I started playing Magic with New Phyrexia – the Spring of my Sophomore year of High School. I had been playing the Yu-gi-oh and Pokemon TCGs for quite a while, but I had never really tried to play Magic. My brother, ElspethFTW, finally convinced me to actually start doing things with Magic.
Needless to say, I played and just kept playing. I learned fast and started to play Standard. Sadly, I played when the entire format was just between Cawblade and Splinter Twin. The “fun” I wanted to have with the format was stifled, and I just didn’t end up playing all that much.
Then, during the Summer of 2011, I learned about EDH as it was being officially re-branded to Commander; 100 card singleton with a General, or Commander.
My brother had bought all 5 of the decks, and allowed me to use one of them – Counter Punch, with Ghave, Guru of Spores. The first time I actually played it against was in a pod with Cromat “good stuff,” Child of Alara Allies and Silvos ramp. I ended up winning with the regular Ghave deck with few modifications.
After that, I aimed to build my first EDH deck from scratch – Nicol Bolas, because he was a bad-ass Dragon that I already owned. While I waited for the cards for it to arrive, I purchased Devour for Power while it was still on the shelves and played Mimeoplasm with my brother.
I went to the local EDH league (casual multi-player with store credit awarded to winners) at my local game store and promptly got second with my homebrew, but realized that my commander was really, really expensive.
Then, I saw Sedris, the Traitor King in somebody’s trade binder and promptly picked him up for a little less than a dollar, and made changes to the deck. While I’ve changed it a lot over the years and dismantled it multiple times, I’ve always kept Grixis close to my heart.
Now, at the end of my Freshman Year of College, I think I have finally finished the deck to the extent that I truly like, and I’m going to share it with you guys.
Here’s the list:
Sedris, the Traitor King EDH
Sedris, the Traitor King
Legendary Creatures (7)
Jin-Gitaxis, Core Augur
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Sun Quan, Lord of Wu
Urabrask the Hidden
Lord of the Void
Fact of Fiction
Beacon of Unrest
Reforge the Soul
Rite of Replication
Torrent of Souls
Dance of the Dead
Sensei’s Divining Top
Talisman of Dominance
Talisman of Indulgance
Non-Basic Lands (19)
Seat of the Synod
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of Malice
Temple of the False God
Vault of Whispers
Basic Lands (18)
The Commander, Sedris, is 3UBR for a 5/5 Zombie Warrior from the Shard of Grixis. Described by Mark Rosewater as a Necromancer Warlord, Sedris wages war against all life – even that of his own minions:
He bids his minions rise from their graves to their knees.
Sedris’s main draw is the fact that he causes all of your creatures to have the Unearth ability. For newer players, this looks a lot like the reanimate effect of Whip of Erebos – because that’s exactly where that ability came from.
Here’s the exact definition of Unearth:
2B: Return this card to play. The creature gains haste. Exile it at end of turn or if it would leave play. Unearth only as a sorcery.
The other important thing to note about Unearth is that it causes a delayed trigger – the “exile it at end of turn or if it would leave play” part of Unearth. There isn’t anything in particular about Unearth referring to this in the compendium, but there’s this note on the Gatherer:
If a creature returned to the battlefield with unearth would leave the battlefield for any reason, it’s exiled instead — unless the spell or ability that’s causing the creature to leave the battlefield is actually trying to exile it! In that case, it’s succeeds at exiling it. If it later returns the creature card to the battlefield, the creature card will return to the battlefield as a new object with no relation to its previous existence. The unearth effect will no longer apply to it.
This makes every creature in the deck a major threat – being able to come back to life and attack again is horrifying, especially to players who only play removal that kills, not exiles.
Now, Sedris himself is important for these reasons. Flavor-wise, he doesn’t care about his troops. He is reanimating them just long enough to do some damage. The deck, on the other hand, does care about them.
Teferi’s Veil and Conjurer’s Closet are our first lines of offense. Teferi’s Veil causes our attacking creatures to phase out – a complicated and discontinued mechanic (scoring a 9 on the storm scale) for good reason. It’s essentially a rulings nightmare, but Sedris likes bending the rules a little when it comes to this card.
Phasing causes creatures to stop existing. From the rules compendium, here are the relevant things about phasing:
702.25a Phasing is a static ability that modifies the rules of the untap step. During each player’s untap step, before the active player untaps his or her permanents, all phased-in permanents with phasing that player controls “phase out.” Simultaneously, all phased-out permanents that had phased out under that player’s control “phase in.”
702.25b If a permanent phases out, its status changes to “phased out.” Except for rules and effects that specifically mention phased-out permanents, a phased-out permanent is treated as though it does not exist. It can’t affect or be affected by anything else in the game.
702.25d The phasing event doesn’t actually cause a permanent to change zones or control, even though it’s treated as though it’s not on the battlefield and not under its controller’s control while it’s phased out. Zone-change triggers don’t trigger when a permanent phases in or out. Counters remain on a permanent while it’s phased out. Effects that check a phased-in permanent’s history won’t treat the phasing event as having caused the permanent to leave or enter the battlefield or its controller’s control.
702.25h An Aura, Equipment, or Fortification that phased out directly will phase in attached to the object or player it was attached to when it phased out, if that object is still in the same zone or that player is still in the game. If not, that Aura, Equipment, or Fortification phases in unattached. State-based actions apply as appropriate. (See rules 704.5n and 704.5p.)
702.25k Phased-out tokens cease to exist as a state-based action. See rule 704.5d.
702.25m If an effect causes a player to skip his or her untap step, the phasing event simply doesn’t occur that turn.
All you really need to know is that phasing causes things to stop existing, and this applies to all of your attacking creatures, which phase out during combat.
Due to the fact that the creature does not exist during the end step, the delayed trigger of Unearth cannot see the creature that has phased out, and therefore the unearthed and zombified creature “lives” to fight another turn.
Conjurer’s Closet on the other hand uses the loop hole of exile to keep creatures. As we saw about, if an unearthed creature is exiled, it is exiled by that effect and not the effect of Unearth. When Conjurer’s Closet flickers a creature, it goes to exile, and then returns to play. On top of saving Unearthed creatures, it also lets you reuse the enter the battlefield abilities of creatures such as Grave Titan, Zealous Conscripts, Rune-Scarred Demon, Solemn Simulacrum, etc.
There is one more creature that helps us blink everything, named Deadeye Navigator, but we’ll get to him later.
The creatures in general all have specific purposes.
First, creatures trigger when they enter the battlefield, like Rune-Scarred Demon, Inferno Titan, Grave Titan, and Solemn Simulacrum
Rune-Scarred Demon is probably the most important among these cards. Every time this 6/6 flying Demon comes into play, you get a Demonic Tutor effect, which lets you search for whatever pieces you need to better your board state – such as searching for combo pieces or just getting Sedris back after he gets Spell Crumpled or Hindered.
Others are completely and purely aggressive like Wurmcoil Engine, and Lord of the Void. Wurmcoil Engine with its impressive power and abilities is just awe inspiring – 6/6 with both Lifelink and Deathtouch is terrifying to anyone at the table. Lord of the Void also draws a lot of attention, as it not only exiles the top 7 cards of the player it hits, you also get one of their creatures – either exiling combo pieces in their decks, or just grabbing big creatures for yourself.
Nicol Bolas, the original Commander of the deck, never left. He never stopped being a fantastic gamestopper and extremely aggressive and oppressive. When he deals damage to a player, that player discards their hand – referring to Nicol Bolas’s “touch” – able to shatter the minds of all he touches. While the old strategy I had was to throw him with a Mortarpod, he just as easily gets through with help of Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, as apparently you can’t block an elder dragon if he’s on a horse.
Thraximundar is another Grixis general that I contemplated playing in the first place, but now he just has a solid role in the deck in the Aggro position. His ability to force sacrifices is powerful, and he only gets larger.
Then there are creatures entirely interested in being utility. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is a card that gets awkward looks when it hits the tables. It’s a very threatening card as it’s Splinter Twin on a 2/2 goblin with Haste. Aside from Kiki-Jiki, other notable utility creatures are Body Double, Duplicant, Phyrexian Metamorph, Trinket Mage, Urabrask the Hidden, and Zealous Conscripts.
When I originally built the deck, cloning was the best way of killing other player’s Commanders – but with the recent change to the legend rule, they became much less powerful. Granted, these two in particular are still quite important. Phyrexian Metamorph allows you to copy any creature or artifact. Being able to unearth to copy an Akroma’s Memorial or Spine of Ish Sah can be extremely useful. As far as Body Double is concerned, it copies any of the huge creatures I’m constantly dropping in the graveyard.
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur is a monstrosity – 8UU for a 5/4 would usually be ridiculous, but with the amount of reanimation in the deck it’s fairly safe to say you will rarely have to cast him. Though having the option to flash him in at the end of a turn is extremely helpful. He simultaneously disrupts your opponents (as long as they don’t control reliquary tower) and is pouring cards into your hand, allowing you to discard big creatures or just keep card advantage high with Reliquary Tower in play. Early game, he is devastating – reanimating him turn 2 or 3 is practically a crime against humanity, and you should do it every opportunity you have.
Urabrask the Hidden on the other hand is entirely aggressive, giving all of my creatures haste and causing all other creatures to enter tapped.
Consecrated Sphinx on the other hand is pure advantage – 4UU for a creature that gives you two cards every time your opponent draws a card.
Lastly is the creatures that serve their own purposes – combo creatures.
Deadeye Navigator is the bane of many EDH players’ existences. He is the center of more infinite combos than I can even name – and they’re also in this deck!
One upside with Deadeye here is that his own ability lets him blink himself and other unearthed creatures for just 1U.
Deadeye Navigator gets a bad rap because he gets extremely degenerate extremely fast.
Namely, with the two below combinations:
The first combination is Deadeye’s interaction with either Palinchron or Peregrine Drake. While Deadeye Navigator serves other purposes in the deck, Palinchron and Peregrine Drake exist almost only to make infinite mana with Deadeye Navigator. As these two creatures untap lands when they come into play, one is able to float the majority of the mana produced by 5/7 lands, and then pay 1U to blink the soul bound Peregrine Drake/Palinchron to untap the tapped lands, and to on to infinity.
Similarly, there is one more infinite mana combo as well.
In this case, it’s three cards that all have other functional uses. Zealous Conscripts has the ability to gain control of and untap any target permanent. While it seems unusual to target your own permanents, you use Zealous Conscripts to untap the Gilded Lotus. First, you tap the Lotus for 3 blue mana, and then use a paired Deadeye Navigator to blink the Zealous Conscripts to untap the lotus, with a net gain of 1 blue so far. Then, you can continue doing this until you have any amount of mana of any colors you want.
On top of the infinite mana combos, Kiki-Jiki and Zealous Conscripts alone create infinitely many Zealous Conscripts. Kiki-Jiki starts by copying the first Zealous Conscripts, which untaps Kiki-Jiki, and so on.
These combos are mostly to make sure some games don’t go on forever, and all of the pieces are individually fairly usable; even Palinchron and Peregrine Drake getting unearthed gives you two more unearths essentially by untapping more than three lands with their abilities.
As Sedris loves reanimation, he can’t be the only one doing it; Sheoldred, Whispering One and Havengul Lich are two creatures that show this the best.
Now, the entire deck isn’t just creatures – they’re less than a quarter of the deck. The rest of the deck is trying to get these cards to work together as well as possible.
Sedris plays a slew of reanimate spells, including Reanimate, Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead, Beacon of Unrest, Necromancy,Victimize, Exhume, and Stitched Together. All of these spells are fairly inexpensive compared to the creatures they’re putting into play, and only Reanimate has a real downside, and that’s because it’s only 1 black mana to cast.
However, reanimate spells don’t do anything if there’s nothing in the graveyard to bring back. This is easy to solve however.
Fact or Fiction, Forbidden Alchemy, Frantic Search, Izzet Charm and Reforge the Soul are our looting effects – drawing cards and discarding cards. It simultaniously digs through the deck for answers while putting our creatures into the graveyard so we can reanimate them. Frantic Search is probably my favorite of the looting spells in the deck, as it untaps three lands when it resolves, making it essentially free. This gives you the option to loot and still play an Animate Dead or Necromancy immediately after, making a turn 3 Jin-Gitaxias pretty easy.
Buried Alive and Entomb also both drop exactly what we want in the graveyard – whether it be Deadeye and Palinchron or Kiki-Jiki and Zealous Conscripts. While other tutors we play like Demonic Tutor and Rune-Scarred Demon both search up whatever we want, the deck wants them in the graveyard.
Trinket Mage sums up the important artifacts of the deck – Sensei’s Divining Top and Expedition Map help the deck stay consistent, along with fetching the artifact lands in case the deck is about to miss land drops.
Aside from those, the artifacts consist of mana rocks – Darksteel Ingot, Sol Ring, Gilded Lotus, Talisman of Dominance and Talisman of Indulgence.
Those essentially sum up the important part of the deck – the rest of the deck is just counterspells like Forbid and Spell Crumple, utility cards like Blasphemous Act, Exquisite Blood, and Life’s Finale.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my time with the deck, and I hope that this profile inspires you to try out Sedris, too.
– Solemn Party
EDIT: Below are changes that I’ve made to the decklist you’re seeing above.
With the release of Conspiracy, I added a new planeswalker: Dack Fayden!
Dack Fayden is probably the only planeswalker I could ever really fit in the deck. At 1uR, his +1 is just perfect for this deck. Digging for cards and dumping fatties is his entire role. The only downside is his lack-luster ultimate for this deck, as I literally can’t abuse it. His -2 is also extremely relevant in Commander with the huge number of artifact-heavy decks. Plus everyone plays mana rocks of some sort.