Nearly Identical - Tor Wauki, the Younger or Judith, Carnage Connoisseur?

(Storm-Kiln Artist | Art by Manuel Castañón)

Burn, Baby! Burn!

Hello! Welcome back to Nearly Identical, a series where I take a look at two commanders with similar designs and archetypes, find out what separates them, and help you find your next commander. Today, I'm looking at two Rakdos commanders who want to burn their opponents to the ground: Tor Wauki the Younger and Judith, Carnage Connoisseur.

Burn has difficulty winning in Commander. Like mill, the archetype struggles to win once the game scales to three opponents each with forty life. We'd need a commander to amplify our burn spells to strengthen them in Commander. Tor Wauki the Younger adds an additional one damage to each noncombat damage from a source we control. While we've seen this effect done better on cards like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Tor Wauki can shoot two damage to any target. That and his lifelink ability allow us to stay alive and control the board.

Judith, Carnage Connoisseur is a Pestilent Spirit in the command zone. An End the Festivities now sweeps the board of our opponents' creatures and gains us life on top of that. Or, we create a 2/2 Imp that deals two damage to each opponent when it dies.

Both Rakdos commanders reward us for casting instant and sorcery spells that burn our opponents and their creatures. For Tor Wauki, I'm going to make a pinger deck, including as many permanents that deal damage when we cast spells. And for Judith, I want to take advantage of the tokens we make and build an Aristocrat deck. But first, what cards are we looking to have in both lists?

Storm-Kiln Artist is perfect for any Spellslinger deck. He makes Treasure tokens for each instant and sorcery we cast which in turn helps us cast more spells. Storm is in the name after all, and that's exactly what we want to do.

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell increases each damage from a red source by two, which is relevant to both commanders. Most of the pingers, including Tor Wauki himself, are red, and the Imps Judith makes are red as well. Burn can be a hard strategy to succeed within Commander, but Torbran makes that plan a whole lot easier. Since both commanders are capable of gaining life, a card like Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose can turn that life gain into life drain.

Kill On Sight

Now that we know our strategy, let's see how we're building Tor Wauki.

Tor Wauki doesn't only care about instants and sorceries. His damage increase can be from any source dealing noncombat damage, so we're including pingers like Unruly Catapult, Blisterspit Gremlin, and Thermo-Alchemist. These tap to deal damage to our opponents and untap when we cast a spell of the relevant type. If we're casting two or three spells on our turn, these pingers alone can deal upwards of six plus damage with Tor Wauki out.

Fiery Inscription takes Guttersnipe and puts him on an enchantment. Since this is harder to remove, we have a better chance of keeping Fiery Inscription around and burning our opponents for three each time we cast a spell. On top of this, we do have other ways to drain our opponents' health.

The single damage on our upkeep may seem unremarkable, but having Creeping Bloodsucker out and gaining three life each turn is great at padding our life total. However, with Tor Wauki out, that now becomes two damage to each opponent and six life gained since you're gaining life equal to the amount of damage dealt. This gets even better if you have any damage doublers or amplifiers such as Torbran. Kederekt Parasite is a nasty creature that deals damage each time your opponent draws. For one mana, this becomes a Sheoldred, the Apocalypse with Tor Wauki out.

With all this damage we can deal to our opponents, Florian, Voldaren Scion will essentially become a tutor each turn. If we have a pinger and Tor Wauki out, we get to choose the best card from our top eight or so cards. The longer Florian sticks around, the closer we get to grabbing the pieces we need for victory.

Now let's take a look at the deck!

Tor Wauki's Poison-tipped Arrows

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Commander (1)
Creatures (20)
Sorceries (17)
Enchantments (3)
Instants (17)
Artifacts (7)
Lands (35)

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Exploding Imps

When everyone saw the new Judith, players were drawn to her ability to give your spells deathtouch and lifelink. This turns any red damage boardwipe into a true sweeper. Red has plenty of cheap "deal one damage to each creature" spells. Great for controlling the board, but I can see the deck leading to unfun gameplay. No one enjoys getting their board of creatures constantly removed. To the point where boardwipes come far and few between in games. That's why I want to focus less on killing everything and more on the token creation.

Determined Iteration gives us an extra Imp token at the beginning of our combat. It even comes with a built-in sacrifice trigger, allowing us to deal two to our opponents every turn for free. Promise of Aclazotz is another enchantment that can populate an Imp at our end step, and it's another sac outlet for our Imps.

While I wish there were more populate cards in Rakdos, we do have access to one of the strongest for this deck. Ghired's Belligerence can be hard to trigger if we don't have a bunch of 1/1s to kill, but with Judith's ability to give our spells deathtouch, Ghired's Belligerence will kill any creature we target with just one damage. We can dump all our mana into X and populate a ton of 2/2 Imps. If we have a sac outlet, we might just be able to end the game there. Speaking of sac outlets, how do we plan to sac all the Imps we make?

Plumb the Forbidden copies itself for each Imp we sacrifice to it. If we hold up the mana, we can wait to see if our opponents try to exile our tokens with a Farewell and then sac all the Imps in response, refilling our hand and dealing damage to our opponents.

Goblin Bombardment is a free sac outlet that can deal additional damage to any target. It doesn't synergize with Judith's ability, but since we're already dealing damage with the Imps, might as well get in for a little bit more if we can. And then we have spells that need a creature to be sacrificed as an additional cost such as Culling the Weak, which makes it easier to cast Judith. Since we're focused on Imps and creatures dying, how can we take advantage of that?

Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might is already great with the spells we have that deal damage to our opponents, but the reason I like him here is that he can increase the Imp's damage to four. Virtue of Courage turns all that damage into card advantage, allowing us to see six cards from one Imp dying. In a spellslinger deck, this is incredible value that can turn into an explosive turn. And Mahadi, Emporium Master will see all the creatures that have died and make that many Treasures. If we do plan on sweeping the board, can still see some value from it.

Check out the deck!

Judith, Merciless Killer

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Commander (1)
Sorceries (18)
Instants (19)
Creatures (12)
Enchantments (7)
Artifacts (8)
Lands (35)

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Laced With Poison

Tor Wauki the Younger has 3,500 decks on EDHREC. He's a popular option for any player looking for a Burn deck in Commander. But with the release of Judith, his reign might be in trouble. Judith, Carnage Connoisseur was just printed in the new Murders at Karlov Manor set and already has 1,300 decks. She's the second-most built commander from the set and I don't think her popularity will slow down.

Judith will be a fun deck to play, but I do have concerns about commanders who make it easy to wipe the board or even reward you for doing so. A single Blasphemous Act puts you far ahead of everyone else on life totals. And if you don't have a Vito out to make use of the life gain, your opponents won't be able to do much against you if they can't keep their creatures around to attack you. While she will be a popular commander, I wonder how long it'll be before players decide she's too much to play with or against.

Let me know which commander you prefer! Do you prefer to ping your opponents to death or gain a bunch of life and drain everyone instead? Let me know down below and I'll see you next time!

Read More:

Nearly Identical - Ashaya or Yedora?

Nearly Identical - Admiral Beckett Brass or Don Andres?

Technically Playable - Tor Wauki the Younger

Josh is a creative writer that started playing Magic when Throne of Eldraine was released. He loves entering combat and pressuring life totals, and to him, commander damage is always relevant. Outside of brewing many commander decks, he can be found prepping his D&D campaigns with a cat purring in his lap.

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