Other People’s Decks: Toby’s Tasigur Build

Sheldon loves to see the way fellow Rules Committee members handle their builds! Today, he’s got a very special guest with a very special Commander deck! How great is this thing?!

You see quite a few of my decks. Sometimes it’s good for you to see decks from other people. It’s especially important to me that you see how the other members of the Commander Rules Committee (RC) build decks. When fellow RC members Toby Elliott and Scott Larabee were here a few weeks back, I featured the play-by-play of a game we ran also with Tom Delia (whom you might know as @mtgradio). In that game (and a few others over the weekend), Toby played Tasigur, the Golden Fang. I’ve gotten a few requests for the list, so it seemed reasonable to share it with everyone.

Toby has previously contributed to the Other People’s Decks feature, back in 2012 with his build of Ghost Council of Orzhova and in 2010 with his version of Ulasht, the Hate Seed. The latter deck was the first one to unleash on the world the terrible power of Vicious Shadows. My assessment of Toby’s play style has not changed in the intervening years. He’s still the Timmiest of the RC members. He is the one who gets the most raw delight out of doing cool and weird stuff. Winning and losing aren’t factors so much as just having fun is—which is exactly what we want the format to be about.

What I want to seize on this time is that this deck is outside of my own particular play style. Dredge just doesn’t do it for me. It always seems so time-consuming. I certainly love doing stuff with the graveyard, so I want to pull out some takeaways for future builds of my own. Delve also leaves me a little cold. I want to use those cards in my graveyard, not get rid of them. Over the few games we played during Toby’s last visit, the deck showed me that maybe I might want to reconsider that stance. Before we take a look at the list, let’s hear about it in a few of Toby’s own words:

When I saw Tasigur, I thought the ability had a lot of potential in multiplayer, where shifting alliances mean that you don’t always just get the worst card in your graveyard. Involving other players in your line of play makes for a nontraditional game and adds another dimension to threat assessment. I eschewed the standard Tasigur plan in favor of getting lots of cards into the graveyard and letting the chaos begin. It’s fun to play, and I hope it’s fun to play against.

This was a top-down deck and the card choices all flowed from Tasigur’s ability. The first card into the deck was Pedantic Learning, which to me is the perfect Commander card. It’s an obscure bulk rare that is useless in most situations but gets a moment to shine here. If there aren’t a handful of cards in a deck that people have to read, I feel like I haven’t searched hard enough! Also, a recurring Measure of Wickedness is hilarious.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Toby Elliott
Test deck on 11-24-2016
Magic Card Back

What strikes me about the deck is that you don’t really need to use Tasigur’s delve ability early on. In subsequent re-castings, you might use it to help pay for the commander tax; if your graveyard is sufficiently stuffed, you can pick and choose which cards you won’t need or want to dredge back later on. It’s the kind of deck which requires you to know exactly how you’ve constructed it in order to get the most mileage out of it. It feels like there are many choices you must base on what you know instead of what you see.


Avatar of Woe: There is a bit of an old-school feel to the deck, which Avatar of Woe represents rather nicely. It’s been a staple in the format since the very beginning. Its recent release in Conspiracy: Take the Crown opens it up to a new generation of players. We tend to focus on Avatar of Woe’s ability to kill creatures and forget that it has fear—which means it can be a battle machine as well.

Baloth Null: Eternal Witness’s bigger, beastier brother brings beats as well as cards.

Body Double: I was cool on Body Double until Monday Night Gamer Michael Fortino made great use of it in our recent Rotisserie Draft League. For me, it went from being “just another Clone” to “man, I really need to play more of this card.” Given that Commander is a format in which creatures frequently die and the best of them die even more frequently, Body Double gives you even more choices than a regular Clone would.

Carrionette: Speaking of old school, this little Skeleton captures the delve feel—exile something from your graveyard in order to do something. Note that exiling Carrionette is part of the resolution, not the cost. This means that you can activate it multiple times. If you catch someone tapped out and you have a pile of extra mana, you could erase several great creatures.

Champion of Stray Souls: At first look, I thought that there weren’t enough creatures in the deck to make use of Champion of Stray Souls. With all the self-mill going on and the creature count at 29, seems like it could work.

Deathbringer Regent: I’m a fan of larger creatures which do other big things. Deathbringer Regent is one of those cards. Wipe the battlefield, start smashing.

Deranged Assistant: I’ve loved Millikin since it came out; Deranged Assistant is Millikin’s blue brother. A little mana acceleration which also gets the dredge going is just what the doctor (or mad scientist) ordered.

Elvish Aberration: Toby’s land count is slightly low for my taste, at 35. Cards like Elvish Aberration make sure the deck stays on track with hitting land drops, plus—and I’m sure you’re sensing the theme already—get the graveyard bigger.

Eternal Witness: Toby doesn’t just jam staples into decks, but since this one definitely fits with how the deck functions, its slot in the deck is well-justified.

Golgari Grave-Troll: Is it just me, or is the hyphen in the card’s title just awkward? Otherwise, the card is awesome at both helping fill the graveyard and bringing the pain.

Greenwarden of Murasa: Alt-Eternal Witness can also smash. With the second ability, this is one of those cards which you have to understand how the deck works to make sure you’re playing correctly. When it dies, do you exile and get something right away, or do you wait to see if you can regrow it, getting its enters-the-battlefield trigger additional times?

Havengul Lich: The mana generation rule change benefitted Havengul Lich, because now you can cast things outside of your color identity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Toby has added off-color mana producers. It’s probably a corner case that he might want to cast something red or white anyway; with blue, black, and green already in his arsenal, he’ll have plenty to choose from (and there is always the artifact/Eldrazi choice).

Hornet Queen: This card choice seems like it’s there just because Hornet Queen is a cool card. I’m with him.

Jhessian Zombies: As with Elvish Aberration and Twisted Abomination, Jhessian Zombies can battle, but it’s more likely to be doing work by getting lands (perhaps repeatedly).

Krosan Tusker: Some newer players won’t know Krosan Tusker. I’m happy it’s in this deck so that we can introduce it to them.

Millikin: My old friend, the graveyard-filler from my first Living Death deck. If you’re playing any kind of Dredge or Reanimator strategy, this little Construct will be your friend, too.

Mirror-Mad Phantasm: Talk about your graveyard-fillers. Especially in a singleton format, Mirror-Mad Phantasm is going to make that Golgari Grave-Troll kind of silly.

Nyx Weaver: Another card which I’m hesitant to play because I’m just fundamentally opposed to exiling my own cards. I suppose you don’t actually have to activate the second ability save for an emergency situation. The first ability does exactly what it’s supposed to.

Scavenging Ooze: If you’ve played Commander for a sufficient length of time, you know that other people’s graveyards can get scary. If you’re new, take Toby’s use of Scavenging Ooze as a sign of the kind of thing that can help you not be scared any more.

Sheoldred, Whispering One: All of the legendary Praetors are strong (yes, there are non-Legendary ones, Ebon Praetor and Sanguine Praetor). Sheoldred might be the least annoying of them all. For me, I generally don’t mind someone else having Sheoldred on the battlefield, since there are always things I want to get into my graveyard.

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant: A tribute to Toby’s outside-the-box thinking, it seems like more folks would use Sidisi, Brood Tyrant to pilot this deck than Tasigur, since you also get Zombies when you self-mill. If I were to build some version of this, I’d likely also go with Toby’s choice simply due to the fact that you get something back each time you activate Tasigur. It’s effectively card draw, which also furthers your agenda.

Solemn Simulacrum: Speaking of Simulacra, if you’re not watching Westworld, you’re not watching one of the best shows on TV right now. It has everything you might want in a powerful drama. Except Dragons.

Soul of Innistrad: I’ve tried to make this card work in a few decks, like Kresh Into the Red Zone and Halloween with Karador (it’s currently in Adun’s Toolbox), but found it a little too expensive to activate as often as I like. I wouldn’t mind hearing of other folks’ success stories with the card.

Stinkweed Imp: Ah, Stinkweed Imp. The worst card no one wants to kill.

Twisted Abomination: I’m still a little concerned about the low land levels. Maybe I’ve become so used to playing green and ramping that I’m just addicted to having more lands on the battlefield than turns I’ve taken.

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre: A head-scratching choice for me until I realized that Toby is playing Survival of the Fittest as well. If someone tries to nuke his graveyard (which would end up kind of awkward for him), he can pitch (or fetch and pitch) Ulamog in order to save it. Then, of course, there are the normal uses for Ulamog, destruction and annihilation.

Vengeful Pharaoh: Pro tip, from the voice of experience: when someone is playing Dredge in Commander, always double check their graveyard for Vengeful Pharaoh before attacking them.

Woodfall Primus: Sometimes, people like to respond “run answers” when other people discuss problematic cards. Woodfall Primus is a lot of answers.

Yavimaya Elder: You can’t get much more iconic in the format than Yavimaya Elder, although I have to say that I’m a fan of the older art. It’s the little things that get us.


Codex Shredder: I am disappointed that the first artifact alphabetically is not Acorn Catapult. I suppose I’ll have to live with my chagrin. It’s obviously there for the self-mill, but if someone else is playing with the top of the library revealed, you can get rid of the thing which is going to ruin your day.

Elixir of Immortality: Another clever graveyard-saver for those emergency punch-out situations.

Sol Ring: See Yavimaya Elder, +1.


Compulsion: Another card which enhances the old-school feel of the deck, it always makes me be on the lookout for Circular Logic.

Crop Sigil: One of the more recent cards in the deck, Crop Sigil becomes a nice delayed-action Regrowth ability. Certainly, delirium will most always be on with sorcery, instant, creature, and land. The card’s low cost justifies its spot in the deck.

Deadbridge Chant: Probably my favorite card from Dragon’s Maze, the only problem is occasionally getting blown out when someone plays Bojuka Bog right after you’ve cast Deadbridge Chant. Otherwise, the card definitely embraces the chaos. As a colorful historical note, back in the days we named our columns, this one was (and, in my heart, always will be) called “Embracing the Chaos.” It was Toby who suggested that name in September 2009. It stuck.

Measure of Wickedness: Speaking of embracing the chaos, Measure of Wickedness has Toby written all over it. I’m surprised there’s not also a Jinxed Idol in the deck.

Pedantic Learning: It’s a little narrow, but in a Dredge deck, it’s going to trigger often enough to make use out of the low casting cost and even lower one mana to draw a card.

Spellweaver Volute: With only seven instants in the deck, I wonder how useful this is. There are more than enough sorceries in the deck to trigger it, but having to exile the instant you cast seems like too high of a price to pay. This is one of those “mindset” cards which I’m having a tough time getting around. Maybe I just have to look as a wandering Flashback-granter.

Survival of The Fittest: Survival is certainly one of the cards people bring up when they want to ban something not already on the list (although I think Iona, Shield of Emeria is currently the front-runner). In this deck, we see that it can be played for its toolbox uses, which is how I tend to see it as well (as opposed to a combo engine). Your mileage may vary.


Dig Through Time: Again, I would be hesitant about delve, and go with Mystic Confluence instead. If Dig Through Time put the cards in the graveyard, it might be worth it.

Empty the Pits: Okay, I can get behind the delve with Empty the Pits because it’s an instant. In the end step, delve away most of the graveyard which Mirror-Mad Phantasm has set up, and it’s a Zombie Apocalypse. Okay, it’s not that Zombie Apocalypse, but you get the picture.

Forbidden Alchemy: I can totally get behind drawing one of the four best cards off the top.

Murderous Cut: Sometimes I think Toby wants to get rid of cards from his graveyard. I suppose it nicely sets up getting back exactly what you want with Tasigur’s activated ability.

Mystical Teachings: I’m admittedly a little lost on this one, since there are so few other instants.

Soul Manipulation: The simple truth of manipulating souls is “choose both, unless you can’t. “

Think Twice: Simple and class inexpensive card draw.


Ancestral Memories: Here we go. The card that Dig Through Time wants to be.

Beacon of Unrest: One of my absolute favorite cards of all time because it does something I love (reanimation, not just of creatures but of artifacts, from anyone’s graveyard) and shuffles itself back in.

Black Sun’s Zenith: Large creature armies are a problem for this deck, so having some mass removal makes a great deal of sense.

Creeping Renaissance: Every time someone else plays Creeping Renaissance, I ask myself why I’m not playing it as well. It’s a sign that the card is good.

Damnation: More battlefield-wiping.

Decree of Pain: King of creature killing. One caveat I’ll issue with the card is that there have been times when I’ve had the opportunity to cycle the card for value, but gotten greedy and held onto it instead, hoping for the big payday. Of course, I always get blown out somehow. Don’t be greedy!

Extract from Darkness: Remember that the creature doesn’t have to be one that was just milled, it can be any creature. Note also that it’s not targeted, so you obviously don’t choose which creature until the spell resolves; also, it gets around annoyances like Ground Seal.

Life from the Loam: One of the deck’s engines, it makes the fetch lands and the cycling lands all that much better.

Pieces of the Puzzle: Because it puts the cards you don’t choose into the graveyard, Pieces of the Puzzle is worth it, even if you whiff on one. With a quarter of the deck being instants and sorceries, it seems unlikely to completely blank on it, but I imagine that it happens.

Praetor’s Counsel: Combo with Creeping Renaissance!

Roar of the Wurm: I think this is more of a pet card of Toby’s than anything else.

Seasons Past: In my Shadows over Innistrad review, I wasn’t sufficiently excited about Seasons Past. After seeing it in action, my tune has changed.

See the Unwritten: I was, however, very excited about this card in the Khans of Tarkir review—but I love creature decks. Nothing has dampened me on it since. Too bad Toby isn’t playing white so he can set it up with Congregation at Dawn.

Sever the Bloodline: I really want this to be an instant. It’s obviously useful in getting rid of that token swarm someone has created, but the cool play is when two people have the same powerful creature on the battlefield.

Spitting Image: This card is so strong in the Dredge deck that I can’t even wrap my brain around it. Fuel for recasting the spell comes from Life from the Loam, so rinse, lather, and repeat.

Tracker’s Instincts: I know I have a creature problem when I think that Toby’s count of 29 is too low to play a card like Tracker’s Instincts.

Treasure Cruise: As we go along, I’m getting more on board with delve in relation to Tasigur’s ability. It seems like Toby had a decent plan after all.

Worm Harvest: In this deck, you might not even need to cast Worm Harvest a second time. But you will, and it’ll be awesome.

A major part of my enjoyment of this deck is watching Toby pilot it. In the end, especially when we’re playing with our closest friends, what we want most out of the experience is for them to be having as much fun as we are.

This Week’s Deck Without Comment is Karador Version 3.

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, Beatdown Golem


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; You Take the Crown, I’ll Take Leovold; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever;

Shards and Wedges

Adun’s Toolbox; Animar’s Swarm; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke’s Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith’s Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn


Children of a Greater God


Animar Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus 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.”