Rashmi and Ragavan | Illustration by Joshua Cairos
Commander is all about playing some of the biggest and best cards around. Green players ramp to the skies to make use of cards like Craterhoof Behemoth and Primal Vigor, and Izzet () players get to cast spells like Magma Opus and massive Crackle with Powers to their heart’s desire.
So why not just steal it all? You don’t need to do anything too flashy when you can snipe all the flash from your opponents with a plethora of effects that let you to take your opponents’ spells and cast them. This Rashmi and Ragavan deck is all about playing your opponents’ decks for fun and profit.
Let’s take a look!
Fact or Fiction | Illustration by Matt Cavotta
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer
Magda, Brazen Outlaw
Etali, Primal Storm
Hajar, Loyal Bodyguard
Jacob Hauken, Inspector
Plargg and Nassari
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter
Jolene, the Plunder Queen
Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain
Etali, Primal Conqueror
Oracle of Mul Daya
Fact or Fiction
Wild Magic Surge
An Offer You Can't Refuse
Whir of Invention
Veil of Summer
Delayed Blast Fireball
Chord of Calling
Idol of Oblivion
Talisman of Creativity
Talisman of Curiosity
Talisman of Impulse
Grove of the Burnwillows
Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth
City of Brass
This is a Temur () theft deck that does typical Temur things: ramp out really hard to cast large spells. The big spells in this list allow you to take your opponents’ cards. It doesn’t run many Control Magic effects, focusing more on casting your opponent’s spells yourself.
To that end there are plenty of cards to take your opponents’ spells in this list. Some of them need additional mana investments, while others are just expensive. These expenses are why there’s a heavy focus on ramp. Given that your commander cares about having a high artifact count, the deck leans a little heavier on artifact ramp than most green decks.
Most theft cards in your colors steal cards by casting your opponents’ spells from exile. This gives the deck one of its two subthemes that help you get value from all your spells, even if you can’t rely on your commander to help generate card advantage.
The deck’s second subtheme, and most subtle, is a historic subtheme. It just so happens that a lot of creatures you’re looking at playing are legendary. That and the high artifact density makes this list ripe for a few choice historic payoffs for even more value.
It’s also worth noting here that this is a peculiar artifact list. While you care about amassing lots of artifacts, the list doesn’t have that many artifacts itself. Instead, it plays cards to help produce artifacts, including the commander.
Rashmi and Ragavan helms this artifact-historic-exile-theft deck with an ingenious mind and nimble fingers. It enables all your strategies. It steals spells from exile for those themes while giving you a reason to play a bunch of artifacts.
This is an excellent commander. It hits lots of powerful notes for solid commanders. It’s cheap and easy to defend, and it generates both mana and card advantage. But you’re all here for the triggered ability, so let’s look at it.
You can see the marriage of Rashmi, Eternities Crafter and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer in this ability. The deck gives this trigger everything it wants: plenty of artifacts and spells to cast each turn. It casts the spells from exile, which helps with the other themes.
The Treasure production makes Rashmi and Ragavan shine. You really want to rip spells off the top with it, but it’s sadly inconsistent. You’ll hit lands a decent amount of the time, which hampers its ability to produce spells. But the Treasure does so much. At worst, the first spell you cast each turn effectively costs one less, and you can store that “discount” for a future turn.
Even if Rashmi and Ragavan never hit a spell, it enables the more expensive shenanigans in the deck. You want to get it out as early as possible to start generating as much Treasure as you can. That said, your commander isn’t the deck’s only source of Treasure and artifact generation.
Xorn is among the more efficient Treasure generators in the deck. Most of your Treasure generators produce one Treasure token at a time, so Xorn doubles your mana production. It also cleanly curves into Rashmi and Ragavan.
Tireless Provisioner is a startlingly strong card. You can use the Treasure it generates to make explosive plays quickly or keep it back to accumulate value over time. The Food tokens aren’t something to dismiss either; you can generate tons of mana to crack a few Foods to stabilize you in a close game.
Magda, Brazen Outlaw gives you some early pressure while upping the artifact count. This card works great with your commander because it’s basically a 2-mana dork to get them out a turn sooner that keeps producing Treasure.
Goldspan Dragon is the only Dragon Magda can search for, but this chungus is a whopper. It keeps the board clear of planeswalkers while upping your Treasure count and doubling the mana they produce. You even come out on top if your opponent kills it!
Jolene, the Plunder Queen gives you another Treasure doubler with additional upside. Giving your opponents Treasures is a mechanic I find fun; much like the Monarch and goad, it makes things happen. It also helps keep some pressure off you by incentivizing your opponents to go at each other, which isn’t bad for a slower ramp deck.
Strike It Rich is an unassuming card but a powerful roleplayer in the deck. With your commander in play, this is a ritual effect. You’re spending one mana and netting two Treasures. It also powers out Rashmi and Ragavan early, and flashback lets it generate two triggers from one card.
Academy Manufactor generates insane numbers of artifacts with your commander in play. Every spell netting you three artifacts puts you in a position to steal any spell in your opponent’s deck.
Is it fair to relegate Fable of the Mirror-Breaker to a simple Treasure generator? This card does pretty much everything. Pressures, ramps, filters your draw, makes more copies of your threats; it could almost justify its own section because it’s one of the better cards in the deck.
This is why we’re here! Given the inconsistencies of Rashmi and Ragavan’s ability, it’s not enough to rely on for a strong theft theme. That’s where these cards come in. Many of them also double as invaluable card advantage for the deck.
Stolen Strategy is the most mana-intensive option here. You can’t cast the spells it exiles for free, but it provides mana fixing for them. You also don’t have to play all the spells you hit. This draws you three extra cards a turn for the rest of the game once it’s in play.
Bribery is a Cube classic and one of the few theft cards that don’t let you cast your opponents’ spells. It’s also highly efficient. It’s not great in every matchup, but most pods have at least one deck with a juicy target or two. Try to hit a green player whose strategy likely involves going big for Eldrazi titans and the like.
Dack Fayden is your other theft card that directly steals, but it does so much more. The most common line with Dack is to play it on turn three to steal an early Arcane Signet or Sol Ring, but the card filtering it provides is also invaluable. The ultimate isn’t a big concern in this deck; you have virtually no cards that target a permanent without destroying it.
Plargg and Nassari is a new card from March of the Machine: The Aftermath that’s rather insane. Compare this to Stolen Strategy. You get two spells for free, and there’s no risk of whiffing. It also opens some interesting avenues for politics and table-wide discussion about the board state.
Etali, Primal Storm is a delightful little card. It can cast up to four extra spells a turn, though it can miss like Rashmi and Ragavan. This elder dinosaur can also be a little slow since it needs to attack to get value but dominates tables where it goes unanswered.
Etali, Primal Conqueror basically upgrades the original. It costs one more mana, but this is a guaranteed five-for-one on ETB. You get a 7/7 and four spells, and it can’t miss. If that weren’t enough, it flips into a Blightsteel Colossus when you’re ready to end the game.
Mind's Dilation might be the best theft spell in the deck. Seven mana is a lot, but this generates tons and tons of free value. Like some of the other theft enchantments we’ve looked at, this one has a whiff rate, but the value it provides more than makes up for it. It’s especially strong against interactive decks looking to play multiple spells a turn cycle.
While the theft cards provide an amount of card advantage, you have plenty of ways to draw cards from your deck. This list generates lots of mana, so a steady stream of cards to cast with it is essential.
Idol of Oblivion gives you that consistent card draw. You’ll generate a Treasure almost every turn you control your commander, so this is basically a personal Howling Mine that sometimes becomes a 10/10.
Fact or Fiction is one of the most engaging Magic cards you can resolve in a Commander game. It generates plenty of card advantage but also makes for some interesting choices around the table.
Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain is one of the best historic payoffs in the deck. It’s a subtle theme that sprang up because of the high artifact count and a surprisingly robust array of legendary creatures. Roughly a quarter of the deck’s cards cantrip with Jhoira’s ability.
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter is one of my favorite cards ever, so I had to include it in this list. It’s also a strong roleplayer. You have enough instants that this can draw multiple cards a turn cycle and occasionally get some free mana value.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance is another planeswalker that fulfills many roles but is most prominently a card advantage engine. You get tons of value from it by playing spells off the top of the library, plus it removes some threats and provides a game-ending ultimate that pairs well with cards that let you play multiple spells for free.
Another favorite card design of mine is Jacob Hauken, Inspector. It gives you tons of choices, especially in the early game. It provides excellent card filtering on the front side and card advantage on the back. The question is, what are you willing to risk? If you only exile lands and unimportant spells, your eventual Hauken's Insight will have little effect, but exiling impactful spells gives your opponents a window to rid you of them forever.
You’ve got two tutors in Whir of Invention and Chord of Calling that aren’t strictly card advantage, but I want to shout them out here as ways to access cards you wouldn’t otherwise see. Both get tons of value from hitting Academy Manufactor, though there are plenty of other solid hits.
Expressive Iteration wraps this section up with another of the best cantrips ever printed that generates genuine card advantage.
You can’t play Commander if you don’t bring interaction. You need ways to stop your opponents from doing powerful things and protective elements to defend your strategy, so here’s how this deck does both.
Vandalblast is a classic EDH staple and an all-around powerhouse. This answers all artifacts and can be devastating against players who keep a greedy hand that relies on artifacts for mana rather than lands. Sometimes overloading this is as good as taking a player out of the game.
Nature's Claim takes out artifacts and enchantments at an incredibly efficient rate. Hitting enchantments is quite important because some stax pieces like Rule of Law or Deafening Silence can really mess you up.
Wild Magic Surge and Chaos Warp give you mostly unconditional removal. Wild Magic Surge can definitely backfire, but these are just a lot of fun in general and tend to create some interesting gameplay patterns.
Pongify and Reality Shift give you some cheap answers to creatures. This deck easily outsizes a random 3/3, and Reality Shift has a minimal downside because it manifests an instant or land as easily as a creature.
You get some efficient countermagic in Counterspell, Delay, An Offer You Can't Refuse, and Swan Song. You need these interactive pieces to be cheap since so many of your spells are big. Look to use these to protect your pieces and disrupt troublesome cards like Grafdigger's Cage or Drannith Magistrate.
Pithing Needle is a lovely silver bullet I like having in any list with Whir of Invention. Sometimes it’s blank and your opponents won’t have activated abilities; sometimes their strategy hinges on a planeswalker or Necrotic Ooze combo and you get ‘em.
You’ve also got two wraths that affect your opponents and leave your board unscathed. Delayed Blast Fireball is an instant speed deal 5 as long as you cast it from exile. Notably, it doesn’t have to be foretold to deal 5 to everything, just cast from exile. Cards like your Etalis and Hauken's Insight get you that value for free without investing additional mana or waiting a turn.
Volcanic Torrent takes a bit of work and isn’t really effective until the late game, but it’s at minimum a one-for-one since it cascades into something, even if it can’t kill anything, and you have enough ways to cast free spells to hit a storm count of four or five, so it’ll have some board impact.
The Mana Base
Typically, green commander decks lean hard into land-based ramp rather than artifact ramp, but this deck rocks plenty of artifact ramp because of your commander. You’ve got all the on-color Talismans and Signets.
You’ve also got some modal-double faced cards to smooth out your draws by acting as lands or spells depending on when you draw them. Shatterskull Smashing is a Mountain that occasionally kills important targets.
Bala Ged Recovery gets your best card back.
Glasspool Mimic becomes another copy of your best creature. Or the best creature you’ve stolen from an opponent.
The name of the game in this deck is to build a board that generates repeated value through casting spells. Rashmi and Ragavan is a big part of this; generating a Lotus Petal with every game action is pretty broken, even before you factor in the occasional free spell.
That said, sequencing to a big play is really important in this deck. It functions just fine without its commander. Some draws don’t even want to play Rashmi and Ragavan when they have four mana because they’d rather play an early Mind's Dilation or Etali, Primal Storm.
You’ll determine which route you want to go with your opening hand. Sometimes, you’ll get an explosive start with a bunch of ramp and a heavy hitter or two like the cards above. In that case, you don’t need to slow down your acceleration by playing a 4-drop. You’ll also see more controlling, grindy hands that are light on acceleration and bombs but have plenty of interaction and card advantage. Those are the games you want to play Rashmi and Ragavan on turn three or four and start accumulating slow value over time. Both game plans are quite effective.
Part of the joy of piloting this deck comes from the diverse gameplay. This is a theft deck through and through, so you’ll be playing with diverse resources every single game. Even one player in the pod changing their deck can change how you want to play. You’ll need to be quick on your feet for this to maximize unexpected synergies and even snipe the occasional infinite combo (defeating my roommate by stealing Duskmantle Guildmage and Mindcrank from their deck is a fond memory).
You should be mindful of who you’re targeting with Rashmi and Ragavan to maximize getting the hits you want. Your opponents’ commanders are a great way to gauge this. A good rule of thumb is to target players you think will play lots of artifacts or ramp in the early game while looking to hit players posturing to play big spells later in the game once you’ve accumulated a large hoard of Treasure.
You’ll want to avoid hyper-specific decks when you can. Commanders like Feather, the Redeemed or Ezuri, Renegade Leader likely have a ton of specific cards that are less useful for your deck. Colors are also very important; if you need some interaction, avoid the green player and target the Esper player, and so on.
Combos and Interactions
This deck is pretty light on combos and interaction. I built this as a more casual option to play with newer players at my LGS, so I avoided infinite combos and the like to foster the play patterns I wanted out of this power level.
One great interaction comes from Liquimetal Torque, which gets a shout-out for being a surprisingly versatile mana rock. You’ll usually use it to let your Vandalblast or Nature's Claim hit a creature, but you can also pair it with Dack Fayden to steal commanders forever.
I also have a few tips for stacking some of the triggers in the deck. If you’ve got a Rashmi and Ragavan and a Rashmi, Eternities Crafter in play, they’ll both trigger at the same time. You generally want to put Rashmi and Ragavan’s trigger on the stack first, then Rashmi, Eternities Crafter’s.
This lets Eternities Crafter’s trigger resolve first, letting you reveal and potentially cast the top card of your library. You want this to resolve first in case you hit a cheap artifact from your deck like Idol of Oblivion or Pithing Needle to cast that and up your artifact count before your commander resolves.
You can make copies of your commander with Spark Double and Irenicus's Vile Duplication. Rashmi and Ragavan is the standard target, but far from the only valuable copy target in the deck. Two copies of your commander in play gives you some interesting options.
Both copies trigger at the same time when you cast your first spell, but they do so independently; this lets you send both triggers at one person to try to steal two cards or spread the love around. I especially like sending both triggers at a player who has recently resolved something like a Ponder.
Since they resolve separately, you’ll want to place the triggers on the stack so the first ability to resolve targets the player you want the cheapest card from to maximize your chances of getting it. Assuming you have no other artifacts, the first trigger resolves, generating a Treasure and giving you an artifact count of 1, so you can only steal a spell with mana value one or less, while the second ability has an artifact count of two. This sequencing matters less in the late game when you’ve got ten or more artifacts lying around but can be critical in the early game.
There are quite a few changes to this list to make it more accessible, starting with that mana base. It has plenty of $10+ dollar cards like shocks and fetches you could easily replace with Pathways and Temples or even Gates for a cheaper mana base.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker does so much work in many formats and has a price tag to match that. Captain Lannery Storm is a replacement that only does a third of Fable’s work but produces those all-important Treasures.
Heroic Intervention gives you excellent protection for a steep price. If you’re not concerned about wraths, you could play more spot protection like Tamiyo's Safekeeping or Slip Out the Back. March of Swirling Mist is another reasonable swap that protects multiple creatures. One of these protection spells could also replace Veil of Summer.
There are a few other routes you could take a Rashmi and Ragavan commander deck. This list goes hard on the theft theme, but you could go equally as strong into an artifact theme. You could animate the tokens you make with cards like Cyberdrive Awakener and Rise and Shine for some meme kills or go even harder into a powerful artifact-combo deck.
You could also lean more into the token-making aspect of the card. You get access to some lovely token tools like Adrix and Nev, Twincasters and Doubling Season in these colors as well as monsters like Craterhoof Behemoth and Rite of Replication, all of which are held together by the commander spewing Treasures to play these big spells.
City of Brass | Illustration by Mark Tedin
In a format with as many powerful and flashy cards as Commander, there’s a ton of joy in playing with their opponent’s cards. Rashmi and Ragavan give you a Temur theft commander that provides incredible value at the helm of a midrange deck.
This commander gives you a massive mana advantage and easy token production, plus it draws a few cards and plays them for free every now and again. This is one of the most exciting team-up commanders from March of the Machines for anybody looking to play artifacts!
How would you have built Rashmi and Ragavan? What’s your favorite team-up card? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Discord.
Go steal some cards!
In a game, that is.
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