An Introduction to Tivit in cEDH

Ian Flannery • May 8, 2024

Tivit, Seller of Secrets by Chris Rahn

Hello, my name is Ian, also known as ComedIan from the Youtube channel ComedIan MTG, and cohost of the Mind Sculptors podcast. Tivit, Seller of Secrets has been a major part of my cEDH career: it was the deck that I secured my first win in a major cEDH tournament with, so it holds a very special place in my heart.

So What is Tivit?

In cEDH, Tivit is an unassuming but outstanding commander for Esper. He allows those who are drawn to this color combination to truly flex those 60-card control muscles that would otherwise wither away in a multiplayer format.

Tivit is basically akin to a finisher you would find in the Standard decks of old. He's the big bomb you drop at the end of the game that provides you with an abundance of card and mana advantage. That being said, I'm also touching upon one of the most important and counterintuitive lessons in piloting Tivit: you don't actually want to cast Tivit.

Don't Cast Tivit?!

As I mentioned, Tivit is a finisher, and therefore should be relegated to the mid/later portion of the game. I've seen way too many folks jam a Tivit on turn two or three only to be swiftly kicked in the face by a Force of Will or Mana Drain, or in some of the most insulting cases a Pyroblast/Red Elemental Blast Insert crying in a corner here (one mana to counter my six-drop!)

Okay, so if I don't want to cast this commander, why would I play him? Well, astute readers, that's where the nuance of this discussion comes in. It isn't that you never cast Tivit, it's just a matter of timing.

If I Don't Cast Tivit, What Do I Cast?

Another upstanding question, dear reader! Much of the time in this strategy you get to lean into the fact that Esper is just... good. There is an abundance of cards in this color combination that are amazingly impactful, from the resilience of cards draw engines, like Rhystic Study, Mystic Remora, Esper Sentinel, or The One Ring, to the amazing impact of silver bullet stax pieces, like Cursed Totem, Grafdigger's Cage, Opposition Agent, Drannith Magistrate, and more!

We'll get into more specifics on mulligans later in this article, but it is a vital skill for most cEDH players, especially those who are hoping to play the role of the control deck at the table.

Why Play Tivit in cEDH?

  • Tivit has access to clean and compact win conditions. Most notably, Tivit has a one-card combo with Time Sieve. One-card combos are uncommon in cEDH, especially when it comes to Esper decks. 
  • Tivit has access to the entire Esper card pool, an extremely powerful combination of colors granting white for silences and removal, blue for countermagic and draw, and black for some speed and the most efficient tutors ever printed.
  • Tivit is resilient. One of the greatest difficulties for opponents in the late game is dealing with Tivit, and even when they do you usually have gotten a few Treasures from his initial cast so that you can just recast him next turn.
  • Tivit breaks parity on a number of impactful stax pieces for the current metagame. These include Cursed Totem for shutting down A Tier decks like Kinnan, Sisay and Najeela, and Grafdigger's Cage for decks relying on Underworld Breach or pulling creatures into play from their library.
  • HE THICC. But realistically Tivit is a commanding presence on the board, and his impressive size is surprisingly relevant. At the end of the day, an evasive 6/6 is still an evasive 6/6. 

How Does Tivit Win in cEDH? 

We have a few main win conditions that are in basically every Tivit list, and then a few that some folks see as more flexible.

Thassa's Oracle + Tainted Pact or Demonic Consultation


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This one almost goes without saying, but just in case: Thassa's Oracle enters the battlefield; with that trigger on the stack, you cast Tainted Pact or Demonic Consultation and exile your entire library. As an aside, some Tivit lists are actually not playing Demonic Consultation because of how poorly the card works with the normal play patterns. 

Tivit, Seller of Secrets + Time Sieve


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As long as you have three opponents, Tivit's enter-the-battlefield/combat damage trigger produces five artifacts (you vote twice), therefore as long as you can connect for combat damage with Tivit, you can create a loop where you can continually string extra turns in a row. With infinite turns, you should be able to string together any of the other win conditions in the deck or just beat your opponents down with Tivit himself. Just remember that you need three opponents for this loop, so if you take one out, you won't produce enough artifacts for Time Sieve

Displacer Kitten + Teferi, Time Raveler + A Mana-Positive or Mana-Neutral Spell 


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Let's start by defining that third condition. You need to be able to play a spell repeatedly by bouncing it into your hand. Usually this takes the form of mana-positive rocks (Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Mox Opal, etc.) or a mana-neutral rock (Chrome Mox, Lotus Petal, Jeweled Lotus)

With all of that out of the way you can create a loop with a mana-neutral rock where you can draw your entire deck and with a mana-positive rock you can gain a finite number of mana where X = the amount of times you repeat the process.

Now, to the combo. With Displacer Kitten, a rock, and Teferi on board, you can use Teferi's -3 ability to return the rock to your hand and draw a card. You then play the rock from your hand which will trigger the Displacer Kitten which will target Teferi to exile it and return it to the battlefield. Teferi re-enters with a reset loyalty and is considered a new game object, and he's therefore able to activate a loyalty ability again. You then use his -3 ability again, targeting the recently resolved rock, and begin the loop all over again.

This combo is particularly good because while it involves a lot of pieces, each of those pieces is good by itself. Displacer Kitten combined with Tivit allows every noncreature to usually generate you two Treasures and three Clues! Meanwhile Teferi, Time Raveler acts as a Grand Abolisher effect on your turn protecting your combo. Additionally, Wishclaw Talisman can assemble this combo in one go as long as you have a rock and a lot of mana. Simply tutor out Teferi with Wishclaw, play it, play a rock to bounce the Wishclaw back to hand, recast it and tutor Displacer Kitten, and go off from there. 

Optional Wincons

Hullbreaker Horror + Two Mana Neutral Rocks

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With Hullbreaker on the battlefield, one rock in hand, and one on the field, cast the mana rock, Hullbreaker Horror trigger will target the other rock, returning it to hand after tapping it for any mana it produces. Repeat until infinite mana is generated, then begin bouncing Tivit instead of the mana rocks and continue alternating between the rock and Tivit making sure to give yourself at least one clue each time. With infinite mana and infinite clues, you can draw your entire deck, at which point you can start playing and replaying an Orcish Bowmasters to ping your opponents to death. 

Mnemonic Betrayal

Sometimes your opponents lose a win condition, it's now yours. That's really it, but it works more often than one would think. As a control deck that looks to take the game longer, Mnemonic Betrayal gets better and better as the game goes on.

Playing Control in cEDH

To understand this dynamic, it's important to understand a fundamental truth of cEDH: counterspells on an objective basis are bad. Now, don't go reading this and think I am saying to not run countermagic; counters define cEDH and are completely necessary, but let me throw an example your way:

You are Player 3, Player 1 places an Underworld Breach onto the stack. (a pretty common exchange here in the cEDH realm). You play a Swan Song, you counter the breach and give them the literal bird...

In the aforementioned exchange, two things have happened. Player 1 has expended a resource with the intent to most likely win the game, you, player 3, have expended a resource to deny that victory.

Say everyone started this exchange with five cards in hand; the board state is, as such:

  • Player 1 - Four cards one Swan
  • Player 2 - Five cards
  • Player 3 (you) - Four cards
  • Player 4 - Five Cards

In this exchange, it's clear that Players 2 and 4 win with this interaction as they have expended 0 resources and walk away alive.

In traditional 1v1 Magic, one resource exchanged to deal with an opponent's resource is an acceptable exchange to maintain parity in the game. This is NOT the case when it comes to multiplayer Magic. This is where a significant amount of skill as the control player comes into play, and also where those silver bullets we mentioned earlier come into play.

What do we do instead? pt. 1

Let's use this as an opportunity to take a look at a card that can simulate multiple resource exchanges: Drannith Magistrate.

Now, when you compare Drannith to a counterspell in a multiplayer format, we can see how control can sometimes be relegated to stax pieces. If we look at the exchange rate of a card like Drannith Magistrate, we can begin to see that it can potentially be several exchanges of resources baked into a single card. For example, against a Blue Farm Deck, Drannith prevents the casting of Tymna or Kraum, making it effectively a one for two. It also stops the other two opponents from casting their commanders, effectively a one-for-four, and so on.

These numbers are not perfect because they technically don't expend the resources either, but the impact is clear.

What do we do instead? pt. 2

The second part of being a control player in cEDH means that because of the issues above with resources exchange it means one must be significantly more selective with the spells that they do interact with, remember you don't get to counter everything, so... 

Counter. What. Matters. Stop the win, stop the Silence, stop the commander that says "I never have to cast another spell to win". These are the interaction points, not the Rhystic Studys, not the Mystic Remoras, Not the Stax Piece that hurts Rograkh/Silas but slightly hurts you in three to five turns when you're "going for it"

Opening Hands and Mulligans for Tivit in cEDH

Any cEDH expert will tell you that the opening hand is vital to the course of any cEDH game, so below I will provide you with a few examples of keepable and unkeepable opening hands and my reasoning for each:

Tivit Sample Hand 1

I would keep this hand as it allows us to get a turn one dauntless out, probably exiling the Muddle the Mixture as it is a great late game card but bad early. The hand's biggest weakness is relying on Wishclaw Talisman for the later part of the game, as passing that card at the wrong time can be game warping. Worst case scenario you can always grab an Opposition Agent and hold it up to snag someone else's stuff.

Tivit Sample Hand 2

I provide this hand as it is more conditional than one would initially estimate. The hand depends a lot on the strength of Grafdigger's Cage and none of the artifacts present are ones that I would happily sacrifice to a Transmute Artifact. This hand also lacks card advantage meaning it almost forces you to grab a piece like Jeweled Lotus off a turn one Urza's Saga so you can have Tivit out to regain advantage, which we have already covered can lead to a blowout.

Tivit Sample Hand 3

Land drops, card advantage, mana acceleration and a tutor for draw OR a win condition... Yeah this is the good stuff.

Tivit Sample Hand 4

This is FAR too risky, we are a control deck and need to make our land drops! The ability to give up a draw and tutor for Mana Crypt doesn't solve any problems. Yes, with the Enlightened Tutor there is a world where we get a turn two Trouble in Pairs. However if we eat any interaction, even as simple as having our tutor misstepped, we are out of the game.

Tivit Sample Hand 5

Good cards, but too slow. Don't get blinded by good cards and fall behind.

Tivit Sample Hand 6

A classic trap hand, you can petal into Talisman into cage... But then what will you do? Sevinne's back a fetch? Yuck. It doesn't even let us greedily jam Tivit at the wrong time, so there's no way to justify keeping it. 

Tivit Sample Hand 7

Now this is a Turn 2 Tivit with the ability to give myself 2x Treasure to hold up whichever piece of interaction doesn't go under Chrome Mox. What is nice about the hand is that because none of these mana sources are temporary even if you do get Tivit blown out that turn you are still operating with six mana on turn three, which in my opinion is worth gambling on the lesson that I alluded to above which is that an early Tivit is not good. There are exceptions to every rule and with the mana sources lasting this is it. If that crypt was a Jeweled Lotus I am NOT keeping this, food for thought

Tivit in the Current cEDH Metagame

There's a lot of talk at the current moment comparing Tivit to cEDH's boogeyman Blue Farm. They're definitely comparable, as they're both decks that push for the late game and focus on jamming advantage engines over anything else. Tivit is not as dominant as it was early last year but a good amount of that felt like it was one of very few decks that cared very little about Bowmasters. The deck is still putting up decent numbers and is always in the format's Top 10. It also is a pretty decent barrier to entry for a lot of folks, especially those who like playing interactive Magic.

Learning More About Tivit

When you answer this sphinx's riddles you the secrets unveiled will lead to a great deal of fun and success in cEDH and I can't wait for you all to read.

Thank you and the link to my current list for Tivit for the modern cEDH landscape is attached below:

Ian Flannery's cEDH Tivit, Seller of Secrets

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Commander (1)
Creatures (15)
Artifacts (18)
Lands (29)
Instants (22)
Sorceries (7)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (1)

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Ian is a cEDH Tournament Grinder, Content Creator and Professional cEDH Coach. Ian has been playing cEDH for over half a decade and continues to try and push on the boundaries for what is considered the Top decks of cEDH. Over the past few years Ian has made more Top Cuts with different decks than any other player.