Last updated on January 25, 2023

Dihada, Binder of Wills - Illustration by Nestor Ossandon Leal

Dihada, Binder of Wills | Illustration by Nestor Ossandon Leal

Those madmen over at WotC finally did it. They printed the Mardu () commander to end all Mardu commanders.

The Mardu commander that binds all other legendary Mardu creatures under one villainous banner. Dihada, Binder of Wills has burst forth from Magic’s history and is ready to pack a punch in this deck chock full of every exciting legend you can fit.

Let’s check it out!

The Deck

Jazal Goldmane - Illustration by Aaron Miller

Jazal Goldmane | Illustration by Aaron Miller

Commander (1)

Dihada, Binder of Wills

Planeswalker (1)

Ajani Vengeant

Creatures (26)

Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
Ashling the Pilgrim
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Captain Lannery Storm
The Peregrine Dynamo
Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier
Cadric, Soul Kindler
Jazal Goldmane
Josu Vess, Lich Knight
Kardur, Doomscourge
Odric, Lunarch Marshal
Shanid, Sleepers’ Scourge
Tajic, Blade of the Legion
Toralf, God of Fury
Traxos, Scourge of Kroog
Arvad the Cursed
Garna, the Bloodflame
Aurelia, the Warleader
Etali, Primal Storm
Kothophed, Soul Hoarder
Akroma, Vision of Ixidor
Bladewing, Deathless Tyrant
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Piru, the Volatile
Razia, Boros Archangel
Zetalpa, Primal Dawn

Instants (7)

Boros Charm
Thrill of Possibility
Bedevil
Mortify
Wear // Tear
Return to Dust
Response // Resurgence

Sorceries (9)

Faithless Looting
Night’s Whisper
Read the Bones
Diabolic Tutor
Urza’s Ruinous Blast
Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth
Ruinous Ultimatum
Blasphemous Act
Rise of the Dark Realms

Enchantments (2)

Day of Destiny
Sanguine Bond

Artifacts (18)

Gerrard’s Hourglass Pendant
Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Blackblade Reforged
Fellwar Stone
Hero’s Blade
Sword of the Chosen
Talisman of Conviction
Talisman of Hierarchy
Bontu’s Monument
Commander’s Sphere
Hazoret’s Monument
Honor-Worn Shaku
Oketra’s Monument
The Reaver Cleaver
Helm of the Host
Whip of Erebos
Heroes’ Podium

Lands (36)

Battlefield Forge
Bojuka Bog
Boros Garrison
Caves of Koilos
Command Tower
Dragonskull Summit
Evolving Wilds
Foreboding Ruins
Geier Reach Sanitarium
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Mobilized District
Mountain x4
Nomad Outpost
Orzhov Basilica
Plains x6
Rakdos Carnarium
Reliquary Tower
Shivan Gorge
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Smoldering Marsh
Swamp x3
Temple of Malice
Temple of Silence
Temple of Triumph
Terramorphic Expanse
Tyrite Sanctum

This is, in essence, a legendary creature tribal deck. While Dihada’s second ability can “hit” on any legendary card, it’s the creatures that’ll win the game.

Consistently using its +2 nets you a huge advantage as long as you have a field of creatures to benefit from it. You’ll stabilize yourself until your foes have been beaten into submission via combat damage by using Dihada’s first two abilities.

The Commander

Dihada, Binder of Wills

Dihada, Binder of Wills is a Mardu planeswalker commander from Dominaria United’s Commander set. Its list is surprisingly coherent. Built around a legendary tribal theme, the deck plays a ton of legendary spells and has no problem refilling your hand thanks to your commander’s -3 ability.

Dihada’s +2 grants a creature a soup of keywords, supplying you with a source of consistent lifegain and a persistent blocker. Like many planeswalkers its final -11 ability is game-ending, and it works effectively as an Insurrection.

Dihada, Binder of Wills does two things very well: gain life and resource advantage, either through Treasures or filtering the top of your library for legends. The inherent timing of Dihada’s ability is great, and I personally love the way you can play it as a solution to so many problems.

Low on life? Let Dihada give something lifelink and indestructible so you can swing without fear of retaliation. Need cards? Hit that -3 and roll the dice on hitting four more legends off the top of your library. The worst that can happen is you end up with four Treasure tokens. I can’t imagine ever not wanting some more of those to go around.

Dihada, Binder of Wills is an excellent example of what red, white, and black can do collectively. Best of all, every other Mardu commander makes a nice addition to your legendary deck. If you can’t decide, why not play them all?

Synergy Legends

The first category of legends are synergistic ones; the creatures and spells with abilities that trigger or otherwise play nice with your other legends. It’s easiest to think of them in two subcategories: pre-Dihada plays and post-Dihada plays.

Several creatures benefit most if they’re on the field before Dihada, Binder of Wills, either on the previous turn or just immediately before you cast it from the command zone.

Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier

Fresh off Jumpstart 2022 is Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier. You see Dihada’s first ability copied onto each other legend you control when this is targeted.

Odric, Lunarch Marshal

Odric, Lunarch Marshal also spreads Dihada’s keywords around with the added bonus of catching the rest of your field’s keywords as well.

Cadric, Soul Kindler

Next is Cadric, Soul Kindler. Assuming you have access to five mana the turn after you play it, cast Dihada and get two copies to activate this turn. In this instance, split the abilities and use your original Dihada’s +2 ability to protect itself from damage while activating the -3 on the token copy since it dies at the end of the turn anyways.

Shanid, Sleepers' Scourge

If you can afford to wait a turn when you hit four mana, Shanid, Sleepers’ Scourge cranks out value for every legendary spell. It should hit the field before Dihada to draw into other legends to play while it’s out.

Josu Vess, Lich Knight

Post-Dihada plays include Josu Vess, Lich Knight, which you shouldn’t bother casting unless you can kick it. I’ll relent that a 4/5 with menace for four mana is good value, but a 4/5 with menace and an additional eight 2/2 zombie creatures with menace is a win condition.

Kardur, Doomscourge

In that same vein, avoid casting Kardur, Doomscourge too early. It’s typically most valuable in a second main phase after you’ve attacked and an opponent has chumped with a Saproling token to save a more valuable Blood Artist, only to be forced into attacking with that measly 0/1 on their following turn.

The Peregrine Dynamo

The Peregrine Dynamo is hard to place. Its cheap mana value and activation cost make it a great surprise play when your board already has targets for it like Jazal Goldmane. It’s ultimately situational to your particular board state.

Combat Legends

These are your bread and butter. The best blockers to defend Dihada and the best attackers that benefit from its lifelink, vigilance, and indestructible.

Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, Ashling the Pilgrim, and Kari Zev, Skyship Raider all make great plays alongside Dihada, or in the early game before your opponents can set up a board.

Akroma, Vision of Ixidor

Your biggest creatures are the game-enders. You mean business, so use Akroma, Vision of Ixidor to buff all those keyworded-up creatures from Dihada’s first ability and make a mess of opponents when combined with Odric, Lunarch Marshal.

Zetalpa, Primal DawnEtali, Primal Storm

EDH staples Zetalpa, Primal Dawn and Etali, Primal Storm are classic threats in the format.

Traxos, Scourge of Kroog

Traxos, Scourge of Kroog is another card that’s seen a lot of Commander play lately, and for good reason. It’s almost impossible not to untap it each turn in this deck.

Akroma, Angel of FuryRazia, Boros Archangel

Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Razia, Boros Archangel aren’t necessarily the best-in-slots, but you’ll find that any ol’ flier with some evergreen mechanics and a big statline does the trick when it comes to a huge board-changing creature.

Absent the mana for a 6-mana creature, some simple equipment turns your weaker early game creatures into nasty threats. Blackblade Reforged and Hero’s Blade are cheap to get on the field and in the hands of your legends, and you’ll find they’re worth a turn 2 or 3 play.

Sword of the Chosen

Sword of the Chosen is mostly a flavor pick since it can easily be outclassed by other 2-drop equipment, but its cheap mana value and lack of an equip cost means it might be faster in some edge cases.

The Reaver Cleaver

You’ve always got The Reaver Cleaver, possibly the most exciting card to come out of Dihada’s precon.

Helm of the Host

Consider Helm of the Host. Each of these legends is powerful in its own right, so it stands to reason another copy to throw away each turn can’t hurt at all.

Legendary Lords

Arvad the Cursed

Most creature tribes have one or more lords. Arvad the Cursed’s +2/+2 is very welcome, turning your medium- and large-sized legends into real threats while turning smaller early-game legends into, well, medium-sized legends.

Alongside Arvard are Day of Destiny (basically Arvad on an enchantment) and Heroes’ Podium, which has the added bonus of digging through your deck for more legends.

You Must Run Interaction

I know, I know. I’d rather just run more of these exciting Mardu legends as well, but this deck does need to protect itself and your commander from threats. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some pseudo-legendary plays to interact with the board!

Your two actual legendary sorceries are Urza’s Ruinous Blast, a board wipe that won’t touch your battlefield, and Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth, a big reanimation play that might as well have been built specifically for this deck.

Ruinous UltimatumBlasphemous Act

Just to double down on your board wipes you round out your sorceries with Ruinous Ultimatum and Blasphemous Act, which go particularly well with Toralf, God of Fury on the field. Hey, why just destroy one permanent when you could get them all?

Piru, the Volatile

You might be wondering why you’re running such a loudly telegraphed board wipe in Piru, the Volatile. Truth be told, this battlecruiser is more than just mass removal.

Piru won’t hit the field until the late game when those three other players have foolishly filled their board with non-legendary creatures and tokens. Seven damage to each with a lifelink trigger will skyrocket your life total. If you can hit just three other creatures, that 21 life can drastically alter the state of the game.

Rise of the Dark Realms

Rise of the Dark Realms is included for good measure.

Whip of Erebos

Whip of Erebos is a repeatable reanimation effect on a legendary permanent.

Boros Charm is possibly the perfect instant-speed response, but Garna, the Bloodflame and Gerrard’s Hourglass Pendant can work just as well in a pinch.

Some single-target removal is inevitably necessary. You’ll need to remove those noncreature permanents somehow, so Wear // Tear, Return to Dust, Mortify, and Bedevil are invaluable.

The Engine

What keeps this deck running? You need to continue to cast legendary creatures to do combat, so keeping your hand full and mana tight is essential to piloting Dihada.

I already mentioned some value generators like Shanid, Sleepers’ Scourge, but may I submit the Amonkhet Monuments for your consideration? Bontu’s Monument, Hazoret’s Monument, and Oketra’s Monument grant a small reduction to the cost of your creature spells, and you get a cantrip-sized bonus whenever you cast a creature of the corresponding color.

It doesn’t sound like much, but these three are almost never worth your opponents’ Return to Dusts. Those pings, loots, and 1/1 Warriors (respectively) really do add up if you can drop these in the early game.

You’ll find the standard Advantage Package™ in this deck. This includes Faithless Looting, Thrill of Possibility, Read the Bones, and Night’s Whisper.

The Mana Base

Maybe it’s a holdover from this deck’s precon origins, but you’re running a whopping 36 lands and seven mana rocks. There’s space for more than a few legendary lands here since Dihada can grab them off the top of your library, and other spells check for legendary permanents.

Shizo, Death's Storehouse

Shizo, Death’s Storehouse grants one of your legends fear, meaning you’ll sneak some huge damage off Traxos, Scourge of Kroog or Etali, Primal Storm right past the only player who forgot to play black.

Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, Geier Reach Sanitarium, and Shivan Gorge are cute ways to blow your extra mana. The nonlegendary Tyrite Sanctum can actually save an important legend from destruction, albeit for two turns and six mana worth of abilities.

This deck works out to an almost even split between white, black, and red cards (39%, 31%, and 39%, respectively, including multicolor cards). With an average mana value of 4.08 and without access to green, make use of your veritable mountain of mana rocks to keep pace with the rest of the table.

Honor-Worn Shaku

I want to shout out Honor-Worn Shaku, which effectively turns your legends into colorless mana dorks. This card shouldn’t be underestimated! It’ll catch you up in an instant if you’ve fallen behind on lands but still managed to drop some creatures onto your field.

The Strategy

Dihada, Binder of Wills wants to buff a board of legends and keep them coming to the field with its second ability. By framing the deck’s strategy around those two abilities you’ll strike a balance between swinging in and gaining life or digging through your deck and generating mana.

Your early game legends include Kari Zev, Skyship Raider and Ashling the Pilgrim, but mostly you’ll use the first two or three turns to ramp accordingly. This means keeping hands with mana rocks more often than hands stuffed with the best legends. You can always dig them up later once Dihada hits the field.

Speaking of Dihada, you typically won’t want to play your commander before turn 4. As a planeswalker Dihada is vulnerable to all sorts of noncreature removal, and your opponents can easily put down enough combat damage to kill it without blockers. Even just a cheap chump blocker can make Dihada worth it, but I implore you to wait for that first removal spell to go off before you think it’s safe to cast.

This Dihada, Binder of Wills deck can win in a few different ways, only one of which is what I’d call a big flashy play. On the off chance that you haven’t needed Dihada’s second ability for several turns, you could in theory use the ultimate -11 ability. This works like an Insurrection which can and cannot be game-ending depending on the board state. This is a fine way to break stalemates between creature-heavy decks. I most recently used it in a standoff with Jodah, the Unifier).

Your other options aren’t quite so dramatic, but they’re effective. Dihada’s ability to consistently grant lifelink to your creatures means Sanguine Bond has a home in this deck. This goes down smooth with a Piru, the Volatile to sacrifice, as well as anything to spread that lifelink around like Whip of Erebos and Odric, Lunarch Marshal.

There’s always the infinite combat phase created when Aurelia, the Warleader attacks with a Helm of the Host. This one isn’t so dramatic since it often results in you casting the other piece of the combo, equipping the Helm, and then waiting for a response before declaring victory.

Combos and Interactions

Aurelia, the WarleaderHelm of the Host

This deck has one nasty infinite combo. Aurelia, the Warleader equipped with the Helm of the Host can result in infinite combat phases.

The Helm makes a copy of Aurelia at the beginning of combat on your turn. You declare the token copy as an attacker and then untap all of your creatures to get an extra combat phase where the Helm creates another token. You can do this indefinitely, declaring attackers again and again until your opponents can no longer block or your game goes on time.

Rule 0 Violations Check

That infinite combo is kind of a pain to play against, so I see why folks would take issue with it. It might behoove you to carry around an Anya, Merciless Angel or some other big beater to swap into the deck should such a situation arise.

Budget Options

This deck clocks in at just under $200. That’s a little above the average Commander deck, so let’s examine some budget options.

Cheaper

If you’re looking to shave a little off the top there are more than a few options for replacement cards.

Shizo, Death’s Storehouse can easily be a Rogue’s Passage. The Reaver Cleaver can be swapped out for Goldvein Pick. And Rise of the Dark Realms can become a Triumphant Reckoning in a heartbeat.

More Expensive

Suppose, though, you’ve already collected the best Mardu rares and are looking to take that next step into a broken Dihada, Binder of Wills deck.

Look no further than Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, everyone’s favorite banned-in-Legacy EDH card! If that isn’t enough treasure for you, try Dockside Extortionist too, you monster.

Better defense for Dihada is also a great investment, so I’d recommend getting a Deflecting Swat. It’s one of the only “counterspells” in Mardu colors.

Other Builds

Just because Dihada, Binder of Wills’s precon was a legendary tribal theme doesn’t mean there aren’t loads of decks it slots right into. Dihada’s ability to consistently generate Treasure tokens every turn means it’s great at the helm of a Treasure-themed deck and can probably pull of the Revel in Riches victory with ease.

I’m also very interested in Dihada as a replacement Mardu commander for a vampire tribal deck. I just can’t justify Edgar Markov coming in at $80 these days.

I can’t omit the concept of a superfriends deck. This deck only includes one other planeswalker in Ajani Vengeant, but you’ll be well on your way to a brutal planeswalker-themed deck with some proliferating abilities and The Chain Veil.

Commanding Conclusion

Aurelia, the Warleader - Illustration by Paul Scott Canavan

Aurelia, the Warleader | Illustration by Paul Scott Canavan

I’m Mardu for life, and now you can be too with Dihada, Binder of Wills. I’m so pleased to see one of my favorite villains in my favorite color identity, and it’s just icing on the cake that Dihada’s a powerful commander to boot. I know I’ll be playing this deck for years to come and can’t wait to tweak it with more legendary creatures as time goes on.

But what do you think? Are Dihada, Binder of Wills’s abilities really that valuable? Or is there another planeswalker you think can doll out an advantage quicker? What sorts of legends would you run in a Dihada deck? Let me know in the comments or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.

Thanks for reading, and have fun with Dihada out there!

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