Wallet Warriors: Xenagos, God of Revels and Karlov of the Ghost Council
Welcome back Wallet Warriors! Today I’ve got something I think you’ll all appreciate, a 2 for 1! Such value! This is a double deck tech featuring Xenagos, God of Revels and Karlov of the Ghost Council. The best part is both decks will only run you about 50 bucks each!
These are two decks that are perfect for new players to the format, or even to the game of Magic. They are simple but very effective decks that have a lot of room for improvement over time. These can even be fun decks to put together for experienced players if they want to just sit down for a casual game without a ton of difficult decisions to make.
For the sake of brevity, I won’t be going deep into the individual card choices in this article. I’ll just be going over the deck’s strengths and weaknesses as well as general game plans.
Now let’s get started with none other than the God of partying himself.
Xenagos, God of Revels:
Xenagos, God of Revels is a fast, ruthless killer. The most complicated in game decision you will have to make is who to smash into the dirt first.
A lot of EDH players will tell you aggressive decks don’t work in our format because there is usually much more than 20 life you need to deal to win. While that is true, there are a few strategies that can be incredibly effective at taking down a table by turning dudes sideways.
Xenagos is as Gruul as it gets. If your playgroup typically spends the first few turns doing nothing but setting up, you can put the fear in them by sending a 16/16 trampler straight for them on turn 4.
Here is the decklist:
Xenagos is an extremely effective aggro commander for a few reasons:
1. He is very difficult to get off the board once he hits. Ideally you will play one or two ramp spells early on and drop your god on turn three or four.One of the easiest ways to deal with Xenagos is by countering him before he lands but people will likely not be holding up counter magic on their early turns because they don’t want to fall behind. This means Xenagos can reliably be in play early and from there, he is an indestructible enchantment. One of the hardest permanent types to interact with at all, and he can’t even be destroyed.
2. He provides the element of surprise. Xenagos is not only able to double your already large creatures, but he gives them haste! This is incredibly important because it means your opponents can never fully prepare for what you might throw at them. They are forced to hold mana up and deal with the monsters at instant speed. If they plan on waiting till they untap they’ll already be half dead.
3. He laughs in the face of board wipes. A big factor in the lack of aggressive decks in EDH is that most of them rely heavily on creating overwhelming numbers on the board and they get crushed by one or two board wipes. Xenagos funnels all his power into single giant monsters which makes him weaker to spot removal than board wipes and the former is much less prevalent than the latter.
Overall Game Plan:
A common term used in gaming that comes from Poker is “Going all-in”. Going all-in extends to other strategy games as it is used to describe a plan which has no fail case. If the plan fails, there is no coming back. Xenagos employs this mindset as he is trying to kill everyone else as fast as possible and as such does not have time to plan ahead. You have to be relentless, if you give your opponents any breathing room they will likely punish you for it. The most effective route to victory is to eliminate your enemies one at a time. This may not be the most fun strategy for your opponents since you may end up relegating others to the spectator booth very quickly. But remember, when you leave others with a sliver of life and some hope, you will often regret it when you get their knife in your back.
The first place I would go when upgrading this deck is look to the cards that have unique effects. Shaper’s Sanctuary and Heroic Intervention provide some much needed defense that is difficult to find in red and green.
Strionic Resonator and Aggravated Assault are incredibly powerful as they double up on Xenagos’ doubling. Exponentially growing your creatures can obviously get out of hand very quickly.
Blade of Selves is a very powerful unique tool which eliminates the issue of actually choosing who to attack!
Gratuitous Violence is part of a few enchantments that double damage and I believe it is the best one because it only doubles the damage your creatures deal.
Karlov of the Ghost Council
Karlov of the Ghost Council is a much more subtle beast than our Gruul friend. Karlov loves to sit back and watch his enemies faces slowly drain of their life force. As they become weak and pale, Karlov gets stronger. And if he’s feeling like it he can smack some people around too.
Here’s the decklist:
This is a drain and gain deck baby, plain and simple. We’re looking to gain lots of life by sapping it away from our opponents. Karlov specifically wants us to do it in as small increments as possible. We’ve got ways to drain life and we’ve got things that benefit from life gain. Karlov himself can get really huge and acts as an alternate win condition as well as re-usable removal.
Overall Game Plan:
Gaining ridiculous amounts of life is a lot of fun but it comes with an annoying little side effect.
“Hey why are you attacking me? He’s got 20 more life than all of us, he’s winning!”
The player with the most life is often pinned as the big threat at the table even if there is another player at the brink of death with a huge board threatening to combo off and kill everyone. This is something you will most likely have to face when playing this deck, especially at more casual tables.
There are two ways around this. The first is to gain such an exorbitant amount of life that it doesn’t matter you’re getting attacked from all sides, you can just smirk and say “No blocks” then gain it all back.
The second, and more difficult of the two, is to use your silver tongue to create allies and move the crosshairs onto someone else. Remember, if there is another player that is genuinely more threatening at the table you can defend yourself by explaining why they need to die first.
So now that we’ve discussed how to not die. How are we going to win? Well the answer is typically going to be one of two ways. Either we slowly and methodically suck every last life point out of the table one or two at a time. Or we smash people’s faces in with a gigantic juiced up Karlov. The deck is simple but not entirely shallow. You will need to figure out when to go for the long game or when to quickly finish someone off with Karlov before they get out of control.
Alhammarets Archive and Rhox Faithmender both double all your life gain which is a great and unique effect. These are the first cards I would add in with a bit of extra cash.
Authority of the Consuls is another soul sister effect that will help your creatures get through. True Conviction is a must answer enchantment which makes all your creatures incredibly threatening. Karlov only needs to have 11 power to one-shot someone!
Archangel of Thune and Crested Sunmare are some of the best lifegain payoff cards you can look to add. The Archangel makes your whole team huge very quickly. Remember that the Sunmare triggers on every turn so if you have a way to gain life on each of your opponent's turns you can generate a bunch of indestructible horses ready to attack when the turn comes back around the table.
Well that is going to do it for this time around. One Gruul, one Orzhov, two decks with simple goals but as is the way in commander, you won’t get the same game twice with either of these.
If you are looking to dip your toes into the format then definitely consider grabbing one or both of these decks. Having something manageable at your disposal is not to be underestimated because your first few times at a four or more person table can get very hectic very quickly.
Check back in two weeks for the next article! Cheers!
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