranking officer, Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief, the most. This vampire hottie is able to use her ability to annihalate opposing forces all on her own, but combine this ability with mass mana production and she will unleash even more of her true power.
Currently, Vhati il-Dal has a cabinet of four Planeswalkers that advise him in combat and strategy. His top advisor is well known Vampire Planeswalker, Sorin Markov. Sorin is well hated in EDH circles primarily for his ability to drain an opponent’s life to 10 as soon as he establishes himself on the battlefield. However, Sorin’s +2 ability is Vhati’s favorite as the two combine to tap and kill any creature on the battlefield. Garruk Relentless is a bit off theme, but is loads of fun when we get to use his first “0” ability in conjunction with Vhati to kill a creature or help release Garruk, the Veil-Cursed. Sprinkle in a few green or black Wolf tokens here-and-there, and Garruk earns his keep amongst the Planeswalkers. Liliana of the Dark Realms likes to sneak onto the battlefield and begin siphoning swamps out of our library. For the most part, our opponents see this as harmless and tend to leave her alone. Lilly 3.0 also meshes well with Vhati using her -X/-X ability. However, getting her to her ultimate is where she unleashes her true power. Swamps tapping for 4 mana can super-charge the abilities of Geth, Lord of the Vault and Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief. Last, but not least, is our favorite Gorgon/Medusa-like hottie Vraska the Unseen. Not one for conversation, Vraska occasionally makes an appearance to help her Golgari Brothers & Sisters on the battlefield by destroying a non-land permanent. However, if not dealt with, Vraska can unleash a team of Assassin tokens that could potentially end the game of some of our EDH rivals.
Search & Destroy
Our side strategy in this Vhati il-Dal EDH Deck revolves around the battle plan of “Search & Destroy”. The most self-explanatory card here is Cultivate. We need some mana ramp & fixing, Cultivate does just that. Demonic Tutor is a must for finding the right card at the right time. Usually, this would be a tutor for Damnation when things get out of hand or to establish a combo piece such as Triskelion or Horobi. Since our Golgari build is heavy black, Beseech the Queen makes an excellent choice for a second tutor. Sylvan Library is a way to search the top 3 cards of our library during our draw phase, allowing us, essentially to draw all three for a small loss of life. Treasured Find is included to search the graveyard for a fallen creature, artifact, or spell to reuse. Enchantment spot removal is provided in the form of Golgari Charm. The Golgari Charm proves its versatility by also giving us the option of regenerating our side of the battlefield or giving a creature -1/-1 (to use in conjunction with Vhati’s ability). Abrupt Decay is an un-counterable removal of a lower casting cost nonland permanent while Maelstrom Pulse just flat out annihalates a target. Beast Within also destroys a permanent, but with the slight side effect of producing a 3/3 beast. Utility spot removal is also included with Putrefy as it has the option of helping us crush an artifact or a creature. Finally, Dismember is included for cheap casting cost and raw power of -5/-5; with Vhati on the board this usually means death for target creature. Let’s talk about Mass Removal. Vhati’s Revenge includes a black EDH staple in Damnation. Decree of Pain is Damnation on steroids allowing us to wipe the board and increase our military options with the mass card draw. The Decree also has a Cycling ability that allows us to draw a card and give all creatures -2/-2 until end of turn (AND Vhati can use his ability to tap, kill). Nevinyrral’s Disk is included for mass enchantment/artifact/creature destruction – sometimes a colorless board wipe is necessary in EDH metas and Nevy’s Disk is one of the best. Sever the Bloodline may seem like an odd choice, but in my meta, token creatures and clones run rampant. Sever the Bloodline will exile at least one creature with the possibility of destroying an entire army of Angel, Zombie, Soldier or other tokens.
Vhati’s military strategy involves Secret Weapons that either combo with his unique ability or ruin the plans of opposing forces. Let’s look at the weapons that give Vhati the tap and kill ability. Black Sun’s Zenith may be seen by most as a board wipe for creatures, however, we will use it strategically in Vhati’s Revenge. By merely paying 1BB, all creatures on the board will receive a -1/-1 counter, therefore marking them for death with Vhati’s tap ability. Following this model of play is Night of Souls’ Betrayal, a global enchantment that gives all creatures -1/-1 and Curse of Death’s Hold which is an aura that only effects one player’s creatures. Again, both of these enchantments turn Vhati into a “tap and kill target creature”, with Night of Souls being better in multiplayer and the Curse being better in 1v1. In multiplayer, we would use the Curse against a creature-heavy aggro or token opponent, obviously. With artwork similar to a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark the Thornbite Staff is an incredible secret weapon for our Golgari forces. Equip this to our general, Vhati il-Dal with one of our other combo pieces on the field (Horobi, Night of Souls Betrayal, A. Evincar) and Vhati will clear the board of all non-shroud, non-hexproof opposing forces. Thornbite Staff will also combo well with our Deathtouch creatures (Vampire Nighthawk or Acidic Slime) but require 2 mana per creature kill. Another staff, Staff of Nin, allows us extra card resources during our upkeep and doubles as a pseudo-combo with Vhati when it can tap and deal 1 point of damage. Then there is Umezawa’s Jitte. Once counters begin to accumulate on the Jitte, it becomes a veratile weapon for our Golgari General. Removing a counter combos with Vhati to kill target creature, or in troubled times the same counters can be removed to increase our life total.
During the course of an EDH battle we should be utilizing our resources to send a lot of creatures to the graveyard. What better way to take advantage of this than with a Mimic Vat. If a utility creature such as Clone, Acidic Slime, Fleshbag Marauder or Sylvan Primordial is going to the graveyard, imprint it on your Mimic Vat and enjoy disruption for a mere 3 mana per turn. Similar to the Mimic Vat idea is Beacon of Unrest. Since Vhati’s Revenge is all about sending creatures to the Graveyard how about recurring a few of those creatures (or artifacts) to work and fight for us? How about a smidge of defense? Vhati relies heavily on his Lightning Greaves which help protect him from spot removal and allow him to begin combat manipulation as soon as hits the battlefield. No Mercy will make an opponent think twice about pointing their attack phase in our direction. Quicksilver Amulet allows us to cheat a big beater like Pestilence Demon into play at instant speed to prepare for our next turn or as a defensive reaction to an oncoming attack. Puppet Strings is another pet-favorite card of mine from the Tempest Block. Puppet Strings doubles duty by using the untap ability to give Vhati an extra use of his ability or the tap ability to keep an opponent’s creature at bay. Finally, let’s look at Illusionist’s Bracers from Gatecrash. This is my newest addition replacing Swiftfoot Boots. In theory, the Illusionist’s Bracers will allow Vhati to wreak double the havoc. especially with his combo pieces already on the board. Even without the combo pieces, Vhati can effect the power and toughness of two different creatures or zap a single creature twice making it a 1/1.
Ah, the necessity of all EDH decks – Mana Rocks. Since Vhati uses other resources for mana ramp like Cultivate, Crypt Ghast and Sakura-Tribe Elder, I find it only necessary to run a few mana producing artifacts. Probably the number 1 EDH staple is Sol ring – so, no explanation necessary. Next is Chromatic Lantern. This mana producer is one of my new favorites. In this EDH deck it allows all lands to produce either Black or Green mana, which is always a handy when running mana intensive cretures like Drana or Kamahl. Thran Dynamo is another goody to have, simply because it helps us get our higher casting cost spells out a couple of turns sooner. Finally, one of my personal favorites: Sculpting Steel. Sculpting Steel can copy any artifact on the field, which is usually a mana rock, but at times, could be copying an opponents Sword, Top, or other artifact.
Vhati Nation – The Homeland
Putting aside the basic swamps and forests, let’s take a look at a few of our non-basic lands included in the homeland of Vhati il-Dal. The most important land resource is Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Our Golgari build is dependent on loads of black mana and the Urborg ensures that all of our lands are black mana producing. Add in Liliana’s ultimate or Crypt Ghast’s ability and you will see the raw power of this legendary land. Volrath’s Stronghold is another important piece of property in our Vhati EDH Deck. Since there is not a lot of other resources to retrieve creatures from our own graveyard, Volrath’s Stronghold provides us the opportunity of getting back our key creatures. Cavern of Souls is included to protect Vhati from counterspells or help get that 1 Green Mana needed in his casting cost. Bojuka Bog is a no-brainer to include versus opponent’s who rely on their graveyard. The remaining lands are either dual lands or fetch lands. Since our EDH build leans heavy Black, Tainted Wood performs very well as a black/green mana resource.
Necroskitter for Fleshbag Marauder
Grim Poppet for Geth, Lord of the Vault
Grave Betrayal for Lim-Dul the Necromancer
Gaze of Granite for Sever the Bloodline
Defense of the Heart for Oracle of Mul Daya
Caltrops for Beacon of Unrest[/card]
Viridian Longbow for Sorin Markov
Blowfly Infestation for Umezawa’s Jitte
Sudden Spoiling for Treasured Find