Magic: The Gathering Commander — Obeka, Splitter of Seconds Deck Guide

Only one upkeep per turn? Chump change for Magic: The Gathering’s Obeka, Splitter Of Seconds.

Magic: The Gathering Commander - Obeka, Splitter of Seconds Deck Guide

Time waits for no man. But in Magic: The Gathering, it comes back for another lap for one woman. Obeka, Splitter of Seconds, is an Ogress who is so strong that she can bend the very fabric of time to her will, looping your turn around for extra upkeep phases every time she lands a hit on your opponent.

You may not see much value in having an extra upkeep or three, since there isn't all that much you can do during that phase. But in thirty years of cards, there are plenty of interesting effects that can happen during the upkeep. Enough to make Obeka worthy of her title of Brute Chronologist.

The Commander

Magic: The Gathering Commander - Obeka, Splitter of Seconds Deck Guide

Obeka is an Ogre Chronologist, a type of wizard specializing in the manipulation of time, as seen in her other card, Obeka, Brute Chronologist. Already a popular commander for her ability to tap and end the turn, Thunder Junction brought a new treatment in which she trades her Wizard type for Warlock in order to synergize with the outlaw mechanic.

Obeka went through a couple of other changes, losing one power and gaining one toughness to land at 2/5, picking up the menace ability to make her more difficult to block. This is vital to her unique ability: Each time Obeka, Splitter of Seconds deals combat damage to another player, you get to take extra upkeep steps equal to the damage.

This may not sound as exciting as extra combat phases, or as useful as extra draw steps, because normally there isn't much going on during the upkeep. Players don't usually build to take advantage of the upkeep, because you'll need to wait a whole turn cycle between playing that enchantment with an upkeep trigger and only get a small payoff.

But with Obeka, Splitter of Seconds, you can harness the power of multiple, consecutive upkeep steps for enormous rewards.

Magic: The Gathering Commander - Obeka, Splitter of Seconds Deck Guide

Several strong effects are tied to the upkeep, which you can take full advantage of because you'll be the only player at the table doing their upkeep after the first main phase and combat.

This gives you access to the benefits of having The Initiative or being The Monarch before your opponents have a chance to take them away via combat damage, as well as allowing you to count down suspended cards extremely quickly.

Since the additional upkeep steps are dependent on Obeka's combat damage, they scale with extra combat phases, temporary buffs, and double strike, making it relatively easy to accumulate upkeeps.

Building The Deck

Magic: The Gathering Commander - Obeka, Splitter of Seconds Deck Guide

There are a lot of options with Obeka, Splitter of Seconds, so you'll want to pick one theme to lean into rather than try to cram them all into the deck. For that reason, this section will focus on the must-have cards, followed by a breakdown of some of the modules that you can focus on.

If you want to lean into the chaos that comes with red mana, you can build a deck with interchangeable modules and switch them out between games to keep your opponents guessing.

Ramp

Grixis (blue/black/red) doesn't have access to the land ramp that green makes so easily available, which is fair because it's already a strong color combination. Red and Black both give access to several rituals for a quick mana spike, but these aren't reliable in commander thanks to the low odds of drawing them early enough to get a big advantage.

You'll want to rely on some alternate forms of acceleration, primarily mana rocks like Talisman of Indulgence. Your standard package of Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Command Sphere, and Felwar stone will serve you well here, too. You might even want to consider adding Solemn Simulacrum back in for his land search.

There's a special place in this deck for Replicating Ring: it costs three mana, and every eight upkeeps it will produce eight more Replicated Rings that also generate colored mana. Eight upkeeps normally means eight turns, but here you're likely to get there in two. Plus, having it in play before you get Obeka out means it will already have a head start.

You can use proliferate to speed up Replicating Ring even more. Consider Serum Snare and Reject Imperfection, which are fine spells even if you don't need the proliferate effect.

Wayfarer's Bauble is another excellent budget addition, potentially netting you the basic land of your choice on your second turn. This will accelerate your mana, fix it with whatever color you need, and thin your deck so that you have a better chance of drawing more important cards later in the game. Myriad Landscape offers a similar set of benefits, but takes up a land drop.

Phyrexian Altar and its cousin, Ashnod's Altar, allow you to sacrifice any creature for mana. Sac outlets are always great, allowing you to harvest mana in response to board wipes or turn your creatures into fuel, and there are plenty of ways to generate whole armies of creature tokens on your upkeep.

These altars and one of those token generators turn your upkeeps into batteries!

Magic: The Gathering Commander - Obeka, Splitter of Seconds Deck Guide

Cumulative Upkeep is a nightmare for Obeka, but there are a couple of cards with positive cumulative upkeeps. Braid of Fire provides an ever-increasing amount of red mana during your upkeep, providing you with an incredible resource for spells and effects that you can use during your upkeep step. Just remember that your mana pool drains between steps.

At the time Braids of Fire was created, players would lose life equal to the amount of mana that was drained at the end of the phase or turn. This was called mana burn, and was later removed, leaving no downsides to this card.

Draw

Obeka has access to all the standard blue and black draw spells, as well as the red "looting" and "impulse draw" effects, giving you a ton of options to hunt for the cards you need. But there are also some options that Obeka makes much more useful.

Phyrexian Arena is a black staple that draws you a card at the beginning of each of your upkeeps, at the cost of one life. This is a fair trade, especially with 40 starting life and several ways to gain life during your upkeep. Usually this effect only nets you one extra card per turn, but with Obeka you'll have multiple upkeeps and multiple draws.

Bloodgift Demon provides the same basic effect as Phyrexian Arena, with a couple added benefits: First, it's tacked on to a 5/4 flyer, which can also attack or defend. Second, it allows you to target another player. This isn't only useful for triggering crime effects, it also allows you to ping down players at low life or force them to deck out if they get low on cards.

Finally, having The Initiative means that you get to draw a card during your upkeep in addition to venturing into The Undercity. The downside is that if you have The Initiative you're a bigger target, because dealing combat damage to you means that other players can take it, so most players need to defend in order to get this benefit.

But with Obeka, when you hit an opponent with your commander you'll get the rewards almost immediately. Rilsa Rael, Kingpin is a great option to introduce The Initiative to your games, because she'll also buff Obeka once you've completed the dungeon.

Backup Plans

Obeka can be a bit of a monolith commander: the deck works really well with her in play, but struggles if your opponents target her for removal. While they won't give the deck gas like your commander will, there are a few cards that will at least keep it from floundering.

Paradox Haze is an enchantment that you can target yourself with, gaining an extra upkeep immediately after your first upkeep each turn. This misses out on the benefits of combat, but will at least give you a second set of triggers each turn.

The Ninth Doctor works similarly, granting you an extra upkeep whenever he untaps during your untap step. This requires a little more effort, because you'll need to be able to safely tap him in order to get his ability to function.

Sphinx of the Second Sun is the ideal lieutenant for Obeka. Unlike the other two cards, Sphinx of the Second Sun provides an entire beginning phase: untap, upkeep, and draw steps.

Not only does this mean that you get another round of upkeep triggers, you also get to untap all of your permanents and draw a card at the end of your turn, making it an absolute menace to your opponents if you include a lot of counters and other interaction. Furthermore, it can trigger The Ninth Doctor for yet another round of upkeep triggers.

Sphinx of the Second Son triggers at the start of your postcombat main phase, but you don't get the additional beginning phase until after it. You go from second main phase, to second beginning phase, directly to your end step.

Deck Tech

As mentioned earlier, Obeka's ability scales to her combat damage. Effects that give her double strike, like Lizard Blades, will double the number of extra upkeep steps you get to apply. These also increase the benefit of power buffs like Brute Strength, so look for spells, enchantments, and equipment to give her double strike.

Additional combat phases will lead to additional upkeeps, and red offers several ways to get extra combat. While Karlach, Fury of Avernus might be at the top of your list, make sure to include Aggravated Assault: as your mana base grows, you'll be able to take more and more combat phases and earn more and more upkeep steps.

Pair Aggravated Assault with Braid of Fire: after only a couple of cumulative upkeeps you'll have enough free mana for infinite combat phases . Or with Sphinx of the Second Sun to take a combat phase at the end of your turn, after your second untap phase.

Cloning Obeka is also an effective strategy, which blue offers access to. One of the best options, however, is Shaun, Father of Synths. Shaun allows you to duplicate any legendary creature, removing the clone's legendary supertype so that both can stick around.

By making copies of Obeka, you'll be able to bypass more blockers (don't forget that she has menace) to stack up more upkeeps.

Triskaidekaphobia can be a fun win condition, forcing your opponents to lose the game if they have exactly 13 life when you start your upkeep, and pinging or healing them to that lucky number each time. With multiple upkeeps you'll be able to adjust that number pretty fast, scoring some easy wins. It also combos nicely with Tree of Perdition, which starts with 13 toughness and can tap to trade its toughness with an opponent's life total.

Magic: The Gathering Commander - Obeka, Splitter of Seconds Deck Guide

Finally, don't forget that Obeka's extra upkeeps are caused by a triggered ability, meaning that you can use Strionic Resonator or Roaming Throne to copy it. This effectively doubles the number of upkeeps you can ean each time she deals combat damage!

Modules

Magic: The Gathering Commander - Obeka, Splitter of Seconds Deck Guide

Obeka, Splitter of Seconds can be built a lot of ways, keeping a common core of cards while including different effects based on what theme or mechanic you want to capitalize on. You can pick and choose individual cards, or you can create specifically themed modules that you can swap out between games.

Imagine your friend's surprise when they're ready to remove all of your enchantments, only to find you running a creature-heavy Initiative variant today.

Queen of Time

There are two court cycles, giving you access to six enchantments with powerful effects as long as you remain the monarch. Court of Cunning, for example, lets you choose any number of players to mill two cards during your upkeep, or ten cards if you're the monarch. With Obeka, it isn't inconceivable to mill 50 cards per player per turn.

In building this module you'll also want to include a handful of cards that let you become the monarch, in case an opponent steals your crown and you can't get it back. Skyline Despot is an excellent option: It's a 5/5 flying Dragon that makes you the monarch upon entering play, and creates a 5/5 flying Dragon token during your upkeep while you're the monarch.

Take The Initiative

Like the monarch mechanic, The Initiative is a mechanic that gives you a bonus if you manage to start the turn with it, in this case allowing you to progress one room deeper into the Undercity dungeon on each upkeep.

This provides a variety of options; generating treasure and creatures, scrying, drawing cards, or triggering other effects based on the path that you choose.

With Obeka, you can potentially clear the entire Undercity in a single turn. This unlocks a handfull of powered-up abilities on cards like like Ravenloft Adventurer. This is a 3/4 Human Rogue Assassin that grants you the initiative upon entry and exiles your opponents' creatures when they die, which already interferes with a lot of decks.

But if you've completed a dungeon, they also lose one life for each of their exiled creatures each time Ravenloft Adventurer attacks.

Other cards don't care if you've completed a dungeon, instead rewarding you just for having the initiative. For example, Feywild Caretaker creates a 1/1 flying Faerie Dragon token each upkeep that you have the initiative, which make great blockers or can be sacrificed to your altars for easy mana.

Suspension of Disbelief

Suspend is a mechanic that allows you to pay an alternate casting cost to exile a spell with some time counters, removing a time counter every upkeep until none remain and then casting it. This allows you to play spells for less than their mana value, and some suspend cards, like Ancestral Vision, can only be cast for their suspend cost.

Suspend may feel underwhelming at first glance, and it's most frequently seen in combo decks that take advantage of the fact that suspend-only spells have a mana value of zero. However, with Obeka, Splitter of Seconds, you can accelerate your suspend cards as you take additional upkeeps.

Some of the best suspend cards are the ones that repeat themselves. Arc Blade, for example, deals two damage to any target and then suspends itself, repeating every third upkeep. With Obeka in play, this could be cast from exile multiple times per turn. The refrain cycle similarly repeats itself, allowing you to get a variety of effects each turn.

Shrine On You Chronologist

Shrines are a type of enchantment first introduced in Champions of Kamigawa. There are three cycles of Shrines, giving you access to nine Shrines that you can include in your Grixis deck. Of these Shrines, three of them trigger during your upkeep, giving you bonuses based on the number of shrines that you control.

Honden of Infinite Rage is the red Shrine in this cycle, dealing one damage to any target for each Shrine you control at the beginning of each of your upkeeps. If you control just the ones with upkeep triggers you can deal three damage, draw three cards, and force an opponent to discard three cards each upkeep.

Adding additional Shrines will not give you more upkeep triggers, but it will empower the ones you already have and add new triggers during your precombat main phase or end step. These are far weaker in this deck, but they make the upkeep triggers really strong!

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