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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.

>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 ;)


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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