Monomania Takes on Eldraine – Madder Lake

(Emry, Lurker of the Loch | Art by Livia Prima)

The Rivers and the Lakes that You're Used To

Greetings, everyone, and welcome back to Monomania Takes on Eldraine. In this article series we build mono-colored decks as a way to explore ramp and draw packages that are synergistic with our particular deck’s strategy, and to challenge staples and misconceptions about the color pie. We took a hiatus from the Throne of Eldraine commanders, but we’re circling back to the fairy tale set in this entry. Today, our commander is all about indulging combos. We're in familiar waters, but let's see if we can find a pearl of interest here.

At first glance, Emry seems to embody a few things that I don’t find appealing about mono-blue:

  • She’s yet another blue artifact commander
  • Instead of opening up new space for the color, she seems to suggest a combo-heavy build
  • Most of the cards I want to jam in an Emry deck are cards I would play with any other commander

What appeals to me, however, is how many different combos Emry can join together effectively in one deck. Because the only cost to cast an artifact from our graveyard is a simple tap, zero-mana artifacts can open up several infinite combos in conjunction with cards like Mirran Spy and a sacrifice outlet such as Blasting Station. We can play Memnite, for example, over and over until we’re dizzy. The fundamental concept of this deck revolves around sticking our commander on the table, playing an artifact at no cost, sacrificing that artifact, then exploiting Emry’s ability with an effect that untaps her to replay the same artifact from the graveyard, then repeat until something breaks.

Even Sol Ring can become a combo piece with Emry and a cost reduction effect such as Etherium Sculptor. Perhaps my favorite incidental combo here revolves around Mystic Sanctuary: because we want to cycle through our deck and fill the graveyard, Trade Routes would be a decent inclusion, anyway, but Trade Routes becomes a potent weapon with Mystic Sanctuary and a payoff spell such as Nexus of Fate. This deck is combo soup—it likely won’t be for everyone or make any friends, but it might be a good addition to a collection if you have a play environment comfortable with going infinite.

With this degenerate direction in mind, let’s take a look under the hood.

Pumping Water

This deck has a low curve, which means that we want to focus our ramp package on pieces that will actively engage with our overall plan. Luckily, many combo pieces can help us ramp when necessary.

These cost reduction effects, for example, fit perfectly in any artifact deck. When we combine them with Sol Ring, Emry, a sacrifice outlet, and Mirran Spy, we can produce infinite colorless mana. Swap Sol Ring for Codex Shredder and we can mill out the whole table in one go.

I've had a few months playing with Ugin, the Ineffable now, and I've been touched by this angel. Ugin 2.0 is the real deal, and it's jumped categories in my mind. When brewing for EDH, I only sincerely consider a small set of planeswalkers for inclusion in this format. Ugin, the Ineffable vaulted into that pool. I consider it in any deck with ten or more artifacts: it provides card advantage, significant ramp, and removal in one card. Nobody is sleeping on Ugin, but consider picking up extra copies, because this is a Commander staple. In addition to the three cards featured above, I’ve also included Jhoira’s Familiar for consistency.

Here we have the other side of the coin: many sacrifice outlets can also help us ramp when we need to. All of these cards will produce the extra mana when we need it in a pinch, or they'll create an infinite loop. Phyrexian Altar, in particular, shines in this deck. It's the only outlet we have to create infinite colored mana. This becomes important when we want to Capsize all of our opponents’ permanents in one turn. Any of these options fulfill the role we really need them to, basically creature a spin cycle of cards in and out of the graveyard.

Feeding the Lake

With our ramp in order, let’s see how we’re going to find the pieces we need when we need them. Luckily, Emry gives us great direction in how to gain card advantage.

Cards that rifle through our deck are perfect. Our graveyard is a resource, which means looting has little downside for us. Thirst for Knowledge is exceptional because we want artifacts in the graveyard, anyway. Frantic Search can keep an explosive turn rolling and make the most out of limited mana before we find a loop. Careful Consideration is one of my personal pet cards; when played at instant speed, it nets zero card advantage; when played at sorcery speed, it puts you up one card. Even so, it's hard to deny the tremendous rate on this card: digging four cards deep at instant speed for four mana is objectively good. In a deck that utilizes the graveyard, it is exceptional. At the time of writing, this card only sees play in 676 decks on EDHREC; it deserves better.

Finally, this style of artifact deck loves "Eggs." Any low-cost artifact that draws a card upon entering the battlefield or the graveyard is right at home with Emry. Not only will these cards help hurtle through the deck, they'll also give us decent targets for Emry’s ability in the early game before we assemble a combo. Eggs are underrated in Commander, but they can grease a deck’s engine and fill in gaps. I’ve included five other Eggs for consistency, including Alchemist’s Vial and Conjurer’s Bauble. While they seem low-impact, Eggs are vital to our deck's ecosystem.

The Deck

Now let’s put it all together with a coherent deck list. The goal here is that every card buttresses our overall plan of finding and executing a combo.

Among the other notable inclusions, we have several cards that can win us the game when we implement an infinite loop. What’s you flavor? Do you want to nuke your opponents? Aetherflux Reservoir can obliterate opponents 50 damage at a time. Want to draw out and savor the victory? Capsize all their permanents until you find a way to end the game. Dream of milling the table? Codex Shredder or Altar of the Brood are here for you. For moments of infinite colorless mana, we have Walking Ballista, and if we draw our whole deck using Vedalken Archmage, we can slap a Laboratory Maniac on the table.

To protect the board we’ll use to win, I’ve included five cheap counterspells, including Swan Song, Dispel, and Delay. Finally, everything hums with Lotus Petal. Combos aren’t fun for everyone, but sifting through the pieces with Emry might be fun enough to amuse your table and yourself.

This list may not be tuned to perfection, but I believe that it succeeds in the central goal. Season to taste.

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What do you all think of the list? Is there anything I missed? Do you frequently include infinite combos in your decks? Do you find it fun to win that way? Should we chase waterfalls or are familiar evils sufficient fun? Please let me know in the comments! As always, remember to EDHREC responsibly: always dig a little beyond the statistics. I’ll see you all on down the road.

Steven Vincent is an ESL teacher located in Oaxaca, México who uses Magic as a teaching tool. He hasn't introduced his students to Commander yet, but he is inching them toward the format so that he has a play group and can more frequently sate his thirst for EDH.