Dear Azami: Your Deck Is Mine!

We’ve got a lot of new legends in Kaladesh, and this one is way too underrated so far! Levi Byrne is ready to give you and one of his reader’s the amazing decklist you so deserve!

#GPAtlanta October 7-9!

Sadly I wasn’t able to go to the Kaladesh Prerelease, but I did get to play a few rounds of Pack Wars with a friend’s prize packs from the event, and even with that small of a sample size, the sheer number of cool cards and interactions was pretty staggering. Thanks to some lucky pulls from one of my apartment-mates, I’ve already laid my hands on the Combustible Gearhulk that I needed, and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that I’ll wind up turning one of the new legendary creatures into the leader of a new deck.

Dear Azami,

Video game movies are hard to make right, but one that hit pretty close to the mark during my childhood was Mortal Kombat. The fight scenes were exciting at the time, the theme song had never sounded so good, and the actor playing Shang Tsung was amazing. One of the recurring images of the movie is him hissing at the camera, “Your soul is mine!”

It was that line that echoed in my head when looking at Gonti as a commander. Gonti might not steal the opponent’s soul, but Gonti certainly takes their deck, if only one card at a time. I figured this idea of soul/deck stealing could be a central theme for Gonti and included other cards that do similar things. Blinking also seemed good as Gonti doesn’t actually have to stay on the battlefield in order to cast the spells exiled (I had to reread it three times to catch that point).

My list is as follows…

Your Deck Is Mine!

Creatures (31)

Sepulchral Primordial

Crypt Ghast

Erebos, God of the Dead

Solemn Simulacrum

Oblivion Sower

Geth, Lord of the Vault

Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Grave Titan

Emrakul, the Promised End

Puppeteer Clique

Magus of the Coffers

Disciple of Bolas

Fleshbag Marauder

Massacre Wurm

Pawn of Ulamog

Noxious Gearhulk

Chainer, Dementia Master

Entomber Exarch

Nezumi Graverobber

Lord of the Void

Big Game Hunter

Bloodgift Demon


Harvester of Souls

Archfiend of Depravity

Kokusho, the Evening Star

Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Pilgrim’s Eye

Merciless Executioner

Abhorrent Overlord


Enchantments (6)

Hedonist’s Trove

Phyrexian Arena

Phyrexian Reclamation

Black Market

Underworld Connections


Sorceries (4)

Beacon of Unrest

Decree of Pain

Read the Bones

Capital Punishment

Instants (7)

Sudden Spoiling

Hero’s Downfall

Dark Ritual

Go for the Throat

Malicious Affliction

Victim of Night

Bubbling Muck

Artifacts (13)


Sol Ring

Darksteel Ingot

Mind Stone

Conjurer’s Closet

Voyager Staff

Cloudstone Curio

Erratic Portal

Minion Reflector

Blade of Selves

Fellwar Stone

Ashnod’s Altar

Wayfarer’s Bauble

Lands (38)

Crypt of Agadeem

Myriad Landscape

Bojuka Bog

Mortuary Mire

34 Swamp

I wanted a lot of lands in the deck because I wanted to reliable have mana to cast exiled spells when appropriate. Also, I included a bit of a ramp subtheme to also help on that front. However, the ramp also seemed necessary because a lot of the cards I wanted to include (Hedonist’s Trove, for example) are expensive to play. I love a lot of the enters-the-battlefield cards that the deck is rocking, and I am so stoked to play with Noxious Gearhulk.

My issues, though, are that the mana base is uninspired; I may be leaning too hard on the blinking/recasting theme; and whether or not the ramp package is worth keeping/shredding/bolstering.

My budget is $80 including store credit. I am excited to rock this deck the first chance I get!

Thank you!


Gonti, Lord of Luxury was one of the first cards from Kaladesh Wizards of the Coast revealed, and while I was intrigued immediately, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Gonti. Gonti has very small combat stats for Commander, but deathtouch means that your commander will never be truly irrelevant. Much more interesting is the enters-the-battlefield trigger, which I was unsure how to evaluate because the only comparable effect appears on Daxos of Meletis, a card that never made its way into my playgroup.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I was interested by the possibility of a mono-black theft deck, so when I got a chance to work with a Gonti submission, I jumped on it.

The Creatures


At first glance, Merciless Executioner and Fleshbag Marauder seem like they would be the perfect engine for this deck. You already want to be flickering creatures every turn, so if Gonti ever gets dealt with, why not fall back on these to whittle away at your opponents’ battlefields?

The simple answer is that you don’t have the token production to actually profit from such an exchange, and if any of your opponents happen to have a resilient token-maker, you’ll be sacrificing your own battlefield for nothing.

Entomber Exarch is just odd. Presumably it’s here for its Raise Dead mode, since you aren’t packing any other discard. However, if we want a creature that recurs something when it enters the battlefield, there’s a much better option out there.

In a similar way, Sangromancer seems like the beginning of a theme that you never really follow up on. Lifegain from creatures dying is nice, but you don’t have the recursion, sacrifice outlets, or battlefield wipes to really take advantage of it, and you don’t have the discard package to trigger its other ability. It’s a solid card, but room needed to be made.

Now, you’re probably looking at the cuts of Grave Titan and Kokusho, the Evening Star and asking yourself something along the lines of, “Is he crazy? Those are the best creatures in the deck.” Thing is, that’s not quite right. Grave Titan is the best pure attacker you have, and Kokusho is an absurd value creature that you don’t have the support for. All of your recursion is based on blinking and unsummoning, so the death trigger is something you can’t really reuse. As for Grave Titan, the one thing this deck will never want for is good creatures. They might belong to your opponents, but every deck is running a decent density of beefy creatures, many of which simply outclass the black Titan. Given this fact, I’d rather focus on the support structure to let you steal as many things as possible.


I cut six creatures, but only one’s getting added back in. You’re usually going to be taking creatures with Gonti’s ability, so I could afford to shave the count a little in order to beef up other sections.

As for Phyrexian Delver, I’ve said a few times that you don’t have much actual recursion. That makes you weak in a way that most mono-black decks just aren’t. Adding Phyrexian Delver lets you have a blinkable way to rebuy any creatures that your opponents manage to kill off for good. The life payments hurt, but I mostly wanted a way to get back the cheaper utility creatures, so it shouldn’t be too bad.

The Artifacts


Fellwar Stone and Darksteel Ingot are fine mana rocks, but because of the way Gonti’s ability is worded, you don’t actually need colored mana fixing for the spells they steal and you’ve got plenty of black for your own spells. That means we can transition to a ramp package that focuses on velocity rather than fixing, which is especially relevant since your ideal end-game involves you flickering Gonti every turn and casting whatever they exile. Depending on the cards involved, that can mean anywhere from nine to twenty-plus mana, so more ramp is better.

Voyager Staff is a fine one-time flicker, but I have a better and repeatable version in mind for this slot.

And now we come to Minion Reflector. This card is very much a case of “your mileage may vary,” but every time I’ve played with it, it’s been underwhelming. That isn’t to say that the card can never be good, but I don’t think you’re quite aggressive enough to really want this effect.


I said I was adding a lot of ramp, and I wasn’t kidding. Charcoal Diamond is basically a Fellwar Stone that will always tap for the color you want, which is worth the cost of the enters-the-battlefield-tapped clause.

Similarly, sometimes Everflowing Chalice will be the mana rock you cast on turn 2 to get your commander out a turn early, but sometimes it’ll get kicked six times late in the game and give you all the mana you need. The sheer flexibility of this mana rock has always impressed me, and it belongs in any deck with a mana-hungry late-game.

There isn’t much to say about Mana Vault. It can power out insane starts but isn’t quite up to Sol Ring’s level in the long-game. Most decks don’t really want this card, but this one most definitely does and you had the budget to include it.

While Thran Dynamo isn’t quite as explosive as Mana Vault, it’s just as great of a workhorse. Pushing you from four to seven mana (eight with a land drop) on the next turn is a scary amount of ramp and gets you right to the point where you can start using your repeatable blink engines and whatever Gonti finds every turn.

Caged Sun and Gauntlet of Power are pretty self-explanatory. They double your mana, and the fact that they pump the creatures from your deck is largely irrelevant. It’ll come up every once in a blue moon, usually with Abhorrent Overlord and some unusually beefy Harpies, but for the most part these cards are here to push you solidly into the late-game.

Strionic Resonator has a whole host of applications here, but on its most basic level it acts as a way to double up on Gonti’s trigger. Add in all the value that you can get from copying other triggers from both your cards and your opponents’, and this is well worth the slot.

My last addition to this section is also the riskiest. While using Mimic Vat to make a Gonti token every turn is more mana-efficient than something like Erratic Portal where you then have to recast your commander, there’s also the risk that a timely removal spell to take out the Mimic Vat could leave your commander stranded in exile forever, as the replacement to move to the Command Zone can only happen when your Commander changes zones, not after they’ve been imprinted for any length of time. If you don’t want to take that risk, I don’t blame you, but Mimic Vat is also a very solid value engine in its own right.

The Enchantments


While drawing up a draft of this article, these were two of the first cards I added to the list. Both Enslave and Grave Betrayal are perfectly on-theme as ways to claim your opponent’s decks and resources, and since you can ramp up to the big mana costs anyway, there’s no reason to not include something like Grave Betrayal that is normally just a little too slow for consideration.

The Spells


With all of the man rocks that I added, you really didn’t need the fast burst of mana provided by Dark Ritual and Bubbling Muck. You aren’t trying to create a single turn where you do everything at once but rather utilize a large amount of mana every turn for several turns to bury your opponents in card advantage. Rituals simply don’t fit into that plan.

As for Go for the Throat, it’s a one-for-one removal spell in a game where you’ll be facing down three opponents (at least) and their threats. Some spot removal is good, but I like to trim down on it where I can so you don’t put yourself at too much of a disadvantage.


Praetor’s Grasp is Gonti’s ability on a spell, except you can go get any card out of your opponent’s deck. Sadly it doesn’t have the same “mana as though it were any color” clause that your commander does, but even if you’re in a game with no black players, you can still grab an artifact or just exile a card you really don’t want to face later. Homeward Path seems like a good candidate for that mode.

Worst Fears is pretty much the epitome of “your deck belongs to me,” and as you were already running Emrakul, the Promised End, I knew this was an effect you were interested in. It exiles itself, so you won’t draw nearly as much hate with it as you would with Mindslaver, but even one shot of this spell can be enough to turn a whole game around.

The Lands

Now, before I get into this section, let me say something. You said the manabase was “uninspired,” but we’re talking about a mono-colored deck that’s running both Gauntlet of Power and Caged Sun. There’s nothing wrong with 30-plus basics, and in many cases they’re better than nonbasics for you, so I’m only going to make one change.


I’ve played with Myriad Landscape a few times, and it’s always too slow for me to be happy with. Yes, it’s two mana in one land, but it requires you taking two turns off to get that boost.


Not much to say here. You’re a big-mana mono-black deck. Cabal Coffers is a card that you absolutely want to be running, and you had the budget for it. Trust me; this land is worth the price tag.

Putting it all together, here’s the finished decklist:

And the additions, sorted by price:





Charcoal Diamond


Everflowing Chalice


Praetor’s grasp


Phyrexian Delver


Grave Betrayal


Worst Fears


Strionic Resonator


Mimic Vat


Caged Sun


Thran Dynamo


Mana Vault


Cabal Coffers


Gauntlet of Power




The changes add up to $70.32, a little under Jeff’s $80 budget. As always, Jeff will receive $20 in store credit to StarCityGames.com to help him make these changes. Usually I try to stay away from adding this many expensive mana rocks and doublers, but in this case I was presented with a very mana-intensive deck where all of the on-theme cards were relatively cheap. Given that I had a specific budget to work within, it made sense to use the rest of the space I had to supercharge the one area that was really holding the deck back: the mana production.

As for how this deck turned out, I think it’ll be a blast to play. Obviously the power of it will vary wildly based on who you’re playing against in any given game, but that’s far from a downside. The one note that I’ll caution you on is that eliminating one player will cause all the stuff that you’ve stolen from them to vanish, so be wary of your battlefield state suddenly disappearing.

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#GPAtlanta October 7-9!