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Agents of Mayhem: Pride of Babylon
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Monoharmonicon

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Readers,

I hope you enjoyed my super subjective take on Simic cards in Ravnica Allegiance last week, and if you did, I hope you're able to roll with a hard left turn back into 75% deck-building. Specifically, I want to talk about a bit of a reverse Panharmonicon that can be your commander and why that excites me in a way that I thought only broken Simic cards could excite me. My deck-builder sense is tingling, readers. Instead of doubling abilities that trigger when a creature enters the battlefield, a new commander from Ravnica Allegiance doubles triggers that happen when a creature dies. Considering there are some very powerful effects that trigger under those conditions, I am eager to find all of the best ones and jam them all into one ridiculous pile that hopefully also functions as a real deck. And since I like to steal their stuff, we're going to figure out a few ways to do that if we can as well. Let's look at our commander, first of all.

Teysa Karlov

A lot of people read the first ability and get so excited that they forget that she is also pretty nifty at gaining life, especially if you have Afterlife creatures die, give you double tokens and then get to swing at them and gain some life. That life you gain likely ends up a resource we can use and we're pretty foolish if we don't maximize what our commander can do by at least exploring a tokens subtheme. Creature tokens are perfect for a deck like this. A 1/1 vigilant lifelinker can chip away at their life total, gain you some life and then stand in the way of a bigger creature gaining you more life and a death trigger. That death trigger could end up taking down two of their creatures with a Grave Pact effect if you have Teysa in play. We're going to be doing typical Orzhov things with this deck but they'll be cranked to 11 with Teysa's abilities.

Toshiro Umezawa
There's nothing particularly "75%" about making the obvious Tesya build so I want to explore a way to make the most out of killing their creatures. The best way I can think to do that is find ways to steal their dead ones. A handful of Black's spells that can take creatures from their graveyard and put them into play on your side of the battlefield will really help us win the game faster as their greatest assets become yours. Don't worry about keeping their graveyards full, either - with double triggers on cards like Toshiro Umezawa, your Curtains' Calls will do quadruple duty. We can go as small as Animate Dead and as large as Rise of the Dark Realms and anything in between - what's important is that we're using their own creatures against them which means no matter how their deck is built, we're giving them something they can likely handle. This is especially important for playing against a more casual group but it can help you against players with very powerful and expensive creatures, too. I have never hard-cast a Consecrated Sphinx in a 75% deck but I've won a lot of games with them.

Since we'll try to put dead creatures back into play, I think a Panharmonicon is an appropriate card to look at building around. We might want to Animate a dead Acidic Slime rather than a larger creature if there is a problem permanent we need taken care of and doubling that ETB trigger seems fun. There's nothing more 75% than running Gonti, Lord of Luxury and why not double his ETB while we're having fun? Casting their spells with Praetor's Grasp is fun - getting to cast it two more times with Toshiro Umezawa is more fun. We want to maximize the amount of their resources we get to use but with effects that double our triggers, we're bound to.

I alluded to this earlier, but we want to grind a bit of lifegain so we can use cards like Necropotence to make sure we get the cards we want to use quickly. I am also interested to test out Font of Agonies and if I can find enough cards that synergize with it I will try and jam it in the final version of this deck because gaining life with lifelinking tokens to offset the life we spend killing their creatures seems worth it. Do I like the tokens strat enough to run marginal picks like Ophiomancer or will I rely on Afterlife cards? I don't even know yet. The infrastructure to make the primary ability stuff may take up too much space to delve into developing the secondary strategy of tokens/lifegain but it's a consideration going into deck-building.

Something I want to do from now on is refer to the "8 Simple Rules" article every time I brew a new 75% deck partially because I want that to be the article people share when they try to explain 75% to someone and partially because I want to give a little more insight into my thought process when I build. I'd like to teach you to fish as much as I also let you watch me fish, if that makes sense. Calling out which of our 8 guidelines (I said 8 simple rules because of that TV show and I regret the pun because it makes the ethos sound more rigid than it is) I am targeting when I build will help others use the guidelines in their own building. For this Teysa build, I want to use scalable spells to approximate the power level of their decks but the "play tutors or card draw but not both" guideline since the deck will run Necropotence and the "Try to vary the game experience, and build with multiple paths to victory in mind" guideline will be in my mind as I build as well.

So with those ideas in mind, I can already see the deck taking shape. It's time to see what the deck looks like fleshed out.

Teysa Karlov | Commander | Jason Alt


Is this great? I don't know! But it's a great first draft and it steered into what I wanted to steer into. Here are my notes.

I didn't know how good Panharmonicon would be is in this deck. There are basically no creatures beside Gonti who directly benefit so you have a situation where you are relying on their creatures entering our side of the board for it to trigger. This was the last card I cut. I talked about it in the preamble and wanted to address it directly.

I like the idea of the Toshiro Umezawa package and it allowed me to play both Dust to Dust and Reckless Spite, which turn Font of Agonies on. Slaughter does that as well. This is a lot of instants but maybe not enough for a deck with Teysa and Toshiro which would give you the opportunity to play two instants when one of their creatures dies. You'll run out quickly and that's very mana-intensive, but I think it's powerful and our instants are cheap. If you don't like the Toshiro, there are a lot of obvious cuts to make and you can fill those spots with Afterlife creatures, removal that exiles permanents (if you want - that's a bit of a nonbo with our Rise of the Dark Realms strategy) or more utility creatures.

The token strategy is begging to be explored a bit. Cards like Martial Coup are a good start. If I am reading Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder correctly, you'll never get to seven thrulls if you have Divine Visitation in play which means you don't have to have as many instant speed sac outlets in that scenario. This is a powerful combo if you like lots of angels and I am looking forward to exploiting it. Visitation makes your Skullclamp a lot worse unless you use something like Attrition to sac the clamped angel, but if your biggest problem is the creatures you're making four or five at a time are too big to die to clamp, I'd say you're in good shape.

If you want more ways to steal their dead creatures, they exist. Reanimate, Dance of the Dead and other cards will help you raise a dark army from the husks of their fallen brethren. Teysa will turn your Grave Pacts into real powerhouses and if you find you're running low on creatures, you can always Animate Dead something from your own yard and give it a second life. Don't forget, your tokens can always attack because they have Lifelink and you can use the life and if they don't die, they are still eligible to block thanks to Teysa's granting them Vigilance. It's a sweet deal.

What do we think? Should I have stuck closer to a stock Teysa build or do you like the Toshiro package and all of the dead creature theft? Leave it in the comments section. As always, thanks for reading and liking, sharing, commenting, etc. Until next week!