EDH Essentials - Archetypes

EDH Essentials - Archetypes

In deckbuilding, there are three main questions to ask oneself:

  1. What is the deck trying to do?
  2. Which role does it play in a game?
  3. How do I win?

There are a few main archetypes of EDH decks. This article aims to give you an overview of these archetypes and recommends a few commanders for them.


Aggro decks pressure the life total of opponents very quickly. If your opponents don’t have any defense on the battlefield, it’s game over.

There are two major aggro strategies:

Voltron: You choose one threat and do everything you can to protect it, buff it, and let it be a living nightmare to others on the table. A commander that's perfect for this strategy is Uril, the Miststalker. Uril is protected from targeted spells and abilities and simply needs you to add some Auras that give him Flying, Double Strike, Lifelink, Trample and more so that your opponents survive after a few swings!

Going Wide. You flood the board with creatures and battlefield effects that pump your whole team to go from threatening to game-ending. With Rhys the Redeemed, creating tokens is trivial and all you have to worry about is getting them big enough to stomp on your opponents’ defenses.


1 + 1 = infinity

That’s what combo decks want to do. Combine two or more cards and get much more than the sum of their parts to win the game.

Spells All DayMizzix of the Izmagnus is an insanely fun commander that allows you to play spells for cheap. So if you fuse together some spells that add mana, some that draw cards and some that deal damage, all on a discount, it isn’t rare to cast ten or more spells in a turn. These cards and damage add up fast!

Tokens and Counters: Do you like tokens and counters? Ghave, Guru of Spores will do both. Ghave allows you to shift around between one big creature or many small creatures. However, if you add cards that either double the tokens created or counters placed, things can get out of hand very fast.


Playing control means carefully choosing and removing the threats from the game and slowly establishing a dominance over the game in which you decide what happens.

Winning the game is often a secondary thought and will happen inevitably.

More Cards Please: Rashmi, Eternities Crafter allows you to play lots of instants while rewarding you with a free card each turn. Feel free to throw around counterspells, removal, and creatures with Flash. No worries, because your hand will always be full of cards, leaving you with many options to answer everything and anything on the battlefield.

Prison Control: You can also just make it harder for your opponents to cast spells by playing Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. This type of control is called Prison control. Your opponents will have to pay extra for their spells and pay mana to attack you, all while you deny them in all other things they attempt to do.

There are other smaller archetypes like Grouphug (giving everyone resources and using politics to play your opponents off against each other) and Goodstuff (playing the best cards the colors have to give).

Use the archetypes and commanders mentioned above as guidelines to help you build your EDH deck and not a border that stops your creativity.

After all, EDH is all about having fun!

Author: Malte Smits


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