Queza, Augur of Agonies - Illustration by Julie Dillon

Queza, Augur of Agonies | Illustration by Julie Dillon

Streets of New Capenna gave us a lot of new 3-color commanders to choose from between the main set and the supplemental Commander product. While Lord Xander, the Collector and Jetmir, Nexus of Revels got a lot of love, the commander that caught my attention was Queza, Augur of Agonies.

One of the big reasons that Queza caught my eye was that it creates an infinite combo with one of my pet cards: Lich's Mastery. But Queza can also create fun interactions with a variety of cards. There are plenty of ways to build a deck around it outside of what I chose to do, so even if this specific build isn’t your cup of tea, I’d still encourage you to see what else you could possibly do with a Queza deck.

Another thing to note about this build is that it’s somewhat reliant on alternate wincons to close out the game. I find this a fun way to add a little extra challenge to the deckbuilding process as well as the gameplay. That said, if you want a more straightforward win, I’ll go over a few more traditional alternate builds near the end.

Let’s get into it!

The Deck

Triskaidekaphile - Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Triskaidekaphile | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Commander (1)

Queza, Augur of Agonies

Planeswalkers (2)

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted

Creatures (27)

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
Marauding Blight-Priest
Psychosis Crawler
Notion Thief
Consecrated Sphinx
Drogskol Reaver
Laboratory Maniac
Thassa's Oracle
Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose
Esper Sentinel
The Council of Four
Archivist of Oghma
Epicure of Blood
Forgotten Creation
Kami of the Crescent Moon
Loran of the Third Path
Drannith Magistrate
Opposition Agent
Ghostly Pilferer
Fate Unraveler
Toothy, Imaginary Friend
Sygg, River Cutthroat
Arcanis the Omnipotent
Jace's Archivist
Unctus, Grand Metatect
Felidar Sovereign

Instants (14)

Enlightened Tutor
Tolarian Winds
Void Rend
Swords to Plowshares
Cyclonic Rift
Teferi's Protection
Blue Sun's Zenith
Emergency Powers
Pull from Tomorrow
Anguished Unmaking

Sorceries (6)

Peer into the Abyss
Merciless Eviction
Idyllic Tutor

Enchantments (4)

Lich's Mastery
Teferi's Ageless Insight
Wizard Class
Rhystic Study

Artifacts (10)

Alhammarret's Archive
Lightning Greaves
Aetherflux Reservoir
Bolas's Citadel
Howling Mine
Folio of Fancies
Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Chromatic Lantern
Talisman of Dominance

Lands (36)

Reliquary Tower
Geier Reach Sanitarium
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Cabal Coffers
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Command Tower
Raffine's Tower
Hallowed Fountain
Watery Grave
Godless Shrine
Sea of Clouds
Morphic Pool
Vault of Champions
Marsh Flats
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Adarkar Wastes
Underground River
Isolated Chapel
Swamp x6
Plains x5
Island x5
Castle Locthwain

This deck is built to increase the inherent benefits that Queza, Augur of Agonies gives you. There are ways to increase the number of cards you’re drawing, which gains you extra life and does extra damage. There are also ways to pay off each of these effects. This means doing extra damage with cards like Epicure of Blood or gaining extra life with Alhammarret's Archive.

This deck also includes ways for you to benefit from typical things your opponents will most likely be doing, like searching their library or drawing extra cards of their own. This way you’re hopefully getting something out of every turn, not just your own.

The Commander

Queza, Augur of Agonies

Queza, Augur of Agonies looks like an underwhelming commander at first glance. Because Queza only has one effect, it makes it seem like a one-trick pony, but Queza is actually a lot more dynamic than it initially seems. Each aspect of its ability synergizes with itself and has a lot of payoffs to take advantage of.

Queza is the only commander that gains you life when you draw a card. That means it’s your only option to set up a few of the combos in this deck. This makes Queza, Augur of Agonies decks a little more unique than other Esper () decks.

Card Draw

Rhystic Study Jace, Wielder of Mysteries

In order to trigger Queza’s abilities, you first need to be consistently drawing cards. This means including permanent cards like Rhystic Study or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries that have repeatable draw effects.

Consecrated Sphinx

Possibly the most powerful option in this deck is Consecrated Sphinx, though it’s also a big target for removal.

The Council of Four

The Council of Four is very good in this deck since it can also grow you a decent defensive force while also drawing you cards. Combining it with Kami of the Crescent Moon or Howling Mine guarantees you your extra draws each turn.

Drogskol Reaver

Drogskol Reaver can be a pretty consistent form of card draw since you can gain a lot of life in this deck. You also have a lot of blue creatures that you can use to trigger the ability granted by Unctus, Grand Metatect.

Tolarian Winds Windfall

Wheel cards are also a good option for a Queza deck because a bulk draw can also do a lot of damage to one of your opponents. Tolarian Winds is helpful when you don’t want to give your opponents fresh cards, but Windfall is also a good option and can be great to play after an opponent tutors for a card.

Jace's Archivist

Jace's Archivist is a good repeatable source of wheeling, which can consistently deal out damage and gain you life with Queza.

Forgotten Creation

Forgotten Creation also allows you to wheel once per turn with the added bonus of not having to pay a price for it.

Archivist of Oghma Notion Thief

Archivist of Oghma and Notion Thief are pretty consistent ways to draw cards in a game of Commander since players frequently search their decks or draw multiple cards in a turn. Notion Thief improves cards like Howling Mine because they won’t draw your opponents extra cards and let you draw instead.

Folio of Fancies

Folio of Fancies serves several purposes. It can draw cards and also stops you from having to discard to hand size when you’re drawing too many. Its mill ability can potentially deck one of your opponents if they’re getting low enough on cards since you’ll give your opponents extra draws with this and some of your other cards.


You’ll likely gain a good amount of life from Queza’s ability, so I also built in more lifegain and some payoffs for it.

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse increases the amount of life you gain off each draw and deals out more damage to your opponents.

Anguished Unmaking Revitalize

Anguished Unmaking can gain you life and also remove one of your opponents’ threats, while Revitalize gains you life while also drawing you a card.

Swords to Plowshares

Swords to Plowshares usually gains your opponents life, but you can target one of your own creatures if you really need to gain some life.

Alhammarret's Archive

Alhammarret's Archive helps you gain double the life from the rest of your lifegain abilities.

Aetherflux Reservoir

Aetherflux Reservoir can gain you a good amount of life while also serving as a payoff for the life you’re gaining.

Bolas's Citadel

Bolas's Citadel is another good way to make use of the extra life you’ll be gaining because you can cast a good number of spells off the top of your library with it.


Queza does a good job of draining life from your opponents, but including more cards that do the same thing can speed up your win.

Psychosis Crawler

Psychosis Crawler makes your opponents lose life when you draw, adding to the life they’re already losing from Queza.

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted drains your opponents when they draw cards, meaning they’ll consistently lose life no matter who’s drawing.

Epicure of Blood Marauding Blight-Priest

Cards like Epicure of Blood and Marauding Blight-Priest pair well with all the lifegain in this deck and add to the life lost if Queza is on the board when you’re drawing.

Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose

Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose is probably your most powerful lifedrain card, allowing you to deal out quite a bit of damage whenever you gain life. It can also give your creatures lifelink so you can further the amount of damage you’re outputting by blocking or swinging out.


Any deck can benefit from removal, but you’ll want to lean more into targeted removal for this build since you rely somewhat heavily on your own permanents.

Mortify Void Rend

Mortify and Void Rend are good targeted removal cards that make the best out of your Esper coloring.

Swords to Plowshares Anguished Unmaking

Swords to Plowshares and Anguished Unmaking exile their targets, which is helpful for getting around indestructible.


The board wipes I did include give you options to use them when you don’t want to destroy all your own creatures. Damn can act as targeted removal or a board wipe, making it useful whenever you draw it.

Farewell Merciless Eviction

Both Farewell and Merciless Eviction offer you the option to only remove certain permanents so you can always cast it in a way that has the lowest impact on you.

Win Conditions

There are a few different types of win conditions in this deck. The first one is by draining your opponents with Queza’s ability. Once your opponents are low enough on life, you can finish them off by casting a draw spell like Pull from Tomorrow or Blue Sun's Zenith at a high X value to take out one of your opponents.

Aetherflux Reservoir

Another option is to win through your lifegain payoffs. Aetherflux Reservoir can remove an opponent, or possibly two if you’ve gained enough life.

Felidar Sovereign Lightning Greaves

Felidar Sovereign is another good payoff for your lifegain but is a very likely target for removal. You may want to wait until you have your Lightning Greaves to cast it.

Another option to win is drawing all of the cards in your deck while you control a card like Laboratory Maniac or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Or you can just get your deck low enough to drop a Thassa's Oracle.


While it’s a less likely way to win, I also included Triskaidekaphile. It could be a fun and different way to win the game if you’re looking to play a fun mini-game by trying to get the exact right number of cards in your hand. That said, you may want to replace it with a different and more likely win con like Approach of the Second Sun.

The Mana Base

Your strategy for this deck is pretty dependent on having Queza, Augur of Agonies on the board, so it’s important that you have a mana base that quickly gets you access to all three of your colors.

Fetchable dual lands like Hallowed Fountain and Godless Shrine along with the Esper Triome, Raffine's Tower, are a good way to more reliably find the lands you need.

Marsh Flats Flooded Strand

I also included a few fetch lands like Marsh Flats and Flooded Strand.

I’ve included dual lands that come in untapped like Adarkar Wastes, Sea of Clouds, and Vault of Champions.

Command Tower

When it comes to mana fixing you have a Command Tower which can get you access to all your colors.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth Cabal Coffers

There’s also Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, which helps if you’re in need of black mana sources. Urborg pairs well with Cabal Coffers because it makes all of your lands count toward the Coffers’ activated ability.

Castle Locthwain

When it comes to utility lands, you have a few that serve as additional card draw engines. Castle Locthwain draws you cards but can get a little deadly in a deck where you’ll have some big hands.

Geier Reach Sanitarium Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

Geier Reach Sanitarium and Mikokoro, Center of the Sea usually have the downside of letting other players draw, but activating them on another player’s turn can trigger your cards like The Council of Four to draw additional cards.

Reliquary Tower

I also included a Reliquary Tower since you’ll be drawing a lot of cards, and this way you’ll have another option to keep your hand.

You have a few mana rocks in this deck. Arcane Signet and Chromatic Lantern are good for mana fixing. I also included Talisman of Dominance since there are more blue and black cards that require multiple pips.

The Strategy

I’ve had the most success in playtests with this deck when I played more defensively. I tried to avoid attacking players, and I tried to spread my damage from Queza, Augur of Agonies across the table so no players felt targeted. I relied on my removal spells and occasionally tokens produced by The Council of Four to keep my life total high while draining life from my opponents.

Ideally your wins in this deck will be explosive and something of a surprise to your opponents. Dropping an unexpected Felidar Sovereign or a well-timed Triskaidekaphile can close out the game before your opponents consider you a threat.

There are a few combos that allow you to draw out your deck. You can drop a Jace, Wielder of Mysteries ahead of time and then draw out your deck the next turn. Of course, if you draw enough cards, all your opponents may die to Queza and your other lifedrain abilities before you get to the bottom of your deck.

You also have a few tutors in this deck you can use to search up your combo pieces like Lich's Mastery if you’re in need of a quicker win.

Combos and Interactions

Because Queza, Augur of Agonies has the unique ability to gain you life when you draw a card, it actually ends up creating some new combos. For example, when you have Queza and Drogskol Reaver out, you’ll start a loop that will cause you to draw your whole deck and gain life equal to the number of cards in the deck as soon as you either draw a card or gain life. Make sure you have a Laboratory Maniac or similar card out when you start the combo.

You can also just start it if you’ll be able to kill all of your opponents with Queza’s lifedrain before you run out of cards.

A safer version of this combo is with Lich's Mastery and Queza. It doesn’t matter if you run out of cards without one of your wincons on the field since you can’t lose the game with Lich's Mastery out. Then you’ll have every card in your deck in your hand so you can just drop a Thassa's Oracle or Aetherflux Reservoir to close out the game.

Budget Options

Most of the cards in this deck are $5 or less, but there are some easy cuts to make if you’re looking to save money on the more expensive cards.

You don’t necessarily need Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth since you have other good sources of mana fixing, so you can save about $40 by cutting it and just adding another cheap dual land like Temple of Deceit. And if you don’t have Urborg then you can cut Cabal Coffers, which saves you another $20 or so.

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is very helpful in this deck, but she’s also the most expensive card. You can swap it out for Underworld Dreams if you still want to punish your opponents for drawing. This will save you about $50 to $60.

Other Builds

This deck is built a little bit like a precon right now. Not necessarily in terms of power level since it’s more competitive than a precon, but in the less focused nature. I wanted to lean into each aspect of Queza, Augur of Agonies’ ability instead of focusing too heavily on one specific aspect. You can lean more into one of the different aspects while ignoring the others if you want to build this deck differently.

One way you could go is by focusing more on the lifegain. You can include cards like Soul Warden or Cleric Class to increase the amount of life you gain. You can also include more lifegain payoffs like Bloodthirsty Aerialist, Voice of the Blessed, or Heliod, Sun-Crowned. This would mean shifting your color identity further towards white, so you’d likely want to rearrange your mana base to reflect that.

Alternatively you could focus more heavily on lifedrain. You could use cards like Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond, which are independently powerful and also create a game-winning combo with one another. Another good pick would be Archfiend of Despair, which basically doubles up any damage you output on a turn.

Commanding Conclusion

Felidar Sovereign (Secret Lair) - Illustration by Tatamepi

Felidar Sovereign (Secret Lair) | Illustration by Tatamepi

Queza, Augur of Agonies has a lot more to offer than it seems. You can maximize how effective its triggered ability really is by building a deck around card draw, lifegain, and/or lifedrain. It also creates some interesting combos that you can’t really pull off without having it on the board. There are a few ways to build a Queza deck apart from how I went about it, and it’s a very fun commander to play around with in general.

Do you have a Queza deck built differently? What kind of win conditions would you want to use in a Queza deck? Let me know in the comments below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!

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