The Final Countdown

Do you know what I love?  Super heroes.  Do you know what I love more than super heroes?  Super villains.  I am excited to let you all know that, not only does MTG include super villains, but they are legal in Commander for the next month.  In honor of this development, we’re building a deck commanded by that most dastardly of evil-doers:  Baron Von Count

The Commander


Baron Von Count is a simple man.  He likes evil and villainy, of course, but his real passion is counting backwards from five to zero repeatedly.  You see, he starts with a countdown counter on five.  If we cast a spell that has the numeral 5 (the actual number, not the word five) in the cost, text box, power, or toughness the counter moves to four (I won’t judge you if you laugh maniacally during this step).  This process continues for every number until we move the counter from one to zero, at which point we “destroy target player” and move the counter back to five to start the whole process over again.

Simple enough, right?  Well, maybe not so much.  You see, in order to pull this off as our main win condition, we need to build a deck that has cards that count toward multiple numbers on the countdown.  We also want to make sure that we can complete a full cycle as quickly as possible, so we’ll want those cards to be a cheap as we can get them.  Let’s see what we can find to make this happen.

The All-Stars

Not all cards are created equal in this deck.  We have some cards in here that have every single number we need on them, so they count for any portion of the countdown.


Staff of Domination is not only going to tick all of our numeric boxes, but also offer us a handful of useful abilities if we need them.


Another all-purpose card in the deck is Chandra, Torch of Defiance.  With so many loyalty abilities that do damage, she has a ton of numbers on her card.  It just so happens, she has all five that we’re looking for, and can help generate mana to cast more spells in one turn.

Zulaport Enforcer NirkanaCutthroat

Zulaport Enforcer is also a great card for this deck, since it only costs a single black mana, and can trigger our commander at any point on the countdown.  That latter point is also true of the more expensive Nirkana Cutthroat.  Both of these cards have the Level-up ability, which adds a lot of extra numbers to a card.

We’ve also got cards that, while not triggering all potential numbers, do trigger at least four of them.

BalefulAmmit AmmitEternal PlagueBelcher

Baleful Ammit has us covered for one through four, while Ammit Eternal skips four, but also covers five.  Also from Amonkhet block, we have Plague Belcher which skips three but has all of our other necessary numbers.


Jaya Ballard, Task Mage makes an appearance in this catagory as well.  She is not only good for the game plan of counting out our opponents, but she also has some useful abilities that can keep us in the game.

All told, we have fifteen total cards that can trigger the Baron at least four times out of five.

Abilities and Creature Types

Some abilities lend themselves to this strategy.  As you saw above, the Level-up ability gives more chances to see any numeral turn up on a card.  +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters add to cards like the Ammits.  What other abilities are useful in the deck?

KolaghanStormsinger.jpg GoblinTaskmaster

Morph and Megamorph have the numerals 2 and 3 in their reminder text.  This makes cards like Kolaghan Stormsinger and Goblin Taskmaster more useful than they might be otherwise.


Exalted also has +1/+1 in the reminder text, as seen on Duty-Bound Dead.  This Skeleton also has an expensive activated ability, which gives it a third numeral.


Token makers also have an opportunity to have extra numerals due to the need to describe the token they generate.  We’ve got Skirsdag High Priest, which is a 1/2 that makes 5/5 Demon tokens.  All of that to say, it triggers Von Count at three points.


Another useful ability…if you can call it that…is drawbacks.  Creatures can get better stats at cheaper costs, if they also come with unfortunate consequences.  For example, Wanted Scoundrels is a 4/3 for {1B}.  That’s a steal unless you consider that you could end up giving some treasures to an opponent.  But do we really care?  We can give those treasures to whoever we’re about to destroy, or play politics and give them to someone who could become a threat for our other opponents, taking the pressure off of us.

WallofDust AetherMembrane

Now for a weird thing I discovered while researching this deck.  If you want to trigger the Baron on four and five for as little as possible, there is one creature type that is really going to help with that: Walls.  There are a lot of Walls that cost next to nothing and have a fairly substantial amount of Toughness.  For instance, Wall of Dust has four toughness for three mana, and keeps our opponent’s blocked creature from untapping next turn.  We also have Aether Membrane which has five toughness and Reach, and bounces blocked creatures back to their owner’s hand.  We are running a total of seven Walls in the deck.

Utility Cards

LightningGreaves SwiftfootBoots DarksteelPlate

It’s not going to be all Walls and Level-ups with this deck, we still need a couple of things before we can win this game.  First and foremost, we need to protect the Baron.  Being a super villain, what better way to do that than with a robot exoskeleton?  We’re running both Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots to give him some protection against targeted removal.  We’ve also got Darksteel Plate to give him Indestructible, protecting him from most sweepers.


Now that that’s out of the way, we can focus on the next part of our nefarious plan: Drawing more cards.  We’re going to, hopefully, be playing multiple spells per turn which means we’re going to run out of cards quickly.  To help us refuel, we’re going to play Phyrexian Arena.  We want that extra card, and we’re not too worried about the life loss.  After all what’s 1 life measured against world domination?


Lastly, we have a total of one Instant (Demonic Tutor) in the whole deck, and none of our Creatures have Flash, so we’re stuck at Sorcery speed, unless we can find our Vadalken Orrery.  This can allow us to unleash our evil plans at unexpected times.

The Lands

Blackcleave Lavaclaw Carnarium

We’re running a handful of Red/Black dual lands and fifteen each of Mountains and Swamps.  The mana base is really not complicated on this one.

The Decklist

Planeswalkers (1)

  • Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Instants and Sorcerys (2)

Artifacts (5)

  • Darksteel Plate
  • Lightning Greaves
  • Staff of Domination
  • Swiftfoot Boots
  • Vedalken Orrery

Enchantments (1)

  • Phyrexian Arena

Creatures (49)

Lands (41)


Go forth and give your mustache a villainous twirl!  If you have a suggestion for a deck you’d like to see you can leave it in the comments or on the Contact Page.  Also, look us up on Facebook and give us a like to get updates every time we post.

Happy Holidays!  We’ll see you in the new year!


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