How They Brew It - Illusions of Grandeur

Michael Celani • March 28, 2022

Sefris of the Hidden Ways | Illustrated by Ryan Pancoast

You trudge carefully upon the muddied path. A soft patter of rain upon broken pavement is all that separates you from total silence. It's day, but as pitch as a moonless night; the overcast stifles even the smallest ray of light from shining through. The rough terrain and musty stench makes breathing difficult, but you press forward. On one side of the road, you spot a roughly torn-down campsite. On the other, roughly torn-down campers.

Appearing out of the fog in an instant, it stood, petrified. The ancient structure reeked of history. Its once-impressive capstone columns rested solemnly, now eroded to mere nubs from aeons of neglect. The glass had long since been knocked from its windows, and heavy winds rocked its foundations. Certainly, if buildings could die, the dilapidated spire was already in rigor mortis, and it was only one fateful lightning strike from a long-overdue cremation.

Your party stands outside the Sears Tower. Are you brave enough to enter?

Urbex Express

I'm Michael Celani, and I'm your dungeon master. Many dangers lurk within the Tower of Sears. It's the haunt of criminal overlords, bloodsucking vampires, and hordes of their soulless underlings, and I'm not even talking about the module.

Don't worry; Sefris of the Hidden Ways will guide your party throughout. Her ability lets you Venture into the dungeon once per turn whenever a creature is put into your graveyard from anywhere, but there's more to this dungeon than meets the eye, and you'll find that there are ways to get around that 'once per turn' restriction!

Dead to Rights

"The Tower is unique, even among places affected by the Calamity. Here, things that once were and things that never will be coexist. Death has a special meaning here, in that it doesn't."

Our deck's plan is to win by Venturing into the dungeon quickly and consistently. Sefris triggers not only when a creature dies, but also when a creature card is discarded, milled, or even tutored directly into the graveyard. We're going to end up with a lot of corpses one way or another, so why not get some extra value out of them by returning them to our hand to be played or discarded again?

  • Cadaver Imp is the gold standard for exhumation on a creature. Costing less than a Gravedigger and making a good chump blocker thanks to flying, it's got enough utility that it's surprising Reclamation Sage handily beats it in numbers.
  • Undertaker does double duty by both getting a creature back to your hand and potentially triggering Sefris of the Hidden Ways if you choose to toss a creature. It's an excellent way to deal with extra lands in the late game, too.
  • Veinwitch Coven may look hard to trigger in this deck, but remember that a lot of rooms in dungeons grant you a little bit of life and we've got gainlands to play with.
  • Hanna, Ship's Navigator disincentivizes your opponents from removing your artifacts and enchantments, since you can recur them for a small fee.
  • If you prefer to bait out removal, Restoration Gearsmith also returns artifacts in addition to creatures, so you can grab your wrecked Caged Sun or Cloud Key.
  • Both Palace Siege and Ravos, Soultender recur a creature from your graveyard at the start of your upkeep.
  • Soul of Innistrad has a hefty activation cost, but it gives you three creatures in exchange. It's a great Buried Alive target, too: you can activate its ability from the graveyard once.
  • Soul Transfer is usually a removal spell, but if you've found both an artifact and an enchantment, it throws in a Raise Dead for your trouble.
  • I've found you should always choose at least one friend that's not yourself when playing a card like Virtus's Maneuver. That person will feel indebted to you and won't swing their Marit Lage at you for a little while.
  • Wretched Confluence doubles as both an instant-speed draw spell and removal for dorks. Mix and match the modes to suit your needs!
  • Phyrexian Reclamation and Tortured Existence are the bread and butter of recursion. Tortured Existence is very strong in particular because you can cycle the same two creatures to trigger Sefris on every turn for a mere .
  • Finally, Takenuma, Abandoned Mire is an untapped land that doubles as a recursion spell. It's even discounted when your commander is out!

Reflections Upon the Past

"Ages ago... the soul of the world, the fabric of its existence, was torn asunder with the Tower at its core. Two lines emerged; in the first line, it remained the Sears Tower. Life continued as normal, and all was well until a meteor struck Earth a few hundred years later, rendering the planet unsuitable for continued survival. In the second line, the tower was rechristened the Willis Tower, and that reality was treated to something... much worse. Even now, the effects of the split are apparent."

We would love to Venture with Sefris of the Hidden Ways more than once a turn, but unfortunately, she won't let us. There's a simple way around this, though: just make more Sefriseses. Once we make another copy, we can have the original die immediately as a state-based action thanks to the legend rule. Although the original Sefris of the Hidden Ways doesn't see herself die, the new one does, so we're practically speedrunning our dungeons by shotgunning a series of clones!

  • Phantasmal Image is cheap and fragile, but we're not too worried about how a stiff breeze blows it over when it dies to the next clone anyway.
  • Mirror Image and its also-a-land counterpart, Glasspool Mimic, are cheaper than most clones at the cost of only copying your own creatures, but since our plan is to copy our own creatures anyway, it's a worthwhile tradeoff.
  • Clever Impersonator, Stunt Double, and Evil Twin are slightly more expensive, but they come with additional utility beyond just copying opposing creatures that make them worth the extra mana.
  • Body Double and Lazav, the Multifarious each become copies of cards in graveyards. Putting Sefris in the 'yard is risky, but with the amount of recursion in the deck, it shouldn't be too bad. If your graveyard is exiled, remember to move her back to the command zone, though!
  • Teysa Karlov doubles up these triggers, letting you run the entirety of the Tomb of Annihilation with two creature deaths!

Attack of the Clones

Of course, Sefris isn't the only creature that has a Barenstein universe version. Check out these other dweebs that work exceptionally well with clones:

  • Cloudblazer and Mulldrifter both draw two cards, but you're going to have to resist the urge to shoot the fish in the head for a discount.
  • Need to destroy a creature? Shriekmaw is a decent choice, and if you've only got a Body Double, you can Evoke it first.
  • Sidisi, Undead Vizier is the cheapest creature tutor in terms of mana. It's best to hit this one with Body Double and then Exploit itself so you can recur it to try again.

Grandeur Prix

"The Calamity... you were told it was the work of three dark wizards within the Tower. But that's not entirely true. They cast a spell to repair the timelines -- to merge the two branches back into one. It had... unforeseen consequences. You now stand within the eye of the storm caused by the Sears and Willis reunification - the Lawless Iris. Here, the three wizards remain trapped in an endless loop, experiencing it all at once, forever. Only they can fix what went wrong. We must save them!"

Oriss, Samite Guardian, Linessa, Zephyr Mage, and Korlash, Heir to Blackblade are all decent creatures on their own. They all have a Grandeur ability, which lets you discard another card with that specific name for some effect. Ordinarily, this is completely useless in Commander, because there's no way to get multiple copies of a card. No problem here, though; we have all the copies we need.

Once we've played a Grandeur creature, we'll clone it and then send the original card to the graveyard. Once we recur that card to our hand with our many recursion spells, we can discard the original creature to its clone for the effect - and that triggers Sefris, too! For a mere and two life, you can skip an opponent's turn, make them bounce their permanents, or ramp to the extreme, and it's all repeatable, too!

"Look, guys! It's Tiamat the dragon!"

"Their minds are gone. All they babble is something about 'viewing the source.' It's a shame, but at least they can know peace."

Thanks for coming this week! I'm glad nobody spilled Mountain Dew all over my nice gaming table tonight. Hope you come back for another session, because you guys have finally reached the Cavern of Dennis. See you around!

Illusions of Grandeur (Sefris of the Hidden Ways EDH)

Commander (1)
Creatures (30)
Sorceries (8)
Instants (12)
Artifacts (10)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (35)

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.