Hey out there, Commander players. Today I wanted to highlight a Commander deck I built recently: General Kudro Humans! I opened a copy of the General during Ikoria, and had to build around him. I’ve talked a little bit about this deck in previous posts, and provided a link to the deck on Archidekt, but that’s a little out of date. Now it’s time for the spotlight! Here’s the list.
Oh the Humanity
It’s so nice to see black and white humans working side by side for a common goal. Sure the General himself is an old white guy who has no problem sacrificing his underlings for value, but we can play the heel and be a fun over-the-top megalomaniacal monster instead of point out the RL parallels. Personally I enjoy thinking of this Commander as General “Lisa” Kudro of Drannith, which is a probably a popular coffee shop on 4th Ave in New Ikoria City. I’m a little tempted to add ‘Smelly Cat’ Lurrus of the Dream-Den to the deck but I think that’s a meme too far.
That’s the last Friends reference I promise. Serious decktech only.
Enters the Battlefield – Many of the Humans in the deck have an ‘enters the battlefield’ ability. This is pretty common for Commander, and for Magic in general, as one of the understood ways a creature is ‘good’ is if it provides an effect regardless of whether it lives long enough to attack. Black and white both offer plenty of strong ETBFX, and they are made better by other things the deck does, like blink and recur creatures. I like the explore creatures, like Seekers’ Squire and Emissary of Sunrise as pseudo-ramp to support Knight of the White Orchid. Blade Juggler is effective card draw, and Disciple of Bolas adds a sacrifice effect on top of that. I have several Monarch cards for more card draw, like Knights of the Black Rose and some sweet removal in Big Game Hunter and Nekrataal.
Blink – Cards that blink creatures, ie. exile them and then return them to the battlefield at some point (sometimes immediately) play very well with ETBFX. Conjurer’s Closet is the classic, and Eerie Interlude is a flexible all-star. Human blinkers Charming Prince who does it on ETB himself, and tactical master Planar Guide (yup, it’s a Human) help get things done. Fiend Hunter doubles up as removal that’s particularly effective against tokens and Commanders.
Recursion – The deck thrives on a recursion package that allows it to make the most out of the General’s sacrifice ability. Restoration Gearsmith does tons of work. Ravos, Soultender buffs the team and recurs each turn. Dawn of the Dead, a pet card of mine, recurs each turn directly to the battlefield, but the card is worded so that the creature can safely leave play and not be exiled, unlike most other cards like it. You can bounce or blink a Dawned creature, or sacrifice it for value without worry, so long as you don’t leave it in play at end of turn. The deck plays a package of recursion lands as well, to make it even harder to stop the train. Volrath’s Stronghold is on the Reserved List and is very pricey, so it’s not for everyone. It is extremely powerful, though. If you only use it once in a game, it’s not that much better than a timely Mortuary Mire, another card I love. I run both Emeria, the Sky Ruin and Witch’s Cottage which require me to stuff as many Plains and Swamp type lands as possible into the deck, as well as lots of ways to get them. When I fetch, I only fetch basics. For the spiciest tech, I have Cauldron of Souls which is bananas with sac outlets and creatures with ETBFX that give them +1/+1 counters. You can use it on opposing creatures, too, and save yours from things like boardwipes. I’d also like to point out Living Death which does so much, including get around indestructible as a boardwipe.
Sacrifice – It’s always a good idea to pack sacrifice outlets in your decks. When recursion is part of your plan, and your Commander is a sacrifice outlet himself, it’s good to lean into it. I love High Market and put it in most of my decks. Phyrexian Tower is another favourite, though it’s not cheap. Miren, the Moaning Well adds a third sac land with more upside for more mana. Among the Humans, Priest of Forgotten Gods has been a powerhouse every time I’ve had it in play, and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician can take over a game. Big time mana payoffs Pitiless Plunderer and Black Market make all of our sacrifices so worth it.
Exile – Just plain removal isn’t good enough for this concept. Nearly every removal effect here exiles the cards instead of destroying them, neutralizing graveyard and recursion strategies. Mangara of Corondor plays well with the blink and sacrifice abilities the deck has, which can target him with his ability on the stack, keeping him from being exiled as well. Palace Jailer may not be permanent exile, but it’s great for Commanders as the return to play aspect is tied to getting the Monarch from you. Not always doable. Bojuka Bog, Scavenger Grounds and Deadeye Tracker exile graveyards, just like the boss.
Tokens – The General’s own ability to eat graveyards plays well with Humans entering the battlefield as well, and leverages cards like Reverent Hoplite, Increasing Devotion and Call the Coppercoats that generate copious amounts of Human tokens. Daysquad Marshal brings a friend, Castle Ardenvale makes them at a steep cost, and General’s Enforcer seems like it was made for Kudro’s army. Hmmm. Blade of Selves is probably the craziest token-generator, which is also something of an ETBFX machine, too.
Mill – While an army of Humans can get the job done, and opposing life totals to zero, this is actually a mill deck. There aren’t a ton of mill cards, but the ones I have are scary. Altar of the Brood goes great with my ETB and Human token plans, and Altar of Dementia is an instant-speed free sacrifice outlet that I can even use on myself to fill my graveyard with recursion targets if I want. Nasty. Mindcrank needs minimal support. Thieves’ Guild Enforcer is pretty slow, but could eventually get there with enough blink and recursion shenanigans.
Other Tech – Westvale Abbey generates Human tokens, but defies the deck a little by turning into Ormendahl, Profane Prince, definitely not a Human. Someday the General is going to get his for all the Human sacrifice, and Ormendahl is going to do the dragging. Verge Rangers seems pretty good as a way to ensure your land drops, but I haven’t tested it much. Vault of the Archangel is exceptional, even though it hurts the manabase to have it, and it’s totally off-theme. Heirloom Blade gets super-spicy with all the sacrifice, and has one of the friendliest equip costs out there. It also provides a massive buff for that single mana investment, making it one of the better pieces of agro equipment out there. Plus upside. Cryptic Gateway seems insane with the recursion and all the Human tokens. No results to report yet. Species Specialist might be one of the best cards from C20:Ikoria, and totally kills it here. Being a Human itself is just icing on the cake. I’d like to note the removal of Syr Konrad the Grim from my initial build. While the rest of the changes were for power or utility, Syr Konrad was removed because when he was in play, it was all about him. Too much of a lightning rod for removal, and would overwhelm the opponents otherwise. If you want to build this more competitively, add him back in.
Additions from Zendikar – This deck does not have any Zendikar cards in it yet. I’m looking at a few, but not many. Blackbloom Rogue places further stress on the manabase, but gives me a land that’s also a Human. Demon’s Disciple will probably make the deck. I didn’t have a Plaguecrafter handy so this is a good substitute. Acquisitions Expert is always going to force a discard, but I’m not so excited about it. Nimana SkyDancer is also a long shot, but has surprise chump potential. I didn’t get an Agadeem’s Awakening and it’s expensive currently. If I had one, I’d add it. I did get a Brightclimb Pathway which should go in the deck. Emeria’s Call would be a pass based on the Angel aspect. Lithoform Engine was a card I got that will probably bounce around until I find a great spot for it. It could fit here, but I found Helm of the Host too clunky and mana-intensive, so it might be also. Shadows’ Verdict is powerful but seems likely to kill most of my stuff. Malakir Rebirth seems like a slam dunk among the Landspells, and I’ll look to find a spot for it.
Never mind Human Frailty, Humans are a tribe that’s already powerful, versatile and interesting. They get a swath of new additions with every set, and with Vikings, Wizards’ School and Dungeons and Dragons on the horizon, Humans are going to going to be at the heart of everything. This is just one of many Humans decks you could build, and it should be something you can build on going forward. Thanks for reading! Your life matters! Black Lives Matter!