Deck Tech: Tibalt, the Mad Stealy McStealerson Commander

Deck Tech: Tibalt, the Mad Stealy McStealerson Commander

It seems that spoiler season has befallen us once again, this time, it’s the wonder wonderland x heavy metal Norse Mythology ala Powerwolf plane, Kaldheim!

And with the most recent rules update concerning Modal Double-Faced cards (MDFCs), this results in a very interesting situation, where we can play a Legendary Planeswalker as a commander without the text “This planeswalker can be your commander” stapled onto it!

Behold: Tibalt ,Cosmic Imposter // Valki, God of Lies

Note: This does not apply to all MDFCs/Planeswalkers, since the prerequisite for such is that one side of the card be a legendary creature, though we can cast the planeswalker side as and when we wish, we still need to pay two extra generic mana each time you cast the card (regardless of which side.)

Commander damage is not tagged to a specific side of the card, so dealing combat damage with Valki is the same as dealing combat damage with Tibalt if he were a 4/4 dragon from Sarkhan, the Masterless’s ability. 

“But…Digi!” I hear you call. “How will we ever cast Tibalt if we have to cast him as Valki first? He’ll cost us a BOMB!”

And I must admit, I agree. A 7 mana Planeswalker that can exile massive threats and steal our opponents win conditions right from under their feet is a hotbed for removal. But his ability is simply too good to pass up! Being able to cast the cards he exiles even when he’s not on the battlefield makes him a better version of Gonti, Lord of Luxury, especially since he can target particularly annoying Artifacts or Creatures, such as Avacyn, Angel of Hope or Xenagos, God of Revels.

But enough chat! Let’s get onto the deck tech!


Phase 1: YOINK

The main difference between Valki and his Theros/Amonkhet counterparts, lies in his very, very squishy and almost certainly mortal body. Even when compared to the God-Eternals or the Gods of Hour of Devastation, he lacks a persistent ability that returns him back to your hand after he’s bitten the dust.

However, he more than makes up for it by providing us with a very power clone/ targeted exile effect, allowing us to rid our opponent of powerful creatures or key combo pieces such as Thassa’s Oracle or Tidespout Tyrant. Even in worst-case scenarios, in a 4 player pod, we should be able to exile small Mana dorks or tutor effects in the early game, and help us ramp into Tibalt faster.

The best way to support such a strategy would be with symmetrical tutor effects such as Wishclaw Talisman or Scheming Symmetry, which can goad our opponents into tutoring for key combo pieces before we completely deny them of any such advantage with Valki.

“Captivating Crew” by Winona Nelson

Further supplement to this theme of “Hand control” would be similar thievery effects such as Captivating Crew and Dire Fleet Daredevil, stealing cards from our opponents battlefield and graveyards to help aid us when we’re running low on gas. 

Alternatively, we could also emulate similar hand-exile effects in the form of Brain Maggot, Mesmeric Fiend and Kitesail Freebooter, depriving our opponents of their combo pieces, or eating a piece of removal on their way out of the game. Another alternative, though much more costly, comes in the form of the new card from Commander Legends: Opposition Agent! Designed as a way to hate on tutoring effects, it also stops cards like Evolving Wilds and Armillary Sphere, as simple search effects force them to surrender their strongest and most relevant cards to us, with the added benefit of letting us decide what cards to give ourselves!

Phase 2: Pain’s a plenty!

But if we’re so focused on taking cards from one opponent, we certainly have to deal with the ire of the other two as a result anyways. So what can we do to better handle them?

I guess it’s time to let out our sadistic side, then.

Might as well punish the many for the actions of a few, and reward ourselves in the process!

Being in Rakdos colours gives us access to plenty of “hate” effects, such as Zo-Zu the Punisher and Painful Quandary. But we need to be selective with the cards we pick. We don’t want to end up hitting ourselves harder than we hit our opponents.

Zo-zu the Punisher can be a great card in your Tibalt Commander deck.
“Zo-zu Punisher”

Specifically, we don’t want effects that tax us for playing or tapping our lands. Cards like Mana Barbs and Ankh of Mishra tax us too heavily without providing us with sufficient advantage over our opponents. Our deck relies on card advantage and thievery effects, so effects that help us achieve such a goal are key to our victory.

Cards like Sire of Insanity, Bottomless Pit, Price of Knowledge and Impatience all encourage our opponents to play fast and get rid of cards in their hands, before they either get discarded or they take damage (in the case of Impatience). By depleting their hands faster than we deplete ours, we’ll always hold the advantage should we be unable to cast our Commander.

Other Group Slug effects we might want to run include Price of Glory to deal with control and spellslinger decks with their counter spells, War’s Toll to deal with the above as well as troublesome mana dorks or commanders such as Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain or Zaxara, the Exemplary, who want to remain on the battlefield as an outlet for their controllers to combo off. Forsaken Wastes, Roiling Vortex and Sulfuric Vortex help us to deal with troublesome life gain decks, while creature heavy decks would fear our Tainted Aether and Aether Flash.

To add fuel to the fire, we should also consider cards such as Fiery Emancipation and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. Cards that increase and duplicate damage can help us punch our way ever closer to killing our opponents without relying too much on our commander.

Phase 3: “The Meat in the Bun”

Well we simply cannot rely on a mere bunch of Enchantments to beat our enemies to death, we’ll need the support of other creatures to damage our opponents. Creatures like Neheb, the Eternal will give us plentiful amounts of mana if he’s on the battlefield alongside our Sulfuric Vortex and Roiling Vortex, while Rampaging Ferocidon fits in nicely with our anti-lifegain, anti-creature strategy.

Dire Fleet Ravager will work well in this Commander Deck with Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter
Dire Fleet Ravager by Bram Sels

As for less “group slug” style creatures, we can afford to run Dire Fleet Ravager and Heartless Hidetsugu as big hitters to reduce our opponent’s life totals to an easily killable level.

As for new cards recently spoiled from Kaldheim, our deck can also garner support from the likes of Draugr Necromancer and Tergrid, God of Fright, who can help us cast cards from exile, thereby circumventing the effects of Price of Knowledge and Sire of Insanity. And should we be burned by our own hubris, we can always rely on Underworld Breach to revive our fallen cards, at the cost of 4 cards and the card’s original CMC

Phase 3.5: Tibalt, Tibalt, Tibalt!

Now, the part of the article you’ve been waiting for! Naturally, since Tibalt’s become a playable commander, we’d want to play as many copies of him as possible, right?! So we’ll throw in both Tibalt, Rakish Instigator and Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded, alongside the newly released Tibalt’s Trickery! Pain and Chaos lie at the heart of this web, and Tibalt will be the one to stir it.

End Step

If there ever was a competition for the most sadistic person, Tibalt would certainly be the champion by miles. As always, Kaldheim spoilers aren’t fully released yet, so there may be other newer cards that may supplement the theme to a larger extent. But as always, finding a commander that supports a Group Slug archetype that isn’t Obosh or Torbran is always difficult, especially in a colour combination helmed by Rakdos himself. 

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this deck tech! So let me know at if you have any comments for me, or if there’s any commander you’d like to see a deck tech for too! 

Drawn in by the game's stunning visuals, Digi joined during the Ixalan block (2017), and has since been burning a hole in his wallet to upgrade his ever-growing roster of Commander decks.

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