My Commander Story: Alesha, Who Smiles at Death

Link to Decklist

A few days ago I made a comment on r/EDH talking about the one time my deck was able to create infinite zombie tokens, and several people showed interest in the decklist. After seeing the interest in my deck, I was curious as to whether there might be interest in me starting a new series on my blog talking about Commander. I wanted the series to be something unique, however, as almost everything that can be said about EDH probably has been said. So I decided to go with the most unique angle available: my personal story of my Commander.

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Today, the deck I am going to be talking about is Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, the Commander I didn’t expect to love. When I first got into Commander, I got into it hard. I went to a college in the middle of nowhere, and Magic was one of the few hobbies we could do out there, and Commander was by far and away the most played format. Once the MtG bug bit me, I got the urge to create an EDH deck for every single color pair in the game. I chose the Commanders beforehand and would build decks based on those. I got to the Mardu section and immediately noticed Kaalia of the Vast. This flashy and powerful Commander is probably what I would have chosen, had my friend not already built a Kaalia deck. So I looked a little deeper and found Alesha. I thought she looked interesting and threw her in the list, but didn’t touch her again for a while.

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Sometime later I found an article on Reddit talking about a budget Alesha deck. I can’t find that article anymore, but it convinced me to drop $50 and get a starter Alesha deck. This deck was interesting to me because it was the first time I had ever gotten a Commander deck with an infinite combo in it. The Magic I was used to playing at my college was swingy battlecruiser games, where the literal Eldrazi titans battled it out with my Terra Stomper. Combo was something a few people dabbled in but was generally accepted to be “less fun”. But having the ability to win out of nowhere intrigued me, so I decided to just go for it.

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The combo goes as follows. As long as you have these 3 cards you can win the game on the spot. Nim Deathmantle, Ashnod’s Altar, and Murderous Redcap. The sequence starts by sacrificing Murderous Redcap to Ashnod’s Altar. You get 2 mana and then Persist brings the Redcap back. Do it one more time to get 4 colorless mana total and put Redcap in your graveyard. Use this mana to activate Nim Deathmantle, and bring Redcap back to the battlefield. Repeat infinitely until everyone is shot to death by Murderous Redcaps enter the battlefield effect.

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A few days later I get the cards in the mail and throw a couple of my own cards in for good measure. I sleeve up and play a 3 way game with the deck for the first time. My hand starts with a Cathartic Reunion, Noosegraf Mob, and I’m just hoping my deck will work. Turn 2 I discard Noosegraf and turn 3 I play Alesha. My opponents meanwhile are slowly building up to their Battlecruiser, and I’m swinging in for 8 damage by turn 4. My opponents cast a few spells and I proudly declare that I will be making zombie tokens. They start to realize the problem and do their best to shut me down. Next turn, however, I play Cathar’s Crusade which guarantees me a zombie for each spell that is cast, thanks to it constantly reloading my Noosegraf Mob with fresh counters. My zombies grow huge and I overtake the game before my opponents can do anything about it. My Alesha deck has gained a reputation within minutes of me playing it, and I am ecstatic.

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The next few games don’t go nearly as well. Turns out my initial opening hand was pretty busted in terms of Alesha, but the reputation was still holding strong. I throw in another personal favorite combo of mine in Selfless Spirit and Gift of Immortality, which guarantees indestructible creatures every single turn, and was the first powerful thing I ever did in Magic. (That is it’s own story, however). Eventually, I move from the college and find myself in a game store closer to the city. The competition here is much tougher, and I immediately realize that I’m in for an uphill battle when I play a Cinder Barrens and they fetch for a Tundra turn 1.

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The game slowly develops, with the Muldrotha player taking the lead. They are countering and killing everything on sight, and the only reason I am able to stay in it is that Alesha can bring creatures that create multiple tokens from my graveyard. Eventually, we all team up and kill them right before they can combo off. This leaves us with a Bruna player and my friend who is on Animar, and it’s looking grim for both of us. He has a lethal Bruna that can swing at both of us uncontested, and it ultimately comes down to an actual coin flip. He kills Animar and I am left there praying for a good top deck. I draw a card and take a second to think out my turn. I move to combat and reanimate Siege-Gang Commander. My opponent who just gained 40 life, takes the damage without breaking a sweat. I then cast Nim Deathmantle which I had just topdecked, and use the loop I described earlier to generate infinite mana using Siege-Gang Commander. I then use Grenzo, Dungeon Warden’s activated ability to mill my deck and eventually find Murderous Redcap which I then proceed to use to win. I went into that game totally expecting to lose, and thanks to some good politics and deckbuilding, I was able to secure a victory!

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Alesha, Who Smiles at Death was not my first Commander, nor is it my most expensive Commander deck. But, this deck has taught me that you don’t need a several thousand dollar deck to win games. As long as you play well, and know what you are going after, you can build an effective deck at any budget. This deck has the capability to play with any kind of deck it comes across, adjusting its power level as necessary. Sometimes, you’ll be up against Zur, Muldrotha, and Breya and there is no reason to hold back. Other times though, you’ll end up against your cousins first EDH deck, and the great thing about Alesha is you can play a game appropriate to the table. Instead of going straight for the combo, you can instead dump an Angel of Invention in your graveyard and just create a wide wall of tokens. I enjoy my Alesha deck so much because it requires a ton of choices at every moment during gameplay. It might not be the most tuned deck out there, but it is my deck and is the kind of deck that I am willing to go out of my way to get a Master of Cruelties for it.

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I hope you enjoyed the article! If you want me to continue the series, please let me know in the comments below as I have several other commanders that I could tell lots of stories about. Thank you all for reading, and I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!