Vraska, the Silencer "Can I Borrow a Win-Con?" - Plot Twist #8

Jeff Girten • May 7, 2024

Vraska, the Silencer by Kieran Yanner

Welcome back to Plot Twist, the series where we build a Commander deck that starts out telling one kind of story only to throw out a plot twist mid-game. If you're joining us for the first time, welcome! I'd encourage you to check out the previous articles in the series to get a sense for the types of stories we're looking to tell.

Partner, if there's one thing we can all agree on in 2024, it's that our opponents have too many Enters (the battlefield) triggers. From Atraxa, Grand Unifier to Dockside Extortionist to Reclamation Sage, I think we can all agree that WE are the ones who should be getting ETBs not our opponents, right? That's why today we're building a deck where we get to steal all our opponents Enters (the Battlefield) triggers for ourselves using Vraska, the Silencer.

How Does Vraska Work?

Vraska synergizes with the plot mechanic from Outlaws of Thunder Junction really nicely in that she rewards us for destroying our opponents' creatures. Deathtouch allows us to easily destroy creatures that block or are blocked by Vraska, but it's Vraska's second ability that we're interested in today: "Whenever a nontoken creature an opponent controls dies, you may pay 1. If you do, return that card to the battlefield tapped under your control. It's a Treasure artifact with '{T}, Sacrifice this artifact: add one mana of any color,' and it loses all other card types."

Since Vraska cares about creatures dying, we can see on its EDHREC page that lots of brewers are making her into an Aristocrats deck filled with lots of sacrifice effects, like Sheoldred's Edict, Soul Shatter, Vona's Hunger, and Marionette Master, each appearing in more than 40% of decklists at time of writing. While I totally see the appeal of these cards since they synergize well with Vraska, the Silencer, I opted to take today's decklist in a different direction for a few reasons:

  1. Aristocrats decks tend to make grindy (and sometimes miserable for our opponents) games 
  2. Our opponents will always sacrifice the least valuable creature they can, so targeted removal might nab us higher-quality targets to get back with Vraska's ability
  3. This is Plot Twist, and we always want to tell a surprising story

That's why today we're building a Vraska, the Silencer deck that avoids sacrifice and Aristocrats effects as much as possible and instead chooses to use our opponents' own win conditions against them!

Doing the Twist

A big part of what drew me to Vraska, the Silencer was the idea of being able to build a deck that destroys our opponents' creature win conditions in order to use them ourselves. The idea of building a Theft-style deck with a Golgari twist was enticing and would have the added benefit of scaling to the power level of our opponents because we're planning to use their own cards against them.

So instead of draining our opponents out with Blood Artist, Poison-Tip Archer, and Zulaport Cutthroat or forcing our opponents to sacrifice creatures over and over again with Archfiend of Depravity, Dictate of Erebos, and Grave Pact, we'll instead use creatures with powerful, targeted removal to destroy our opponents' best creatures and turn them to our side. Plus, since we'll be getting lots of ETBs from both our own creatures and the 'Treasures' Vraska, the Silencer generates, we get to play around with both Panharmonicon effects and a Blink sub-theme in an unusual color pair.

Ways to Destroy (and Steal) Our Opponents' Creatures

Since Vraska, the Silencer can generate a 'Treasure' version of our opponents' creatures when they die, we've loaded up the deck with creatures like Necron Deathmark, Noxious Gearhulk, and Ravenous Chupacabra that can destroy the best creature on the board when they enter the battlefield. Sometimes we'll need to deal with noncreature threats as well (even though Vraska won't trigger), so Alpha Deathclaw, Meteor Golem, and Terastodon give us added flexibility when we need it. We've got a couple of staple Golagari removal spells, like Assassin's Trophy and Beast Within, to round out our interaction suite in case another player is running Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines or another way to stifle our ETBs.

The mass removal package in this deck is really fascinating as well because we're able to tailor it so that Vraska, the Silencer can survive our board wipes and get us a bunch of triggers. Massacre Wurm and Primaris Eliminator give all other creatures -2/-2 until end of turn, which allows Vraska to survive and rack up Treasures, while we can play Invasion of Fiora or Phyrexian Scriptures (didn't Vraska JUST get un-Phyrexianized?) in such a way that Vraska survives while most of the board gets destroyed. We also added Apex Altisaur, which is a green 'board wipe' that can pick off lots of smaller creatures before taking down one last big threat with its final fight trigger. 

Keep in mind: when multiple creatures die, Vraska, the Silencer's Treasure-copies ETB tapped, so you can't use them to pay for her other triggers, unfortunately, but Vraska does trigger no matter how the creatures die, so we can turn our opponents' removal spells to our benefit for the low price of one mana!

Doubling Up on ETBs and Tokens

Since the 'Treasures' that Vraska generates die and then return to the battlefield under our control, we do benefit from any ETB triggers those cards themselves have. Vraska does cause these 'Treasures' to lose all other card types, though, so they won't trigger "Whenever a creature enters the battlefield" effects, like Elemental Bond or Garruk's Uprising. That being said, we're running Panharmonicon because the 'Treasures' are still artifacts, so any ETBs they generate will be doubled.

It's important to note that Vraska's 'Treasures' aren't token copies, so we won't get twice as many of them with Doubling Season, Parallel Lives, and Primal Vigor. That being said, we have enough effects like Bramble Sovereign, Kinzu of the Bleak Coven, Nightmare Shepherd, and Saw in Half that make token copies for us to merit running the green token-doublers. I really like Bramble Sovereign in particular as a political tool we can do to copy our opponents' creatures on occasion to deal with mutual problems.

Blink... in Golgari?

Since we're leaning heavily into creatures with Enters (the battlefield, man that's going to take some getting used to) triggers, I thought it would be interesting to look into some Blink cards in two colors that don't normally have a lot of Blink-enablers. Fortunately, there have been a handful of colorless Blink-enablers printed in the last couple of years, led by Conjurer's Closet and Sword of Hearth and Home. Mirror of Life Trapping seems perfect for a creature-heavy deck like this one because our creatures will enter the battlefield, trigger their own ability, and then be exiled to Mirror of Life Trapping, which will then return all other creatures exiled with Mirror of Life Trapping to the battlefield. Keep in mind that this triggers on all creatures, so our opponents will also get to double up on their own ETB effects. Golden Argosy is an odd Vehicle that allows us to cast creatures and then use them to crew the Argosy, which will exile them until the next end step on attack, triggering their ETB effects again when they return.

Beyond the interactive creatures we have, we can also double up our ramp with creatures, like Topiary Stomper or Wood Elves, and token-makers, like Overseer of the Damned and Titan of Industry, if we need to as well.

A Few Extra Twists for Good Measure

I'm always excited to find a few niche or weird cards in the process of building decklists for Plot Twist, and Vraska, the Silencer did not disappoint! Hardbristle Bandit is a new card from Outlaws of Thunder Junction that seems like it could do an excellent impression of Devoted Druid in a deck like this, and Freestrider Lookout is the sort of value engine that a Golgari Midrange deck loves to eke out just a little extra value while doing what it wants to do anyways: destroying our opponents' creatures. Speaking of destroying creatures, I've been looking for a deck to fit both Shriveling Rot and Sudden Spoiling into for a long time. Both are swingy, fun instants that will synergize well with a commander like Vraska, the Silencer who cares about our opponents' creatures dying. You'll definitely be telling the story about the time that you turned a massive board of creatures coming at you into 0/2s and then stole them all for years to come. Last but not least, I want to start finding more homes for Kinzu of the Bleak Coven in my decks. Maybe it's the sheer onslaught of set releases, but this seems like a really powerful effect for decks that care about ETBs that I completely overlooked.

Here's the full decklist for you to peruse:

"Can I Borrow a Win-Con?" with Vraska, the Silencer

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Artifacts (13)
Creatures (33)
Enchantments (8)
Lands (37)
Sorceries (1)
Battles (1)
Instants (6)

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View this decklist on Archidekt

Roll the Credits

I hope you enjoyed reading the latest edition of Plot Twist featuring Vraska, the Silencer. Next time you sit down for a game of Commander, see what sort of plot twists you can add to take the game's narrative in a new direction.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's deck and what cards could find a home in it in the comments below or on Archidekt. The Maybeboards of my decklists are always filled with cards I thought could work but didn't make the final decklist.

You can find me on Instagram at @girtenjeff and you can check out my other articles here or see what decks I'm currently playing here. If you'd like to see another take on Vraska, check out Dana Roach's build here

Stay tuned to see what other twists and turns are headed your way in the next edition of Plot Twist.