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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Tribal Theme – Demonic Collusion

May 23, 2012 by  
Filed under FAQ, In-Depth FAQ

“Let me tell you a secret….”

Hi and welcome to another Tribal theme in EDH. Today we would like to talk about a very evil Creature type, the root of all evils – Demon. Here you are looking at a tribe of Creatures who come with immense power but at the same time a comparable price to pay for that power. A lot of them have an upkeep cost which often involve some sacrifices to make to let them stay on the battlefield or rather on your side. If for once you can’t pay that price, you are going to have a rough time. So let’s us introduce you to this group demonic powerhouse.


Back History:

“Hell of a Good Time~!!!”

The evil first started with only two cards in Alpha, Demonic Hordes and Lord of the Pit, both gigantic Creatures with an upkeep cost to pay. If any time you do not pay that, they will whack havoc on you or your board. Looking at them closely, Demonic Hordes was actually quite playable with 3BBB and an ability to Tap and destroy target Land. The upkeep cost of BBB, or else it will be tap and you will sacrifice a Land of your opponent’s choice, was actually not that hard to pay with all those abundant mana we have in EDH late games. Lord of the Pit on the other hand was a bit harder to upkeep, having to sacrifice another Creature at your upkeep, or else it will bite you for 7. There was not another Demon till Antiquities, where the Yawgmoth Demon joined the duo. Standing at 6/6 and 4BB to cast, this Flying, First Strike Demon requires you to sacrifice Artifacts instead of Creatures, this time only tapping itself and dealing 2 damage to you if you did not pay the upkeep. Then along came the complaint towards Wizards which resulted in the ban on printing of cult stuff on MtG cards. This incident forbids Wizards from printing anymore Demons or cult related stuff on cards after Fourth Edition (1995) onwards. This caused a lot of Demon-looking cards printed with other Creature types. This was to go on till Onslaught block (2002) was printed. The ban was more or less lifted and Grinning Demon, a 6/6 for 2BB which makes you lose 2 life for your upkeep, joined the Demon gang at this point. More Demons were to join this demonic family soon after and then along came the Big Creature Type Update. With this update, some old cards got Demon added to their Creature type and now the Demon group had became reasonable big enough to be consider as a Tribal theme for EDH.


Culture Exchange:

“Domo~~ I am KuRo Des~ Fwwoooh~~~”

When Wizards started moving to other Planes for their storyline, they introduced a new race of Demons on the plane of Kamigawa. These Demons called Oni, the Japanese Demon, are also Spirits as well in addition to being a Demon. They mainly play the role of the kami of evil conceptions on Kamigawa. Characteristics wise they are still the same powerhouse with drawbacks. It is to be noted that a lot of them are Legendary Creatures which could also be possible Commanders.


Creature Status


Gutwrencher Oni Demon Spirit


Kagemaro, First to Suffer Legendary Demon Spirit


Kuro, Pitlord Legendary Demon Spirit


Kyoki, Sanity’s Eclipse Legendary Demon Spirit


Oni of Wild Places Demon Spirit


Painwracker Oni Demon Spirit


Razorjaw Oni Demon Spirit


Scourge of Numai Demon Spirit


Seizan, Perverter of Truth Legendary Demon Spirit


Shimatsu the Bloodcloaked Legendary Demon Spirit


Yukora, the Prisoner Legendary Demon Spirit



Power, Hungry:

“Feed Me………”

Demons are all powerful Creatures with high power but with a drawback. Most of them involve a sacrifice cost to sustain them. If said cost is not paid, they will usually die, or at some worse cases, take it out on you. Generally most Demons upkeep costs are separated as follow; either they died, or they deal damage to you or attack your stuff if you didn’t pay the cost.


Upkeep Cost


Archdemon of Greed

Sacrifice a Human at your upkeep.

Simple upkeep cost of pay or get smash by it.

Archdemon of Unx

Sacrifice a non-Zombie Creature at your upkeep and get 2/2 Black Zombie token in return.

This may sounds like a good deal but eventually you will run out of non-Zombie Creatures to sacrifice and the Archdemon of Unx will eat itself.

Demonic Hordes

BBB at your upkeep.

Like an opposite of its own power of tapping to destroy a Land, it will eat a Land of yours for your opponents if you didn’t pay its upkeep cost. And you can’t use it as a blocker either.

Demonic Taskmaster

Sacrifice a Creature other than itself at your upkeep

Low casting cost big Creature, 2B for 4/3 Flying.

Illusory Demon

Sacrificed when you cast a spell.

Low casting cost big Creature, 1UB for 4/3 Flying.

Infernal Denizen

Sacrifice two Swamps at your upkeep.

Although a powerful Creature stealer, it also has a very bad drawback if you can’t pay the upkeep. In addition to not able to use its ability for the turn, your opponent also get one of your Creature.

Kuro, Pitlord

BBBB at your upkeep.

Simple upkeep cost of pay or it died.

Liege of the Pit

Sacrifice a Creature other than itself at your upkeep

Simple upkeep cost of pay or get smash by it. Can serve as a surprise attack, though most opponents will not let a Morph Creature pass through.

Lord of the Pit

Sacrifice a Creature other than itself at your upkeep

Simple upkeep cost of pay or get smash by it.

Minion of Leshrac

Sacrifice a Creature other than itself at your upkeep

Simple upkeep cost of pay or get smash by it. Actually quite a powerful for its ability to destroy a Creature or Land.

Minion of Tevesh Szat

BB at your upkeep.

Simple upkeep cost of pay or get smash by it. The damage is lower than its power in this case though.

Pit Spawn

BB at your upkeep.

Simple upkeep cost of pay or it died.

Woebringer Demon

Each upkeep, that player sacrifices a Creature.

Functionally similar to Pillar Tombs of Aku, less the lose life part.

Xathrid Demon

Sacrifice a Creature other than itself at your upkeep.

A improvise concept on the whole sacrifice upkeep cost whereby you could take out your opponents as you pay the cost. Though it will still smash your face if you do not feed it.

Yawgmoth Demon

Sacrifice an Artifact at your upkeep.

Simple upkeep cost of pay or get smash by it. Again the damage is lower than its power in this case.

So as you can see, all the above Demons all have high power or powerful abilities but at some costs to keep them on the battlefield or working for you. Choosing the right one to put in your EDH deck and how to keep them on your side is vital to your victory.


With Great Powers, Comes Great Costs:

“Give me your best shot….”

Not all Demons require an upkeep cost to keep it in line. Some of them present you with a drawback as long as they stay on the battlefield, while others when they leave. Sometimes you might actually rethink why you cast it in the first place. Below are some examples of such Demons.



Abyssal Persecutor

You can’t win and your opponents can’t lose. What can be worse? Good political move though if you really need an opponent as an ally.

Grinning Demon

Lose 2 life at your upkeep.

Gutwrencher Oni

Discard a card if you don’t control an Ogre at your upkeep.

Oni of Wild Places

Return a Red Creature you control to its owner’s hand at your upkeep.

Painwracker Oni

Sacrifice a Creature if you don’t control an Ogre at your upkeep.

Razorjaw Oni

Black Creatures can’t block… Got to include some Artifact Creatures now…

Scourge of Numai

Lose 2 if you don’t control an Ogre at your upkeep.

Soulcage Fiend

Each player loses 3 life when it dies.

Treacherous Pit-Dweller

Has Undying, but goes to your opponent side when it comes back from the graveyard.

Yukora, the Prisoner

Force sacrifice of all your non-Ogre Creatures when it leaves the battlefield.


Demonic Summoning:

Power at a discount price

Summoning a Demon is not an easy task. Sacrifices have to make to fulfill before they will be summoned. True to that fact, some Demons come with some costs to be paid before they will stay on the battlefield. There are some Demons which require some costs when it enters the battlefield to determine its power. Another unique example of the demonic summoning kind of Demon would be Demon of Death’s Gate which allows you to skip its huge casting cost of 6BBB by just paying 6 life and sacrificing three Black Creatures instead.


Summoning Costs

Demonlord of Ashmouth

Exiled itself if another Creature is not sacrificed when it enters the battlefield.

Demon of Death’s Gate

Alternate casting cost of paying 6 life and sacrifice of three Black Creatures.

Dread Cacodemon

Destroy all your opponents’ Creatures and tap all your other Creatures if casted from your hand. Actually a good sweeping spell if you do not have Creatures on your side.


Force discard of your hand when it enters the battlefield, but force sacrifice of Creatures on your opponents for each card discarded this way.

Mold Demon

Sacrificed itself if two Swamps are not sacrificed when it enters the battlefield.

Shimatsu the Bloodcloaked

Eats your permanents as it enters the battlefield to determine its size.


Pure Power:

Wrath of the Dark Ones

Although they come with upkeep costs and summoning costs, there are some Demons which are pure power. These Demons have high casting costs and usually powerful abilities accompanying those high casting costs with no actual drawbacks at all. This is actually not a big problem if you are playing Black, as Black has Cabal Coffers and Crypt of Agadeem to assist you in casting them. These Demons are also good targets for reanimation.


Casting Cost

Power / Toughness


Bloodgift Demon



Flying. Make target player draw a card and loses 1 life during your upkeep.

Carnifex Demon



Flying. Enters battlefield with two -1/-1 counters. B: move -1/-1 counters from it to each other Creature.

Defiler of Souls



Flying. Each player sacrifices a monocolored Creature during their upkeep.

Demon of Death’s Gate



Flying, Trample. Can also use alternate casting cost of 6 life and sacrifice of three Black Creatures.

Extractor Demon



Flying, Unearth 2B. Mill target player for 2 cards whenever another Creature dies.




Flying, Lifelink. Pay 7 life: Draw 7 cards

Halo Hunter



Intimidate. Kills an Angel when it enters the battlefield.

Harvester of Souls



Deathtouch. You may draw a card when a non-token Creature dies.

Havoc Demon



Flying. -5/-5 to all Creatures when it dies.

Hellcarver Demon



Flying. Whenever it deals combat damage to a player, you sacrifice all other permanents and discard your hand, and exile the top six cards of your library, you may cast any number of nonland cards exiled this way without paying their mana costs. A bit of a crazy move though, but overall fun times in EDH.

Hollowborn Barghest



Makes opponents lose 2 life when you have no cards in hand at your upkeep and when your opponents have no cards in hand at their upkeep.

Kagemaro, First to Suffer


Power / Toughness equal to your hand size.

B, sacrifice itself: All Creatures get –X/-X until end of turn, where X is your hand size.

Kyoki, Sanity’s Eclipse



Forces target opponent to exiles a card from his or her hand whenever you cast a Spirit or Arcane spell.

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen



Landfall – You may have target player lose 3 life, if you do, put three +1/+1 counters on it.

Pestilence Demon



Flying. B: It deals 1 damage to each Creature and player.

Prince of Thralls



Gain control of permanents of your opponents which are put into the graveyard unless they pay 3 life.

Rakdos the Defiler



Flying, Trample. Sacrifice half of your non-Demon permanents, rounded up, when it attacks. When it deals combat damage to a player, that player sacrifices half of his or her non-Demon permanents, rounded up.

Ravenous Demon



A cheap Demon which becomes a Flying, Trample, 9/9 when you sacrifice a Human.

Reaper from the Abyss



Flying, Morbid – At end of each end step, destroy target non-Demon Creature.

Reiver Demon



Flying. If you cast it from your hand, Terror on all Creatures.

Seizan, Perverter of Truth



Make each player draw two cards and loses 2 life during their upkeep.

Sol’kanar the Swamp King



Swampwalk. You gain 1 life whenever a Black spell is casted.

Spirit of the Night



Flying, Haste, Protection from Black, Trample, First Strike when attacking.

Stronghold Overseer



Flying, Shadow. BB: Creatures with Shadow get +1/+0 until end of turn and Creatures without Shadow get -1/-0 until end of turn.

The Wretched



As long as it survived after a combat, gain control of all Creatures blocking it.




Flying, Delve (Exile cards from your graveyard to reduce casting cost of it by 1)


Cult Followers:

All stories about the Demons always have some power-hungry followers worshipping them. In MtG, this is also the same. Although these Creatures are not Demons, they are good support cards to the Demons and should be play along with the Demons as well for the synergy they provide.


One such cult followers are the Ogres from Kamigawa. They were introduced along with the Oni as the worshippers of the Oni, serving their masters needs and getting dark powers in return. Here are a couple of them which works with or better with a Demon around.

“Let’s do the Boogle”

Name Ability
Blood Speaker Can be sacrifice at your upkeep to tutor for a Demon card. Returns to your hand when a Demon enters the battlefield under your control.
Bloodthirsty Ogre T: Put devotion counter on it.T: Target Creature gets –X/-X until end of turn for each devotion counters on it, but can only activate this ability if you control a Demon.
Raving Oni-Slave When it enters or leaves the battlefield, lose 3 life if you don’t control a Demon.
Villainous Ogre Can’t block. Gains B: Regeneration as long as you control a Demon.


Other cult followers include the Demon worshippers from Alara. Here in Grixis of Alara, as there is a lack of White and Green mana, the evil force rules here. Many Necromancers live here and Demon worshipping is common too. One notable Creature, the Demon’s Herald, allows you to pay 2B, tap it, and sacrifice a Blue Creature, a Black Creature, and a Red Creature, to tutor for Prince of Thralls and put it on the battlefield. Another such cult followers are the Demon worshippers of Innistrad. One such Creature from here, Skirsdag High Priest, a Human Cleric which has the Morbid ability of tapping itself and two more Creatures to summon a Demon token.

Use with Care

Demon cult cards are not only restricted to Creatures. There are also other cards which summon Demons or work with them.

Name Ability
Demonic Rising Black Enchantment which lets you summon a Black Flying 5/5 Demon token if you only got one Creature at the end of your end step.
Elbrus, the Binding Blade Equipment which transform into Withengar Unbound, a Flying, Intimidate, Trample, 13/13 Demon, when the attached Creature connects with a player. A really made for EDH multi-players material as Withengar double its size if one of your opponents dies.
Mark of the Oni Black Aura which lets you steal your opponent’s Creature as long as you control a Demon.
Oni Possession Black Aura which changes the Creature it is attached to into a Demon.
Promise of Power Black Sorcery with Entwine, which when fully paid lets you draw 5 cards and lose 5 life and get a Black Flying Demon token with power and toughness fixed equal to your hand size at the time it enters the battlefield.
Tomb of Urami Land which give you Urami when you sacrifices all your Lands to it. Not a very sound strategy though.


Combos: – 

“It’s Party Time~!!!!” “Let’s Roll~!!!”

Here are some combos worth including in a Demon Tribal deck: –

Cards Combo
Blood Speaker + Deathrender + Conspiracy (optional) Solely with the combo of Blood Speaker and Deathrender, you could already tutor for any Demon with Blood Speaker and then put it onto the battlefield with Deathrender. With Conspiracy added to the mix, now you can tutor for any Creature and put it onto the battlefield. All without paying the casting cost of the Creature.
Rakdos the Defiler + Prince of Thralls / It That Betrays It is a tough deal, be it attacking with Rakdos or being attacked by it, since both sides (you and defending player) are losing half of their non-Demon permanents. But with this combo, you may lose half of your non-Demon permanents in the process, but you also gain whatever permanents the defending sacrifices to Rakdos attacking trigger. These permanents come in handy when you want to attack again with Rakdos. Just sacrifice those new permanents you got from Rakdos last victim.
Pestilence Demon + Charisma Anything which is not killed by the activation of the Demon’s ability is yours now.
The Wretched + Nemesis Mask + General’s Kabuto Since The Wretched ability triggers at end of combat and requires Creatures to block it, both Equipments combined will ensure it survive the combat and grab all of defending player’s Creatures.
Hellcarver Demon + Insidious Dreams + Patriarch’s Bidding (optional)

A good setup combo when you want to attack with the Demon. Since you have to discard when Hellcarver Demon connects with your opponent, cast Insidious Dreams and exchange your hand with whatever nonland cards you want onto the library top and then cast them with Hellcarver Demon trigger ability. For more power, top off the combo with Patriarch’s Bidding as one of the card you are searching with Insidious Dreams. That way, since your Tribal theme is Demon, whatever Demons you discarded or sacrificed are going to be revived by the free Patriarch’s Bidding which you just searched and put on top of your library.

Sol’kanar the Swamp King + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth + Elbrus, the Binding Blade (optional)

An obvious combo. Fast kill if Sol’kanar is your Commander. Throw in Elbrus, the Binding Blade if you want more power to celebrate your Sol’kanar getting through.

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen + Terrain Generator / Thawing Glaciers Both Lands allow you to grow Ob Nixilis at the end of your opponent’s turn while hurting them at the same time, allowing him to be ready to attack when your turn comes by.
Griselbrand + Empyrial Plate Pay 7 life to +7/+7. If it is your General, pay 14 life to win the game.
Bloodgift Demon / Seizan, Perverter of Truth + Underworld Dreams Both Demons are good political tools, giving free card draw to your opponents. Adding Underworld Dreams to the mix turns the tables around killing your opponents instead.
Defiler of Souls + Darkest Hour Defiler of Souls punishes players who play with monocolor Creatures. Darkest Hour changes all Creatures to mono Black Creatures. Now Defiler of Souls punishes everyone whether or not they play monocolor Creatures.


Recommended Generals: –

Griselbrand – Your card advantage and win con all roll into one. The combo with Empyrial Plate, where you can pay 14 life; kills one opponent; and gain back 21 life from all that with a net gain of 7 life is going to be hell of a nightmare for your opponents. Best part of it all, after killing one opponent with Commander damage you can still kill another opponent with the same combo should your opponents fail to handle your Commander till your turn come around.


Kuro, Pitlord – Mono-colored but packs quite a punch when comes to control over Creatures. Since its ability only requires paying of 1 life to activate and the starting life point is 40 in EDH. Kuro could be used to open the way for your army to go in for the kill. Black also has a lot of board sweeping effects to help in controlling the board.


Sol’kanar the Swamp King – Good color identity with many good control and tutor cards in it. Color identity also allows for the most annoying EDH planeswalker, Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, to be included in the deck.

Kaalia of the Vast – Though not a Demon herself, she is the legendary Creature created for the Commander set to make playing with Demons possible. Well suited for you to put all those Demons onto the battlefield for free. Best part of her deal is that she is splashable with the same ability for Angels and Dragons too. Color identity provides plenty board sweep and control cards through White and Black. Big finishers Creatures are not lacking in the colors too, especially in the department of Angels, Demons and Dragons of those colors.


Dance with the Demons:-

The Demons are a powerful lot in terms of their power and abilities, but they usually have a huge drawback to that. So at the end of the day you might ask why anyone would want to play with them if they are all so dangerous. As true as that is the case for playing them, a lot of these Demons have relatively powerful abilities on top of the drawback. For some of them it may be just a tiny bit of drawback, but for others it will be total hell for as long as they stay on the battlefield. Alas though risky, it is still a winning force when you choose the right Demon to put in the deck, and that is not just important but crucial to make it work. A good approach is to use them mainly as your finisher card with support cards. After all playing with Demons is like playing with fireworks. All is beautiful till it explodes in your face. So choose the Demons wisely and it will serve you the victory. Till our next article, may the best survive the dance with the Demons.


This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, signing off.



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