Archetune-Up – Attack of the Clones

(The Scarab God l Art by Lius Lasahido)

“Can I Copy Your Homework?”

“Sure, Just Don’t Make it Obvious.”

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

This week, we’re going to be defying death with a Clone Themed list built around The Scarab God! Originally, I was debating between this list and a Volrath, the Shapestealer clone list. Both had really attractive options, but in the end, it basically came down to whether I wanted double the number of clones with Scarab God (thanks to their ability to Eternalize creatures in the yard) or all the miscellaneous goodies that having access to a third color gave.

Overall, I value the ability to recur our clones (as well as our opponents’ creatures) over the ramp, other tools, and other clones that green provides for us.

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Overall, The Scarab God‘s average clone list is pretty solid; it has decent ramp, disruption, and a healthy abundance of clones. There are a few areas where I think the deck is a bit lacking, though.

It has a few creatures that do not clone or steal creatures, which is a no-go for me. While Solemn Simulacrum and Mulldrifter are good cards in general and are great in the average Scarab God list, when I commit to a theme, I want to commit to a theme, no exceptions. As such, creatures like these were cut in the final list. There were two other minor issues: lack of ramp (since we will be leaning on The Scarab God‘s activated ability a lot) and a plethora of cards that steal things. I’m fine with a few steal spells, but this a clone deck, not a Theft deck, and I want to make sure we stay in our lane.


Prone to Clone

While we didn’t add any true clones to the deck, we did add a few clone-like cards. Yes, there were other clones that we could have shoved into the deck, but we already had 17. This deck revolves around The Scarab God‘s second ability to Eternalize creatures in the ‘yard, meaning that, in theory, we actually are running a potential of 36 clones in the deck. Thanks to the core of our deck being properly supported, I was able to use the Clone Theme to round out the rest of the of the list and tune up some of its weaker points.

Mirage Mirror is the closest thing to a “true” clone that was added from this theme. Mirror is an incredibly strong card that can be quite literally anything if you have the mana for it. Any card that can turn into a Consecrated Sphinx, The Great Henge, Zendikar Resurgent, or Field of the Dead whenever you want it to is worth its weight in any deck, and it gives you reach into other colors that you don’t have access to normally. On top of that, trying to destroy a Mirage Mirror can be just as hard as trying to destroy a Sensei’s Divining Top if its owner has the mana. Mirror can dodge most pieces of removal, or even board wipes, by turning into the appropriate card type in response. Vandalblast doesn’t mean a thing when my Mirror can turn into a land in order to dodge the blast! Mirage Mirror is one of the most versatile cards printed in recent memory, and it should see more play than just three percent of all decks.

Six mana may seem a bit steep, but Seheeli’s Artistry is a great sorcery that can provide oodles of value. More often than not, we’ll be able to produce two tokens and get full value from this card. Getting token copies of our opponents’ best creature and artifact can be backbreaking, especially in a deck designed around copying our opponents’ best cards and using them against them. Artistry has the potential to whiff sometimes, though, but when it hits, it can be an all-star. There are other options for this slot if you’re feeling a bit lukewarm on Artistry, though they’re all at the six-mana slot, which can be a deal breaker for some people. These options are Supplant Form and Stolen Identity, both of which have their own perks, like doubling as removal or being repeatable, if they are more your style.

The last two clone-like cards are Narset’s Revseral, and Memory Plunder. Both of these cards let us “borrow” a spell from an opponent to use as we see fit. Narset’s Reversal is a great piece of disruption, akin to Remand mixed with Dualcast. We don’t outright counter the spell, but we do get to make use of it ourselves before our opponent does. Not hard countering the spell isn’t always a downside, either! Think about it this way: if that spell was good enough to counter, it’s good enough for us to want to cast it ourselves! Memory Plunder, on the other hand, is an instant that can let us dig into an opponent’s graveyard and cast an instant or sorcery from it. Since this spell does not exile the instant or sorcery from their yard, I would also consider this under the “borrowing” category of spells. This also gives us access to that same spell late in the game with Diluvian Primordial, too! What I like about Memory Plunder the most, though, is that we can cast it and snatch a spell whenever we want. We get to ignore normal timing restrictions, which can lead to huge blowouts! Both of these spells are flexible and tricky, both traits we want from cards in a deck all about versatility.


Adapting for the Situation

With the most important aspects of our theme fleshed out, we move on to the supportive pieces of the deck. These are split into three groups: synergies with our commander, card selection, and mana ramp.

In terms of synergy with The Scarab God, we have three inclusions: Arcane Adaptation, Intuition, and Search for Azcanta. I don’t often like cards like Arcane Adaptation, but in decks like a non-Zombie The Scarab God, a non-Warrior Najeela, the Blade Blossom, or a Kykar, Wind’s Fury list, I think Adaptation/Xenograft can pull a lot of weight. Instead of relying on Adaptation for the deck to function, the deck can include it to provide bonus value. In our case, this will make our non-Eternalized clones into Zombies and consistently trigger The Scarab God‘s first ability.

Intuition is a staple card in Scarab God decks. Normally tutoring for three cards and giving your opponents a choice on which one you get isn’t great, but if you choose three creatures, thanks to The Scarab Gods ability to Eternalize, it won’t matter which card our opponents pick, we’ll have access to all three. If Demonic Tutor is a strong card, an instant-speed one that can tutor three cards is even better!

Finally, Search for Azcanta (which happens to be one of the best blue cards printed since Jace, the Mind Sculptor) is right at home here. Search lets us filter the top card of our library, which in our deck can often be as good as drawing a card. Once we decide to flip it over to Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, it continues to provide us value, since nearly 40% of our deck are noncreature, nonland cards!

Dimir commanders have some of the best spells in terms of card advantage, especially when dealing with the graveyard. The three that I selected for this deck are Frantic Search, Dig Through Time, and Treasure Cruise. Frantic Search is exactly what this deck wants as it’s an instant-speed spell that filters cards that doesn’t tie up mana that can be used to Eternalize creatures. We could definitely lean harder into looting if we really wanted to, though; in this deck, looting will provide us with actual card advantage as opposed to just card selection since our graveyard is so integral to our deck because we can replay things from it. Careful Study, Chart a Course, Dark Deal, Whispering Madness, all of these cards work great in our list. To go along with our graveyard utilization, I added Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise to help take even more advantage of it. Of course, we aren’t going to want to exile the creatures in our yard, but through our filtering and normal gameplay, our yard will fill up with everything else, as well. Also, most of our spells aren’t recursive, so why not get more use out of them?

I know from my own Scarab God list that our patron deity is one who hungers for mana. This deck revolves around being able to use the God’s Eternalize ability, and making sure we have enough mana to activate it at least once a turn is integral to it functioning. The deck already came with eight mana rocks, but I thought we should add a few more. The average list started with some low-to-the-ground ramp, like Arcane Signet, alongside some heavier ones like Gilded Lotus. Ramp on both ends of the spectrum are needed for the deck to perform, so my selections followed suit. Everflowing Chalice, Dimir Locket, and Worn Powerstone were my picks from this theme. Chalice is a flexible rock that scales with the game, Locket can produce mana and also draw us cards, while Powerstone consistently gives us two mana much like Sol Ring. While these were the most worthwhile ramp spells I found from this theme, this deck could have more if we wanted. Hedron Archive, Dreamstone Hedron, and both Sky Diamond and Charcoal Diamond are great mana rocks that sit at different points of the mana curve that can help us with our goal of ramping out quickly and making as many 4/4 Eternals as possible.


Execute Order 66

Overall, this deck is fairly straightforward. While we have some synergy baked into the deck, the premise of the deck copying and cloning opponents’ permanents does make our path a bit of a linear one. That being said, while these are all the cards that I decided on, there is another route we could follow if it’s more up your alley…

If we wanted to slightly shift our focus from our graveyard to our opponents’ graveyards, instead, that’s another option. We can do this by including more mill-based cards. Pscychic Corrosion, Mind Grind, Consuming Aberration, Traumatize, Mesmeric Orb, Sphinx’s Tutelage, etc. They can help us re-tune our deck to take advantage of the creatures that our opponents play and focus on Eternalizing them as opposed to just our clones.

Out of The Scarab God‘s 1,600 decks on EDHREC, nearly 1,100 of them are Zombie tribal ones. With such a versatile commander, getting pigeonholed into a single strategy like that feels like a disservice. There is an incredible amount of room to play in when specifically focusing on his Eternalize ability. Recursion, added value, solid stat lines for the cost, The Scarab God provides all of these in spades and deserves to see a bit more exploration in this regard.

Regardless, while it was a bit linear to build, I think a build like this would be anything but linear to play. This deck scales to the power level of the decks at the table, and will be just as diverse as the decks it is going up against. If you are looking for a fun list that can use your friends’ powerful or expensive cards against them, this is for you. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

If you’d like to reach me I’m quite active on Twitter (@thejesguy), and I have an email that I do my best to respond to (thejeskaiguy@gmail.com). If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or anything else of the sort, please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! I’ll see you next week, my friends!

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Angelo is a Connecticut native who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. With at least 20 EDH decks constructed at all times, it's an understatement to say that he loves Commander. Angelo trusts counterspells over creatures, and is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation rotation out of Standard.