Baba Lysaga, Night Witch | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak
Baba Lysaga, Night Witch is so much fun to play in Commander. I mean real fun. This is the durdliest, goofiest, jankiest thing where you always feel like you’re getting away with murder (while likely getting murdered). I play a lot of 1v1 or Duel Commander, and this deck is perfect for that. I think both players have a good time.
This deck can win if you survive long enough to get to the 1v1 phase. The challenge is trying to make that happen while running a deck full of otherwise bad cards that make Baba tick.
Let’s see if we can figure it out!
Liquimetal Torque | Illustration by Brian Snoddy
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
Glissa, Herald of Predation
Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia
Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
Ornithopter of Paradise
Pharika, God of Affliction
Shigeki, Jukai Visionary
The Gitrog Monster
Titania, Protector of Argoth
Titania, Voice of Gaea
Awaken the Woods
Life // Death
Conduit of Worlds
Crucible of Worlds
Sting, the Glinting Dagger
Vat of Rebirth
Argoth, Sanctum of Nature
Bala Ged Recovery // Bala Ged Sanctuary
Boseiju, Who Endures
Darkbore Pathway // Slitherbore Pathway
Field of the Dead
Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
Golgari Rot Farm
Lair of the Hydra
Malakir Rebirth // Malakir Mire
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
The Mycosynth Gardens
Tree of Tales
Vault of Whispers
Baba Lysaga, Night Witch is the kind of card that I love when I see it in a set. It just screams to build around it as a commander. The idea is that you need to sacrifice permanents of three different types, not three different permanents, each of a different type. So if something is an artifact creature that’s also a land, you can just sac that for three cards plus the drain and gain. Or you could just sac three permanents if you’re in dire straits.
And this deck is a lot of fun to construct. There are lots of different types of builds and power levels here, and Baba is cheap enough that it allows you to experiment.
This deck kind of rocks in 1v1, but it just spins too many wheels to beat three other players. To make Baba good, you have to pack your deck with a lot of otherwise bad cards that happen to have multiple types or create multiple types of rectangles. That allows Baba to draw you more cards, which are also underwhelming cardboard and card type creators. And you can’t pack in a bunch of interaction for control because there aren’t enough slots in this deck for spells that don’t have multiple types.
The trick is to durdle around long enough to get your wincons going. That’s why the decklist looks like you’re going to be sitting there goldfishing. Sort of. But you also have a decent raft of creatures to look like you're doing something besides waiting for the good decks at the table to punch each other out.
First, what we’re not doing! There are many popular builds of this deck that use cards like Zulaport Cutthroat, Blood Artist, and the like, along with accelerators like Sanguine Bond and Dina, Soul Steeper, and even the Pitiless Plunderer and Marionette Master strategy. I’m not a fan. If you look for advice on this deck on reddit, you’ll see all these cards, often with giddy phrases like “No one will see it coming!” Hehe. A year ago, sure. But not anymore. Those cards are awesome, and that’s a great set of wincons. But they’re super scary to the table, and this deck isn’t fast enough to win in any way whatsoever if the table decides you’re the enemy. So leave that stuff behind.
So what are you doing with this deck?
If you live long enough, you can actually drain the table with Baba Lysaga. A few untappers like Patriar's Seal and Instill Energy can drain the table for a dozen life a piece if opponents are out of spot removal. If everyone is at too much life for that, wait. Or get the other part of the wincon, Cadaverous Bloom. With even two untappers out, you can plow through your deck, discard cards for mana, and keep casting. Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler lets you do this all at once the turn you cast your commander.
You can also go wide. You've got Awaken the Woods, Glissa, Herald of Predation, Field of the Dead, Titania, Protector of Argoth, and other token-makers, with Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse to buff them. You’ll plow through your deck once your engine's going, find cards like that, and engineer an attack.
The Gitrog Monster and the lands recursion package with Ramunap Excavator, Crucible of Worlds and the other usual suspects can generate a lot of mana and card draw, and it enables that plan. You can also use this package to meld Titania, Voice of Gaea with Argoth, Sanctum of Nature! That’s fun and makes the lands package worth including.
Third, there’s always Bolas's Citadel, which is a fine get with either of the first two plans. In a 1v1 state it can just win on its own, but it grabs the pieces needed for either or both of the above plans.
We’re talking here about cards that make double rectangles or double types. Think of enchantment creatures like Shigeki, Jukai Visionary (which doubles as one of the few pieces of recursion in the deck if you need it) and artifact creatures like Leaden Myr, which also ramps. There are fewer artifact creatures in here than in some builds, mostly because there’s some heavy artifact token-makers like Genesis Chamber and Tireless Tracker, as well as cards that just drop another artifact like Blood Fountain.
You’ve also got lands that double as something else, like Urza's Saga, Dryad Arbor, Vault of Whispers, and a lot a creature lands (but only ones that provide colored mana like Restless Cottage, as there’s only so much room here).
Not those Transformers. You’ve got lots of cards like Biotransference, Liquimetal Torque, and Ashaya, Soul of the Wild to give your permanents multiple types before you sac them with Baba Lysaga. Wrenn and Realmbreaker makes lands into creatures, and there just isn't the space in the curve for more planeswalkers that do that.
There’s less than you’d think. I initially had things like old faves Myr Retriever and Scrapheap Scrounger, but this build's light on artifact permanents. We’ve got most of the land recursion stuff like World Shaper. Some folks build this deck without the lands package, but I think the payoffs are too good and lands with another type are just too efficient and let you recover better from board wipes.
There’s also the aforementioned Shigeki and Wrenn, as well Gixian Puppeteer, Blood Fountain, Vat of Rebirth and the nutty Conduit of Worlds. Reassembling Skeleton and Silversmote Ghoul recur themselves (sort of).
Funny story. There’s not enough space in this deck for enough removal to matter on the table. You’ve got, let’s see… Haywire Mite! I know people will be salty that you can’t do your part, but some decks don’t have room to do that and still operate fine. This is one. If you can’t manage the political pressure of not doing your part and want to say, pull out the lands recursion package to make room, I’d focus on removal that does double duty as sac fodder, from the expensive and effective like The Meathook Massacre to cheap and simple, like The Witch's Vanity or Ravenous Chupacabra.
The Mana Base
This deck’s mana base has lots of dual lands, creature lands, and just a few mana rocks. There’s also a few mana dorks like Copper Myr and Ornithopter of Paradise, as well as ramp enchantments like Utopia Sprawl and Wild Growth. You want saccable things!
Note that I’ve left out a lot of the creature lands that are artifacts, even though they’re super efficient. I’ve found that having the correct colors is super important in this deck, especially if you end up saccing lands to use the recursion package. I shy away from them perhaps more than usual.
Be patient! I’d avoid dropping Baba Lysaga too quickly because three extra cards early on can show the table that you might be a threat. It’s not worth it! I might, ahem, be unable to “find” a type I’m willing to sac for Baba’s three types early, like whatever of the creature-artifact-enchantment matrix I can avoid while still getting on the board and ramping a bit, whining as needed about the rigged shuffler while passing the turn. I mean, don’t outright lie like the person who “accidentally discovers” an infinite combo they didn’t understand until “just now reading the cards!” (We see you, rule 0 breakers!). But keep the focus off you. Here your inability to find your removal is a convenient contributor to your aura of desperation. You can tell them later that you’re only running like two things.
Or you can not do that and just go for the straightforward play. Everyone plays differently. But acting like you can’t find a card type feels no different to me than bluffing Counterspell with 2 blue mana open. I don’t even think this is as bad as LSV’s Settle the Wreckage bluff, going so far as to grab the token.
All that aside, your task is help the table all get equally drained down or to facilitate you being the last person in a 1v1, which is easier if they don’t see you as a threat. That’s much easier without drain effects like Zulaport Cutthroat.
Once you survive long enough to do the one thing your deck does, do it!
Combos & Interactions
The deck is super straightforward, and most combo type things have already been outlined. But here’s a few things of note.
Don’t sleep on Vat of Rebirth. It will get a lot of counters.
Titania, Protector of Argoth can be a late game wincon when the board wipes are exhausted, so hold onto it until needed. If Baba Lysaga is saccing multiple lands a turn with the untappers going, you’ll get a lot of big beasts. Plus, if you get down Ashaya, Soul of the Wild, you’ll make a 5/3 Elemental for every creature you have that dies.
Glissa, Herald of Predation is an army in a can who can win alone in the late game. Always use its first ability as long as recasting Baba Lysaga is still a possibility. The Incubator tokens are more resilient to removal than the transformed Phyrexians, and you’ll make so many different artifact tokens that many turns after Glissa departs, they may provide a gotcha transformation at the right moment.
Your first budget considerations are lands decisions, mostly. The good lands are always expensive. You can dial those back as needed. Planeswalkers aren’t super cheap. But the most expensive part of this deck, taken as a whole, is the lands recursion package. Since some would advocate for removing that anyway and replacing it with a few good pieces of removal like Abrupt Decay, Assassin's Trophy, and a few sweepers, that would make the deck cheaper (depending on the quality of the sweepers!)
There are frankly a lot of ways to work with this deck. I’ve even seen lists that basically just run powerful Golgari goodstuff cards that generally fall into different card types without too much worry about doubling up types or generating extra cardboard. Baba is just there to come down and draw cards a few times for value.
This is likely the biggest “error” people see in this decklist. Lands that animate into artifact creatures are super efficient in this deck, as one piece of cardboard can get sacrificed to the witch. But I worry about too many colorless lands. I’ve left out Blinkmoth Nexus, Inkmoth Nexus, Mishra's Factory, and Mishra's Foundry, but experiment with how many of these you can afford in the deck and give it a go!
Baba Lysaga, Night Witch isn’t a great cEDH commander, but there are various builds which use it as an alternative to the typical Golgari cEDH commanders that look to Entomb and then Reanimate a Protean Hulk which you feed to Baba Lysaga and go nuts, or a Razaketh, the Foulblooded to do Chain of Smog things. I’m unconvinced that you wouldn’t rather use a different commander for those deck plans, but if you’re looking for a challenge, have at it!
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild | Illustration by Chase Stone
There’s my take on everyone’s favorite warlock. I think the deck is fun but a bit underpowered. I’d suggest that if you have a good The Gitrog Monster deck that you’re tired of playing or if it's too tuned for your playgroup that you consider using its pieces to build this deck to give yourself a different challenge.
But have a missed a build or a few tricks? Is this deck secretly much more powerful than I think? What if I just added more removal? Let us know in the comments or on Discord!
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