He fashioned an empire of sorts, bereft of cities yet plagued with the endless dramas of society, its pathetic victories and inevitable failures. The community of enslaved Imass thrived in this quagmire of pettiness. They even managed to convince themselves that they possessed freedom, a will of their own that could shape destiny. They elected champions. They tore down their champions once failure draped its shroud over them. They ran in endless circles and called it growth, emergence, knowledge. While over them all, a presence invisible to their eyes, Raest flexed his will. His greatest joy came when his slaves proclaimed him god – though they knew him not – and constructed temples to serve him and organized priesthoods whose activities mimicked Raest’s tyranny with such cosmic irony that the Jaghut could only shake his head.
This deck is primarily themed; it's built to work, but is primarily interested in telling a story. Similar to one of the first decks I ever made, this tells a story and shares flavours from my favourite series of books, The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson.
This particular deck tells of a series of scenes from the first book in the series, Gardens of the Moon, in which a magically imprisoned ancient being called Raest is released. Short of spoiling what is a remarkably exciting passage, here's an abridged version of what happens: Raest seeks power to dominate other beings, and is bent on doing so. He is confronted upon awakening, and a rolling battle ensues in which his foes attempt to destroy him, and he seeks to regain the source of his immense power, his Finnest.
The problem is, as a Jaghut, Raest is immensely old and powerful. He has an array of elder magics at his disposal, and is never happier than in the midst of violence.
Raest is awakened by Adjunct Lorn and Onos T'Oolan on behalf of the Malazan Empress Laseen, who seeks to draw out the Tiste Andii lord Anomander Rake, and weaken him. In this way she hopes to reduce his area of influence so that her forces are able to annex the last free city in Genabackis, Darujhistan. Onos T'oolan, First Sword of the T'lan Imass, releases the bindings hold the Jaghut Tyrant through his links to the Hold of Tellan. Once the bindings are released, the First Sword departs, and Adjunct Lorn removes the repository of Raest's power, his Finnest, and hides it in the garden of an estate in Darujhistan. In the midst of this, the Malazan marine corps, the Bridgeburners, have infiltrated Darujhistan so that they are on the ground when the time comes to announce themselves. Darujhistan is in the midst of it's annual Fete of Gedderone, the population is ready to celebrate, and the estate that has had the Finnest secreted on it belongs to Lady Simtal, who plans a masquerade party to celebrate the occasion and cement her place in high society. Certain members of the Bridgeburners, undercover, are hired as bodyguards for this event.
When Raest awakens, he is confronted on the plains outside Darujhistan by Anomander Rake's Tiste Andii mage cadre, and his Eleint lover, Silanah. While they battle valiantly and significantly weaken Raest, he is far from beaten, though his physical form is ruined. He is confronted by the Elder God K'rul, and his chosen ally in Darujhistan, Kruppe. Rather than be trapped again, Raest chooses to possess a new form. In Darujhistan, a cabal of mages have been keeping watch on the Tyrant, and one High Mage of the cabal, Mammot, who had accessed his D'rek Warren to observe the Tyrant, is the object of Raest's possession.
The possession of Mammot occurs at the party on Lady Simtal's estate, and events escalate quickly. The sorcerer unleashes havoc, and the squad mage of the Bridgeburners, Quick Ben, is able to hold him at bay, while the sappers in the company, Fiddler and Hedge, use Moranth incendiary devices to obliterate the body Raest has possessed.
While this convergence plays out, the Finnest has been absorbed by the grounds at the back of the estate - this is the Earth's way of protecting itself from extreme dangers - an Azath house has formed, fueled by the power of the Finnest. As the Jaghut tyrant struggles to recoup and launch another attack, the Azath uses the plants around itself, ensnares the Tyrant, and imprisons it again, at which point Raest is made the Guardian of the Azath, and his time as a threat to the world at large is over
I partially chose this commander as a way to visually portray the Jaghut. As you can see in the illustration from the collector's edition copy of the book, there is some resemblance. It's not perfect, but a large green ogre with fangs is close. As are a lot of the other characters and themes(I definitely got closer with my Lazav and Kresh decks, but this is close too). On top of that, Yidris' abilities are a pretty good portrayal of Raest becoming more and more furious and unleashing chaos. That's definitely reflected in some of the card choices.
I've added a mechanical enchantress subtheme, too, which thus far has actually worked remarkably well. There's definitely places I could improve the way the deck plays, but considering most of what's here I'm happy with from a flavour perspective, I'm more or less happy how it is. There's a good balance between theme and play, chaos and order, card advantage and cascade.
Mechanically, probably the biggest issue I've had in different iterations of the deck is holding enough mana to cast following attack phase, and that shouldn't be surprising for a tetracolour deck. Nature's Will is a boon in that respect, as is Xenagos, the Reveler and Waste Not. Otherwise, the deck is a blast to play, regardless of any Vorthos flavours I might imbue on it.
And there it is. I've been working on a proper way to portray this series of events for some time, and it feels mostly a good fit. There are other bits I want to add - Izzet Chemister makes a pretty good Hedge, and City of Brass would be a nice way to portray Darujhistan. As with any deck it will always be a work in progress, but more so here as flavour cards are released that fit well. There hasn't been anything for a little while.
In terms of both flavour and functionality, I'm happy to take critique or suggestions, so feel free. Enjoy!
I've updated this list several times now, finally settling on a quasi-enchantress build, which is working quite well - there's enough acceleration, with a reasonable degree of control. The addition of Nature's Will has been great. Obviously I want to swing with Yidris, and having all of my mana available again with no indication of retort is excellent. Still looking to hit a few flavour points, Rashmi, Eternities Crafter will probably come in, both as a character (Derudan) and as a way to keep up draw and/or play free stuff.
There are a few reasons to make this switch. A one drop pseudo Lightning Greaves with +2/+2 that has the possibility to cantrip is legitimately worth it in this build. The flavour isn't too far from what I want, and Promise is an expensive hardcast, in terms of colour, entwine cost and CMC.
Some nice juicy enchantment adds here. The song is theoretically at least a little bit rough for me too, but by the time I have my engine going, I don't really need my rocks. Dilation is just strong control that may help deter interference with my game plan.
Been looking to add both of these for a little while now. Both should be pretty decent, both hit a flavour point. I like that the crypt will punish a full board, and it plays in well with Waste Not which is cool. At this point, there aren't any other cards leaping to mind I'd like to add for flavour. City of Brass is Darujhistan. That's about all I can think of at present, although ideally I'd like to replace Champion of Stray Souls as Onos T'oolan - he's big and clunky, so maybe Reassembling Skeleton would be better.
Obviously fantastic staple card, it well represents Baruk's investigation of Anomander Rake through ancient lore. Enslave was a good portrayal of Raest taking possession of Mammot, but that's still represented in Take Possession.
Kaya's Ghostform comes in for Fool's Demise. Thematically similar, but also superior in CMC and efficacy for Yidris. I'm likely casting it on him or Wanderer, and resisting death or exile is crazy good value for one mana.