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Building Firja, Judge of Valor in Commander


Hello folks! I hope that you are having a rocktastic day today!

I have been inspired by Kaldheim decks recently and I've built a few Commander decks around new leaders from the latest set!

Wanna check them out?

  1. Two weeks ago, I built a tokens and midrange style Boros equipment deck around Koll, the Forgemaster, which is very different than your normal build. Wanna check it out? It's here!
  2. Last week, I built a deck around the Snow Loving Svella, Ice Shaper who makes Icy Manaliths and grabs stuff from your library for free. I built a Snowy Gruul Ramp deck which you can check out here.

And there you are! What fun card inspired me today? Great question!

Firja, Judge of Valor

It's Firja, Judge of Valor! Look at her! She's 5 mana for a 2/4 flyer ala Azure Drake or Ghost Ship, and she also gets lifelink. As you cast your second spell of the turn (each turn, yours and your foes') you get to Impulse for three cards down and then choose the best one and put it into your hand and then after that you get to put the others into the graveyard rather than the bottom of your library. It feels like an Izzet leader to me and if it were in Izzet, you would expect instant card drawers like Brainstorm and Opt and such to be in the deck to net a lot of cards. However, it's in the wrong colors, right?


How do you build around Firja?

Well, it's confused the EDH player as well. Right now, as of researching this article, fewer than 20 decks have been registered over at EDHREC.com.

Here are some other numbers to see where she stands in comparison.

Koll, the Forgemaster: 30

Svella, Ice Shaper: 25

Tergrid, God of Fright: 111

Valki, God of Lies: 47

Jorn, God of Winter: 58

You get the idea. Firja is a challenge we'll need to solve to make her work.

What ways jump out to me?

  • Cantrips. White isn't the home of cards like Ponder or Wheel of Fortune, but it is the home of Shelter. We want as many cantrips as possible. Shoot, I'll take cantripping creatures as well, like Phyrexian Gargantua.
  • Mass Card Draw. The best way to make sure you are casting two cards a turn is with things like Temple Bell and Howling Mine. Temple Bell can tap for a card for you to use on a foe's turn after you used Shelter, and the Mine will always net you an extra card on your turn using Firja to cast both entries. Since your foes are drawing cards en masse as well they are less likely to care about your extra card via Firja.
  • Reanimation. Don't forget that Firja fills up your graveyard with goodies. No sense letting that resource go to waste, right? Right! We might as well add in some good reanimation for your stuff so you can bring it back to the game. Or for the first time if you milled after triggering Firja.
  • Flashback. Another key way to make sure we get two spells per turn? Flashing things back? That should work really well!
  • Adventures. An Adventure creature gives you two spells for one card, so you can cast the spell and then the dork on the same turn to net Firja's trigger for her mad card flow! This is better than flashback as you'll keep the card in your graveyard after both uses have finished.

And that's my central deck concept! Let's take a look-see!

Clarion Spirit
Bloodsky Berserker

There are a few other cards in Kaldheim that have similar triggers to Firja's in Orzhov and I have them here. This duo is the best with the Spirit a solid 2/2 body for 2 mana that also nets you a flying Spirit token each time you trigger Firja. Bodies matter. Another solid entry here is fellow uncommon Bloodsky Berserker. This bad boy will grow by +2/+2 permanently each time you trigger your lord, and don't sleep on the temporary menace it gets as well as it's a reliable way to slip past a single defender. Both are cheap enough to begin their triggers before you even cast Firja.

Unburial Rites
Karmic Guide

Hello fans of reanimation! I have expected cards in here like Sun Titan and Karmic Guide that will recur with bodies instead of spells. I also have two flashback spells in the recursion section: Dread Return and Unburial Rites. The Return can flashback for no mana so you can more easily net that Firja trigger and draw that card.

Sevinne's Reclamation

I have flashback elsewhere. Don't forget Sevinne's Reclamation, which acts as a one-shot Sun Titan in spell form. You can use it on many dorks as well as cards like Evolving Wilds or a destroyed Sol Ring. There ae several engines below with an awesome three-or-fewer card cost. It's one of many cards in my deck that aren't on the EDHREC.com page. Look at Sever the Bloodline for removal that can exile a key dork and others with the same name. It can exile an entire token army made from a card like Army of the Damned and is more versatile than a typical Swords to Plowshares. I run one in my Commander Cube. It's not the only flashback-able removal spell either you'll note Chainer's Edict is here too.

Angel of Despair
Ashen Rider

I love removal on a stick like Acidic Slime and Reclamation Sage and Orzhov has the best options - Vindicates on sticks that began long ago with Angel of Despair! Sure, it may cost a heavy four colored mana and three generic, but that's pretty good for the Vindicate plus the 5/5 flyer you reap from that harvest. If you want to get the trigger (or the flyer) without the cost, then you can just reanimate it! Ashen Rider costs one more than the Despair Angel but exiles said permanent instead, which is pretty saucy. Both are key cards in the brew, although don't sleep on cards like Rambunctious Mutt that are here as well.

What is Filth doing here? Great question! Most Commander decks run more than one color and giving your entire team Swampwalk is pretty likely against at least one foe in a four-player game, and often two. I've had three before running Black, and then you just need them to run a single Swamp for you to put Filth in the graveyard from a Firja trigger to make it all work together! I have run it myself to great results!

Leyline of Sanctity

If I am running White and playing a deck that is graveyard-literate, then I usually find space for this Leyline! Why? Because most graveyard hate cards that are out there target the player. Bojuka Bog? Tormod's Crypt? Nihil Spellbomb? There are many commonly played graveyard answers that this shuts down until it's answered. Love it here!

Final Parting

This is Black! As a result, we are running a few Tutors. My favorite? Final Parting! You fetch a card for the hand and one for the graveyard. You can get a dork for the reanimation or the latter half off a key flashback card. Either way, it works! Entomb is a cheap instant that also puts one card into the graveyard at any time you want, not just dorks. Although you won't be ashamed to run the dork. Put Filth there and swing at someone with Swamps!

Nether Traitor

I also am running a small number of dorks that will self-recur like Bloodghast and Nether Traitor. The former has a cool landfall ability to head back the battlefield pretty regularly. Although it won't usually have haste, it is a free dork over and repeatedly and you'll love to toss it into the graveyard with a Firja trigger. Ditto Nether Traitor, who is waiting for the death of one of our team to pop out and head out there. With shadow, it's basically unblockable, although hard to block. Its haste is good if you bring it back prior to combat. You may notice one or two more of these running around.

I don't just have card drawing in my artifacts like Font of Mythos or Anvil of Bogardan, but Geier Reach Sanitarium and Mikokoro, Center of the Sea as well! They are pretty nifty and keen and cool. You can tap then and then everyone draws a card (and discards with the Sanitarium). You can cast the card flow for a Firja trigger if you have already cast once this turn! Pretty good stuff right? Right!

War Room
Arch of Orazca

I also have some self-card drawing with this duet. War Room will draw you a card for two life, and we need those cards! If you have the City's Blessing, then Arch of Orazca can punch for a card as well! Although it's a bit on the pricey side of life card flow in this build really matters!

I believe that Volrath's Stronghold is the best card in multiplayer, where it plays a key role in pushing the game in your direction! In this build? It's even better! Firja puts the creature in your graveyard. Wanna draw it instead? Stronghold away! Want to Firja a creature that was just killed so you can recast it? Stronghold away! Want to keep Firja from decking you by milling you of three cards a turn? Stronghold away! Want to protect a key creature from graveyard removal? Stronghold away! The card value is "Strong" in this one...

And have you seen Burning-Rune Demon from Kaldheim? It's really good for the mana investment. It's basically Final Parting on a stick, but your foe chooses which one to bin and which one you grab. Use something like Unburial Rites and a huge creature and you'll get your card no matter what your foe wants. You can get two big nasty dorks and then let them choose which one heads to your hand. It's also very on-curve as a 6 mana 6/6 with flying.

Syr Konrad, the Grim

Look at Syr Konrad! As creature cards hit your graveyard from anywhere, you get a Konrad trigger. That means that dorks that head to your graveyard from your library off a Firja trigger will trigger Konrad for some damage to everyone out there. It's pretty saucy here!

As I mentioned before, I am running a few cantrip dorks here and there to keep up the card flow to have enough spells to cast for your double-cast triggers. Disciple of Bolas does you one more than that! Sacrifice another critter on arrival! Gain life and draw cards equal to its power! Just a Shriekmaw is a card draw and life gain powerhouse. Don't sleep on it!

Dread Presence. Consider it! As you are dropping that Swamp? Draw a card and lose a life! Keep up that card flow my friends. You can also Shock a target and gain two life if you need that instead. I have tossed in Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth so that every land you drop will trigger this as well as Cabal Coffers due to the Tomb here. Want to close out a game? You can tutor for the land to help your Dread Presence and then drop enough lands to finish off players with the second trigger.

God-Eternal Bontu

Want to really draw cards on arrival? Okay I got you! When this Zombie God arrives to party you can sacrifice any number of (other) permanents from lands to creatures! And then when you do, you draw that many cards. Good stuff here! You can turn that Dusk Legion Zealot or Phyrexian Rager into another card! If your Zombie God dies, then you can put it third from the top which is just shallow enough to draw on your next Firja trigger!

True Love's Kiss
Hallowed Moonlight

I mentioned above that I enjoy cantrips like Shelter in this build. Well that's not all! You have several cool instant cantrips here and there as well! Look at this White duet! Fun right? Right! The Kiss exiles a target and draws a card. The Moonlight is a great way to answer foe's decks that care about things like tokens. Don't cast it on your turn and then try to reanimate something. And if there is nothing to use it on, it's a cheap two-mana instant, so cast it to get that Firja going.


More cantrips arrive! The former lets you trade life for cards but can only be cast during your end step. The latter will destroy a non-Black dork, which is an older restriction that modern cards don't have, but I like what it's doing in this brew.

Let's take a deep dive into my favorite cantrip for this build, Footbottom Feast! You can stack your library with cards from your graveyard in any order. Then you'll draw one and keep up the card flow. You'll reload the deck for preventing death. You can set up Firja triggers to get the dork you want and mill the other two least liked dorks. It'll save your creatures from targeted exiling removal when they are in the 'yar. It's an instant to help with triggers on your foes' turn. I enjoy it so much here!

Now let's turn to some Adventuring!

Murderous Rider
Giant Killer

Let's begin with this creature removal pair. Both rares offer something significant. I enjoy them a lot here. The first will destroy a planeswalker or creature at instant speed at the cost of two life, minor in this format. Then you can drop it for three more mana and get a lifelinking 2/3 that heads back to your deck for another go upon death! The second instant will take out a bigger dork at the kitchen table, which is quite common in Commander. Its main body is just one, mana so you get both for 4 mana total and then you can use it as a tapper should you have need of it.

Shepherd of the Flock
Foulmire Knight

I love these two instants as well. Our Human Peasant is usable to save a key dork from death or to reload a trigger like Solemn Simulacrum. It's good either way! And then the body is just two more mana for a total of three. You can also Usher to Safety and then recast the dork for the Firja trigger and save your dork for a later turn. Our good Zombie Knight is card flow at instant speed and provides a powerful deathtouch 1/1 that can play keep away or trade up. Its 4 mana for this bad boy both halves and works well in the brew.

Order of Midnight

But my favorite Adventure? It's this! You can use its sorcery to Raise Dead, which is likely given your graveyard filling from your leader. Then for two more mana you net a 2/2 flyer which is a solid body on the build. If you can, Alter Fate a dork with adventure so you can get a double trigger on a future turn! It's great synergy for the build.

How about one more card and we'll call it; let's look at my favorite common in this brew! It's also a powerful engine... what is it? Let's find out!

Tortured Existence

It's this bad boy printed in the same set as Volrath's Stronghold. Tortured Existence is a Survival of the Fittest for the graveyard. I just love it so much! Did you draw a card that's too expensive to cast? Swap it with a better dork in the graveyard. Did you draw a card like Rambunctious Mutt that you don't need? Swap it! Did you draw a card and need two spells from a dead Adventure card to get to two this turn? Swap it! Did you draw a dork but you need a enters-the-battlefield trigger of a card in your graveyard? Swap it! Did you draw a dork that you want to reanimate instead? Swap it! Did you draw a card like Filth or Bloodghast that wants to be in the graveyard? Swap it! This is a powerful engine for our build!

Here's my deck!

Firja EDH | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there we are 100 cards later! Anything in here that I missed or that resonated with you? Just let me know and have an awesome-tastic day today!

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