Cracking the Mind Stone – Mono-Red Turn 2 Kill Glass Cannon with Dargo

Cracking the Mind Stone – Mono-Red Turn 2 Kill Glass Cannon with Dargo

You read that right – a turn 2 kill (on one opponent) with a mono-red deck that isn’t helmed by Godo, Bandit Warlord. With Commander damage, I might add!

When I first saw Dargo, the Shipwrecker spoiled, I admit that I dismissed it as just another mildly interesting Uncommon card from Commander Legends. I was more interested in trying to build with Jeska, Thrice Reborn due to her ability to triple damage dealt by a single source, and I was going to be lazy and settle for placing her brother Kamahl at the helm alongside her for a Gruul (red green) aggro deck.

But then I chanced upon a discussion discussing Dargo’s viability as a CEDH general due to the nature of his static ability to discount his generic costs – even his own Commander tax. Spoiler: he isn’t, but my interest was piqued.

The final straw that broke the camel’s back? Dargo starts with 7 power (which is a exact factor of 21).

By using Jeska’s ability to make Dargo deal triple damage players, we can one-shot someone with commander damage if they have no blockers. Isn’t that absolutely nutty?!

I could probably have built the deck a bit slower and lean into a stax strategy that slows the game down so we can safely bring Dargo and Jeska in to bear as a win condition, but where’s the fun in that?

So I set out to build the most glass cannon-y deck I could muster.

The Dargo + Jeska Partner Deck

Dargo and Jeska Commander decklist, optimised for a turn 2 kill of a single opponent.
Click on the image for the full deck list!

The idea is simple – find as many 0 cost cards as possible in your opening hand in order to cast Dargo, the Shipwrecker on turn 1, or by the latest, turn 2. If nobody points any removal spells at Dargo and you have the Mana on the next turn, you cast Jeska, and, in the immortal words of Russell Peters, “somebody gonna get hurt real bad.”

You should only go for the turn 1 Dargo if you can cast Jeska on the next turn. This deck doesn’t want to give your opponents any extra time to find answers than it has to because it gives up a lot of cards in the hand or on the Battlefield just to be able to bring the Shipwrecker out early.

In fact, there are lots of glaring problems with this deck, and my list is nowhere near optimised for this strategy, but this is what I first ended up with.

And it works.

The Strategy – Get Dargo Out on Turn 1

Let’s start with looking at a sample opening hand.

Sample opening hand for Dargo the Shipwrecker and Jeska partner commander - turn 2 elimination.

This hand is an easy keep and guarantees a turn 1 Dargo, as well as a turn 2 Jeska.

Turn 1 – Play Mountain, Mana Crypt, Phyrexian Walker. Float 2 Mana with Mana Crypt, then cast Dargo, sac-ing Mana Crypt and Phyrexian Walker to discount Dargo by 4, and paying the last 3 Mana with your Mountain and the 2 Mana originally gained from Mana Crypt.

Turn 2 – Play Mountain, cast Desperate Ritual to get 3 Mana, and cast Jeska, Thrice Reborn. Use Jeska’s 0 on Dargo, and send him to whoever you think is the biggest threat at the table.

No Lands? No problem!

Turn 1 – Play Chrome Mox imprinting Goblin Engineer. Cast Mishra’s Bauble, Mana Crypt, and Tormod’s Crypt, then use Mana Crypt to cast Chromatic Star. Use the remaining floating mana to sac Chromatic Star for red mana, sac Mishra’s Bauble for its effect, then sac Tormod’s Crypt. Dargo is now discounted by 6, and you have 1 floating red mana. That’s a turn 1 Dargo!

Turn 2 – Since we didn’t sac Chrome Mox and Mana Crypt, we have 3 mana now on turn 2 regardless of our draw to cast Jeska.

These aren’t Magical Christmas Land draws that happen once every 10 games, either (go try out the “Playtest” function on Moxfield!). The price you pay for consistency, though, is shoving in as many random 0 cost Artifacts and Creatures as possible into the deck – that are borderline useless by themselves – so you can cast an early Dargo.

If Dargo gets countered or removed, this deck does not recover well. Red doesn’t have amazing consistent draw or tutor options, so it will be a while before you can present any threat again.

That doesn’t mean we’re out of the game, though! Jeska’s +0 ability to triple damage dealt by a target creature can affect any creature on the board, not just your creatures, so it now becomes a bargaining tool. You can use her to threaten other players with triple damage that doesn’t harm you (she only triples damage to your opponents!) while you go digging for your combo.

That’s right, this deck has its own infinite combo. It even has some tutors to find those combo cards!

The Infinite Combo Endgame

For this combo, you’ll need to have at least 3 Creatures/Artifacts sacrificed this turn (in order to cast Dargo, the Shipwrecker for just 1 red Mana), a Phyrexian Altar on the board, and enough mana left to cast Jeska.

Sacrifice Dargo to Phyrexian Altar to add , then use it to cast Dargo again! When Dargo is sacrificed to Phyrexian Altar, this discounts his cost by 2 each occasion, which basically negates the ever increasing Commander tax. This means you can loop this to cast Dargo an infinite number of times.

Then, cast Jeska. Since you’d casted a Commander an infinite number of times from your Command zone, she enters the Battlefield with infinite Loyalty counters. Activate her -X ability and deal infinite damage to each of your 3 opponents!

Yup, the combo is just as nutty as the turn 2 shenanigans.

As I said earlier, red has terrible tutors, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make what little we have fit our needs! Gamble can help us find Phyrexian Altar when we have enough mana to get going. Goblin Engineer can fetch Phyrexian Altar into the graveyard, to be reanimated with its 2nd ability. To fetch Goblin Engineer, we have Goblin Matron and Imperial Recruiter, all of which can later be sacrificed to cast Dargo.

There are also some ways to use your dead 0 mana Artifact draws with cards like Daretti, Scrap Savant and Goblin Welder to loop Ichor Wellspring and Terrarion. Other burst draw sources include Magus of the Wheel, Runehorn Hellkite, and Reforge the Soul. Space can probably also be made for Jeska’s Will, Wheel of Misfortune, and Wheel of Fortune to try and draw the deck even faster as well!

End Step

Is this a tier-one deck? No, most certainly not.

Will it surprise your friends and make for some really weird/funny games? Yes. I guarantee some laughs will be had, even though someone might only get to lay a land and cast a Sol Ring before the Shipwrecker comes a-pillaging.

(Disclaimer: Tap & Sac is not responsible for any wrecked friendships if you play Matthew’s list.)

Matthew bought a pack of Avacyn Restored in 2012 for kicks, but didn't start playing Magic until he was gifted his first general – Kaalia of the Vast – during Shadows Over Innistrad. Since then, he’s dabbled in Standard, Modern, Pioneer, and Legacy formats, where he found his love for convoluted combo decks with strange win conditions.

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