Before we go on any further, it might be necessary to remind everyone that Leovold, Emissary of Trest has been banned from Commander since April 2017. According to the Rules Committee,
“Leovold… creates undesirable game states by easily locking other players out of the game. We prefer to encourage situations in which everyone gets to play, and it’s too easy for Leovold to create the opposite, even unintentionally.”
With Leovold’s ability to turn wheel spells and effects into brutal discard spells, it is able to generate a sizable and often times insurmountable card advantage. That being said, there is absolutely no reason for us not to take some time to appreciate how absolutely oppressive this commander is. Below is the Leovold decklist I had been using prior to the ban.
Force of Will
Pact of Negation
Carpet of Flowers
Tezzeret the Seeker
City of Brass
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Vault of Whispers
Birds of Paradise
Elves of Deep Shadow
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Tendrils of Agony
Helm of Awakening
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Sensei’s Divining Top
Talisman of Dominance
Teferi’s Puzzle Box
The main strength of the deck lies in its ability to create disruption very early into the game. Its abundance of mana dorks and mana rocks provide the acceleration needed to consistently have Leovold on the playing field as early as the second turn. This is often followed by a wheel spell or effect such as Windfall which effectively stops everyone else on their tracks. Explosive openings such as these also provide the much needed card advantage which fuels the deck to keep the momentum it needs to move towards the win or to keep everyone locked down and locked out of the game.
Aside from starting strong, the deck also features two “one-card win cons” allowing it to win seemingly out of nowhere. These win conditions require almost nothing to set up and are completely independent of, yet complemented by, the Leovold play-lines. They are as follows:
Wincon # 1: Insidious Dreams (Storm)
The storm combo is primarily achieved using: Future Sight Helm of Awakening and Sensei’s Divining Top. With these three cards, we will be able to draw out the entire deck (building storm counts in the process) then cast Tendrils of Agony for the win.
We can assemble this combo piece by piece or we can set all of this up using a single card – Insidious Dreams. This is how we do it:
Cast Insidious Dreams at the end of an opponent’s turn, discard at least 3 cards and search for the combo pieces. You will now put them on top of your library in the following order. Future Sight (top), Helm of Awakening (2nd), and SDT (3rd).
On our turn we will now draw and play Future Sight. This allows us to play the top card of our library which in this case is now Helm of Awakening followed by SDT. Voila!
Wincon # 2: Doomsday
In this combo, we cast Doomsday to cut the number of cards left in our deck down to 5. Using the said cards in a specific sequence, we end up with a Laboratory Maniac in play and a cantrip allowing us to draw from an empty library. The deck uses at least two Doomsday piles, both of which require at least 1 cantrip in hand prior to casting Doomsday. These are:
Pile 1: Predict, Laboratory Maniac, Gitaxian Probe, Lion’s Eye Diamond and Yawgmoth’s Will.
Cast a cantrip to draw Predict. Cast Predict, name Lab Maniac (sending it to the graveyard) to draw Gitaxian Probe and LED. Play LED followed by GP. You then respond to GP by cracking LED. With 3 mana and LED and GP in your graveyard, you can now cast Yawgmoth’s Will (drawn using GP) to recast LED to cast Lab Maniac followed by GP to win.
Pile 2: Gush, Frantic Search, Laboratory Maniac, Gitaxian Probe, and one random card (preferably protection such as Pact of Negation).
Cast a cantrip to draw Gush. Tap the islands for mana before returning them to your hand to cast Gush. With this we draw Frantic Search and Lab Maniac. Use the mana to cast Frantic Search (discard the two islands) to draw the two remaining cards. Untap 3 lands, cast Lab Maniac then cast GP to win the game. This pile gives you one protection or Street Wraith. In response to any removal targeting the LabMan, cycle the Wraith in response.
Note: Street Wraith can be used as an alternative to GP. In some cases, it is better since it will be harder to counter than GP. There are many other piles which can be made but I chose these 2 just to show some examples.
Using the setup we have for storm, we can draw our entire library. We then play enough 0 cmc mana rocks to put the LabMan in play. With enough protection now in hand, we can play any cantrip for the win. With a LabMan in play, we can also use Demonic Consultation naming a card that isn’t in the deck. This sends our entire library into exile. We can then cast a cantrip to draw for our now empty library and win the game.
Interested in playtesting the deck? You can try that here: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/there-is-no-cow-level-2/?cb=1564027231
As mentioned before, Leovold has been banned in Commander since 2017. You can however try playing a deck with a similar playstyle in the Oathbreaker format. Here is a link to an article I have written on Narset, Parter of Veils for Oathbreaker: https://papstech.com/2019/07/25/narset-wheels-of-oppression-oathbreaker-deck-tech/