Magda, Brazen Outlaw in cEDH - The Best Deck No One's Talking About

Sam Black • February 19, 2024

Magda, Brazen Outlaw by Slawomir Maniak

I believe Magda, Brazen Outlaw gets the least respect relative to what it deserves of the well-established decks in cEDH. I exclusively play cEDH in paper, and the strongest player local to me is my friend Gustavo, one of the most successful players in cEDH tournaments, who started his cEDH tournament career by winning a Beta Demonic Tutor with Magda in the first cEDH tournament I ever played in. 

This win came as no surprise to me. Last August, I ran a league in my condo where I tracked people's ratings in games played here and gave prizes to the best rating. Over 100 games were played at my place that month, and Gustavo won the prize there as well. His deck is fast, resilient and I know never to count him out. He's also remarkably good at playing an interactive game for a mono-red deck. So today, I'm going to cover his list and how he plays it from my observation.

Magda's basic gameplan is to play cheap Dwarves, tap them to make Treasures, and activate Magda to find whatever it needs. This can be a fairly easy infinite combo, but that can be risky, so usually Gustavo will look for a lock piece or value engine first if it looks like the table could disrupt a win. This core functionality requires Dwarves and cards to tap them so the deck plays a number of weak cards just to get Magda going:

Magda's Dwarves

This deck plays every Dwarf that costs one mana. For the most part, their text is irrelevant, but sometimes it comes up. The more expensive Dwarves are mostly chosen to be artifacts, because this deck's combo (Clock of Omens+Magda+Artifact Dwarf) requires that.

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It's possible to tap your Dwarves by attacking, but it's not ideal; sometimes everyone will have creatures that can block, and, more importantly, your Dwarves have to lose summoning sickness to do that.

Tapping Dwarves Without Attacking

Clown Car is played because it's a free Vehicle; don't worry about rolling dice. The other Vehicles are more expensive, but they have extremely powerful abilities.

The Best Ways to Make Treasures Without Dwarves

All of the above cards exist for the sole purpose of increasing your Treasure production to activate Magda. Before we get to what we're finding with Magda, I want to cover more of the deck's core strategy. Gustavo views this as a midrange deck, and he mostly focuses on playing an interactive Stax game while keeping an eye for opportunities to try to win.

Magda's Best Stax Pieces

This deck plays cheap spells and mostly accrues value from its permanents, so it's happy with any effect that makes it harder to cast spells. Uba Mask is a rarely played card that's fantastic against Mystic Remora, Rhystic Study, really any card draw and any blue deck in general, and this deck plays under it extremely well. Tangle Wire is also amazing here, since you want your Dwarves tapped anyway, and you don't really care if some Treasures are tapped. 

Grafdigger's Cage looks like a card that might hurt you, but you rarely want to search for a creature. Meanwhile the very similar Weathered Runestone is a strong Stax piece against you and not something you'd want, but Grafdigger's Cage plays well in this deck. Torpor Orb is another great card for this deck as you barely care about it.

Interactive Spells

Hellkite, Spine, and Portal are mostly options for Magda, but I'm listing them here since their purpose is to remove opponents' cards. Most of the cards you really care about are artifacts, like Weathered Runestone and Cursed Totem, but there are a few creatures, like Collector Ouphe and Manglehorn; your damage spells and artifact removal can handle those. Enchantments are a bigger problem for red; cards like Stony Silence, Blind Obedience, and Stanglehold. Against those, your options are Spine of Ish Sah or using either Liquimetal Torque or Mycosynth Lattice to turn them into artifacts so that you can destroy them with an artifact destruction spell.

With around 20 cards dedicated to interfering with your opponents' plans, you're definitely a meaningful political player at the table and can control the pace of the game. Rather than going for Clock of Omens as soon as possible, Gustavo will usually find Portal to Phyrexia or The One Ring with the first Magda activation, or sometimes a stax piece if the table composition demands it.

Since every artifact in the deck is so impactful, I want to be sure to cover them all.

Mana Artifacts

How To Turn Dwarves into Artifacts

Bear in mind that while Mycosynth Lattic will make any Dwarf into an artifact, its primary purpose is to create a game-winning combo with Karn or Vandalblast.

More Artifacts

Flexible utility piece, most often copies Roaming Throne or Dockside Extortionist, but it adds a wide range of possible effects to a Magda activation

The can be tutored in response to a critical stax piece being destroyed, or can give you another Roaming Throne or trigger on Spine of Ish Sah or Portal to Phyrexia, also a pretty good card to draw, which is a high priority for Gustavo; a few key tutor targets cover a vast majority of cases, so you don't want to fill your deck with cards you don't want to draw beyond what's absolutely necessary.

If you've drawn a card you need to search for, this can be a way to find mana to cast it, but mostly this is a way to sacrifice artifacts you don't want in play anymore, such as a Torpor Orb when you've drawn Dockside, or, my personal favorite use, this can sacrifice Spine of Ish Sah to use it again, or, better yet, sacrifice a Sculpting Steel that's copying a Spine of Ish Sah to get the Sculpting Steel back, which allows you to destroy multiple permanents much more cheaply.

I love this card, and I love how critical it is to this deck, and how elegantly it solves all sorts of problems. If your Clock of Omens is destroyed, it can be very hard to win with this deck, except that you can just get Elixir and shuffle it back in. More importantly, this is how the deck wins after making infinite Treasures: those Treasures find Twinshot Sniper, Krark-Clan Ironworks to sacrifice the Sniper, then Elixir of Immortality to shuffle it back in and do it again.

This copies Magda activations, which can make it easier to find your combos; I think this is present more as a nice card to draw than as a card you frequently expect to search for, since you don't generally need to activate so many times that this is profitable to search for.

Miscellaneous Utility

This deck is built around searching for artifacts, but everyone's trying to stop you from using Magda. This is a nice option to get some of that card selection early. This typically searches for whichever stax piece is best for the table.

This card is just clearly fantastic with a cheap mono-red commander.

Monocolor Utility Lands

Because this is a mono-color deck, it gets to play a wide variety of utility lands, so the manabase is a little more interesting than it would be in a multicolor cEDH deck. Also noteworthy, this deck plays 31 lands with Ancient Tomb and Mishra's Workshop, but not City of Traitors--Magda is killed often enough that it's very important to keep making land drops and building up large amounts of mana. 31 lands is a lot for a cEDH deck with this curve, but that's because most cEDH decks get to cheat on their land count because they draw tons of cards, which this deck doesn't do, so it has to play a somewhat reasonable manabase.

When To Win With Magda

If you have the key pieces--Madga, an artifact Dwarf, and can find Clock of Omens, it's almost never right to do that if that's all you have--these cards are very fragile and someone will just destroy one of them. However, every two additional untapped artifacts you control is an additional removal spell that's required to stop you because you can just try to untap again in response and start your combo over. This means your primary goal is just to accumulate extra objects; Treasures, lock pieces, unused mana artifacts, it doesn't really matter as long as you can restart your combo a few times the table won't likely be able to stop you. This means that once you have a few extra things, the table has to act before you can resolve your search, and if they do that, you can just find a different powerful artifact.

If players aren't familiar with this deck, it's extremely easy to overlook since you control a bunch of horrible cards, and I think some players expect this to be a turbo deck, so after you spend some time not trying to win, it's tempting to assume it must not be that scary for some reason. The thing is, opponent's can't just hope you don't draw the right pieces or something--that's not how the deck works--you don't really need to draw anything, Treasures get you everything you need, and you'll always be able to produce Treasures at some rate, which means the deck has an interesting kind of inevitability.

A Most Brazen Outlaw

I've mentioned that I think Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy is the strongest commander, and I do, but I think that might just be because Magda can't play blue cards. Like Kinnan, Magda is a two-mana commander that offers extra mana, card advantage, and a combo win all in the command zone, and it's always one of the decks I'm most scared of when I sit down at a table with it.

Finally, here is Gustavo's list in full:

Gustavo's Magda, Brazen Outlaw cEDH Deck

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Commander (1)
Instants (10)
Creatures (23)
Lands (31)
Artifacts (32)
Sorceries (2)
Planeswalkers (1)

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Sam Black is a former professional Magic player, longtime Magic writer, host of the Drafting Archetypes podcast, and Twitch streamer. Sam enjoys a wide range of formats, especially limited and unofficial fan formats like Old School and Premodern in addition to cEDH.