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Give Queza a Hug

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Hello Happy People! I hope that your day is going incredibly well! Today, I want to take a look at a legendary creature from Streets of New Capenna I think is ready for the big time.

This is the 2nd deck I've inspired by this set!

  1. My first deck was a Jund build featuring the powerful Ziatora, the Incinerator, the leader of the Riviteers Family. I tossed in Ball Lightnings that swing out of nowhere and die anyway, so they can be sacrificed for 6 damage with Ziatora's ability. I also packed the list with Threaten effects like Zealous Conscripts that can steal creatures for a turn for Ziatora to snack on. I also included temporary token copy effects like Feldon of the Third Path that provide more bodies to be sacrificed, as well as damage increasers like Fiery Emancipation. You can check out the deck here!

So, who am I building around this time?

Queza, Augur of Agonies

This Cephalid Advisor! Cephalids haven't been printed since before Modern was created, so Queza is new! Queza is a 4-drop 3/4 that punishes a target foe by draining them for a life whenever you draw a card. Note that this does not go wide to all foes, much like Blood Artist; you can only target one foe for each card drawn. What I want to do is to build an Esper Group Hug deck where everyone is drawing a ton of cards, and then we won't be seen as massively killing the board since you are only pinging one person per card you draw. Most players in a 40 life format are more than happy to pay 1 life for 1 card. I'll also add in some Pillow Fort stuff since I want to encourage them to head elsewhere, without being antagonistic like red does with goads. I don't normally play Group Hug decks, so this will be new for me!

I think a lot of Queza decks are going to be heavy on cantrips and instant/sorcery card draw with things like Opt and Brainstorm. But if the Group Hug brew I am building instead becomes the dominant build on EDHREC.com, then you can easily build an Instant/Sorcery deck around this card where every card is at least a cantrip and using the Blue half of Izzet's spell-matters triggers like Talrand, Sky Summoner.

What cards am I running here?

Group Hug

Ghirapur Orrery

Most of my Group Hug cards are pretty obvious, like Howling Mine and Kami of the Crescent Moon. But we have three cards that are a little different! The Orrery is a 4-drop artifact that lets everyone have an Exploration effect, which is great for you since you'll be drawing a ton of cards and you aren't in green to play your own Exploration. You can also let everyone including yourself draw three cards in their upkeep if they have no cards in hand, which is pretty nice.

Arcane Denial
Dream Fracture

Check out these two counters! Counters are often feel bad moments in this game, but when Arcane Denial was printed it was heavily played at the kitchen table in formats like multiplayer. It's two mana like Counterspell, easier to cast, and your foe draws two cards for the their trouble. And then you draw one, to trigger Queza and friends. The Fracture is a "fixed" Denial that costs a blue mana more and both players draw a card, just one card for your foes and one for you! I also tossed in cantrip counters like Dismiss and Cryptic Command that can trigger Queza.

How do I win? These are my "Killing Machines of Death!"

Underworld Dreams
Fate Unraveler
Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted

The first thing I want to do is to run some black cards that ping my foes for a damage each time they draw cards. Underworld Dreams is the cheapest in mana as a 3-drop, but it is the hardest to cast at bbb. Fate Unraveler is a 4-drop creature and enchantment that does the same. It's easier to answer but it only requires one Black mana to cast. Then we have this version of Ob Nixilis, which is a 5-drop planeswalker with 5 loyalty and is yet more redundancy while offering the option to spend two loyalty to Murder a dork and then force them to draw... two cards, which most folks won't mind.

Psychosis Crawler
Ominous Seas

These two join our leader and give us win cons when we draw cards. The Crawler is an easy-to-answer artifact dork that costs five mana and has power equal to the number of cards in my hand. When I draw a card, each opponent will be pinged for a damage, which is the Zulaport Cutthroat of this build vs Queza's Blood Artist. The Seas is a nice 2-drop enchantment that you can cast early and then just let stick around. Toss onto it counters for each card drawn and swap 8 counters for an 8/8 dork and you keep the enchantment hanging around.

Seizan, Perverter of Truth
Price of Knowledge

These are my last two black win-cons. Seizan is a nice sized 6/5 for just five mana. During everyone's upkeep, they get a double Phyrexian Arena trigger, including you. That's quite nice when compared to just an Underworld Dreams or a Howling Mine since everyone will lose life but I rarely see it get targeted for a kill spell since they want to keep the card flow alive. It only seems to die when caught up in a sweeper. The Price is an admittedly expensive 7-drop enchantment that prevents anyone from discarding due to hand size. Then each foe takes damage in their upkeep equal to their hand size, which is a big, nasty, hit of damage and will likely lead to fights with counters and removal with those with big hands.

Approach of the Second Sun

Approach of the Game Winner is a 7-drop sorcery that gains you 7 life on the first time you cast it from your hand and wins the game the 2nd time you cast it from your hand, and since it reloads seven cards down, you have a chance to draw it with your Group Hug draws quite quickly. Just one Howling Mine will draw it in 4 turns instead of 7. That's a triple Time Walk. Great game winner here, literally.

Thassa's Oracle
Laboratory Maniac
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries

Check out this trio! I don't normally run them as they are massively overplayed and leaned on in Commander but they fit this deck too much not to run. The first card is a 2-drop Wizard that checks your devotion to blue and digs that that many cards. If your devotion to blue is bigger than your deck size, you win. It's heavily played. The second card (also a Wizard) is a 3-drop 2/2 that will, when you draw a card from an empty library, win rather than lose, but it's an easy to answer creature so don't cast it until you are about to win. The third card is a 4-drop four loyalty Jace planeswalker (that's also likely a Wizard flavor wise) who is a Laboratory Maniac on a planeswalker body. Nice!

Pillow Fort

Norn's Annex
Collective Restraint

Now let's turn to some pillow fort strategies. As you can see each of these cards will help to play keep away. I love the 5-drop artifact Norn's Annex! It protects planeswalkers and yourself, which is nice. In order to attack they have to spend white mana or two life twice, and that life loss can really add up over time! The Restraint is basically a four-mana Propaganda that, if you control three basic land types, will be a three mana tax to attack you, which is much worse. Don't cast more than one pillow fort at a time, you don't want to lose too many to a sweeper like Farewell or Akroma's Vengeance.

Card Draw Synergies

Alhammarret's Archive
Teferi's Ageless Insight

I have two card draw synergies in my build. The legendary artifact is a 5-drop that can, when you gain life, double it, and when you draw a card outside of the first in your draw step, you draw two. That's twice the pings with Queza and Friends. The legendary enchantment is a cheaper four mana. You also can double your card draw save for the first in your draw step. Nice!

Ramp

Honored Heirloom
Walking Atlas

Most of my ramp used is obvious, but there are three cards I wanted to talk about. The Heirloom is a three-mana Manalith with the ability to tap at instant speed to exile an opposing card from a graveyard, which is a nice brake on graveyard abuse. We do run two recursive effects we'll look at later, and spending a Mana Rock spot on graveyard removal is nice. The Atlas is a nice 2-drop that can tap to drop a land from my hand to the battlefield, which is good early to ramp and good late after we are drawing a few cards a turn. Good pair!

Smothering Tithe

This 4-drop enchantment is everywhere in Commander since it gives you a Treasure each time your foes draw, but here with them drawing so many more cards it's even better! No one is spending two mana for each card drawn to prevent you from getting a Treasure when they are drawing 2-3 cards per turn, and you can use those Treasures to cast more things that turn.

Answers

Nihil Spellbomb
Leyline of the Void

Like I mentioned before, we have just a bit of graveyard recursion here, so I tossed in this pair as well. The Spellbomb is a 1-drop Tormod's Crypt with a b cost to sacrifice it to draw a card, so you trigger your Queza. Good card flow. The Leyline is a 0-drop in your opening hand or a 4-drop later that forces your foes to exile cards as they head to their graveyard from anywhere! Nice brakes! I also tossed in Bojuka Bog and Scavenger Grounds in my land base to answer graveyard use and abuse.

Fractured Identity

Check out this five-mana sorcery removal spell with a Group Hug feel. As you can see, the Identity will exile any nonland permanent. Then each other player gets a copy! The player abusing a Consecrated Sphinx or a humble Solemn Simulacrum for the land fetching is equally valuable here! You give the other players a chance to play with their own Commander royalty like Chromatic Lantern or Mana Crypt. Good stuff!

Winds of Abandon
Supreme Verdict

Every deck should run a few mass sweepers, and we don't have that many creatures, but even still, many of my sweepers won't hit you. Let's check out a pair of sweepers here! The Winds is a two-mana sorcery speed Path to Exile on an opposing dork, and you can overload it for six mana and then Path to Exile everything else which is a lot of lands, but a massive upgrade in board position. The Verdict was a Standard legal powerhouse, and is a four mana Wrath effect that adds a blue mana to keep it from being countered. It's great fun here!

Desertion
Draining Whelk

Since so many of my cards are Group Hug that don't develop my board position, I also tossed in counters with a board presence like this pair. The former counter is a hard counter for five mana that will also gain control of a countered artifact or creature. It's been heavily played in Commander and kitchen table builds for decades. The latter counter costs one more, flies, flashes, and get's bigger based on your card countered so a Vindicate or a Maelstrom Pulse on your key killer of players will net you a countered card that gives you a 4/4 flyer that can block and swing with the best of them.

Lands

Hall of Heliod's Generosity
Academy Ruins

These are the two cards I talked about earlier for recursion, and each is a land! Each can tap for two mana and put a key card from your graveyard to the top of your library. Since artifacts and enchantments are game winners here, these are pretty strong. For the Ruins I have the sacrificing Burnished Hart, Commander's Sphere and Nihil Spellbomb that you can loop over and over again. Good pair of over-time-value.

Reliquary Tower
Thought Vessel

These are a land and a Mana Rock that keep you from discarding in your end of turn step. I don't normally run this duo since I think you can do better with a land and Mana Rock spot than these, but here, where you are massively drawing cards, it feels pretty nice it's in here twice!

And there we are! Wanna see my decklist proper?

Give Queza a Hug | Commander | Abe Sargent


And that finishes up this fun build! Anything in here that is missing or that you like and want to build around? Just let me know and have an awesome day!


Commander HQ: Decklists and Strategy for Streets of New Capenna's Legendary Creatures!

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