Red Mana For Days! Commander With Neheb, The Eternal

Red may get bad buzz in Commander, but the right legendary creature can bring the fun back! Bennie Smith serves up a double bill of new Hour of Devastation card Neheb, the Eternal and Feldon of the Third Path!

Red gets a bad rap in Commander, through no fault of its own.

I mean, it can’t really help that many of red’s strengths in its slice of the color pie play much better in a duel scenario as opposed to a format where you have more opponents and everyone begins with double the starting life totals. Lightning Bolt starts to look rather anemic when your three opponents begin the game with 120 life between them.

That said, I think R&D has done a good job of beefing up the areas of red’s color pie that play great in Commander, especially in their Commander products. One of my favorite Commander decks right now is Feldon of the Third Path, which plays a lot with artifact synergies, and I have been constantly tweaking it and adding sweet new cards over the past few years. A sweet new red legendary creature from Hour of Devastation has me very nearly as excited to build around it as I have been about Feldon. And it could not be more different, which is super-cool. Just check out Neheb, the Eternal!

While I was mostly ambivalent about Neheb’s earlier Rakdos incarnation, this shiny new pure red version looks amazing! I certainly am going to experiment with it in Standard, but for now let us focus on the 100-card format.

What does Neheb do? He gives us mana after our combat step, and he does it in a very red way by translating life our opponents lose into mana. Luckily for us and red cards in general, damage causes life loss and so damage is going to give us back mana.

From Magic’s Comprehensive Rules:

119.3a Damage dealt to a player by a source without infect causes that player to lose that much life.

What is fantastic about Neheb is that he takes what red is good at – dealing damage with spells – and turns it into a rush of mana, which in Commander means we can pay for bigger haymaker spells to brawl with the best of them. So take our lowly example of Lightning Bolt above—sure, that three points might not be a whole lot of damage in the great scheme of things, but when it is also a red Dark Ritual? Now you have my interest!

Dealing Damage: Spells

The effects that deal damage to each opponent are really exciting. For instance, in a typical four-player game, two-mana Flame Rift will give you twelve red mana back! Suddenly a handful of Legacy Burn deck staples get a bit more interesting. Browbeat goes from a joke to being in the conversation—let me draw three cards, or take five damage and give me five mana. Cryptolith Fragment taps to give you a mana during your pre-combat main phase, and then three red mana post-combat. Pyrohemia converts each red mana you spend to ping everyone and everything into a red mana back for each opponent during your postcombat main phase.

And then… and then there is Aetherflux Reservoir. Now, a lot of the best spells that deal damage to our opponents deal damage to us too, so the odds of us being over 50 life are lower than usual, but if you can get up there with Neheb on the battlefield and smack someone for 50 damage during pre-combat, that’s 50 red mana coming back your way post-combat.

Wow. 50 mana, people!

Dealing Damage: Creatures

There are many red creatures that dish out extra damage to our opponents, so I have included a bunch here. Heartless Hidetsugu is the big one here, cutting down life totals and potentially giving us back a ton of mana post-combat. Combustible Gearhulk is like a walking Browbeat here, giving an opponent a choice between letting us draw three cards or potentially taking a bunch of damage and giving us a bunch of mana.

I love how Embermaw Hellion just makes everything a little more painful for our opponents, which of course nets us just a little more mana too.

Of course, when we think about attacking and then getting a rush of mana in our postcombat main phase, it makes sense that we might actually want more attack steps, right?

Attack Step

Throw out a Flame Rift, attack with some creatures, get a rush of mana from Neheb afterwards. Now cast Seize the Day and attack again. Deal some more damage and then get even more mana afterwards. Cards like Aggravated Assault and Hellkite Charger can potentially just allow you to have as many attack steps as you could possibly want (along with extra mana each time). Yeah, I think that can end games!

I wanted to add in some creatures that might appreciate the extra attack steps, like Smuggler’s Copter and Dragon Mage. Grenzo, Havoc Raiser and Prophetic Flamespeaker can help turn the extra attacks into card advantage. since you will be getting that extra mana afterwards.

Protect/Boost Neheb

Obviously, if we build around Neheb, things can get insane rather quickly, so it will not take long for your opponents to start scrambling to deal with Neheb. I am including some safeguards like Swiftfoot Boots and Darksteel Plate to help. We may also want to pad our life total, since many of our spells and effects deal damage to all players, so Basilisk Collar and Loxodon Warhammer will help. Since Neheb is a Warrior, Obsidian Battle-Axe seems like a natural inclusion.

Last but not least, how about Strionic Resonator to copy Neheb’s triggered ability for even more mana?

Mana Sinks

Okay, so there is potential for crazy amounts of mana flowing our way post-combat. Assuming we are not always taking extra attack steps, I wanted to include some things to sink all that mana into for fun and profit. Fireball variants Banefire and Red Sun’s Zenith are sweet, and spells like Earthquake and Fault Line are even great pre-combat to convert into more mana post-combat. The best of the bunch are reusable effects like Kumano, Master Yamabushi, Shivan Hellkite, and Fanning the Flames. Yes, Fanning the Flames! We’ve finally found a home for you in Commander.

Okay, without further ado, here is my new favorite red Commander deck, once I get my hands on Hour of Devastation:

What do you think? Am I missing any obvious inclusions? How would you build Neheb, the Eternal differently?

Speaking of Mono-Red Commander Decks…

Before I go, I thought some of you might appreciate seeing my Feldon of the Third Path deck. I originally wrote about it here quite a few years back. I got a chuckle reading that old article and seeing this part of it:

It amuses me to imagine the “story” that’s going to play out with this deck, something like…

Feldon the master artificer, consumed with grief but filled with hope, turns on the machine and awaits breathlessly for the signs of life within. “She will come back to me,” he whispers to himself as the doors open up. He squints at the shape moving out of the shadows, his heart skipping a beat…

His smile turns to a scowl when he realizes it is not Loran standing there but rather… another Ingot Chewer. Which promptly begins to chew on itself.

Feldon pounds his fist in frustration and pores back over his notes…

Still funny, though Ingot Chewer is no longer in the deck. I wonder though if maybe I should add it back, now that I think about it?

My current list is below. It has a ton of play in it, in no small part due to all the nifty Goblins that do cool things when Feldon copies them from the graveyard (which is why Moggcatcher makes an appearance). The deck got a huge upgrade from recent sets, and I am particularly looking forward to utilizing the Game Day foil Glorybringer!

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, Visionary 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)

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)

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)

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)

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)

Konda, Lord of Eiganjo ( The Indestructibles)

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)

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius ( new player-friendly)

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!)

Progenitus (

Fist of Suns and Bringers


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)

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)

Uril, the Miststalker (my “more competitive” deck)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

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