Sift Through Sands - Damia and Queza

Wes Stuckey • May 16, 2022

Psychic Possession | Art by Mark Tedin

Take a Look at These Hands

Welcome back to Sift Through Sands, everybody! Hope that Streets of New Capenna is treating everyone well; it keeps blowing my mind with all the neat stuff in it. If this is your first time, in this article series, we focus on two different deck builds, looking at how they're played and what makes them successful. After we examine both decklists, we'll highlight the card package in both that makes them successful, and how those cards can play well together across the board.

Our Picks

With that out of the way, let's look at our legendaries for today's article: Damia, Sage of Stone and Queza, Augur of Agonies.

Both our nonhuman ladies here are pretty straightforward. Damia offers us significant card advantage to bolster us late-game. Her color identity gives us access to a lot of great synergy with her draw ability. With black, blue, and green, Damia can look into draw, discard, and reanimation synergy, depending on how she's built. Queza, a new face in town, resembles Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind in an interesting color identity. She allows for a new spin on the classic draw archetype, giving us access to black's ability to get card advantage at a price and white's lifegain synergy.

Both Damia and Queza are fairly costed, and their relative simplicity gives them both the wiggle room for a variety of builds. They're both less exciting than other Sultai and Esper Obscura commanders, but they're versatile enough to be powerful, underrated choices. Let's take a look at our Damia list first.

Hamburger Hands

Commander (1)
Artifact (10)
Creature (27)
Enchantment (5)
Instant (9)
Sorcery (10)
Planeswalker (2)
Land (36)

Playing Damia

This Damia deck has a theme: Maro creatures (Maro didn't make the cut, unfortunately). Damia gets us a full grip of cards, working as support to keep our creatures large. With plenty of ways to help increase our draws and support a healthy hand size, the deck takes off quickly, getting out of control as we begin drawing these utility pieces to complement our heavy hitters. The deck is a blast to play, as translating card advantage into beefy creatures feels great.

Early game, in addition to ramping with Signets and spells, we want to get some of our low-mana-value creatures that draw off combat damage, using Cold-Eyed Selkie, Lu Xun, Scholar General, and Tomebound Lich to start generating some card advantage. Support pieces, like Jushi Apprentice and Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse, also come as welcome plays and payoffs for later on.

Most of our Maro creatures are five mana, and they each have important applications in the deck. Sturmgeist and Overbeing of Myth enable themselves, and as we maintain a large hand size, our utility spells begin doing work, with Nightmarish End and Rending Vines working as removal and Garruk's Uprising turning our Maros into evasive threats. Getting our especially large creatures, like Multani, Maro-Sorcerer or Sage of Ancient Lore, is going can end the game.

Ending the game can come in a variety of ways, but in particular, using Greater Good, Sea Gate Restoration, or Stroke of Genius to boost our hand, then going to work with Spontaneous Generation, Overwhelming Stampede, and Tishana, Voice of Thunder is extremely fun. Even if combat damage isn't guaranteed, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and Essence Harvest can burn our opponents out of a game.

Damia is carried by cards that reward us for having many cards in hand, for drawing them, and ones that generate significant advantage on their own. Our planeswalkers, Mordenkainen and Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools, both do a lot of work to this end. Greenseeker fixes us without reducing our hand size, while Nightmare Unmaking flexibly clears the board for us.

Antagonizing with the Agonizer

Queza, Augur of Agonies is far from the most powerful or complex commander printed in Streets of New Capenna, but she lends herself to an interesting deck build. The comparison to similar, faster builds that trade black and white for red is unavoidable, considering the impact various Niv-Mizzets have on the format, but the uniqueness that Esper brings us is one of the most exciting parts of this deck.

Not-Mizzet

Commander (1)
Artifact (10)
Creature (25)
Enchantment (11)
Instant (10)
Sorcery (8)
Land (35)

Playing Queza

She's not the most exciting Obscura commander, but Queza scratches the colorshift itch that so many Commander players (myself included) really enjoy, and she lets us play some weird cards to boot. The deck is based around card draw, but Queza's ability lets us lean into some lifegain and drain triggers as well, letting us turn one draw into multiple life lost and gained around the table.

In the early game, we want to get out some of our low-cost cards that become bigger threats later on. Kami of the Crescent Moon is everyone's friend (until Queza is out), and Cleric Class quickly becomes a danger. Ominous Seas, Flumph, and Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose all set up support as we work on getting Queza in play.

Our draw spells all are flexible here, with low-cost spells helping us dig in the early game, or serving as easy life loss with Queza. Some of our static draw pieces, like Teferi's Puzzle Box and Insight, can interfere with our opponents' plans, while others, like Prosperity, can be well-received, despite the incurred life loss. Notion Thief and Psychic Possession shine in this deck, letting us abuse our symmetrical draw to great effect. Defensive counterspells, like Hindering Light, help keep us going all the more.

Drawing lots of cards will get us to our extra lifegain triggers, with Cliffhaven Vampire and Marauding Blight-Priest increasing Queza's potency. The interaction Queza has with cards that let us draw when we gain life is hilarious, turning her into a machine gun that decks us, wiping our opponents out. Lich's Mastery, Drogskol Reaver, and Necrologia all serve as janky win conditions, letting us suddenly burn our way to victory, providing an entertaining win with some cool cards.

Package Delivered

Both of these decks were a blast to build, and I was extremely pleased with both how they turned out, and how janky they became, with Damia becoming a Kamigawa tribute deck and Queza getting to run unique cards like Lich's Mastery. Both of them shared the following cards:

As these decks care about having a large hand and drawing the cards to get us there, the above cards all work well to let this happen. While Teferi's Ageless Insight does the most raw card advantage work, the others work in conjunction to achieve this end. Outside of these two hyper-focused decks, these cards perform excellently in control and group hug decks, who like to have plenty of options to choose from or are flooded with cards. The defensive capability of Body of Knowledge can keep a less creature-focused deck perform against aggressive strategies, and Wizard Class can win games on its own, for one blue mana! Outside of blue, Kagemaro, First to Suffer and Nightmare Unmaking are excellent boardwipes, and being able to recur Kagemaro can lock down the board.

Recent commanders, like Tameshi, Reality Architect and Kamiz, Obscura Oculus, like these cards, and they can find homes in a lot of different decks.

Do you use any of the cards here? Are you a fan of Maro creatures, or have you built around Lich's Mastery before? Let me know! Until next time.



The untenable Wes Stuckey is the jankiest Magic player to roam the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (their first brewed deck was Blind Seer "old cards"). By day, they work in circulation at one of the city's many great libraries. By night, you can find them slinging spells, running campaigns, and listening to music with friends and the cat.