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Xenagod Party

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Crater Hellion
Moltensteel Dragon

The revel hasn’t really started until a Hellion shows up. Yes, your durdling neighbors will complain about the noise when you sweep away their tokens, mana dorks, and killjoy commanders. But the best block parties leave the street leveled and lava-strewn with the dimming orange light of your enemies’ overly ambitious dreams. Laugh as you destroy their mana rocks in a Shattering Spree. Leap and dance as a Moltensteel Dragon lights the sky and burns away that snooty blue mage who just tapped out to cast Recurring Insight.

Xenagos, God of Revels makes the combat phase relevant in Commander. Whereas other creature-based decks fold to board wipes, this deck delights in creatures’ destruction. Xenagod doesn’t leave the party early, and a cleared board means Malignus doesn’t need trample to bring down the house. His power and toughness doubles, and he hastily executes anyone at the table with exactsies, preferably someone who spent his or her turns ramping to 10 or more mana.

Xenagos, God of Revels
Malignus

You should never feel bad about rolling your party over another player. Attacking with creatures is the fairest thing you can do in Magic, and it allows for the most interaction. That said, you don’t want your revel to become predictable and tedious by tutoring up Malignus every game. Consistency is the king of competitive Magic but the bane of casual. By playing a diverse set of threats, not only will you have more fun, but your opponents won’t always expect the worst from you. They won’t tend to gang up and shut down your festivities.

In the Xenagod deck, your strength is in your perceived weakness. You’ll most often have the least amount of mana available and little to no draw power. Your cards are individually weaker than those in a good-stuff deck, but through synergy and strategy, you can beat decks worth over $2,000, kicking Captain Sisay off her value boat and breaking all the degenerate toys of Derevi, Empyrial Tactician.

Party Philosophy

As already mentioned, tutors have no place at a party. I believe in Jason Alt’s 75% philosophy, which focuses on fun and appears 25% weak. Those wacky, niche cards can still win you games when they play with a unifying purpose. A clear, one-sentence goal will clarify deck construction. In Xenagod, the flash mob should all be moving in one direction.

Each card should interact with an opponent or kill him—or both.

The good-stuff decks will ramp into haymakers. A Xenagod deck doesn’t want to be stuck with middling threats while an unopposed Consecrated Sphinx draws an enemy into a winning turn. With the Party Philosophy in mind, I selected cards that cause more chuckles than groans.

Volcano Hellion
Nessian Wilds Ravager

Players love seeing different cards in Commander, and I’ve received praise for playing the ridiculous Volcano Hellion. Granted, the gratitude wasn’t from the guy who had his Prophet of Kruphix melted into slag and who was then punched in the teeth for 12 hasty damage. Partygoers seek immediate fun and don’t worry about paying echo costs on the following turn. In the meantime, Volcano Hellion increases devotion, and Xenagos might even enter the brawl.

Nessian Wilds Ravager can dance the same jig, but it also has the option of attacking someone for 24 damage and killing an opponent outright. If a creature is being played only to smash face, it has to be the most fearsome option at its mana cost. One friend recommend I play with Silvos, Rogue Elemental, but the door bouncer had to turn that Elemental away. Silvos deals only 16 damage under Xenagod, and that’s not enough for a 6-mana card that doesn’t interact. No wall flowers at this party.

True, dealing 24 with Nessian Wilds Ravager requires tribute from another player. The success of Xenagod’s city-rocking celebration often depends on sweeping other people up in your tide of aggression and allying them against the largest threat at the table. To that end, don’t neglect party favors.

Varchild's War-Riders
Sheltering Ancient
Hunted Troll

The drawbacks on these cards are anything but. Allies gain additional power in the mosh pit. If your friends are rude enough to try to leave the party, use the creatures you gave them to power Blasphemous Act or Chain Reaction. Sheltering Ancient and Hunted Troll can keg-stand better than any other creatures at their converted mana costs, crushing for 10 and 16 under the power of DJ Xenagod. Look for the other heavy hitters in the decklist.

Xenagod Commander Deck

Xenagod ? Commander | A. E. Marling

  • Commander (0)

The Blockbusters

Avatar of Slaughter
Scourge of the Throne

The Avatar rends an opponent for 32 damage thanks to Xenagod’s power-doubling. That bonus is redoubled in additional combat phases. Yes, that means Scourge of the Throne blazes in for 33 damage by itself. The Conspiracy set added a lot of volume to the party. Don’t underestimate the one-shotting power of Realm Seekers and Ignition Team.

Most creatures in the deck deal far less damage, but they can still be showstoppers. You don’t know true Destructive Revelry until you’ve cast Bane of Progress in multiplayer. It’ll end at least one adversary’s game and then attack for the rub-ins. Hellkite Tyrant can also devastate strategies involving shiny artifacts. But don’t think it’ll actually gain you mana rocks or an alternate win condition. In my experience, the text of the Tyrant reads:

Flying, trample

Whenever Hellkite Tyrant deals combat damage to a player who controls three or more artifacts, that player concedes the game to spite you.

Bane of Progress
Hellkite Tyrant

Hellkite Tyrant can go in other Commander decks, but the haste from Xenagod makes it far more likely to smash into an unprepared opponent and steal a treasure trove. Whether by denying enemies of their glittery toys or of their life totals, the deck can curb-stomp your foes one after the other. Now whom to kill first?

Naked Aggression:

Players in Commander will often roll a die and attack a random opponent. Don’t do this with Xenagod. Embrace your role as the aggressor—choose a single opponent, and hurl hasty Dragons at her or him until your foe succumbs to the scaly mob. Casual players will often be shocked at this focused attack and are unprepared, especially when board wipes barely slow you down. Part of the Party Philosophy is that you don’t care if your creatures die after you’ve attacked with them once: one-night stands only.

If you’re pile-driving a single player, the other two might join in and help. Or they might stay out of the fight, building their own boards and keeping each other in check. It’s important to position yourself politically as the underdog, doing a service by taking out the player with the most threatening commander, the most tutors resolved, or the Sol Ring start. Trying to intimidate and attack multiple players at once will most often lose you the game.

Another element of being an aggressive deck is that you gain card advantage not by drawing cards, but by killing an opponent who still has many cards in hand. You can also come out ahead by destroying multiple things at once with Earthquake or Meltdown. Since you only need one giant creature in play at a time, you don’t need to draw a glut of cards to have a ruckus of a time. The deck wins with a relatively lean mana base by not trying to ramp to Darksteel Colossus or Eldrazi.

Domri Rade
Garruk Wildspeaker

Rather than playing card-draw, I’ve chosen Domri Rade and Garruk Wildspeaker to solve a variety of problems while increasing my devotion. If you’d prefer not to invite any Planeswalkers to the party, consider Greater Good. It provides the best card-draw for the deck. “With your Path to Exile on the stack, I’ll draw twenty from my Malignus.” But don’t you dare add Reliquary Tower. Discard to seven at end of turn like a man.

The next best option for drawing cards is Hunter's Prowess—at least, you’d think so. Rare are the times when you untap with a creature that’s survived a turn cycle. When that happens, there’s a better option than drawing cards: winning the game.

Finishing Moves

Savage Beating
Seize the Day

Both these cards come out of nowhere to mob, mash, and massacre those sneering infinite-combo players who don’t believe creatures can ever close out a multiplayer game. These finishers also have the added advantage of trumping Xenagod’s natural enemy, Maze of Ith.

Nothing kills the music quite like that party pooper Ith. To counter his Maze, also run Strip Mine, Chaos Warp, Beast Within, and maybe even City of Solitude.

Individual Card Choices

City of Solitude
City of Solitude is a riot. And that’s not always a good thing. True, thick walls can keep out party-killers. City of Solitude stops counters, plugs Maze of Ith, excludes Swords to Plowshares, and slaps Prophet of Kruphix.

Be warned: It removes natural checks and balances from the game, and your enemies may combo off in their own private gatherings.

Burning-Tree Shaman bleeds those infinite-combo players to death. In other situations, the ping trigger is easy to forget. Always accept your own pings, but show good brinkmanship by only reminding the opponent you most hate. Endlessly spinning a Sensei's Divining Top is killing you second by second. It should do the same to the opponent point by point.

Carpet of Flowers
Why all the hate? Maybe the reason is that because blue mages deserve it. Think of the top ten most oppressive cards in Commander. Here are a few: Cyclonic Rift, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, and Rhystic Study. Red Elemental Blast is the Lightning Bolt of the Commander format. If anything, the deck should also run Pyroblast.

If there are somehow no blue players, lucky you. Mulligan these cards away.

Carpet of Flowers is actually not about hate but love. I like the art and the card. That’s always a sufficient reason to include something in a casual deck.

Utopia Sprawl
I’ve selected many enchantments like Carpet of Flowers as mana ramp because they also increase devotion. It’s possible this isn’t worthwhile. A Ravnica-art land enchanted with Utopia Sprawl would be a great place for a gala, but turning Xenagos a creature makes him more vulnerable to exile effects. Casting Auras on your lands also sets you up as an appealing two-for-one target. Getting sucker-punched by Acidic Slime leaves a rash.

One ramp card I don’t play is Sol Ring, but not because it isn’t good. Rather, it might be the best card in the format, and every deck can play it. To my mind, that defines a card that should be banned. I prefer to Meltdown Sol Rings than playing one for myself, and I do gain underdog points by following Frodo’s hairy footsteps and not using the ring. If you feel differently, enjoy your turn-two Xenagos. You monster.

Budget tip: Save money, and gain black borders by buying Berserk and Taiga in Collector’s Edition (also International Edition). These two cards comprise most of the expense of the deck. You can substitute any other R/G multi-land for Taiga—except Rugged Highlands. That extra life point might ruin your attack with Scourge of the Throne. Also, don’t think that Assault Strobe can replace Berserk. That’s like bringing a tux t-shirt to a black-tie ball. Instead, buy yourself more time by playing Relic of Progenitus, Pyroblast, or Vandalblast, depending on your meta.

Hydra Omnivore
It’s time I addressed the Hydra in the room. Why isn’t Hydra Omnivore on my list?

The Hydra deals 16 damage to all players. That may not be enough to kill the most dangerous of your foes, but it will unite them all against you. Sure, if you Berserk it, the Hydra might kill everyone at once. Then again, 32 damage might not be enough, and I didn’t say the party venue was Magical Christmas Land.

In most games I’ve played, Inferno Titan or any of the other 6-drops would have been better guests, often because they can interact. Hydra Omnivore can win you the game. It can also spill drinks over everyone and get you kicked out of the club. I prefer more focused aggression, but if you dream of devouring all your enemies in one lunge, pair this Hydra with the aptly named Gratuitous Violence. The enchantment is strong by itself. The three red pips will probably do enough homage to Xenagod that he’ll manifest and start two-shotting your foes with double-striking commander damage.

There are plenty of other cards I’d like to include in the riot, but I couldn’t find the room. What cards will you invite to your Xenagod party? Do tell if I messed any that exemplify the Party Philosophy. Also, leave a comment with your favorite story from when playing Xenagos, God of Revels.


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