- Tasigur, the Golden Fang.
Some decks try to win through card advantage - draw extra cards, deal with your opponents' cards, then win when your opponents have run out of ways to stop you.
Other decks try to win through board advantage - play creatures, kill your opponents' blockers, and reduce your opponents' life totals to zero.
Other decks try to win via combo - if you generate the right combination of resources, then you can win without needing to care what your opponents have.
This deck's gameplan is to win via pure mana advantage. We ramp, then ramp, then ramp some more. When we have more mana than our opponents, we can translate that into any other resource we want, dropping haymaker after haymaker.
I won't claim that this deck is particularly complicated. It's not full of a bunch of tricksy synergies, and it generally isn't flexible if it needs to switch strategies on the fly.
Some decks are about having the right tool for the job. But this deck? All we need is the biggest hammer.
tl;dr: This is a Golgari-splash-blue ramp deck, with control and graveyard subthemes
Amusingly, Tasigur starts out his card with deception. Six mana is on the expensive side for a general, but we'll rarely pay that much to cast him. Similarly, while he may just be a black creature, he is actually a member of the Sultai, granting access to blue and green mana, both of which solve many weaknesses that mono-black possesses. In this deck, I've leaned heavily on the green side of things (and minimizing the amount of blue mana needed), but alternate timelines exist in which the deck could go in a different direction.
In some cases, costing six mana can actually be an upside - we run several sweepers that are based on CMC.
Type: Legendary Creature - Human Shaman
Humans are one of the most common tribes, appearing in nearly every set. There are some tribal support cards for humans, although many of the best payoffs are in white. Shamans are not as well supported, but there are a few tribal synergies. However, once again, many of these tribal synergies are in another color we lack access to (in this case, red).
Not the most impressive of stats, but not terrible either. Four power means Tasigur is capable of knocking someone out with commander damage in six hits, which is a bit slow (especially due to a lack of evasion). However, it is enough power to outclass most utility creatures. Five toughness makes Tasigur resilient to most damage-based removal, and conveniently is a sweet spot for being just out of range of cards like Languish.
A fantastic cost-reduction mechanic that makes Tasigur pretty easy to cast, assuming we can keep our graveyard stocked. Delve can also be used to cheat on commander tax if Tasigur dies several times. It's also a great way to prune our graveyard for his other ability. Relying on our graveyard to cast our general can make us somewhat more vulnerable to graveyard hate, but unless it is something persistent like Rest in Peace, we don't need to worry about it too much. A one-shot effect like Nihil Spellbomb does very little to Tasigur.
: Put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard, then return a nonland card of an opponents choice from your graveyard to your hand.
The reason why Tasigur makes such a fantastic general for a ramp / control deck like this one - this ability serves as an amazing mana sink, guaranteeing we can turn extra mana into action. The ability also fills our graveyard to turn on various synergies, while also making Tasigur easier to cast in the future by fueling delve. Note that while it uses the graveyard, it is also resilient to most graveyard hate - it doesn't target, and opponents can't respond to a card being milled. Finally, this ability plays nicely with instant-speed interaction and flash spells, letting us play on our opponents' turns.
One of the classic problems with running a ramp deck is the possibility of drawing too much ramp and not enough payoffs, or vice versa. However, having Tasigur available as a mana sink in the command zone neatly solves this problem, since we can run as much ramp as we want and still never run out of gas.
- Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and Meren of Clan Nel Toth - both are good options if you want to build around the graveyard and creature-based strategies available in Golgari colors.
- Sisters of Stone Death - a powerful (but very expensive) ramp general in Golgari colors. A black hole mana sink capable of Plague Wind'ing an opponent on attack, given sufficient mana.
- The Gitrog Monster - do you like lands? Do you like graveyards? Do you like lands in graveyards? Great if you want to turn your excess lands directly into cards, instead of indirectly by spending mana on Tasigur activations.
- Damia, Sage of Stone - like Tasigur, she loves having access to a lot of mana. Dump your hand to draw seven each turn.
- Muldrotha, the Gravetide - a very grindy graveyard-based general. Loves self-mill and replaying fetchlands each turn.
- Yarok, the Desecrated - ETB vaaaaaalue. Also a fantastic landfall general.
- Silumgar, the Drifting Death: has some lovely flavor text.
- Dragonlord Silumgar - has impeccable taste in jewelry.
- Thrasios, Triton Hero and any black partner - probably the easiest swap for Tasigur. Trades graveyard synergies for a more consistent card draw ability, will still being a great payoff for ramping.
- Golos, Tireless Pilgrim - another commander with a strong mana sink ability, whom is also capable of ramping by itself.
: Put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard, then return a nonland card of an opponents choice from your graveyard to your hand.
This ability serves many functions in this deck, and is the main thing the entire deck is built around. It serves as a black hole mana sink for any extra mana we have left over after we've done a ton of ramping. It fills our graveyard to turn on all of our recursion options. It also makes it easier to recast Tasigur if he happens to be dealt with by fueling his delve cost.
However, it isn't all upside - unlike a card like Thrasios, Triton Hero or Kefnet the Mindful, Tasigur allows an opponent to control the card we draw. This broadly breaks down into four categories:
1: Only one legal choice is in our graveyard, so our opponent is forced to give it to us. This usually means we have a mostly-empty graveyard, or we've delved away cards.
2: Our opponent gives us a card we want. This usually means there is a mutual enemy that needs to be dealt with, such as one opponent giving us a board wipe to deal with a different opponent.
3: Our opponent gives us a card they think we don't want, but we secretly do want. This is pretty rare, unless it's a ramp spell. We always want more ramp.
4: Our opponent gives us a card we don't want. This is the most common outcome.
Ideally, we'll always get a card from option 2, but this is difficult to maintain - if we keep getting good cards back, we will inevitably become the biggest threat at the table. The worst case scenario if option 4 - our opponents keep giving us back cards we have no use for. This translates into two key concepts that are important to understand when building a Tasigur deck:
1: Morton's Fork - when we give our opponents a choice, we want to make sure that every option yields the same result. Either they give us a removal spell, a threat, or a recursion spell so we can grab back whichever we prefer. If we activate Tasigur enough times, we will eventually get what we want - the equivalent of repeatedly stabbing our opponent with a fork. A common response to a Tasigur activation ought to be 'I don't want to give you any of these!'.
2: Tasigur is a 'goodstuff' general by design - if you have narrow, situational, or 'cute' cards, these are the cards your opponents are most likely to give you. You want your cards to be high-impact and broad in their applicability. The only way your opponents can give you back a 'bad' card is if you put it in your deck.... so never give them that choice in the first place.
The root reason for this is that when the deck was first built, it was helmed by Sisters of Stone Death. When Tasigur was revealed, I decided to test out swapping him in for the Sisters (with no other deck changes) and was immediately impressed enough to make the swap permanent. I keep the deck mostly Golgari as tribute to the Sisters, but there are a few other perks - not needing as much blue mana makes the manabase simpler, and I can run more basic lands (which is a good thing, given how many this deck fetches out).
The other reason why I'm not running blue is to intentionally power the deck down a bit - Sultai is generally regarded to be the strongest three color combination in Commander, and Tasigur is an incredibly powerful general. Taking away cards like Cyclonic Rift and cheap countermagic make the deck a bit more appropriate for the average table.
The other reason is due to the color pie - as a general rule, people run artifacts and colorless spells to cover for weaknesses in their own colors, such as ramp and card draw. Golgari is a color combination that doesn't really have any significant weaknesses - it has interaction for all permanent types, card draw, and ramp. So there isn't much need for artifacts.
I will make a note that I haven't leaned into narrow cards like Energy Flux or Titania's Song to explicitly hate on artifacts, but that is certainly a direction that could be taken.
Notably, this unquenchable thirst for mana is also why I've chosen to go with bigger ramp spells - Skyshroud Claim and mana doublers over Farseek or Rampant Growth. Cheap ramp is great if you want to get to five or six mana, but when you want to get to twelve or twenty mana, you need to go bigger.
As for why lands instead of creature-based ramp like Elvish Mystic... that comes mostly from personal preference. I like building resilient decks, and losing all of my mana to a Wrath of God is something I want to avoid.
There are also many synergies available for ramping out lands, such as Tireless Tracker and Tatyova, Benthic Druid. We're able to do disgusting things alongside mana doublers like Zendikar Resurgent.
One other benefit goes back to Tasigur - his ability can't grab lands, which means they will accumulate in our graveyard over time and set us up for something like Splendid Reclamation. Similarly, sorceries go directly to the graveyard instead of sticking around like Wood Elves, which means we can grab them back with Tasigur if we want more ramp, or delve them away to make Tasigur cheaper. Ramp spells are almost certainly the most common class of cards that get delved away.
When looking at the decklist, I'll actually recommend looking at the broader categories over individual cards. Other than land-friendly and graveyard-friendly cards, there aren't many direct synergies or combos present in the deck, so things can be swapped out pretty easily.
This deck is a ramp deck - we want to generate a ton of mana, then funnel that mana into other things. To support this, we begin by running a large number of ramp spells - it's pretty much impossible for this deck to have too much mana available. On the other hand, Tasigur is able to function as a mana sink for all of that mana, which means we can get away with a smaller number of pure card advantage spells. Meanwhile, Tasigur's ability to fill the graveyard means that the value of recursion goes up - we'll often have the exact tool we want in the graveyard, so recurring the right card is more convenient that drawing random cards.
On the flip side of things, we also run a lot of interaction, in the form of removal and board wipes. Tasigur acting as a lategame value engine means we'll often want to slow down the game and remove our opponents' threats. We don't have a ton of action in the early game, so we need to have a way to stop our opponents from snowballing an early advantage. Finally, when we get to the lategame, we want a small number of expensive finishers to actually close out the game.
Fill out the rest of the deck with lands, as appropriate.
- Burgeoning - allows some extremely explosive opening hands. Weak topdeck though.
- Exploration - like Burgeoning, but also works great with Ramunap Excavator and Oracle of Mul Daya.
- Growth Spiral - a bit of acceleration that also cantrips. Tasigur works pretty well with instants.
- Courser of Kruphix - helps us hit our land drops, and gains a bit of incidental life. Also works well with all our shuffling from ramp spells.
- Cultivate - bread and butter ramp. Two lands for three mana is a good deal.
- Early Harvest - we're running a lot of basics. Throw in a mana doubler, and this can turn into scary amounts of mana.
- Far Wanderings - a little less consistent than Cultivate, but a solid payoff for filling our graveyard.
- Harrow - instant speed ramp that also fills our graveyard.
- Kodama's Reach - Cultivate #2.
- Search for Tomorrow - can't find Tomorrow, but it does find an untapped land for a cheap cost.
- Frontier Siege - this card only has one mode, since we have no fliers in the deck. Four mana for four mana is an insanely efficient rate.
- Oracle of Mul Daya - helps us hit more land drops, and provides acceleration if we can hit multiple. Great with shuffles.
- Pir's Whim - fetches utility lands while also providing a bit of interaction.
- Skyshroud Claim - two lands, fetched untapped. Gold standard for ramp. Note that it can fetch nonbasic forests, if you have any.
- Splendid Reclamation - if you can get three lands off it, it's a fantastic rate. If you can get more because you've been activating Tasigur all game, it's absurd.
- Wilderness Reclamation - one of the cheapest mana doublers available, assuming you have a way to spend mana at instant speed. (hint: Tasigur)
- Rude Awakening - we usually use this as a ritual to set up a big X spell, but sometimes you have twenty lands and want to swing for lethal.
- Seedborn Muse - like Reclamation, but better. Rarely lives for long, but if you can turn it into a bunch of Tasigur activations, it's usually worth it.
- Mana Reflection - actual mana doubling. Beware of Damping Sphere. Otherwise, enjoy your newfound unlimited power.
- Boundless Realms - when you don't feel like drawing basic lands ever again. Probably the best topend ramp spell there is.
- Zendikar Resurgent - doubles our mana, and draws some cards. What's not to love?
- Farseek, Wild Growth, and other small ramp effects - we usually want to play for the long game and go bigger, but these can definitely speed up the deck a lot.
- Elvish Mystic, Priest of Titania, and other creature-based ramp - this isn't an elfball deck, but that is another strategy for generating lots of mana. You may want to cut back on board wipes if you go that route instead.
- Nissa's Pilgrimage, Hunting Wilds, Hour of Promise and other ramp spells - I like to think that the best ones are already in here, but many alternative options exist. Some can be better or worse depending on what nonbasic lands you're running.
- Bounty of the Luxa - switches between ramp and card draw. It's a pretty reasonable rate.
- Animate Dead - two mana for any creature, including ones in an opponents' graveyard. One of the most efficient reanimation spells available. Keep an eye out for enchantment removal.
- Life from the Loam - only gets lands, but hitting land drops is important.
- Regrowth - recurs anything, at a cheap price. Somewhat comparable to Demonic Tutor, assuming a sufficiently-stocked graveyard.
- Eternal Witness - grabs back anything, and easy to recur itself. Gold standard.
- Ramunap Excavator - works great with cycling and fetchlands. Hitting land drops is great.
- World Shaper - mills, then recurs a bunch of lands. Sometimes you can live the dream and resolve a Death Cloud with it out.
- Liliana, Death's Majesty - mills, makes blockers, and recurs creatures. Lives through most of our board wipes.
- Nissa, Vital Force - recurs any permanent card. Alternatively, if you think she'll live a full turn, you can go for the emblem to get a ton of card draw.
- The Mending of Dominaria - grabs back creatures, then lands. Works well with a well-stocked graveyard.
- Greenwarden of Murasa - grabs back anything, then does it again when it dies.
- Seasons Past - a bigger recursion spell that can restock our entire hand. Note that it doesn't target, so it's hard to stop with grave hate.
- Reanimate, Exhume, and other reanimation effects - this isn't really a dedicated reanimator deck (since we can just cast our fatties), but these work well with a self-mill strategy.
- Treasured Find and other one-shot recursion - a bit low on value, but very efficient.
- Den Protector - a bit inefficient, but it can grab back anything.
- Praetor's Counsel, Wildest Dreams, Creeping Renaissance and other bigger recursion effects - we don't need card advantage that badly due to having Tasigur as a mana sink, but these can be worth considering if you want a more efficient rate for your card advantage.
- Living Death, Rise of the Dark Realms, and other mass reanimation - we're a bit light on creatures, but mass reanimation works very well with self-mill.
- Reap, Holistic Wisdom, Nostalgic Dreams - all good choices if you want your opponents to have to read your cards.
- Sepulchral Primordial - doesn't recur from our graveyard, but it's a pretty efficient way to generate an army.
- Nature's Claim - efficient artifact or enchantment removal.
- Countersquall - one of the better non-monoblue counterspells we have access to. If you're not going with my 'no monoblue cards' restriction, there are many alternatives.
- Dimir Charm - a bit on the narrow side, but there are a lot of problematic sorceries worth countering. It does make up for the narrowness in flexibility with its alternate modes.
- Drown in the Loch - requires some setup, but a flexible counterspell // removal spell.
- Scavenging Ooze - grave hate, and a bit of incidental lifegain. Can be a surprisingly beefy beatstick.
- Beast Within - target problem was secretly a 3/3 beast all along. 3/3 beasts usually aren't problems anymore.
- Maelstrom Pulse - deals with pretty much anything at a reasonable rate.
- Putrefy - instant speed and flexible removal spell.
- Reclamation Sage - kills artifacts an enchantments, while also providing a body.
- Toxic Deluge - a cheap board wipe. We don't have a lot of lifegain, so it can be painful to cast multiple times - consider delving it away aggressively.
- Nightmare Unmaking - a bit more expensive board wipe, but it's also flexible and exiles.
- Murderous Cut - an efficient removal spell that also lets us prune our graveyard.
- Windgrace's Judgment - a bit expensive, but deals with multiple problems at instant speed.
- Bane of Progress - takes out all sorts of problematic cards, while leaving behind a large body. There are definitely some decks that will fold to it.
- Casualties of War - another flexible removal spell. Expensive, but also backbreaking against most decks.
- Lochmere Serpent - a flash blocker that most people won't play around. Also capable of pressuring planeswalkers, eating graveyards, and drawing cards.
- Whiptongue Hydra - this deck has issues with fliers, so having a way to shoot them out of the air is quite nice.
- Wave of Vitriol - like Bane of Progress, but it also deals with troublesome utility lands. Another reason to run lots of basics, and also can shut down some particularly greedy manabases.
- Sandwurm Convergence - makes blockers, and protects us from fliers. My opponents always seem to be afraid of my army of 5/5s, no matter how much I claim it to be purely defensive.
- Doom Blade, Ultimate Price, Go for the Throat, and other creature spot removal - many good options exist if you find yourself needing more answers.
- Find // Finality - an efficient recursion spell, or a board wipe that leaves Tasigur (or some other creature we want to keep) alive.
- Gaze of Granite - most of the permanents we care about have a high CMC, so this can be a one-sided board wipe. Also great for dealing with piles of mana rocks or tokens.
- Damnation, Languish, Crux of Fate, Black Sun's Zenith, and other sweepers - this deck isn't particularly reliant on its creatures, and has a lot of recursion. There are many other board wipes worth consideration.
- Counterspell, Swan Song, and other countermagic - if you choose to run monoblue cards, there are a ton of excellent options.
- Naturalize, Natural State, and other artifact/enchantment removal - we run several sweepers for these, but it can be appropriate to run more removal depending on your meta.
- Sultai Charm, Silumgar's Command, and other flexible interaction - you're often paying a premium for the flexibility, but they do make it harder for opponents to give us something useless with Tasigur.
- Deathsprout, Decree of Pain, and other high-value interaction - extra mana can always be pumped into Tasigur, but stapling value onto our interaction can let us do things at a more efficient rate than Tasigur activations alone.
- Titania's Song, Creeping Corrosion, and other artifact hate - we're not running any artifacts, so taking advantage of these one-sided hate cards can provide a strong advantage.
- Traverse the Ulvenwald - an efficient tutor for either creatures or utility lands. The fail case of hitting a land drop isn't exciting, but we do like hitting every land drop.
- Nissa, Vastwood Seer - fetches a land, then flips into a personal Howling Mine.
- Tireless Tracker - turns lands and ramp spells into more card draw. Also grows into a huge beater.
- Tatyova, Benthic Druid - another way to turn lands into card draw.
- The Gitrog Monster - yet another way to turn lands into card draw. Works great with Tasigur and fetchlands.
- Sire of Stagnation - turns our opponents' lands into card draw. If they choose to not play lands, that's fine too.
- Harmonize, Night's Whisper, and other pure card draw - more efficient than Tasigur activations, but they don't impact the board.
- Rune-Scarred Demon, Demonic Tutor, Dark Petition, and other tutors - this deck doesn't have many specific synergies or combos, but being able to find the exact card you want is certainly useful.
- Phyrexian Arena, Bloodgift Demon, and other recurring card draw - can perform poorly if you expect to wipe the board frequently, but not bad choices if you expect them to stick around for a while.
- Exsanguinate - drains opponents and gains life.
- Genesis Wave - my general heuristic is that Genesis Wave is like blackjack - if you hit 21, you win. Instantly generates a huge board if you cast it for a high enough number, and can occasionally be looped if you flip a mana doubler and Eternal Witness. Don't be afraid to cast it for X=6 or so as a ramp spell.
- Villainous Wealth - 'Nemesis Wave', and the main reason the deck contains blue mana at all. Depends a lot on what your opponents are running, but it can do some scary things.
A card so powerful that it deserves its own subsection. This deck is, in some ways, built around Death Cloud - it's why the deck is so focused on ramping out lands, and has so many ways to kill all our opponents' artifacts (read: mana rocks). Death Cloud is functionally similar to a Karn Liberated ultimate or a one-sided Worldfire - if we resolve it, we restart the game with a massive advantage. Death Cloud works particularly well with Tasigur, since he can come out for super cheap afterwards with Delve, then serve as a mana sink when we're empty-handed. Alternatively, you can set up for a Death Cloud by getting extra cards in hand with Tasigur, then casting it for X=7 to wipe our opponents' hands, while keeping something like Splendid Reclamation in hand.
I have never resolved a Death Cloud and gone on to lose the game. This includes the time it was hit by a Wild Ricochet (followed by Life from the Loam being hit by a Commandeer), and it also includes the time I cast it three times in a single game (although that game did end in a draw, since I was at around 5 life when casting the third one).
On the other hand, there are many situations where casting Death Cloud is wrong. This usually happens if an opponent is better set up to recover from it, due to having more lands than us, or a bunch of problematic artifacts / enchantments / planeswalkers. There are also cards that shut it down or otherwise make it bad, such as Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, Sigarda, Host of Herons, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, or Rest in Peace.
Note that Death Cloud is not a particularly fun card to get knocked out of the game by, since it won't always end the game by itself. Don't be a jerk when casting it - make sure to have a plan to close out the game as quickly as possible afterwards.
- Torment of Hailfire - probably the best finisher that currently exists, capable of taking opponents out at a very efficient rate. 3 life lost per mana is really scary, even if it can be mitigated by the punisher clause.
- Lifeblood Hydra - we don't have any sacrifice outlets, but Sphinx's Revelation is a good card.
- Gelatinous Genesis and Hydra Broodmaster - sometimes, you want an army,
- Squall Line or Hurricane - if you can maintain a high life total, these work well as burn spells (which also happen to hit pesky fliers)
- Maga, Traitor to Mortals - another big burn spell.
- Diabolic Revelation - not particularly efficient, but it's definitely possible to set up something scary.
- Hydroid Krasis - get a big beater, plus draw a bunch of cards.
- Alchemist's Refuge - flash works really nicely in this deck, since we can hold open mana to cast spells or activate Tasigur. Particularly disgusting alongside Seedborn Muse, since we can build our own Prophet of Kruphix. Probably the most common tutor target.
- Barren Moor - cycling works well alongside methods to recur lands from our graveyard.
- Bojuka Bog - a bit of incidental grave hate.
- Drownyard Temple - a self-recurring land, which works well if milled or fed to The Gitrog Monster.
- Hissing Quagmire - fixes, and gives us a good blocker in a pinch.
- Maze of Ith - doesn't tap for mana, but it is a good defensive option.
- Memorial to Folly - recursion on a land. Again, works well with land recursion.
- Reliquary Tower - discarding to hand size is uniquely awkward with Tasigur, since our opponents will just give us back the cards we discarded when we activate him.
- Tranquil Thicket - another cycling land.
- Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Cabal Coffers - if you have access to them, strongly consider running them alongside more ways to fetch them out. They provide a ton of ramp, which we have many uses to. Note that this deck is otherwise pretty light on swamps due to a strong bias towards green, so they aren't that useful individually.
- Arch of Orazca - a mana sink on a land, if you can't keep Tasigur on the field.
- Blast Zone - a flexible, recurrable board wipe.
- Thespian's Stage and Dark Depths - another land combo that can be built around.
- Wasteland, Strip Mine, and Dust Bowl - consider them if you want more answers to problematic opposing lands... or if you want to lock opponents out of the game with some land recursion.
- Scavenger Grounds - can be awkward alongside our recursion, but it's another option if you want more grave hate.
- Tolaria West - double blue cost for transmuting can be a little rough, but it can fetch up any other utility land in a pinch.
- 10x Forest, 4x Island, 4x Swamp - basic lands are great.
- Blighted Woodland, Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse - easily recurred, and good ways to trigger landfall.
- Exotic Orchard, Llanowar Wastes, Sunken Hollow, Tainted Wood, Woodland Cemetery - usually untapped fixing lands.
- Golgari Rot Farm, Opulent Palace - tapped fixing lands, with a bit of upside. Easy cuts if you have better options available.
- Bayou, Overgrown Tomb, Command Tower, and other untapped fixing lands - all fantastic, and worth running if you have them.
- Verdant Catacombs and other fetchlands - also fantastic, and work well with landfall and graveyard synergies.
- Temple of Malady, Jungle Hollow, and other tapped lands - usually not worth running over a basic, since we have so much green fixing.
- Zagoth Triome - fixes, has basic land types, and can be cycled away in a pinch for future recursion.
In comparison, piloting this deck is significantly more straightforward. We have one simple endgame goal: casting expensive bombs. To accomplish that goal, we have two subgoals: ramping, and surviving.
At its core, this deck's core belief is that if it has enough mana, it will win eventually. As a result, a large percentage of the deck is dedicated to various flavors of ramping. The most important form of ramp we have is the ability to get extra lands into play. We run Cultivate and other cards to put lands into play from our library. We run Exploration and other cards that let us play extra lands from hand. We run Splendid Reclamation and other cards that let use reanimate the lands in our graveyard. These cards all combine to let us have access to more lands than our opponents, which will usually allow us to have more mana.
Once we have a bunch of lands, we then have ways to benefit from them. One way is through cards like Tatyova, Benthic Druid, which convert lands into more cards. This allows us to keep our hand full, which makes it easier to hit land drops and cast more ramp spells. However, we also run mana doublers such as Zendikar Resurgent and land untap effects like Wilderness Reclamation to multiply the value of our lands. These effects are so valuable that we actually run some one-shot effects like Rude Awakening to act as a single big burst of mana, to allow us access to our lategame even earlier.
As a counterpart to all of this land-based ramp, we also run some ways to deny our opponents their own ramp, in the form of mass artifact destruction like Bane of Progress. Unlike most decks, we don't rely on artifacts for our mana production, which means that these usually allow us to maintain mana superiority. On the other hand, this does leave us vulnerable to decks doing the opposite and running mana rocks in conjunction with Armageddon effects.
This deck has a very powerful lategame - we have easy access to a ton of recursion, card advantage, and over-the-top bombs. However, our early game is extremely lackluster - most of our early turns are going to be spent ramping, and it's very possible to not have any creatures or board presence while we do so. As a result, the second part of our strategy is to bridge the gap between our early ramp and our lategame bombs. I wouldn't say that this deck is a pure control deck - very simply, it isn't feasible for this deck to deal with every problem card its opponents play by itself. Instead, this deck relies on a combination of approaches to try to eliminate as many problems as possible while expending the minimum amount of effort necessary.
The first element in our survival suite is interaction - our colors give us access to some of the best removal spells around. A lot of these spells are instant-speed, which allows us to hold open mana on our opponents' turns, then react to problems (such as large attacking creatures) with pinpoint accuracy. If our opponents don't threaten us, then we don't need to expend our removal. If things do start to get out of hand, drop a board wipe to slow things down.
The second element in our survival suite are our creatures, many of which are beefy blockers. Very simply, if our opponents don't have good attacks, then that will pad our life total significantly. One weakness in our creature suite is a lack of creatures with flying, but we do have cards like Sandwurm Convergence that make it difficult for us to be attacked. It's not that our creatures never attack, but most of them are played with the intent of blocking. This is usually the reason why Tasigur gets played out the first time - a 4/5 body is a very respectable roadblock to most early creatures.
Our third survival strategy is simply keeping a low profile - it's fairly common for this deck to only have one or two nonland permanents, plus a large creature on blocking duty. Keeping a low profile pulls double duty for us. For one, it makes it less likely for our opponents to consider us a threat, which means that our opponents are less likely to throw removal at our stuff (having less stuff to target helps here). However, another huge benefit is that by not making our opponents use their interaction on us, they can instead use that interaction on each other. Every time one of our opponents deals with another opponent's threat, that's essentially free value that we gain. In a pinch, Tasigur can help out here - it's very easy to negotiate with one opponent for a removal spell for another opponent's threat.
For our opening hand, we'll usually be looking for a minimum of three lands, plus as many ramp spells as possible. This deck doesn't really get going until it has a lot of mana available. Interaction and card advantage aren't nearly as important in the early game - something like Tireless Tracker is fine, but having access to Tasigur in the command zone means we don't need to worry about flooding out.
Mull. This deck can never keep a 1-lander. Traverse the Ulvenwald technically makes this a 2-lander, but we don't have any ramp to follow up with. I might consider it if the Forest were a fetchland instead, since Ramunap Excavator would let us hit land drops as soon as we get a third land, but it would still be pretty sketchy.
Our primary goal in the early game is to hit land drops and ramp. Other than our cheaper ramp spells, we don't have a lot to do in the early game. We do run some cheap interaction and a few smaller creatures, but it's somewhat unlikely for our opponents to play something worth killing this early. Something to note is that a lot of our ramp spells cost 3 or 4 mana - we're not running many cheaper ramp spells because we aim to hit 10+ mana, and ramping by only a single land usually isn't enough to get there. As a result, it's very possible to get to turn 4 or 5 without having accomplished much. However, if we've hit all our land drops, that's usually enough.
Continue ramping. We really do want to have as much mana as possible. At this point, it's possible for opponents to begin to start dropping actual threats. It's usually preferable to continue ramping over interacting, but it may be necessary to start casting removal spells, assuming our opponents won't do so for us. If things start to get too scary, consider dropping a board wipe - they're the best way to equalize the board and slow things down. Alternatively, play out Tasigur or another beefy creature as a blocker. This stage is primarily about getting into the lategame with a high life total - we're not likely to be particularly proactive at this point in time, since we're still ramping.
Once you have eight or ten mana, it's time to start dropping threats. The best threats are, obviously, more ramp - try to stick a mana doubler, then follow up the following turn with a big X spell or other finisher. Alternatively, keep ramping and funnel any spare mana you have into Tasigur activations - when you're getting four or five extra cards per turn cycle, that's usually enough to grind out any opponent. It is pretty much impossible for this deck to flood out - no matter how much mana we have, we can always activate Tasigur more times. Simultaneously, the more we activate Tasigur, the more well-stocked our graveyard gets for our recursion spells.
This deck is generally resistant to disruption due to not being that reliant on nonland permanents, which means we can ignore most removal spells. However, we will want to keep an eye out for countermagic - it's a massive pain to spend a turn to cast one spell, only to get it countered. If that is a concern, consider instead casting two smaller spells. Alternatively, just keep slamming bombs until one sticks - your opponents should run out of counterspells eventually.
Things to Watch Out For
This deck is generally resilient to disruption, but it does have some significant weaknesses. We run enough interaction to deal with most threats, but doing so can also be fairly expensive, which means we can be overwhelmed if there are too many problems at the same time.
- If the board gets wiped: usually not a thing we care about - we're relatively creature-light, and we run a decent amount of recursion to get back anything important.
- If Tasigur gets stolen or Pithing Needle'd: annoying, but relatively uncommon - most opponents aren't running enough ramp to activate Tasigur repeatedly, and are also running too many situational cards for Tasigur to be worth activating in the first place. That said, not being able to activate Tasigur is a headache, since it makes us much more vulnerable to flooding out. Try to get Tasigur back online by using removal on the offending permanent... or just ignore the situation and cast bomb instead.
- If you get mana screwed: hard to fix other than hoping your opponents ignore you for a while. If your meta is particularly fast or you find yourself consistently having mana issues, consider running more ramp or lowering the curve.
- If an opponent casts Armageddon or another mass land destruction effect: hope really hard you have access to Ramunap Excavator or another source of land recursion. This is part of the reason why the deck runs Bane of Progress and other mass removal spells - if our opponents don't have any nonland permanents, it is significantly harder for them to profitably destroy all the lands. If MLD is common in your meta, consider running more countermagic or other ways to stop it.
- If an opponent is running a bunch of Counterspells - bide your time and spend your mana activating Tasigur. They'll run out of countermagic eventually.
- If an opponent plays grave hate - if it's a one-shot effect like Nihil Spellbomb, we can usually ignore it - while stopping our recursion effects is annoying, these effects don't stop Tasigur. If it's a persistent effect like Rest in Peace, find removal... or just ignore it and cast bombs, similar to when Tasigur is shut down. Despite playing so much out of the graveyard, we don't actually rely on it that much.
- Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth - usually a package deal, they provide a ton of ramp.
- Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage - another package deal, they provide a beefy finisher.
- Field of the Dead, Thawing Glaciers, Deserted Temple, Glacial Chasm, and other utility lands - seriously, there are a ton of sweet lands I'd love to be playing.
- Nyxbloom Ancient - another pricy but powerful ramp card.
- Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Crucible of Worlds - even more ramp, and another way to hit land drops. Crucible is one of the few artifacts I would consider running in this deck due to how well it works with Death Cloud.
- Fetchlands, shocklands, and duals - I'd love to improve the manabase of this deck.
- Damnation - one of the better board wipes available in these colors. Not worth running at the current price though.
- Torment of Hailfire and Rise of the Dark Realms - more splashy finishers capable of killing the table for a reasonable price.
- Combo - Tasigur is a respectable commander in cEDH, partially due to his ability to function as a win condition alongside infinite mana. Even if you don't want to build a cEDH deck, combo is probably still the easiest way to juice up the deck. Deadeye Navigator + Palinchron, Maze of Ith + Krosan Restorer... there are a lot of ways to generate infinite mana. Notably, Isochron Scepter + Dramatic Reversal doesn't work for this deck due to its lack of mana rocks, but that is another potential change.
- Reanimator - if you're already using the graveyard, it's not hard to throw in more reanimation spells alongside more fatties and ways to dump them in the graveyard. Entomb, Frantic Search, Golgari Grave-Troll, and other cards can fill the graveyard, Terastodon, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur are solid reanimation targets, while Exhume and Reanimate are potent reanimation spells.
- Flash - Tasigur works very well with instants - hold up mana for interaction and spend that mana on Tasigur activations if you don't need to do anything. Vedalken Orrery and Leyline of Anticipation are both powerful enablers, while Slitherwisp and Rashmi, Eternities Crafter are payoffs. You can also just run more permanents with flash and instants. If you do want to operate more on your opponents' turns, consider running more countermagic like Counterspell, Plasm Capture, and Disallow, or ways to use mana other than Tasigur like Fact or Fiction or Blue Sun's Zenith.
- Landfall - a solid companion to the existing ramp theme, and not difficult to enable by running more fetchlands. Rampaging Baloths, Avenger of Zendikar, Ob Nixilis, the Fallen, and Roil Elemental are solid payoffs. You may also want to run more ways to dump lands into the graveyard like Realms Uncharted, plus Titania, Protector of Argoth or other ways to reanimate them.