Guest Post: Competitive Casual – Fear the Reaper

Needs more Cowbell

Editor’s Note: Jake from Competitive Casual has graciously allowed 99EDH to repost another one of his EDH articles. After a little formatting to get the article to fit this blog, it’s up. Enjoy! (And, since I love so much, my favorite Reaper King related comic.)

This deck is my first five-color deck I can remember making, and certainly my first in EDH. I’ll explain what the deck is trying to do and the different types of cards I’ve chosen to include in a minute, but first go ahead and check this bad boy out…

Now, Wizards of the Coast has printed quite a few five-color legendary creatures over the years: Karona, False God; Horde of Notions; Child of Alara; even Scion of the Ur-Dragon. Any of these would have made fine Generals for this deck, and allowed me to use any color of cards that I wanted. So why Reaper King?

Other Scarecrow creatures you control get +1/+1.
Whenever another Scarecrow enters the battlefield under your control, destroy target permanent.

Well, the reason I chose the hulking Scarecrow lord rather than any of these other fine gentlemen (or gentle-women… wasn’t trying to exclude you, Karona) may not be what you think. It really boils down to this card, a little-used mythic rare from Alara Reborn:


I can’t take credit for this combo, unfortunately; my friend Travis already has a Reaper King EDH deck built around this, and he deserves all credit for my initial idea for the deck. It works like this: Maelstrom Nexus transforms each of our spells (or at least, the first one each turn) into an automatic 2-for-1. Reaper King, being essentially a 10-drop we can cast for five mana, then lets us cascade into 7-, 8- and 9-drops when we cast him. Since the deck generally runs about a turn ahead on its mana, this means that our opponents can be staring down the likes of Blazing Archon, Cruel Ultimatum or Sphinx of the Steel Wind–in addition to our general–as early as turn five. Which is pretty nifty.

Maelstrom Nexus is just one card out of our 99, though, and even with the requisite tutoring mechanisms to get it on the table, we still have a ton of space left to make really whatever kind of deck we want in whatever colors we want. Here’s the direction I chose to go. (Editor’s Note: Reminder: Nexus says the first spell you cast each turn. If you cast an instant on an opponent’s turn, you get to cascade).

LANDS (30)
Breeding Pool
Crumbling Necropolis
Dromar’s Cavern
Flagstones of Trokair
2 Forest
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
3 Island
Jungle Shrine
Misty Rainforest
Overgrown Tomb
3 Plains
Rith’s Grove
Rootbound Crag
Rupture Spire
Sacred Foundry
Savage Lands
Seaside Citadel
Steam Vents
2 Swamp
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Watery Grave
Untamed Wilds
Darksteel Ingot
Khalni Gem
Obelisk of Bant
Obelisk of Esper
Obelisk of Grixis
Obelisk of Jund
Obelisk of Naya
Spectral Searchlight

This is my mana base: 40 cards in total, three quarters of them land. The Shards of Alara Obelisks and “trip-lands” and the Ravnica-block “shock” duals do a lot of the leg work getting this deck up and running in all five colors, which is not a feat to be taken lightly. To anyone out there considering a five-color deck in singleton, my advice is to tackle the mana-base first. Lands are vital to color balancing, and good multi-color lands tend to be hard on the wallet (Editor’s Note: ie, Duel Lands).

I don’t really have much else to say about this part of the deck, so let’s move on.

Enlightened Tutor
Sphinx of Lost Truths
Bringer of the Black Dawn
Diabolic Tutor
Promise of Power
Primal Command
Charnelhoard Wurm
Cruel Ultimatum
Izzet Chronarch
Naya Charm
Wrath of God
Take Possession
Tainted Æther
Desert Twister
Ajani Vengeant
Bant Charm
Hull Breach
Proteus Staff

This next bunch is our “control suite,” so to speak. This is what gets the deck’s engines revving and keeps us alive long enough to use them. Cards of note here are Bringer of the Black Dawn and Conflux, whose sheer game-changing power if unanswered cannot be understated; and Bant Charm and Proteus Staff, which in addition to other applications are unorthodox ways to “answer” the recursive power of our opponents’ generals.

Blazing Archon
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Reya Dawnbringer
Inkwell Leviathan
Keiga, the Tide Star
Cairn Wanderer
Horobi, Death’s Wail
Bogardan Hellkite
Chameleon Colossus
Tornado Elemental
Woodfall Primus
Blood Tyrant
Enigma Sphinx
Hellkite Overlord
Oros, the Avenger
Sphinx of the Steel Wind
Teneb, the Harvester
Dream Halls
Knowledge Exploitation
Walk the Aeons
Beacon of Unrest
Polluted Bonds
Plague Wind
Brilliant Ultimatum
Cloven Casting
Identity Crisis
Maelstrom Nexus
Priveleged Position
Violent Ultimatum
Legacy Weapon

Here is the real meat and potatoes of the deck – the threats and big spells we’re hoping to cascade into. Each of these cards individually does a pretty good job of threatening to ruin someone’s day, and with Maelstrom Nexus thrown into the middle, each of the rest of these cards comes as one half of a pair. Cascading into something like Dragonstorm or Brilliant Ultimatum almost guarantees us multiple relevant threats hitting the table, while the brutal one-two punch of Cruel Ultimatum into Identity Crisis lets us cripple two opponents in one fluid motion.


So the deck is obviously built around the aforementioned Maelstrom Nexus/Reaper King combination. There are also other little interactions hidden in this deck that I believe deserve notice, however. Many of them can even be achieved with fewer than five colors, so if you pay attention you might see something you can use in one of your decks!

Horobi, Death’s Wail – An effective bottleneck card on its own, Horobi really shines when combined with permanents that can target things repeatedly, like Ajani Vengeant and Proteus Staff.

Charnelhoard Wurm – The amazing Regrowth-on-a-stompy gets particularly nasty when it “goes infinite” by getting back Walk the Aeons. This combo violates my sense of fair play a little bit so I don’t carry it out that often, but it’s cute to show a new opponent every now and then. (We can also swing similar effects by recurring Mindslaver or Primal Command.) (Editor’s Note: or my personal favorite: Soul’s Fire)

Dream Halls – The wealth of multicolor cards in this deck makes exploiting Dream Halls pretty easy, but the best thing about it is that we’re also running Progenitus. Discard any nonartifact, nonland card and we can cast our friendly Hydra Avatar for free. How cool is that?

Conspiracy – Once, a long time ago, I thought about a very different build of Reaper King EDH that revolved around dropping Changelings to abuse the General’s “Scarecrow-enters-the-battlefield” ability. I’ve included a couple of the better Changelings in this deck for that synergy, but Conspiracy gives me a huge leg up by turning all of my other bomb creatures into Scarecrows. (In a pinch, it can also be cast naming “Dragon” to go nuts with Dragonstorm.) Pro tip, kids: If you’ve got a tribal themed EDH deck and you can make black mana, run Conspiracy. It lets you include any handful of random other good creature cards you want and still have them fit into your theme.

Tainted Æther – Like Horobi, this card goes a long way towards bottlenecking aggressive creature decks, giving us more time to charge our lasers while they look for enchantment removal. (That’s enchantment removal they WON’T be throwing at Maelstrom Nexus, by the way.) The funniest use of Tainted AEther, though, is with overpriced Angel legend Reya Dawnbringer.

The combo works like this: Use Reya to reanimate a good enters-the-battlefield creature, like Keiga, the Tide Star or Izzet Chronarch. When it hits the field, sacrifice it to Tainted Æther‘s trigger. This puts it back in the graveyard to reanimate again next turn. (For extra credit, pull off this trick with Woodfall Primus to nuke two permanents each turn. Pretty sexy.)

Anyways–that’s the deck, kids. Until next time, may you always cast 2-for-1s.

If you like Jake’s Writing (and I do since I put it on here), I highly suggest to check out his blog: Competitive Casual.

2 responses to “Guest Post: Competitive Casual – Fear the Reaper

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