A Janky “The Prismatic Bridge” Deck

Commander Clinic is meant to be a light read or little five minute diversion about the commander format to stimulate your mind about EDH. Deck Techs are more in depth and can take additional time to digest the entire article. Feel free to read the strategy in one sitting up to The Key Three and then read the rest of the article in a separate sitting. Do not forget to check out the full visual deck list on Arkidect.

Back in August we posted a basic deck based on Esika God of the Tree with good creatures and the twist was that the deck escalated if needed. It originally wanted to play shrines. The deck can easily be powered up by removing the shrine package for an upgrade as desired. Also in that article we teased there is another way to build The Prismatic Bridge.

The Concept 

Esika can be used as a search engine.

Commander Clinic MTG

Instead of a deck stuffed with creatures for value, Esika can be used as a search engine. If you limit the number of creatures in a deck, then The Prismatic Bridge will increase the odds of you pulling those creatures. You will not need to use tutors for a creature based combo. Esika does it for you. One of the keys to building such a deck is including a large ramp package. You will want to cast The Prismatic Bridge as early as possible to get your creatures on the battlefield while your opponents are focusing on building theirs. The deck’s ramp package will bring The Prismatic Bridge into play turn four most of the time. Sometimes  it can be cast turn three if you can draw Sol Ring and enough ramp turn one. 

Making Jank 

Early playtesting had me altering the deck from its original version as it created some complaints at the commander table. The deck list is toned down from the original build. The Prismatic Bridge is relatively the same though it was adjusted to reduce the cost of the deck. The total cost of the deck is now under $500 or $5 per card. The deck feels more janky than the original version. It also runs a little bit less explosive. The combo this deck will include is rather janky so this is a flavor win as well. It’s a glass cannon unless things fall correctly and can be easily broken up although there is only a small window to do so. It will be easy for those who wish to break the bank to add more expensive tutors, counterspells, and card draw and power up The Prismatic Bridge.

The Combo

Let’s steal some opponent’s lands.

The combo is based on three creatures. It starts with Herald of Leshrac. The Herald has a cumulative upkeep of gain control of a land that you do not own. He also receives +1/+1 for each land you control but do not own. Finally, when he leaves the battlefield you return all the lands you do not own.  In a two player game this may only last a couple of turns before you would have to sacrifice him. But this is commander. With four turns to cast the bridge and the Herald coming out from turns five to seven the cumulative upkeep trigger will not have you sacrificing him any time soon. Expect to gain several lands as the trips around the table accumulate. 

But When You Do Have to Sacrifice Him

End the turn and keep the lands, yes, please!

It still is inevitable that you will have to sacrifice The Herald. In this case you want to break the card and keep all the lands. This can be done with Obeka, Brute Chronologist. Once you sacrifice the herald the triggers to return the land go on the stack. Just activate Obeka and end the turn. This works because the ability to return the lands is on Herald of Leshrac itself and not a state based action. The downside is you will not be able to play anything else your turn. This is a small price to pay after you have robbed your opponents of their lands. They should not be playing much either without their lands either.

Protecting the Combo

With Avacyn removing the combo can be a chore.

As mentioned above the combo is very fragile. In many cases you may have to adjust your deck to how your opponents attack the combo and try to remove it. Commander Clinic has talked in the past about an ever changing meta. This should be the case once this version of Esika is established into your meta. So be ready to adjust your deck. 

We can anticipate that single target removal and board wipes are the preferred method to removing creatures. For this reason we include Avacyn, Angel of Hope as our third creature. Ideally, we want Avacyn to come out first, but with The Prismatic Bridge it will be random. Hence the jank nature of the combo. We are not worried about drawing our creatures other than Avacyn. If the Herald or Obeka is in our hand, then it increases the odds of flipping Avacyn off the top. Avacyn slows down the speed of our combo. However, the extra time is well worth being spent for the increased survivability of the combo that she brings to the table.        

Additional Defenses

We are limited to only three creatures. There are many awesome effects that would add to the synergies of the deck that reside on creatures. However, for every creature we add we are slowing down the deck This is a huge red flag and should be avoided. With limited options the deck turns into phase two as more of a toolbox sort of deck. We dig deep or tutor our way to the cards we need to keep the lockdown safe. Asceticism gives our creatures hexproof. This now limits out creatures to sacrifice strategies and mass exile. 

Mass exile is few and far between but sacrifice is out there especially in aristocrat strategies. The best way to defend against this for our deck is counterspells. Eight are included. They will protect your combo and also act as preemptive removal. If a threat will cost you the game, then counter it. This deck is the jank version so the counterspells are watered down, but you can use a stronger counterspell package like this.

Finally, there are five cards that will pull cards from your graveyard to your hand. This protects you if your opponent happens to destroy your creatures before Avacyn enters the battlefield. Also, it brings Herald of Leshrac back if you have to sacrifice him when the cumulative upkeep gets too expensive. Dread Return and  Unburial Rites target your graveyard only but also have flashback doubling their effectiveness. Animate Dead and Beacon of Unrest can target an opponent’s graveyard as well giving these cards extra utility. Finally, Bala Ged Recovery can get any card from your graveyard which has its uses.   

Rounding out the Deck 

The Herald is slow as it happens only on your upkeep. There are ways to speed it up from extra upkeeps to extra turns. There isn’t enough space to include enough of these cards to allow these concepts to create a critical mass of cards to employ the strategy. It’s too ambitious. Instead we will add in some repeatable proliferate triggers.  We will also protect ourselves with board wipes. Capsize and Cyclonic Rift are devastating when your opponents have less land than they did several turns before. Nevinyrall’s Disk is a repeatable board wipe with Avacyn on the battlefield. Supreme Verdict is uncounterable to insure your opponents’ threats are gone. Finally, sometimes players are ramping with mana rocks. Vandalblast will remove those pesky artifacts to further lock them down. Now that we have locked down the battlefield, how do we win the game?

The Key Three (winning the game) 

We have some token generators that can help us win the game. When the board is clear we can attack with abandon. That is not always reliable so included are several cards that will close out a game on your terms. Keep in mind if you want to see the entire deck list you can check it out here on Arkidekt.

Mayael’s Aria

Mayael’s Aria is a toolbox card to win. First It throws counters on Avacyn and in two turns it gains you life. With a large Avacyn you can attack and whittle away opponents’ life totals. If for some reason you are at parity with your opponents, then you can proliferate those counters to further increase Avacyns power. Once she is at 20 power it is game over.


Pestilence is an excellent card. it pings all players for one life at a time. However if ever the board is clear of creatures you lose the enchantment. The Good news is we have Avacyn on our side of the field so it doesn’t matter how much damage Pestilence does to our creatures they can not die. We are limited by the number of swamps we have to activate its ability. Due to keeping the cost of the deck down, the deck is missing Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. The ability to tap all lands for black mana will drop life totals quickly. 

The drawback is that it also hits your life total. If your life is lower than your opponents it will cause some problems. In this case, dig for the token creators and use Avacyn to lower opponent’s life totals and then kill them with Pestilance.   

Villainous Wealth

When you have your opponents lands, X spells are a great way to close out a game. You can use your mana and their mana for an explosive turn. Torment of Hailfire is exceptional if not cliche. At $20.00 (ish) we can choose a spell that is cheaper and reduce the cost of the deck. 

Fireball is a great way to go as you can target all your opponents with it. Unfortunately that can get tiresome. Despite being cheap, we included a more random win condition to help keep gameplay fresh. 

Villainous Wealth does not outright win the game. It will provide access to material that will get you there. With half of your deck dedicated to ramp, card draw, removal, and combo protection your deck is short on viable threats. However your opponents have additional threats that you can use. The landfall, and big mana decks are excellent choices to finish out a game. Just keep in mind the player you choose with this card should be the last one that you take out.    

Pet Cards 

Normally every deck has some pet cards. They may not be the elite or best cards though they synergize well with a deck. These are the cards that make a deck your own. With this deck we are not going to cover what traditional pet cards are in it. When you reduce the cost of a deck you automatically put more of these cards in. Instead, we are going to justify the cards that are $20 or more in this deck and why they are still here. 

Avacyn Angel of Hope

This is a critical piece to our three card combo. It turns our glass cannon of a combo into something more sustainable. Without it, the deck would not be viable.

Cyclonic Rift

It’s the best board wipe in blue and it’s at instant speed. If our combo is out when we send all the cards to the hand our opponents will not be able to cast them all.  It’s incredibly strong and can help us close out a game. It buys precious time. It also clears the way for Avacyn and Herald of Leshrac to attack. 

Mystical Tutor

Mystical Tutor fetches any instant and sorcery. The late game of the deck is more of a toolbox so if you need The Rift or a Supreme Verdict, then you need it. Going to get it can save you the game. Worst case it’s a janky way to go get Fabricate to go fetch Contagion Clasp to speed up your land stealing capabilities.

Rhystic Study  

When playtesting the deck with the high amount of ramp cards and lands there comes a point where this deck is in need of gas. Having the ability to draw several cards around the table is crucial for the deck. Also less mana means less ability for our opponents to pay one increasing the viability that you will draw cards off of Rhystic Study. Believe it or not Rhystic Study gets better in decks like this. When they can cast spells they can not pay the one. If they do then it gives you another turn of lockdown. 

Shock Lands

Only one of the shock lands used is over $20 but we will talk about them all here anyway. If we want Prismatic Bridge out by turn four we need lands that can come into the battlefield untapped and the shock lands are the best to do that. The deck contains Skyshroud Claim and Nature’s Lore. We need the dual lands to be forest so we can pull them with these ramp cards while providing a colors we need for the Prismatic Bridge. The Deck isn’t running all the shock lands. We are running only the shocks with green in them to limit their cost footprint. 

Vampiric Tutor 

Vampiric Tutor fetches any one card in our deck but that is not why it is included. Our deck runs its best when Avacyn comes out first. Vampiric Tutor, if drawn early, can go find Avacyn and put her on the top of the deck for the Bridge to put into play. It may not be worth $50 for that one ability but it is close enough to try and speed up the deck. If you don’t own one and have the extra cash, then It’s worth it to have in the deck for the top deck mischievousness. It is also a staple that you can use in any black deck further down the road as well. 

Summing it Up

Esika can be a fun card. It adds some variance and unpredictability in a deck. We can limit the variance by reducing the number of creatures and planeswalkers in the 99. In this deck tech we used and abused the Herald of Leshrac to take our opponents lands and limit their ability to cast spells. There are many other creature combinations that can be used in a similar way. What two card creature combo would you build Esika around? Comment below or feel free to email Commander Clinic at commanderclinitmtg@gmail.com. 

Deck List at a Glance 


  • Esika God of the Tree / Prismatic Bridge

Card Draw / Quality

  • Brainstorm
  • Conqueror’s Galleon / Conqueror’s Foothold
  • Diabolic Tutor
  • Drawn From Dreams
  • Fabricate
  • Fact or Fiction
  • Harrowing Journey
  • Impulse
  • Mystical Tutor
  • Night’s Whisper
  • Phyrexian Arena
  • Read the Bones
  • Rhystic Study
  • Sign in Blood
  • Vampiric Tutor
  • Well of Knowledge

Mana Ramp / Fixing

  • Arcane Signet
  • Azorious Signet
  • Boros Signet
  • Chromatic Lantern
  • Crop Rotation
  • Cultivate
  • Farseek
  • Growth Spiral
  • Harrow
  • Kodama’s Reach
  • Nature’s Lore
  • Rampant Growth
  • Skyshroud Claim
  • Sol Ring
  • Three Visits


  • Capsize
  • Cyclonic Rift
  • Nevinyrral’s Disk
  • Supreme Verdict
  • Vandalblast


  • Avacyn, Angel of Hope
  • Herald of Leshrac
  • Obeka, Brute Chronologist

Combo Protection

  • Asceticism


  • Arcane Denial
  • Counterspell
  • DIsallow
  • Forbid
  • Memory Lapse
  • Negate
  • Saw it Coming
  • Swan Song


  • Animate Dead
  • Bala Ged Recovery / Bala Ged Sanctuary
  • Beacon of Unrest
  • Dread Return
  • Unburial Rites


  • Mayel’s Aria
  • Pestilence
  • Villainous Wealth


  • Contagion Clasp
  • Inexorable Tide


  • Assemble the Legion
  • Entreat the Angels
  • Finale of Glory


  • Arch of Orazca
  • Breeding Pool
  • 7 Forest
  • 6 Island
  • Karn’s Bastion
  • 4 Mountain
  • Overgrown Tomb
  • 4 Plains
  • Stomping Ground
  • 7 Swamp
  • Temple Garden
  • Temple of Abandom
  • Temple of Malady
  • Temple of Mystery
  • Temple of Plenty

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