Elminster...or ElmOnster? A Commander Deck Tech

Andy Zupke • August 16, 2022

What’s up friends? Welcome back to Cardsphere. Before we get into the full swing of Dominaria United previews, I wanted to take a brief hop into the time machine to talk about a commander from long, long ago. Like, a month ago. This was just a one-off brew I decided to try, and I had so much fun with it that I wanted to share the deck with you all. We’re gonna break some “rules,” and maybe some faces, with this deck I cooked up for a planeswalker from Commander Legends 2. It’s Elminster.

Open Sesame

So this planeswalker/wizard/Gandalf-ish guy gives us discounts on our instant and sorcery spells whenever we Scry. He’s also got a built-in Scry 2 as a +2 ability, which is a really powerful bit of card advantage to have in the command zone. Then for his -3 ability we exile our top card and create a bunch of 1/1 faerie dragons equal to the mana value of that card.

So what’s the plan here? Obviously we want to manipulate our top card and abuse that -3 ability as much as possible, right? The more faerie dragons, the better. But if we put too many big mana value cards in the deck, won’t that throw off our mana curve and make the deck harder to play? Well, that’s the thing. We don’t necessarily care if we get to play those giant spells, we really just want them there for the token creation. So let’s look at how we’re going to make sure we’re getting those big spells on top of the deck.

Presto Chango

We can’t just rely on Elminster’s Scry ability for our top-deck manipulation. We’ll need several ways of making sure we know what’s there. The best permanent cards for that are Scroll Rack and Sensei’s Divining Top. Scroll Rack is especially important for sneaking those giant spells out of our hand if we draw them. There’s also Crystal Ball and Brain in a Jar for a bit of extra Scrying. Rumor Gatherer is fantastic here with all the tokens Elminster, and some other cards, are going to create. And Psychic Impetus not only gives us a free Scry every round, but also keeps a threatening creature off our backs. For non-permanents we’ve got Behold the Multiverse, Brainstorm, Tamiyo’s Epiphany, and several others. Mystical Tutor is obviously the best of them, as it puts whatever spell we want right on top for Elminster to turn into flying death machines. And Mystic Speculation is so good with this commander that it actually saw a price spike because of it.

What kind of spells are we putting on top? Big spells in white and blue tend to fall into two categories: board wipes and extra turn spells. Fated Retribution, Hour of Reckoning, Ondu Inversion // Ondu Skyruins, and Vanquish the Horde can either make us a ton of tokens or blow up the world. Then for the extra turns, which everybody loves (right?), there’s Alrund’s Epiphany, Beacon of Tomorrows, Temporal Trespass, Nexus of Fate, and Time Stretch. And let’s not forget the least salty card ever printed, Expropriate.

In addition to these “fun” spells, we’ve also got some more token makers with Storm Herd, Clone Legion, Deploy to the Front, and Emeria’s Call // Emeria, Shattered Skyclave. There’s a little bit of protection with Chant of Vitu-Ghazi, which we can cast for a discount with its Convoke ability. And we’ll also throw in an alternate win-con with Approach of the Second Sun. Cuz why not?

For My Next Trick

Sometimes we won’t be able to figure out what’s on top of our deck, but still need to go for it with Elminster’s -3 to get some tokens. To ensure that we’re getting something, it’s in our best interest to fish lands out of the deck as much as possible. So we’re running plenty of basic lands and ways to dig them up, like Archaeomancer’s Map, Wayfarer’s Bauble, Solemn Simulacrum, Keeper of the Accord, and Land Tax.

For other fun tricks in the deck, look no further than Oath of Teferi. Oath gives us the chance to activate Elminster twice, which is crucial when his token-making ability removes 3 loyalty. We’re also running Favorable Winds to beef up those faerie dragons and make them more threatening. Junk Winder does a great job at tapping down our opponents’ best stuff, or we can just outright steal that stuff with Blatant Thievery.

Here’s the full decklist, plus a link to the deck in Archidekt so you can take it for a spin.

1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Alrund's Epiphany
1 Approach of the Second Sun
1 Arcane Signet
1 Archaeomancer's Map
1 Azorius Signet
1 Beacon of Tomorrows
1 Behold the Multiverse
1 Blatant Thievery
1 Bond of Insight
1 Brain in a Jar
1 Brainstorm
1 Castle Vantress
1 Cavalier of Gales
1 Chant of Vitu-Ghazi
1 Clone Legion
1 Command Beacon
1 Command Tower
1 Commit // Memory
1 Counterspell
1 Crystal Ball
1 Deploy to the Front
1 Deserted Beach
1 Diviner's Portent
1 Elminster
1 Emeria's Call // Emeria, Shattered Skyclave
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Expropriate
1 Fated Retribution
1 Favorable Winds
1 Foresee
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Guiding Bolt
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Hengegate Pathway // Mistgate Pathway
1 Hour of Reckoning
1 Invincible Hymn
12 Island
1 Junk Winder
1 Karn's Bastion
1 Keeper of the Accord
1 Land Tax
1 Mentor's Guidance
1 Mnemonic Deluge
1 Mystic Gate
1 Mystic Speculation
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Nexus of Fate
1 Nezahal, Primal Tide
1 Nimbus Maze
1 No Escape
1 Oath of Teferi
1 Omen of the Sea
1 Ondu Inversion // Ondu Skyruins
7 Plains
1 Prairie Stream
1 Psychic Impetus
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Rumor Gatherer
1 Sapphire Dragon // Psionic Pulse
1 Scroll Rack
1 Sea of Clouds
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Skycloud Expanse
1 Smothering Tithe
1 Sol Ring
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Storm Herd
1 Talisman of Progress
1 Tamiyo's Epiphany
1 Temporal Trespass
1 The Council of Four
1 The Magic Mirror
1 Thought Vessel
1 Thran Dynamo
1 Time Stretch
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Vanquish the Horde
1 Voyage's End
1 Wayfarer's Bauble
1 Zhalfirin Void


While some players frown upon extra turns spells, we’re really not trying to cast them too often with this deck. I mean, if you can afford it, go for it. But really we just want to get those sweet tokens. The mana curve, with a monster-sized average MV of 4.86, may be off-putting to some, but again, casting those spells is not our goal. This is a token deck that’s mostly just looking to smash face in the air. And who doesn’t love to do that?

So what do you think? Am I crazy? Am I to be shunned for so brazenly breaking the mana curve rules? Hit me up on Twitter at @AndyZupke and let me know. Or tell me what cards you’d add to the deck? Maybe a Kindred Discovery for extra card draw? Or Cathars’ Crusade to make the tokens huge? Plenty of options for beefing up this list and making it your own.

Catch me over on YouTube making vids for my budget EDH group Scrap Trawlers. You can also find us streaming Sundays on Twitch.

Until next time, take care. And play lots of games!