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Commander Top 10: Valki, God Of Lies

Valki may be the God of Lies, but Bennie Smith’s Commander deck built around the Kaldheim preview is the truth. Check out his latest build.

Valki, God of Lies, illustrated by Yongjae Choi

What a difference a week makes!  This time last week all I had to go on for Kaldheim were the sneak-peek cards revealed around the holidays, so I cooked up a cool brew around Halvar, God of Battle.

This cool new modal DFC suggested to me that there would be a single cycle of monocolored Gods with creatures on one side and what I assumed would be an artifact on the other side.  Well, that definitely falls far short of what the deities of Kaldheim have going on. As I write this there have been nine Gods revealed; some are mythics, some are rares, some are Equipment cards on the back side, some are artifacts, one is a five-color enchantment, and one is a Bird.

And one… one has a planeswalker on the other side!

First off, can we take a moment and appreciate this flavorful design as a callback to the actual Norse God Loki, the trickster?  How hilarious is it that Tibalt, one of the mechanically weakest of all the planeswalkers, has come to Kaldheim to pretend to be a God?

The Valki side is pretty cool — cast it for two, everyone but you reveals their hand, and then you get to exile a creature card in their hand so long as Valki remains on the battlefield. Then for X mana you get to make Valki become a copy of one of the exiled creatures with converted mana cost X.  This side alone would certainly make for an interesting commander to build around, but there’s much, much more to it when you consider the back side of the card.  For a whopping seven mana you get a planeswalker, and boy howdy does it look like Tibalt has grown up! 

Let’s dig in.

As Tibalt enters the battlefield, you get an emblem with “You may play cards exiled with Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor, and you may spend mana as though it were mana of any color to cast those spells.”

It seems a little odd to get this emblem immediately once Tibalt enters the battlefield until you consider the rest of the package.

+2: Exile the top card of each player’s library.

So the floor of this card means that, even if Tibalt immediately dies, assuming three opponents, you get four extra cards available to you for the rest of the game. Sure, odds are pretty good one or two of these are going to just be lands, but we’re happy to get some extra land drops for the seven-mana side of our commander. And since Tibalt starts at five loyalty, the extra two cranks Tibalt up to seven loyalty, which means it’s possible he might survive to your next turn.

-3: Exile target artifact or creature.

This could pick off a big threat that you could later cast for your team. Just keep in mind that opponents’ commanders can just be put into the command zone, so you’ll probably want to exile something else.

-8: Exile all cards from all graveyards. Add RRR.

This ability means that every card exiled out of everyone’s graveyards is now available for you to play for the rest of the game, and you get three red mana to start casting some of those cards if you want. Unless people have been vigilant in hitting everyone’s graveyards all game with cards like Soul-Guide Lantern, this will likely mean an incredible advantage.  I wouldn’t bank on being able to fire the ultimate off reliably to want to play a bunch of milling cards to really kick this effect into the stratosphere, but just the normal ebb and flow of a Commander game that’s gotten to the mid- or late-game should have plenty of goodies in the graveyards.

So, when I look at both sides of this card, the Tibalt side seems like what I’ll want to be building towards.  It’s like having Villainous Wealth as your commander!  To my mind, the Valki side is going to be a way to get your commander on the battlefield cheaply if commander tax has gotten too pricey, assuming you’ve got a way to return it to your hand to cast as Tibalt.

Okay, let’s get brewing!

1 & 2. Sanctum of Eternity & Geode Golem

Remember when I mentioned bringing Valki back to your hand so you can cast the Tibalt side?  Sanctum of Eternity is going to do so much heavy lifting in this deck, I even included an Expedition Map to go search it up. Geode Golem is a great way to compensate for the high mana cost of the Tibalt side if you can deal combat damage to one of your opponents.  Since Geode Golem has trample, even if it’s blocked, saving an instant speed removal spell to get rid of the blocker should mean you get the trigger.

I’ve included some other commander or planeswalker shenanigans too:

Command Beacon Expedition Map Netherborn Altar Chandra, Acolyte of Flame

Command Beacon and Netherborn Altar unlock Tibalt in case commander tax has gotten out of hand.

In early drafts of this deck I went a little crazy with a lot of planeswalkers and The Chain Veil but ended up trimming most of it away.  Chandra sticks around because its two zero loyalty abilities are nice—you can boost Tibalt’s loyalty or make a couple of 1/1 Elementals that you can equip with Skullclamp to draw some cards.

3. Urabrask the Hidden

Planeswalkers have a tough time surviving in Commander because you’ve got three other players with creatures who are pretty well motivated to attack and kill planeswalkers, especially one as powerful as Tibalt—isn’t it super funny that we can say “especially one as powerful as Tibalt”? 

Creatures with haste are particularly good as planeswalker assassins, so let’s neutralize them with Urabrask the Hidden forcing creatures your opponents control to enter the battlefield tapped.  Giving your own creatures haste is nice icing on the cake, especially if your exile something powerful and exciting from an opponent with Tibalt!

I’m also including a few other ways to protect Tibalt from troubling creatures:

Bloodthirsty Blade Vow of Lightning Vow of Malice Vow of Torment Shiny Impetus Disrupt Decorum

All of these cards encourage (or in the case of goad, force) your opponents’ creatures to attack other players or planeswalkers and leave sweet Tibalt alone to plot and scheme.

4 & 5. Ice Cauldron & Leyline Tyrant

Mana ramp is the name of the game in this deck because Tibalt costs a whopping seven mana and your opponents will try really hard to destroy it each and every opportunity they can. I’m including a bunch of the usual suspects that you’d expect in a nongreen Commander deck, but I’ve also stretched out into non-conventional choices.

Ice Cauldron likely raises some eyebrows but hear me out: the turn we spend seven mana to cast Tibalt likely doesn’t leave much extra mana available, so my plot is, the turn before that, we activate Ice Cauldron to put a creature or removal spell into exile along with the mana to cast it.  The next turn we can cast Tibalt and still have the opportunity to cast something to protect it.

Leyline Tyrant is a cool new card from Zendikar Rising that lets you “bank” extra red mana from one turn to the next, maybe helping you cast Tibalt a turn or two early while also giving you a flying body to protect him.

I’m including lots of other ways to generate extra mana, and not only to help cast Tibalt multiple times, as the more mana you have, the more mana you’ll have to cast spells you exile with Tibalt:

Phyrexian Tower Myriad Landscape Sol Ring Wayfarer's Bauble Arcane Signet Rakdos Signet Mind Stone Thaumatic Compass Braid of Fire Burnished Hart Worn Powerstone Solemn Simulacrum Black Market Neheb, the Eternal Mana Geyser Goldspan Dragon

Braid of Fire is a bit of a gamble, but it’s obviously nuts with Leyline Tyrant and there are lots of other ways you can sink that mana during your upkeep or draw steps.   I also really like the new Kaldheim card Goldspan Dragon, which effectively generates two extra mana the turn you cast it, assuming it attacks and sticks around.

I didn’t include Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth because Coffers is so expensive, but if you happen to own them, I’d definitely make room to add them to the list.

6. Ophiomancer

Blocking creatures attacking Tibalt is going to be an important part of our strategy, and Ophiomancer is one of the best ways to do that. You should almost always have one deathtouch Snake token available to block an attacker on each player’s turn and that’s a pretty good way to ward off large ground creatures.

I’m including some other effective ways to protect Tibalt by blocking:

Foulmire Knight Heart of Kiran Reassembling Skeleton Orzhov Enforcer Squee, the Immortal Skyfire Phoenix Brash Taunter Wurmcoil Engine

Wurmcoil Engine plays great defense protecting Tibalt; nobody wants to try to run multiple creatures at Tibalt when you can easily block one and gain a bunch of life. And if Wurmcoil is destroyed, it leaves behind two annoying blockers, giving you plenty of time to uptick Tibalt. Skyfire Phoenix in particular is nice since it will pop back onto the battlefield from the graveyard when you cast Tibalt and is able to block flyers.

7 & 8. Starstorm & Deadly Rollick

While chump blockers are one part of our Protect Tibalt plan, the other side of the coin is removal, and Rakdos gives us a ton of options here.  Starstorm offers a near-perfectly sequenced solution: at the end of the opponent to your right’s turn, you cast Starstorm to destroy just about any threatening creature, and then on your turn untap and cast Tibalt to an empty battlefield.

Deadly Rollick’s ability to be cast for free if you control your commander is perfect when you’ve tapped low to cast Tibalt, letting you exile just about any big creature that threatens to take down your Cosmic Impostor. 

I’ve included a lot of the other usual Rakdos removal options:

Vandalblast Terminate Go for the Throat Feed the Swarm Mire in Misery Oubliette Ravenous Chupacabra Damnation Chain Reaction Noxious Gearhulk Blasphemous Act

When we think of all these, plus any removal spells we exile from our opponents, there are going to be times when we “go infinite” with Tibalt sitting on the battlefield swatting down challenges to his dominion left and right.

9. Phyrexian Arena

I haven’t gone too deep on card draw since Tibalt himself will provide us with virtual card draw if things go according to plan. Still, I want to include some ways to draw some cards and smooth our draws, and one of the best is going to be Phyrexian Arena. Once you’ve made the initial mana investment this will offer up a steady supply of one extra card per turn, helping to ensure you make all your land drops. 

War Room Castle Locthwain Barren Moor Desert of the Glorified Desert of the Fervent Forgotten Cave Skullclamp Tome of Legends Dire Fleet Daredevil Read the Bones

While I never seem to draw Dire Fleet Daredevil at the right time, I’ve seen it do some powerful things on the other side of the table from me, so I slip it into decklists where I can, especially since it can potentially grab an enchantment from an opponent’s graveyard that’s otherwise tough for Rakdos to handle.

10. Darkness

A lot of this deck is bent towards accelerating towards casting Tibalt and protecting him, but we’ll also want to have ways to check our opponents’ strategies too.  One of the best is Darkness, which is almost always going to surprise people getting cast in a nongreen, nonwhite deck. If an opponent is trying to take you out the turn you can cast Tibalt, Darkness can spoil their plans!

Bojuka Bog Scavenger Grounds Arcane Lighthouse Tower of the Magistrate Shadowspear Deflecting Swat Rakshasa Debaser

The removal options in Rakdos are deep and plentiful but there are cards that can sometimes be difficult to handle, so cards like Arcane Lighthouse, Shadowspear, and Tower of the Magistrate are great to help you solve the otherwise unsolvable.

Not too many people play planeswalker removal and planeswalkers of their own, so Deflecting Swat as a way to directly protect Tibalt isn’t going to come up much, but what I can see happening is someone using removal on a chump blocker so they can attack down Tibalt, and in those cases Deflecting Swat for free is going to be oh so sweet!

Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:

Valki, God of Lies
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 01-15-2021
Commander

Here’s how the deck looks graphically, thanks to our friends at Archidekt:

What do you think?  Are there any cards I’ve overlooked?  Keep your eyes peeled for Kaldheim previews and if you see any new cards that should find a home here, let me know! 

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

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