Recovering From Leovold

Oh, Leovold. We hardly miss you. What is Sheldon to do with his short-lived Leovold Commander deck? This week he gathers the scraps and re-builds it into something new! And the celebrated Idiotic Combo of the Week returns!

Back in September, I built a Leovold, Emissary of Trest deck. Shortly thereafter, we on the Commander Rules Committee (RC) decided that the card was too toxic for the format, and we banned it. Although I’ve cannibalized a few cards from the pile along with way for the Commander 2016 Rotisserie Draft deck, I’m left with a stack of really good cards that I don’t necessarily want to go through the effort of putting back in their boxes. I’d much rather take the lazy way out and build a new deck with them.

Of course, a deck built around Leovold (even after I took out the nastiness like Teferi’s Puzzle Box, Windfall, and the other wheels) doesn’t just shoehorn into another commander. In Sultai, I’m left with only four other choices: Damia, Sage of Stone; Sidisi, Brood Tyrant; The Mimeoplasm; and Vorosh, the Hunter. If only I hadn’t already built a Mimeoplasm Do-Over, that would probably be the logical choice since there are already some discard and graveyard shenanigans in the deck. And if I’m being super lazy, that’s the answer. I’d like my sloth to have some bounds, though, so I’m willing to do at least a little work. With the cards I took out of Leovold and the other stuff lying around for whatever reason (all foils save for the things that don’t yet come that way), here’s what I have as a starting point.







Artifact and Colorless:

Nonbasic Land:

You’ll obviously notice that I added some white and red cards into the mix. I wanted to at least consider Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice, since it’s the Sultai-plus deck I haven’t yet built from Commander 2016. I didn’t include red, since that’s Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder, which is what I’m playing the most right now. With this stack of cards, Atraxa doesn’t really fit, though (not to mention everybody is building it, too). Neither does Damia, since there’s a fair amount of card draw already. I wouldn’t be emptying my hand all that much—although I suppose I could play stuff like Mindslicer in order to be more symmetrical—and then just refill with Damia anyway. That still left me a little cold.

It then occurred to me that I was thinking a little too conventionally. Through the partner mechanic, we can assemble a three- or four-color deck. Card draw being one of the parts of the stack and me loving to get into the Red Zone, it looks like Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper and Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix seem to fit my style, and leave us right in Sultai colors.

My rule going in was that most of what I put into the deck had to come from the pile above, and further, that I couldn’t acquire anything new to fill out the deck. I have a pretty good collection of cards which still aren’t in decks, so I went back to the box of older foils to look for some gems. Here’s what I finished with:

Why Play It?

Because of River Kelpie; it’s the card that I wheeled the rest of it all around.

It’s underused and underappreciated, so I wanted to bring it to light. Regular readers know that I’m not a big fan of tutors, but going for River Kelpie all the time might be worth it, which is what got me to look in that old box for Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. If your worst sin is tutoring for River Kelpie, you’re hardly breaking the game. Since there aren’t any “I win” combos in the deck, I feel relatively sure that I won’t be making miserable games by simply searching up pieces. The River Kelpie line got me into having enough of a creature destruction and reanimation suite to make the card worthwhile.

You’ll Like This Deck If…

…you like cards you don’t see that often. You’ll enjoy playing this deck if you like nonlinear strategies and making something out of the battlefield state. In fact, making something of what’s on the battlefield is likely the major win condition in the deck. Sure, there are some staples, such as Eternal Witness and Puppeteer Clique, but there are loads more cards you might not see that often, such as Lim-Dul, the Necromancer and Scion of Darkness. Spitting Image, a card which I don’t see played much outside of Dredge decks, seemed like a particularly apt choice to go along with River Kelpie.

You’ll also like the deck if you’re a fan of graveyard tricks, especially after you’ve destroyed other players’ big creatures. From Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni to Sepulchral Primordial to Scion of Darkness, you’ll be getting lots of action from opponents’ graveyards in addition to your own.

You’ll love this deck if you like Villainous Wealth, which is one of the main reasons to play Sultai in the first place.

You Won’t Like This Deck If…

…you’re addicted to artifacts. It certainly wasn’t intentional, and future updates might include a little artifact and enchantment hate (since I only have three of those as well). Wave of Vitriol might be a little over the top, but maybe not.

If you want your deck to have a specific strategic plan, then this one isn’t likely up your alley. It’s probably far too dependent on other players have good stuff for your tastes.

You probably won’t like the deck if any kind of chaos doesn’t resonate with you. There’s no telling what might happen with a card like Endless Whispers. I live for the day that someone else casts Phage, the Untouchable when Endless Whispers is on the battlefield—so if stuff like that doesn’t fit your style, you might consider a different deck, or at least swapping out a few of the more unpredictable cards.

What Does It Do?

Compared to other Commander decks, the average mana cost seems relatively low, so you’ll have plenty of action in the early and middle turns. It’s likely that you’ll set some of the early came tempo, since you’ll almost always be casting things.

The deck has a fair number of mini-engines which you can get running, like if you can manage to get Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Doomed Necromancer online together.

There are also a few Ninja in the deck, so the deck does some combat tricks. One of those tricks might simply be making a large creature unblockable with Thassa, God of the Sea in order to gain life off Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper.

What Doesn’t It Do?

In my first pass through the list, it occurred to me that the deck might not draw enough cards. We’ll see if that’s the case or not and adjust accordingly. To me, playing cards from graveyards is kind of like drawing; it just gives you access to a narrower set of choices. Cold-Eyed Selkie and Compost will, however, draw a surprisingly large number of cards, although sometimes you get shut out on the latter when no one else is playing black.

As I mentioned earlier, the deck doesn’t have a defined, linear strategy. It flexes according to what other players are doing—so if they don’t play a large number of creatures, the deck might have some trouble operating.

Speaking of graveyards and drawing cards, I have a question for any of you who have played Witcher 3: the Wild Hunt, and more specifically the in-game TCG, Gwent. Can you deck yourself? I’ve come close a few times. Gwent is weird in that if it were just a card game, I wouldn’t play it that often. In the context of the larger game, even now that I’ve assembled nearly all the cards, I can’t wait to run into merchants who are up for a game. And you can’t go infinite ten gold at a time or anything.

The deck is highly unlikely to get a commander damage kill, since both commanders are more support creatures than attackers. Still, if a battlefield gets bogged down, Thassa, God of the Sea, can help you break through. “Only” seven hits from Ikra Shidiqi will take care of someone. If you want the “I can’t believe it” award, commander damage out someone with Kydele. I’d read about that!

Since it was constructed from an existing stack of cards, it doesn’t play any of the new hotness from Hour of Devastation.

How Does It Lose?

The deck’s major weakness is to graveyard hate. It doesn’t even have that many ways to stop noncreature hate like Necrogenesis or Relic of Progenitus from doing a number. Of course, winning with this particular 100 cards is less an objective than doing cool stuff.

If it doesn’t draw a battlefield wipe, trouble could ensue. I imagine the creature cadre could get easily outclassed, especially without having reanimated a thing or two.

There isn’t any countermagic, so if a nasty spell needs to get countered, you’ll have to make a deal with one of the other players and convince them that said spell is also very bad for them.

Cards That Aren’t There

Since the deck was built from a limited pool of cards, there are plenty of other choices I might have made. Once of those choices would be to do more milling so that there are sweeter meats in the graveyard. Cards like Mesmeric Orb and Mindcrank will fill up graveyards faster than you might imagine.

Ikra and Kydele and the Future

The deck looks like fun to play, but I’m sure that once I shuffle it up some weaknesses will get exposed. There are plenty of outside-the-box choices which I’d love to make work. I think I’ve put Lim-Dul, the Necromancer into about ten different decks hoping that it could get there. Meren of Clan Nel Toth also seems like a bit of a gamble since it’s not the commander and access to it will be spotty.

All in all, I’m reasonably confident that the deck will be fun and thought-provoking to play. We’ll find out how good it turns out to be—but I trust that it will be good at being interesting.

This Week’s Idiotic Combo

This week’s combo comes courtesy of a game I played during Commander open play last Thursday at Armada Games. Once of the cards in question wasn’t even mine, making things even stupider. Armada regular and all around good person Chris Kruse has Implusive Maneuvers on the battlefield.

What ramps up the silliness here is that it didn’t start the game with the card in his deck, he’s cast it off of other Armada regular and reasonably good person Michael Eaton’s Shared Fate. I’m playing Dreaming of Intet, and the commander is active. My draw for the turn is Insult // Injury. I read the Insult half of the card twice, realizing that when can and can’t argue in Magic, can’t always wins. Predictable (since I’m telling the story) results ensue. I swing into Mike, since it’s his card, and that’s how we do. I win the flip, and a simple attack turns into a one-shot kill.

This Week’s Deck Without (Too Much) Comment

I want to give a shout out to Siren of the Silent Song, which is featured in this week’s deck, Gisa and Geralf Together Forever. In the one game this past week with the deck, everyone came around to the gospel of the Siren. On a battlefield of what I saw as much better creatures, it got copied and then killed two different times. Sometimes, it’s just the littlest Zombie that does cool things.

Gisa and Geralf
Sheldon Menery
Test deck on 08-04-2016

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; 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; You Take the Crown, I’ll Take Leovold; Zombies of Tresserhorn

Four Color

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


Children of a Greater God


Tana and Kydele


Animar Do-Over; Glissa Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus Do-Over; Steam-Powered Merieke 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.”