Last updated on January 13, 2023

Braids, Arisen Nightmare - Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

Braids, Arisen Nightmare | Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

More legendary creatures are released with every set to be used as new commanders to get brewed around. Some are just underwhelming, some may be funny to play, and some are just straight-powerful.

Braids, Arisen Nightmare from Dominaria United is one of the strong bunch and has a tendency to keep the board small. It also rewards you for a small tax and punishes all opponents who refuse to pay the toll.

Just in time for spooky season, it’s finally time to brew around Braids. Its older version, Braids, Cabal Minion, is banned from the format, but this one seems to be more balanced and fun to play with.

Follow me to the land of bad dreams and find out how to give your opponents a bad time!

The Deck

Solemn Simulacrum - Illustration by Dan Scott

Solemn Simulacrum | Illustration by Dan Scott

To maximize its commander’s potential this deck runs multiple creatures, enchantments, and artifacts that can create more than one “body” on the field. You can later sacrifice the extras while hoping that your opponents let you get cards for free.

The Commander

Braids, Arisen Nightmare

Braids, Arisen Nightmare doesn't have an ETB effect, but its ability triggers at the end of your turn. It synergizes exceptionally well with the multiple sacrifice fodders this deck runs.

Its effect is simple but impacts all opponents. If you sacrifice a permanent type they don't have then you get the total value.

The Win Condition

You’ll rarely win by attacking. Your best option is to pair multiple drain effects and sacrifice engines to end the game and potentially kill your opponents in one swing.

Revel in Riches

This can be done in many ways, but Revel in Riches is a one-card win condition. Being an enchantment is hard to deal with, but there are several ways to make it so that your opponents can't interact with it much.

The Drainers

There are lots of cards in the deck and each fills a role for a go-wide plan.

Some are part of the drain package. They mostly make your opponents lose a life and gain you a life whenever creatures die on either side of the field. Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat are the main creatures followed by Bastion of Remembrance.

The Meathook Massacre

The Meathook Massacre’s primary role is as a board wipe, but it can also be used as a pseudo-drain effect depending on which side the creature died on.

The Spawners

Other cards play the role of creating bodies for sacrifice fodder for other cards, mainly by your commander.

Bitterblossom is by far the best of the bunch followed by Ophiomancer and Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia.

The Sacrifice Outlets

The sacrifice outlets are cards that provide you with a way to send your permanents to the graveyard when Braids, Arisen Nightmare isn’t around.

Krark-Clan Ironworks and Phyrexian Altar can ramp you further into the game while Witch's Oven provides you with extra value.

The Sacrifice Fodder

Fodders are all the cards that are played just to be sent to the graveyard at any time. These cards provide different effects depending on what you need at that moment.

Ichor Wellspring Spine of Ish Sah

Ichor Wellspring provides you with an extra card while Spine of Ish Sah is a recursive removal that you can play on each of your turns.

Ugin's Nexus

These effects are good, but the most notable one is Ugin's Nexus. It gives you an extra turn when it’s sacrificed, something that's not very common in black decks.

Card Advantage and Value Spells

Card advantage and value spells can be represented in multiple ways. Some provide you with extra cards for cheap mana like Sign in Blood and Night's Whisper, while others provide you with different options on types of value that you can get out of them like Black Market Connections or Demonic Pact.


Necropotence is among the most powerful. It can give you multiple cards in one swing without skipping your draw phase when used along with your commander.

Tergrid, God of Fright

Tergrid, God of Fright can punish opponents that aren’t willing to give you more cards.

Tutor Spells

This deck relies on multiple ways to tutor for its key cards to assemble your plans and synergies.

Vampiric Tutor Demonic Tutor

The most notable ones are Vampiric Tutor and Demonic Tutor because they seem less conditional.

Expedition Map Kuldotha Forgemaster

The deck also has access to the likes of Expedition Map and Kuldotha Forgemaster that can tutor for more specific kinds of cards.

The Removal

Black has access to the best removal package among other colors without a doubt.

Damnation Toxic Deluge

Damnation and Toxic Deluge stand among them as some of the more powerful board wipes ever printed.

Snuff Out Defile

Snuff Out and Defile are cheap ones that can kill almost everything.

Grave Pact Dictate of Erebos

Some other cards are pseudo-removals, like Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos. They punish your opponents that aim to kill your creatures or when you sacrifice your creatures with your sacrifice outlets or Braids, Arisen Nightmare.

The Mana Base

For a mono-black deck, one may think that it's just enough running Swamps on it and call it a day. This may be true, but there's no harm in getting value from your lands one way or another.

Phyrexian Tower

Phyrexian Tower is the one I like the most for being a card that can act as a sacrifice outlet and a ramp spell when paired with your spawners.

Agadeem's Awakening Hagra Mauling

Agadeem's Awakening and Hagra Mauling have the upside of being spells that can be lands in a pinch.

Takenuma, Abandoned Mire Castle Locthwain

Others are ways to provide you with extra card advantage, like Takenuma, Abandoned Mire or Castle Locthwain.

Sol Ring Thought Vessel

This deck also runs some ways to ramp you over the game, most notably Sol Ring and Thought Vessel.

Dark Ritual

There are also some other unconventional ones like Dark Ritual to accelerate your plays a couple of turns ahead, or just cast a turn 1 Braids, Arisen Nightmare.

Phyrexian Altar

There are also sacrifice outlets like Phyrexian Altar that help you to ramp further into the game.

Pitiless Plunderer

Treasure makers like Pitiless Plunderer can accomplish the same feat.

The Strategy

The primary strategy is to run cards like Mycosynth Wellspring and Chromatic Star. They may seem offensive at first glance, but they’re turned into Ancestral Recall most of the time when paired with Braids, Arisen Nightmare.

The plan is to sacrifice some permanents your opponents may not have or aren’t willing to sacrifice, like artifacts, planeswalkers, or enchantments. You can also opt to sacrifice creatures, but it's more likely that opponents have one or two already on the board. I don't think they’ll enjoy sacrificing their mana rocks for your Treasure tokens.

Combos and Interactions

There are lots of fun combinations you can do with this deck. Some are just value synergies, and some are annoying ways to win the game. Whatever it may be, here are the ones you need to know about.

Bitterblossom with Skullclamp provides you with two more cards per turn for just one mana. You can also swap Ophiomancer instead of the enchantment. If you have both, you get to draw four cards in addition to your natural draw step per turn.

Ideally you need another sacrifice outlet like Krark-Clan Ironworks if you don't have Braids, Arisen Nightmare out with Karn, the Great Creator with Ugin's Nexus. The idea is to sacrifice Nexus and use Karn's ability to play it back from exile on your upcoming turn to get at least three in a row.

Crucible of Worlds Strip Mine

Crucible of Worlds with Strip Mine lets you deal with some lands that may prove to be unkillable otherwise. It could be backbreaking against any opponent in a 1v1 battle.

You can swap Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia for any other spawner, but the idea is to turn your creatures into Food tokens with Witch's Oven. You then make everyone else sacrifice an artifact with Braids, Arisen Nightmare’s ability because artifacts are a less prevalent card type than creatures.

Scrap Trawler with Myr Retriever and Krark-Clan Ironworks and any other 1-mana artifact can theoretically get you infinite mana and death triggers. You’re likely to win the game next turn if you pair it with Pitiless Plunderer and Revel in Riches. Pulling all this together is difficult, but the key is to ensure that your playgroup is okay with the infinite mana and death triggers deal.

Cabal Coffers Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth gives you tons of mana because all your lands will be Swamps.

Urza's Saga Crucible of Worlds

Urza's Saga and Crucible of Worlds may take a while to get tons of profit out of it, but these can generate insane numbers of artifact creatures plus tutoring all your 1-mana or fewer artifacts.

Ugin's Nexus Revel in Riches

The main idea is to play Ugin's Nexus and Revel in Riches the same turn while having more than 10 Treasures and an artifact sacrifice outlet to win during your next extra turn and bypass the waiting time.

Budget Options

These aren’t cheap, but they can trim your deck if you want to aim for efficiency.

Viscera Seer is a good and cheap option for a sacrifice outlet if you want to make a replacement for this slot. Ogre Slumlord can replace your most expensive spawners with a little bit more effort.

If you want to add more drain effects, Falkenrath Noble is a suitable option. Beseech the Queen is a good replacement for the most expensive tutors that the deck can run. If you want to add more mana rocks to your deck, Mind Stone can be useful as it synergizes with the artifact theme.

Other Builds

The other way I’ve seen Braids, Arisen Nightmare decks built is by running a discard package theme that impacts the whole board. It includes cards like Elderfang Disciple, Virus Beetle, and Burglar Rat that make your opponents discard a card. You can add more of these effects to your deck and include the likes of Waste Not for maximum value.

From there you can add more synergy cards like Liliana's Caress and more tools to get your creatures back from the graveyard, like Animate Dead, to keep punishing the table by making them discard cards.

Commanding Conclusion

Bitterblossom - Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Bitterblossom | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Braids, Arisen Nightmare is the kind of commander I like. I tend to gravitate towards sacrifice strategies. Braids taxes your opponents in the process, so it’s the perfect fit for me.

There are a couple of ways to build this deck, but I decided to go towards a more artifact/Treasure theme because it's less likely that your opponents would have artifacts they want to sacrifice.

Is this sacrifice version of the deck meeting your play style, or would you instead build it with more of a discard theme? What cards would you like to try in your Braids, Arisen Nightmare deck? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.

Have a nice day, everyone!

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