Two years can change a Commander deck quite a bit when you think of all the new sets, cards and product released annually by Wizards. Couple new product with the change in playgroups, metas, ideas and strategies and you have yourself an evolved EDH deck. Welcome to my revised primer for Wrexial, the Risen Deep. Below is a combination of old and new as we dive into the year 2015!
The play “Julius Caesar” contains one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes, Et Tu Brute? (Latin for “You Too Brutus?”). This Wrexial, the Risen Deep Commander Deck forces your opponents creatures and spells to betray them through a myriad of copy and steal effects.
Leading this team of backstabbing copycats is none other than Wrexial, the Risen Deep. Wrex and Effects brings his own style of manipulation and havoc as he uses his islandwalk and swampwalk abilities to explode past an opponents defense and used their own instants and sorceries against them.
Wrexial, the Risen Deep Primer
Black/Blue Copy Steal Commander EDH Deck
Et Tu Brute?
One of the major changes to Et Tu Brute is the reduction in the number of clones. Disbanded is the collection of shapeshifters that we referred to as Ocean’s Ten in the original primer. Over time I found more and more that my clones sat in my hand proving too much of a good thing was not a good thing. My playgroup had changed and I found my Wrexial deck craving answers and card draw.
So which clones made the final cut? Phantasmal Image for starters. Despite its drawback of being destroyed if targeted, a 2 mana cost clone is hard to pass up. Besides, chances are it would die anyway from whomever was doing the targeting. My personal favorite, Phyrexian Metamorph, can clone a creature or can enter the battlefield as an artifact. It is not uncommon for me to use Phyrexian Metamorph in the early game to copy a mana rock such as Sol Ring. Sakashima the Imposter refuses to give up her namesake when she copies a creature. We can use this to our advantage and warp the MTG legendary rule by having two copies of Keiga, Wrexial, or any other Legendary creature on our side of the board. Another one of my favorites, Evil Twin, can clone a creature and then kill off the original! Dimir Doppelganger is quite the all-star as he copies and then removes a creature in a graveyard from the game. He can continue to exile graveyard creatures and reset himself for just . Activating the Doppleganger in response to graveyard shenanigans can frustrate opponents. Last, but certainly not least, is arguably the best clone in all of the MTG universe Clever Impersonator. Mega-Clone copies any permanent on the board for only 4 mana. Any permanent. Yes, even Planeswalkers. This clone is soooo good and a welcome addition to any copy themed edh deck.
As with all clones, copies of a Commanders/Generals does not count towards commander damage. What is best about cloning effects is that most do not target the permanent they are copying when they enter the battlefield, you simply “choose”. This is fantastic for getting around cards that have shroud or hexproof.
As promised by the deck title, Et tu Brute, there will be a fair amount of my opponents creatures and spells caught in the act of betrayal as they join forces with Wrexial, the Risen Deep. First and foremost, get Thada Adel, Acquisitor onto the battlefield as early as you can. Thada reaches into your opponent’s libraries and rips out Mana Rocks and other useful Artifact toys for you to play with. Possibly one of my favorite steal creatures is Phyrexian Infiltrator. This card works against any opponent not playing Blue. Simply put, you swap a vanilla 2/2 creature for one of their creatures and this can be done at Instant speed adding to their frustration! Phyrexian Infiltrator on a Mimic Vat makes the game really ugly. Memnarch seems to be a card that everyone hates to see on the table and will instantly make you the multi-player target. That being said, his uncanny knack for being able to start stealing everything on the table may be a good reason why people hate to play against him. Next up is Roil Elemental. This critter allows theft of creatures with the simple drop of a land. Finally, there is Perplexing Chimera. The Chimera offers us the unique ability to steal an opponents spell. Well, actually it is more of a “swap” than a steal. With Perplexing Chimera on the board we can take an opponents spell for our own, but then we hafta give them the Chimera. Still though, this is a great way to break up combo pieces or have a bit of fun at the expensive of others.
If you want to see opponents lose their mind and sweat putting creatures on the board put a Dominating Licid in your deck. I don’t know what it is but an early game Licid, but it draws more than its fair share of hate. Great political piece!
I found that I get attacked less if I leave Keiga, the Tide Star out as a blocker. We can also clone our Keiga or, better yet, get her on her Mimic Vat to pose a creature stealing fit that will draw the ire of the table. More on Keiga here in just a second.
Havengul Lich can steal creatures from any graveyard for the cost of mana plus the casting cost of the creature. Unfortunately, we will only be able to cast Black, Blue or Artifact creatures in this manner due to our commander’s color identity. The main reason that Havengul Lich had found it’s way back into The Kraken’s Supporting cast, however, was due to the legendary rule change in M14.
If we have a clone in our graveyard and the Lich plus Keiga, the Tide Star on the battlefield we have a small combo that steals creatures. Lets say that we cast Phantasmal Image (or any other clone) from our graveyard using Lich and bring it into play as a copy of Keiga. The M14 rule states that we get to choose one copy of the legendary dragon to remain on the battlefield and the other to go to the graveyard. Sending the Phantasmal Image is the obvious choice which will activate the Keiga “when it dies” ability allowing us to steal an opponent’s creature. So with Havengul Lich and Keiga on the battlefield, the ability becomes :mana2: :symu: to cast Phantasmal Image from our graveyard, copy Keiga, Steal creature. Rinse, and repeat.
Well not all of the creatures in the EDH deck are copy or steal. Wrexial has a good chunk of creatures that I like to call “The Supporting Cast”. Let’s start with Spellskite. Spellskite is not a common choice for this type of deck, but it’s ability is amazing. For a mere 2 life, Spellskite will take the brunt of targeted removal or steal aura and other spells/abilities intended for an opponent’s creature. Kira, Great Glass-Spinner adds frustration for our opponent as her ability requires them to use 2 removal spells instead of 1 to deal with creatures we control. Although Kira doesn’t interact well with a small number of our other deck choices, having her on the battlefield raises my comfort level.
Non-blue mages will grown at this next deck choice, Consecrated Sphinx. There have been so many talks of banning Consecrated Sphinx and in this deck you can see why. An early Consecrated Sphinx will have you drawing cards for days… especially in a multiplayer game and having cloned copies of him can just get ridiculous.
Glen Elendra Archmage was reprinted in the original Modern Masters set and became an immediate inclusion for control in Wrexial’s toolbox. Being able to Negate a couple of non-creature spells has earned my respect for the archmage. Riptide Shapeshifter is a bit of a pet card of mine. With the exception of creature type “wizard” and “shapeshifter” I should be able to plop just about any other creature into play without issues. I wrote an entire article on Riptide if you are interested in reading the EDH Deck Tech article and how good this card can be.
Planeswalkers for Blue/Black
At one time Wrexial was good friends with four planeswalkers in his crew of 99. Tamiyo, Karn, Lilli Vess and two other itterrations of Jace have moved on and attribute to several of my other EDH decks. Now, only one planeswalker remains, Jace, Architect of Thought.
Its not that Tammy, Big Jace, Lilli and Mr. K weren’t good in the deck, because they worked very well, but it was simply a matter of wanting to enhance the copy/steal theme.
I have yet to cast Emo Jace, but feel that his -2 will probably be my go to activation. A mini Fact or Fiction is card advantage I can get behind. However, if I can get himdown early game or control the board long enough, I will be ticking his loyalty up to get to that on theme ultimate. If I ever get to use that -8 to steal aka Bribery every opponent, you, the readers, will be the first to know!
Copy/Steal Spells for EDH
Copy, Copy, Copy… Here is my selection of non-creature copy abilities. First up, Mimic Vat. We could discuss Mimic Vat’s possibilities all day long, but it’s primary use in this deck would be to imprint a clone or an opponent’s utility creature. As mentioned above, Mimic Vat + Phyrexian Infiltrator is just downright dirty. Another of my all-time favorite artifacts is an all-star, in its own right, Sculpting Steel. I usually consider it a mana rock as it can copy a Sol Ring, Thran Dynamo, or any other artifact we or an opponent controls. Copy Artifact works fairly well in this deck and is always a solid draw. Copy Enchantment may be the weakest copy spell in the deck, but when it’s good, it’s good. I have used it to copy auras, Sylvan Library and my own enchantments such as Treachery. In 2013, Gatecrash introduced us to the Cipher mechanic. Cipher is included here with Stolen Identity. Not only does Stolen Identity copy a creature or an artifact, but it allows the spell to be encoded on a creature allowing for more token copies every turn.
Tell me if you have heard this phrase announced during a game before: “I will cast Rite of Replication – kicked.” Heck ya, you know what I’m talking about; Crunchy goodness.
Reins of Power has been on the chopping block so many times that I have lost count. However, it seems that every time I have Reins in hand, it provides a game shifting effect in my favor. I’m here to tell ya, Reins of Power wins games. Vedalken Shackles is included in this deck for “funsies”. It is more powerful in mono-Blue with lots of Islands. Late game, however, the Shackles serves its purpose and allows me to gain control of threats and continue on my way. My classic steal spell is one that I cracked in a pack of Urza’s Legacy many moons ago, Treachery. Treachery can steal a creature and then untap my five lands so that I can cast something else or hold mana for a counterspell on my opponents turn. Blatant Thievery has survived recent deck cuts despite the high mana cost. Being able to grab an important piece of each opponent’s board state is a powerful effect in multiplayer games. Steal Enchantment is the perfect solution for a Theros Block god-heavy environment. Stealing an opponent’s god, especially if it is there commander, will make you some allies and friends. There are also Sylvan Libraries, Phyrexian Arenas, Propagandas, and other enchantment goodies to take. Not to mention swiping an opponent’s combo piece!
In addition to stealing permanents that are already on the board, Et tu Brute can also steal spells and cards from an opponent’s library. It’s like taking the sandwich out of a fellow employee’s lunchbox. Lets start with el numero uno steal spell of all time, Bribery. The power of grabbing any creature from any deck on the table for just 5 mana is ridiculous and I dig it! If you have been on the receiving end of a Bribery then you know that helpless feeling you get while someone fondles your deck. I liked Bribery so much that I included a similar card, Acquire. While Acquire usually nabs me a mana rock or Sword of X and Y, there is also the opportunity to take a powerful artifact creature such as Wurmcoil Engine or Blightsteel Colossus. Praetor’s Grasp allows you to search and swipe a card from an opponents deck. You can play it right away or save it and play it later on in the game. Heck, you don’t even have to play it. Removing a vital piece of an opponents gameplan for the game is powerful enough. Of course, to cast this card, it must be within Wrexial’s blue/black/colorless color identity. Most of the time, for me, this will be a blue counterspell, black wrath, or Sol Ring.
Knowledge Exploitation is a new addition to Wrexial that I have not had the opportunity to cast. In theory, however, being able to pull a wrath or other powerful instant or sorcery from an opponent’s library seems super-duper fantastic to me. Time will tell.
Wrexial’s Toolbox – Dimir EDH Goodstuff
Et tu Brute – Wrexial EDH Commander has a good chunk of utility spells and cards that provide a toolbox of effects to help in many situations. Probably the most unknown, yet powerful piece of equipment for Blue Mages is the Neurok Stealthsuit. Neurok Stealthsuit protects your creatures from targeted removal for the cost of UU and instant speed attachment from one creature to another.
DRAW SPELLS: My favorite draw spell, Impulse is here. In fact, if you do notplay Impulse in your Blue decks, then I highly recommend my EDH Tech article on Impulse. Factor Fiction, Rhystic Study and Plea for Power are also tops on my “pet card draw” spells and included in this deck. Rhystic Study is a card drawing machine in multiplayer and annoys the opposition with the constant, repeated questions “Can I Draw a Card?” and “You gonna pay 1 extra for that?”
COUNTERSPELLS: We hafta protect our board state and exert some control, so here are some of the counterspells we will employ for the task. Desertion‘s versatality allows us to steal a creature when it is cast or straight up hard counter a non-creature spell. Alsoon theme of the deck is my newest acquisition, Spelljack
With Sphinx and Rhystic Study nabbing us extra cards, Forbid seems like an auto include due to its buyback cost. Force of Will gives us a second chance if we get caught with our pants down while Cryptic Command provides a hard counter with a buy one get one free effect.
Finally, there is Muddle the Mixture. Muddle may only counter an instant or sorcery, but its transmute cost gives us a tutor that can snag a two mana cost card from our deck. Cards like Rift and Swine. Speaking of which…
REMOVAL: Whether it’s a reset button or just need to get some gunk out of the way, this commander deck relies on removal. Cyclonic Rift allows for a one-sided, untargeted bounce effect that torments all of my opponents and leaves my board state where it is. As of the date of this EDH Primer, Cyclonic Rift is still legal in EDH/Commander despite some public outcry that the Overload ability is too strong. In this writer’s opinion. Meh, its powerful but not ban worthy. Curse of the Swine is one of my favorite spot removal cards. Exiling creatures to make some piggies is the best thing since crispy bacon! Capsize is an obvious inclusion for its early bounce effect and lock-down buyback in the late game. Sometimes the board state will appear to be a losing battle, so having access to Damnation allows for one of the best “reset” buttons in the game.
Perilous Vault is a mass board wipe, exiling everything. Since I don’t have a lot of graveyard shenanigans the Vault gets the nod over Disk and O-Stone. My playgroup abuses graveyards so let’s get that stuff outta here!
Two of my favorite pieces of removal are both included here. Sudden Spoiling and Polymorphist’s Jest both reduce an opponents army to 0/2 creatures or 1/1 frogs respectively and allow us to get around Eldrazi, indestructible, hexproof and other nasty creatures that may be taking aim at kicking our teeth in.
Tutors and Mana Rocks
Black/Blue provide a good variety of tutors that allow the EDH Player to find cards that they need in their massive commander library. Vampiric Tutor and Mystical Tutor are extremely important for finding the right card at the right time, as is the beofre mentioned Transmute tutor, Muddle the Mixture. One of my personal all time favorite cards with a giant wall of rules text is Lim-Dul’s Vault. Lim-Dul’s Vault allows us to rifle through our deck at the cost of 1 life per 5 cards, putting our favorite group of 5 on top of our library in any order. This deck only consists of four (4) mana rocks: Sol Ring, Coldsteel Heart, Thran Dynamo, and Gilded Lotus. My short list of mana producing artifacts may seem to be a bit underwhelming at first glance, but remember that with cards like Copy Artifact, Sculpting Steel, Praetor’s Council, Phyrexian Metamorph, Acquire and Thada Adel, Acquisitor, it is easy to copy and steal artificial mana producers from other players when needed.
EDH Staples are here: Command Tower, Fetch lands such as Polluted Delta, and several Dual Lands such as Underground Sea. Reliquary Tower is a must for this Commander EDH deck due to the possibility of massive card draw from Rhystic Study and Consecrated Sphinx. Vesuva and Thespian’s Stage‘s ability to COPY another land is extremely useful and fits the theme of the deck. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth comes in handy making every land a SWAMP in addition to its normal type. This helps Wrexial, the Risen Deep use its SWAMPWALK ability and makes it easier to cast the Black spells of this deck.
Volrath’s Stronghold is another utility land that becomes heavily utilized and helps retrieve Clones and other creatures from my graveyard. Bojuka Bog is a must have for black in EDH. Finally there is Halimar Depths, a card I like just for the library manipulation.
Clones and the M14 Legend Rule
The 2014 LEGEND RULE states:
Let’s dive in, shall we? The “legend rule,” rule 704.5k for those of you following along at home, is changing. Under the current rules, any time two or more legendary permanents with the same name were on the battlefield, they would all be put into their owners’ graveyards as a state-based action. Under the new rules, any time two or more legendary permanents with the same name are controlled by a player, that player chooses one of them and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards as a state-based action.
Question: Was the M14 Legendary Rule good or bad for Et tu Brute, Wrexial EDH?
Honestly, the new legendary ruling is going to make this deck even better. Using clones to blow up commanders and use them as removal was not a fun tactic, although most blue mages are guilty of doing so at some point in their EDH career. With the M14 change, our clones are now doing what they were meant to do. Copy good-stuff on the board. Nowadays, we are able to use a clone effect to have a copy of Avacyn, Gisela, Sheoldred, Elesh Norn, Iona, Mikaeus, or any other legendary creature, land or artifact on the board. If we need to remove a legendary creature, we have Evil Twin available and we can still use spells like Desertion, Treachery or Blatant Thievery to steal or counter their legendary permanent(s). To battle hexproof generals, we still have cards like Cyclonic Rift, Sudden Spoiling and Damnation
Check back periodically for further developments!
Oh, for fans of the older version of my Wrexial Copy/Steal themed deck, I have included it here for reference:
[spoiler title=”Version 1.0 of Wrexial Copy/Steal Et Tu Brute – 2014″]
Et Tu Brute?
On to the next!