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Draw till you die - (Nekusar, the Mindrazer) (EDH / Commander)

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The easiest way to win in Magic? Draw a lot cards! Oh boy... I will help you drawing cards and you will hate it....

Draw till you die.

>Why Nekusar

>Story Time

Back to the early years of the 2000s, I played a Deck around Phyrexian Tyranny and always loved the mechanic of forcing your opponent to draw cards and kill him with it.
So after a couple of years where I had a break from MTG, my childhoodfriend showed me the new Commander format - i loved it from the beginning. I played a couple of Decks in the "usual" way like tribals etc.
But then I started to search for a Commander which would allow me to build a Deck like my Phyrexian Tyranny Deck AND BOOOM = NEKUSAR.

> Facts

The big strenght of Nekusar is, that he has a touch of group hug - because as long as there is "only" Nekusar on the battlefield, everbody can draw 2 cards for 2 life. The most Players take this very thankful before escalete with wheels.

So Nekusar is the right commander for you if you:

  • Want an unusual commander
  • Play in a group of 4
  • Want to easily kill 3 opponents at once
  • Like to play as the underdog
  • Like the mechanic of punishing card draw or discard
  • Like politics
  • Simply have good tastes

>How fast is this deck?

Although Nekusar isn't a cheap commander with a CMC of 5, I consistently play him before turn 5. With cards like Mana Crypt, Sol RIng, Arcane Signet or Lotus Petal I can speed up my build again.

However, don't expect to win with Nekusar on turn 3 or 4, that's unrealistic simply because of the 40 lives.

Victories on turns 6 to 7 are realistic if the setup is right.
If we assume that we don't miss a landdrop in the first 4 turns and we draw an additional Mana Rock or Fast Mana, we can play most of the wheels from the 5th turn onwards.

An average start would look like this:

>Setup Phase

Turn 1: Land for turn
Turn 2: Land for turn + Mana Rock
Turn 3: Land for turn + Punishment
Turn 4: Land for turn + Nekusar

>Time to kill

At this point some opponents have already lost lives in the 4th turn and no longer have the full 40 lives. As soon as Nekusar and/or a punishment are on the field, you can start playing wheels. As a rule, 2-3 wheels are enough to take at least 1-2 if not all opponents out of the game.


This deck can win even without Nekusar!
If you're playing against a deck that plays a lot of creature removals, enchantments like Megrim, Underworld Dreams, or Spiteful Visions are better choices.

>Starting Hands

In most cases, a good starting hand will look like this:

>Get your Setup online

The most important thing about the setup is having patience. If you play, for example, an early Megrim or Underworld Dreams, your opponents will get worried and target you in the early game.

The best setup plan (in case you have the right cards) would be:

  1. Get your manabase ready (at least enough mana to play wheels and interact with the responses)
  2. Play protection (could be a creature or something like Dissipation Field)
  3. Play a draw or discard punishment card (Nekusar, Megrim etc.)
  4. Start playing wheels
  5. Defend and keep playing wheels

The best case is to play a wheel and get another wheel from the new cards you have drawn.

>After playing a Draw or Discard Punishment

You have to keep in mind - Nekusar usually doesn't make your opponents immediately want to kill you, BUT as soon as you play a punishment card your opponents are at risk of taking twice as much damage, so you will be target number 1.

So be sure that before you play a punsihment, you have:

>Why Wheels and no steady carddraw?

In the early days of my Nekusar deck I played cards like Howling Mine to increase the steady card draw for the table. The big problem is you give your opponents huge amount of value AND enough time to kill you before their life gets too low. That's the reason I switched to wheels, because with the right setup, I can kill easily 1-3 opponents in one turn.

>Tutor targets

Your tutor target depends on your cards in your hand and your strategy that you wanna play.
For example:

  • If you have a draw or/and discard punishment in your hand but no wheel, you would tutor a wheel spell.
  • If you have a discard spell and your opponents have a lot of cards in their hand, you could tutor Megrim or Tegrid, God of Fright.

>Ways to win

The easiest way to win is to combine the different punishments in the deck because you get the double amount of damage if you punish your opponent for drawing AND discarding.
Netherless its possible to kill with only one punishment.

>Damage through draw punishment

If you have an draw punishment on the battlefield like Nekusar, the Mindrazer, Underworld Dreams or Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, you can start playing wheels that lets your opponents draw a huge amount of cards.
If every opponent have 40 life you need at least 6-8 wheels, so it would be good if you have more than one draw punishment out.

>Damage through discard punishment

It works the same as winning through draw punishment, except that you get more damage out for each card and opponent draw. You also get extra value with cards like Waste Not.
Be sure you use the right wheels! Shuffeling your hand into library is not the right choice if you have an discard punishment on the field.

>Finish with tokens

With Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim or Omnious Seas, you have extrem powerfull token generators which can easily kill an opponent.

>Outvalue everybody with Tergrid, God of Fright

If you have Tegrid on the field and you are able to play a wheel spell with discard, you will get extreme value and many cards from your opponents which you can use to defeat them.

>Infect damage

With Grafted Exoskeleton nekusar deals infect damage. So you just have to deal 10 damage to each opponent to win.


>Good Matchups

This deck works well against slow decks that have to build up and setup or voltron decks (because we have a lot of interaction). And of course it works very well against decks which draw a lot of cards.


>Bad Matchups

Really fast creature decks are a big pain for Nekusar. Also decks with tons of counterspells will be hard to beat. If your playgroup knows and fears Nekusar, you will probably be taken very seriously.


>How to keep the pressure off or "How to be a politcian"

There are 2 ways to make sure your opponents don't put too much pressure on you:

  1. Build a solid defense with cards like No Mercy + have enough removal spells and counter spells in hand to defend your field.

  2. Politics. My game depends a lot on who the strongest player is and how I get him not to attack me and increase the pressure on the other opponents. I often achieve this through agreements such as: "I won't destroy XY for you if you don't attack me" - sounds easy? It is, and it works very often.

Ultimately, the plan is not to look dangerous until you can be ;)

>Single card discussion


>Arcane Signet

Two mana ramp and colour fixing

>Chromatic Lantern

Three mana ramp and colour fixing -> also all lands produce every type of colour

>Dockside Extortionist

Creates a treasure tokens for every artifact or enchantment on the board

>Lotus Petal

Fast 0 mana ramp - get 1 colour for sacrificing it

>Mana Crypt

Fast 0 mana ramp - 3 damage by coinflip

>Mana Vault

Fast 1 mana ramp - costs 4 mana to entap - 1 damage if its untapped

>Mox Amber

Fast 0 mana ramp and colour fixing

>Sol Ring

Fast 1 mana ramp

>Talisman of Creativity

One mana ramp - produces blue or red for 1 damage

>Talisman of Dominance

One mana ramp - produces blue or black for 1 damage

>Talisman of Indulgence

One mana ramp - produces black or red for 1 damage

>Urza's Saga

Untapped land for colourles mana and tutor for Mana Crypt, Sol Ring or Mana Vault


>Mystic Remora

Gives us additional carddraw for only one mana. It is stronger in lategame because of the cumultive upkeep costs.

>Rhystic Study

The best card draw enchantment in my opinion - huge advantage because your opponents have to pay for every spell.


>Dark Deal

Wheel + discard / Draw 1 card less then you had in your hand.

>Echo of Eons

Wheel + shuffle your hand into your libray and draw 7 cards / Flashback for only 3 mana

>Forced Fruition

Every oponent has to draw 7 cards for every spell they play

>Incendiary Command

Discard all cards from your hand and draw that many cards / you also got 2 other options to pick

>Jace's Archivist

3 mana creature with an tap ability to wheel / discard - draw cards equal to the highest amount which was discarded

>Magus of the Wheel

3 mana creature with an tap and sac ability to wheel / discard - draw seven cards

>Molten Psyche

Shuffle your hand into libraby and draw that many cards / Metalcraft: damage = number of drawn cards

>Peer into the Abyss

Target player draws half their libraby and loses half their life - with an punishment its an single finisher card

>Reforge the Soul

Wheel + discard - you draw 7 cards / Can be cast for miracle costs

>Teferi's Puzzle Box

Steady wheel for each player - put your cards into your library and draw that many new.

>Time Reversal

Shuffle your hand and your GY into your libray - draw seven cards and exile the sorcery.

>Wheel and Deal

Any number of opponents discard their hands and draw seven new. You draw a card.

>Wheel of Fortune

Each player discard their hand and draw seven new.

>Whirlpool Warrior

When Whirlpool Warrior enters the battlefield only you shuffle your hand into your library and draw that many cards. For one red mana and sacrifice every player shuffles their handy into the library and draw that many cards.

>Whispering Madness

Each player discard their hand then draws equal to the greatest numver of discarded cards.


Each player discard their hand then draws equal to the greatest numver of discarded cards.

>Winds of Change

Every player shuffles their handy into the library and draw that many cards.

>Draw Punishment

>Bloodchief Ascension

One mana enchantment, gets a counter for every opponent who lost 2 or more life. When its online, it deals 2 damage to an opponent for every card that goes into the GY.

>Fate Unraveler

Deals 1 damage for each card an opponent draws

>Kederekt Parasite

Deals 1 damage for each card an opponent draws - if you have an red permanent

>Psychosis Crawler

Deals 1 damage for each card an opponent draws and its as strong as many cards in your own hand.

>Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

Power house - 2 damage whenever an opponents draws a card and 2 life for you when you draw a card.

>Spiteful Visions

Deals 1 damage for each card a player draws and an additional card draw in draw step for each player.

>Underworld Dreams

Deals 1 damage for each card an opponent draws

>Discard Punishment

>Archfiend of Ifnir

A onesided boardwipe if you wheel - for each card that you discard, all opponent' creatures get -1/-1 till end of turn

>Bone Miser

Huge value if you discard cards - works like waste not but only for you.

>Liliana's Caress

Whenever an opponent discard a card he gets 2 damage.


Whenever an opponent discard a card he gets 2 damage.

>Tergrid, God of Fright // Tergrid's Lantern

Whenever an opoonent sacs or discard an permanent, you bring it back into play under your control.

>Waste Not

Cheap enchantment - you get value if your opponent discard cards.


>Ominous Seas

You get a counter for each card you draw - you can remove 8 counter at instant speed to get an 8/8 kraken.

>Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim

You get a loyalty counter for each card you draw. Can create extrem strong token which gets +1/+1 for each card you draw.


>Dissipation Field

Whenever a creature deals damage to you, you bring it back to the owner's hand.

>Lightning Greaves

The ultimate protection for nekusar - gives Magus of the Wheel or Whirlpool Warrior haste.


Opponents have to pay 2 mana for each creature that attack you.


>Baleful Mastery

Cheap exile spell for a creature or planeswalker - if you pay the cheap mana costs, the owner draws a card.


Destroys target artifact, creature or planeswalker.

>Cyclonic Rift

You can cast it for 7 mana for the overload costs - brings every nonland permanent that you don't control back to the owner's hand.


Boardwipe which destroys all creatures in play.


One mana destroy removal for creatures. Owner gets an 3/3 ape.

>Toxic Deluge

Board wipe which gives all creatures -x/-x where x is the life you paid addiontally.


>Deflecting Swat

You can choose a new target for a speel which targets a permant of you.

>Fierce Guardianship

The best free counterspell if your commander is one the battlefield.

>Force of Will

The best free counterspell - you have to pay 1 life and exile a blue card from your hand.

>Mana Drain

Could be used as ramp too, if you target a very expensive spell of an opponent.


>Imperial Seal

For 1 mana and 2 life put a card on top of your libraby.

>Mystical Tutor

For 1 mana put a card on top of your libraby - you have to reveal it.

>Vampiric Tutor

For 1 mana and 2 life put a card on top of your libraby.

>Good Stuff

>Grafted Exoskeleton

If you equip Nekusar, the Mindrazer with it, he deals infect damage. Its the easist way to kill lifegain players.

>Library of Leng

You don't have to discard your cards, instead you put it on top of your libraby.

>Double Damage

>Solphim, Mayhem Dominus

Doubles the damage that permants you control deal to opponents. You can make him indestructable if you discard 2 cards.


1. How fast is this deck? How many turns does it take to do the setup? On what turn do you typically play Nekusar? How long after that does it take you to win?

2. How do you keep the pressure off?

  • Really good question. The answer is - politics - because I'm always trying to put the focus on an opponent and away from me.
    Also I'm trying to play my wincons as late as possible.

3. You have a few pillowfort and "defence" cards, but that will only protect you from aggro strategies?

  • Like I said in my "Bad matchup" - this is a strategy which is very hard to beat with my nekusar deck. You can only try to play removal spells and building up an defence.

4. How do you deal with other strategies that deal incremental damage through non-combat?

  • I'm trying to remove the pieces that hurt me or counter the key cards.

5. Are you able to deal more damage than what a dedicated life gain deck can regain?

6. How badly is this deck hurt by stax pieces that limit card draw, like Spirit of the Labyrinth (among others)? How would you deal with this situation?

7. How important is it to have no max hand size? Most of your draw effects are wheels, so you discard your hand anyway.

  • Not important.



This deck appears to be legal in EDH / Commander.

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