A Devil for the Details
Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow, the article series where I take a legendary creature with a drawback and turn it into a strength. Today I continue my adventures through the Forgotten Realms and delve into the Nine Hells, ruled over by for some Asmodeus EDH.
banned), you can still draw seven cards right away. That's not true with . On top of paying six mana to cast, he requires four additional mana to put seven cards into your hand.is obviously a powerful card. His ability to trade life for cards was immediately compared to and . In practice, though, Asmodeus isn't nearly as potent in the command zone as you might expect. is powerful because he draws cards with zero additional mana investment. Even if you pay the full eight mana to cast him (don't try, he's
And while you could only pay three extra mana to leave those cards in exile, if Asmodeus is destroyed you'll lose access to those cards forever. Unlike withthere is no delayed trigger to put those cards into your hand. Additionally, 's binding contract applies to every single card you draw. may block your draw step, but Asmodeus is much more comprehensive. If you want to put cards in your hand, you'll have to pay the price.
Unless, of course,isn't in play. Sacrifice him with the draw seven ability on the stack and his replacement effect will no longer apply, leaving you free to draw seven more cards. So what do you do with all those cards? Well, if you're already throwing one big creature into the graveyard, it makes sense to try and bring it back. From there you can start controlling the board and discarding s and s to reanimate alongside the Devil God himself.
Touring the Nine Hells
The first, and most important, step in this plan is to getinto his hellish kingdom, the graveyard. Ideally, you'll want to activate and sacrifice Asmodeus during your upkeep the turn after casting him. This ensures no cards are left in exile, and you get the engine rolling as quickly as possible. To maintain the element of surprise, I'm going to lean on instants to sacrifice Asmodeus. is a well known combo enabler, and telegraphs your plans to your opponents. is much harder to see coming, and virtually impossible to interact with. Because you sacrifice a creature as an additional cost to cast the spell you'll get to sacrifice even if it gets countered. is probably my favorite of these spells though. It starts that controlling game plan right away, while ensuring you get to refill your hand unhindered.
You don't have to rely on just instants, though. There aren't enough of them to reliably see one in your top ten or so cards. And this is a reanimator deck,has to have a spot. I also really like and . They're relatively innocuous, most players don't include land destruction, and they have relevant effects. will make you the target of a lot of incidental damage, so the occasional point of healing from is invaluable. Meanwhile, the burst of mana from and lets you cast any instants you draw right away.
Of course, drawing seven cards is going to get the attention of your opponents. In order to ensure you live long enough to use them, you'll need to establish control of the battlefield. If there aren't a ton of creatures on the field,ing might be enough. In case it isn't though, lets include enough removal to keep those creatures at bay. is a classic, but I'm growing fond of as well. It's a free way to control an explosive turn from any token deck, and keeps hasty creatures from ing you out of nowhere.
The two best board wipes in the deck, however, areand . Each one mimics your most powerful play patterns, either destroying all creatures while drawing a bunch of cards, or destroying all creatures and bringing the best one back.
Service After Death
If the goal is to wipe the board and then reanimate something big, you're gonna need a few big creatures. Many creatures are capable of taking the game over on their own, but perhaps the best is. In case Sheoldred is out of your budget, though, consider . The archon won't reanimate creatures for you, but the sacrifice, discard, and incidental life gain are great for staying in control of the game. The fact that it attacks for a total of nine damage is wonderful as well. You don't want to give your opponents time to recover. In case they do, and can easily have you back in control.
You can also reanimate a creature to quickly establish your own army.and represent up to four bodies from a single creature. Reanimating your opponent's creatures is especially potent right after a board wipe. is another option to do that, potentially more than once. Most of the time, though, you'll want to use its Encore ability, to get three creatures right away.
I also want to highlight two other creatures that show up less often in other reanimator decks.is obviously powerful with the draw potential from , but turns that up to eleven. The ooze will inherit all of Asmodeus's activated abilities, but not the replacement effect that stops you from drawing cards. You'll be free to sink all of your mana into his ability. This could be the outlet to an infinite mana combo with and , but I'm going to leave them out of this particular list.
Never Ending Torment
I've gone over all the creatures you'll want to revive, so let's quickly go over how to revive them. Some reanimator decks aim to cheat big creatures into play early, taking advantage of cheap spells likeand . And this deck plays those, but it really wants to take advantage of bigger spells that bring back multiple creatures. is powerful on its own, but why not revive it alongside with ? Or offset the life loss of with and ?
One spell I'm not so sure of is. It is the cheapest way to bring all your creatures back, but your opponents will get all their creatures you destroyed back too. I'd much rather have those creatures under my control instead. Luckily, that's just what does. Cast it right after a and you'll get every single creature you just destroyed back in play under your control.
One final thing to note aboutis that he immediately puts a target on your playmat. Everyone will think you're trying to spend your life total as a resource, and try to stop you. Expect to be attacked more often than usual with in the command zone. And even though you won't pay life into Asmodeus's ability, it's still important to offset some of that aggression with a little life gain. is useful for this, but is much more powerful. Thanks to the card advantage from Asmodeus, can easily gain you seven or more life during your upkeep. It hasn't shown up on his EDHREC page yet, but it definitely should.
With the core of the deck formed, lets add lands and plenty of mana rocks for the full decklist.
Asmodeus EDH with the Archfiend
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This deck was a lot of fun to put together. The raw card advantage Asmodeus provides is incredible, ensuring you see your board wipes, creatures, and reanimator spells consistently. And while this particular list tries to get around's passive ability, if you included more tutors to find , I think you could easily offset the life loss and build a more straightforward deck with Asmodeus at the helm.
But what do you think? Isas good as everyone feared? And is it worth it to build around him as a commander, or is it better to include him as part of a reanimator deck instead? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.