Archetune-Up – With AAAARMS Wide Open

(Djeru, With Eyes Open | Art by Kieran Yanner)

Welcome, SuperFriends!

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

Around the start of the new year, I decided I needed a change. I had about 20+ EDH decks, but very few of them sparked joy. As such, I did what Marie Kondo suggested, and cleaned house! I picked the ones that sparked the most joy and nixed the rest. When the dust settled, only four remained: Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Lord Windgrace, Yeva, Nature’s Herald, and Obzedat, Ghost Council.

Over time, I began to build my repertoire of decks back up, since I now had the creative (and physical) space to do so. One by one, more lists began to populate my backpack: Omnath Landfall, Extus Aristocrats, and Karador Enchantress. However, while I adored all of these decks, something was missing – or maybe more accurately, I was missing something.

One of the decks I took apart during “The Great Kondo-ing of 2021” was a Djeru, With Eyes Open Superfriends deck that I hadn’t updated since War of the Spark. The deck was always fun, but once I stopped updating it, I wanted to play it less, and the less I wanted to play it, the less I updated it, and so on and so forth.

It was about midway through this year that I craved the playstyle Djeru provided, and decided I would update him with all the goodies from the past few sets. Everyone bemoans card advantage in mono-white, but with this deck, I get to play a slow, controlling game while never struggling with that issue in the slightest. Planeswalkers are card advantage machines, and a legendary creature in the command zone that can tutor them up is a great way to keep up with the rest of the board. This is the deck that really taught me how card advantage isn’t just about the number of cards in your hand.

Thus I’d like to look at the average Djeru deck on EDHREC and give it a good ol’ archetune-up!

Average Djeru Superfriends

Commander (1)
Creatures (12)
Planeswalkers (16)
Instants (7)
Sorceries (8)
Enchantments (10)
Artifacts (12)
Lands (34)

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As we can see from the average Djeru deck, players lean into the turtling-up strategy really hard, protecting themselves and their cadre of interplanar allies to accrue advantage over time. There are a number of things that jump out at me as potential changes, though. A lot of the cuts I’m going to make will seem odd at first, but all of these come from experience. Not only have I played this deck before, I’ve played it recently, so please, at least entertain my changes here before you write them off.

For example, I cut eight creatures from the deck, including Baird, Steward of Argive, Loyal Warhound, and Esper Sentinel.

These sound like very strange cuts, especially since most other white decks have been clamoring for a card like Esper Sentinel for years. The thing is, this deck often wants to keep the board clear of all creatures. Baird looks cool to protect our stuff, but only if we don’t Fumigate him away… which we will. I’d prefer a board wipe to protect our stuff instead. And as for Loyal Warhound, I’d rather just have a mana rock in this deck, since they’re less prone to removal and quite often come with fantastic secondary advantages. And Esper Sentinel? It’s great in decks that can consistently augment its power, but otherwise it’s just a frail 1/1 that can sometimes draw us a card. There are better ways to accrue advantage in this deck.

On top of these cuts, Ghostly Prison is out, since it doesn’t protect planeswalkers and will funnel attacks away from us directly to them, which is a no-go. We’d rather stymie attacks altogether, especially with instant-speed interaction. Ignite the Beacon and Call the Gatewatch were also cuts, because we don’t need three copies of Djeru in our deck.

I made plenty of cuts to the list – 18 to be exact – and if you’d like to dig deeper into them, you can find them here. With all the swaps I need to go over, I don’t want to waste any more time, so let’s see what the Mono-White Planeswalker Page has to offer!


Man(a), Oh Man(a)

As always, the first thing I did was access the mana package of the average deck, and boy, it wasn’t looking too hot. There were only 34 lands and eight ways to ramp (ten if you count Loyal Warhound and Knight of the White Orchid, which are only good when you are behind). To fix these issues, I added three utility lands and three mana rocks to round everything out.

The average deck was already running 26 Plains, so I wanted to see which utility lands I could throw in. I decided upon Scavenger Grounds, since grave hate is always welcome, Hall of Heliod’s Generosity, since we have plenty of enchantments we would love to get back from the ‘yard if they get blown up, and Sanctum of Eternity, since it’s a lovely way to bounce Djeru back to our hands to replay him if we want.

In terms of mana rocks, I added the ever-wonderful Marble Diamond as a cheap way to ramp, Honor-Worn Shaku, since it is an absolute all-star that allows our planeswalkers to tap for mana, and Everflowing Chalice, since it scales well and we can Proliferate its charge counters. If you’re feeling venturous, you could even add Astral Cornucopia for the same reasons, though I personally like the two-mana rocks more.


Friendly Faces

After my initial round of cuts, 13 ‘walkers remained. While that’s a fine number, I thought I’d add a few more to help bolster our circle of friends, cuz a handful of powerful pals weren’t present yet.

Karn, the Great Creator is a mean card, but hey, we’re mono-white. Shutting off opposing mana rocks with his passive slows opponents down and makes them much more manageable to deal with.

Karn, Liberated is just a beast of a card, either exiling problematic permanents or quickly ticking up to an astronomically high loyalty. Most of the time, this Karn is used as a decoy to veil other ‘walkers like Elspeth, Sun’s Champion or Ugin, the Ineffable, since most opponents will be quite uncomfortable with this silver Golem hanging around. We never really want to restart the game, but our opponents will feel the need to act upon it very quickly.

Finally, Grand Master of Flowers is an innocuous ‘walker that I was initially skeptical of, but after playing with him, I was quite impressed. His ability to tutor a Monk of the Open Hand is negligible, since I didn’t include it in the list, so instead his role is to lock down problem creatures while also turning into a 7/7 Dragon God that can start knocking heads. No matter his form, he’ll survive all of our board wipes and repeatedly hinder creatures, making him a fantastic late-game threat.

Speaking of ‘walkers, I just want to touch on a pattern of play in this deck. When casting Djeru for the first time in a game, 9 times out of 10 we’ll want to search up Ugin, the Ineffable or Karn, Scion of Urza, as they are (relatively) low-threat ‘walkers that can start accruing card advantage. These help us keep up with our opponents in the early phases of the game.

If other players are getting too out of control, then Karn, the Great Creator is another great target, to keep their mana rocks under control. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is high on our list too, creating a board from nowhere and wiping big threats away. When gearing up to a planeswalker ultimate, Gideon Jura is our guy to redirect problem creatures away from us or other ‘walkers. This deck is a toolbox, so it’s incredibly important to know what options we have access to, and when they’re needed most.


Superfriends Need Super Tools

We’re only halfway through the changes I made to the average deck, so I’m going to speed through the last nine cards with a lightning round! ⚡️LET’S GO!⚡️

  • Promise of Loyalty is a great board wipe that eliminates any creatures plaguing us and forces the biggest of them to look at our other opponents. Fantastic!
  • Settle the Wreckage has the highest blowout potential I’ve ever seen. Desperate opponents trying to attack you or multiple ‘walkers will fall right into your trap.
  • Ondu Inversion is our “Oh, Heck” button that comes stapled to a land. Great card with great versatility.
  • Contagion Engine is nasty. It can wipe a player’s board while also sneakily increasing our ‘walkers’ loyalty by two each time we activate it. This can really mess up math for your opponents, and it’s incredibly strong.
  • Teleportation Circle is a great way to blink Djeru or the aforementioned Contagion Engine, giving us more ‘walkers or hampering the board as necessary.
  • Ephemerate fulfills a similar role, saving Djeru from removal, but also tutoring two ‘walkers for only one mana!
  • Search for Glory is an upgrade to Call the Gatewatch, letting us nab any ‘walker, a Snow-Covered Plains, or Elspeth Conquers Death from our deck, the latter of which doubles as removal and recursion!
  • Dawn Charm is a Fog that can also Counterspell removal that targets your ‘walkers. A+ card.
  • Approach of the Second Sun is a secondary win condition if we cannot overwhelm the board with our planewalkers. This puts opponents in a tough bind, since trying to deal with you will let your ‘walkers get out of control, and if they deal with your ‘walkers, that buys you time to recast Approach.

Our Job Here is Done

There we have it! A fun and fierce mono-white deck that turns the color’s natural disadvantage on its head!

I merely scratched the surface of playables here. Spells like Rout, Rings of Brighthearth, Lithoform Engine, Divine Visitation, Helm of the Host and Gideon’s Sacrifice can all change how the deck plays, which means you can tailor this deck to suit your preferred playstyle. Heck, with more blink effects and more creatures, you could have a really interesting mix between a Planeswalker deck and a Flicker deck!

Djeru, With Eyes Open is one of my favorite decks. It’s a niche build of a popular archetype that goes against the grain of contemporary legends in its color, and it’s also just fun! If you’ve ever considered building a Superfriends deck but don’t necessarily want to go with Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice, I’d suggest giving Djeru a try. He may surprise you. I know he surprised me.

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 Djeru Superfriends

Commander (1)
Creatures (4)
Planeswalkers (16)
Sorceries (10)
Enchantments (10)
Instants (8)
Artifacts (14)
Lands (37)

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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.