Agents of Mayhem: Pride of Babylon
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Commander & Change: Jodah, Archmage Eternal


Ah, Maze's End, you eternal puzzle.

Last week, we updated an old Maze's End deck we've been tinkering with for a few years. Please go back and check it out, but just in case, the gist is this: we play a five-color Allies tribal deck with a ton of Allies synergy, throw in some Gate stuff to play around with, and hope to distract enough with our Allied shenanigans to stick a Maze's End and win the game. I own the original version of this deck, will probably soon update it to the most modern version, and can happily say it's a great deal of fun.

But Maze's End still tickles the mind. The card says something which, to me, makes it worth looking at again and again. What is it that it says? Oh, right... "you win the game."

Most games of Commander have winners. Sometimes most of the players are wandering around getting another slice of pizza while the two final players battle it out. Sometimes most of them die in a blaze of screaming Goblins. Sometimes a combo has to be explained. But in this case, as in a few others, we get just this: "you win the game." No spell to counter. No creature to block. Just... you win.

Because Maze's End requires us to play in five colors, we may as well take advantage of that. One of the cool things about Allies is they give us something to do while we're assembling our combo, and the Allies are reasonably strong in their own right, so we can distract with them or even win with them, depending on what happens. But leaning into the tribe means we run really thin on answers, and if someone else decides to do something, we can't really do much about it other than hope they ignore us. Let's try the other end of the spectrum completely, shall we?

Jodah, Archmage Eternal

Jodah's Maze | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

Plaza of Harmony
What we have here is a massive-mana tap-out control deck. No Path to Exiles or Krosan Grips here! We're not playing at Instant speed. We're wiping the board. Of everything. Over and over. We kill all the creatures, we blow up all the artifacts, we wipe out all the enchantments, and then we do it again. Until we've played 10 Gates and a Maze's End and win the game.

So for our land suite, we're going to run the 11 Gates, Maze's End, a Plaza of Harmony, and a bunch of tapped tri-lands and dual lands. We need a lot of White and a lot of Blue, so we've got more of that than anything else, but it's not a small amount of Black and Green either. If you're one of those players with a whole bunch of original duals and fetches, go ahead and run 'em, but frankly, unless your table is completely cutthroat, this mana base will mostly work. You'll occasionally bump into not having quite enough because all your stuff comes into play tapped, but tap-out control decks are supposed to be willing to lose life early and take over in the late game, right?

We've got a few cards which search for lands. Not basic lands, just lands. No Weathered Wayfarer, because aside from the Commander this deck has no creatures. But we get Crop Rotation and Reap and Sow, plus a few others. We really want to get Maze's End with this, even when we're missing a color; we can use the End to get the color we need, but we need Maze's End to win the game.

We've also got a few cards which buy cards back from the graveyard. We roll over completely and utterly dead to Armageddon.dec, but honestly, if you're playing against that deck it's probably time for new friends. A well-pointed Ghost Quarter is completely fair, though, and it would be nice if our game weren't just over because of it. So we run Regrowth and a few others. We can't do anything about getting hit with a Tormod's Crypt, though.

Recurring Insight
We've got some spells which draw us cards. Most of them are really expensive, but they draw us a bunch of cards, so it's worth it. By the way, it's a bit of a dead horse for me now, but if you're not running Recurring Insight in your Blue decks, start. Amazing card draw.

We've got a suite of relatively cheap counterspells. If you happen to have a Mana Drain kicking around, by all means use it, but most likely Dissipate and Render Silent will do the trick. These can stop a spell which will kill us or something that wants to destroy our Maze's End. They can stop a combo from going off. They can even fight a counter war if we really need a Wrath to resolve.

And we will need a Wrath to resolve. Probably several. We have a bunch of them. They destroy all the creatures. Sometimes they do other stuff too, but mostly they destroy all the creatures. We've also got a few which destroy all the enchantments, all the artifacts, or both. A couple of them exile all the things, like creatures or non-land permanents. We aren't going to use any point removal. We're not going to deal with that one creature someone just played. Nope, we're going to blow up the world.

Which is precisely how the deck works. With any luck, we get an early way to search out Maze's End and get it right away. We play a land every turn. If we still have mana when the turn is almost back to us, we activate our Maze's End and get a Gate. Starting around turn five, we're going to start Wrathing the board, and we're probably going to have to do that every two or three turns for the rest of the game. After the third one, it starts to make people pretty mad, so be ready for that. Sometimes they get frustrated and just stop playing stuff, which is great because then we don't have to Wrath anymore, just threaten it. Sometimes they gang up and we'll have to wrath a bunch of times in a row. Most people, though, won't actually be able to do a whole lot, because most Commander decks rely on creatures in some amount.

In Garruk's Wake
As previously mentioned, at more competitive tables, the mana base may need some upgrading. Almost every single land here comes into play tapped, and that can wind up being too slow occasionally. We're quite soft to Planeswalkers; In Garruk's Wake or even some point "destroy target Planeswalker" stuff might be necessary if you've got a lot of those at your tables. Also, while we have Merciless Eviction and the like, we don't have any ways other than a single Relic of Progenitus to deal with graveyards. If Reanimator runs around in your playgroup, consider running Bojuka Bog, and maybe even switch out a couple of the lands for Ravnica Karoos so you can pick it back up and play it again. If you want to lean into creatures a little, Eternal Witness and Bane of Progress would both be very good. There's also probably a space for some of the more expensive, powerful 'walkers, like the original Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker or Karn, the Liberated. If you really like making people mad you could run the Syphon effects - Syphon Soul, Syphon Mind, and Syphon Flesh, as well as other things which target all your opponents - but that probably just draws unwanted attention. There's also some space here to pillowfort. Run Propaganda, Ghostly Prison, and all the other various effects which tax people for attacking or targeting you and you can both have an earlier board presence and not have to Wrath quite as much. Play with it and see what works for you. Ultimately the goal is to stay alive long enough to play nine Gates and a Maze's End. The 10th Gate will win you the game.

These two Maze's End decks are different and lean to different strengths of different players. Some players are Blue mages, wanting to counter everything in existence. Some are more Gruul oriented, wanting to attack with creatures. Approaching a win condition like Maze's End in multiple ways like this demonstrates how we can each have a deck. But I think it can also encourage us to reach beyond our comfort zones and play in multiple spaces. If you naturally want to counter everyone, trying building a deck with nothing but permanents. If every deck you build has a ton of ramp, limit yourself to a CMC of 4 and no ramp. Push beyond your boundaries and play decks in different styles. It'll help keep things interesting for you and your playgroup and you might discover something about yourself in the process.

Next time, we'll be back to our normal Convertible Commander. Thanks for allowing this trip down memory lane. Now let us all know how you play Maze's End in the comments! Is it an all-in win condition? A secondary method of attack? A ticking time bomb? I'd love to hear.

Thanks for reading.