Building a Xanathar’s Guild Themed Commander Deck

13 Jul , 2021,
Crimson
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If you’ve been following our geeky endeavors, then you’ll know that we don’t just do Dungeons & Dragons. We also play lots of Magic: The Gathering.

That’s why we were doubly excited that some of our favorite NPCs from hardcovers such as Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and Tomb of Annihilation were showing up in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and that quickly got us thinking – what if we built some themed EDH decks to celebrate, using what we’ve got in the office?

Here’s a quick one based off Xanathar, an iconic beholder villain who heads a veritable guild of killers, smugglers and cutpurses, and has an eyestalk in every evil pie.


The Legend (1)
1x Xanathar, Guild Kingpin

Suffice to say, there’s a reason why Xanathar is still guild master. He’s got 5 power and 6 toughness, which means he’s capable of snuffing out most underlings itching for a promotion. His ability to stop an opponent from casting spells is also reminiscent of the antimagic cone projected by a beholder’s central eye, and being able to play their cards is likely a nod to one of their other eye powers – that of the charm ray.


The Guild/Creatures (26)
1x Agent of Treachery
1x Circu, Dimir Lobotomist
1x Consuming Aberration
1x Ghostly Pilferer
1x Glasspool Mimic // Glasspool Shore
1x Gonti, Lord of Luxury
1x Herald of Hadar
1x Hoard Robber
1x Hostage Taker
1x Krydle of Baldur’s Gate
1x Lightfoot Rogue
1x Mind Flayer
1x Nighthawk Scavenger
1x Nightveil Specter
1x Notion Thief
1x Sepulchral Primordial
1x Soaring Thought-Thief
1x Thief of Sanity
1x Thieves’ Guild Enforcer
1x Thieving Skydiver
1x Tribute Mage
1x Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire
1x Wizened Snitches
1x Yuan-Ti Fang-Blade
1x Yuan-Ti Malison
1x Zareth San, the Trickster

Xanathar’s Guild is big on larceny and vice, and that’s why we decided to go big on the roguish element, with a splash of fun shenanigans like gaining control and mill. Players of more recent sets will see a few familiar faces like Gonti, Soaring Thought-Thief (they’re either Thief Acrobats or Arcane Tricksters), Thieves’ Guild Enforcer (yep, Xanathar’s got lots of hired muscle) and Zareth San.

Other fun cards like Herald of Hadar, Krydle and Yuan-ti Malison (all appearing in this new set) add to the flavor and round the deck out with some utility. The Herald is a great sink for infinite mana, while Circu and Consuming Aberration can work with Dramatic Reversal and Isochron Scepter (see below) to mill your opponents out.


Tools of the Trade/Artifacts (18)
1x Arcane Signet
1x Charcoal Diamond
1x Dimir Signet
1x Goldvein Pick
1x Hedron Archive
1x Isochron Scepter
1x Lantern of Insight
1x Mind Stone
1x Prying Blade
1x Replicating Ring
1x Sky Diamond
1x Sol Ring
1x Swiftfoot Boots
1x Thieves’ Tools
1x Thought Vessel
1x Treasure Chest
1x Treasure Map // Treasure Cove
1x Worn Powerstone

Lots of rocks, as befits the treasury of one of the most wealthy criminal organizations in the Forgotten Realms. Their agents are also some of the most well provisioned, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them armed with Thieves’ Tools (which all rogues are proficient in). The Goldvein Pick and Prying Blade help generate additional treasure tokens (yes, these rogues are gold diggers), and that Isochron Scepter (which you can search for with a Tribute Mage) is both insurance, as well as a combo enabler.


Dirty Deeds/Instants & Sorceries (18)
1x Contract Killing
1x Devour Intellect
1x Dimir Charm
1x Dramatic Reversal
1x Drown in the Loch
1x Extract from Darkness
1x Eyes of the Beholder
1x Fascination
1x Feed the Swarm
1x Heartless Act
1x Malakir Rebirth // Malakir Mire
1x Malicious Affliction
1x Memory Lapse
1x Muddle the Mixture
1x Necromantic Selection
1x Stubborn Denial
1x Turn Aside
1x Windfall

The deck is beefed up with a handful of thematically appropriate instants and sorceries to protect Xanathar, punish interlopers, or make an example of the guild’s enemies by making them sleep with the fishes. Dramatic Reversal on the list stands out as an option for the Isochron Scepter, and can generate infinite casts and infinite mana with enough rocks on the field. After all, any self-respecting villain should have a way to turn the tables on those pesky adventurers traipsing through your lair, right? Fascination is a viable sink for infinite mana that can be tutored for using Muddle the Mixture, rounding out your combo win-cons. 


Done Dirt Cheap/Enchantments (2)
1x Revel in Riches
1x Rogue Class

Class cards are a new enchantment type, and you’d expect everyone in Xanathar’s Guild to have maybe one or two Rogue levels. Also, Revel in Riches is mandatory for a stylish alternate win-con as befits the most glamorous beholder of all.


Valuable Real Estate/Lands (35)
1x Command Tower
1x Duskmantle, House of Shadow
1x Evolving Wilds
1x Exotic Orchard
1x Jwar Isle Refuge
1x Myriad Landscape
1x Nephalia Drownyard
1x Rogue’s Passage
12x (Snow-Covered) Island
12x (Snow-Covered) Swamp
1x Sunken Hollow
1x Temple of Deceit
1x Terramorphic Expanse

Duskmantle and Nephalia Drownyard evoke memories of Skullport, where Xanathar’s Guild holds sway, while Rogue’s Passage is just too flavorful not to include. Depending on whether you prefer Waterdeep in the Springtime (which is the season you’ll face Xanathar in Dragon Heist) or in the winter, pick either Snow-Covered or regular lands.


For the Discerning Kingpin (Deck Upgrades)
1x Acquire
1x Dauthi Voidwalker
1x Deadeye Navigator
1x Demonic Tutor
1x Desertion
1x Expropriate
1x Fellwar Stone
1x Force of Negation
1x Helm of Obedience
1x Leyline of the Void
1x Mind’s Dilation
1x Mind Grind
1x Mystic Remora
1x Predict
1x Rhystic Study
1x Sire of Stagnation
1x Thada Adel, Acquisitor
1x Toxic Deluge

The cards in this section are included as an option for players who prefer a little bit more bite to their deck.

Helm of Obedience, together with the Dauthi Voidwalker or Leyline of the Void, can disintegrate an opponent’s deck, while Mind’s Dilation can nab you another spell each turn. Cards like Desertion too would make a fine addition. After all, if Xanathar makes an offer, who can refuse?


And there you have it! We hope you enjoyed this deck idea as much as we did brewing it for you. If you decide to build this deck, be sure to let us know how you fare at the card table!

Also, if you want to give the tie-in module for Adventures in the Forgotten Realms a shot, you can check it out here! It’s a neat little dungeon crawl, and we’re certain you’ll love it!

The Dungeons & Dragons Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set for Magic: The Gathering releases 23 July 2021. If you’re a D&D fan who’s always wanted to get into spell slinging, you can snag some packs at your favorite local game store.