Dear Azami: Mad For Mirrors!

Is there a more fun zone in Commander than the graveyard? How do you configure a deck to maximize the graveyard? Look no further as Jess shows just how much fun dead stuff can be by using some underrated Commander cards!

One of the enjoyable things about picking up duties on a column like Dear Azami is that if I have an itch to examine a specific type of deck, it’s almost a certainty that someone has submitted something similar to it. That’s what guided me last time when I went tribal with Yeva, Nature’s Herald, and that’s what’s going to be guiding me today. And this week, my hankering is for some graveyard shenanigans. Take it away, Jordan!

Dear Azami,

I am a new reader to your articles and over all a new player to commander for the most part. My journey into magic started in college, I just graduated
this year, and my experience was one that started on the kitchen top and went to competitive constructed formats over the last three and half years. I
never paid much heed to commander but my friends from home wanted to play as to give their junk rares a home this lead to me making a minor investment
about to summers or two ago in the bug commander deck while walking through Walmart. I took it home swapped some cards and let it sit to rot. Once in a
while I would take it out for spin if I found someone to play or find a card to put into it but for the most part in continued to gather dust.

However since I have come back home this summer I have found myself playing a lot of commander and I have upgraded the deck a bit with the cards I had
lying around and a few a traded for. The entire goal of the deck, which it has been since the first time I did it, is to fill the graveyard and have as
one-sided a living death resolve as possible. Garruk Relentless and Svogthos, the Restless tomb are back ups for when the moment for reanimation just isn’t
right. However I did take out most of the gofy cards because I just didn’t like them. My commander is Mimeoplasm and his job is simple sit in the command
zone and give me the colors I want unless I need graveyard hate or I’m in big trouble.

As I am new to commander most of the cards are ones that I thought had power or learned about after being thrashed by them, I’m looking at you puppeteer
clique. The one things I know I really need are good sac outlets to avoid exile affects. Besides that I probably need a lot of help tuning the ratio of
creatures, to removal, to enablers, to reanimators. Here is the deck list (I tried to break it down in the manner that best explain the purpose of all the


The Mimeoplasm

Creatures (28)

-Bombs (11)

Extractor Demon

Butcher of Malakir

Keiga, the Tide Star

Artisan of Kozilek

Damia, Sage of Stone

Sphinx of Uthuun

Frost Titan

Rune-Scarred Demon

Avatar of Woe

Wrexial, the Risen Deep

Diluvian Primordial

-Removal with a Body (6)

Dark Hatchling

Acidic Slime

Evil Twin

Puppeteer Clique

Vengeful Pharaoh

Fleshbag Marauder

-Ramp with a body (4)

Yavimaya Elder

Solemn Simulacrum

Borderland Ranger

Viridian Emissary

-Graveyard Recursion (4)

Eternal Witness

Pharika’s Mender


Nezumi Graverobber

-Utility (3)




Planeswalkers (1)

Garruk Relentless

Spells/Artifacts (34)

-Ramp (6)

Sol Ring

Simic Signet

Dimir Signet

Golgari Signet


Rampant Growth

-Removal (9)

Oblivion Stone

Decree of Pain

Black Sun’s Zenith

Gaze of Granite

Curse of the Swine

Syphon Flesh

Silence the Believers

Tribute to the Wild

Relic Crush

-Counter Spells (3)

Spell Crumple



-Enablers (5)

Forbidden Alchemy

Grisly Salvage

Fact or Fiction



-Tutors (3)

Diabolic Tutor

Buried Alive

Jarad’s Order

-Reanimators (5)


Rise from the Grave


Living Death

Stitch Together

-Utility (3)

Lightning Greaves

Gnaw to the Bone

Leyline of the Void

Lands (36)

Island x 4

Swamp x 5

Forest x 5

Lonely Sandbar

Halimar Depths

Polluted Mire

Tranquil Thicket

Hinterland Harbor

Temple of Mystery

Simic Growth Chamber

Simic Guildgate

Jwar Isle Refuge

Temple of Deceit

Dreadship Reef

Drowned Catacomb

Dimir Guildgate

Dimir Aqueduct

Overgrown Tomb

Golgari Guildgate

Rupture Spire

Command Tower

Svogthos, the Restless Tomb

Alchemist’s Refuge

Nephalia Drownyard

Temple of the False God

I would appreciate any help you could give directly for this deck. Besides that I hope to learn a lot just by reading your articles both past and future.


Jordan D. Attwood

Jordan, not only do I appreciate the way you broke down your deck, but the deck itself looks like a ton of fun. Still, I think we can crank it up a notch.
To do so, I’m going to let you in on my super-secret self-mill tech for Commander. Are you ready? Because this card is amazing:

That’s right, Mirror-Mad Phantasm! This ridiculous Innistrad mythic is easy to overlook since it was never broken in Standard. The closest it ever came was
in the Séance deck, and I’d be shocked if the average person remembers that silly, clunky thing. It’s not even an intuitive card for the Commander crowd
since it doesn’t exactly scream “singleton.” But let me tell you, there is little that feels more broken than the physical process of resolving the
Mirror-Mad Phantasm trigger.

When you Traumatize your own library, mechanically it’s a fairly simple process: you count your deck and then flop half of it into your graveyard. Don’t
get me wrong, that can feel AMAZING. Mirror-Mad Phantasm, though, feels even better. Because of how the trigger works, you have to flip through your deck
one by one until the spirit pops back out. This gives you a better sense of what you’re milling into your graveyard, and it’s just… fun!

So, without further ado, let’s go deep on the self-mill plan:


One of the things I like that Sean does is play “complete the cycles” when faced with a multi-color manabase. Being as I love symmetry, I’m shamelessly
adopting his strategy. And, as usual, I’m going to bump up your land count a bit. Since you’re using your graveyard as a resource, effectively putting you
into a position where you’re “drawing” a ton of cards, making your land drops is more of a concern than flooding out in the late game.

Out (8):

Dreadship Reef Island Jwar Isle Refuge Overgrown Tomb Rupture Spire Swamp Swamp Temple of the False God

In (10):

Barren Moor Bojuka Bog Dakmor Salvage Golgari Rot Farm Grim Backwoods Remote Isle Slippery Karst Temple of Malady Volrath's Stronghold Woodland Cemetery

Volrath’s Stronghold is the big money card I added to your deck. Obviously, you can always pour money into a manabase. This deck would be a strong
candidate for a manabase full of fetchlands, original dual lands, and the full set of shocklands. But most people don’t have those things, and the truth is
you can almost always get away with running a manabase that’s just decent, and you’ll probably draw less aggro for it. One of my friends, to this day, will
not let me forget beating him with a Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck that had every original dual in it. To be fair, that build of the deck was pretty gross,
and I killed him turn 6 or something with a double-striking, firebreathing, commander. I’ve long since reconstituted the deck, only with a more reasonable
manabase… and my sliver deck is running a Maze’s End manabase which is cheaper still.

But sometimes it’s worth shelling out for a land that’s on theme, and boy is Volrath’s Stronghold on theme. It’s creature recursion on a land, and unlike
Haunted Fengraf this one lets you choose, and do it again and again.

Anyway, I am not a huge fan of the storage lands in general, even as I respect their power. I am especially not a fan of them in decks without
proliferation subthemes, and three-color decks that are only running one of them. So that came out. Jwar Isle Refuge is similarly lacking a full relevant
cycle, and the extra point of life is almost always unnecessary in Commander. Without any “basic land type” synergies it seemed more reasonable to cut
Overgrown Tomb than fill out the cycle with Breeding Pool and Watery Grave, and replacing it with Temple of Malady and Woodland Cemetery is usually going
to be enough (although, given Temple of Malady’s current pricetag, it’s understandable if you end up keeping the Overgrown Tomb in).

What I would really like to highlight though, are the cycling lands. You were already running half of them, but I think it’s worth going up to the full
set. They’re great in this type of deck, because they allow for the prospect of instant-speed dredge without taking up a slot in the maindeck. And, they
work really well with the next big addition to your deck: Life from the Loam.


Out (8):

Borderland Ranger Cultivate Dimir Signet Golgari Signet Rampant Growth Simic Signet Sol Ring Viridian Emissary

In (5):

Ashnod's Altar Life from the Loam Mulch Sakura-Tribe Elder Satyr Wayfinder

Life from the Loam is huge in a deck like this. It is one of the best self-mill engines, period. It lacks the brute force of Mirror-Mad Phantasm or
Traumatize, but it provides a ton of incremental advantage three cards at a time. It’s particularly good with the cycle-lands since you can Loam them back
into your hand and then cycle them to get back Loam, leaving you with two lands, Life from the Loam, and three cards in your graveyard for a mere three or
four mana.

I did cut a bunch of your mana rocks though. Ever since they included a Sol Ring in every one of the Commander precons I’ve been reconsidering the role of
mana rocks. I like my different decks to play uniquely, and there’s a certain flat power level that comes when you can spit out a Sol Ring and a Signet
turn 1. Some decks love doing that type of thing, but this deck doesn’t have a lot of ways to recur artifacts. I considered keeping the rocks and adding in
Glissa the Traitor or Academy Ruins, but in the end I went another route. Unless your playgroup is super fast, I think it’s worth slowing down a tad to
bump up your levels of synergy.

Some cards are worth mentioning specifically though. Viridian Emissary is a good card in a sacrifice deck, but here I think it’s worth investing in its
self-terminating cousin, Sakura-Tribe Elder. That extra point of power is nothing in Commander. You mentioned wanting sac outlets to dodge exile effects,
so I put in Ashnod’s Altar, one of the best sac outlets in the format. Mulch and Satyr Wayfinder are clear upgrades to Rampant Growth and Borderland Ranger
since they both get you land while feeding your graveyard. And Cultivate is a loss, but it’s better to have your ramp tied to bodies that you can recur
instead of spells that you can’t.

Not that there isn’t a self-mill deck out there that could go deep on spell recursion; that deck is probably RUG, and the more I think about it, the more I
think it sounds amazing. Maybe with Riku of Two Reflections as the commander? Food for thought! But, anyway, this isn’t that deck, so I cut them. Which
brings us to the next section.


Out (10):

Butcher of Malakir Curse of the Swine Decree of Pain Evil Twin Gaze of Granite Oblivion Stone Relic Crush Silence the Believers Syphon Flesh Tribute to the Wild

In (2):

Pharika, God of Affliction Sever the Bloodline

If I have a flaw as a Commander player, it’s that I’m very happy to let other people handle the board. This may sound like a passive role, but it doesn’t
have to be; I’m generally spending a fair chunk of my time inciting others to action to defend their own interests as they overlap with mine. I find it
lots of fun, because in my heart of hearts a politician lurks.

With the exception of Butcher of Malakir, which is an unfriendly effect on a body best played in dedicated sacrifice decks, and Evil Twin, which is just
too slow for my tastes, you’ll see that I cut cards you’ll have difficulty recurring. Curse of the Swine, Silence the Believers, and Decree of Pain are all
amazing spells, but if you mill them into your graveyard they may as well be blank. In their place, I added in Sever the Bloodline. It’s a great card
against tokens and pretty solid spot removal everywhere else, but you’re really playing it because it flashes back. This is one removal spell you won’t be
sad to see hit the graveyard, that is for sure.

Pharika, God of Affliction comes in to help new land Bojuka Bog keep an eye on other people’s graveyards. Pharika has the added benefit of letting you turn
excess creatures in the ‘yard into Ambush Vipers, and usually that’s enough to keep people from swinging into you, even if you don’t actually have a snake.

But you seem pretty solid on removal, even with these cuts. I think the problem is that you’re built more like a control deck, and self-mill is at its best
when you’re being proactive, not reactive. Since graveyard hate can do a number on your strategy, and since most of what sees play are cards that exile
graveyards when their effect occurs, I think it’s better to sprint to something awesome than worry a ton about what other people are doing. Especially if
they’re being more threatening by dropping Wurmcoils and such when you’re Traumatize-ing yourself. And that’s the lead-in for our next section:


Out (bombs)(4):

Diluvian Primordial Frost Titan Keiga, the Tide Star Wrexial, the Risen Deep

In (9):

Memory's Journey Runic Repetition Spider Spawning Consuming Aberration Lord of Extinction Mikaeus, the Unhallowed Necrotic Ooze Phyrexian Devourer Triskelion

Wrexial and the Diluvian Primordial are great role-players, but it seems like they add marginal value to a deck running Leyline of the Void. If you’re
going to risk having a card get blanked by your hate, let’s make those cards a little bigger. Consuming Aberration and Lord of Extinction are both huge
threats in most situations, and Consuming Aberration doesn’t even need to swing to kill your opponents. Manage to set up a recursive loop, and you’ll have
your opponents dead in no time.

And I think there are more entertaining ways to win than hitting your opponent with Frost Titan and Keiga. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both wonderful
cards, but neither of them is a game-ending clock without backup. Combo ends games. I’m usually hesitant to embrace combo wins, particularly when a deck is
built around firing it off as quickly as possible, but the two combos I’ve introduced here both offer significant incremental advantage while being fairly
easy to disrupt. That means you can have fun with them even if you don’t get the full-on combo kill… which isn’t even really an option with Spider

So let’s talk about the Spider Spawning loop. Known for being one of the most entertaining draft archetypes in triple Innistrad draft, Spider Spawning
involves filling up your graveyard, making some spiders, and then using Memory’s Journey to assure that you draw Spider Spawning again the next turn. If
Memory’s Journey gets exiled, you cast Runic Repetition to bring it back to your hand, and then next turn you target Spider Spawning AND Runic Repetition
with Memory’s Journey, and the loop continues.

It’s an absurd combo, but each piece works as part of the rest of your deck. Spider Spawning is a good card in self-mill, even without the combo. Little
1/2 spider tokens do a great job of making it hard to swing in to you, and that extra point of toughness means they gang-block like champs. Memory’s
Journey gives you another way to get back those hard-to-recur permanents like the Garruk Relentless you’re running. And Runic Repetition gets back Sever
the Bloodline and a few other cards with Flashback. I even considered running Cabal Therapy because of it, but that card has gotten pricey, and it’s only
marginal in the format anyway.

The other combo is a little easier to get off. Triskelion is an amazing card in Mimeoplasm decks. Since cards like Lord of Extinction keep their power and
toughness even when they’re in the graveyard, in a pinch the Mimeoplasm can become a Triskelion with counters equal to the number of cards in all
graveyards plus three, and that’s usually enough to end a game. And that’s not even the combo!

See, Triskelion, Phyrexian Devourer, and Necrotic Ooze all work together to make a pretty lethal stew. You get the first two cards in your graveyard and
the Necrotic Ooze into play, and then you can exile cards to get +1/+1 counters you can shoot at people. There are some annoyingly complicated timing rules
about it, but again, this is a situation where the incidental value these combo cards create merit running one card that is weaker than the rest. Because
Necrotic Ooze is amazing in Commander, even if Phyrexian Devourer isn’t. Even if you weren’t on the self-mill plan, there are plenty of ways to abuse it,
and usually your opponents will be feeding your abilities as well. Just keep an eye out for Pack Rats in the graveyard; there are few things as brutal as
Necrotic Ooze tokens.

And not only does Triskelion provide you with a Mimeoplasm kill (shades of Dr. Mrs. The Monarch there, huh?), and a Necrotic Ooze combo kill, it also goes
immediately lethal with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed. In case you’re unfamiliar, Triskelion throws one of its counters at someone and shoots itself with the
other two. This kills it, since its base stat is 1/1 and Mikaeus is giving it a boost, but seeing no +1/+1 counters on it when it dies, Mikaeus, the
Unhallowed gives it undying. So it comes back with four counters, and you can now shoot two of them at your opponents and still have two left over to
auto-terminate. Necrotic Ooze also can pull off the combo, but it needs an external sac outlet to give it a boost.

Since Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is such a disgusting combo piece, most people don’t bother to look at the rest of the card. It’s gross. One card gives you
protection from most Wrath of God effects, kills any humans that happen to damage you (and not just combat damage), and is often an unblockable 5/5 you’re
probably not going to block with anyway. All that, and only six mana to cast it. The card is amazing, and it’s going to be a fun addition to your deck.


Out (counterspells)(3):

Dissolve Rewind Spell Crumple

In (7):

Altar of Dementia Commune with the Gods Deadbridge Chant Golgari Grave-Troll Mirror-Mad Phantasm Nyx Weaver Tracker's Instincts

I’ve already gone on at length why I think this deck wants more creatures than spells, and my decision to cut your counterspells stems from that. If you
really need them for your local meta, I’d consider Mystic Snake and Draining Whelk over the instants, but all in all I think you can just avoid them all
together. This opened up some slots for more enablers, which is important when the goal of your deck is to dump stuff into the ‘yard and start playing with
it. Cards like Tracker’s Instinct and Commune with the Gods do that while also digging you to some of those precious creatures.

You said you wanted sac outlets, and Altar of Dementia is a doozy. It’s most well known for its infinite combos since it mills out everyone as soon as you
get a Reveillark and a Karmic Guide on the field. Lucky for us, that’s not your color identity, so the Altar isn’t as much of a bright red flag as it can
be in those white decks. In self-mill, it’s a great way to get cards into the graveyard, especially in response to a False Prophet trigger or Final
Judgment. Usually it will be targeting you, but if you stabilize in the late game it can give you a way to kill your opponents by sacrificing a large The
Mimeoplasm to it.

Deadbridge Chant is a personal favorite of mine; I only wish it weren’t Golgari, since there are a ton of great Golgari cards I don’t get enough
opportunity to play with. It’s an enabler and a draw engine, and sometimes it reanimates your stuff! It’s a pretty awesome set of abilities, and because
it’s an enchantment you can dig for it with Commune with the Gods or recur it with Pharika’s Mender.

Or you can get it back with Nyx Weaver, another strong addition. In general, spiders are good in multiplayer environments, because they provide an
effective deterrent to small fliers, a staple of evasive strategies. Add in a self-mill clause and a Regrowth effect, and it’s pretty sweet.

Golgari Grave-Troll is both engine and finisher in one pretty package. It’s probably going to be huge when you cast it in the late game; it generally is in
Legacy Dredge, and that deck only has the benefit of 60 cards. With the full 100 in EDH, I think it’ll be pretty solid for you.

I’ve already talked about Mirror-Mad Phantasm, but let me reiterate, good card is good. Maybe just for this specific archetype, but still, it’s pretty
awesome. One trick, if you find yourself out of other options: when Necrotic Ooze has Mirror-Mad Phantasm’s ability, and you activate it, it mills out your
entire library. Just make sure to leave up a green for Memory’s Journey, because that’s basically your way to not die after you pull the trigger.

Recursion et al.:

Out (4):

Diabolic Tutor Lightning Greaves Rise from the Grave Stitch Together

In (5):

Dread Return Entomber Exarch Extract From Darkness Havengul Lich Increasing Ambition

And here we come to the final changes. I’m not a huge fan of Stitch Together since it deserts you when you need it the most. Instead, Dread Return seems
like a good addition since it offers a bigger mana discount when you’re trucking along, and it’s better when you don’t have threshold.

Similarly, Rise from the Grave is nice, but Extract from Darkness is better, especially since you’ll have fewer opportunities to play around with this gold
card. In general, I think it’s worth playing multi-colored cards when you get the chance in Commander since the color identity restrictions limit the
opportunities you have to play with a card that needs those specific colors.

Increasing Ambition is a better tutor than Diabolic Tutor; it’s a little more expensive in the short term, but that Flashback is pretty brutal.

I liked your inclusion of Gravedigger and Pharika’s Mender, so I added in Entomber Exarch, my personal favorite iteration of this card. Mostly it’s just a
Gravedigger with an extra point of devotion, but now and again it’ll be really useful against the person running the Capsize lock.

And finally, there’s Havengul Lich. This card is awesome, and I think it should see more play in EDH. I think an extra mana is worth being able to cast all
your creatures out of the graveyard, as well as any color-castable ones in your opponents’ ‘yards. Sure, most of the time the secondary ability will be
useless, but now and again it will be a pseudo-Lightning Greaves for a creature with a nifty activated ability. That gives us an excuse to cut Lightning
Greaves, which is much harder to recur.

So here’s the updated list:

The Mimeoplasm
Jess Stirba
Test deck on 08-19-2014
Magic Card Back

Financially, the changes come out to almost $100, but this is a little misleading. Literally a quarter of that is a single card: Volrath’s Stronghold. Lord
of Extinction’s another card that’s surprisingly expensive considering they recently printed a better version of it (Consuming Aberration!), I didn’t
expect it to break $5. It is $15.

Anyway, the median card price is $0.75, so the $20 credit that you
get for participating in Dear Azami should get you most of the way there
. It’s worth shelling out for much of the top end, though. There are few
things as gross as using Lord of Extinction to put over 100 counters on your Mimeoplasm.





Satyr Wayfinder


Barren Moor


Commune with the Gods


Entomber Exarch


Extract from Darkness


Memory’s Journey


Nyx Weaver


Remote Isle


Runic Repetition


Slippery Karst


Spider Spawning


Tracker’s Instincts


Bojuka Bog


Dakmor Salvage


Golgari Rot Farm


Grim Backwoods


Sever the Bloodline




Altar of Dementia


Increasing Ambition


Necrotic Ooze


Sakura-Tribe Elder


Ashnod’s Altar


Dread Return


Deadbridge Chant


Golgari Grave-Troll


Mirror-Mad Phantasm


Phyrexian Devourer


Havengul Lich


Consuming Aberration


Life from the Loam


Pharika, God of Affliction


Woodland Cemetery


Mikaeus, the Unhallowed


Temple of Malady


Lord of Extinction


Volrath’s Stronghold


I hope this is the type of direction you were hoping for! Honestly, I’m jealous, this seems like it’s going to be an absolute blast to play, and it’s been
far too long since the last time I had the opportunity to resolve Mirror-Mad Phantasm.

Happy flipping!

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