The Spirit of EDH – Thrown in the Queen’s Lockup

Hello everyone! I’m Literally a Ghost That Pushes Over Candles and welcome back to The Spirit of EDH. Today we’re visiting the only place that can hold me permanently, namely a Ghostly Prison. Queen Marchesa is still one of my favorite commanders, partially due to her color identity being my favorite and partially due to her ability to consistently draw me cards while still being threatening. I’ve always wanted to try building a different deck behind Her Majesty and with the printing of Captive Audience I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Let’s take a look at this decklist so we can start breaking down what, exactly, I wanted to do:

Spells (49)
1 x Authority of the Consuls
1 x Enlightened Tutor
1 x Sol Ring
1 x Swords to Plowshares
1 x Boros Charm
1 x Boros Signet
1 x Blind Obedience
1 x Damnable Pact
1 x Greater Auramancy
1 x Luminarch Ascension
1 x Orzhov Signet
1 x Rakdos Signet
1 x Smoke
1 x Talisman of Indulgence
1 x Anguished Unmaking
1 x Commander's Sphere
1 x Crawlspace
1 x Crown of Doom
1 x Curse of the Nightly Hunt
1 x Ghostly Prison
1 x Karmic Justice
1 x Mortify
1 x Painful Truths
1 x Phyrexian Arena
1 x Teferi's Protection
1 x Vindicate
1 x Ambition's Cost
1 x Curse of Exhaustion
1 x Day of Judgment
1 x Disrupt Decorum
1 x No Mercy
1 x Smothering Tithe
1 x Utter End
1 x Wrath of God
1 x Assemble the Legion
1 x Curse of Death's Hold
1 x Curse of Misfortunes
1 x Curse of Thirst
1 x Obzedat's Aid
1 x Promise of Power
1 x Sphere of Safety
1 x Austere Command
1 x Ethereal Absolution
1 x Merciless Eviction
1 x Open the Vaults
1 x Captive Audience
1 x Cruel Reality
1 x Debtors' Knell
1 x Overwhelming Splendor
Creatures (12)
1 x Auramancer
1 x Heliod's Pilgrim
1 x Monk Idealist
1 x Thalia, Heretic Cathar
1 x Academy Rector
1 x Agent of Erebos
1 x Archangel of Tithes
1 x Solemn Simulacrum
1 x Windborn Muse
1 x Bitterheart Witch
1 x Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
1 x Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
Commander
1 x Queen Marchesa

Lands (38)
1 x Arid Mesa
1 x Blood Crypt
1 x Bloodstained Mire
1 x Clifftop Retreat
1 x Command Tower
1 x Concealed Courtyard
1 x Dragonskull Summit
1 x Fetid Heath
1 x Flooded Strand
1 x Godless Shrine
1 x Graven Cairns
1 x Inspiring Vantage
1 x Isolated Chapel
1 x High Market
1 x Miren, the Moaning Well
5 x Mountain
5 x Plains
1 x Rugged Prairie
1 x Sacred Foundry
1 x Shambling Vent
6 x Swamp
1 x Temple of Malice
1 x Temple of Silence
1 x Temple of Triumph
1 x Wasteland

Sole Sovereign of Enchantments

Once again Queen Marchesa’s promise of the throne is what brought her to champion a commander deck, though this time with a very strong enchantment theme. Her ability to promise us the Monarchy each game, with the additional ability to steal it back efficently, grants us access to reliable card draw that can’t be removed with a wrath. This lets us play a pillowfort/prison style deck, making it impossible to hurt us while we gather our resources for our eventual victory.

If you’re unfamiliar with Queen Marchesa’s role as commander, I direct you to my article Queen Marchesa Control for an in-depth look. For everyone else, just know that it’s not hard to keep the crown and even easier to take it back, so we should always get our card each turn.

The Magic of the Court

1 x Authority of the Consuls
1 x Blind Obedience
1 x Greater Auramancy
1 x Luminarch Ascension
1 x Smoke
1 x Curse of the Nightly Hunt
1 x Ghostly Prison
1 x Karmic Justice
1 x Phyrexian Arena
1 x Curse of Exhaustion
1 x No Mercy
1 x Smothering Tithe
1 x Assemble the Legion
1 x Curse of Death's Hold
1 x Curse of Misfortunes
1 x Curse of Thirst
1 x Sphere of Safety
1 x Ethereal Absolution
1 x Captive Audience
1 x Cruel Reality
1 x Debtors' Knell
1 x Overwhelming Splendor

1 x Auramancer
1 x Heliod's Pilgrim
1 x Monk Idealist
1 x Academy Rector
1 x Agent of Erebos
1 x Bitterheart Witch

1 x Enlightened Tutor
1 x Obzedat's Aid
1 x Open the Vaults

This is our enchantment suite, including our support cards in other types. We’ll talk more in depth about our protection, including the enchantments therein, and our win conditions in the next two sections. Here, we’ll talk about the support cards alone.

Academy Rector and Bitterheart Witch – Two cards so powerful we included two lands just to help their abilities out in the form of High Market and Miren, the Moaning Well. Both of these creatures let us tutor up an enchantment directly onto the battlefield, giving us a steep discount on our expensive finishers, however, Bitterheart Witch can only get Curses. This isn’t so much a problem for us, with expensive Curses like Curse of Misfortunes, Cruel Reality and Overwhelming Splendor. Academy Rector, however, can get other enchantments such as Captive Audience, Ethereal Absolution or Sphere of Safety, easily making these ladies worth an inclusion.

Agent of Erebos – Graveyard removal that’s repeatable is nice, especially when its by simply doing something you’d already be doing. Agent of Erebos notably only exiles a single opponents graveyard, letting us stop someone from going nuts on recursion while letting us hold on to others for cards like Ethereal Absolution or Debtors’ Knell. We wouldn’t want to remove resources we could use until its necessary to do so.

Curse of Misfortunes – Repeatable value is what we live for, which is why we treasure the Monarchy so highly. In this manner, Curse of Misfortunes is a bounty of good fortune for us. This allows us to tutor up any curse from our library, since none of them have the same name, and attach them one at a time onto our opponent. With six Curses in our deck to fetch up, this card can quickly spell the end for our opponent if they don’t find removal very quickly. If you want to see how, exactly, skip to the breakdown of our win conditions in Subjugation Made Easy.

Smothering Tithe – This card is a godsend for non-green players. The idea of our opponents paying two mana to stop us from generating a treasure at any point where the ramp matters to us are laughable. Tithe will almost always give you the treasure, allowing you three extra mana in a four-player game the turn after you play it, and if that’s your opponents don’t draw any extra cards. This card on turn three or four will let you play anything you want the turnaround, it’s just that powerful.

Guarding the Throne

1 x Thalia, Heretic Cathar
1 x Archangel of Tithes
1 x Windborn Muse
1 x Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
1 x Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts

1 x Boros Charm
1 x Teferi's Protection
1 x Day of Judgment
1 x Utter End
1 x Wrath of God
1 x Crawlspace

1 x Authority of the Consuls
1 x Blind Obedience
1 x Greater Auramancy
1 x Smoke
1 x Ghostly Prison
1 x Karmic Justice
1 x No Mercy
1 x Sphere of Safety

Authority of the Consuls, Blind Obedience, Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Smoke – For those of you who aren’t familiar with Smoke, as I wasn’t before starting to do some research for cards for this deck, this card is brutal. Its like a Winter Orb for creatures, which is excellent for our game plan. This means our opponents will have a hard time getting into the red zone against us again and again, as they can only untap one of their attackers each turn. To synergize with this, as well as protect us from hasty threats or any stray pair of Lightning Greaves, Authority, Blind Obedience and Thalia will force our opponents’ creatures to enter tapped. This prevents our opponents from playing multiple creatures then being able to attack with all of them, slowing their assault to a halt. Authority and Blind Obedience also pad our life total, which is important for a deck like ours.

Archangel of Tithes, Windborn Muse, Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, Ghostly Prison and Sphere of Safety – One of the easiest way to dissuade people from attacking you is forcing them to pay mana to do so. This bevy of cards all tax our opponents mana, limiting the number of creatures they’re allowed to attack with, if they can attack at all! Kazuul is the odd one of the pack, granting us a 3/3 that we can use as a blocker rather than straight preventing attacks, but he will do a good job protecting us from threats by either blocking or threatening a crackback with his team. The rest keep us safe from attacks and encourage our opponents to seek blood elsewhere.

Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts and No Mercy – The other way to dissuade attacks against the throne is good ol’ reliable: Draconian punishments on any who raise a weapon against us. No Mercy ends the life of anything foolish enough to deal combat damage to us, making it easier to manage aggressive opponents and simply pushing away those who aren’t. Teysa is the same effect, but we get their soul in the form of a 1/1 spirit with flying each time something dies to her ability. She also attacks in unblockably, thanks to Protection from Creatures, each turn, which can put the pressure on players to find answers.

Boros Charm, Teferi’s Protection, Greater Auramancy and Karmic Justice – Our enchantments are our backbone, the strength on which our Monarchy is built. For this reason, we must protect them. Boros Charm and Teferi’s Protection will save our enchantments from board wipes, with the exception of Captive Audience, allowing us to extend our control without fear of reprecussions. Greater Auramancy, on the other side, protect us from targetted removal, by granting shroud to our enchantments. Karmic Justice is the last of our protection suite, which will discourage removal by threatening a Vindicate for each of our noncreature permanents our opponents destroy. Resolving an Austere Command against us could spell death, in the form of a one-sided Armageddon.

Subjugation Made Easy

1 x Crown of Doom

1 x Disrupt Decorum


1 x Luminarch Ascension
1 x Curse of the Nightly Hunt
1 x Assemble the Legion
1 x Curse of Death's Hold
1 x Curse of Thirst
1 x Ethereal Absolution
1 x Captive Audience
1 x Cruel Reality
1 x Debtors' Knell
1 x Overwhelming Splendor

Crown of Doom, Disrupt Decorum and Curse of the Nightly Hunt – Our first path to victory is the easiest, but also the least consistent. It involves protecting ourselves enough to get our opponents to kill each other. If even one person gets knocked out by this strategy, then it worked perfectly, since it is far easier to control two players than three. These three cards encourage that, with Disrupt Decorum forcing our opponents to attack, and attack someone other than us if able, Crown of Doom granting power bonuses to whoever attacks its controller, and Curse forcing an opponent to get aggressive, whether they want to or not. A fun interaction is between Curse of the Nightly Hunt and Ghostly Prison like effects is that, if your opponent doesn’t want to pay they’re forced to attack someone else. They don’t get out of attacking just because they can’t break a Sphere of Safety!

Luminarch Ascension – What would normally be a target on our head is just another card in the list of cards that need to be dealt with. All we need to do to get access to this enchantment’s powerful activated ability is go four of our opponents’ turns without taking damage. After that, we have an endless number of 4/4 angels for two mana. We can quickly amass enough angels to kill a player, even with a wrath, since we can make these on the same end step that got us our last counter, then go right to untap and attacking.

Assemble the Legion and Ethereal Absolution – Assemble the Legion isn’t the fastest card in the game, but if it isn’t dealt with it will rapidly take over the game. Our opponents can only deal with an every growing legion of 1/1’s for so long. The fun part is that they only play so much enchantment removal, they can’t get rid of all of our threats, meaning with a bit of careful planning and a Boros Charm, we can ensure the safety of our Assembly. Ethereal Absolution works on this same axis, buffing our creatures while weakening our opponents if not killing them outright. It allows us to create spirits from the dead of our opponents’ graveyards, giving us a few more attackers and fizzle some reanimate spells.

Curse of Thirst, Curse of Death’s Hold and Overwhelming Splendor – An awful combo to be against, with few exceptions this forbids our opponent from having creatures. Overwhelming Splendor sets their base power and toughness to 1, then it goes to 0 because of Death’s Hold. Overwhelming Splendor also stops enters-the-battlefield triggers from happening, meaning creature-based answers won’t get them out of this either. Combine these with Curse of Thirst and you create a draining lock that is very difficult to get free from without assistance.

Debtors’ Knell – Another of our paths to victory comes in the form of forced recruitment. Debtors’ Knell reanimates a creature each of our turns, allowing us to regrow Bitterheart Witch or a passed-on Auramancer at worst. At best, it allows us to steal powerful creatures from our opponents, giving us threats we didn’t pay for to win the game with. This card is a nightmare to any opponent that can’t remove it, which is the theme for all of our win conditions.

Cruel Reality – The last card to squeeze the life out of an opponent with few creatures, Cruel Reality is cruel indeed. With our wrath effects, graveyard exiling or creature stealing, as well as other removal, if an opponent isn’t playing a decently high count of creatures it can be difficult to sacrifice something to our curse each turn. If they don’t, well, we’ll accept some of their blood as a lien.

Cards to Consider

Crawlspace – This card doesn’t stop attackers entirely, but does stem the attack we need to defend ourselves from. Any deck that goes wide will have trouble killing us through this type of effect, allowing us enough time to draw other forms of removal or protection, and they’ll be hard pressed to use premium removal on this since we have so many other artifacts and enchantments that need to be dealt with.

Curse of Exhaustion – Another card that works well with Curse of Thirst, Curse of Exhaustion can put a stranglehold on a lot of decks. By only being able to cast one spell per turn, some decks will be unable to keep up in any way, quickly being outpaced by their enemies. This type of effect can seem underwhelming to players who haven’t seen it in effect before, but the first time you feel this card pulling your eyelids shut, you’ll understand the power of exhaustion.

Notable Exclusions

Curse of Disturbance et. al – This deck does have a decent Curse theme, but not an all in on that theme. Since there isn’t a lot of benefits from playing so many Curses, besides Curse of Thirst, any of the Curses that don’t directly help our plan get left out. In addition, the Curses that trigger when we attack the enchanted player aren’t as helpful for us as they would be for our opponents, since we play so many less creatures before trying to win.

Sigil of the Empty Throne, Sram, Senior Edificer, and Mesa Enchantress – Cards like these, as well as any others that trigger off each enchantment spell cast, are less helpful for decks that play haymaker enchantments like ours. These cards work better with enchantments that are lower to the floor, rather than five or six mana enchantments like we have.

Parting Thoughts

This deck is easily my favorite deck I’ve built in the last six months. This deck is exactly the type of stuff I like doing, between playing cards like Overwhelming Splendor and Captive Audience while still drawing cards and protecting ourselves. It’s like running into a maze only to slowly realize there’s no way out, which is exactly the type of control I like to play. If you’ve never played a deck like this, I urge you to try it. It’s an absolute blast to sit in an ivory tower while you watch your opponents struggle.

So tell me, what did you think? Did I offer information you thought was helpful, raise some insights you might not have thought of, miss stuff you thought I should mention, or any other thoughts I didn’t call out? Leave a comment below to let me know, or you can haunt me directly on Twitter (@FrigglishTGhost) or spook my email (AMillionDifferentColors@Gmail.com).
Make sure you join me next week, where I’ll be talking about… a surprise!

Until then, may the Spirit of EDH possess you with creativity.
— Literally a Ghost that Pushes Over Candles

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