Magic: The Gathering "Mairsil, The Pretender" Commander Deck Tech

Hello, Magic: The Gathering players, namely those involved in our favorite format, Commander! It's been a fair while, but now it's time to resume writing up abridged Commander deck techs for your viewing pleasure. Today, we will be focusing on Mairsil, the Pretender, a legendary creature from all the way back in the Commander 2017 set of preconstructed decks.

The art for Mairsil, the Pretender, a card from Magic: The Gathering's Commander 2017 release and the focus for this deck tech. Illustrated by Izzy.
The art for Mairsil, the Pretender, a card from Magic: The Gathering's Commander 2017 release and the focus for this deck tech. Illustrated by Izzy.

You can find the link to our deck-to-tech on TappedOut, by clicking here.

Mairsil, the Pretender is the thorn in the side of most any deck. As a commander, Mairsil specializes in combo play, generally lending himself well to a toolbox of denial that quickly weaves itself into a win condition or three. As such, Mairsil's wincons can range anywhere from a mass-scoop-by-attrition to a methodical, yet swift, picking off of the rest of the table, one by one.

Mairsil, the Pretender's deck style, in more blatant terms, is dictated by Mairsil himself. The "Great Pretender" exiles a creature or artifact from its controller's hand or graveyard when he enters the battlefield and puts a cage counter on it. From there on in, Mairsil gains the ability to use any of the exiled cards' activated abilities once per turn per ability. This applies even if Mairsil leaves play and re-enters due to any reason! As such, the exiled zone tends to become known by many as "the cage" where those cards are concerned.

As is customary of these deck techs, we will be picking out a few of the key cards that allow Mairsil, the Pretender to prosper. These cards exist in the deck to fulfill primary functions, but can also, ideally, fill multiple other roles as well. Without further ado, here's a small list of great cards in this deck.

Nevinyrral's Disk

Named after Ringworld writer Larry Niven – or, as one may presume, his Bizzaro-world counterpart – Nevinyrral's Disk is a card that works wonders in any deck as a hard reset on most permanents on the battlefield. However, what sets it back quite a bit is its downside of coming onto the battlefield tapped. Where Mairsil is concerned, the card is less important than its own activated ability. Mairsil, a creature that steals all activated abilities of the cards it exiles, does not come into play tapped, and, as such, can use the Disk's ability as soon as it doesn't have summoning sickness.

Nevinyrral's Disk, a Magic: The Gathering card reprinted many times and a key card for Mairsil, the Pretender. Here shown in its Commander Legends iteration.
Nevinyrral's Disk, a Magic: The Gathering card reprinted many times and a key card for Mairsil, the Pretender. Here shown in its Commander Legends iteration.

It's important for Mairsil players to have two very important redundancies in their arsenal: haste-enablers to circumvent any summoning sickness (this is ideally going to come from an activated ability of a creature or an artifact if possible, although cards like Anger can help here too), and extended flicker abilities, such as those belonging to AEtherling. In this way, Nevinyrral's Disk becomes not only repeatable but abusable in the most attritive ways.

Tree of Perdition and Hateflayer

Another huge, game-ending combo in this Commander deck is the caging of Tree of Perdition and Hateflayer under the watchful eye of Mairsil, the Pretender. It is crucial that, if you are seeking to win with this combo, you have haste and flicker available to Mairsil as well as a safe position of control under your belt before caging even one of these two cards.

Tree of Perdition, a Magic: The Gathering card from the Eldritch Moon expansion set. This card is part of a multi-component combo in this Commander deck.
Tree of Perdition, a Magic: The Gathering card from the Eldritch Moon expansion set. This card is part of a multi-component combo in this Commander deck.

What does this combo do? It kills a player with even less damage than it takes to infect a player to death with poison counters! This is a huge play in the right hands. But how does it work? Simply put, Mairsil has 4 power and 4 toughness; as such, when he taps for Tree of Perdition's ability he puts a player to 4 life, then when he untaps for Hateflayer's ability, he deals 4 damage to them. From there, we let state-based effects take care of the rest.

Hateflayer, a Magic: The Gathering card from the Eventide expansion set. This card is the other key part of a multi-component combo in this Commander deck.
Hateflayer, a Magic: The Gathering card from the Eventide expansion set. This card is the other key part of a multi-component combo in this Commander deck.

Quicksilver Elemental

Finally, we have a minor note on the card Quicksilver Elemental. For one blue mana, a caged Quicksilver Elemental grants Mairsil, the Pretender all uses of the abilities it had previously used in the turn, provided Mairsil is targetable by his own abilities. This leads to any number of disgusting interactions, including but not limited to infinite mana (with the help of a Gilded Lotus and any blue or generic untap ability like Staff of Domination), or anything you'd really wish to spam abilities of. Remember, Mairsil cannot have shroud, or else this will not work! Hexproof is fair game, however, and is always highly suggested, so put on those Swiftfoot Boots and go to town!

Quicksilver Elemental, a card from Mirrodin. A true powerhouse card in any tuned Mairsil, the Pretender Commander deck.
Quicksilver Elemental, a card from Mirrodin. A true powerhouse card in any tuned Mairsil, the Pretender Commander deck.

Have you ever played a game of Commander involving Mairsil, the Pretender? How did it go? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Mairsil, the Pretender, a card from Magic: The Gathering's Commander 2017 preconstructed decks.
Mairsil, the Pretender, a card from Magic: The Gathering's Commander 2017 preconstructed decks.

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About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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