It’s wild to me that, with the release of The Brothers’ War, we will have five legendary creature versions of Mishra available to build Commander decks around!
In the early days of EDH, there were deck brewers who liked to build around “impossible commanders” where the legendary creature itself was difficult to play (think Phage the Untouchable) or the ability was deemed useless in Commander. That very first version – Mishra, Artificer Prodigy – was just such a card. I wrote about building just such a deck (Mishra the Mad!), but the two cards to think about with Mishra are Blood Funnel and Possibility Storm.
These days, Wizards of the Coast’s (WotC’s) Studio X has gotten much better about designing legendary creatures with Commander in mind, and the new versions of Mishra are quite exciting to build around. Since I’ve done a deep dive on the other two legends with the meld mechanic, I figured this week I should cover the last one in Mishra, Claimed by Gix!
What Mishra Is and Isn’t
Mishra, Claimed by Gix is an aggressive creature with its power tied to attacking, which I think is awesome in Commander where games can sometimes get bogged down if there aren’t enough incentives to attack. All by himself, he’s got a potent attack trigger that scales up the more creatures you attack with, draining more life from your opponents and giving you a big life boost. If Mishra and a creature named Phyrexian Dragon Engine are attacking, they will meld into Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia!
Phyrexian Dragon Engine isn’t all that exciting on its own, though a 2/2 creature with double strike and unearth for three mana is a pretty solid rate for an artifact. Unearth is quite useful if an opponent is trying to destroy it to prevent you from melding with it. Black has some ways to put creatures directly into the graveyard from the library, so that’s another method for searching up the companion piece for your commander to meld with.
Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia is a very scary creature that can quickly take over the game. When it enters the battlefield or attacks you get to choose half of the possible optional abilities. “Creatures you control gain menace and trample” is quite useful for pushing through damage, and since Mishra in this form is a 9/9, the potential for killing with commander damage is quite real. I also really like its “creatures you don’t control get -1/-1 until end of turn” ability to clean up a bunch of small token creatures.
Okay, let’s dive in!
Once we get Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia on the battlefield, we’ll want to get as many triggers as possible. We can’t really “blink” Mishra with something like Conjurer’s Closet, or we’ll end up with the two cards unmelded. We’ll want to get extra attack steps instead, and thankfully red provides a ton of ways to do just that. Port Razer is one of the best ways, since you can potentially get an attack step for each of your opponents, assuming you deal combat damage with Port Razer.
Since we want to be attacking early and often, I’d want to include cards that like attacking or trigger from attacking. One of my faves is Delina, Wild Mage, since when it attacks, it can copy Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia and the copy won’t be legendary, so you’ll get its enters-the-battlefield trigger and you’ll get to attack with it too. Roll high enough and we’ll get to repeat the process! Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant is impressive here too. You’ll get to tap down a blocker for each player you’re attacking, making it much more likely to push damage through, and if your opponent survives, the creature will be goaded.
Outside of extra attack steps, we can squeeze more triggers by copying the triggers. Strionic Resonator and Lithoform Engine are sweet for this, while Panharmonicon a little less so. Equipping Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia with Helm of the Host is going to feel amazing, since you’ll get the enters-the-battlefield trigger, it won’t die to the legend rule, and since it has haste you’ll be able to attack with both. That’s a ton of triggers! Blade of Selves can squeeze out some extra triggers by giving Mishra myriad, but all the copies will need to die to the legend rule so you can still attack with your commander.
Mishra, Claimed by Gix’s attack trigger gets bigger the more creatures you attack with, so it’s a good idea to spit out lots of potential attackers as fast as we can. Bitterblossom is a great way to do this, and the life loss is easily mitigated by Mishra’s attack trigger. Sorcery spells that make multiple token creatures might be worth playing too, like Dragon Fodder and Hordeling Outburst. Higher up the mana curve there’s Grave Titan, which also has an attack trigger that can benefit from extra attack steps.
Of course, many of the creature tokens are small and not likely to survive creature combat if they become blocked, so we might want to include some ways to push them past blockers.
One card I’d definitely include in a Mishra deck is Sonorous Howlbonder. Since one of the abilities of Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia is giving all your creatures menace (and trample) until the end of the turn, with Sonorous Howlbonder on the battlefield all your creatures are unblockable. Cosmotronic Wave is a one-shot sorcery that can do some work in conjunction with Mishra’s ability to give all opponents’ creatures -1/-1 until the end of the turn.
One thing that’s glaringly missing from an attack-loving commander is haste, but luckily for us there are a lot of options in Rakdos to help with that. Anger in the graveyard with a Mountain on the battlefield is a classic combination, and I also love Urabrask the Hidden, since it makes your opponents’ creatures enter the battlefield tapped and Mishra loves fewer blockers.
Ogre Battledriver not only gives haste but +2/+0 to creatures that enter the battlefield until end of turn. Zariel, Archduke of Avernus can give your team haste and also a power boost which can be quite effective when you have a swarm of small creatures you want to attack with. And its ability to crank out 1/1 Devil tokens can help build Mishra’s army.
Finding the Phyrexian Dragon Engine
There are all sorts of cards like Demonic Tutor in black that lets you search up whatever card you want from your deck. Any of those will help scoop up the Phyrexian Dragon Engine for melding shenanigans. But it being an artifact with unearth opens up some other options too. Gamble is normally a risky card, but if you end up discarding the Engine to its random effect that might actually be helpful if you want the haste from unearth. Entomb and Oriq Loremage can put it into the graveyard directly for the unearth plan. Goblin Engineer can do it too, but if you have haste enabled, it can sacrifice an artifact to put the Engine onto the battlefield and save mana on the unearth plan.
Imperial Recruiter and Sarkhan’s Triumph are other nifty ways to find the Engine and put it in your hand, though I suppose you’ll want a few other potential targets in case you’ve already got access to the Engine.
Protect the Phyrexian Dragon Engine
As with the other two meld legends, you’re going to hate having the non-commander meld piece get exiled, so we’ll want some ways to help avoid that. Phyrexian Tower can sacrifice Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia in response to an exile effect like Swords to Plowshares, and since the Engine has unearth and Mishra can go to the command zone, you can hopefully reassemble them. Since Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia is an artifact creature, there are plenty of ways to sacrifice artifacts to accomplish the same thing, like Goblin Welder, Scrap Welder, and Krark-Clan Ironworks.
Since graveyard hate is a thing, we’ll want some ways to protect the Engine from being exiled while in the graveyard too. Conjurer’s Bauble is a rarely seen card that can do that for us for hardly any mana. Campfire is a nice late-game option that can also help circumvent commander tax that’s gotten high.
Winning through the attack step can be tough sometimes, so I’d like more ways to squeeze extra damage wherever I can. Jeska, Thrice Reborn’s zero ability can mean that Mishra’s melded form can kill with commander damage immediately. Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar lets you hit all your opponents with Mishra when you hit one. The new version of Garna, Bloodfist of Keld from Dominaria United is great in this deck, making it tough for your opponents to block your attacking creatures if they’re going to die since no one wants you to draw extra cards. And if someone sweeps the battlefield of your small creature army, Garna will ping each opponent for one for each other creature that dies in such a way.
Fiery Emancipation is a sweet curve-topper to cast the turn after you cast Mishra. The “Mishra deals 3 damage to any target” aspect gets quite potent when you get to triple that damage, and having your small attacking army deal triple damage is much scarier for your opponents.
Mishra, Claimed by Gix’s attack trigger gains life, so we might want to include some cards that provide us benefits from the incidental lifegain. Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, Defiant Bloodlord and Sanguine Bond turn that lifegain into extra damage, which is exactly what we’re looking for. Well of Lost Dreams can get us some extra cards, and Veinwitch Coven can bring creatures back from the graveyard. If you gain enough life, Aetherflux Reservoir can just blast someone’s life total to bits!
Black Market Connections is a powerful enchantment, but it will eat up your life total very quickly. Thanks to Mishra’s lifegain trigger, you can recoup the life loss each turn you can attack. Descent into Avernus is another high-risk enchantment that we can lean on Mishra getting back the life we’re losing to the damage, while also pushing more damage onto your opponents’ plates.
A few more cards caught my eye. Tome of Legends is fantastic for combat-focused commanders, and it even gets an extra page when Mishra melds since it exiles and then comes back. Hellkite Courser is another card worth considering; if Mishra has accumulated too much commander tax, you can cast Hellkite Courser to bring Mishra to the battlefield with haste, and ideally you can attack and meld with the Engine. Since it will exile and come back to the battlefield, it won’t need to return to the command zone during your end step.
Giving Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia lifelink with Witch’s Clinic seems like an excellent way to race your opponents. I might even consider Cultist of the Absolute to give Mishra some extra evasion, and adding deathtouch to Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia’s trample and menace will let you slice through blockers quite easily.
What do you think of Mishra, Claimed by Gix? Are there other cards you would want to include in a Rakdos Commander deck I may have overlooked here? Which version of Mishra is your favorite?
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