Savra, Queen of the Golgari - Illustration by Scott M. Fischer

Savra, Queen of the Golgari | Illustration by Scott M. Fischer

Three quarters of the people at any EDH table lose the game. But what if I told you there were more ways to win than you think?

You already know this, don’t you? You know you’ve got that pet deck that’s just fun to play but doesn’t quite work. Maybe it’s cephalid tribal, or all old border cards or “CARDNAME tribal” where every card is called “x of y”. And you win just by hanging out with your friends and playing something that makes you smile.

Today we’re exploring some of the decks that make me smile: art memes. Along the way I’ll highlight some of the best cards so that you can see if any of these decks have what it takes to win a table. Even better than playing a meme deck is winning with one!

What Are Art Meme Decks?

Yargle, Glutton of Urborg (Multiverse Legends) - Illustration by Serena Malyon

Yargle, Glutton of Urborg (Multiverse Legends) | Illustration by Serena Malyon

An art meme deck is an EDH deck based on a coherent theme in the cards’ art. It can be limited to creatures or can extend to other card types, often based on what’s possible in the span of what can be found in MTG art.

In some ways it all started with Tejai Wallace, a brewer who goes by “TransientJesus,” and his “Ladies Looking Left” brews. He told Draftsim that “chair tribal” was a thing people had heard about, but that the origins of this, for him, was a bit of luck:

The idea originally came from a fit of boredom at my LGS. I was hanging out with a friend and talking about how I haven’t found anything interesting to build lately for EDH, and he proposed a challenge. He would select a random card from his binder and I would have to build a deck with ‘cards like that.’ The initial card chosen was Eternal Witness.


And that developed into “Ladies Looking Left,” which Wallace posted to reddit (here’s his most recent deck post), and the meme deck did what memes do: spread. Was he the first besides the “chair tribal” brewer, now seemingly lost to history?

Perhaps. But given how popular Commander is across thousands of kitchen tables, there have to be other lost brewers of yore who crafted art meme decks without posting them to the Internet. I’m hoping any creators toiling in obscurity can comment below so that we can tell a more complete history of what is, for me, the peak of the Commander brewer’s art!

ScryFall’s art tags project makes this all easier to research, and for that we give a shoutout to ScryFall and the ScryFall supporters who tag the cards. You can search for art commonalities to think up new brews. I’ve also scoured reddit and done a stack of searches to uncover meme decks, both fresh and not so much, to inspire your creativity and love of the game.


#7. Chair Tribal

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

The mythical ur-meme itself! Here’s a recent version. Most that I’ve found seem to be centered on Oloro, Ageless Ascetic, because of course they do. That’s perhaps the most epic chair in MTG, and it looks like what Oloro sat in when he sliced Thanos in half (not canon!)

The deck is full of people sitting on chairs including creature cards, spells and enchantments. There's also a nice suite of Thrones, from Dragon Throne of Tarkir to the old school Throne of Bone.

I can’t say that these cards or this deck are all that great. Perhaps the artists for powerful Magic cards are given art briefs that push for more active representations?

Best Cards

So what’s left? Here’s a few of the good cards. They don’t really synergize, and that’s kinda the tough part for this deck.

It’s gotta be the art by Izzy of the guy puking gold from his chair. Greed is good, for black decks anyway. Card draw in black always comes with a price, and lots of black decks actually want a bit of lifeloss while they’re at it!

Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

Let’s go, stax! Maybe Grand Arbiter Augustin IV just wants to slow the game down because he’s tired and wants to sit for a spell. He’s super old, after all, so slow down, you darn kids! And stay off his lawn!

Sai, Master Thopterist

Sai, Master Thopterist is a key piece of most artifact decks that run blue. I never noticed he's sitting down before even though I have like six copies of this card, and he’s obviously sitting. I guess I’m just always looking at his hand.

#6. Ladies Looking Left

Tazri, Beacon of Unity - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Tazri, Beacon of Unity | Illustration by Chris Rahn

Ladies Looking Left caught on, and lots of players are now iterating on the theme. Arguably all art meme decks have this invention to thank for their origins.

The idea is simple. All the cards except for lands have female figures looking left, from creatures like Coralhelm Guide to planeswalkers like Kiora, the Crashing Wave, and even other cards types: enchantments like Abundance, sorceries like Primal Growth, instants like Chain of Vapor, and even an artifact in Paradise Mantle. You have to make sure for a card with multiple arts like Swords to Plowshares that you use the correct one, in this case the Ice Age print with art by Kaja Foglio.

How does the deck work? A Bant () build uses Jenara, Asura of War as a general, and folks also brew with Tazri, Beacon of Unity for 5-color. Within that it’s pretty much just a pile of cards. All these decks are, to some extent.

As the years go on and more cards are printed there are more options and better decks, but this isn’t likely to win a lot.

Best Cards

Knight of Autumn

I usually want Knight of Autumn in my Selesnya () decks, but this slot is really about picking a lot of cards that are answers in this art space. It’s hard to build a deck with real synergies that work, so you have to increase your chances to get lucky.

Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines

You need the Junji Ito print of Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines, but I don’t have to convince you that it’s a powerful card in Commander!

Captain Sisay

Traditionally used in the 99 in this deck, there are now about 200 cards that would fit this deck in Selesnya colors, and 19 of those are legends, so maybe it’s time for Captain Sisay to take the helm?

#5. Closed Fists!

Boros Charm (Gatecrash) - Illustration by Zoltan Boros

Boros Charm (Gatecrash) – Illustration by Zoltan Boros

As I started looking at the art tags on ScryFall I just started listing out all the poses I could think of. Looking up and down is kind of unsatisfying because sometimes it’s eyeballs looking, sometimes heads, sometimes bodies. It just doesn’t cohere the way my meme brain would like.

But closed fists? Yes, those are things. And, welp, they just happen to appear on a lot of aggressive Boros () cards, which, ya know, fists: Boros Charm.

You have to use Neyali, Suns' Vanguard as commander to do Boros, which doesn’t synergize perfectly with the deck (yet!!) But there are a lot of aggressive Boros creatures you can use, like Jaxis, the Troublemaker, a smattering of planeswalkers, and lots of pump spells like Antagonize and Infuriate.

There’s not enough to really finish the deck unless you want to run mostly spells without fists on them or open the theme to grabbing stuff, whether that’s booty like Dockside Extortionist or a blade like Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward.

Best Cards

But if you’re trying to nail the theme, there’s a few good cards in here.

Professional Face-Breaker

Want some Treasures? Professional Face-Breaker has plans for your face if you don’t.

Care to try that again, bub?

Response // Resurgence

Response // Resurgence and the next card give a very clear feel to this deck.

Moraug, Fury of Akoum

You can borrow Moraug, Fury of Akoum from your Isshin, Two Heavens as One deck.

#4. Send Feet Pics

Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion - Illustration by John Stanko

Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion | Illustration by John Stanko

Don’t blame us. Brewer Xyre called the deck that, so well, that’s where we are.

You get it, by now. Xyre’s deck is a 5-color stampede led by Karona, False God, which feels a little off. The feet are barely emphasized! Given the vast amount of nekkid hobbit feet we’re likely to have to deal with in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth there’s likely to be a better commander (and plenty of other cards for the 99!) coming this summer.

Until then I might choose Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion along with background Popular Entertainer. It’s another creature-heavy Boros deck, including lots of goblins and giants because they usually don’t wear shoes. I’d also follow Xyre’s lead and include footwear equipment like Swiftfoot Boots and Trailblazer's Boots.

Best Cards

Chained to the Rocks

There’s actually get some removal in this deck. Chained to the Rocks is fine spot removal.

Generous Gift

Do elephant feet count? I say yes for Generous Gift.

Karmic Guide is still a solid value play, but you have to go back to the Urza’s Legacy art by Heather Hudson to get bare feet.

#3. Flower Power

Mayael the Anima - Illustration by Jason Chan

Mayael the Anima | Illustration by Jason Chan

There are a few hundred cards with flowers in them in MTG. I feel like I’m honor bound to use Mayael the Anima as a commander for this deck, because just look at that art!

But I think this’ll have to be a subtype of a faerie deck to work, at least so far. That likely means running Oona, Queen of the Fae and focusing only on faerie and support cards with flowers in them. It turns out that’s not as hard as it might seem, but this is still a powered down faerie deck with the flower restriction because you lose typical inclusions like Glen Elendra Liege.

Best Cards

You can add some darkhorse non-fairies to use your commander’s abilities to anchor some kind of Dimir () control deck. Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin and Emry, Lurker of the Loch have flowers, for example. You can also use some more classic faerie cards.

Vendilion Clique

Maybe not as good in Commander as it was in its reign of Standard terror, Vendilion Clique is a still a card worth running.

Always nice to have a Control Magic around for emergencies. Sower of Temptation is more fragile, but it looks cool, so there’s that.


This classic is named after a flower, so of course Bitterblossom!

#2. Suitors Staring Starboard

Torens, Fist of the Angels - Illustration by Justine Cruz

Torens, Fist of the Angels | Illustration by Justine Cruz

This is a bit of an abandoned project from TransientJesus, but I think I found the solution in Crimson Vow (and it might be the same solution as with the Ladies deck): Selesnya. Choose Torens, Fist of the Angels as your leader and pack the deck with low-to-the-ground Selesnya soup that takes advantage of its support for tokens and +1/+1 counters.

Best Cards

Abzan Falconer

Our #1 outlast card is back! Abzan Falconer makes most of your Selesnya board fly. ‘Nuff said.

You want the Jesper Ejsing version of this classic removal spell to be on theme. Green decks don’t like to leave home without Beast Within.

Esper Sentinel

See? These meme decks aren’t all bad. You know Esper Sentinel is the business!

#1. T-Pose

Niv-Mizzet Reborn - Illustration by Raymond Swanland

Niv-Mizzet Reborn | Illustration by Raymond Swanland

Seemingly invented by jacobsh97, this “Asserting Dominance” deck plays perhaps the best of all these decks. A superpowered meme deck that arose right out of meme culture, this deck almost begs you to engage in some Amy Cuddy-style power posing right when you sit down, which might be a problem at your table. Assert your dominance in a more contained and restrained way, maybe?

Aptly commanded by Niv-Mizzet Reborn for the five colors and the “come at me, bro,” pose, there are a lot of cards in this deck that synergize with Niv’s color requirements to trigger its ETB, like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and Savra, Queen of the Golgari.

With this deck you have to choose between the thematic intensity of T-posing like the art on Chromatic Armor, the Chad vibes on Enslave, or cards that just work better in a game like the Andrew Goldhawk Absorb, Aurelia's Fury, and Guided Passage.

Best Cards

Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines

Not all of these cleanly synergize with Niv-Mizzet. Honorable mention to Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines, of course, in the standard Martina Fackova artwork.

Another honorable mention to a set of Rakdos () cards that could be another build of this deck when we get a few more cards printed:

Iroas, God of Victory

Iroas, God of Victory is kinda okay in a Niv deck, and the thematic is on point.

Hostage Taker

This Cube build-around is good in Commander, too, though this deck gives new context. Is Hostage Taker asserting her dominance and we follow just 'cause? I know she’s got a sword to the throat, but still.

I know, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is kinda sketch, but when you slip to Nicol Bolas, the Arisen, Nicky B is def your huckleberry.

You know how broken Omnath, Locus of Creation is across formats. You could legit do a T-pose deck helmed by Omnath and be happy. The trouble is that you might be a target of folks who don’t believe you’re running a charming meme deck with such an OP commander. Omnath, Locus of All may very well put you in the same boat once that starts to see play.

Depending on the art you could always run another Omnath if you like, although you could end up in pedantic T-pose arguments given that Omnath has four arms and tends to do more of an X-pose.

Are Art Meme Decks Good?

No. I mean, yes.

Look, if your goal is to win, then no. If your goal is to have some fun and have the best victory of your Commander life if you can scrounge a win with one of these, then yes absolutely.

Wrap Up

Fblthp, the Lost - Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Fblthp, the Lost | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

I’ve got my eye on a couple other potential decks that don’t quite have the pieces together yet:

And then there’s the dabbing deck, which at this point may never have enough cards.

Check out the ScryFall tagger and see if you can find inspiration. There’s a lot there. I can’t see making a deck out of cards that all have vases in them, but that might be exactly your jam.

Commander and MTG deckbuilding is a creative outlet for a lot of us, and as Commander decks get more powerful, we’re all at risk of doing what streamer Jeff Hoogland talks about as one of the key mistakes of cards gamers: optimizing the fun out of our game. It’s good to remember to have fun and practice losing with grace and no salt.

Which meme decks would you want to build? Which ones do you like just in concept? Let me know in the comments below, or join the discussion over in the Draftsim Discord.

Until next time!

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  • Avatar
    Zukigi April 28, 2023 11:28 am

    My friend had a “hood” deck.
    And it’s honestly functional.

  • Avatar
    A.Hak April 28, 2023 7:39 pm

    Two vintage cars for flowers come to mind — Priest of Titania (the most beautiful flower illustration ever) as well as Eladamri’s Vineyard!

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