Arvad the Cursed

Arvad the Cursed is a 3/3 Legendary Vampire Knight that costs 5 mana (3 generic, 1 white, and 1 black). He’s not great based on raw stats alone. His abilities are deathtouch and lifelink and he comes with an anthem effect that gives +2/+2 to other legendary creatures you control. It’s easy to see that Arvad the Cursed wants to be a commander for legendary creatures. Legendary creatures are meant to be powerful so you will have a lot of power in this deck in terms of power/toughness and abilities. Legendary creatures have been around for quite some time now. Unlike other creatures, you can only control 1 legendary creature of the same name at a time, not that that really matters in a singleton format like commander. The legendary super-type has also spread to a few lands, all planeswalkers, and the Dominaria block added the type to some sorcery cards which can only be cast if you control a legendary creature. Some of these legendary sorcery cards are quite powerful and some of them can be used in this deck, which will be covered later.

This will be a tribal deck, but Legendary is not a creature type so you can’t use tribal cards that allow you to choose a creature type and then give a bonus to legendary creatures. Instead, you want anthem abilities that only care about creatures you control regardless of type. Ravos, Soultender gives +1/+1 to other creatures you control and he provides a recursion effect, which is always a plus. Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon” also gives a +1/+1 boost to creatures you control, but that is all he does. Elesh Norn, Grand Cynobite gives a +2/+2 boost to creatures you control while also giving -2/-2 to creatures your opponents control, causing a huge gap in power. All of your 1/1 creatures will become 3/3s while your opponents creatures need to be 3/3s at minimum to survive such an effect. While these next two cards don’t give creatures a power/toughness boost, they still provide keywords to all creatures. Odric, Lunarch Marshal can give a plethora of abilities to your creatures during combat. If just one creature you control has a keyword, all your creatures have it with Odric on the battlefield and so far you have creatures with deathtouch, lifelink, flying, and vigilance. The other creature is Avacyn, Angel of Hope which gives all of your permanents indestructible. Sure Odric can do this too for creatures, but it never hurts to be consistent and his effect only triggers during combat while Avacyn’s is active as long as she is on the battlefield.

There are other noncreature cards that can help boost your creatures as well. Day of Destiny is an enchantment that gives +2/+2 to legendary creatures. Heroes’ Podium gives +1/+1 to each legendary creature for each other legendary creature you control; this can allow Arvad the Cursed to deal out massive amounts of commander damage. Sword of the Chosen sounds like an equipment, but it’s not. It taps to give +2/+2 to a legendary creature. Blackblade Reforged gives the equipped creature +1/+1 for each land you control, plus its equip cost is cheaper for legendary creatures. Champion’s Helm gives +2/+2 and hexproof if the equipped creature is legendary.

Now that we have the lords and anthems out of the way, let’s move on to other synergies. There are some good token producers that are legendary should you prefer that route. Ghoulcaller Gisa lets you sacrifice a creature to make a number of zombie tokens equal to that creature’s power. Combined with Athreos, God of Passage, that creature may return to your hand if an opponent doesn’t pay 3 life. Of course 3 life is nothing and they would probably be okay with that to get rid of one of your legendary creatures. Even then, don’t forget about Ravos, Soultender. Elenda, the Dusk Rose can create a bunch of 1/1 vampire tokens when she dies. Darien, King of Kjeldor creates a 1/1 Soldier token for each point of damage that you take. If you have enough life gain, this can be very effective. Brimaz, King of Oreskos creates a 1/1 Cat Soldier whenever he attacks or blocks and since he has vigilance, that’s pretty easy to do. Josu Vess can be a huge payoff when his kicker cost is paid. For 10 mana, you get 20 power on the board before any anthem effects.

Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Baird, Stewart of Argive can slow down your opponents.  Helm of the Host can be a nasty card to deal with as it allows you to make a token that’s a nonlegendary copy of the equipped legendary creature. A few token copies of Elesh Norn and you will be the only player with creatures. Lim-Dul, the Necromancer allows you to bring your opponents creatures back into play under your control.

White and black have tons of removal spells at their disposal so feel free to use any that you want. There are several legendary creatures that have removal abilities: Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief, Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and Visara the Dreadful. For a board wipe, Urza’s Ruinous Blast is great in this deck since it exiles all nonlegendary nonland permanents, devastating your opponents, but not you.

White is notoriously horrible at drawing cards. Black can help make up for this with spells like Ancient Craving, Damnable Pact, or Ambition’s Cost, among others. While white may not draw too many cards, it does have Land Tax which can help you keep up with your opponents should you find yourself needing more lands. You can also run any black tutors that you can afford to ensure that you get exactly what you need.

You get other shenanigans with cards like Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth which returns all legendary permanents from your graveyard to the battlefield. This instantly rebuilds your board after an opponent’s board wipe. Masako the Humorless lets your tapped creatures block as though they weren’t tapped which can be hilarious so I’m not sure why she is called Humorless. Traxos Scourge of Kroog is an artifact creature, 7/7 with trample for 4 mana. The downside is that you have to play a historic spell to untap him, but legendary spells count as historic spells so every time you play a creature, he untaps. You can also run the Eldrazi titans in this deck and I would suggest the original ones with the annihilator mechanic.

Legendary creatures are some of the most powerful creatures out there in terms of their abilities. Nearly any black and/or white legendary creature can be useful in this deck. You should be able to win without even casting Arvad the Cursed. All he does is function as a lord for an aggro style strategy although there are all kinds of shenanigans that can be built into a deck like this. Arvad the Cursed is one of those commanders that supports the deck rather then the deck supporting the commander. Look around for other legendary creatures to include; Magic’s history is full of them.

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