Hey guys. Welcome to another Deck Tech episode, brought to you by the Command Valley. Landon here, and today I will be bringing you a super sweet EDH deck tech on Tayam, Luminous Enigma. This commander caught my eye as one of the strongest among the new C20 commanders, and I’m super excited to not only bring this deck tech to you today, but also show you what it can do in our next gameplay video, so watch out for that on our channel (we’ll post it here too when the time comes).
Let’s get right into it. How does Tayam win? What’s the strategy here? Tayam has so many different viable paths you can build around, but for this deck tech I’ve chosen to go at it from an aristocrats/combo strategy, aristocrats meaning that we are going to be sacrificing creatures for value – be it our tokens, mana dorks or any other creature. We then have a ton of effects that care about creatures dying.
Tayam being able to remove counters from our creatures and turn that into card draw and recursion is AMAZING. We’re primarily playing creatures, and we have ONE permanent in the deck that costs more than 3 CMC, so we’re almost always guaranteed to hit something with Tayam’s ability.
Tayam being able to supply the counters onto our creatures, that we then can remove for more value is going to be a huge part of this deck’s win con.
If you’re not a huge fan of infinite combos, this probably isn’t the deck for you; that being said, after play testing Tayam a lot, this is how I have had the most fun with it.
So, we’re going to be ramping hard for the first couple of turns with mana dorks to get Tayam out, and then we’re going to focus on assembling our combo pieces.
What I love about this deck is, mana dorks late game are still giving us value late game. We use them in the beginning to get to Tayam really quickly and get lots of activations into him, but casting them later in the game will allow us to put some extra counters on them and exploit them even further with Tayam. I tried to go for as many low CMC mana dorks as I could in favor of reanimating ability rather than the powerful sorcery ramp that we know and love.
KEY RAMP CARDS
My favorite ramp piece for this deck is Wall of Roots. Being able to generate mana the turn it comes down, and give itself counters to feed Tayam’s ability makes this one of the better cards in the deck. You can activate his ability on everyone else’s turn, even if you don’t do anything with the mana, and when it gets back to your turn you’ll have 3 extra counters on him to remove and do it all over again.
Next is Growing Rites of Itlimoc, our only enchantment ramp in the deck. It helps us dig for a creature, which is huge considering the combos we’re running, and becomes a huge source of mana, letting us activate Tayam several times in a turn.
A card that’s seeing a lot of aristocrats play is Pitiless Plunderer. Even though Tayam can’t reanimate it (it’s our only 4 cmc creature in the deck) the plunderer will give us the mana we need to keep activating Tayam.
Finally, we have Elvish Harbinger, which, 3 mana for a 1 mana producing elf is not a great rate compared to the rest of the deck, but being able to tutor an elf to the top of our library is amazing and a key tutor for our win cons.
So, we’ve ramped a bunch and gotten Tayam out, what next?
ASSEMBLE THE COMBO
We’ll need some draw engines. Fortunately, Tayam is a pretty good one, as the number of cards in our graveyard that we’re going to be able to get back with Tayam is astounding, but we have others to add some redundancy.
Between the small tokens we make, and all our mana dorks, we have tons of targets to attach the Skullclamp onto. If you don’t have a Skullclamp for your aristocrats deck, I highly recommend it because the rate of 2 cards for 1 mana almost can’t be beaten in a token strategy like this. Grim Haruspex and Midnight Reaper are both creatures that provide us even more value for doing what the deck wants us to do, basically saying that we get to draw a card whenever another creature dies.
Sometimes Tayam is going to mill cards we can’t reanimate (like instants/sorceries) or we want to reuse a card. We have several ways of getting cards back into our hand, from our graveyard. Abzan Ascendancy is getting on the more expensive side because of heavy use in cEDH (and why not, it only costs 2 life to get a card back), but Eternal Witness and Regrowth do the trick well, and Eternal Witness can be recurred with Tayam which makes it even easier to get cards back.
Our combos require a lot of different key creature pieces, so having tutors for creatures is really important.
All of these serve a specific purpose: Buried Alive will tutor up three creatures for us to reanimate, which could be enough to find every creature we need to win; Eldritch Evolution will not only tutor us basically any creature (based on the CMC of this deck) but will also sacrifice a creature to be recurred again, and Eladamri’s Call is a pretty budget creature tutor that works to get something into our hand if we need it.
As we’ve got ways of getting specific cards out of the graveyard, getting specific cards into the graveyard helps to further our gameplan even more, so sacrifice outlets are essential for our combos to work. I’ll go over those combos further down, but here they are.
If you’re unfamiliar with sac outlets, the main thing that you want with these is that the sacrifice doesn’t cost any additional mana or tapping the outlet. This is going to let you sacrifice any number of creatures for value on your turn as well as everybody else’s turn. Ashnod’s Altar is a vital piece in this deck, being able to turn our creatures and tokens into mana and that mana being able to activate Tayam to get more creatures back. My second favorite in this deck, however, has to be Carrion Feeder, who adds counters to himself when he sacrifices creatures, making this 1 CMC sac outlet a must have in this deck.
As an aristocrats strategy, we’ve got to have a couple of token makers to get more death activations. Abzan Ascendancy has the ability to give all of our creatures a +1/+1 counter, which is really nice for having more targets to remove with Tayam, but giving us a token every time one of our non-token creatures dies is the main reason we’re playing this enchantment. Promise of Bunrei will both net us a creature and a counter every turn, because we can remove the counter from it to kill it before it comes back to our turn and we get another one.
Probably the best unique token maker in this deck is a super spicy one with Tayam: Promise of Bunrei. We are going to be killing a lot of creatures, so we should have absolutely no problem triggering Promise of Bunrei. Getting 4 bodies, with 4 counters on them is amazing, AND being able to reanimate the enchantment with Tayam’s ability is ridiculously powerful.
As you’ll see with our combos coming up, Blood Artist type effects are vital for the success of many of the combos. In Aristocrats, or in any strategy if you’re killing your creatures a lot, turning that advantage back on your opponents as well as deterring them from removing your creatures is a quick and easy way to victory.
So, we have 3 primary combo recipes:
So, for our first combo we’ll need on the table: Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit OR Good-Fortune Unicorn, a free sacrifice outlet (including, but not limited to, Ashnod’s Altar), a blood artist effect and a creature with the ability Persist (such as Safehold Elite).
So, with all those ingredients in play, let’s go through the loop.
Step one is to sacrifice the creature with Persist to our free sacrifice outlet. What happens next is the creature with Persist will die, and it’s ability, persist will trigger, causing the creature to return to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter. When it enters the battlefield, Good-Fortune Unicorn or Anafenza will see it, and put a +1/+1 counter on the creature. Because +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters nullify each other when they’re on a creature, our creature with persist will have 0 counters on it once it’s returned to the battlefield. We can then sacrifice it again, and since it has no -1/-1 counters, it will come back to the battlefield again. We can loop this infinite times and each time the creature with persist dies, our Blood Artist will ping our opponents to death.
This loop doesn’t require our commander, but all of these pieces are recurrable with Tayam which makes getting rid of all of the pieces needed much harder for your opponents.
So, let’s say we’ve got some mana dorks, and a couple random other token creatures, Ashnod’s Altar and Tayam on the battlefield, with Caller of the Claw in our hand. We start sacrificing mana dorks to the Altar to make some mana, and then we cast the Caller of the Claw, which will enter and give us bear tokens equal to the amount of non token creatures which have died. We can then sacrifice the Caller of the Claw, and reanimate it with Tayam, using the mana from Ashnod’s Altar, and removing the Vigilance counters from the bear tokens.
Basically, this will give us A TON of mana and bears, and will mill our library until we find a Blood Artist effect, reanimate it with Tayam, and continue looping our bears and Caller of the Claw until we win.
Our 3rd combo is the most compact, and probably the strongest, and if you have a little bit more money to invest into this deck I would recommend buying tutors and pieces that enable this combo in particular. All we need is Devoted Druid, Blossoming Defense (or any instant that gives Devoted Druid at least a +2/+2 buff, this one just offers some protection and it’s really cheap to cast) and Tayam.
With Devoted Druid and Tayam on the battlefield, we cast Blossoming Defense targeting the Devoted Druid. This will give it +2/+2 and hexproof until end of turn. Normally, Devoted Druid can only be activated 2 times in a turn before you can’t put any more -1/-1 counters on it without killing it, but giving it 2 more toughness allows us to activate the druid 3 times.
We tap the Devoted Druid for 1 green mana. We then activate the second ability to put a -1/-1 counter on the druid to untap it. We do this 3 times. With the 3 green mana in our pool, we activate Tayam, remove the -1/-1 counters from the druid, mill 3 and reanimate something. We can do this infinite times, until we find our Blood Artist effects to end the game.
Lastly, a combo deck wouldn’t be complete without some way to stop your opponents from winning the game before you do. Remember that we’ve included a lot of recursion in this deck, so getting back pieces to destroy the things that we need is easier than ever and it won’t feel bad targeting specific pieces that are problematic on the board.
Krosan Grip and Nature’s Claim are awesome removal for artifacts and enchantments. Krosan Grip having split second means our opponents cannot counter it, or do anything else in response. Whatever we want destroyed, will be. Nature’s Claim is a super efficient spell and the downside of your opponent gaining 4 life is less of a downside when all of our win cons deal them infinite damage. Reclamation Sage is another fantastic option in this category, and being able to recur is has been wildly helpful in a lot of the games I’ve played. We are running a lot of enchantment/artifact hate, and that’s because there are a ton of artifacts and enchantments that completely stop our strategy. We need to be able to deal with Rest in Peace, Grafdigger’s Cage, Leyline of the Void, etc.
Citywide Bust, our only board wipe, but it’s a really good one, and will usually leave our board pretty unscathed. Another piece I’ve found really useful in the board wipe strategy (but I’ve ultimately cut from the deck) is Ritual of Soot, specifically because if we’re going to gain a lot of value from all of the creatures on our board dying and we don’t have a good way of sacrificing them, this also helps take care of other people’s boards and we’re (hopefully) gaining more advantage than them in the process. I’ve cut it because of its situational nature, but maybe you’ll find it useful in your strategy.
One of my absolute favorite cards in the deck is Spore Frog. This card does work for keeping us alive until we can combo off. A lot of times, it will deter our opponents from even wanting to attack us, because they don’t want to waste a whole combat step, and then we can also just recur the frog to keep that protection going. Against opponents who depend on combat damage, this is an absolute must have.
Some other creatures that deserve a quick mention: Plaguecrafter is a fantastic piece to recur and it puts a lot of pressure on our opponents; Fiend Hunter is great to exile a creature and, again, we can recur it if it gets removed; and Mother of Runes is super important to protect our commander because we rely on it for most of the combos and card advantage in this deck.
Thank you guys so much for tuning in to today’s episode, and I hope you enjoyed the deck. If there are any cards you’d put in the list, or cards that you’re playing that i’m not, let me know down in the comments! If you have already built this deck, let me know how you like it and your approach to it!
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Thanks again, and until next week.