CUT #27 - Gishath vs Kumena vs Amalia

Travis Stanley • November 19, 2023

Welcome back to CUT and a brand new trio of deck builders all brewing around cards from the various Ixalan sets! Before we get to our new challenges and challenges, let's wrap up the prior round of CUT.

Congratulations Sinclair! I believe this is your very first win from all of your various appearances on CUT. Knowing how big of a Doctor Who fan you are, must feel really special to win this one. A big thank you to Jubilee and their submissions, I always love seeing what they come up with every time they have been on. This article series wouldn't be what it is without the awesome deck builders that take on the challenges that I send to them, so a huge thank you to all of the builders from the last round, here is where you can find (some) of them!
Jubilee - Commander's Herald Articles, Instagram, Twitter/X
Martin - EDHREC Articles, Twitter/X

Now on to CUT #27! As I mentioned before we are headed back to Ixalan! Here are the challenges our deck builders had to face:

  • Your Commander must be a Pirate, Dinosaur, Vampire, or a Merfolk from Rivals of Ixalan or The Lost Caverns of Ixalan

  • In your 99, all commons and uncommons must be from Ixalan or Rivals of Ixalan.

  • You must have 15 creatures that share a type with your commander

First up we have a newcomer to CUT, Camden!

Gishath, Barracks Protector

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Commander (1)
Artifacts (16)
Creatures (31)
Instants (3)
Lands (37)
Enchantments (5)
Sorceries (5)
Battles (1)
Planeswalkers (1)

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Hello everyone, My name is Camden, but online I go by AceKabuto. I enjoy Magic the Gathering deck-building, cube-building, battlebox-building, and especially making custom cards. For round one of this challenge I have built an artifact and Dino "Timmy" deck where you flood the board with permanents to win the game.

Gishath, Sun's Avatar is the commander of this deck, her primary purpose is to act as a value win-con and to fulfil the color Identity I need for my strategy to work. The primary goal of the deck is to flood the board with either Dinosaurs or Artifacts. This is done with either the commander, or Thousand Moons Smithy. I included Oswald Fiddlebender and Enlightened Tutor to help achieve this goal.

We can easily flip Thousand Moons Smithy due to the plethora of cheap artifacts, treasures, and artifact lands we have in the deck. The flip side of Thousand Moons Smithy, Barracks of the Thousand, is the real powerhouse of the deck especially when paired with cards like Nyxbloom Ancient, or Virtue of Strength when paired with Rootpath Purifier, or Glorious Sunrise. The ability to triple the amount of mana our Barracks produces allows us to play three separate spells from the produced mana, thereby creating three Gnomes to flood the board with power. Due to these triplers and the ramp package, the deck also can produce absurd amounts of mana late game if left unchecked. For this reason I also included Zacama, Primal Calamity as an efficient mana sink.

The deck also includes two alternative methods of flooding the board, starting with Polyraptor, as it combos with Forerunner of the Empire or Marauding Raptor. I've also included a brand new combo: pairing Dino DNA with Dockside Extortionist while having Mana Echoes out. These allow us to fill our board with near infinite creatures to win the game the following turn. I preferred to avoid haste enablers for this deck as a personal choice but feel free to include some if you build this deck for yourself!

We also have mass artifact generators such as Myrel, Shield of Argive, Dockside Extortionist, Thopter Shop, and Bootleggers' Stash. We can increase the potency of these with cards like Mondrak, Glory Dominus and Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation, you can also choose to use Doubling Season or any other token doublers if you prefer. I also felt it fitting to find room for Argivian Archaeologist into the deck as it is both flavorful and also allows us to recur our important artifacts if we find ourselves without them. This deck suffers from both a lack of interaction, but you can still find a lot of fun with it in more casual groups. If you try the deck out I hope you enjoy!

This deck looks quite potent, great job! Hopefully your value engine is enough to get you to the next round.

Up next we have Christian, you may remember him from the last time he was on CUT! He also from helped me with the challenges from the last CUT, so he is here to present his entry for CUT #27!

Commander (1)
Creatures (39)
Lands (32)
Artifacts (7)
Instants (9)
Enchantments (9)
Sorceries (1)
Planeswalkers (2)

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Hello everyone! With Caverns of Ixalan containing three of my favorite creature types (Dinosaurs, Merfolk, and Fungi), I was super excited to do this set's CUT article! I decided to take this challenge as a time to showcase my favorite deck of all time, Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. I brewed Kumena the night that he was spoiled, and ever since, I have been improving and actually foiling out the deck. The only changes I actually needed to make between my personal decklist and the one in this are some uncommons I use that do not meet the challenge's criteria (namely Fallowsage, Merrow Commerce, Quest for Renewal, and about 5 ramp spells), and then including new cards from Caverns of Ixalan.

This deck is built to just maximize Kumena's abilities as much as possible while building an army of merfolk. This is through a few primary mechanics:

  1. Multiple Untap steps: with the use of multiple untap steps with cards like Murkfiend Liege, Seedborn Muse, or the newly spoiled Xolatoyac, the Smiling Flood, you can very quickly draw lots of cards and buff a board of merfolk through Kumena's ability!
  2. Merfolk Lords: This deck is packed with lots of merfolk, several of which are able to make other Merfolk stronger. By creating an army, you can continue to build a board presence while consistently hitting Kumena's abilities.
  3. +1/+1 counters: This is definitely a smaller theme than you would find in a Hakbal of the Surging Soul. There still definitely are some +1 counter synergies through the explore mechanic, but this really gets out of hand once you have five merfolk and are able to use Kumena's ability repeatedly to buff your entire board.

This deck may not be the most inventive or creative of those I have seen or created, and it is definitely a lot of what you would expect to see in a highly tuned Merfolk deck. But it is also my absolute favorite deck I have and has many of my favorite cards, arts, and mechanics!

Way to make a splash Christian! Let's see if the Merfolk can spring forth a path to the next round.

Last but not least, let's welcome another newcomer to CUT, Beth, but she is probably better known as Queen of Cardboard! Let's see what wisdom she has to offer us today.

Commander (1)
Instants (9)
Lands (35)
Enchantments (13)
Sorceries (10)
Creatures (23)
Artifacts (8)
Planeswalkers (1)

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A little about me, my name is Beth and my pronouns are She/Her. I am known online as the Queen of Cardboard and you can find me on all social media platforms. I write for EDHREC, Commander's Herald, and Coolstuff Inc., and I do a variety of charity work and streaming which can find out more about here

For this CUT I decided to go with a commander that I wanted to build already and a type that is near and dear to my heart, vampire. Amalia Benavides Aguirre is my commander of choice and she's an interesting Vampire because she utilizes the explore mechanic to eventually get extremely large and then wipe the board. This is tied to life gain, an extremely popular mechanic, another of my favorites. One mechanic I'm not a fan of, but vampires love is having my board wiped so I attempted to put in creatures that would benefit from dying.

From the Commander deck for Lost Caverns of Ixalan I included Clavileño, First of the Blessed. This guy loves it when your creatures die and gives you some pretty powerful Vampire Demon tokens if you've been able to turn them into a demon. I also included Elenda, the Dusk Rose who loves to see the rest of your board perish, but also benefits you when she dies. To punish my opponents when my creatures meet their untimely demise I have included Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos, forcing my opponents to sacrifice their creatures when I lose a creature. I also included The Meathook Massacre to start the life gain/loss engine.

Lifegain is necessary for my commander to do her thing so I've included Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord for some lifelink and recursion. He's immune to most board wipes so if I can keep him protected, he'll bring my vampires back again and again. Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose is going to take advantage and I included the traditional infinite combo for lifegain decks, Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood.

Some of my favorite cards in the deck came from the new set, Lost Caverns of Ixalan. In addition to the commander and Clavileño I was able to include 6 additional Vampires including Bloodletter of Aclazotz, Bringer of the Last Gift and Preacher of the Schism. With Bloodletter, Astarion, the Decadent can become almost instantly lethal.

While I included some powerful spells I tried to stay on theme, opting for Vampiric Tutor over Demonic Tutor and I was able to include objectively pet cards like Blade of the Bloodchief and Profane Procession. Additionally I chose Blood Tribute as another way to kickstart my Lifegain/Loss goal. One of the newer additions to my deck is Virtue of Loyalty and Virtue of Persistence. These Wilds of Eldraine enchantments both equip my deck to do exactly what the deck wants to do, get big vampires, defend my board state and bring them back to life.

Sitting at 23 creatures, all vampires, 19 non permanent spells, 21 noncreature permanents and 35 lands I'm extremely excited to see this deck play out. I think with the restrictions my biggest weakness was ramp in this package so it could struggle to get off the ground but I'm hoping that those flip artifacts and enchantments from the Ixalan block will help the deck a little in that area.

Wow, great stuff Queen! These bloodsucking vampires may just be able to drink their way to the top and get you to the next round.

There you have it, all three deck builders and their beautiful creations. I always love it when everyone goes in such different directions without even asking me what anyone else is doing. It is very seldom that we have two people choose the same commander, fortunately there were a bevy of choices and I think our deck builders plucked some really good choices. Vote for your favorite down below, and we will see the top two next time in CUT #27 Finals, so until then, always remember if you don't love it, CUT it!
If you or a friend would like to participate in a future CUT article, feel free to reach out to or talk to me over on twitter/x @chipman007 !