Narset, Enlightened Exile | Illustration by Marie Magny
There have been more than a few iterations of Narset since she debuted in the Khans of Tarkir block nearly 10 years ago. They almost all revolve around casting spells for free, and I think Narset, Enlightened Exile is one of the most interesting printings of the Jeskai () planeswalker so far.
Today I’m breaking down a Narset, Enlightened Exile EDH deck for your deckbuilding pleasure. It’s a strong list, though not quite cEDH level, and I’ll do my best to balance the budget and keep it around the mid $400s.
Ready? Let’s dig in!
Talrand, Sky Summoner | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
Balmor, Battlemage Captain
Talrand, Sky Summoner
Kykar, Wind's Fury
Third Path Iconoclast
Mondrak, Glory Dominus
Veyran, Voice of Duality
Fact or Fiction
Fists of Flame
Meeting of Minds
Swords to Plowshares
Delayed Blast Fireball
Slip Through Space
See the Truth
Seize the Day
Sea Gate Restoration
Omen of the Sea
Whirlwind of Thought
Roar of Resistance
City on Fire
Talisman of Creativity
Talisman of Progress
Path of Ancestry
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of Triumph
Taking into consideration Narset, Enlightened Exile’s ability only hits spells with a mana value less than its power, the average mana value of this deck is quite low at 2.53 without lands. That gives you a solid bank of spells to cast for free, but you can also cast them early to develop your board and tempo-out your opponents.
While your commander is Jeskai, this deck is mostly just an Izzet () deck with a few white cards. Only 15 of the 90 mana pips are white, and they’re mostly on cheaper spells like Hyena Umbra or Swords to Plowshares. This makes for a very smooth and familiar Izzet spellslinger deck that gets to use white’s utility without giving up too much of Izzet’s straightforwardness.
The deck also runs relatively few permanent cards, as you might expect. The ones that are here typically either some kind of protection or utility enchantment like Omen of the Sea and Sorcerer Class, or a synergistic creature that can dictate the pace of the game on its own like Archmage Emeritus or Monastery Mentor.
The deck is centered almost entirely around Narset, Enlightened Exile. A lot of the other creatures have high levels of synergy with all your cheap spells, but none of them do it quite like Narset. The most important part of this commander is its power, and it’s almost always going to be at 3 unless you resolve one of your few combat-stat-boosting spells.
That said, a large majority of your instants and sorceries are under that 3-mana threshold. Some are above, but that’s fine. You just want a large portion of them to be castable from the graveyard. Not only does it give you additional value each combat step, but it also helps to give you more ways to trigger the prowess on each of your creatures when you need to. In a deck like this, simply casting a spell often gives you more value than whatever the spell does on its own; that’s the key takeaway.
Turn two is when this deck really starts to get moving. Turn 1 is almost always either a cantrip or Sol Ring, so having something substantial on turn two allows you to hit the ground running and protect you from early creature decks. You have a few excellent options that each synergize with your spellslinger style and only add to Narset, Enlightened Exile’s abilities.
Balmor, Battlemage Captain is a 1/3 flier that gives you a board-wide boost whenever you cast an instant or sorcery, which you’ll be doing quite often with this deck.
Dreadhorde Arcanist also has a 1/3 statline, and it has essentially an identical ability to that of Narset, Enlightened Exile.
Third Path Iconoclast is a 3/1 that creatures 1/1 soldiers every time you cast a noncreature spell.
There’s also the classic Young Pyromancer, another spell-based token generator that helps build a nice wide board to work alongside Narset.
Monastery Mentor is another Khans of Tarkir block banger that has seen play alongside just about every other iteration of Narset there is. This powerhouse quickly overwhelms your opponent and has the nice backup of already having prowess on itself and its tokens in case your Narset bites the dust.
Crash Through is a cheap red cantrip that can also give your entire board trample. I’d suggest holding off on using this early unless you absolutely need the card draw because it offers some of the most offensive utility in your deck that may be needed later to finish somebody off.
Faithless Looting is going to generate lots of card advantage for you over the course of the game, whether you’re casting it via flashback or Narset. It also allows you to discard other spells to then copy for free with Narset’s ability if you’re short on mana to cast it normally.
Gitaxian Probe needs little introduction. Card neutral free information.
Ponder, Preordain, and Serum Visions are some of the best blue cantrips, and they perform great in this list.
Slip Through Space is the last of the 1-drop sorceries. It’s also card-neutral, and it can be critical to killing somebody via combat damage with an unlockable Narset, Enlightened Exile.
There are 24 instants in the deck, and you could probably name four of five of them just by guessing.
Brainstorm, Consider, and Thought Scour are your other cheap cantrips. These also provide excellent means of buffing creatures via prowess and staying ahead of your opponents.
Opt, Leap, and Shadow Rift perform similar functions but with some added utility built in.
Boros Charm is one of your few white cards and it brings a few different things to the table. It can be a great way to burn somebody for 8 damage by casting it twice, can offer great protection against board wipes, and even give a creature double strike for some surprise damage. All three are great options, and this card is a wonderful inclusion.
Fists of Flame is a supremely powerful instant to cast at the end of your turn after you’ve drawn half a dozen cards and want to slam some power onto one of your best attackers.
Telling Time is a bit more expensive than some of the other cantrips, but it offers some additional information and card selection for your troubles.
Despite Narset, Enlightened Exile not caring too much for permanents, this deck runs 10 enchantments. There are some that simply offer too much value and utility to pass up, and the amount of card draw and nonpermanent spells in the list shouldn’t make this an issue.
Jeskai Ascendancy is a no-brainer here. It’s flavorful, provides lots of card advantage, and even gives create board-wide combat boosts whenever you cast a noncreature spell. It has everything you’re seeking.
Roar of Resistance is pretty straightforward. It gives your creatures haste, which means you can do more with fresh tokens and recently-cast creatures, but it also allows you to give a nice +2/+0 buff to all your creatures for just .
Sorcerer Class is another obvious inclusion. 2 mana to loot 2 cards and eventually get some extra mana and damage is a great package. You’ll make use of every tier, and it’s not too expensive to get leveled up.
Metallurgic Summonings is a 5-mana banger that creates X/X tokens where X is equal to the mana value of the instants and sorceries you cast. On top of that, you can pay another 5 mana to bounce all the instants and sorceries in your graveyard to your hand. That’s a huge payoff that not only gives you plenty more spells to cast, but lets you get another round on those spells before they’re exiled.
Copy Enchantment is also here. You have plenty of strong enchantments in the list, so why not have a second?
The Mana Base
The deck’s mana isn’t particularly demanding, but as with any 3-color deck, you’ve got plenty of nonbasic lands in the list to get you rolling without any issue. That includes the basic duals you’ll find in most lists.
You’ve got pain lands like Adarkar Wastes, Battlefield Forge, and Shivan Reef.
Next up you have the three Temples: Temple of Enlightenment, Temple of Epiphany, and Temple of Triumph.
There’s also a few cheap basic fetches like Terramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds, and then you’ve also got Command Tower, Exotic Orchard, Mystic Monastery, and Path of Ancestry.
The deck doesn’t need or want too much acceleration. Most of your spells don’t need colorless mana, and the ones that do want some don’t need all that much. For that reason, you’re only running a few efficient and synergistic mana rocks.
Sol Ring is a classic. It goes out on turn one and can get you a turn ahead on Narset or another 3-drop.
Chrome Mox is basically free and can help you get an additional cantrip out early or simply play one turn ahead.
Fellwar Stone and the two talismans, Talisman of Progress and Talisman of Creativity help you out in not only fixing your mana, but getting Narset, Enlightened Exile out on turn three instead of four.
This deck revolves entirely around getting Narset, Enlightened Exile out as early as possible and using the combined force of its boardwide prowess and spell copying ability to generate as much value and board presence as possible, as quick as possible.
To get the ball rolling as quickly as possible, the deck runs nearly 10 cantrips. These help you trigger prowess and create tokens from creatures like Monastery Mentor and Young Pyromancer.
The strength of this list comes entirely from its consistency. Many of your early creatures and spells do one of the few same things. They either make creatures, draw cards, or interact with prowess in some way. This allows you to always have some kind of board presence and spells in the graveyard before Narset comes down right on turn three or four.
While the deck exceeds expectations in the early turns of the game, it can quickly fall behind if you don’t prioritize some kind of value engine. Most frequently, I found myself and others looking towards Monastery Mentor, Metallurgic Summonings, or Whirlwind of Thought as ways to pull ahead and start killing people.
Alternatively, you can win through Cyclonic Rift, and no I’m not being sarcastic. Casting an overloaded rift wipes your opponent’s blockers, and that easily allows you to kill at least two players with a handful of prowess creatures, some cantrips, and a Narset activation.
Combos and Interactions
One of the most important interactions to be aware of is simply the backside of Poppet Stitcher, Poppet Factory. It gives all your tokens a base power and toughness of 3/3, which is often triple their original stats. The key aspect is that they lose prowess. Since the factory lets you flip it back to the frontside on your upkeep, you need to constantly run the math on to whether it’s worth to keep it up based on your potential to start slinging spells and whether Narset is in play.
Akroma's Will has some of the highest potential of any card in the deck. If you manage to give all your creatures flying, vigilance, and double strike, you can easily kill all three players with the right set of cards. This, paired with any one copy of Roar of Resistance, Seize the Day or even just prowess, and you can easily run over any opponent’s board.
Rule 0 Violations Check
As far as I can tell from playing and building the list, there are no infinite combos or serious rule 0 violations in this deck. The only possible violator is Chrome Mox because it’s essentially free mana on turn one. But, given the power level of the deck and what it does with that second mana so early, I wouldn’t sweat it too much.
If you’re looking to play this list on a budget, you’re in great luck. Most of this deck’s approximate cost of about $450 comes from just a few cards that aren’t entirely critical to the game plan.
Chrome Mox is the most obvious cut at around $80. It doesn’t bring incredible amounts of power to the deck, and you won’t be losing games due to its absence.
Veyran, Voice of Duality is the next most expensive at around $45.
While Cyclonic Rift is another costly inclusion, I wouldn’t cut this if you can help it. It’s one of the most powerful cards in the format and can win you the game with it alone. The same goes for Akroma's Wil.
A spellslinger shell for Narset, Enlightened Exile is really all there is. Other lists may lean heavier into cantrips or a prowess theme, but both of those strategies are really just slightly different shades of the same color.
Regardless, if you wanted to focus more heavily on creatures and prowess altogether, some important cards to look at are Surge of Salvation, Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest, and Elsha of the Infinite. You’ll still be playing a heavy amount of cantrips and other spells, but you’ll get a much more creature-focused build that plays slightly differently.
Sol Ring (Commander Collection: Green) | Illustration by Joseph Meehan
That wraps up my rundown of my Narset, Enlightened Exile decklist! It’s a strong but fun and interactive deck that I’ve really enjoyed playing as I’ve stepped away from cEDH.
What do you think of the new Narset and my list? Are you excited to test out the deck, or have you already been playing around with it? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below, and make sure to come check out the official Draftsim Discord.
Until next time, stay safe, and stay healthy!
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