Commander Focus: Toshiro’s Reign of Terror

This week I’m back with another slight tweak of one of my personal decks, that skews extremely heavily into the Commander’s theme. This deck tries to punish opponents for swinging at us and somewhat lock down creatures, drawing cards and then either grinding its way to victory or ending it with a big splashy spell.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The Commander: Toshiro Umezawa

Most famous for his Jitte, Toshiro is an interesting character in the lore and offers us a pretty unique ability. We’re not too concerned about the bushido since we never want to be attacking him in to someone with blockers or blocking ourselves except in direst emergencies, but giving our instants essentially flashback can be very powerful. In Commander you generally don’t want to run much targeted removal since it doesn’t scale well in multiplayer, but this is a really fun general to try it with since you can essentially double up each of those spells, and having most of the instants be removal means we can control when it triggers.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The Ramp

Starting off with the first of many ways this deck diverges from a typical list, we’re not running a ton of ramp. We do have some so that we can get to being able to cast multiple spells per turn sooner, but we have a huge amount of cheap spells that we’re going to be using to slow things down and with as much removal as we have, we’re not dying to creatures early. We have a few classic rocks in Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, and Thought Vessel, as well as a couple of doublers in Extraplanar Lens and Crypt Ghast. Similarly there is the classic Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth + Cabal Coffers combination, as well as Cabal Stronghold since we have so many basic swamps. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can really power us up since we have quite a few cards with double or triple black pips as well, and Deserted Temple supercharges any of the big mana lands we get online. Jet Medallion is great as well since it gives us a discount on all of our spells, and once we can start chaining 2, 3, 4 spells per turn together it really adds up.

If you build the list this is certainly something you can tweak depending on your needs – I particularly like Liliana of the Dark Realms since she both repeatedly fetches swamps and thematically kills things for you in a pinch, and despite my usual feelings about planeswalkers in Commander, this deck is set up very well to actually keep her alive.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The Card Draw

Here again we are a bit lighter than I would normally choose, however this is at least partly due to how heavily we plan to rebuy our spells from our yard. For standard draw we have Phyrexian Arena and Erebos, God of the Dead. Harvester of Souls keys off of what we’re trying to do perfectly. Moonlight Bargain and Professor Onyx both let us pay life to draw a selection of cards, with the remainder going to the graveyard. This is perfect for choosing our instants to go to the yard without losing life since we can just flash them back later. Necrologia and Necropotence both let us pay however much life we’d like for big bursts of cards if we so choose.

We also have a decent selection of tutors to either circumvent our need for draw power, or simply to go and find it when we need it. Rune-Scarred Demon and Sidisi, Undead Vizier tutor when they enter, Demonic Tutor and Dark Petition are always great, and Entomb gets us an instant directly to our yard when we want it. We also have Vampiric Tutor and Insidious Dreams, which are even better since we can recast them with Toshiro.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The Utility

At last we come to the heart of things, this deck is basically comprised of utility. We have things that passively help control the board like Archfiend of Depravity, Reaper from the Abyss, and The Abyss itself. Most of our creatures either enter and kill something like Bone Shredder, enter and force sacrifices like Fleshbag Marauder, or stick around and repeatedly kill things like Royal Assassin and Avatar of Woe. Attrition then lets us sacrifice these creatures once they’ve done their thing for another kill, and Phyrexian Reclamation and Volrath’s Stronghold return them to our hand to do it all over again. Wake the Dead can unexpectedly return a bunch of killing creatures directly to the battlefield to get their effects again, and Withering Boon is hilarious to surprise counter people with. No Mercy serves to either ward off attacks or punish those that come at us. Maze of Ith similarly protects us from the biggest threat, Bojuka Bog serves as our graveyard hate, and Dust Bowl and Strip Mine deal with problematic lands. Finally, Arcane Lighthouse serves to remove protection so that we can target where we need to with our removal. There should probably be a Shadowspear added to the list when I next update it as well.

Speaking of removal, boy do we have a lot of it. There are some new additions I could see myself making, but for the most part whatever your pet removal spell is, it’s at least good enough to play as part of the suite. A lot of these are conditional, but generally the conditions are easily met enough that you won’t find yourself unable to kill what you need to. We’ve got Cast Down for nonlegendaries, Hero’s Demise for legendaries, Go for the Throat for nonartifact, the many Terror derivatives that specify nonblack, Hero’s Downfall for planeswalkers, Vraska’s Contempt and Scour from Existence to exile… there’s a lot here.

Finally we have a few board wipes in Crux of Fate and Damnation, a do it all card in Wretched Confluence, and the massively powerful backup for our Commander Yawgmoth’s Will. I will note that I happen to own both a Will and The Abyss because I am old – these cards do not actually make the deck $1500 better, so don’t remotely feel like you need them to make the deck work. Slot in another removal spell, more graveyard recursion, a mana rock, even a land. You’ll be fine.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The Win Conditions

Now it’s time to close out the game, and we have a couple of different ways of going about it. If need by we can grind it out with our few big bodies and Grave Titan, finishing off our opponents who have been attacking each other as they’re disincentivized for attacking us. If that hasn’t worked and we’ve somehow taken a bunch of damage, or if we just see an opportunity because someone is on death’s door, we can drop the whole table’s life totals with Repay in Kind and then swing through for the win. If we’ve gotten our big mana engines fully online, Torment of Hailfire is a classic knockout punch. Finally, since we’re running Professor Onyx as most of her modes are great for our game plan, I’ve included Chain of Smog for the combo kill. By targeting ourselves over and over we can keep copying the Chain while draining the whole table with her magecraft ability.



Thanks for joining us for our latest kitchen table Commander deck! Make sure to keep an eye out for the other decks in the series! If you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at