"Look like the innocent flower, but be the turbo deck under't" -William Shakespeare
A common question I see asked in the cEDH community is "What deck should I recommend to a new cEDH player?" Part of the implied context in asking that question is that cEDH is extremely complex and they're looking for a somewhat simple deck to start a new player up on so they can learn on the job and graduate to the more complex and nuanced strategies. In general, though, I find this approach somewhat egotistical and a recipe for failure among many Magic players. Often, decks that are suggested and deemed "simpler" are actually outdated or underpowered.
My suggestions? Blue Farm and Najeela. I want people to get a taste of one of the best formats by playing one of the best decks in the format. Mistakes happen, and experienced players can help point them out, but diving in the deep end is the way I wanted it done and is how I myself started in cEDH. To this end, I wrote an introduction to Blue Farm back in January to use as a reference for players looking to dive in on that deck, and I'm back today to introduce you to in cEDH!
What Makes Najeela So Powerful In cEDH?
is a three-mana commander with a five-color identity, a rarity in cEDH. That means Najeela can be cast very easily, but it also means a Najeela deck can play any Commander-legal card it so chooses. This, alongside the combo potential she supports with and other cards that provide mana for attacking and dealing combat damage, makes Najeela not only efficient, but a combo piece out of the command zone.
This is a potent set of traits for any commander, and for this reason Najeela has existed in some form in cEDH since its printing in 2018. Additionally, Najeela is no stranger to being ranked among the best, and she spent some time ruling as one of the best, if not the actual best, decks in cEDH during the reign of Flash Hulk combo. After the banning of Flash, however, there was a brief period where the deck was still powerful and commonly played, but deck composition was all over the place. Many lists eschewed and went heavy on creatures, looking to lean heavily on the commander as both a combo piece and value engine; other versions took a much more stax-based approach looking to lock the game down with stax pieces and eventually win with Najeela attacks or the aforementioned Derevi combo. It wasn't until recently that the successful Najeela lists have started to converge upon a strategy and decklist that can be broken down as the identity of Najeela in cEDH today.
How Does Najeela Win?
The current Najeela lists look to split the difference between having storm-based combo kills with cards like and , and the iconic combo with Najeela. The biggest drawback of this approach is the mana, and lands that produce all five colors come at a much higher premium in Najeela than they do in the three- and four-color decks because you have a wide variety of the most powerful spells across all five colors you want to cast, and you still need access to all five colors to execute the Derevi combo. Naturally, this makes Najeela a deck that seeks to have a bit more setup time than some of the more all-in approaches to winning in cEDH, but Najeela still has access to early or kills with the right mix of cards.
Propping up these two strategies is the suite of tutor effects that Najeela has access to from all five colors. It's not unreasonable to get an Ad Nauseam countered and use a creature tutor, like , to find Derevi and combo off that way instead. The inverse is true as well! If Najeela gets killed, using a creature tutor to grab to rebuild or a to protect your next win attempt fits the gameplan nicely! The flexibility to sculpt and pivot to the right win attempt for the right moment in the game is a feature of Najeela unique to the deck when compared to other cEDH decks which are much focused around enacting a single game plan.
This makes Najeela, more than most other cEDH decks, a deck where you are very sensitive to what your role is in any given pod. If you are not the fastest deck at the table, leveraging interaction and politics become a key part of the plan. If you are the fastest deck at the table, you have to ask yourself if you have time to find any of the suite of protection spells to make your wins smooth sailing or if the margin of time doesn't exist for that and simply jamming is the best option. Leveraged correctly, the resiliency and flexibility of Najeela delivers incredible potency and lands Najeela as one of the most powerful decks in cEDH.
The Best Najeela Cards
Most cards on this list need no introduction if you're at all familiar with cEDH as they're common win conditions across all of the colorful cEDH decks. is the win condition specific to Najeela and can be used to tap down blockers in addition to its powerful untap ability to untap your mana sources and activate 's ability to attack opponents to death with an exponentially scaling army. It's also fairly common to see among the mix which can also combo with Najeela, but is a little harder to do since you need to connect with all three opponents to activate Najeela unbounded. The final win condition to keep in mind with games that go very long is Najeela, the Blade-Blossom herself! It's not unthinkable for Najeela to amass an army of warriors simply attacking over the course of many turns to win the game with combat damage. Manual Najeela kills come up rarely, but it is something to keep in mind.
The interaction suite varies in Najeela pretty heavily based on how much you find yourself leaning on the Derevi gameplan, but much of the same suite of free blue counterspells that you see across the more colorful decks in cEDH have a home here as well. is a very important pickup for Najeela that few decks have access to thanks to the primary color pairing in cEDH being Grixis. It's not uncommon to use a tutor to search for Culling Ritual and pair that either with another tutor or whatever other payoff you have access to to sweep the board and present a win all in the same turn. The power of Culling Ritual shines in this deck more than most and compliments a few other removal spells present in the deck to make attacking opponents easier while having the flexibility to stop opposing creature-based win attempts.
Supplementing the interaction that would otherwise be used to protect your own wins is a suite of protection specific cards that, thanks to the presence of creature-based tutors, are much more reliable to find in the average game than they are without those tutors present. As a result it is a common gameplan for Najeela to hold off making a win attempt until one of the listed silence effects is found and make a much more protected win attempt. As always, the effects, like and itself, also double as some of the most effective interaction as well, even if they are more intuitive to use as protection for your own wins.
Again the all-star lineup of value engines is present here, but again, thanks to the creature-based tutors, is even easier to find in this deck than it is in most, and we even see as a unique-to-Najeela pickup that turns the Najeela plan into a value engine as well as life total pressure in an efficient package.
I've talked a lot about the flexibility that the creature-based tutors offer through much of this article, but where they shine the most by far is the ability to find much more often than other decks. A very large part of making the mana work in Najeela is finding and resolving your Dockside Extortionist in most games and finding your way into a win from there. It's also worth calling out that, being five colors, you get access to both of the spirit guides as well as Lotho, which has proven itself a worthwhile inclusion in any deck that can support it as a "Dockside on suspend" of sorts that produces large amounts of mana over the course of a few turns instead of instantly. Lastly, Najeela being three mana with only one colored pip means functions as a in your opening hand and should be prioritized as such.
The identity of Najeela can be fully observed by the range of the tutors it plays. While this list is long, sometimes you see or included as well for additional creature tutors! Navigating these cards is what makes this deck difficult, and it's not uncommon to keep hands containing multiple tutors and have to navigate resolving each one to find the right card for the moment and for future turns. , , , , and are all common targets for the creature tutors alone based on board state and pod composition so planning ahead is paramount for Najeela to be played optimally. I have relisted and here as tutors as well because in Najeela, more than most other decks, you see these cards pull double duty. It's quite common to use Demonic Consultation or Tainted Pact to find Derevi at all costs, exiling swaths of your deck that would be critical to winning in other strategies. The Derevi combo being so compact yields this flexibility and allows these "forbidden tutors" to shine brighter than they do in other cEDH decks.
Filling Out The Decklist
Najeela gets to play all of the best cards available in cEDH across all five colors, but even with the staples above, we've only looked at a little under half of a complete deck. The remaining slots are filled with some mix of the best lands in cEDH, mana dorks, additional spell-based fast mana, and various interaction spells that are included to answer problematic threats running rampant in the cEDH metagame today.
Example Najeela Decklist
🌸Najeela🌸 by duk9rView on Archidekt
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
View this decklist on Archidekt
I often see Najeela referred to as a "five-color good stuff" in cEDH circles, which holds a little bit of truth, but I feel really only tells half the story. There are plenty of strong interaction spells that Najeela passes on in order to spend its mana casting tutors. In fact, Najeela is often lower on interaction than other colorful fair decks in the format, relying on the ability to easily find to supplement having additional interaction. This is representative of a "toolbox" strategy in my eyes, and I like to refer to Najeela as "the best toolbox deck in cEDH". No matter how you refer to it, though, Najeela is a force to be reckoned with at the cEDH tables and continues to see new innovations and developments with each set and tournament that goes by. A great option for someone looking to get started in cEDH or a veteran looking for something a little different, Najeela is on the short list of absolute best decks in cEDH and shows no signs of slowing down in the near future. Thanks for reading!