Kristen presents her EDH Class of 2022: the decks she’s built this year, the ones she has stuck with and the ones that didn’t graduate.
It’s the start of a new year now and, as I always do, I sat down to tinker with my decks and figure out if I was leaving any behind in 2022. Today, I’m gonna take you on a tour of my decks, what I like about them, what they’ve gained… and also which ones I disassembled.
First up, a look at our freshers — the decks that joined my roster in 2022.
Technically I’ve built Shalai before, but it was a janky, hatebear filled pile back when she came out. This time around, it’s an angels deck with the added bonus of green for a little explosiveness.
I’ve enjoyed playing Shalai a lot more than Lyra — the previous iteration of the deck — and the addition of cards like Kindred Summons has given the deck the pop it needs to establish a win condition, which is usually Serra’s Emissary and Avacyn, Angel of Hope.
The core of the deck existed before adding new cards, but I have enjoyed access to Giada, Font of Hope, Sanctuary Warden and Steel Seraph. Generally, it plays well, but the lack of mana or card advantage in the Command Zone in 2022 means sometimes it stumbles if it doesn’t find its footing.
I’m OK with that, as the deck isn’t meant to be one of my strongest. You can read a deep dive on it from April here. I’m hoping 2023 gives us a true tribal Angel Commander, at which point Shalai might end up graduating.
When I took apart Lyra, I also shipped a lot of the shell into a Liesa, Forgotten Archangel reanimator build, which you can read about here. The deck is functionally a controlling reanimator build, which I’ve quickly realized is one of my favorite kinds of decks to pilot. Midrange value is good fun in Casual Commander — especially when it comes with strong win conditions.
With Altar of Dementia, the deck is more than capable of comboing out with Sun Titan or other pieces. But what truly greased the wheels of the deck was the additions of Prowling Geistcatcher and Junji, the Midnight Sky.
Geistcatcher is a broken Magic card, which you should absolutely be playing in any reanimator build. Junji, on the other hand, offers new routes with Karmic Guide, and a win condition with the life loss trigger. Plus it’s friggin’ beautiful. Look at it.
Other than Junji, the 2022 standout I added was Body Count, which is a very strong card.
While we’re on the subject of reanimator, here’s another that is now one of my favorite decks: Hofri Ghostforge. Hofri has replaced Aurelia as my go-to Boros deck, and that’s because it’s exceedingly fun to pilot.
While the deck is more oriented toward combo wins, the wins are pretty unique for Boros: self mill leading to doubling up on cards like Cavalier of Flame or Hallowed Spiritkeeper (the latter in conjunction with Purphoros, or just with Hofri for a hasty army).
Hofri gained a fair bit this year, with the Neon Dynasty dragons offering solid value plays. Restoration of Eiganjo, one of my favorite new white cards, does a lot of work here, too. Meanwhile, Swift Reconfiguration has simultaneously saved Hofri from removal in protracted battles but also been invaluable for slowing down other decks by turning creatures they want to target into (uncrewed) vehicles.
Shoutout to Seize the Spotlight for being a free Ancestral Recall if Hofri is in play, but also to Archivist of Oghma and Deep Gnome Terramancer for reaching their full potential at the kind of tables I play Hofri at. I’m always happy to play this deck, and I’m excited to tinker with it in 2023.
Sisay Legends isn’t a reanimator deck, but it also isn’t a deck I’ve been especially enamored with either. When it runs well it’s nigh unstoppable, requiring only having access to the mana to achieve two activations of Sisay in order to take over a game.
The deck gained a bunch of auto-includes this year, which is part of what prompted me to try building it again. Despite the deck feeling really great to play, I’ve found it tends to bore me.
Sissay sits in the weird no-man’s land between high power EDH and low-tier cEDH, and because I’m not running fast mana and free spells, it can sometimes feel like it only casts one or two spells before someone else takes over the game on turn 4-6.
For this reason, I’m actually debating dismantling it and giving Samut, Voice of Dissent another look. I just really fancy casting Apex Devastator again, alright? For my full rundown and decklist, head on over here.
In a year where I said goodbye to one of my beloved midrange Boros decks in Aurelia, the ease of switching off of it is born from all of the cool new ways to play Boros. Duke Ulder is a fantastic midrange option for Boros if you’re not all in on combos or playing something focused like Feather.
What I’ve loved about playing Duke is it offers a home for all of the commons and uncommons that feel necessary to play in these colors to keep up — Scouting Hawk, Knight of the White Orchid, Inspiring Overseer — but in a shell that seeks to leverage them for more value than what’s on the card.
That value is then used to convert to a win with haymakers that refill the hand, or cards like Ao that can take over the game all on their own. Giving this dragon multiple instances of Myriad is disgusting.
Port Razer is likewise a card that helps close out the game, and with our dorks grown by Cathars’ Crusade, it’s entirely possible to turn small, value creatures into a combat win, which is basically what’s held Boros decks back in the past (having to choose between good combat creatures and good value creatures).
It’s a deck I’m also comfortable running Jeweled Lotus and Mana Vault in, as when the Commander costs six, it feels entirely reasonable to get a couple of discounts on Commander Tax each game. I’m very excited to add the new Elesh Norn to this list, let me tell you.
Miirym is powerful and sits at the high-end of my casual decks. It might take five or six turns to gain momentum, but when it does? It doesn’t just turn the corner. It razes the corner to the ground.
The main win condition of the deck is through burn with Terror of the Peaks and Dragon Tempest, but you can’t discount regular combat damage as win… or infinite combats… or Wrathful Red Dragon plus a burn wrath. What I mean to say is that Miirym is ridiculously versatile.
The deck hasn’t really gained any new cards that weren’t released around the same time, but I want to shout out two inclusions that always make a huge impact.
Brudiclad isn’t a Dragon, but he cares about what this deck does and enables frankly absurd lines that make me laugh just thinking about them. Treasure is also key to the deck’s true potential, in my opinion, and Tireless Provisioner helps unlock it (in conjunction with fetchlands, Harrow, and Goldspan Dragon).
Love this deck and can’t see myself moving on from it.
One of the final decks I built this year, Burakos/Guild Artisan has been a real hoot. It’s just fun, and I’m glad I found a deck within a similar vein to Prosper that has more punch and a stronger line to win the game. I’ve found that when I take a long turn, it has a lot more impact on the game. And whatever game actions I take, the game is advancing.
One way I’ve kept the deck a little more unique is to not make it an aristocrats deck. While there are a couple of sacrifice outlets, like Laurine and Ruthless Technomancer, they’re not the point of the deck. The point is to burn people by making artifacts and bury them in mana advantage.
The star of the deck has to be Harmonic Prodigy, which lets us make as many as twelve treasures per attack. I like to affectionately refer to this deck as a Simic deck for people that don’t want to play blue/green. Treasure doesn’t need Dockside to be broken.
Speaking of treasures, we have Dihada, the newest Mardu reanimator Commander. Given I like Mardu and reanimating stuff, I decided to give it a go.
As is always the case with this kind of deck, it became a deck centered around Living Death, one of my favorite Magic cards (in conjunction with Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth, of course). I think what makes Dihada so satisfying is that her -3 is both mana advantage and card advantage, but can also be a way to protect herself.
She’s essentially free the first time you cast her, and that’s just incredibly powerful, right?
More than anything, playing this deck has given me an appreciation for some (slightly) underplayed gems. Daretti is more relevant than ever, given his -2 basically reads: “Treasure for Treasure” in the current state of the format. I’ve traded a treasure for Parhelion more times than I’m willing to admit.
I’ve also enjoyed adding Rite of Oblivion to the suite of Unburial Rites, Faithless Looting and Ignite the Future as strong inclusions for any graveyard deck.
Ultimately, I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this one built. It’s value for values sake and doesn’t have as strong an identity as my other decks. It was born from the ashes of two decks I retired, actually.
Given I built a lot of reanimator decks this year, it’s easy to see why two that I retired were cut from the same cloth. Chainer and Meren were both great decks, but I’ve been playing them almost as long as I’ve been playing Commander.
The lines were well rehearsed and honestly a little dull. There’s only so many times you can pull off the same win condition. And when given the chance to switch it up with different colors or different ways to get there, it’s a natural switch.
It does amuse me that I never tried Henzie yet, though. Maybe he’s one for 2023?
The other deck I retired this year was Aurelia. I love Aurelia to bits — the deck was my first, non-precon brew. Over the years I’ve played it in every configuration, and since then, have found better homes for those archetypes.
I also got bored of the infinite combats. There’s only so many times you can pull them off before it gets boring. There’s a little space left I want to try in the form of Aurelia Landfall and “Oops, All Aurelia,” but I’ve found better success with Duke Ulder and Hofri this year.
Did Not Graduate
I built a few decks that didn’t last the year, too.
I’d never really done landfall and wanted to try it outside of Simic. Karador seemed a good fit for a self-mill deck, and quite soon I found myself settling into an Abzan-reanimator-value-Landfall kinda thing.
It ultimately didn’t feel very fulfilling, and “threat memory” from Karador’s previous time as a format boogieman didn’t help. This one was a valid experiment, but one I didn’t feel needed repeating.
Lonis Clues was a fun build and, admittedly, I did really enjoy the idea of the deck… in theory. In practice, I didn’t enjoy the bookkeeping.
Between Inspiring Statuary, Shimmer Dragon, Jaheira and Lonis, tapping and untapping separate piles of clues got old really quickly. I also didn’t enjoy how the target power level of the deck was hard to achieve consistently, because the on-theme synergy cards (Academy Manufactor, Jaheira, et al) really spiked the power level of the deck far higher than its average run.
On paper, Karlach is a really fun card. Indeed, we had Karlach fever on my discord earlier this year… but the Karlach-bowl never actually took place.
This was a feast and famine kinda deck, hinging entirely on a Commander that ostensibly wants to play at Voltron. My goal with the deck was to try it in Blue, using extra-turns spells instead of extra combats.
The deck did its thing, and it did it well. However, it’s never a deck I’d reach for, and for that reason, I want to unlock some of the cards inside it for other brews.
Finally, Rule 0 Samurai. It was a cute idea, but in practice? Slow and anemic.
Samurai don’t have enough options to make a full Samurai deck, and it was too hard to trigger Folk Hero with a forgettable, four mana Commander. A fun experiment, but not one that stuck with me.
The “senior students”, if you like, are the rest of my decks. They’ve stood the test of time and join my new decks to form my Class of 2022. I’ve written about most of them, so I’ll link any appropriate articles where relevant below.
I’m happy with them to the order they didn’t come near the chopping block, and, furthermore, some of them had complete refreshes this year too thanks to all of the new cards they’ve gained.
- I’m particularly enamored with Sylvia and Khorvath these days as a Doublestrike anthem style build with cheap dragons
- I can always rely on Syr Gwyn Voltron and Sigarda Enchantress to get it done. Voltron is one of my favorite ways to play.
- Cosima Landfall remains one of the only blue decks I’ve ever truly enjoyed, and one I’m still tinkering with. It’s fun to jump through hoops.
- Massacre Girl is a deck I love to play but one that still gets groans at the table (people need to stop whining). Between Vogar, Necropolis Tyrant, Venomcrawler and Vorpal Sword, the deck has enough momentum to rely less on board wipes and more on winning.
- Creature-matter decks last the test of time, usually. Midrange Edgar Markov feels a lot fairer these days, and I really love what I did with the Lathril precon. I’m hoping to rebuild that one soon with all of the fresh cards from 2022.
- And finally, Ur-Dragon Pick ‘n’ Mix — a deck that mixes and matches many creature types, changelings and lords to create a different experience every time I pick it up. This one needs a rebuild, too. So many new options every set makes for quite the decision process.
2022 saw a big change in my deck roster, with a number of my decks being dismantled and a number of their replacements not becoming long-term prospects. Eight of the twelve decks I built have graduated the year, and when it comes to the number of decks I’ve built this year? I’m pretty happy.
A deck a month, with two-thirds of them surviving? That’s pretty solid. I’d love to build more, but being so deep in content I tend to lack the time.
My “piles of shame” need attending to, and the first order of play is to try to finish drafts of Baba Lysaga and Celestine. I can’t wait to start my first projects of 2023!
Let me know on Twitter if you’d like to hear more about any of these builds. I’d like to write more on Hofri and Burakos at some point, for sure. And let me know who was in your Class of 2022, too!
Kristen is Card Kingdom’s Head Writer, and member of the Commander Advisory Group. Formerly a competitive Pokémon TCG grinder, she has been playing Magic since Shadows Over Innistrad, which in her opinion, was a great set to start with. When she’s not taking names with Equipment and Aggro strategies in Commander, she loves to play any form of Limited.