Double The Weird Fun

Bennie is not very Izzet at heart – he bleeds Golgari, through and through – but a snazzy full-art copy of Melek, Izzet Paragon has him walking the planes in Ral Zarek’s footsteps with his latest Commander deck!

Thanks, Ral Zarek — I knew I could count on you! Masked in shadows the weird giggled as it watched Ral leave the ruined husk of “Melek” on the ground and take its place as the Izzet mazerunner. To keep from audibly drawing attention to its hiding place it shifted the release of delight from laughter into slightly glowing bubbles that rippled through its skin. To think such a glorious creation as itself, the very paragon of Izzet cleverosity, would be expected to run around a maze like rats in an experiment? Preposterous! The effervescence flowed for quite some time and left Melek a little lightheaded.

It had been simple enough to create a near-perfect simulacrum — copying was something Melek was designed to do, and the blueprint was right inside its very cells! And it was painfully obvious that Ral Zarek’s pride wouldn’t allow someone else as Izzet champion. Melek set the hypotheses in motion with enough wiggle room to ride the unknown unknowns and still get pretty close to the proof. For all his power, Ral had just a human mind after all. Let him be enslaved to the dull politics of Niv-Mizzet and the other guild leaders – Melek was created for something better — fun! And it was now free to go find some.

Today’s deck all started with this:

Melek, Izzet Paragon

Cleverosity personified!

I have a regular copy of Melek, Izzet Paragon and he’s no doubt pretty cool, but for some reason once I saw what the Magic Game Day Promo Melek, Izzet Paragon looked like the original version just didn’t do it for me. I’d be riffling through my box of legendary creatures to see what moved me to build a new Commander deck, I’d pause on plain ol’ non-foily Melek, sigh, and move on. There was no motivation to build a Commander deck from that piece of cardboard.

For a while I tried to pick up the promo version, but it never seemed to be in stock on Starcitygames.com, and I never ran across one in my friends’ trade binders. I would use the very helpful restock alert feature on Starcitygames.com, and on the rare occasion they’d get a couple in stock they’d be gone by the time I’d pulled together enough cards to ship for the month.

Recently, the stars aligned. Starcitygames.com restocked right about the time I was ready to put in a card order and I dropped it in my cart. It stayed in stock until I placed my order and a few days later it was in my hands.

Melek, Izzet Paragon


Just look at that beautiful card! The Izzet color pallet just pops in foil and the art is fantastic. I know I’ve got a reputation as a Golgari mage and my heart truly beats green and black, but something so cool and beautiful cuts through my biases against pesky Izzet nonsense. Now that I had the card right in front of me, a bunch of ideas started pouring out and I started sifting through my red and blue cards.

After I got started I jumped online and started plugging keywords into Gatherer to flesh out the ideas I had, and eventually I did a Google search to see what other people have cooked up for Melek, Izzet Paragon. Unsurprisingly there are a lot of very brutal combo and engine decks built around this Weird Wizard, and if being a Spikey Wizard looking to crush the table is your thing there are plenty of other examples out there. Me, I wanted to lean more towards Melek’s Weird heritage and see what sort of crazy things I could cook up.


Pongify, Rapid Hybridization, Shattering Pulse, Impact Resonance, Fatal Frenzy, Rush of Blood, Turnabout, Rite of Replication, Cerebral Eruption, Stolen Goods, Sudden Impact, Mana Geyser, Bribery, Kaboom!, Mass Mutiny, Mogg Infestation, Stolen Identity, Supplant Form, Shifting Loyalties, Balduvian Rage, Blue Sun’s Zenith

The first order of business if to find fun things for Melek to copy. Pongify and Rapid Hybridization provides some pinpoint removal while hopefully still leaving your opponents smiling when you hand them Ape or Frog Lizard tokens. Who doesn’t love Apes and Frog Lizards? In a format of big, impressive creatures an Impact Resonance or two can do a lot of impressive things. I like the doubling potential in Fatal Frenzy and Rush of Blood, which of course gets even crazier when you throw another copy of the spell on the stack to double the doubling. You can generate a ton of mana by copying Turnabout and Mana Geyser, and I’m sure we can find something to do with all that extra mana — like maybe play Rite of Replication with kicker from the top of our library and get an extra copy? Now that sounds like an epic good time!


Reverberate, Twincast, Reiterate, Dualcaster Mage, Howl of the Horde

While we can count on our Commander being there most of the time, there will be times when Melek is beyond our reach and that shouldn’t mean we can’t still have double the fun! Red and blue have a ton of ways to copy spells, and most of them can also be doubled by Melek too! Imagine playing Bribery off the top of your library with Melek, and revealing a Reverberate as the next card on your library and casting it too… sure, let’s go get the four best creatures from our opponents’ decks!


Young Pyromancer, Goblin Electromancer, Gelectrode, Nivix Cyclops, Wee Dragonauts, Living Lore, Galvanoth, Hypersonic Dragon, Charmbreaker Devils

Izzet has a bunch of nifty creatures that interact well with instants or sorceries, and while they won’t trigger off Melek’s copies, they’re still going to be good in a deck chock-full of instants and sorceries. Young Pyromancer isn’t likely to be overwhelming anyone with tokens in Commander, but he can certainly provide a steady stream of blockers to buy you the time you need to cast Melek and all of the fun you can find on the top of your deck. Galvanoth works as another way to play an instant or sorcery off the top of your deck, and it combines nicely with Melek on the battlefield if you happen to have both. I don’t expect Living Lore to do too many great things in this particular deck, but I’m hoping there will be more opportunities for it to swing in unblocked in a multiplayer game so we’ll see how it goes. [Editor’s Note: it doesn’t need to go unblocked, it just needs to hit something. Anything will do…] There is the possibility of casting Rite of Replication with kicker on Living Lore with Anger and a bunch of sweet instants and sorceries in the graveyard…


Sensei’s Divining Top, Soothsaying, Scroll Rack, Crystal Ball

One thing that could be fun with this deck is to take advantage of Melek’s ability to reveal the top card to everyone and to use cards like Sensei’s Divining Top or Soothsaying to keep a particular instant card “floating” on top of your library. Would someone really want to cast Demonic Tutor when your opponent’s Melek is revealing Reiterate as the top card?

Crystal Ball’s Scry 2 ability is nifty with Melek since you can float the card you want to keep on top of the library turn after turn, but it also provides a nice combo with Druidic Satchel. This is one of my favorite value combos to put in non-green decks when I can find room for them since they’re both three mana and that mana slot is crowded with good Commander cards.


Halimar Depths, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Serum Visions, Mystical Tutor, Mystic Speculation, Telling Time, Sigiled Starfish, Dream Cache, Long Term Plans, Stormchaser Chimera, Djinn of Wishes

Many of the same cards from the combo/engine versions of Melek do good work in the fun version too, making sure that you’re hitting instants and sorceries on the top of your deck early and often. These sorts of spells replace the raw card-drawing that you’d expect in blue decks since often a card is more valuable on top of your library than it is in your hand. I really love the idea of playing a Brainstorm off the top of your library and copying it with Melek, digging three cards deep and putting two back, maybe getting to cast something in between, then digging three deep again and putting back yet another sweet, powerful instant or sorcery spell with a copy card immediately underneath it.

Djinn of Wishes does some nice work here similarly to Galvanoth, letting you play cards from the top of your deck “for free” at the cost of 2UU.


Kher Keep, Sol Ring, Mogg Maniac, Izzet Signet, Journeyer’s Kite, Swiftfoot Boots, Lightning Greaves, Druidic Satchel, Ur-Golem’s Eye

One thing we’ve got to keep in mind is that before we can have all this fun we’ve got to get a six-mana creature into play and keep it around. I’ve included some mana acceleration to help us get there, and once we get our Weird Wizard into play we’ll need to do our best to keep it around with things like Swiftfoot Boots or Lightning Greaves. I’ve also included some ways to buy us some time, like the chump blockers of Kher Keep or the ultimate rattlesnake Mogg Maniac.

Alright, without further ado here’s what I’ve pulled together to show off this sweet Magic Game Day Promo Melek, Izzet Paragon!

Before you play Melek it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the rulings regarding Melek specifically and copying spells generally:


  • Melek doesn’t affect the timing rules associated with when you can cast the card. If it’s a sorcery card, you can cast it only during your main phase when the stack is empty.
  • You still pay all costs for that spell, including additional costs. You may also pay alternative costs, such as overload costs. Although you can’t pay additional costs for the copy that’s created, effects based on any additional costs that were paid for the original spell are copied as though those same costs were paid for the copy too. For example, if a player sacrifices a 3/3 creature to cast Fling and you copy it, the copy of Fling will also deal three damage to its target.
  • Melek’s last ability will copy any instant or sorcery spell you cast from your library, not just one with targets.
  • When the last ability resolves, it creates a copy of the spell. You control the copy. That copy is created on the stack, so it’s not “cast.” Abilities that trigger when a player casts a spell won’t trigger. The copy will then resolve like a normal spell, after players get a chance to cast spells and activate abilities.
  • The copy will have the same targets as the spell it’s copying unless you choose new ones. You may change any number of the targets, including all of them or none of them. If, for one of the targets, you can’t choose a new legal target, then it remains unchanged (even if the current target is illegal).
  • If the spell being copied is modal (that is, it says “Choose one —” or the like), the copy will have the same mode. You can’t choose a different one.
  • If the spell being copied has an X whose value was determined as it was cast (like Debt to the Deathless has), the copy has the same value of X.
  • Instant and sorcery cards with miracle allow a player to cast a card immediately upon drawing it. If you cast a spell this way, you’re casting it from your hand, not your library. Melek’s ability won’t trigger.
  • The top card of your library isn’t in your hand, so you can’t suspend it, cycle it, discard it, or activate any of its activated abilities.
  • If the top card of your library changes while you’re casting a spell or activating an ability, the new top card won’t be revealed until you finish casting that spell or activating that ability.
  • When playing with the top card of your library revealed, if an effect tells you to draw several cards, reveal each one before you draw it.

So what do you think? If you were building a fun version of Melek rather than a combo/engine version, are there any cards you’d include that I didn’t? Would love to hear your feedback!

By the way, this Saturday I’ll be playing in a Modern PPTQ, and it’ll be my first foray into Modern in quite some time. I’ve got a fun brew that I’ve gotten in a little bit of testing with and can’t wait to give it a whirl in a tournament. I’ll report back on the results next week, wish me luck!

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visonary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)