And the List Goes On – An EDH Staples Walkthrough, Machine Head.

-An EDH Staples walkthrough by Blaine Johnson.

Last article I discussed the basic building blocks for what a deck designer needs when working with blue. In this piece I’ll be going over the color that made it so your parents wouldn’t let you play Magic when you were younger. Black has always been described as the demonic side of the game. With its references to satanic practices and other grim concepts, it can easily be frowned upon by conservative onlookers. When it comes to EDH, Black is easily one of the most powerful colors of choice. It is very versatile in the ways that it can approach the game. One of the things that truly sets it apart from the other colors is it’s incredibly powerful Tutor effects. This, along with massive card draw and other very solid mechanics make going to the Dark Side all too easy.

Next I’ll go over what has been coined “the most immature” color. Red is a very simple minded part of Magic. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t require any skill while wielding it, but in the grander scheme of things it does fall short where other colors flourish. Red has its limitations, so if you wish to play it in a large format like EDH, you’ll have to stick to one concept and do that one thing very well.

  • Enjoy the Dark Side.


Innocent Blood, Chainer’s Edict, Barter in Blood, and Consuming Vapors:

To start off the black portion we look at my choices for simple edict removal spells. Each one gains you multiple removal spells from an individual card. They range in mana costs and overall impact. I wouldn’t recommend running all four in one deck unless your design points you in that direction. All of them hold their own in some way and provide a certain value.

Mind Twist and Myojin of Night’s Reach:

It is very hard to win games after someone has Mind Twisted you for your whole hand, and it is equally hard to lose games after you do it to your opponent. This is the same concept for the Myojin of Night’s Reach except that  its influence is over the whole table. It is a very powerful card to be able to wait till after someone’s draw phase to shoot away their entire hand.

Beacon of Unrest:

I’ve always liked this card. It really has no draw back with only pure upsides. All of the Beacons and Zenith are very powerful and because of their shuffle mechanic I would never disagree with anyone running them in EDH. This card is especially great in multiplayer games giving you a large pool of creatures in various graveyards to choose from.

Vampiric Tutor and Demonic Tutor:

These are the two best tutor cards in all of EDH and more or less in all of Magic. They are one of the reasons why black is such a powerful color for EDH decks. Sometimes I will design lists with black in them only because I have access to card quality such as this.

Black Sun’s Zenith, Damnation, and Decree of Pain:

Here are my choices for black mass removal spells. Damnation is just the bare bones of removal for this color and the decks really like having it. Decree of Pain really is such a crazy one sided game opening card. Even at its worst, it cycles, kills a few creatures, and draws and card.

Necropotence, and Phyrexian Arena:

Necropotence is one of the best draw cards ever printed and is banned in Eternal formats. In EDH you are given access to it and I would not pass up on the opportunity. The Arena on the other hand is legal in many formats but sees little play in them. In a format like EDH, cards that would be considered too slow or are outclassed by creatures like Dark Confidant, find new homes. The pace of EDH is unlike any other format because it is much slower and slow card advantage engines are key. Doesn’t hurt that you start at 40 life.

Profane Command, Sudden Death, and Shriekmaw:

If it hasn’t become apparent yet, all of the Commands are very good. At best this card kills a creature and reanimates one of your own and at worst it shoots an opponent for lethal. Sudden Death isn’t always necessary, but sometimes it is a good out to activated ability of creatures and certain Generals. This evoke creature is just so simple in its production that it finds a home in most decks running black. It also has synergy with recursion cards by evoking it into the graveyard and bringing it back to destroy two creatures.


Hatred is a card that I really like. It makes any General with evasion into a one hit kill creature. The nice thing about EDH is that it only takes 21 General damage to win a game and paying up to 21 life to do so feels ok afterwards.

Grave Titan and Nirkana Revenant:

These are my choices for big game winners. Grave Titan is a relentless assault of zombies and can end games of any life total fast. The Revenant is a surprisingly effective card. The following turn, even if you’re not attacking with her, she still nets you so much mana to do whatever you feel best with.

Sorin Markov:

Once your opponent was at 40, now he/she is at 10. Nice game. Even after this one shot 30 life point swing, the rest of his abilities are all still very acceptable.

  • It’s always fun to be immature.


Comet Storm and Molten Disaster:

X spells are generally weak but these two manage to get the job done and actually net you some form of card advantage from killing multiple creatures. I also like Comet Storm because it is an instant and leaves you open to doing things on your own turn.

Fork, Reverberate, Reiterate, and Wild Ricochet:

Red is very limited in what it can do in a big format like EDH but one thing it does do well is throw spells back at players. Wild Ricochet is by far the best version of these type of spells.

Shattering Pulse and Shattering Spree:

Another one of Red’s strong suits is destroying artifacts. A lot of EDH decks rely very heavily on their artifacts and accelerants, and if you can throw them off their track, you can get ahead. I like the utility of Shattering Pulse but Shattering Spree is such a blow out in many occasions.

Tectonic Break, Wildfire, and Destructive Force:

Once again, red doesn’t do a whole lot for us in deck construction but if you’re going to play it, these cards in combination with artifact mana can win a lot of games. Some red decks can play only fast mana and land destruction in attempts to win games.

Blood Moon and Ruination:

These two cards can be gigantic game enders against big multicolor decks running countless nonbasic lands.

Koth of the Hammer and Chandra Nalaar:

Planeswalkers always hold their own, even in off colors such as red. Red for the most part wants all the help it can get from these guys and removal in the form Chandra is a big leap forward in board position. Koth helps out more for a mono red strategy by giving them a mana jump and a game winner.

Wheel of Fortune and Imperial Recruiter:

Imperial Recruiter is another suggestion of a card that I wouldn’t expect anyone to actually play because of its price. Most red decks need some way of seeing new cards and finding things they desperately need for certain situations. Wheel of Fortune helps with this need for new cards as a red deck will often run out its hand very earlier and need some way to pick itself back up and keep going.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker:

Even though he is a rather good General, he isn’t too shabby just in some EDH decks too. If you have a large number of creatures with come into player triggers, this guy can get pretty nutty. Red also loves being able to do anything more than once.

Siege-Gang Commander, Inferno Titan, and Bogardan Hellkite:

These are the style of creatures that are great with a Kiki-Jiki out and even on their own they are effective creatures. They often give you a good two for one and Inferno Titan can end games on his own.

  • Until next time, have fun with your deck designs and stay with me for a good mull over of the best uses of Green and your Multicolor Fillers.
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