Magic: the Gathering

Deck Guide

Commander Deck Tech - Teysa Karlov

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In today's Deck Tech, we have an Aristocrats Orzhov deck, with Teysa Karlov as the commander!

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translated by Joey Sticks

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revised by Tabata Marques

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Introduction

In today's Deck Tech, we bring an iconic commander of the Aristocrat archetype that brings additional triggers any time one of your creatures dies, Teysa Karlov, in an Aristocrat deck with a token sub-theme!

Commander and Mechanic

Teysa Karlov became Aristocrats' favorite pick precisely because she speeds up the game and doesn't only ping 1 damage; instead, she guarantees additional triggers. Furthermore, she also offers Vigilance and Lifelink to your tokens, which will give you more durability during your matches.

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The Orzhov Magic Symbol W Magic Symbol B color combination is this archetype's birthplace; these colors converse really well with our commander's abilities.

Teysa Karlov List and Deck Strategy

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This deck, most times, wins by draining opponents, but it has a few combos so we can end the game all at once. By the end of this article, as usual, we'll show you an alternative budget list that focuses on this same strategy.

Accelerators

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This color combination doesn't have natural ramp tools, so we have to add mana rocks - Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Orzhov Signet, Talisman of Hierarchy and Mind Stone, to eventually draw cards.

Speaking of drawing cards, Solemn Simulacrum enters our plan by ramping a basic land and drawing up to two cards alongside Teysa when it dies. Finally, we have Smothering Tithe to create value throughout the match with Treasure tokens.

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Aristocrats and Token Generators

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To lower our opponent's health points, we have our drain sources: the Aristocrats. We use Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim, Blood Artist, Zulaport Cutthroat, Cruel Celebrant, Bastion of Remembrance and Syr Konrad, the Grim.

An advantage with decks like this is that our opponents will always be wary of casting a global removal because they'll lose a lot of health if they do. As other sources of damage, we also use Corpse Knight and Mirkwood Bats.

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We use tokens as fuel so these Aristocrats can drain our opponent's health points even more. Considering this, we have, as creatures: Teysa's other version, Teysa, Orzhov Scion, which can even exile opponents' creatures, Doomed Traveler, Ministrant of Obligation, Hallowed Spiritkeeper, Orzhov Enforcer, Hunted Witness and Elenda, the Dusk Rose.

It is important to highlight that our commander, by guaranteeing additional triggers, creates additional tokens. Finally, we have Secure the Wastes, both to create tokens when you pass and possibly defend yourself against an enemy attack.

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Sources of Sacrifice and Win Conditions

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These are our sources of sacrifice and combos to end the game. After all, just draining opponents bit by bit isn't a consistent way to guarantee a win, so we added some ways to win the game and end it at once. We use the classic altars, Altar of Dementia, Ashnod's Altar and Phyrexian Altar, as artifacts.

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For creatures, we have Viscera Seer, Bartolomé del Presidio and Carrion Feeder. As a combo, we have Pitiless Plunderer alongside Teysa Karlov, which create 2 Treasure tokens, so any sacrifice source to sacrifice Reassembling Skeleton guarantees us infinite death triggers. This means, alongside any Aristocrat, this setup is game-ending.

We can use Ashnod's Altar or Phyrexian Altar to achieve this same result. It is also possible to win by forcing our opponents to mill their entire decks with Altar of Dementia, and forcing them to deck out.

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In that same line, we have Pawn of Ulamog or Sifter of Skulls with Reassembling Skeleton and Phyrexian Altar. Another combo we have is Reveillark, Karmic Guide and any sacrifice source, always Reanimating one another. Again, with any Aristocrat, you'll have infinite life loss, and, with the Altars, you have infinite mana, or can mill your opponents' entire decks.

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Drawing Cards and Tutors

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We couldn't miss out on drawing cards with this deck because, after all, we need to keep our rhythm and not run out of gas. We use, as permanents to draw cards, Midnight Reaper, Grim Haruspex and Skullclamp. All these cards work with Teysa Karlov as well.

The other spells we use are Night's Whisper, Plumb the Forbidden, Corrupted Conviction, Village Rites, Deadly Dispute and Read the Bones. Most of them require you to sacrifice a creature to play them, which is fuel for you to trigger death effects.

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As tutors, we use only Demonic Tutor and Diabolic Intent - these are the only necessary cards to search for some removal tool that you need at that time or even to look for a piece that is missing for you to end the game. We also use Expedition Map exclusively to look for Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth or Cabal Coffers, to have both on the board and access a lot of mana.

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Removals and Other Interactions

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We have several target and global removals, considering that, at certain points in the game, it is even better that we are the ones to cast the global removal. We use Damn, Kaya's Wrath, Toxic Deluge and Merciless Eviction. An important detail about Merciless Eviction is that it exiles cards, so it will be used in situations that are indeed problematic.

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As target removals, we have several cards: Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares, Anguished Unmaking, Despark, Mortify, Generous Gift and Utter End. We use a variety of cards that can deal with problems more broadly than specifically.

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We also use some other, very interesting, resources. Drivnod, Carnage Dominus is useful as a second Teysa Karlov, and Athreos, God of Passage returns creatures to the hand unless your opponent accepts paying 3 health points, which will drain them even more.

Dictate of Erebos couldn't be missing from a deck that interacts with creatures dying, as well as Black Market, to create a lot of value with mana. Finally, we have Victimize and Court of Ardenvale to recover resources from the graveyard - Court of Ardenvale also gives you the Monarch - and Teferi's Protection serves as a defensive resource.

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Budget Teysa Karlov List

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We kept a few combo pieces - Karmic Guide, Pitiless Plunderer, Reveillark, and kept the essence of having Aristocrats doing what they can do best: annoy opponents by chipping away their health points.

Final Words

I've played a lot of Orzhov in the past, and, nowadays, it isn't one of my favorite combinations, to be honest. However, it is interesting to see how it got support throughout time, enabling this archetype quite reasonably. It even is, by the way, very popular in tables across the world.

Did you like this deck? Would you use another Teysa? Remove the combos? Tell us what you think!