I have to hand it to Wizards of the Coast for a block that is just chock-full of awesome flavor. Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation have amazing Ancient Egyptian-inspired callbacks while also forging its own identity. I really like that they added Curses into the mix as a shout-out to the legend of Curses inflicting people who disturb the tombs of ancient pharaohs.
Dr. Halsey! Dr. Halsey!
The mummy’s alive and he’s dancing with the devil.
They included a few Curses in Hour of Devastation, and they are fairly high on power level, particularly this one:
The power of this card is reflected in its high mana cost, which limits its playability in Standard, but we have more options when it comes to Commander! With a new infusion of Curses from the past two sets, it makes me want to build a Commander deck chock-full of Curses. The first thing I did was take a look at all the Curses available. With Commander 2013 we have Curses across all five colors, but there is only one in green.
Thanks to Commander 2016 we can make a four-color Curse deck, but as I thought about what our Commander would be, none of the options felt right. Breya, Etherium Shaper wants a deck full of artifacts rather than enchantments. Ditto with Akiri, Line-Slinger and Silas Renn, Seeker Adept. Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker and Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus want opponents to cast spells, but there is a Curse that discourages that, so it is a bit awkward. We could cobble something together from the remaining partners, but none of the combinations felt like a good fit.
Which then begs the question—do we want to go down to three colors? We cannot cut black because it has the best selection of Curses, and we cannot cut white because I definitely want to play with Overwhelming Splendor. Comparing the blue Curses to the red Curses, it quickly becomes obvious which color has the better Curses. Sorry, red. Hit the showers.
Really, the only Curse of the bunch I am going to miss too much is Curse of Bloodletting, but I think we will be okay. Esper it is! Searching through the Esper legendary creatures, one in particular jumps out as a natural fit. And it is a doozy!
The cons of playing Zur are considerable. Everyone hates Zur the Enchanter because dedicated Zur decks can be nearly impossible to beat. My counter to that is that this is not a dedicated Zur deck; it is a Curse deck. I will take my lumps from anti-Zur bias, but eventually people will learn that my deck is not built to abuse Zur; my deck is about flavor. What is perfect about Zur is it can search up the cheaper Curses just by attacking, which you have to admit is pretty sweet. Curses are enchantments. Zur is an enchanter. Perfect!
Even cut down to just three colors, we have a ton of Curses for our Curse deck! What is fun is figuring out the right Curse(s) for the right opponent. Slap Curse of Vengeance or Curse of Exhaustion (but not both) on the player going nuts with cascade. Layer Curse of the Bloody Tome, Fraying Sanity, and Torment of Scarabs on the player that is not abusing their graveyard. For someone who is abusing their graveyard, let them work around Curse of Oblivion. Overwhelming Splendor and Curse of Death’s Hold form a lock against a creature-heavy deck or an overly abusive commander. Cruel Reality goes to the player who thinks they are above playing creature cards.
I really love Bitterheart Witch as a rattlesnake against your opponents. Not only is her deathtouch annoying for attackers to get around, but also if someone plays mass removal and it is not to your benefit, you can hit them with one of the most powerful of the Curses.
Okay, we just finished up with the world of Amonkhet, so it seems only fitting to include mummies in our Curse deck. Of course, “Mummy” isn’t a creature type in Magic and they are lumped in as Zombies, but not all Zombies are mummies, are they?
Thankfully, Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation provide us with Zombies that are obviously mummies to include here, and then I went through and looked at the art of all Zombies in Magic and picked out a few that seemed like they were mummies (such as Cabal Interrogator).
I know it is probably a big flavor-fail to not include Cyclopean Mummy, but that card is just so bad…
Given our focus on Curses, I thought it would be good to include cards that care about enchantments generally and Auras specifically.
Greater Auramancy helps make our Curses a little more resilient to enchantment removal. Copy Enchantment can be another copy of a particularly potent Curse. Sigarda’s Aid lets us cast our Curses at instant speed! Kor Spiritdancer and Sram, Senior Edificer turn our Curses into cantrips (but only when we cast them). Sphere of Safety will make it very tough for opponents to attack you with all the Curses around.
Brago, King Eternal can reset our Curses, letting us move them around to different players if need be. I love that we could be spreading our Curses around the table as minor nuisances, and then when Brago attacks, you can pile all the Curses on one particular player that needs to be taken down!
Through the course of our games, Auras will make their way to the graveyard, so I have Retether, Replenish, and Starfield of Nyx to bring them back. The fact that Starfield will not “wake up” the Curses and make them vulnerable to creature removal is actually a good thing in this deck.
Seal of Cleansing makes it in as utility spell that plays nicely with all the enchantment synergies.
Esper Good Stuff
I will round the deck out with some good stuff cards that we can put in any Esper deck, including solid pinpoint removal along with mass removal. Nim Deathmantle plays nicely with some of our creatures that have enters-the-battlefield abilities (especially Sun Titan). If our opponents are working hard to stymie our Curse plan and appear unconcerned about our mummies, well these solid card will help us compete regardless.
Here is how the deck has shaped up:
- 1 Cabal Interrogator
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Devout Witness
- 1 Kor Spiritdancer
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Massacre Wurm
- 1 Vengeful Pharaoh
- 1 Bitterheart Witch
- 1 Brago, King Eternal
- 1 Heliod's Pilgrim
- 1 Accursed Witch
- 1 Sram, Senior Edificer
- 1 Tattered Mummy
- 1 Wayward Servant
- 1 Binding Mummy
- 1 Fan Bearer
- 1 Festering Mummy
- 1 Miasmic Mummy
- 1 Unraveling Mummy
- 1 Mummy Paramount
- 1 Disposal Mummy
- 6 Plains
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 6 Swamp
- 6 Island
- 1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
- 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- 1 Watery Grave
- 1 Godless Shrine
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 Arcane Sanctum
- 1 Esper Panorama
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Rupture Spire
- 1 Drowned Catacomb
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Isolated Chapel
- 1 Transguild Promenade
- 1 Thespian's Stage
- 1 Temple of Deceit
- 1 Temple of Silence
- 1 Opal Palace
- 1 Temple of Enlightenment
- 1 Command Beacon
- 1 Replenish
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Seal of Cleansing
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Phyrexian Reclamation
- 1 Rout
- 1 Copy Enchantment
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Retether
- 1 Greater Auramancy
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Curse of the Bloody Tome
- 1 Curse of Death's Hold
- 1 Curse of Oblivion
- 1 Curse of Thirst
- 1 Tragic Slip
- 1 Curse of Echoes
- 1 Curse of Exhaustion
- 1 Curse of Misfortunes
- 1 Chromatic Lantern
- 1 Supreme Verdict
- 1 Sphere of Safety
- 1 Strionic Resonator
- 1 Gift of Immortality
- 1 Swan Song
- 1 Curse of Inertia
- 1 Curse of Shallow Graves
- 1 Curse of the Forsaken
- 1 Starfield of Nyx
- 1 Sigarda's Aid
- 1 Curse of Vengeance
- 1 Cruel Reality
- 1 Trespasser's Curse
- 1 Fraying Sanity
- 1 Torment of Scarabs
- 1 Overwhelming Splendor
What do you think of the deck? Is there anything big that I have overlooked? How would you go about building it differently?
If you are a regular reader of my Commander content, be sure to come back Monday where I kick off my new weekly time slot at the beginning of each 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 Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2
(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
Commander Starter Kits 1
(kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 2
(kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 3
(kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
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)
• Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)
• Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)
• 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)
• Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)
• Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)
• Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)
• Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)
• Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)
• Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)
• Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)
• Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)
• Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)
• Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)
• Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)
• Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)
• Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)
• Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)