How They Brew It - We Can Rebuild Mairsil

Michael Celani • March 6, 2023

Mairsil, the Pretender | Illustrated by Izzy

Bad stomachache, grievous injury, or unplanned heart attack ruining your day? Feel like you're about to throw up out your ears? Got some pesky agammaglobulinemia that just won't go away? Then you need to call us, the miracle-makers themselves, the Medicynicals! We have a cure for anything that ails you - headaches, stuffy noses, acute cases of consistently opening articles with some sort of advertisement for shady organizations that don't exist, and that's it, that's all three medical issues. We don't even care if you're insured, because we'll just collect one of your kidneys instead! Dial 912 today and come on in!

Quack Attack

Good evening, surgeon. I'm Dr. Doctor Michael Celani, Ph.D, licensed doctologist, and there's been a situation. Approximately, two hours ago, a seventeen-boat-pileup occurred in the Atlantic, causing a disaster of Titanic proportions. The tolls were staggering: Reagan Memorial Highway was $1.80, Route 30 cost $2.80, and Veterans Memorial Tollway drained a full $3.90, and that was just for the Chicago leg of the journey to the emergency room. Yes, there are eleven survivors, or 0.45 per boat, but unfortunately, as individuals, they will be too weak to live more than a couple decades after the accident. It's a tragedy that their lives will be cut short -- or that's what I would say, if I hadn't invented science.

Mairsil, the Pretender is proof that my faith in the Hippopotamus Oath wasn't misplaced, for I have rebuilt all eleven individuals into one super-individual. By merging them all alongside some disgusting growths regenerative tissues I stole ethically sourced from Starbucks orphans, this lone survivor has a few latent abilities you'll be surprised to see. Let's discuss the genius of my work!

Speedy Recovery

To ensure the procedure is successful by any metrics a doctor could care about, I have removed each camera from the operating room and mandated the use of identity-hiding uniforms for all participants. Put this on. Now nobody can tell who committed the malpractice! What's that? Oh, the patient. Ah, yes, well. Here, turn on the lights: if we graft onto him these spare monsters and pacemakers that I keep in the freezer, it will keep his mind ticking long enough to ignore the fact I'm combining his body with ten other individuals. We'll need these perfect permanents to help us keep our hands full, deck thinning, and heart beating:

  • Jace's Archivist is terrible at actually archiving things because, like a Peter Pan to a Captain Hook, he gets rid of your whole hand. Luckily, Mairsil is just as content to eat out of the garbage as he is from a plate, so it's all upside. Refill your grip to match the player with the most cards, disrupt everyone else's plans, and keep your important creatures in the graveyard for Mairsil to cage up later.
  • Arcanis the Omnipotent obviously taps to draw three cards, but don't count out that self-bounce ability. It might cost as much as a carton of eggs does now, but it can help you get another permanent in the cage or save you from a particularly nasty board wipe.
  • Speaking of Wizards, your commander is one, so he'll instantly be able to use Azami, Lady of Scrolls's ability to draw a card or Galecaster Colossus's ability to bounce enemy permanents.
    • You may find better luck casting these creatures directly first, instead of rushing to discard and exile them with Mairsil. You won't have to worry about the once-per-turn restriction; they're Wizards themselves, and it's still a losing proposition for your opponents to remove them since you can just cage them from the graveyard afterward.
  • Got multiple abilities you'd like to use in a single turn, but you've already tapped that? Try caging away a Horseshoe Crab, which resets itself for a single blue mana.
  • You might be wary to activate Campfire thanks to that exile cost, but don't worry. You can simply put Mairsil in the command zone, and then Campfire's activated ability will move it to your hand. You can use this as a roundabout bounce, or to save your graveyard from an exile effect like an activated Soul-Guide Lantern.
  • Yes, you are the owner of Pendant of Prosperity, so when Mairsil copies its activated ability you get both the effect for you and the effect you're supposed to give to your opponent.
  • Trading Post is usually used to sacrifice creatures to return artifact cards from your graveyard to your hand, but the Goats make decent blockers, and you can always give up an artifact to draw a card if need be.
  • Mirage Mirror seems like a baffling inclusion - why would Mairsil, the Pretender pretend to be anything but Mairsil? Luckily, he doesn't have to. By targeting himself with Mirage Mirror's ability, Mairsil overwrites his own abilities with his own abilities, resetting his once-per-turn restriction.

Tomb Raider

Surgeon, his vitals are getting worse, which is a problem considering they were perfectly normal when he got in here. You could say he's got one foot in the grave, but I prefer to be scientifically accurate instead and say it's 305 millimeters. We need to find a solution, and fast -- now hold this flashlight while I look for some medicine, which I keep in the freezer. Oh, and use some of these; they're great at tutoring up whatever piece we need to keep him alive.

Hello, Dolly

We've found it! And after administration... the patient has stabilized! We've succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We're not liable! But the problem is we might have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams a little too well. Why are there multiple patients now? I thought we had just one, which I was going to make by amalgamating eleven. Damn, this always happens. Here, hold this torch while I fetch the guns I've got safely stored in the freezer.

Well, actually, having a few spares around wouldn't be too bad, in case we need more organs. You know what they say: finders, Sister's Keepers. Clones of Mairsil mean we've got more activations to spare:

  • We're going to want Sakashima of a Thousand Faces on the battlefield as fast as possible. She can enter as a copy of Mairsil and nullify the legend rule all in one fell swoop.
  • Both Spark Double and Irenicus's Vile Duplication work a little bit differently. They create a Mairsil that's not legendary, so copying that one is completely ethical.
  • Finally, Mirror Box rewards you for having a dream team of same names, and it should be fairly easy to find with our bevy of artifact tutors.

Once we've got a way to get past the legend rule, like Electronic Arts releasing new Madden games, let's keep the same thing coming again and again:

  • Cursed Mirror and Machine God's Effigy are both mana rocks that double as additional Mairsils, but you didn't come here for one time effects. You came here for...
  • ...Pack Rat and Myr Propagator, the two cageable creatures in Grixis that make copies of themselves. Find one of these, cage them, and keep investing three mana to make more clones. Your opponents won't know what hit them!

Mad Science

Okay, it seems like everything is prepared, thanks to your quick thinking; I never would have thought to apply anesthesia. With each of our eleven patients sleeping soundly (in the freezer), it's time to practice medicine:

Encroaching Mycosynth crucially turns every card you own into artifacts, even if they're not on the battlefield. No longer are we imprisoned by what we can cage; with Encroaching Mycosynth, everything is fair game. It's the stuff of dreams for Mairsil, the Pretender. Surely, he'll be happy with it once he wakes up, but we've spent so much time with him already. It's time to meet the other ten:

Yes, that's right. When we graft planeswalkers onto Mairsil, he gains loyalty abilities, and since he himself is not a planeswalker, he can't be attacked. You will be completely free to tick up towards an ultimate, and the clones only help you take advantage of those loyalty abilities since they share the same pool of caged permanents. Nothing your opponents can do can stop you, unless they're the Bolas and decide to interact with your board. Speaking of the Bolas, there's three of them here:

Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God has a powerful plus ability that keeps your hand chugging along while whittling down your opponents' resources; Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh gets you free cards from an enemy deck or snipes each opponent's hand; and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker straight-up annihilates threats. Nicol's brother, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, is no slouch either. Free Lightning Bolt is never terrible, and though that eight in the top right of his card might scare you, remember that you're never going to need to pay that price to gain access to that ability.

On the card engine side, these four planeswalkers are all fantastic at finding the cards you need to keep going. Each have their own specific strengths: Daretti, Scrap Savant can rescue Encroaching Mycosynth in a pinch; Vraska, Betrayal's Sting works great with clones to Proliferate loyalty counters amongst all your permanents; Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools is a sac outlet that guarantees you at least two cards; and Tezzeret the Seeker, as mentioned before, tutors for artifacts.

But being a doctor is all about winning, and that's why we include Chandra, Awakened Inferno and Jeska, Thrice Reborn. Once these are caged, the game is practically over. If you've got Jeska, use your clones to put constant triple-multipliers on your commander, and then kill your opponents by sneaking through a hit with a Jodah's Avenger activation. With Chandra, Awakened Inferno, all you have to do is throw enough emblems on your opponents and they'll be dead within a few turns. Make sure to remind them constantly that killing you won't make them go away. With that, my science is complete. Ahaha! Ahahahahahahahaha!!

And Here's The Bill

For his efforts, licensed doctologist Dr. Doctor Michael Celani Ph.D was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Science and a weekend getaway at Holiday Inn Express New Orleans, where he enjoyed a complimentary breakfast buffet and access to workout rooms and pool facilities that he never used. The attending surgeon was lauded as a medical genius for pioneering the concept of washing their hands before performing surgery. Mairsil went on to become alderman of Palm Springs, Connecticut, and was played by Keanu Reeves in the movie. The other ten survivors were played by James Corden. The Medicynicals became a global franchise of pizza delivery men after losing their medical license in Steve's couch cushions. Everyone else died. The end.

If you enjoy How They Brew It, please check out the Discord and my other projects at my website. You can vote on what article you want to see next, and don't forget to check out the rest of the articles by our talented writers here on Commander's Herald. See you next time!

We Can Rebuild Him (Mairsil, the Pretender EDH)

Commander (1)
Planeswalkers (10)
Creatures (14)
Sorceries (6)
Instants (13)
Artifacts (19)
Lands (37)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

View this decklist on Moxfield

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.