Commander Showdown - Jared vs Marchesa
(Jared Carthalion, True Heir by Lius Lasahido | Queen Marchesa by Kieran Yanner)
The Rightful Heir
Hello and welcome to Commander Showdown, where we pit two commanders with similar abilities against one another to help determine differences in strategy and deck construction! This week, we're talking about the crown - and no, I don't mean the hit TV show!
I've written about Queen Marchesa in this series once before, but that was back in November of 2019, which, going by quarantine time, was approximately 48 years ago. Suffice it to say, things have changed a bit since then, and a new challenger has appeared: Jared Carthalion, True Heir, the only other legendary creature to introduce the Monarch mechanic into the game, though in a different color set, and with a very fascinating buff-up ability.
How do these commanders differ? Which cards do they share in common, and how do they each interpret the political possibilities of the monarchy? Let's dig in and find out!
Long May She Reign
Not only have I written about Queen Marchesa before, I've also done a whole video about her! On the EDHRECast YouTube channel, we have a series called Upping the Average where I take the average decklist for a commander and tune it up to help take it from a good start to a great one! We do some pretty deep dives in these videos, so I highly recommend giving it a watch to get my full strategical tips on how to rule her kingdom.
However, the Queen still has some things to improve. That video was published before Commander Legends introduced a bunch of new Monarch cards to the format, so, for the purposes of this article, I'd like to highlight some of the new cards I'm eager to add to the Queen's throne room, and maybe note the ones to avoid.
The trio of Court cards, Court of Ambition, Court of Ire, and Court of Grace, have all made their way into Marchesa's EDHREC data in high percentages, and for good reason. I'll admit that I'm more hesitant on the white Court, though, even though it's become the most popular of the three for new Marchesa decks, at a 79% inclusion rate compared to the black Court's 64% and the red's 58%. I prefer Court of Ambition and Court of Ire because they strike me as solid finishers for Marchesa, covering a space she can't fill on her own. They take some time, but they also can present a decent enough damage output to outlast enemies in a long game, and she intends for the game to go long. Court of Grace doesn't have as substantial of a damage output as the other two, and it often fulfills a lot of the same defensive role Marchesa herself fulfills, but even taking that into account, these are all worth it.
I've sadly removed Palace Jailer, Marchesa's Decree, and Curse of Opulence to make room for them. These new enchantments just have more impact, and Palace Jailer, I find, is best utilized in Blink decks that can abuse its ETB trigger for perma-exile.
I'm hardcore in love with Emberwilde Captain, preferring it over Marchesa's Decree quite a lot. I've swapped it for another four-mana creature, Solemn Simulacrum.
Archon of Coronation honestly nearly didn't make it in. I'm quite divided on this one because I find I personally prefer Protector of the Crown's defenses. With that said, any method of discouraging aggression is probably wise. I worry about tapping out for too many six-drops, but, as this can also protect us from rogue Comet Storms or Aetherflux Reservoirs, I think the common wisdom of including this Archon in new Marchesa decks is a trend folks are following for good reason, and I ought to get with the picture.
Other new Monarch cards, however, did not make the cut. Feast of Succession is hilarious, for instance, but it won't solve the problems that need solving, especially in our colors, where we have access to some amazing removal already. I also want to make sure we add room for new Commander Legends cards like Akroma's Will, which provides us with unprecedented board protection and combative potential. Knowing how much Marchesa loves her diverse spells so she can come out on top of even the most unpredictable gameplay scenarios, we're well-served to make these updates. Out with the old guard, in with the new.
I've provided an updated decklist below, but note that I've also removed the budget restrictions featured in the video for the purposes of this list. Mix and match as you please!
Long Live the QueenView on Archidekt
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Return of the King
A challenger approaches! Jared Carthalion, True Heir has entered the arena to reclaim what's rightfully his. I believe in you, Simba. You can take back Pride Rock from Scar.
Jared introduces the Monarchy to the game in a much different way than Marchesa, by designating someone else to wear the crown and then being forced to wait until he can get it back. Once he does, though, his payoff is some kind of wonderful: any damage he'd be dealt is instead Vigored into +1/+1 counters.
Bring out your Blasphemous Acts and Star of Extinctions! This commander cannot wait to be dealt damage and turn into a monstrous commander-damage machine. He pairs so beautifully with the cards Pariah and Pariah's Shield that it makes my heart ache. What a hilarious bunch of beatdown this can be!
The problem, of course, is how to actually get the Monarchy.
A 3/3 commander with no evasion isn't going to get anywhere very fast. Jared may find himself in a position to designate and then successfully attack an opponent to get his crown as soon as possible, but more often than not, he'll rely upon other Monarch-granting cards to retrieve it. This can be tricky, because the few good Monarch-making cards in these colors are actually a bit expensive, and that type of tempo mismatch can really offset his entire strategy. Not only that, he has to keep the Monarchy. While Marchesa knows the crown never need be far away for long (because she'll get it back by simply entering the field again), Jared has the opposite problem. Losing the crown is a severe setback that leaves us with Chain Reactions we really don't want to cast, not least because replaying our commander means the crown is far away for another round, at the minimum.
Another factor emerges here too, one that helps us bridge that gap. A great way to help us protect the crown while also synergizing just perfectly with the suite of damage-based cards we already wanted to use. Let's peek at a decklist to see how it plays out:
True Heir with the True HairView on Archidekt
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Even if Jared can't get the crown, Stuffy Doll and Brash Taunter cannot wait to be dealt damage. Hornet Nest is eager to be annihilated by a Rolling Earthquake. Pariah doesn't only have to be used on our commander, and Pyrohemia effects will have us laughing all the way to the bank by clearing out blockers, dealing extra damage, and when everything goes right, pumping up our commander too.
I think this is where the difference between Jared and Marchesa really begins to emerge. They're both after the crown, but for a very different purpose. Marchesa wants it to help her maintain a many-turns-long control strategy, where the additional card draw adds up over time, and she can whack the table with out-of-nowhere spells or grind them down with her inevitable value engines.
Jared, on the other hand, wants the crown to become a huge beatstick. His plan after receiving the Monarchy doesn't need to last very long. In his long absence, it seems he's learned to use his enemies' own plans against them and turned pain into gain.
Cards to Consider
Before we go, here are some cool cards for both commanders that sometimes might get buried on their EDHREC pages!
- Righteous Aura: An extraordinary defensive enchantment that doesn't get nearly enough love.
- Mirage Mirror: This card appears in a mere 10% of Marchesa decks. Please help me fix that. This card provides our Queen with incredible, versatile defense, and can even double up our aggro when we're ready to strike!
- Geode Rager: I prefer this to Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs. No, really. Geode Rager means we never have to worry about the scariest board at the table, and it puts some heat onto those tricky Spellslinger players who often rely upon player passivity to buy time and build up their hands without developing their board. Two birds, one Geode.
- Backlash: A proactive version of Deflecting Palm! We have answers against boards that go wide, and this card wins games against those that go tall. I mean, just look at how big Jared's planning to get.
- Fury Storm: This spell is sick, and Marchesa's array of highly diverse spells (not to mention her propensity to take advantage of her enemies' own strengths) make it one of the secretly most dangerous tools at her disposal. A lot of her other effects can hand creatures, but this is the one that takes care of those players who try to cast Torment of Hailfire.
- Naya Charm: I've recommended this card for, I believe, 100% of the Naya decks I've ever written about. This card's amazing. It recovers, it taps armies, it sets you up for attacks, it snags utility creatures, it's political if we want it to be, and in this deck it can even buff our commander. Play it, please, I promise it's good. Only 13% of Jared decks are using it so far, and that's insane.
- Kazuul's Fury: Jared can get swole, but he can't always get through. I hesitate to go too crazy on Fling or Soul's Fire effects, since a 30-power Jared takes a couple of steps to actually create, but this flexible spell-or-land is worth it for those just-in-case scenarios.
- Khalni Ambush: Jared's page is currently brimming with fight effects, but I leaned away from too many of them. If he's the Monarch, he'll get bigger by fighting, but if he's not, fight spells can wind up being dead draws. If you use fight spells with Jared, I recommend prioritizing those that have the greatest flexibility.
- Hornet Nest: Decks that utilize Boros Reckoner effects with huge damage-dealers don't always include green, and they tend to focus a lot on the same package of cards like Spitemare. Don't forget to include this handy thing too! Even if you're not using the Stuffy Doll package, this is a solid blocker.
- Mogg Maniac: A Boros Reckoner effect that often gets overlooked! It's in a mere 449 decks right now, but it slots in here perfectly.
So how do you prefer to wear the crown? Is it simply a means to an end, or a life of luxury you plan to savor? Let us know in the comments below, and don't forget to vote for the next Commander Showdown!
Til next time!