Commander Corner: Szadek, Lord of Secrets

Welcome Back,

[c]Szadek[/c], the leader and founder of the House Dimir, is the last of his kind. He is an ancient race of psychic vampires. His goal is to overthrow the guilds and seize power of the city. He works only in secrecy and in the darkest places on Ravnica.

To many of the inhabitants in the city, there are only nine guilds. As far as most people are concerned, the Dimir don’t actually exist. They operate silently and swiftly, taking out key leaders and replacing them with shapeshifters. Once all of his shapeshifters are in place, [c]Szadek[/c] can safely take control of the city without the public even being aware that anything has even changed.

Things didn’t go according to plan, though, when a member of the Wojek League, [c]Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran[/c], found out about one of [c]Szadek[/c]’s plans.

[c]Szadek[/c] was planning on overthrowing the Selesnya Conclave by getting [c]Savra, Queen of the Golgari[/c] into the City Tree and corrupting the Mind Link, also known as the World Soul, to wipe out the entire guild during the [c]Festival of the Guildpact[/c]. If successful, the Guildpact would be destablized, and would threaten to destroy Ravnica.

[c]Agrus Kos[/c] stopped him before he could execute his plan and arrested him. He was then sent to the Azorius, and put into prison, where he died. Unbeknownst to [c]Agrus[/c], this also broke a clause in the Guildpact, causing it to start to dissolve.

After his death, [c]Szadek[/c]’s spirit went to the Agyrem district of Ravnica, also known as the [c]Ghost Quarter[/c]. Once he arrived, he assumed control over this district, and remained in power for several years. [c]Agrus[/c], now in spirit form after a fatal plane crash, had searched out for the Dimir Leader. Szadek had discovered that the villain this whole time was in fact the [c]Grand Arbiter Augustin IV[/c]. Wanting revenge on the Azorius guild leader, Agrus agreed to help, and put Szadek’s soul inside an artifact.

[c]Agrus[/c] then found a nearby crashed ship and rigged it with explosives. After the ship exploded, catching the attention of the [c]Grand Arbiter[/c], [c]Agrus[/c] tossed Augustin the artifact containing [c]Szadek[/c]’s soul. Szadek immediately took revenge on the guild leader, killing him.

After all of this, [c]Szadek[/c] returned to the Agyrem, which had been fully absorbed into the city, and remains there in power over the district.

[c]Szadek[/c] is an interesting commander. He actually does not do any combat damage to any player. Instead, he mills them. This ability represents the fact that he is indeed a psychic vampire, feeding off of peoples thoughts and ideas as well as their blood. Of course, with this unique ability, he lends himself to a mill strategy.

This may seem like a near impossible feat in this format where the decks are ninety-nine cards, but it is possible using the right cards. We don’t just have to mill them though, we can utilize their grave to our advantage, reanimating the monsters that we reveal to aid us in our quest for victory.

Lets take a look at what horrors hide in the House Dimir.

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Even after his death, he still plots to take over the city of Ravica

[d title= “Szadek, Master of Milling (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Szadek, Lord of Secrets

Lands

1 Command Tower

1 Dimir Guildgate

1 Dismal Backwater

1 Drowned Catacomb

1 Evolving Wilds

1 Ghost Quarter

1 Halimar Depths

10 Island

1 Jwar Isle Refuge

1 Minamo, School at Water’s Edge

1 Myriad Landscape

1 Nephalia Drownyard

1 Polluted Delta

9 Swamp

1 Temple of Deceit

1 Temple of the False God

1 Terramorphic Expanse

1 Underground River

1 Watery Grave[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Ambassador Laquatus

1 Consuming Aberration

1 Dimir Doppelganger

1 Dreamborn Muse

1 Faerie Macabre

1 Geth, Lord of the Vault

1 Ghastlord of Fugue

1 Havengul Lich

1 Hedron Crab

1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni

1 Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

1 Mindleech Mass

1 Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker

1 Nemesis of Reason

1 Oona, Queen of the Fae

1 Phenax, God of Deception

1 Riddlekeeper

1 Sewer Nemesis[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Brainstorm

1 Counterspell

1 Cyclonic Rift

1 Dig Through Time

1 Doom Blade

1 Fact or Fiction

1 Go for the Throat

1 Grisly Spectacle

1 Hero’s Downfall

1 Hinder

1 Induce Paranoia

1 Lim-Dul’s Vault

1 Muddle the Mixture

1 Murderous Cut

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Spell Crumple

1 Think Twice

1 Thought Scour[/d]

[d]

Sorceries

1 Crux of Fate

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Glimpse the Unthinkable

1 Mind Funeral

1 Ponder

1 Preordain

1 Telemin Performance

1 Tunnel Vision

Enchantments

1 Animate Dead

1 Dance of the Dead[/d]

[d]

Artifacts

1 Coalition Relic

1 Commander’s Sphere

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Dimir Keyrune

1 Gilded Lotus

1 Isochron Scepter

1 Keening Stone

1 Mind Stone

1 Oblivion Stone

1 Sensei’s Divining Top

1 Sol Ring

1 Talisman of Dominance

Planeswalkers

1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

1 Jace Beleren

1 Jace, Memory Adept

1 Liliana Vess

[/d]

Prices

MTGO = 105.23 TIX

Paper = $519.34

This deck brings something different to the table. It tries to do what may seem impossible, to mill the opponent before they can kill you. To do that, we have a control deck that wants to keep the board clear of opposing threats and allow us to connect with our commander as often as possible. The deck has a larger focus on milling with our creatures than milling with our spells. This gives us the ability to effect the board-state while executing our overall game plan, something that I have noticed other mill strategies struggle with in the past.

The main way to win is milling our opponent out. The best way to do this is with our commander. He has a huge casting cost, which is why we have plenty of mana rocks, but will make quick work of your opponent’s library. In the process, he also makes himself rather large. After one successful attack, he becomes a 10/10. In conjuncture with [c]Minamo, School at Water’s Edge[/c], he becomes an unstoppable wall. Being able to give him pseudo vigilance is quite the force to be reckoned with, as he becomes almost unkillable inside creature combat.

To help support this strategy, we have the best creatures that we can get our hands on to help with our game plan. [c]Consuming Aberration[/c] is a must kill threat, as it becomes as large as any Eldrazi very early on. [c]Nemesis of Reason[/c] provides us with a huge blocker as well as [c]Glimpse the Unthinkable[/c] on a creature. [c]Oona, Queen of the Fae[/c] is a powerhouse, as she exiles cards from their library, and giving us chump blockers in the process. She can give us enough time to take over the game and finish them off.

In order to use milling to our advantage, we also have a small reanimation sub-theme. This allows us to capitalize on the opponent’s graveyard and gives us an alternative way to win. With cards like [c]Animate Dead[/c] and [c]Dance of the Dead[/c], we can bring back any large creature and use it to our advantage. In combination with [c]Muddle the Mixture[/c] we can also search up either one of these powerful enchantments whenever we want. [c]Geth, Lord of the Vault[/c] and [c]Havengul Lich[/c] also give us ways to bring back creatures from the dead and beat our opponent with them.

The biggest issue I’ve had so far with this deck is that it’s slow. It definitely takes time to get your shop set up, and some early game cantrips, removal spells, and mana rocks to accelerate your development will go a long way to help you stabilize and start getting to work on your opponent’s library.

In testing, there was many more spell-based milling then in this final list. Cards like [c]Increasing Confusion[/c], [c]Mind Grind[/c], and [c]Psychic Drain[/c] were in here. In theory, they were a way to quickly chew through my opponents library. In practice though, they rotted in my hand and I never had the chance to take the turn off to cast them.

I also originally had [c]Archive Trap[/c] in here, but that was the last cut I made due to its conditional trap ability, its inefficiency at its mana cost, and that we needed another slot for a reanimate spell. With that fact, the only dedicated mill spells that I kept in there are what many consider the absolute best. We are talking about [c]Mind Funeral[/c] and [c]Glimpse the Unthinkable[/c]. I kept them in here because of their cheap casting cost and their efficiency.

This deck, once it gets its shop set up, is a powerhouse. It will surprise your opponent with its ability to keep the board clear and overall power. It can attack from multiple angles and really keep your opponent on the back peddle once you get ahead. It may be slow, but what control deck isn’t? Destroying the minds of your opponents is hard work, but oh so satisfying.

Thank you for checking out this weeks Commander Corner. If you have any recommendations for commanders you want to see in a future article, let me know in the comments below. Next week, we try something new. See you soon, my friends

-Steven Gulsby