Archetune-Up - The Monster of the Week

(Rise of Extus | Art by Wylie Beckert)

Looks Like We've got Another Mystery on our Hands!

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

For this article, I wanted to cover a legend that has captured my interest from the moment they were first spoiled, and the only three-color card in Strixhaven, Extus, Oriq Overlord!

Extus has been the only legend on my brain since spoiler season (seriously, it took me almost an entire month of deliberation to get my personal list together), and even now he hasn't relinquished his hold over me. In an effort to try and loosen his vice-like grip (or spread his teachings, whichever you think applies), I decided to check out his average list, and see what he was working with.

Average Extus

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Commander (1)
Creatures (24)
Instants (14)
Artifacts (10)
Enchantments (6)
Sorceries (11)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (33)

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With over 1,000 decks to his name, Extus is easily the most popular legend coming out of Strixhaven, and for good reason! He's incredibly versatile, able to build entire gameplans around either his front half or his flip side, Awaken the Blood Avatar.

That said, there are two things I took away from this average list:

  • Y'all ain't running enough lands! How in the world is 33 acceptable??
  • The average decklist shows that the majority of people are building around Awaken the Blood Avatar

Both sides of Extus are great, but each one wants their decks to do slightly different things. Yes, both Extus and The Blood Avatar want plenty of creatures to churn through, but Extus wants to play a bit more of a grindy game, accruing value over time with nontoken creatures. Conversely, The Blood Avatar wants a wide board of fodder to sac in order to create multiple Avatar tokens in a turn, and token fodder will often do this the best.

Looking at all the token makers and support in this list, a lot of these decks are geared to summon The Blood Avatar as opposed to follow the ways of Extus. I have a personal fondness for The Oriq Overlord, despite his Saturday morning cartoon villainy in the Strixhaven story, so he's who I'll be focusing on building around today!

Like, Zoinks, Scoob!

I'll be using EDHREC's Mardu Aristocrats Theme to find the inclusions for today's list. Before I dig into the cards I added, I want to take a moment to also mention that I brought the land count up to 36 from 33. 36 is still a bit lean for me, but it is a lot better than the blatantly irresponsible 33 the original deck had, so with that quick fix out of the way, what does this theme hold for us?

Well, it has... more land!

If you've read my articles this year, y'all should know how much I adore Battle for Zendikar's MDFCs. On top of being outright fantastic cards, they pull double duty in an Extus deck, since they are both lands and spells. They help patch up the land base while also being cards that can trigger Magecraft to keep the deck chugging along!

Valakut Awakening, Agadeem's Awakening, Malakir Rebirth, and Hagra Mauling were the four MFDCs found on the Aristocrats theme page, but there are a few others that would also be a perfect fit for the deck. Sejiri Shelter, Ondu Inversion, and Shatterskull Smashing are all viable options for Extus, and I cannot recommend them enough!

Ruh-roh, Raggy!!

Now that we've got the mana base in order, what's next? Well, while The Blood Avatar wants to force itself into the foray and bring games to an end quickly, Extus wants to move a bit slower and more methodically. What exactly does that mean, though?

What Extus desires instead of pure power is synergy! Extus tacks on a free Raise Dead with every spell we cast, so why not take advantage of that?

Spells like Tormenting Voice and Costly Plunder have additional costs needed to cast them, so if Extus is in play, even if we discard or sacrifice a creature to help pay for the spell, we can just get another right back! This is a great way to quickly and cheaply accrue value, turning the downside of these cards' additional costs into something negligible, or even beneficial! These kinds of spells are right at home here, from removal like Final Payment or Bone Splinters to a reusable sac outlet like Worthy Cause. All of them are welcome additions to Extus's repertoire.

Due to this deck being more graveyard-based than a Blood Avatar deck, we need to make sure we have ways to enable our shenanigans, and Buried Alive does just that. For three mana, we get to Raise Dead a creature from our graveyard if Extus is out, and then comb through our deck for three creatures to dump them directly into our precious graveyard. Buried Alive might not be as powerful as it is in a Karador, Ghost Chieftain or Meren of Clan Nel Toth deck, but it is still fantastic here. Entomb and the brand new Unmarked Grave from Modern Horizons 2 would also be wonderful additions in the same vein if we want some more redundancy for an effect like this.


I dug up a lot of interesting and powerful interactions and cards for Extus during my deep dive over the past month, and one class of card in particular stood out to me when I was constructing by personal brew. Since they weren't listed in the Aristocrats Theme, I wanted to be sure to dedicate a section to them, since I think they are so integral to how our Oriq Overlord functions.

Much like the MDFCs from the first section, Adventure creatures are important for any Extus build. Adventure cards provide the best of both worlds, with one half triggering Extus's Magecraft ability, and the other half that can be sacrificed and subsequently brought back! With Extus and a sacrifice outlet, you have the potential to loop two Adventure creatures multiple times in a turn, triggering all of your Magecraft effects as well as all of the effects that trigger when your creatures die.

While this style of card are a home-run in this deck, I only added the three most important ones: Order of Midnight, Merchant of the Vale, and Embereth Shieldbreaker. Others, like Shepherd of the Flock, Foulmire Knight, and Realm-Cloaked Giant, are also great inclusions, and I would highly recommend giving them all a look if you want to build Extus.

I Would Have Gotten Away With It, Too!

There we have it, ten easy inclusions to make a deck more Extus-centric!

While I am happy with the additions to the deck, I personally think that the list could use even more more synergy to help differentiate itself from Blood Avatar decks. Swapping generic removal spells for things like Spark Harvest, having ways to protect Extus like Selfless Savior or Benevolent Bodyguard, or having ways to loop instants and sorceries, like Living Lightning or Ghitu Chronicler, really makes Extus hum. In an Extus build, the cheaper, the better, and the more spells you can cast in a turn, the more likely you are to win.

That said, no matter what side you decide to build around, Extus, Oriq Overlord//Awaken the Blood Avatar is incredibly fun and gives Aristocrat players two different ways to go about draining the life from their opponents.

What about you, though? Which side do you prefer, Extus, or The Blood Avatar? Are there any neat moves that you've come up with for either side? Make sure to let me know down below!

As always, 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, get vaccinated, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.

Archetune-Up Extus Would Have Gotten Away With it Too!

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Creatures (23)
Artifacts (10)
Instants (15)
Sorceries (10)
Enchantments (4)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (36)

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Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

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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