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Orzhov Payoffs With Teysa Karlov

If you’ve played Commander for a while, you know that Teysa is one of the most beloved leaders around the world! Her new incarnation will continue this tradition, and Bennie Smith shows the way!

Alright, the previews for
Ravnica Allegiance
are in full swing and there are all sorts of goodies for Commander fans! A
couple weeks back I wrote up a deck around the buy-a-box promo card The
Haunt of Hightower. Since then we’ve got a peek at quite a few new
interesting legends to build Commander decks around. I decided to run a
poll on Twitter to see which of four legends people found more exciting or
interesting. Here were the results:

Teysa and Prime Speaker Vannifar were the clear favorites, with Teysa
edging out the Elf Ooze Wizard. I have to say I was secretly happy to see
that Lavinia, Azorius Renegade came so far behind the rest of the choices
because I imagine Commander decks built around Lavinia would be a little
bit oppressive. That said, I’m glad Lavinia is around as a potential check
on some of the more abusive things you can do in Commander.


So, Teysa it is! Teysa immediately calls to mind a card many casual players
love-Panharmonicon.

So, we’ll want to have plenty of dying triggers in our deck, and lucky for
us Ozhov colors provide plenty of options for that!

But we’ll also want some tokens to make use of the last ability. Vigilance
is a solid gold ability in Commander, and lifelink provides you with a nice
buffer when racing.

Let’s get to it!

Big Tokens

The first thing I want to do is make some really big creatures we can boost
with Teysa.

Giving vigilance and lifelink to a 20/20 indestructible flier sounds
exactly like the sort of thing I want to be doing in Commander! Barring
that, a 5/5 Demon or 6/12 Construct sounds like a pretty good size token
creature too. The Horror token from Flesh Carver can potentially be quite
large, and with Teysa out you’d get two copies of it when Flesh Carver
dies.

Of course, the best thing you can do is equip Teysa with Helm of the Host
and crank out non-legendary token copies. Sure, the lifelink and vigilance
won’t stack, but the death triggers sure will!

Other Tokens

There are plenty of ways to make less impressive but still good tokens too.
Bitterblossom is already decent, but giving the tokens lifelink and
vigilance is a solid way to overcome the life loss. Bloodline Keeper is an
excellent token producer, but it turns out I want to play quite a few
Vampires in this deck so the transform trigger is going to be pretty easy
to achieve. Wurmcoil Engine is fantastic with Teysa since it creates tokens
from a death trigger so you’d get two copies of each.

Regna, the Redeemer is certainly the less powerful partner, but she does
good work here by cranking out tokens. And of course, fetching out her
partner Krav, the Unredeemed… who happens to be a great sacrifice outlet to
leverage death triggers on demand. Speaking of death triggers…

Death Triggers

We have a plethora of great options for death triggers, and I tried to pick
most of the very best ones here. Whether it’s small, incremental advantages
from cards like Deathgreeter and Filigree Familiar, on up to back-breaking
triggers from Kokusho, the Morning Star or Ashen Rider. I found room for my
pet card, Dead Man’s Chest, because why wouldn’t I want to double my fun?

Athreos, God of Passage really puts on the pressure with Teysa on the
battlefield, potentially costing someone six life to prevent your dying
creature from returning to your hand.

Sacrifice Outlets

With so many death triggers in the deck, we definitely want to make sure we
can trigger them at opportune moments with Teysa on the battlefield, so
I’ve included a ton of sacrifice engines. As I mentioned above, many of
them are Vampires so that plays nicely with a few of the Vampire tribal
cards in the deck. I like Whisper, Blood Liturgist here since we can easily
sacrifice a few small creatures to bring back something big. Eldrazi
Monument has a lot of benefits many decks can enjoy, but the drawback is
actually a positive in this deck.

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim can sacrifice creatures when you want to, but with
all the extra lifelink from Teysa it should be relatively easy to access
her second activated ability.

Mana Ramp

The mana curve is quite low, but we still want to make sure we have plenty
of mana throughout the game. Teysa is liable to be targeted for removal
quite often, and the Commander tax can add up. I like that Solemn
Simulacrum ramps you but also benefits from doubled death triggers. Golden
Guardian is pretty easy to transform since you can sacrifice it either
before or after the fight happens, providing you two extra mana when
needed, or churning out 4/4 Golem tokens that do great work with Teysa.

Black Market is good in most black decks but is just stellar here with all
the creatures you’re going to be killing off yourself, and of course, the
charge counters are put on the enchantment from death triggers, so Teysa
can double that mana.

Removal

While we’re having fun killing our own creatures, we want to make sure we
have ways to destroy cards our opponents may be playing. Thankfully, Orzhov
colors provide us with plenty of options, and I’ve included a bunch of them
here.

Card Draw

Last but not least, we’ll want some card draw, and of course, the very best
is those that come from death triggers like Grim Haruspex, Midnight Reaper,
and Corpse Augur. With Teysa giving your tokens lifelink, I feel that Dawn
of Hope will be incredibly easy to trigger.

Sweet deck! But wait, there are too many cards. I’ll start by looking at
our mana curve:

1 mana:
9

2 mana:
20

3 mana:
15

4 mana:
13+commander

5 mana:
7

6 mana:
6

7+ mana/X-spells:
3

74 total cards plus 39 lands equals 13 cards too many, which isn’t too bad!
Let’s see what we can trim, starting with the top of our curve.

These are all great cards in this deck, but we’ve got to cut somewhere. I
feel that there are other cards that do similar things but better so these
get the boot.

Again, I like all of these cards, but I think Elenda and the Seraph are
just slightly worse than other options. Kalitas is a tough one here that
I’m not sure is the right choice; do you see a better cut at four mana?

So many good cards at three mana, but something has to give. Blood Bairn
was relatively easy since so many other cards do basically the exact same
thing.

There are a whopping twenty great two-mana cards in this deck, so that’s
where I had to go for the final four cuts. Again, I like all of these, but
feel like I want the other cards more. Losing out on the equipment tutor
aspect of Stoneforge Mystic stings a little bit, but none of our equipment
cards are key to our strategy, though I would love to find Helm of the Host
and put it onto the battlefield for only two mana.

Here’s how the deck ended up:

Teysa Karlov
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 01-07-2019
Commander

So, what do you think? What sort of choices do you disagree with? Are there
any cards that I overlooked?

Do me a solid and

subscribe to my channel too

! I’m posting Top 5 cards from many of my StarCityGames.com® columns as a
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Deck Database


Below I’ve got links to decks I’ve written about going back to January
2017. If you want to read the associated article, just put “Bennie Smith”
and the commander name into the Google and it should pop right up. I’ve
written a lot about Commander – and Magic in general – so if you want to
explore further the

StarCityGames.com® article archives

have my articles all the way back to January 2000!

Ravnica Allegiance


The Haunt of Hightower

SCGCON Winter 2018 (stay tuned for decklists!)


Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow

, Grothama, All-Devouring; Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis; Feldon of the Third
Path; Ramos, Dragon Engine; Inalla, Archmage Ritualist; Prossh, Skyraider
of Kher; Brago, King Eternal

Ultimate Masters


Garna, the Bloodflame

Guilds of Ravnica

Niv Mizzet, Parun
,

Emmara, Soul of the Accord

,

Lazav, the Multifarious (decklist in the comments)

,

Tajic, Legion’s Edge

,

Etrata, the Silencer

,

Izoni, Thousand-Eyed

Commander 2018


Aminatou, the Fateshifter

,

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

, Lord Windgrace,
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer

Core Set 2019


Sai, Master Thopterist

,

Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

,

Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire

,

Chromium, the Mutable

Battlebond


Grothama, All-Devouring

Dominaria


Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle

, Grand Warlord Radha
, Arvad the Cursed,

Muldrotha, the Grave Tide

,

Slimefoot, the Stowaway

,

Yargle, Glutton of Urborg

, Squee, the Immortal
,

Firesong and Sunspeaker

,

Jodah, Archmage Eternal

,
Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker

Masters 25


Hannah, Ship’s Navigator

Rivals of Ixalan


Azor, the Lawbringer

, Etali, Primal Storm
,

Nezahal, Primal Tide

,

Zacama, Primal Calamity

,

Tetzimoc, Primal Death

,

Zetalpa, Primal Dawn

,

Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Unstable


Grusilda, Monster Masher

,

Dr. Julius Jumblemorph

Ixalan


Vona, Butcher of Magan

,

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

,

Admiral Beckett Brass

,

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Commander 2017


Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith

,

Inalla, Archmage Ritualist

,

Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist

,

O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami

,

Mairsil, the Pretender

,

Taigam, Ojutai Master

Hour of Devastation


Razaketh, the Foulblooded

, Zur, the Enchanter
(Mummy’s Curse),

Djeru, With Eyes Open

, The Locust God, Karona, False God
(All the Deserts),Nicol Bolas, Neheb, the Eternal

Amonkhet

Oketra the True
,

Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun

, Atogatog
(Cartouches & Trials),

Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons

,

Samut, Voice of Dissent

,

Rhonas the Indomitable

, Hazoret the Fervent

Kaladesh Block


Yahenni, Undying Partisan

, Nicol Bolas, Child of Alara (5
Color Energy),

Rishkar, Peema Renegade

,

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

,

Sram, Senior Edificer

Commander 2016


Breya, Etherium Shaper

,

Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice

,

Tymna the Weaver // Ravos, Soultender

Other Commander Decks


Anafenza, the Foremost

(shutting down shenanigans),

Momir Vig, Simic Visionary

(no green creatures),

Kytheon, Hero of Akros

(Tribal Gideon),

Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Commander Strategy

Let’s Talk About Lands

Who Should I Attack?

Targeted Removal in Commander