An Introduction to Rograkh's Bouncy House (Rog/Thrasios) in cEDH

Sam Black • April 18, 2024

When I first built Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh/Thrasios, Triton Hero, it had only been widely known as a Polymorph deck that only played Hullbreaker Horror and Tidespout Tyrant. The goal was to make infinite mana with any mana-positive artifact and Rograkh, followed by using Thrasios to draw your deck. Instead, I built a creature-heavy deck with these partners to take advantage of Gaea's Cradle and various creature combos.

My initial goal was to build a deck that was as good as possible at using Thrasios. I wanted Rograkh for extra mana, and I played cards like Training Grounds and Seedborn Muse that made Thrasios faster and easier to use. It was a midrange deck with a lot of versatile interaction and a number of infinite combos. I wrote a primer about this deck here.

Later, I refocused the deck; I kept most of the same combos, but changed the strategy. The first deck was a Thrasios deck with Rograkh as a support piece for extra mana, while this deck is a Rograkh deck with Thrasios as a combo piece. In other words, Rograkh's Bouncy House, the name I gave specifically to the updated turbo version, plays more like other turbo Rograkh decks, and while there are games where I tap four lands and activate Thrasios, that's generally when things aren't going well. Usually, the first time I activate Thrasios is after I have infinite mana available.

I wrote about my thoughts around this transition as well, which can be found here. This article was written before making the changes and playing with them, and some of the ideas discussed there are in my current build and some aren't. I've now played hundreds of games both with the original version of the deck and the updated Bouncy House, and I'm very confident that Bouncy House is better.

Rograkh/Thrasios cEDH Basics

The goal with this deck is always to make infinite mana, and there are a lot of different ways to do so. The most common end state is Cloudstone Curio with either Dockside Extortionist while the opponents have at least three artifacts and/or enchantments or Cloud of Faeries while you have at least one land that taps for more than one mana, at which point you can generate mana by bouncing that creature and Rograkh. There are enough variations and different ways to generate infinite mana outside of that particular combo that it's best not to try to get into all of them up front.

The main strengths of the deck, or what I think of as its core competencies, are its ability to generate huge amounts of mana and its ability for important cards to find each other.

It's also useful to understand its relative weaknesses up front, since that drives a lot of the choices in deckbuilding and gameplay. Specifically, this deck has worse card advantage engines than most other blue decks. While Thrasios can technically draw cards, it's inefficient enough that you should think of this as a deck that doesn't have card advantage in the command zone.

Because of this, trading cards one-for-one with your opponents is generally bad for you; technically, it's always bad in a four-player game, but some decks draw enough cards to make up for it, and here, I'm leaning into the idea that I want to do it as little as possible. As a result, this deck doesn't play cards like Force of Negation.

They can prevent someone else from winning, but when you go down two cards to stop one player, you're far enough behind that it's very hard for you to win, so it's better to hope someone else can prevent that win and play more cards to help you try to win quickly. You don't want to police the table; that's a losing game plan for this deck.

Your biggest relative advantages in terms of mana generation come from Gaea's Cradle, Earthcraft, and Relic of Legends. Because you have a commander that costs zero and another that costs two, it's very easy for you to have a lot of creatures on the battlefield early, so these cards make a lot more mana for you than they do for most decks. I'm playing a lot of other unusual cards that make mana, but mostly in service of these cards.

As for your cards finding each other, that brings use to what I consider the heart of the deck, which is the relationship between these creatures:

Imperial Recruiter can find any of the other creatures, and Spellseeker can find any of them by finding Neoform, Worldly Tutor, or Finale of Devastation. Spellseeker can also find Cloudstone Curio by finding Transmute Artifact. Trophy Mage can't find the others, but it lets you find Cloudstone Curio, which lets you win and/or reuse the others to find more things after they've found Trophy Mage. Eternal Witness is a fringe member of this group, since it can't necessarily find the others early, but in the late game it can, and it can be part of some loops with Spellseeker.

Because of these creatures, any creature tutor can, if given enough mana, lead to a win without drawing any other cards.

The Best Cards in the Deck

While there are a lot of absolutely essential and incredibly powerful cards in the deck (I like to even say there are a lot of "best cards" in the deck), but I genuinely believe that Gaea's Cradle is actually the best card in the deck. CEDH players rarely play cards that destroy lands, and it's pretty easy to find, it makes a lot of mana, and it enables several loops. This leads me to believe that this is the best deck in cEDH because it has a lot of the best cards and does strong things that other decks do, while also using Gaea's Cradle in a way that other blue decks can't.

Dockside Extortionist is the best creature in the deck, but since adding Cloud of Faeries, it's less reliant on Dockside than it used to be. If you can resolve a Dockside for more than six Treasures, you're extremely likely to win, but I find that it's often hard to get more than four or five, a problem that Cloud of Faeries can easily solve. Still, the ceiling on Dockside is higher, and it doesn't rely on already having Gaea's Cradle, so it's better overall.

Mystic Remora and Rhystic Study are just the best cards in cEDH, so it's hard to pretend they aren't the best cards in any deck they're in. The same goes for Sol Ring and Mana Crypt, though I actually think those are a little weaker.

Fierce Guardianship and Deflecting Swat are particularly incredible when your commanders cost zero and two because you will almost always have at least one on the battlefield.

Cloudstone Curio is the best card in the deck because it's your most important combo piece and a great value engine. It's really the card the deck is named for.

Earthcraft is the best card to draw because it has the most explosive mana-generating capability and makes all your loops much easier, but it's very hard to search for.

These are the cards to be looking for when taking mulligans and which should always be on your mind when you're searching.

Building around Earthcraft

Earthcraft is the most recent major change to the deck, and it informed a lot of other cards. On its surface, it's something like a Gaea's Cradle in that it makes one mana for each creature you control, but really, it's much better than that. Gaea's Cradle gives you only green mana and gives it to you all at the same time. With Earthcraft, you can add mana as needed, so you can use some on your turn and save some for other turns. 

There are two huge advantages to Earthcraft over Gaea's Cradle.

First, Gaea's Cradle takes a snapshot of all the creatures you control at a single time, but Earthcraft gives you mana for every creature you control at any point, which means that if you sacrifice a creature to get another creature with Neoform or Eldritch Evolution, you get mana for both of them. More importantly, if you bounce a creature and replay it, or if you flicker a creature, you get mana for each time it's on the battlefield. This generates a lot of extra mana, but it also makes all sorts of loops mana-positive.

Second, if you control a basic land that taps for more than one mana, Earthcraft is suddenly twice as good. If you have Earthcraft with a basic that taps for more than two mana, it's genuinely hard not to have a game-winning amount of mana.

Earthcraft is among the most powerful cards in the deck, so it's worth making some concessions in deckbuilding to make the most out of it. I'm playing several cards to maximize my access to basic lands, like Generous Ent and Prismatic Vista, that I wouldn't be playing if it wasn't important to me to reliably have a basic land. I'm also playing several enchant lands because they're so powerful with Earthcraft, like Wild Growth, Utopia Sprawl, and Fertile Ground. Additionally, I've gone a little out of my way to support Utopia Sprawl with choices like Breeding Pool and Hedge Maze and not Rejuvenating Springs.

I hadn't been playing Muddle the Mixture, but I added it because it's the only way to find Earthcraft. Earthcraft is powerful enough that I want Muddle to be able to find it, which means I can find Earthcraft with Spellseeker by getting Muddle, which in turn means I can eventually find it with any creature tutor.

The final card I'm playing because of Earthcraft is Shrieking Drake. Shrieking Drake is a decent card in the deck by itself because I have a lot of creatures I can pick up for value, but its real purpose is that it makes infinite mana if I have Earthcraft and a basic with an enchant land. Incidentally, it's worth noting that I'll try pretty hard to prioritize casting my enchant lands on basics whenever possible.

Building around Gaea's Cradle

I want access to Gaea's Cradle as often as possible. Crop Rotation is the best way to find it, but I also play Expedition Map and Tolaria West just to get Gaea's Cradle. Archdruid's Charm is extremely versatile, but if I draw it and I don't already have Gaea's Cradle, I'm probably using it to get Cradle.

Because I have several way to find Gaea's Cradle and I value it or ways to find it highly in mulligans, I can expect that I'll generally have it. As a result, I expect that I'm going to want to put a bunch of creatures onto the battlefield. This informs a core philosophy of mine in card selection with this deck:

My goal is to dump my hand. I don't want to be sitting on reactive cards or situational cards. My mana snowballs by controlling more permanents, so that's what I'm looking to do, which is why I don't play cards like Defense Grid, Final Fortune, or Underworld Breach: they're good only at the right moment, and I want cards I can just cast.

Another unusual inclusion that I'm playing because of Gaea's Cradle is Candelabra of Tawnos since it both doubles the mana from Gaea's Cradle and lets you wash some of it into other colors. I don't think I'd be playing Candelabra if I weren't playing the enchant lands, but thanks to them it's mana-positive often enough when I don't have Gaea's Cradle to pull its weight. It also happens to be a powerful political tool: it can untap other players' lands, which means that when someone tries to go off into a Rhystic Study because its controller tapped out, you can untap a land of theirs to give them interaction. Conversations about this kind of option can also give you a lot of information about other players' hands.

Tutor Chains

I talked about how your creatures can find each other and that that could lead to chains where you win by drawing a single piece, but I want to elaborate on that with some examples:

If you have nothing relevant except some mana and access to your commanders and you draw Spellseeker, you can find Neoform, cast it, sacrificing Thrasios, to find Trophy Mage, get Cloudstone Curio, and play Rograkh or replay Thrasios to pick up Spellseeker, then cast Spellseeker to find Finale of Devastation for Dockside Extortionist or Cloud of Faeries, whichever will let you loop (profitably), then loop them with Rograkh. Alternatively, if you have an artifact, you can skip the Trophy Mage and just get Transmute Artifact. I doubt this is the least expensive way to do this, but it's an example of how you can get everything from one card with enough mana.

If you draw Imperial Recruiter, you could just get Spellseeker and go through the chain above, but given that we're just tutoring for creatures, there's no reason to do that, so it's better to use Imperial Recruiter to find Trophy Mage to get Cloudstone Curio and then use Rograkh to pick up Imperial Recruiter and cast Imperial Recruiter to get Dockside Extortionist or Cloud of Faeries.

If the opposing Dockside count is six or more, you can simply use Imperial Recruiter to get Barrin, Master Wizard, then use Barrin to bounce Recruiter and Recruiter for Dockside. Then you can bounce Dockside with Barrin and recast it infinitely.

If you have some random cheap spells in your hand, it's often better to use Imperial Recruiter to find Displacer Kitten, then cast a spell to flicker Recruiter and use it to find Spellseeker; then Spellseeker can find Snap and you can flicker one and bounce the other and find Flesh Duplicate and Crop Rotation, then Flesh Duplicate the Kitten and cast Crop Rotation to flicker both the Spellseeker and Imperial Recruiter to find Dockside Extortionist and Transmute Artifact.

There are likely better versions of all of these chains, as all of these cost a ton of mana, but they serve to illustrate the point that if you have a lot of mana, any draw can win you the game. Additionally, it shows that there's a real difference between ten and twenty mana with this deck, which is why cards like Candelabra of Tawnos aren't overkill.

More on Commonly Played Cards I'm Not Playing

I briefly mentioned Final Fortune above, but I want to expand on it. In other decks, Final Fortune is great when you draw a burst of cards and you're bottlenecked on mana to play them all, such as after you've resolved Ad Nauseam or Necropotence. But because this deck is relatively bad at drawing cards and relatively good at making mana, it's more likely that you're going to have enough mana and be waiting to draw the last card you need to assemble a combo than it is that you'll have everything you need but not enough mana to play it.

Also, this deck isn't playing hard protection cards, like Defense Grid, that make it safe to play Final Fortune. Instead, it accepts that any of its combos might get disrupted, which makes Final Fortune very risky.

So why not play both? I could just add Defense Grid or Conqueror's Flail. As I see it, the reason so many decks play these cards is that they revolve around assembling precise two-card combos, and if they use those cards and they're prevented from winning, they have very few other chances to win. With this deck, I have endless redundancy. I'm never going to run out of ways to present a win, and when I'm close but get disrupted, I'm usually very close to winning with something else. This means when I do want to protect a win, I'd always rather do it with a counterspell that can do double duty protecting me on other people's turns, that also costs less mana, rather than playing something dedicated to forcing something through that I just don't care that much about.

Recently, other more other players have started playing decks similar to mine. A few cards other people play that I don't:

I used to play this, but realized I never wanted to find it rather than Trophy Mage for Cloudstone Curio, and it was pretty bad to draw naturally.

I don't have anything that can find this, so it's not adding flexibility to other tutors; additionally, it's more mana than I want to invest into a sorcery-speed noncreature spell because it's very unlikely to resolve.

I think this is a great card that does what my deck is trying to do, and it might find its way back in if I decide I don't like any other cards I'm trying in some flexible slots, but I've found it surprisingly clunky in terms of the number of objects I need to cast it, so it's bad at winning very fast.

Tutors add a cost to what you're doing anyway, so it's easy to have too many, because you don't really want to draw multiples early because the additive costs are just too much, and this can't find any of my three cost creatures. It is an additional Dockside/Cloud of Faeries, but not much else, and that's just not quite enough to justify the extra mana to me, even if it's very close.


I've heard discussion of gathering data on how often people win after casting Wheel of Fortune or Timetwister as a way to evaluate how strong these cards are, but to me, that whole approach totally misses the point. You cast these cards when you're far behind and hope the can salvage the game for you. Maybe I only win 10-15 percent of the time that I cast Timetwister, but if I was only 2-3 percent to win the game before I cast Timetwister, that could still be worth the slot.

Whether it's actually worth playing is, in my opinion, an extremely difficult question, as you have to weigh how much it hurts when you draw it and don't cast it, how often it saves you in otherwise unwinnable games, and also how it changes your win rate when you cast it in games when you aren't behind, but just happened to have a lot of fast mana.

My belief is that the cards are powerful and that this is the exact right deck for them; as I've discussed, I make a lot of mana quickly and I'm bad at drawing large numbers of cards. I'm also specifically trying to empty my hand rather than stockpiling interaction or combo pieces; I'm never sitting on Thassa's Oracle waiting for Demonic Consultation or both and waiting for my moment, I'm just casting my cards, so I'm going to be in a position to cast these more often.

Despite, that, I still think not playing them is defensible, but where I'm at is that I'm pretty sure I want Timetwister because resetting graveyards is generally good for me. That being said, I'm on the fence on Wheel of Fortune because filling graveyards is bad for me, as I use my graveyard less than almost every other deck.

Opening Hands

I want at least two lands and a piece of acceleration; if I don't have that, I'm very unlikely to keep a hand. I'm also very likely to mulligan any hand that has two or more purely reactive spells unless it's otherwise perfect/has a clear path to a win and can use the reactive spells proactively. I'm much more likely to keep a hand with any of my best cards as outlined above or easy access to any of them such as Crop Rotation, and if a hand is kind of solid but doesn't have any of the best cards then I'll usually mulligan to look for one of them if it's my first or second hand.

I'm not looking for a clear path to a specific combo as much as I'm looking to build up mana or ideally a card draw engine. If I happen to have a clean to card combo I'm more likely to keep, but if I don't have any acceleration I wouldn't be attached to it.

Non-Curio Combos

I mentioned that Curio loops are the easiest plan, but there are alternatives. Sometimes weird combos come up because you can copy or steal your opponents' things, but here are most of the other combos in the deck:

Devoted Druid + Machine God's Effigy


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Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy + Basalt Monolith


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Barrin, Master Wizard + Dockside Extortionist


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Shrieking Drake + Earthcraft + Enchanted Basic Land


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Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh + Hullbreaker Horror + Mana Crypt


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You can replace Mana Crypt with Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Mox Opal, Mox Amber, etc in this combo. As long as it's a mana positive rock. 

There is also Displacer Kitten+Etali, Primal Conqueror which is nondeterministic, but extremely likely to cast every spell in everyone's library because you can flicker Etali every time you hit a noncreature spell. Finally, Eternal Witness+Snap in conjunction with two lands that tap for six total mana (usually Gaea's Cradle and five creatures, but enchant lands can replace creatures).

Possible Cuts

If I were to cut a land, I'd consider Ancient Tomb, Mana Confluence, or Tolaria West. I think I like Tolaria West, but I've only added it recently, so I'm not sure. The others I think are just my least important lands, but I do like them.

I wouldn't cut Timetwister, but I would understand if someone did.

Etali, Primal Conqueror might not be necessary because it does something similar to Hullbreaker Horror, but it provides more value against an immediate removal spell most of the time and requires even less support. I also like having more big, high-impact things because sometimes I just have mana and not much to do with it. This could also be swapped for Emrakul, the Promised End, which fill a very similar role.

Shrieking Drake is not necessary; its infinite combo is pretty fringe, but it's likely better than another flicker would be because it leaves an extra creature on the battlefield, and I think it has enough utility that it's worth it, but it's a card I'm not attached to.

Cursed Mirror is my most recent addition and still very experimental; I had it in a very early version of the deck and didn't like it, but I think things have changed a lot since then and I'm optimistic about its place in this deck, but again, it's a flex slot for now.

Arcane Signet, Candelabra of Tawnos, and Bloom Tender are the pieces of acceleration I'm least attached to: Bloom Tender's fragile, Candelabra's slow to get started, so it doesn't really count as acceleration in your opening hand, and Arcane Signet is fine but unexciting.

If for whatever reason your metagame includes relatively few blue decks, you could cut Red Elemental Blast (Pyroblast is better because of Displacer Kitten), but I like the others.

I'd be a very hard sell on cutting any other card in the deck at this time. I tried cutting Lightning Bolt and Gilded Drake because they don't really help you win, but found that having real answers to things rather than just bounce was too important.

Possible Additions

As for possible additions, I feel strongly about not playing cards like Defense Grid. I've tried Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Destiny Spinner and didn't like either. Dosan the Falling Leaf would be the next one I'd try, but I wouldn't expect to like it. I think I'd rather add Chord of Calling than Invasion of Ikoria, and that could be fine.

I've played Echo Storm, and I think it's quite good. I'd play it before a card like Tezzeret the Seeker or Shared Summons because it's much harder to counter. I'm currently not playing it because I found it a little too clunky to want in my opening hand, and I can't search for it, so I didn't think it was worth it over a card that would add to a toolbox.

I think Dispel is very good, but I don't really want more one-for-one interaction; still, it might find its way back in if there just aren't enough other cards I like. Return the Favor and Tarnation Vista are currently the top of my list of OTJ cards to consider, but I don't think either is quite good enough currently.

I love the deck, but I think it's appreciably harder to pick up than most cEDH decks because it doesn't have a clear pair of cards you're always looking for to end the game, and it doesn't have easy overwhelming wins like what happens after you resolve a large Ad Nauseam. It's resilient and flexible, but that means it offers a lot of close and difficult choices. Also, it's completely unplayable on Magic Online because all of its wins require shortcuts that aren't available on Magic Online.

Rograkh Thrasios cEDH by Sam Black

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Commander (2)
Lands (28)
Artifacts (18)
Instants (19)
Sorceries (6)
Creatures (21)
Enchantments (6)

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Sam Black is a former professional Magic player, longtime Magic writer, host of the Drafting Archetypes podcast, and Twitch streamer. Sam enjoys a wide range of formats, especially limited and unofficial fan formats like Old School and Premodern in addition to cEDH.