Through my quest to construct a Commander deck for every color combination, I decided that at least one deck needed to take advantage of a death theme. The best candidate for such a task was certainly the king of death, black.
Choosing a Commander
From the outset I knew the commander for this deck had to be black, but what other colors could benefit from a death theme? I obviously wanted the commander to take a major role in the function of the deck, so he/she had to take advantage of 'death' somehow. Also, I already had a deck that took advantage of my opponents' creatures dying, so the plan was for this deck to utilize the death of its own creatures.
There are actually quite a few generals that would work wonderfully for this idea.
I decided upon Lyzolda, the Blood Witch. First, because I hadn't seen anyone else use her as a general, and second, I like that she generates card advantage.
The idea I had in mind while making this deck was to use cards that do something when they die, sacrifice things for benefit, or generate tons of tokens.
Black plays the primary role for the theme, while red provides a few synergy cards, but mostly support.
Here is the list that I currently run.
The first batch of cards I looked at were black creatures that could be sacrificed repeatedly to Lyzolda's ability. This is the deck's primary method of generating card advantage.
I can't always rely on Lyzolda being in play, so I looked for other cards that could make use of large quantities of sacrificial fodder:
Knowing that the deck could reliably sacrifice creatures, I then added things that did exciting stuff when creatures died:
Filling out the rest of the deck was pretty easy. I chose cards that took advantage of death in other ways, like persist and undying, or creatures that had '[card bone shredder]enters the battlefield[/card]' triggers, so I would get two benefits from them.
I also made sure I could deal with my opponents spells and permanents. The one struggle this deck has is with enchantments. The only card that reliably gets rid of one is Chaos Warp. Sadly enchantment removal is not black or red's favorite thing to do.
How to Win
The first version of this deck was so all-in on the death theme that it had trouble winning, which sadly happens often with the decks I create. I just love synergy too much!
The best card by far in this deck is Vicious Shadows. It is so insanely powerful that I have considered removing it from the deck. I will often play it, and kill every opponent within a turn or two. The reason it is so powerful is that Commander is a game of card advantage, so players often have a full hand of cards. By the time Vicious Shadows is out, it will only take four or five dead creatures to finish someone off.
Other cards that are good at dealing damage:
Other than these, I often win with a horde of tokens.
Why This Deck Is So Fun
The thing I like most about this deck is that nearly all of the cards are synergistic is some manner, which is what I like most about playing Magic. Also, the commander is cheap, so she can be cast repeatedly each game. Another wonderful thing is that although I want to cast Lyzolda as soon as possible, she isn't necessary for the deck to function well.
While there is extreme synergy involved with this deck, there are no infinite combos that ruin everyone's good time. We all just want to have fun, and this deck does it very well. It's not too powerful, so it won't win a ton of games, but it will always survive long enough for me to have a fun.
As always, feel free to leave any comments. I am always looking forward to hearing your suggestions!