How They Brew It - Exile from Exile

Michael Celani • August 21, 2023

Myrkul, Lord of Bones | Illustrated by Isis Sangaré

I'm trying something a bit different this time compared to the usual bullet-point lists, to hopefully make it more readable. Let me know if it works for you.

No Place Like Home

Welcome to the hideout, kid. If you're the type to come looking for me, you're either incredibly brave, or incredibly courageous. I'm Michael "Don't Call Him Salami Unless You Want To End Up In The Pastrami" Celani. Days ago, I was wrongfully convicted for a crime I definitely committed, and my punishment was harsh: exile. But I'm too young not to go to jail, and I couldn't bear to leave the only place I could ever call home: my lovely Texas-style ranch with two beds and two-and-a-half baths, so I did the only thing I could and turned back to a life of crime. When everyone casts you away, all it takes to become wanted is a felony.

To survive my harsh new reality, I had to make some underworld connections, and who better to ask than the literal lord of it? Meet Myrkul, Lord of Bones. He promised he could keep me out of trouble with the law, so long as I did everything he said unquestioningly without concern for morals or my own safety. Whenever I knock off another nontoken creature on his hitlist, he gets to exile it and create a token copy of it that's an enchantment instead of any of its other types. How ironic: in the end, it turns out the only person that won't be exiled is myself.

Token of Appreciation

Now, kiddo, you might've heard that crime doesn't pay. That's not entirely true: it just cashes out in Bitcoin, and since that means we don't have to keep books, it's pretty easy to take that money and double it through illicit means, like "purchasing a gun and using that gun to steal more dollars from banks." Now, what's fascinating is that multiplying by two is useful for more than just making a killing (in the financial sense); if you want to really bring out the rich aromas and flavors of your Myrkul, you'll want to double the tokens he generates whenever one of your creatures dies. That's because each additional token you make represents one more copy of a busted trigger, one more permanent you'll sacrifice to another effect, and one more piece of cardboard you'll haphazardly fling onto your playmat only to mix it up with tokens copying other things. With that in mind, here's a few cards that'll help you make a killing (in the "creating a bunch of corpses" sense):

The Doublers

Like any newbie diamond thief or prostitute, you start with simple jobs before working your way up to something more complex . That's how mafia works, after all, so it makes sense to begin with the easiest-to-understand token-boosting effects. Parallel Lives and Anointed Procession are both enchantments that straight-up give you twice the tokens you're usually entitled to. Mondrak, Glory Dominus does the same in a creature form, but he's also got marginal utility as a sac outlet in a pinch. Kaya, Geist Hunter rounds out this category by having a -2 which doubles tokens for a turn, as well as other abilities that are... exclusively unplayable for this deck. Oops.

The Echoes

Cards in this category generate token copies of nontoken creatures when they enter the battlefield. At first glance, that seems like it's got nothing to do with Myrkul, but it's actually quite relevant since The Boner Lord requires nontoken creatures to satiate his bloodlust anyway. Really, you're just moving the token timetable up from the end of the creature's lifespan to the start of it. Bramble Sovereign is the king of this effect, giving you a no-frills token copy for just . Dual Nature does it for free, but it's symmetrical and full of caveats, so only try to cast it if you think you can win immediately. In the middle of these two extremes rests Preston, the Vanisher, who produces value at a cost as illusory as his tokens, but only if you got the original onto the battlefield in a strange way. Of course, Panharmonicon affects all three of these cards, as well as the triggers of the creatures you're copying, so slam that whenever you see it.

The Xerox Machines

I haven't seen this much plagiarism since Strixhaven's print of Crux of Fate, and that's because these cards clone tokens you already control. Second Harvest is the no-nonsense version of this effect and it can become incredibly devastating in the late game, especially if you have a doubler on the board. City of Death, like Star Wars, is a saga in six parts, and five of them duplicate any arbitrary token you want, perfect if one of them's an enchantmentized Wall of Omens or Solemn Simulacrum. Finally, Esika's Chariot makes copies when it attacks and rides in on the back of its own creatures, but the strategy goes deeper than that. If Esika's Chariot dies while it's crewed, it's a creature and subject to Myrkul's effect. Go ahead and exile it; the crew ability itself is what allows vehicles to turn into artifact creatures, and there's nothing in the rules that says it doesn't work if it's on an enchantment. That token Esika's Chariot can then make duplicates of itself.

The Scroll of Fate

Scroll of Fate gets its own category, since it makes anything subject to Myrkul. His trigger cares that a creature died, not that the card itself is a creature, so if you wanted to go ahead and manifest your Kaya, Geist Hunter to get an unassailable enchantment version of her when she bites it, the only thing you've got stopping you is whether or not you can live with yourself afterward. Just resist the urge to manifest land cards this way: most of the lands in the deck get their mana abilities from their type, such as Forest or Plains, and those go away on the enchantment versions.

A Second Chance

You're lucky, kiddorama. You got your whole life ahead of you, unless statistically speaking, you don't. Me? Well, I had a life once. I had a death, too. Turns out the penalty for avoiding exile is the chair: specifically, the electric chair, which you're strapped to as you're shot by firing squad, with bullets that are actually tiny syringes that each deliver lethal injections, all while you're hung by the neck into the lunette of a guillotine rotated ninety degrees so that the blade falls sideways. It was a humane death, but no punishment, no matter how cool or unusual, is beyond Myrkul's intervention. With cards like Entomb, Unmarked Grave, and Buried Alive, tutoring strong creatures into the graveyard, or good ol'-fashioned removal spells putting them there directly, we'll have plenty of targets on which to leverage that incredible power to defy death. In short, yup, it's a reanimator strategy:

The Necromancers

These guys are more adept at bringing stuff back from the dead than whoever the hell managed to get Clone High a second season. Apprentice Necromancer, Priest of Fell Rites, and Doomed Necromancer each tap and sacrifice themselves to revive another creature in the graveyard. When they die, you can then exile them to Myrkul's ability to get another shot at reanimation, this time without summoning sickness since their ghost versions aren't creatures.

The Saviors

Both Saffi Eriksdotter and Othelm, Sigardian Outcast are excellent as either defensive plays or as combo pieces, depending on if you're using them proactively or reactively. The best case scenario occurs when you've got one of these guys out alongside Bramble Sovereign or Preston, the Vanisher, making your reanimations go far more positive than expected.

The Recursors

These are the big ticket items. Eternal Witness, Timeless Witness, Skullwinder, and Greenwarden of Murasa all return an arbitrary card from your graveyard to your hand when they enter the battlefield, and thanks to Myrkul's ability, they get to do that when they die, too. A combination of recursors, reanimators, and saviors, as well as cards like Phyrexian Altar and Birthing Pod that give you substantial reward for sacrificing creatures, and it becomes incredibly difficult for your opponents to interact with your board in any meaningful way.

The One-Time Effects

And finally, there's a few one-time reanimation effects for your viewing pleasure. Well, the "one-time" is in air quotes, because these spells easily be played over and over again as long as your targets are your recursors. That will create a never-ending stream of chump blockers and sacrifice fodder, and if you've got Panharmonicon when you start pulling this stunt, you're laughing. Reanimate, Life // Death, Victimize, and Footsteps of the Goryo are each pretty standard, but Lich-Knights' Conquest and Eerie Ultimatum effectively revive your entire graveyard, which will annoy your opponents to no end.

From Parts Unknown

Well, kiddington, it's time for me to hit the road. The god of decay demands additional decay. Why are you scratching your head, though? Oh, you noticed the contradiction. What's the point of a reanimator strategy using a commander that exiles everything he touches?

The point is I don't care. With Riftsweeper and Pull from Eternity, we can recover any creature we thought might be gone for good, which renders Myrkul's ability viable again. Simply sacrifice one of your own creatures, create its ghost, and then reclaim the corpse from exile. In fact, a copy of Riftsweeper is capable of shuffling the original Riftsweeper right back into your library. But so far, the entire deck is just an engine that seems to go nowhere, so what do we care about actually copying?

Ao, the Dawn Sky and Torsten, Founder of Benalia are the two best cards you can find in this deck. Ao, the Dawn Sky's death trigger basically causes you to cascade into a free permanent (or set of permanents) for you, and once you've created one token enchantment copy of it, any more that enter sacrifice themselves to the legend rule. It's not uncommon to kill Ao five times in a turn, and as your entire deck is an engine, each activation compounds on itself to become that much more threatening. Torsten, Founder of Benalia works in a very similar manner, as it draws you any lands and creature cards from your top seven, but he compensates for that by leaving behind seven 1/1 Soldier tokens for you to throw into the unforgiving maw of Phyrexian Altar. This alone is pretty good, and you'll eventually find a Crashing Drawbridge you can turn into an enchantment (which doesn't care about summoning sickness), letting you win by attacking with a ton of hasty creatures, but for the lord of decay, eventually just isn't good enough.

Prepare for the world's worst Doomsday combo.

  1. Retrieve a pile of Torsten, Founder of Benalia, Phyrexian Altar, Wall of Omens, Riftsweeper, and Mondrak, Glory Dominus.
  2. Draw Torsten, Founder of Benalia in your draw step, or through some other means. Sacrifice a Solemn Simulacrum, I dunno.
  3. Cast Torsten, Founder of Benalia to draw the remaining cards in your deck aside from Phyrexian Altar.
  4. Cast Wall of Omens to draw Phyrexian Altar.
  5. Cast Phyrexian Altar and Mondrak, Glory Dominus.
  6. Cast Riftsweeper, and shuffle in Crashing Drawbridge from exile.
  7. Sacrifice Torsten, Founder of Benalia to Phyrexian Altar. Resolve his death trigger first, creating fourteen 1/1 Soldier tokens, then resolve Myrkul's trigger, creating two enchantment copies of  Torsten.
  8. The two enchantment copies of Torsten's enters-the-battlefield trigger are on the stack now, as well as one copy of his death trigger (as one is sacrificed to the legend rule). Allow the fourteen tokens to be created first.
  9. With the two Torsten triggers still on the stack, sacrifice Riftsweeper, then Myrkul it.
  10. Use the two triggers from Riftsweeper's two ghosts to shuffle back in Torsten and Riftsweeper itself.
  11. The Torsten enters-the-battlefield triggers resolve, allowing you to put Crashing Drawbridge, Torsten, Founder of Benalia, and Riftsweeper into your hand.
  12. Cast and sacrifice Crashing Drawbridge, creating two Myrkul copies of it.
  13. Cast Torsten, Founder of Benalia and Riftsweeper again, fetching any creature you want to get value from and sacrificing the enchantment Torsten to the legend rule, creating an additional fourteen 1/1 Soldier tokens.
  14. You can now perform this unholy act of testicular Torsten again, using his triggers to draw himself from your deck once he's returned from exile with Riftsweeper. Torsten and Riftsweeper, together, cost nine mana to cast. You make forty-two 1/1 Soldier tokens each iteration of this loop, and you control a Phyrexian Altar. Feel free to unexile your entire deck for additional flexing power.
  15. Starting this combo requires and Myrkul on the field.

Lemon-Crime Soda

That's right, squidkid. You just saw me kill three people in cold blood to slake the desires of my undead master.

...Huh, you know, now that I put it like that, maybe my exile was warranted.

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Return From Exile (Myrkul, Lord of Bones EDH)

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.