Hello and welcome to A Seat at the Table, the column where I pick a commander and talk about what I’d include in the 99. This week, a Rakdos legend plucked from my DREAMS, darling!

For 1BB, Ayara, Widow of the Realm is a Legendary Creature – Elf Noble 3/3 with a wall of text and a back side! Let’s see both textboxes:

T, sacrifice another creature or artifact: Ayara, Widow of the Realm deals X damage to target opponent or battle and you gain X life, where X is the sacrificed permanent’s mana value.  

5pR: Transform Ayara. Activate only as a sorcery. (pR can be paid with either R or 2 life.)”  

And now the back side! She becomes Ayara, Furnace Queen, a 4/4 Phyrexian Elf Noble whose colours become black and red with –

At the beginning of combat on your turn, return up to one target artifact or creature from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step.”  


A powerhouse with versatility that lets people know you’re a force to be reckoned with in the early or late game.

Things to note:

  1. The first ability requires a creature or artifact to sacrifice and to tap Ayara. The sacrificed creature doesn’t NEED to have a mana value, but effectively does nothing if whatever you sacrificed doesn’t have one. So, it’s more than likely that you’ll need to be sacrificing nontoken permanents to Ayara.
  2. Ayara’s transform cost is 5 and phyrexian red. You can ostensibly play her as a mono black commander! Black has a lot of ways to power out mana and red has rituals. It won’t be difficult to flip over this powerhouse, but you have to recognize when you want this.
  3. On Ayara’s back side, you have a triggered ability that happens at the beginning of your combat. The wording is “up to one” which means you are not obligated to target anything in your graveyard in case somebody’s got a Containment Priest or something in play that would harm more than help.
  4. That same ability exiles the reanimated artifact or creature at your end step. You can keep them around when the delayed trigger happens with something like Sundial of the Infinite, but you can also sacrifice the permanent to do it all over again. This is especially helpful when you can sacrifice the permanent DURING combat… which might be important later…

Let’s add some cards to the 99.

  1. Extra Combat Steps

Since Ayara, Furnace Queen triggers at the beginning of your combat step, what better way to take advantage than to have more than one combat step? Ideally, you’ve got your extra combats stapled to a creature. Bloodthirster, Port Razer, Karlach, Fury of Avernus, Moraug, Fury of Akoum, and Combat Celebrant are all going to give you extra combats and if you’ve got multiple extra combats like with Port and Thirster, you can get lots out of your graveyard to play. Pair Combat Celebrant with a sacrifice outlet and your commander, that’s infinite combats. Lithoform Engine and Strionic Resonator let you double your commander’s  reanimation ability or the frontside ability, which is extra useful if you’re already getting multiple activations.

Other cards that give you more combats are Aggravated Assault and Zariel, Archduke of Avernus. Enjoy!

  1. Sacrifice Outlets

It’s a Rakdos deck so you know there’s sacrifice synergy. Phyrexian Altar, Ashnod’s Altar, Illuminor Szeras, Fain, the Broker, Krark-Clan Ironworks, and Burnt Offering are sacrifice outlets that give you mana. Get stuff in your graveyard with Altar of Dementia, Keskit, the Flesh Sculptor, and Goblin Engineer.

Card draw and selection from Braids, Arisen Nightmare, Morbid Curiosity, Trading Post, Deadly Dispute, Village Rites, Warehouse Thief, Viscera Seer, and Woe Strider. Get some damage going with Goblin Bombardment and Oni-Cult Anvil.

But the most fun is a recent release: Kethek, Crucible Goliath. You’ll have big beefy creatures and at your end step, you can stack the triggers to sacrifice the reanimate creature to Kethek, so you can basically cascade into another threat.

  1. Self-Reducing Expensive Artifacts and Creatures (Front Side Ayara-Focused)

I mentioned you’ll have big creatures. The following is a list of creatures that reduce their cost and come with some added benefit beyond just being a solid sacrifice to Ayana’s front side. Get extra removal out of Chandra’s Incinerator, Avatar of Woe, Obsidian Charmaw. Some ramp out of Conduit of Ruin and Mycosynth Golem. Games end when Blast-Furnace Hellkite comes down!

Here’s the rest I found that might be worth it:

Ancient Stone Idol, Avatar of Fury, Capricious Hellraiser, Dargo, the Shipwrecker, Draco, Embercleave, Emrakul, the Promised End, Gorex, the Tombshell, Marshmist Titan, Metalwork Colossus, Molten Monstrosity, Scion of Draco, Shadow of Mortality, Torgaar, Famine Incarnate, and Writhing Necromass.

  1. Value Creatures (Back Side Ayara-focused)

You’ll want to reanimate some bombs with Ayara, Furnace Queen.

Throw some damage around with Warstorm Surge, Flayer of the Hatebound, Kokusho, the Evening Star, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, and Balor.

Time to draw some cards with Magus of the Wheel, Phyrexian Dragon Engine, Ox of Agonas, Dragon Mage, and Knollspine Dragon. Don’t mind the discard, it’s more fuel for Ayara. Elder Brain and Brainstealer Dragon take from your opponents instead and make them feel the pain. Combustible Gearhulk can draw you cards or deal loads of damage if you’ve got a high mana curve.

Your removal suite is wild! Noxious Gearhulk, Massacre Wurm, Markov Enforcer, Cavalier of Night, Butcher of Malakir, Shard of the Void Dragon, Rakdos, Scion of Draco, Fleshbag Marauder, Bearer of the Heavens, Bane of Bala Ged, Archon of Cruelty, Balefire Dragon, Portal to Phyrexia. Even Sire of Insanity can get rid of hands at the end of your turn.

Speaking of Portal to Phyrexia, reanimate other creatures with Ancient Brass Dragon, Phyrexian Delver, Sepulchral Primordial, Rakshasa Debaser, Apprentice Necromancer, and Doomed Necromancer. Keep your creatures around with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.

Take control of your opponents’ creatures with Coercive Recruiter and Firbolg Flutist.

Make some tokens with Wurmcoil Engine, Abhorrent Overlord, and Bladewing, Deathless Tyrant.

  1. Big Mana – Black Market, Neheb, the Eternal, Descent into Avernus

You’ll need a lot of mana and in these colours, Treasures are the way to go. Mahadi, Emporium Master, Pitiless Plunderer, Ancient Copper Dragon, Professional Face-Breaker, Goldspan Dragon, and Ruthless Technomancer make a ton of Treasures in death or combat.

Black Market can turn all the deaths into a ton of mana in your precombat main phase while Neheb, the Eternal has you covered for the postcombat main.

Descent into Avernus gets crazy really quick and with Ayara, Widow of the Realm swinging damage everywhere and gaining you life, you’ll be taking an easy lead.

Bonus: Tutor To The Yard

You know how I feel about tutors, but here are useful tutors to bring things to the graveyard – Gravebreaker Lamia, Entomb, Buried Alive, Disciples of Gix, Goblin Engineer.

This is a deck I can’t wait to brew!

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