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Convertible Commander: Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist


A few years ago, before I started writing these articles, I fell in love with a deck featured in an article by Abe Sargent, one of the most prolific ambassadors of our game. The deck was built around a commander now well-known as degenerate. I built my own version of that deck, and it’s one of those decks my playgroup doesn’t let me play anymore. My editor built his version and ripped it apart after one game which he won by taking five of the last eight turns of the game — he didn’t want to be banned from his playgroup.

The thing is, the wizards at Wizards keep messing with different ways to do things, trying to balance the game and create a different experience. Edric can scratch the power-aggro itch for those of us who occasionally find ourselves in a game with a guy playing Moat, but for a group a bit more casual, it might be nice to be able to do something similar, but not quite so broken. Enter . . .  this guy!

Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist

This feels a bit like Edric-lite. He creates a reason for us to not be attacked, but not nearly as much of one as Edric. He draws us cards when we do damage, but not as many, and he encourages spreading the attack. He switches colors on us, so we don’t have the mana of g but we have the speed of r. His power is lower but his toughness is higher, which yields its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Ludevic isn’t a rogue, which actually matters. But the gist of the idea is the same: we encourage our friends to attack each other and not us, and we want to do some damage in order to draw cards ourselves.

Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist ? Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

Wandering Fumarole
It’s nice that this deck’s spells are cheap, because mostly what we’re doing is beating down with a bunch of goofy 2-drops. That lets us dump some extra money into the mana base, fixing our mana while giving some extra abilities we otherwise wouldn’t have. We’ve got some dual lands like Spirebluff Canal and Sulfur Falls. Wandering Fumarole can become a creature for us. Mystifying Maze will help to keep us alive, Rogue's Passage can push something through (like, say, the Fumerole), and Arcane Lighthouse lets us see their entire field. Homeward Path continues to find its way into more and more decks I build, too, because more often than not some jerk is trying to steal my stuff.

The deck also has a really low converted mana cost, and because we’ll be drawing an extra card or two or three every turn, we’ll hit our land drops pretty reliably. So, we can skip any sort of ramp or artifact mana, and just play lands. Most of our lands come into play untapped, too, so the occasional CIPT (comes into play tapped) land won’t mess us up too badly.

With any luck, we’ll be able to start drawing an extra card starting on turn three. We’ll play out a 2-drop (we’ve got a whole bunch of them) on turn two, then stick Ludevic on turn three, swing with the 2-drop, and draw that extra card. From then on out, we’ll almost always have something that can get through, which helps us keep up because we should be playing two or three cards a turn cycle pretty regularly. Fevered Visions will also draw us an extra card, and because all our opponents will also be drawing from it and Ludevic, the enchantment will help keep life totals going down, plus give our opponents a reason to not kill us, since we’re keeping their cards flowing. We’re trying a delicate balance of assembling enough force to destroy our opponents while discouraging their attacks of us without a traditional board of creatures and without alarming them into killing us.

Mind Unbound
We’ve also got a couple of ways to grab a new grip, just in case we’ve run out. Mind Unbound is great, and normally sticks around for long enough to give us plenty of extra cards. Recurring Insight gives us the opportunity to refill twice. Plea for Power will almost always give us three, and Treasure Cruise will do it every time.

We’re going to win with, well, that bunch of goofy 2-drops. We can recover from a board wipe pretty quickly with Ludevic, so we can play out what we’ve got and attack. The damage sneaks up, because nothing we have looks big and scary. It’s just a few points here and there and because we’ll attack different players based on the various forms of evasion, we’ll be spreading the love around. Meanwhile, because others will want to draw the extra card, they’ll be throwing their damage around as well, and (hopefully) it will be at our opponents. With any luck, one or two of them will kill each other and we’ll be able to alpha strike for the win.

We’ve got a bit of a Faerie sub theme. They’re cheap, they fly, and they play nicely with Scion of Oona, plus they make Spellstutter Sprite work better. We also have one fun little Easter Egg with Hanweir Garrison and Hanweir Battlements, because if we get both of them out we can get Hanweir, the Writhing Township, a seriously bad hombre. Flameshadow Conjuring gives us a chance to attack right away with most things we play for the low, low cost of r. After a wrath, that can be the difference between an extra card and not.

Familiar's Ruse
To stay alive, we’re running a counter suite, most of them quite cheap. The classic Counterspell is here, but rather than running its three-mana versions (like Cancel and Dissolve), we’re going to run more narrow, but cheaper, options. Familiar's Ruse isn’t that much of a downside, because our creatures are so cheap. Negate only counters non-creature spells. Red Elemental Blast and Blue Elemental Blast are old school hate cards but a lot of fun in a Commander deck. Unsubstantiate will counter a spell temporarily or will bounce a creature, which moves us to our other removal options. Vapor Snag, Voyage's End, and Snap will all return a creature to the owner’s hand, though Snap is really the most fun of the bunch. We can also hold a couple of extra creatures in hand. As soon as we counter a single spell, they’ll assume we’ve always got it. Lean into that power. It’s really fun.

The final thing we’re going to do is take some extra turns. Yeah, some people frown on that, but we’re not going to go infinite with it or anything. We’re just going to cast Temporal Trespass or Expropriate and take one. (Or two or three, I guess, if we get really lucky with Expropriate.) One advantage of all those Faeries is a bunch of them are Rogues, which means we can Prowl out Notorious Throng for an extra turn and a bunch of extra creatures.

Then we’ve got our optionboard. Since extra turns have a way of making everyone mad, we can leverage using creatures which have great evasion in a different way — Equipment!

Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang
We can take out the six extra turn cards plus four others (a few of the Faeries, maybe) and slide in these ten. The Mages get different pieces, and each one has at least two targets. Trinket Mage looks for Darksteel Axe and Masterwork of Ingenuity. Treasure Mage will get Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang, which is cool after a board wipe, and Argentum Armor, because who doesn’t love the mini-game of “build-your-own-Eldrazi”? Trophy Mage can choose Quietus Spike (amazing on Triton Shorestalker), Strata Scythe (always name Island), or Fireshrieker, (only grab that if something already has Strata Scythe, Argentum Armor, or Tatsumasa. Because that’s fantastic).

There are some great cards out of reach of our budget. Specifically, Stitch in Time and Walk the Aeons would both be great additions on the “take extra turns” train. If you don’t plan to play with that group ever again, Snapcaster Mage can be vicious. True-Name Nemesis, Glen Elendra Archmage, and Thada Adel, Acquisitor are worth considering. For the optionboard, any and all of the Swords of X and Y would be fantastic, but Sword of Light and Shadow would probably be the first choice. You can also mix and match the equipment. Loxodon Warhammer is a perfectly reasonable choice, and may be better than Fireshrieker (the hammer is good no matter what carries it. Fireshrieker really needs another equipment to be good, but will create a bigger hit when it works. So, safe and reliable or risky and flashy!). Sword of the Paruns can’t be searched with any of the mages, but it would be great. Also, Slither Blade is coming out next week (though you may already have one if you went to a Prerelease) and would be great here.

How would you build this deck? It looks like it would be fun and a bit surprising, though are the extra turns the wrong angle? Please let me know in the comments!

This deck will require some careful play, a little politicking, and a fair bit of subterfuge, but pulling off a win with it will feel really good. In a format of Avenger of Zendikar and Obliterate, what’s better than winning with Guma?

Total cost of Main Deck: $96.95

Total cost of Optionboard: $13.61

Total cost of both: $110.56

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