Conditions Allow – Egon, God of Death EDH

Ben Doolittle • May 18, 2021

Egon, God of Death | Art by Jason A. Engle

Guide to the Underworld

Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow. In this article series I take a legendary creature with a drawback and try to turn it into a strength. This week, I’m tackling a commander with a straightforward drawback from Kaldheim, Egon, God of Death.

Egon, God of Death is one of a few commanders with two faces. As Egon, God of Death it is a 6/6 for three mana. You must, however, exile two cards from your graveyard during your upkeep or sacrifice Egon. Even though Egon is aggressively costed, similar to Yargle, Glutton of Urborg, he requires some set up that means you may not want to cast him early every game.

Egon’s other side, Throne of Death, on the other hand, is always good on turn one. Costing just one mana, the Throne is a powerful early engine for a graveyard based deck, and even lets you trade extra creatures in your graveyard for card draw.

No matter how you choose to build Egon, God of Death, you’re going to want a full graveyard. Egon’s creature side needs cards to exile in order to stick around, and the Throne of Death side wants to exile creatures in order to draw cards. I don’t think these sides have to be in conflict though. If you can fill your graveyard early enough, it is possible to start aggressively with Egon himself, putting pressure on your opponent’s life totals from turn three. Later on you can cast Throne of Death to continue fueling your graveyard and transition to a reanimation strategy.

Graveyards Overflowing

For this to work, we’re going to need lots of cheap self-mill effects. Creatures are especially valuable because they are prime targets for exile once you cast Throne of Death. You want to get as many cards into the graveyard as quickly as possible, so Stitcher’s Supplier, Codex Shredder, and Perpetual Timepiece are particularly desirable. Codex Shredder in particular is really good, since black doesn’t have any other Regrowth effects. Milling Grafted Exoskeleton or Reanimate can mean you can’t win fast enough, and Codex Shredder gives us the opportunity to grab them back.

This is also why its important to have multiple mill effects. Perpetual Timepiece lets you keep Egon, God of Death in play, but it doesn’t let you keep any cards in your graveyard. If Egon gets removed, we want to be able to transition into a reanimation game plan. Being forced to exile Sheoldred, Whispering One or Razaketh, the Foulblooded early on can make that impossible. Key to the City isn’t exactly mill, but it does put cards into your graveyard and makes Egon, God of Death unblockable. And as an aggro/reanimate deck, you can usually afford to pay the two during your upkeep to draw an extra card, so you can fuel that graveyard turn after turn.

Key to the City is also a perfect way to discard dredge cards. Dredging Stinkweed Imp is one of the fastest ways to fill your graveyard, ensuring you don’t have to exile valuable cards you’d rather keep into the later turns of the game. Cryptbreaker is another great discard effect, that can also draw cards to save Golgari Thug from grave hate. When searching for other discard effects I also found Tomb Robber. Not only is Tomb Robber a discard outlet, but explore seems like the perfect mechanic for this deck. You either set up your next land drop, or get to mill a card. Even if you don’t need the extra land, you can use it to activate Tomb Robber again, potentially putting three or four cards into your graveyard every turn.

A Swift End

Mill is important, but it is only a means to an end, which is attacking with Egon, God of Death for lethal commander damage. Or infect damage. Taking a hint from Yargle, Glutton of Urborg, I’m including both Grafted Exoskeleton and Phyresis. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon also shows up among the creatures, so you have access to some native infect as well. It isn’t impossible to win with normal commander damage, however. Giving Egon, God of Death even just one more power lets him take a player out in three hits. If Egon can start attacking on turn four, that can be a respectable clock.

One of the best cards for a pure Voltron approach is Demonic Embrace. It can be cast from the graveyard, so you never mind milling it, and it grants flying. Having some kind of evasion is vital for Voltron decks, and this particular source is difficult to get rid of permanently. I also want to highlight Kaya’s Ghostform and Demonic Vigor. Neither adds power to Egon, but both give you some insurance against removal, and Egon’s own upkeep trigger. Being able to fight through a board wipe can be the difference between defeat and victory.

Chthonic Denizens

Before we get to the really big stuff, I want to mentione Syr Konrad the Grim and Tormod the Desecrator. They both synergize with Egon by removing cards from your graveyard, contributing to damage to the table, or producing tokens as fodder for blocks, sacrifice, or Razaketh. Syr Konrad is also a mill engine and a valuable mana sink in the mid and late game.

In case Egon can’t quite get there, though, all that mill also drives a reanimation sub-theme. To avoid being forced to exile these powerful creatures to Egon early on, I’m not going to include too many of them. Even so,Massacre Wurm is perhaps the most explosive of these, but Vilis, Broker of Blood and Razaketh, the Foulblooded are incredibly powerful as well.

And to get Razaketh, the Foulblooded into play, Reanimate. Along with the classics, I’ve included Shallow Grave. Both Egon, God of Death and Throne of Death give you some control over the top card of your graveyard, so Shallow Grave can usually hit the card you want. Dread Return is also an important tool, since it can be cast from your graveyard. I considered adding Desecrated Tomb to make sure I’d always have tokens for Dread Return, but ultimately I preferred the 6/6 body on Grave Titan.

 

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Egon, God of Death doesn’t seem to have captured many people’s imaginations (only 24 decks on EDHREC) but he has some unique interactions. This deck can pivot easily between Voltron and reanimation strategies, making it surprisingly resilient and explosive. But what do you think? Are there any cards I didn’t mention that you think shine with Egon, God of Death? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.



Ben Doolittle

Ben Doolittle

Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.