Two Directions For Commander 2015’s Call The Spirits Deck!

As much as we all love the Commander 2015 decks, most of the fun is in customizing them! Bennie Smith has been doing just that, and today, he has a few ways you can take the Orzhov!

Last week I had to geek out a bit about my evil Eldrazi plans in Standard once I’m able to get my hands on Oath of the Gatewatch, but I’m back this week and continuing to go over each of the Commander 2015 precon decks and walking through how we can use the cards in the deck as a base to build around each of the two new legends. So far I’ve covered the Izzet deck Seize Control with Mizzix of the Izmagnus and Arjun, the Shifting Flame; the Golgari deck Plunder the Graves featuring Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest; and the Boros deck Wade into Battle featuring Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas and Anya, Merciless Angel.

This week I’m digging into the Orzhov deck Call the Spirits featuring Daxos the Returned and Karlov of the Ghost Council. Apparently the Orzhov voted down commas in the new legendary names for Commander 2015. I for one approve this measure since it’s much easier to write about Magic cards when there aren’t commas popping up in the middle of their names.

As I was going through the list I saw quite a few cards that can easily port over to a more focused and powered-up version built around either Daxos or Karlov, including many cards I’ll want in both decks. Let’s talk about those first: Sol Ring, Wayfarer’s Bauble, Phyrexian Reclamation, Lightning Greaves, Orzhov Signet, Thought Vessel, Underworld Coinsmith, Seal of Cleansing, Karmic Justice, Vow of Duty, Vow of Malice, Seal of Doom, Grasp of Fate, Phyrexian Arena, Underworld Connections, Black Market

Enchantments play perfectly in Daxos, but many work just fine in any sort of B/W Commander deck. Underworld Coinsmith plays particularly nicely with Karlov’s desire for pips of life here and there. Phyrexian Reclamation is a fantastic card for getting back dead creatures on the cheap, and Black Market is an exciting reprint to get into your Commander collection. Since we’re going to be gaining life with Karlov Phyrexian Arena and Underworld Connections makes sense.

Path 1: Daxos the Returned

I forget where I heard it from, but someone suggested Daxos in a deck with no enchantments and using his activated ability to basically get a death trigger on demand. That’s a really cool idea and one worth exploring at a later time, but the precon deck has way too many great enchantments to turn down going with the obvious theme for Daxos the Returned the first time around.

Enchantments Matter

Call the Spirits: Monk Idealist, Mesa Enchantress, Crystal Chimes, Ajani’s Chosen, Agent of Erebos, Doomwake Giant, Celestial Ancient, Sigil Of The Empty Throne, Open the Vaults, Silent Sentinel

New Additions: Faith Healer, Greater Auramancy, Replenish, Skybind, Sphere of Safety, Thoughtrender Lamia, Extinguish All Hope

Daxos ain’t the face card for Call the Spirits for nothing! There are a ton of “enchantments matter” cards in the precon deck. I’ve added Replenish to Open the Vaults to let us recover from mass removal, but I prefer things like Crystal Chimes and even Monk Idealist since they retrieve the enchantments for you to cast again and further ramp your experience counters with Daxos.

I was on the fence with Greater Auramancy, since it can set up some awkward moments when you have an Aura in hand but only control enchantment creatures, but I think the pros outweigh the cons.

Other Good Enchantments

Call the Spirits: Nighthowler, Cage of Hands, Shielded By Faith, Fate Unraveler, Daxos’s Torment, Celestial Archon, Dictate of Heliod, Necromancer’s Covenant

New Additions: Land Tax, Soul Snare, Vampiric Rites, Seal of Cleansing, Luminarch Ascension, Brilliant Halo, Darksteel Mutation, Shadows Of The Past, Spirit Loop, Gift of Immortality; Heliod, God of the Sun; Angelic Destiny; Erebos, God of the Dead

Cage of Hands is the “engine” card from the precon, letting you replay it over and over and ratchet up experience counters. I’ve added Brilliant Halo and Angelic Destiny to perform a similar function when the creature they enchant die, bounce back to your hand and replay. The dream is to enchant Monk Idealist with Gift of Immortality, assuming there’s another enchantment in the graveyard to retrieve.

Land Tax is one of the most potent one-mana enchantments ever printed and it’s easy to add to the mix, so I made room for Scroll Rack since the two of them together make a heckuva nice draw engine.

I also decided to add in Sun Titan. Since so many good enchantments are three mana or less he can function as a slow-rolling Replenish that attacks and blocks big.

Here’s what I cooked up for our journey’s end down this path:

Playing hard with the Daxos theme didn’t leave much room for more stock B/W spells, but that’s OK, it looks like loads of fun!

The other fork in the path leads to the spookiest guild house in Ravnica…

Path 2: Karlov of the Ghost Council

Outside of the cards we’d want from Call the Spirits to port into either deck, there aren’t a whole lot of cards that directly support a Karlov-focused deck. Let’s see what we can start with and what we might want to add to the mix.

Gaining Life

Call the Spirits: Righteous Confluence

New Additions: Basilisk Collar, Deathgreeter, Soul Warden, Soul’s Attendant, Auriok Champion, Blood Artist, Spirit Loop, Sun Droplet, Vizkopa Guildmage, Ghost Council of Orzhova, Sangromancer, Whip of Erebos; Obzedat, Ghost Council; Sunscorch Regent, Treasury Thrull, Patron Of The Kitsune, Pontiff of Blight; Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter

We obviously want to gain life in a Karlov of the Ghost Council deck and there a ton of fantastic options for that to be found in white, black, and artifacts. However, Karlov likes his life gain in small bite size chunks of life rather than huge life swings from one effect, so I’ve pushed hard in that direction. If I’m not mistaken, Righteous Confluence resolving will give you three separate bits of life gain, so that’s worth six +1/+1 counters right there. I know Auriok Champion’s price has gone through the roof lately, but if you’ve got one laying around like me it certainly does good work in the deck; but if not, Deathgreeter, the Soul sisters, and Blood Artist do just fine.

Then there’s this baby:

It all makes sense now, doesn’t it? This innocuous little artifact is such a gigantic annoyance it makes perfect sense that it was an Orzhovian creation all along! I’ve even included a Caves of Koilos in the deck, so if no one cooperates with your fiendish plans and attacks you when you’ve got Sun Droplet out there, you can ping yourself and gain a life pip for Karlov.

Life into Resources

Call the Spirits: Corpse Augur, Ancient Craving

New Additions: Ajani’s Pridemate; Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim; Erebos, God of the Dead; Archangel of Thune, Defiant Bloodlord

While we’re focused on gaining a bunch of life in order to boost up our ghostly Commander, we might as well enjoy other benefits. Turning life into cards is an age-old tradition for black cards and is as powerful here as it’s always been. I like that Archangel of Thune provides Karlov with additional +1/+1 counters when you gain life, giving you enough counters to exile creatures off two pips of life rather than three. Defiant Bloodlord turns that lifegain into your opponents’ pain. Once we get up to 50 life we can turn on new card Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim’s exile ability—Exile all the things!

+1/+1 Counters

New Additions: Blade Of The Bloodchief, Serene Steward, Unspeakable Symbol, Cradle of Vitality

We’re all about adding counters to Karlov with life pips but there are other ways to add counters. Serene Steward functions like Archangel of Thune, slightly cheaper to cast but a bit more expensive to activate. Unspeakable Symbol naturally springs to mind, mostly as a way to round out the counters to give you enough to exile something in a pinch. Sometimes, though, it would totally be worth eighteen life to exile a creature that would otherwise be killing you.

After these cards, there is still plenty of room for many of the utility cards you’d expect to run in a typical B/W deck: Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Wrath of God, Damnation, and Rout. Slaughter is a powerhouse removal spell if you’ve got ways to recoup the life and we certainly do here. I ported over Herald of the Host and Banshee of the Dread Choir since the Myriad trigger can help fire off a cascade of life pips with Soul Warden and company.

Here’s what I cooked up for our journey’s end down this path:

Karlov of the Ghost Council
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 01-15-2016
Magic Card Back

What do you think of these two directions for the Call the Spirits precon? How would you do things differently? If you have any questions about any of my card choices, please feel free to ask.

This leaves the SSSSSimic for next week!

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)