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Building Around Belbe, Corrupted Observer in Commander


Hello Folks!

I hope that you are having a great day today and keeping yourself safe!

Over the last six weeks I have dedicated this column to giving you a brand-new Commander deck built around a new legendary creature from Commander Legends. Today I want to turn to a new article that digs into another leader.

Want to check out my previous ones? Okay!

  1. A few weeks ago, I built a fun Jund midrange deck around Yurlok of Scorch Thrash that plays a little pillow forty, a little nice to everyone, with some fun dragon win cons. Check it out here.
  2. Then I built an enchantment-based Mardu deck around Ghen, Arcanum Weaver that combines the enchantment loving of White with the graveyard filling of Black. You can find it here.
  3. The following week I built a deck around Blim, Comedic Genius that gave away things like Rogue Skycaptain, Rainbow Vale, Sleeper Agent, and other Rakdos cards to help give away so you can ratchet up that life loss and card discard. You can grab it here.
  4. The next week built a deck around Amareth, the Lustrous. This awesome dragon wants you to build around one permanent type. Which did I choose? Probably the hardest: planeswalkers! Want to check out this Bant Buddies Build? It's here.
  5. Then I turned to Tuya Bearclaw and I built a nasty power matters decks in Gruul around Phyrexian Dreadnought and Illusionary Mask. It's pretty powerful. Wanna check it out? You can find it here!
  6. After I build the nasty Vintage combo around Tuya Bearclaw, I turned to the infamous Lich and his Disk, Nevinyrral, Urborg Tyrant. I built this control Zombie deck that wants to sweep the board over and over again, save for your stuff, and then win the game. You can check it out here.

What did I want to build around today? Great question!

Belbe, Corrupted Observer

This is Belbe, Corrupted Observer. As you can see, our good friend Belbe, is in the Golgari color combination and gives me some political play as she'll reward everyone who forced a foe that's not you to lose life and then net colorless mana. She reminds me a lot of Edric, Spymaster of Trest that rewarded your foes with cards for punching each other in the face.

How can I build around Belbe?

  1. Tribal. The first idea that pops into my head is to build around Belbe's Portal, since she's a Zombie and an Elf. You could add in Zombies and run a Golgari Zombie deck, or Elves and tune an Elf deck. The Portal is in the flavor of the build and thus you'd have a cool flavorful take on the character.
  2. Life Loss for Everyone. Look at Subversion. With this card, your foes will lose a life each upkeep and you'll gain that life. Then when you enter your postcombat main phase you'll net two colorless mana for each opponent you have. Layer in these effects and you have a deck.
  3. Thou Shalt Not Pass. A third way to build around Belbe is to keep folks from swinging the heat your way. Belbe encourages them to attack each other, and cards like Maze of Ith and Crawlspace double down on this need. The goal of this idea is to keep folks from bringing the heat your way.
  4. Saboteur. Another great way to build around Belbe is to run cards like Whispersilk Cloak and Rogue's Passage that let you punch someone's face without being blocked. Since Belbe's trigger is post combat, you can swing through blockers, and then punch your foes' face each once and then net that sweet, sweet mana.
  5. Colorless Matters. A fifth way to build around Belbe is to use her massive colorless mana making to fuel a colorless matters deck around cards like Sanctum of Ugin and Ugin, the Ineffable. You could lean hard into Eldrazi and colorless cards. Enjoy!

Obviously, we can combine some of these cards to shore up the design, but these are the key five archetypes that I think we'd want to dive into. Let's play into the life-loss theme of Subversion and its friends! But I'll run some of the other themes a bit here and there as well.

Stuffy Doll
Darksteel Sentinel

My version of Belbe is going to be lighter on the dorks but have some built-in resiliency, or they'll be cards I don't care about dying like Acidic Slime. My goal is to run fewer dorks and more effects that play into what Belbe is trying to do, and most of those are artifacts and enchantments and cool sorceries. We only have 19 non-Belbe dorks in the deck, and they include a lot of bodies with indestructible. Remember that Belbe is encouraging my foes to attack each other already as a 2-drop, so we don't need too many defensive dorks to keep ourselves safe. I don't want to waste my time with too many creatures when I need other things for this deck to work. Therefore, an inordinate amount of my creatures have indestructible, or can get it in the case of Thornling. This way you can block and stay alive through a lot of removal that might otherwise bother you. Check out Stuffy Doll's ability to shoot itself and thus make you two mana from hitting a foe if nothing else is on the board.

Colossus of Akros
Stonehoof Chieftain

This deck needs quite a few mana sinks in order to use the colorless mana made by our good Observer Belbe. I have a few creatures that are expensive in the colorless mana cost like Colossus of Akros and Stonehoof Chieftain. If you get access to six colorless mana in a four-player game (typical), then these two will only cost you 2 mana. Both have indestructible and can be a major force for you. The Colossus is a suitable mana-sink on a later turn to Monstrous into a 20/20 trample, indestructible, force of game winning nature. You'll find a few other cards in this vein if you look at the deck list that suit the role as a mana sink.

I also have some mana sinks among my lands as well. I love Crawling Barrens a lot in this role as it's repeatable. With the expected 6 mana post main phase, you can invest four into Barrens and make it bigger for the future. Spend mana from your lands and mana rocks into it at the end of a foe's turn, and then you can easily punch with it. I love that it's doesn't tap so you can use it on your post-combat phase with your Belbe mana and then keep it as a blocker as well and kill someone who attacks you. Urza's Factory has been a classic of ramp decks for years, and it'll fit right in.

Torment of Hailfire

I also added in some great X spells as mana ramps for your post-combat phase. These two are really good as they can trigger Belbe. Drop Exsanguinate in the precombat main phase; you'll get a guaranteed trigger of Belbe in the latter main phase. It'll also kill a lot of people at once while gaining you that sweet life. It's worth tapping out for as the life gained is usually more than enough to the damage you open yourself to. And Torment of Hailfire? It's nasty here! Again, it'll trigger Belbe (likely) if done in the precombat phase, but it really wants to be post combat and a tap out as well, as you will force your foes to sacrifice, discard, or lose life in response and that's a game changing ability.

Other X spells are here as well. Chord of Calling is great with Belbe mana as you can use it and your other mana to grab a nasty fat dork like Darksteel Colossus or the perfect answer to a problem like Ravenous Chupacabra. Maybe you want to kill someone wih Gray Merchant of Asphodel. You have options! Speaking of options, check out Profane Command! Forcing a foe to lose life? Killing a dork that might be indestructible? Recurring a key dork? Making your team have fear to ensure that they can punch and trigger Belbe? There are four great options here and you can grab two.

Silence the Believers

Take a glance at Silence the Believers. It's great in a Golgari Ramp-ish deck like this one. You can exile a key dork your foe has and then you can strive and exile more. Pretty strong, right? The other good strives are in other colors or were wrong for this build, but this one worked out well!

Since we are gaining so much life with our life drain effects, I leaned hard into Black's card drawing. I also added life usage to other effects as well...

Westvale Abbey

...like this one! It's free to tap it with Belbe mana, and you'll turn a life into a dork. Use your dorks to jump in front of annoying attackers, or sacrifice them for the very powerful Ormendahl, Profane Prince, which is harder to do but worth the payoff if you get it working.

Damnable Pact
War Room

These are both mana sinks and ways to turn life into cards. Damnable Pact is great tapping out for in the postcombat phase as you can easily draw 8 or 9 cards from it and keep yourself with other mana to use for various things in response to stuff. Don't forget that you can turn it on someone with a low life or deck count to kill them. War Room was printed in Commander Legends as well as our good Belbe, so this is my first place to find a home for it. It'll turn three mana (and itself) and two life into a card. With Belbe and ramp? The mana is inconsequential, and in this build, the life is as well, so get that card drawing going!

Have you seen how synergetic Belbe and Chromatic Orrery are? I know! It's crazy stuff! You can turn her colorless into Black or Green mana as you have need and it taps for a whole lot of mana. You can drop it for a single mana off a three-foe Belbe trigger or three mana off two foes. And that's was a great investment of your mana as it'll tap for five immediately. You can also use it to draw two cards at a time as long as you control your Commander or both colors (harder with Green as there are fewer Green permanents in the build). Check out Doubling Cube for real synergy. A Belbe for six mana is now nine! And if you tap out for a big effect with Exsanguinate or something similar? That's nasty.

Fraying Omnipotence
Dire Fleet Ravager

As I checked out the EDHREC.com page for some inspiration for Belbe I saw them run a few dorks that would cause everyone to lose life when they entered the battlefield, like Cauldron Familiar. Are you kidding me with that one life loss? In a 40-life format? Come on now... we have Dire Fleet Ravager available! Look at how good he is! Deathtouch is great and will let you trade up or keep foes from attacking you. He'll drain everyone of a third of their life on arrival, which will trigger Belbe. Your life gain will keep you fine. He's on curve and can punch with menace through a single defender to trigger Belbe on future turns. Good stuff! And how is Fraying Omnipotence not showing up on the page either? Everyone loses half their life (Belbe for the win) and discards half and sacrifices half of their dorks. You don't have that many creatures and you can sacrifice stuff like Eternal Witness and Solemn Simulacrum. You can keep the life going. And you are drawing a ton of cards with various effects so you should be fine with the discard. It's nasty here.

Leechridden Swamp
Shizo, Death's Storehouse

We have some synergetic lands we have added to the build. Leechridden Swamp counts as a Swamp and also should easily be able to tap on your precombat main phase to shoot everyone for a life loss to get your Belbe going. There aren't many legendaries in here for Shizo to care about, but since it arrives untapped it's not a lot of opportunity cost, and you can swing for damage with Fear and trigger Belbe. Enjoy them!

Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted
Ob Nixilis Reignited

I'm sure you can see why Ob Nixilis Reignited is here as he draws cards for life and Murders things. But why is the Hate-Twisted version of Obby here? It's life loss on their turn after all and won't trigger Belbe! Sure! But it helps to kill players, and you can also get it to draw on your turn before your combat phase, and can kill someone and they'll draw and lose two life and then will trigger Belbe on that opponent. Note that you can use it on yourself to draw two cards if you target one of your indestructible dorks, so it's pure card draw in this build if you need those cards.

Want to stay alive? As you are draining their life in this deck at a pretty quick clip, Marchesa's Decree has arrived, and now they'll have to pay life to swing at you or your planeswalkers. It replaces itself with the Monarch as well. I am also running Blood Reckoning as a great way to add to this tax. Take a gander at Court of Ambition. Here it replaces itself, and forces foe to lose three life unless they trade a card, which is unlikely. That's doubled if you are the Monarch, a pretty hefty payment.

No Mercy

Want to stop things from punching you in Black? One of the best ways to do that ever printed is No Mercy! When someone smashes you, they lose their dork, and that's a nasty tax to force someone to pay. Belbe wants them to attack elsewhere, and this enchantment really backs it up nicely. Dread is a creature-based No Mercy, so it has to be here as well!

Want to check out my brew? Okay!

Commanding Belbe | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there you go! What did you think of my deck? Anything in here that inspired your next build? Anything I missed? Just let me know and have an awesome day!

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