Marneus Calgar - Illustration by Slawomir Maniak.jpg

Marneus Calgar | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

The Warhammer 40K franchise is now part of MTG thanks to Universes Beyond. This Warhammer product consists of four Commander decks, one for each faction.

One of these decks is in Esper () colors and led by Inquisitor Greyfax. It features another legendary creature, Marneus Calgar, one of the humans’ fiercest leaders in this universe. Marneus is a very interesting and powerful commander, and you can build around it in myriad of ways (pun intended; the myriad mechanic is actually good in this deck).

Here’s one of the many possible Marneus Calgar EDH deck builds. What makes it tick? How else can you build a Marneus deck? Let’s jump in and find out!

The Deck

Reliquary Tower - Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Reliquary Tower | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Commander (1)

Marneus Calgar

Planeswalker (3)

Kaya, Geist Hunter
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Liliana, Dreadhorde General

Creature (21)

Inquisitor Eisenhorn
Vexilus Praetor
Ultramarines Honour Guard
Inquisitor Greyfax
God-Eternal Oketra
Keeper of the Accord
Junk Winder
Curiosity Crafter
Thraben Inspector
Grave Titan
Commissar Severina Raine
Company Commander
Battle Angels of Tyr
Psychosis Crawler
Chasm Skulker
Nadir Kraken
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim
Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia
Ophiomancer
Viscera Seer
Toxrill, the Corrosive

Instant (14)

Deny the Witch
Swords to Plowshares
Protect the Negotiators
Counterspell
Dovin’s Veto
Void Rend
Utter End
Confirm Suspicions
Disorder in the Court
Spell Swindle
Deadly Dispute
Entrapment Maneuver
Generous Gift
Secure the Wastes

Sorcery (5)

Collective Effort
Hour of Reckoning
Ponder
Preordain
Damn

Enchantment (8)

Black Market Connections
Birth of the Imperium
Defenders of Humanity
Anointed Procession
Legion’s Landing
Divine Visitation
Smothering Tithe
Hidden Stockpile

Artifact (13)

The Golden Throne
Dimir Signet
Azorius Signet
Orzhov Signet
Arcane Signet
Sol Ring
Thought Vessel
Ashnod’s Altar
Shorikai, Genesis Engine
Mind Stone
Rings of Brighthearth
Basalt Monolith
Oketra’s Monument

Land (35)

Command Tower
Raffine’s Tower
Arcane Sanctum
Watery Grave
Hallowed Fountain
Isolated Chapel
Evolving Wilds
Glacial Fortress
Godless Shrine
Drowned Catacomb
Morphic Pool
Prairie Stream
Reliquary Tower
Roadside Reliquary
Sea of Clouds
Shipwreck Marsh
Sunken Hollow
Vault of the Archangel
Memorial to Glory
Castle Ardenvale
Field of the Dead
Dimir Aqueduct
Azorius Chancery
Esper Panorama
Obscura Storefront
Orzhov Basilica
Island x3
Swamp x3
Plains x3

The Commander

Marneus Calgar

Marneus Calgar is an Esper commander printed in the Warhammer 40K Commander set. It’s a 3/5 double strike astartes warrior with a powerful passive ability: whenever one or more tokens enter the battlefield under your control, you draw a card.

Any token, including creature tokens, Treasures, Clues, and Food, triggers this ability. Marneus also has the “chapter master” ability, which lets you make two 2/2 Warrior tokens with vigilance (proccing that card draw, too).

Some comparisons can be made with other popular commanders like Chulane, Teller of Tales because they draw cards easily. Some players critique Marneus because it’s too easy to build a deck.

Some important things to consider about Marneus Calgar:

  • Every creature that enters the battlefield and makes a token, Treasure, or Clue is effectively a cantrip.
  • It doesn’t matter if the effect makes one or more tokens because you only draw one card per trigger.
  • Cards with the ability to make a token every turn are more powerful than normal in this deck.
  • You can affect the board and your hand for six mana at instant speed.

Marneus Calgar is powerful, works with almost every token maker in Esper colors, and can even trigger itself. The card is solid, the synergies are everywhere, and it’s even a mana sink. All you really need are lands and mana rocks.

The Creatures

Almost every card in this deck is related to producing tokens, either on ETB or sustainably, because it cantrips with the commander on the battlefield.

Nadir KrakenChasm Skulker

Nadir Kraken and Chasm Skulker have synergies with drawing a card, something that you expect to do a lot with your commander. The Kraken is perfect because you draw a card, make a token, and pay to make another token and repeat the process. You can turn every single mana you have available into cards and tokens.

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of NephaliaOphiomancer

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia and Ophiomancer can make a creature every turn, effectively drawing cards. You can make more out of your tokens if you have a sacrifice outlet like Ashnod’s Altar or Viscera Seer.

Battle Angels of Tyr

Battle Angels of Tyr has the myriad mechanic and makes tokens of itself when it attacks.

Ultramarines Honour Guard

Ultramarines Honour Guard is, besides a mana sink, an anthem effect for your token army.

Grave Titan, Toxrill, the Corrosive, and God-Eternal Oketra are win conditions that make tokens.

Junk Winder

Junk Winder has synergies with tokens, and you’ll eventually freeze some permanents.

Thraben Inspector

Thraben Inspector is a two-for-one because it makes a Clue token to draw you a card later.

The Token Producers

Hidden Stockpile

Hidden Stockpile makes a 1/1 token every now and then.

Legion's Landing

Legion’s Landing makes a token and turns into a “token creator land.”

Smothering Tithe

Smothering Tithe is a white EDH staple that makes you Treasures and draw you cards. It’s like adding the functionality of Rhystic Study.

Black Market Connections

Black Market Connections has three modes that can each get you a card if activated. The two token generator modes are separate events, so separate triggers.

Shorikai, Genesis Engine

Shorikai, Genesis Engine allows you to draw, discard, and create a 1/1 token.

Oketra's Monument

Oketra’s Monument reduces the cost of white creatures and makes a 1/1 token.

Deadly Dispute

Deadly Dispute draws you two cards and creates a Treasure token.

Protect the Negotiators

Protect the Negotiators is a good counterspell to help you to protect your board and make a 1/1 token.

Elspeth, Sun's ChampionLiliana, Dreadhorde General

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and Liliana, Dreadhorde General both produce tokens, drawing you lots of cards.

Token Synergies

Divine Visitation

Divine Visitation turns your tokens into mighty 4/4 angels. Each time your commander makes two 2/2 soldiers they’re upgraded into 4/4 fliers.

Kaya, Geist Hunter

Kaya, Geist Hunter doubles the number of tokens produced or distributes +1/+1 counters.

Commissar Severina RaineElas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim

Commissar Severina Raine and Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim benefit you when you have lots of tokens. You bleed your opponents while attacking and when your creatures die.

Anointed Procession

Anointed Procession doubles any token you produce.

The Interaction

Esper colors offer several ways to interact, with access to counterspells as well as both spot and mass removal.

Swords to Plowshares, Void Rend, and Utter End are flexible spot removal spells. Generous Gift is another catch-all removal spell that can also destroy something you don’t need, make a 3/3, and draw a card.

Counterspell, Dovin’s Veto, and Negate are cheap counterspells to interact.

Deny the WitchProtect the Negotiators

Deny the Witch and Protect the Negotiators are counterspells powered by the number of creatures you have.

Spell SwindleConfirm Suspicions

Spell Swindle and Confirm Suspicions are counterspells that make tokens.

The Sweepers

Hour of Reckoning

Hour of Reckoning is a sweeper that protects your tokens.

Damn

Damn is flexible because it’s a spot removal or a Wrath of God.

Hand Size Matters

Since you draw a bunch of cards you also need to pay attention to your hand size.

Cards like Reliquary Tower and Curiosity Crafter allow you to have any number of cards.

Psychosis Crawler

Psychosis Crawler gets bigger with the number of cards.

The Mana Base

Arcane SanctumRaffine's Tower

The mana base includes some Esper lands like Arcane Sanctum and Raffine’s Tower, along with lots of dual lands in Dimir (), Orzhov (), and Azorius () colors.

Watery GraveDrowned Catacomb

The shock and check lands like Watery Grave and Drowned Catacomb are good and efficient at what they do, and you can play mana rocks like the Signets to ramp and fix your mana.

Command TowerArcane Signet

Commander staples like Command Tower and Arcane Signet make what you want out of mana fixing and ramping.

Castle ArdenvaleMemorial to Glory

Castle Ardenvale and Memorial to Glory are lands that produce tokens, which have synergy with your commander.

Vault of the Archangel

Vault of the Archangel is good with lots of tokens on offense and defense.

The Strategy

This deck is a midrange deck that aims to establish an engine of token producing along with your commander and drawing cards. You use your midrange tactics and cards to survive, fill the board with tokens, and get rid of problematic threats or commanders via removal spells.

In the long game you have the benefit of spending extra mana on your commander to generate tokens and draw cards because of your commander’s fixed mana sink.

Combos and Interactions

Rings of BrighthearthBasalt Monolith

Rings of Brighthearth is there to copy activated abilities, which this deck has in spades between your commander many of your other permanents. Suddenly you’re playing eight mana, making four tokens, and drawing two cards. You can generate a lot of mana with Basalt Monolith and some shenanigans.

Cards with the squad mechanic play double duty in this deck because the mechanic is a mana sink, and you’ll make tokens that are copies of the squad creatures.

Sometimes all you need is to hold counterspells and pass the turn with mana open, allowing you to use your commander’s activated ability if nothing happens. That’s excellent in a draw-go style deck.

Rule 0 Violations Check

Ashnod’s Altar, Rings of Brighthearth, and Basalt Monolith can generate infinite mana, which can give you infinite draw and tokens with your commander. You’re not playing tutors though, so this combo is still breakable and slow if it does turn up.

Overall I’d say that this deck isn’t a Rule 0 violator.

Power Level

This build is aimed to be an adaptation of the original list (the Commander precon). Lots of cards from the original build are still there, and the power level of the build is a 5 to 6 out of 10.

Keep in mind that these Warhammer 40k Commander precons already have strong cards in them and that Marneus is a strong commander, so I may be underestimating the overall power of the deck. I see lots of players online trying to underpower Marneus and aim the deck more toward the fair side than the competitive side.

Budget Options

One thought I had while creating this build is to use cheap EDH staples and lots of cards from the Commander precon, which also gives you the commander. None of the expensive cards are irreplaceable and they’re hard to get, but some (like Anointed Procession) are highly desirable.

Feel free to replace expensive duals with tap lands you may have in your collection, and swap out cards like Toxrill, the Corrosive and Liliana, Dreadhorde General because they can cost a pretty penny ($20+).

Other Builds

Marneus Calgar’s size lets it beat down with a 3/5 double strike body. If you equip it and give it enough evasion you’ll have a Rafiq of the Many-like commander, then spend the extra mana to refuel with Marneus’ ability.

You can have an investigate build with investigate tribal, filling the deck with cards that investigate and cards like Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth and Wernog, Rider’s Chaplain.

Another possible and powerful build is Dimir-based and more focused on Treasure generation, which are tokens for Marneus Calgar. You may play affinity cards or combos based on card draw, tutors, and more.

Commanding Conclusion

Command Tower - Illustration by Games Workshop

Command Tower | Illustration by Games Workshop

I hope you like my take on Marneus Calgar as a commander and get to try this build or improve on it. One cool thing about this build is that it already uses much of the Inquisitor Greyfax Commander deck and can be played with some simple swaps. The average card in the Warhammer 40k Commander decks is very strong, and this deck puts many of them to good use.

What do you think about this build? How would you build around Marneus Calgar? Let me know in the comments below or take the discussion to the Draftsim Discord.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you around!

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