CAG Member Decks: Rachel’s Narset, Enlightened Master

Sheldon Menery showcases a Narset, Enlightened Master deck from Commander Advisory Group member Rachel Agnes! Is it as broken as Narset’s reputation implies?

When we announced the Commander Advisory Group (CAG), I mentioned that we’d be featuring decks from our new colleagues as soon as possible. We’ve wasted no time. Rachel Agnes volunteered to go first with her Narset, Enlightened Master deck. I’ll show you the list and then a few words Rachel has about the deck.

Narset, Enlightened Master
Rachel Agnes
Test deck on 02-07-2019
Magic Card Back

In her own words:

This is a deck I like to call Turbo Narset. I’ve been playing it for a while now, and I just always come back to it when I think about my favorites. I like taking extra turns, and while it may not be fun for others, I am usually targeted immediately out the gates. As a result, there is a challenge: trying to speed out Narset before the other players at the table can disrupt me.

The deck sacrifices much of its consistency for raw speed. There isn’t an easy way to go infinite until after many, many Narset triggers go off. The deck is a bit weak if every opponent has a way to block and kill Narset in combat, since only one attack isn’t enough to win the game if she doesn’t remain on the battlefield on the extra turn.

I wanted to have a deck that at least somewhat functioned without the commander, so I included many mana rocks and extra turns effects to build a big mana deck in case she is either killed too many times or she can’t get through. For that reason, I have eschewed many of the popular Narset cards like extra combat phase cards (such as World at War and Relentless Assault) and most planeswalkers. Although extra combat cards are cheaper to cast than extra turn effects, I wanted something I could at least use to cycle/develop the board in the case where I don’t successfully attack with Narset.

I don’t know why I like taking turns so much, but I guess it’s simply because it still feels somewhat “casual” compared to assembling far more simple kills with things like Flash and Protean Hulk or Paradox Engine. Rather than two-card combos or tutors, this deck just wants to play my Commander and get her in the red zone. Balancing the interaction, mana rocks, haste granters, and payoff spells has been very difficult. I am not entirely sure I have the right ratio at all yet. I have decks that are stronger and decks that are weaker, but Narset is absolutely my favorite Commander at the moment.

As Narset decks go, it seems like one that’s reasonably fair. It looks like it’ll present a decent challenge to both Rachel when she pilots it and the other players when Narset hits the battlefield. In a creature-heavy environment, Narset will have some trouble getting through or surviving attacks, although having first strike helps a great deal in making combats into chump blocks instead of trades. Often, attacking with Narset is enough to get things going. Like she mentions, having ways to get things going without Narset might take the focus away from doing just one thing, but give her options in case she encounters some kind of resistance.

With the mana rock suite and a few techy choices like Pentad Prism and Lion’s Eye Diamond, it looks like casting Narset on Turn 3 is possible and by Turn 4 quite consistently (Turn 1 or 2 with a perfect draw?). A few haste-granters make those early turn attacks possible. It’s clearly a deck that will set the pace of play for a game, with much of its action loaded up front.

You can see Rachel’s Eternal format roots shining through in choices like Brainstorm, Ponder, and, of course, Force of Will. Need for Speed is an all-out red choice that will get the Narset engine running without having to invest too much mana into it, another hallmark of the faster/lower mana cost formats.

Scroll Rack is also an old-school card (although many new players have discovered it since its inclusion in Commander’s Arsenal and as one of the Kaladesh Inventions) that offers up library manipulation in order to get to the piece she needs at the moment. Although it seems easy on the surface, Scroll Rack is a skill-testing card. It’s obviously easy to find the thing you want, but you have to decide first how many you’ll be setting aside and digging with. Then comes the choice of how to order them, just in case the Scroll Rack gets blown up.

Rachel has made the complete commitment to nonbasic lands, running only one of each basic in her colors. Her local environment must not feature must NBL hate; a well-timed Blood Moon or Back to Basics is going to slow things down, although the color redundancy from artifacts like Coalition Relic, Izzet Signet, Boros Signet, and Azorius Signet could render those things just a speed bump. Ruination could obviously hurt, but because of the deck’s speed, it would have to be perfectly timed.

Lost in that long list of lands are a few gems. You normally only expect to see Cavern of Souls in a tribal deck. Here’s it’s for one thing alone, and that’s the commander. Whether you choose Human or Monk, the effect is the same. There’s only a single creature that it matters for.

Hall of the Bandit Lord is worth the three life if it gets Narset attacking right away. I will mention I’m not a huge fan of playing the off-color fetches (like Misty Rainforest), but that’s just a matter of personal taste. Since they’re legal, they’re fair game. I might give her some chatter about it if we were at the same table, but it’s not worth that much of a stink.

I do wonder where Boseiju, Who Shelters All might be. If the deck stumbles, it’ll need some of those extra turn cards to get its groove back, and making them uncounterable makes it more likely to happen. I suppose the answer is probably that it slows stuff down too much if it’s an early draw since it enters the battlefield tapped. The other one that I miss is Maze of Ith, which seems perfect with Narset. You can attack without fear of combat tricks. Again, the answer is likely that it’s just too slow, but it seems like a nice play if you’re concerned that you’ll experience a more creature-heavy game.

One of my favorite cards in the deck is Mystic Confluence. It’s just a blue player’s dream, giving you the flexibility of drawing cards, countering spells, or bouncing creatures. When one turn can make the difference between getting there and not, having an emergency counterspell is the way to go.

No one ever really wants to hard-cast Omniscience, and if this deck is in the position to do it (again, without an amazing first seven), it seems like it’s on the defensive—and this is a deck that’s all about the offense. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Cyclonic Rift are about the only (non-counterspell) defensive things in the deck. Popping into Omniscience off a Narset trigger is obviously the desired result, the earlier the better. It’s hard to imagine anyone losing after Omniscience resolves, but hey, it costs ten mana.

Another one that’ll come off Narset is Swarm Intelligence, a card that I’ve considered playing in a blue deck that also has red for direct damage spells like Comet Storm and Bonfire of the Damned. I don’t need to tell you that getting two extra turns is better than one. I can’t imagine too many circumstances with this deck in which it gets two additional turns in a row without just winning outright.

There are a few things which will give this deck trouble. We’ve already talked about nonbasic land hate. Things like Blind Obedience that wreck haste will at least slow it down a turn. Environments hostile to creatures could make the cost to recast Narset prohibitive. The fact that she has hexproof makes it more difficult to prevent her from attacking; you’ll need cards that don’t target, like Turnabout or Cryptic Command. You might go super old-school with Orim’s Chant.

One card that would make life very difficult for Narset is Angelic Arbiter. Once you attack, you won’t be able to use any of the spells the trigger reveals. Of course, this Narset deck is significantly faster than decks that would play Angelic Arbiter, so it’s only a concern after the first few attempts have been thwarted. Arcane Laboratory and the like might slow things down a little, but especially if extra turns are involved, it’s possible that casting only one spell a turn is enough.

Making Rachel pay to attack, like with Propaganda, isn’t really an issue, since Narset is the only attacker. Island Sanctuary will certainly help, but you have to have other things that make the card worth playing. Stormtide Leviathan will shut down Narset but suffers from the same high cost as Angelic Arbiter. The upshot is that you’ll have to take some extreme measures to keep this deck from doing its thing.

As I said at the outset, this is a deck which will determine a game’s narrative. If it gets off to a strong start, it’ll be hard to beat. If it doesn’t start quickly, it still has some comeback capability via the extra turn cards, but once the battlefield gets choked with huge creatures, her survivability is low. I don’t think that I’d call this a cEDH deck, but it’s certainly on the verge due to its potential speed—which is my one concern about it. If the deck is consistently doing its thing in the first five turns, then players will be motivated to do their things faster and faster, spiraling into a direction that the format wants to resist. Still, I wouldn’t mind sitting down across from it a few times to see if I have decks that could solve this particular Narset puzzle.

Question of the Week

This week’s question string comes from Inkeyes22 on the official forums.

“Have you tried out Arena? What do you think the chances are of Arena getting Commander or Brawl? What do you think the chances are of Arena getting older stuff like MTGO did?”

Sadly, I have yet to try Arena. My well-discussed life challenges in the last four months of 2018 and my graduate school commitments for the first four in 2019 have meant I haven’t or won’t have the opportunity to add a new thing to my plate for a while. Rest assured that once May hits and I’m done celebrating earning that Master’s Degree, you’ll find me on Arena.

As far as getting our favorite format there, I haven’t seen anything that confirms we’ll get it; I don’t really have any insider information, but the last I heard, there wasn’t a plan to port Commander over. I also haven’t seen any announcements about older stuff. Obviously, in order to play proper Commander, we’ll need to get some of those ancient cards. I’ll see whose ears I can whisper into.

Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:


Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers; Kresh Into the Red Zone; Halloween with Karador; Dreaming of Intet; You Did This to Yourself.



Heliod, God of Enchantments; Thassa, God of Merfolk; Erebos and the Halls Of The Dead; Forge of Purphoros; Nylea of the Woodland Realm; Karn Evil No. 9.


Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever.

Shards and Wedges

Adun’s Toolbox; Angry, Angry Dinos; Animar’s Swarm; Borrowing Stuff at Cutlass Point; Ikra and Kydele; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke’s Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Queen Marchesa, Long May She Reign; Queen Marchesa’s Knights; Rith’s Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn.


Yidris: Money for Nothing, Cards for Free; Saskia Unyielding; Breya Reshaped; Yidris Rotisserie Draft Deck.


Children of a Greater God.


Tana and Kydele; Kynaios and Tiro; Ikra and Kydele.


Adun Oakenshield Do-Over; Animar Do-Over; Glissa Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus Do-Over; Kresh Do-Over; Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over; Lord of Tresserhorn Do-Over; Mimeoplasm Do-Over; Phelddagrif Do-Over; Rith Do-Over; Ruhan Do-Over.

If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”