Deck Build – Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle (EDH)


Magic: the Gathering. I’ve been playing MTG for about 5-6 years now and particularly love the EDH (“Commander”) format. My first EDH deck was built for my by a close friend, Preston. A lot of time and love went into that deck and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. In the past year, I’ve been wanting to build more decks myself and see what I could do. Most recently, I built a new Commander deck from scratch (without basing it off an existing deck list), with Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle at the head.

Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle Card
Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle Card

The card shown above is fairly self-explanatory. Arixmethes is a legendary Kraken that is not a creature when it enters the battlefield–but a land, due to the slumber counters on it. While Arixmethes sleeps, it only taps to produce {G}{U} mana. But once all slumber counters have been removed from the card, the Isle awakes and becomes a 12/12 Kraken that also still taps for the aforementioned mana. At a converted mana cost of only four–two of which are colorless–Arixmethes is a great ramp spell in the beginning of the game, and a great finishing move at any point thereafter. Here’s my working decklist.

Win Condition(s)

The goal is obviously to win. But how does Arixmethes do that in this deck? A common theme to build around the sleepy island is an army of huge sea creatures featuring Krakens, Leviathans, Octopuses, and Serpents. Other flavors include bounce, Merfolk tribal, +1/+1 counters, lands, X spells, and Keruga companion. But I chose the one other route: cantrips.

A cantrip, in Magic: the Gathering, is a (often low-cost) spell that in addition to any other effect, makes you draw a card. So what’s the goal here?

The deck is loaded with ramp and bonus mana. From things like Mox Diamond and Llanowar Elves which can give you that early mana edge to land finders like Cultivate and many more, there are tons of ways to search your library and put 1-3 lands into play–sometimes untapped! Things like Burgeoning let you continue to ramp during other players’ turns. With each spell that is cast to accomplish this while drawing an extra card, you can continuously roll down those slumber counters on Arixmethes, leaving it at 1 counter until you are in a position to strike.

At 12/12, you only need hit an opponent during two combat phases (or one, if you have doublestrike, though I don’t have that in the deck currently) to kill them with Commander Damage in excess of the 21 threshold. Equip Arixmethes with Whispersilk Cloak and enjoy your win.

Though that can’t be the only win con, and it isn’t. There is also a balance of sea creatures available for summon as well including Krakens and Leviathans. While waiting to get these out or make Arixmethes unblockable, a host of counterspells, boardwipes, and other spells fill The 99.

Deck Specs

Take these specs with a grain of salt. I am still refining this deck. In the next week, I’ll be adding approximately 6 more lands in place of 6 other nonland cards and balancing mana color production to mana costs. Additionally, I will likely add Cyclonic Rift and a couple of other cards as well.

Colors: Simic (Green/Blue)

Commanders: 1 | Planeswalkers: 1 | Creatures: 20

Enchantments: 6 | Artifacts: 9 | Sorceries: 14 | Instants: 19

Lands: 30

Mana Curve (Average CMC): 2.40

Why Arixmethes?

So why, of all the commanders out there, would I choose Arixmethes? Well–for one–I think concept of a sleeping island is humorous, but also ominous and mysterious. I’ve always liked the mysterious. From a lore standpoint, Arixmethes is just as mysterious as the name implies; we know very little about the Kraken-island and its history. Obscure legends say that Arixmethes was a major polis that once existed on Theros, and that Heliod smote this coastal city with Khrusor and cast [it] into the sea. In fact, Arixmethes is a massive Kraken with the entire city built upon it… (GamePedia, 2020).

In brief summary, Arixmethes is indeed the legendary lost city/island that Kiora came looking for and to claim during the events of the Theros block and the novel Godsend. Seeking the greatest denizens of the seas of many words, she posed as the navigator Callaphe and boarded “her” recovered ship the Monsoon and sailed to find Arixmethes:

Kiora’s heart pounded as the prow of the Monsoon came to rest at the edge of a vast and ruined city. The surface did a fine impression of land, if you didn’t look too hard, but it was too dark, too rubbery. She frowned at the ornate buildings dripping seawater, clinging to this great curved surface like barnacles. How could anyone mistake the great kraken Arixmethes for an island?

The human, Elspeth, asked something about Kruphix’s temple, and the cat-man answered her, but Kiora wasn’t listening. Finally!

“Welcome to Arixmethes!” she cried, leaping off the ship and onto the soft, pliable surface. “The sunken ruins! At last, I’ve found him.”

“Him?” asked Elspeth. They still didn’t understand. But she and the leonin, Ajani, stayed on the Monsoon just the same.

“You’re not Callaphe, are you?” asked Ajani.

“Not even close,” Kiora replied, smiling back at him.

(Digges, 2015)

Kiora and Thassa would fight for control of the legendary, lost city-creature, during which Kiora reached out to Arixmethes, begging for help with Thassa, acknowledging that Arixmethes was not Thassa’s–nor hers– to control, but it’s own. Though Arixmethes did not answer to either Thassa nor Kiora, and the two continued to battle in vain. In the end, while Thassa arguably won out by injuring Kiora and forcing her to flee, Kiora managed to snatch Thassa’s Bident and disappear. To be on flavor, Arixmethes, Kiora, Thassa, and Thassa’s Bident are all in this deck along with a host of sea-related spells such as Whelming Wave, Displacement Wave, and others.

While we know quite a bit about this battle and Kiora’s time on Theros from the novellas and other lore, we know relatively little of the history of Arixmethes himself. And there’s just something to that which I can’t ignore.

Additional Reading

“Drop for Drop,” Kelly Digges, Wizards of the Coast

Arixmethes – GamePedia MTG Wiki

Arixmethes, Slumber Isle on EDHrec

Author: griffethbarker

Griff is a tinkerer and manager of IT, consultant of IT and management, and continuous student of organizational development. His hobbies and interests include games of all types (video, board, dice, card, tabletop, etc.) as well as listening to music, photography, and writing. Find him on LinkedIn!

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