Archetune-Up - Happy Neheb-iversary!

(Neheb, the Eternal | Art by Chris Rahn)

Burnin', Burnin' Love

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 article is a special one, as it will mark my second year as a writer for EDHREC! As such, right off the top, I want to give a huge "thank you" to everyone, especially you, dear reader, for making this something I am allowed to do with my time. I appreciate the support and the time you take out of your day to read my content. It means the world to me.

Seeing as that my first article was on Neheb, the Eternal. and my first anniversary article was on Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion, logic would dictate that for my second anniversary article I would take a crack at the only iteration of Neheb left, Neheb, the Worthy, right?

Nope! Maybe next year, though!

Apologies to all the Minotaur Tribal fans out there, but I decided to rehash Neheb, the Eternal for this one and go back to my roots! I wanted to give this deck a fresh coat of paint considering all of the incredibly spicy cards that have been printed within the past few years, and trust me, there have been a lot.

The biggest difference between this decklist and the one from my original article is that, this time, I'll be using EDHREC's average Neheb Burn list as opposed to one submitted by a reader.

Average Neheb 1.0

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Commander (1)
Creatures (19)
Sorceries (21)
Planeswalkers (2)
Enchantments (8)
Artifacts (14)
Instants (11)
Lands (34)

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The site's average decklists can be a bit hit or miss at times, but man, when they hit, they really hit. This is an incredibly solid deck, whose only glaring flaw are 34 lands as opposed to my preferred 37. Other than that, it has a good amount of draw, ramp, and payoffs. This is a deck I wouldn't be afraid of ordering, sleeving up, and just playing as is.

That being said, you aren't here to listen to me gush about the average decklist, you're are here to see how I tune it up, so let's turn up the heat as we make our way through the Burn Theme to help fix up our favorite Zombie Minotaur!

Fire it up!

Like I said already, the average Neheb, the Eternal list is very well put together aside from the lack of lands. The splashy top-end was covered in spades, but even so, there were a few inclusions I just couldn't help but add in.

If there was a single card printed within the last couple years that really spoke to my inner Timmy, it would be Drakuseth, Maw of Flames. If I am playing a big mana deck that can support running this card, I want to try and make it fit. In this deck, particularly, Darkuseth can be used as both a payoff and an enabler. You can slam it down early on, thanks to Neheb, and then utilize it to either keep the board clear, produce a ton of mana with our commander, or even both!

I've been pretty underwhelmed with the Courts from Commander Legends, but I think this deck is a perfect place for Court of Ire. Not only does it provide card draw, but it also throws damage around every upkeep. Court of Ire can produce an extra two or seven mana with Neheb out, or instead can be a consistent way to clean up creatures. From Oracle of Mul Daya to the aforementioned Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, this Court can get rid of both with little effort. It brings with it a lot of variance, but I think that it deserves a spot here, if for no other reason than to test it out.

Our final permanent-based damage-dealer is Brash Taunter. When combined with Neheb, Taunter functions similarly to Selvala, Heart of the Wilds: it's a mana dork that you put mana into in order to get a lot back out. At absolute worst, Taunter is a hard-to-remove threat that will often survive most board wipes while also being a plague on our opponents. Don't even get me started how well Brash Taunter performs when combined with other cards we run, like Blasphemous Act or Earthquake! *Chef's kiss*

Double Trouble

This deck is looking to generate a huge amount of mana advantage, mainly through dealing damage to our opponents and making them suffer. Making a ton of mana isn't the only way to generate a mana advantage, though, and that's what these three cards are all about!

Bonus Round is a card I called out in my first Neheb article as a great card for this deck. Even when just used with Tormenting Voice effects, Bonus Round provides a huge amount of both mana and card advantage, and that's before mentioning instances where you're able to copy a Molten Disaster or Jaya's Immolating Inferno with Neheb out! Bonus Round will end up doubling both the damage dealt to everyone, and, by proxy, the amount of mana you generate, and then will double all the spells that you use that mana on post combat! One good turn with Bonus Round can cause the game to spiral out of your opponents' control incredibly quickly and lock up games in a flash!

Double Vision provides all of the advantages that Bonus Round does, but it trades explosiveness for consistency. Double Vision will copy instants or sorceries for you, but its caveat is that it will only copy the first one that you cast each turn. This means that we have to be careful and make sure that the first spell that we cast will always be the most optimal one. But, if the biggest hoop you have to jump through to take full advantage of this card is... *checks notes* …having to actually think when you sequence your plays, then it seems like an A+ inclusion to me.

If there is one thing that's as good as generating absurd amounts of mana advantage, it would have to be interacting with your opponents for zero mana. That is where Deflecting Swat comes in. When Neheb is out, for the low, low cost of no mana, we get to redirect any targeted spell or ability and point it wherever we choose! This is great for protecting our Zombie Minotaur from a stray removal spell, or for helping ourselves to an opponent's Time Warp. Deflecting Swat is a fantastic piece of interaction that should find its way into most red-inclusive decks if possible. It really pulls weight when compared to a card like Ricochet Trap or even Misdirection.

Smooth, Sleek, and Deadly

To round out my inclusions, I have four cards that are dedicated to help smooth the deck out. In my Brion Stoutarm article, I went into detail about how imperative having enough deck smoothing was. There are boxes that we have to check before we can move to the next phase of our gameplan; whether it's hitting a sufficient number of lands, having enough protection, or simply stocking our hand with enough cards, we can't apply our brand of pressure if we can't even get the deck off the ground.

Out of the four spells I added, three of them help draw or filter through cards: Thrill of Possibility, Light up the Stage, and Khorvath's Fury. Each of these provide smoothing for our deck in different ways:

  • Thrill of Possibility gives us an instant-speed rummaging effect that lets us pitch a sub-optimal card for two fresh new ones, and it's ideal early game and when combined with copying spells.
  • Light up the Stage is a cross between Divination and Act on Impulse, netting us two cards for no additional cost, and has the option to do so for only a single mana!
  • Khorvath's Fury is a super-charged Thrill of Possibility, and another card from my original article. Fury lets us pitch any number of cards in order to draw that many plus one, and also has the option to dome all of our opponents for damage equal to their hand size, two effects that are perfect for this deck!

The list already had a smattering of card acceleration, like Knollspine Dragon, Jeska's Will, and Wheel of Misfortune, but I wanted to make sure to add in solid, flexible cards to help complement them at various points in our curve.

The final card shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who read my latest article where I gushed about Zendikar Rising's MDFCs for an entire section. Shatterskull Smashing joins Valakut Awakening as an MDFC that slots perfectly into the deck. Smashing is either a removal spell or a land, and that kind of flexibility is something most cards can only dream of. The card's back hald will make sure that we're able to get to our mid and late game, while Shatterskull Smashing itself can take out any two creatures, especially when combined with the absurd amount of mana that Neheb can generate. If you haven't been using these MDFCs, you really have been missing out. I can't say enough good things about them.

Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away

There we have it! A deck with quite a bit of heat and a pinch of cayenne to boot!

To me, Neheb, the Eternal is one of the quintessential burn commanders of EDH. Burn is often an archetype that is at a supreme disadvantage due to the nature of format, but Neheb lets us even the playing field in a bombastic way.

Since my article two years ago, there have been a number of commanders who have dabbled in burning face: Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Obosh, the Preypiercer, and Toralf, God of Fury, just to name a few. While they all have their own way of putting your opponents through the ringer, if you're looking to go big, and I mean big, nobody beats Neheb, the Eternal.

Once again, I would like to thank you all for your time right now, and for the past couple years. I look forward to writing more articles for you all in the future! In the meantime, I would love to hear from you all: what legend, Theme, or Tribe would you like to see an Archetune-Up about? I'm all ears, so give me your best ideas! I can't guarantee I will get to every suggestion, but I would love to know what is at the forefront of your minds!

Until next time, you can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.

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Angelo is a Connecticut resident who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. Along with Commander, he loves Limited, Cube, and Modern, and will always put his trust in counterspells over creatures. He is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation's rotation out of Standard.

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