Cephalid Breakfast is an Esper combo deck that is based around [[Cephalid Illusionist]]. When [[Cephalid Illusionist]] is targeted by either a [[Shuko]] or [[Nomads en-Kor]] then three cards will be milled into the graveyard. This will be repeated until the entire deck has been milled into the graveyard. In the process three copies of [[Narcomoeba]] will be put into play and then sacrificed in order to cast [[Dread Return]] to put [[Thassa’s Oracle]] into play. With no cards in library that will win the game. It’s a pretty unique combo that requires just two cards in win the game on the spot. Cephalid Breakfast can also play a midrange game with [[Teferi, Time Raveler]], [[Baleful Strix]], [[Urza’s Saga]], or [[Stoneforge Mystic]]. This gives the deck another angle to play and to beat graveyard hate or just to buy time against aggressive decks. Cephalid Breakfast is one of the more popular combo decks being played right now, so it’s important we have a game plan.

How does Cephalid Breakfast matchup against TES?

[[Cephalid Illusionist|]]

[[Nomads en-Kor]], [[Shuko]], [[Cephalid Illusionist]] – These are the main pieces to assemble the combo. a turn one [[Nomads en-Kor]] or [[Shuko]] into a [[Cephalid Illusionist]] is a turn two win. That’s a pretty fast combo that can be resilient with [[Aether Vial]] or a [[Urza’s Saga]] to search for [[Shuko]] to make the combo uncounterable.

[[Cabal Therapy]], [[Orim’s Chant]], [[Force of Will]] – Cephalid Breakfast has several different angles to disrupt a combo deck. [[Orim’s Chant]], discard spells, and counterspells are all really good against TES. It’s impossible to formulate a game plan to try and beat all of this by analyzing an opening hand. All it takes is a timely [[Orim’s Chant]], counterspell, or a [[Cabal Therapy]] taking multiple cards to set us back multiple turns.

Deck List

the epic Storm

Main Deck
  • 4 [[Burning Wish]]
  • 4 [[Wishclaw Talisman]]
  • 4 [[Brainstorm]]
  • 4 [[Mishra’s Bauble]]
  • 3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 1 [[Ad Nauseam]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 2 [[Silence]]
  • 2 [[Orim’s Chant]]
  • 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
  • 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 4 [[Mox Opal]]
  • 3 [[Chrome Mox]]
  • 1 [[Marsh Flats]]
  • 4 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
  • 2 [[Scalding Tarn]]
  • 1 [[Badlands]]
  • 1 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Scrubland]]
  • 1 [[Plateau]]
  • 3 [[Thoughtseize]]
  • 1 [[Crash]]
  • 4 [[Prismatic Ending]]
  • 1 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 1 [[Slaughter Pact]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]
  • 1 [[Pulverize]]

Ways to Win This Matchup

[[Mishra’s Bauble|]]
[[Rite of Flame|]]
Our Game Plan

This matchup can play out a few different ways. In some games the opponent will have a turn two win, and in others the opponent can play a longer game with [[Cabal Therapy]] taking two cards, a [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] being disruptive, or an [[Orim’s Chant]] slowing us down. As part of the game plan, we have to plan around the potential of a fast combo. Cephalid Breakfast also plays very few counterspells, so my game plan is just to always race them.




-3 [[Galvanic Relay]] +3 [[Thoughtseize]]

The sideboarding in this matchup is fairly straightforward. With the opponent having the ability to win on the second turn [[Galvanic Relay]] isn’t the combo route we want to take. We don’t want to have to rely on passing the turn after a combo. Cephalid Breakfast also has interaction in [[Cabal Therapy]] and [[Orim’s Chant]], so that could make [[Galvanic Relay]] worse compared to fighting through only counterspells. [[Thoughtseize]] is the perfect card to beat an [[Orim’s Chant]], [[Force of Will]], or take a key combo piece away from the opponent.


Game Play

For the first game I was on the play and we both kept our opening seven cards. I kept a hand with plenty of mana, [[Brainstorm]], [[Ad Nauseam]], and a [[Burning Wish]]. I didn’t have any protection, but I had a [[Brainstorm]] to try and find one and multiple ways to combo. My opponent and I both just played a land and passed the turn. For my second turn I had several options. I could cast a [[Brainstorm]] and go from there or I could try and cast an [[Ad Nauseam]]. I decided I wanted to go for an [[Ad Nauseam]] on my opponent’s end step and then if it got countered I would still have the [[Brainstorm]] and [[Burning Wish]] to try again on my third turn. Hopefully finding a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to [[Echo of Eons]]. I played out my [[Chrome Mox]] and passed the turn.

Matchup Battles Breakfast- Image 1

My opponent cast a [[Cephalid Illusionist]]. They could have the combo on their next turn, so I went for the end step [[Ad Nauseam]]. It resolved and I drew many cards to untap with and win the game on my turn.

Matchup Battles Breakfast- Image 2

Matchup Battles Breakfast- Image 3


Between games I sideboarded like I recommended and begin the game on the draw. The second game begins much slower with my opponent casting a [[Ponder]] and then a second turn [[Cabal Therapy]] naming [[Wishclaw Talisman]], which I didn’t have, and then played an [[Urza’s Saga]]. I spent my first turn playing a [[Mishra’s Bauble]] to see the top card of my library and sacrificed my fetchland to draw something else. On my second turn I could combo, but I didn’t have access to red, white, and black mana so if I decided to combo then I wouldn’t be able to use the [[Orim’s Chant]].

Matchup Battles Breakfast- Image 4

I decided to wait a turn and to get full information by using the [[Mishra’s Bauble]] on the opponent, revealing [[Aether Vial]], and then cast [[Thoughtseize]]. They had two copies of [[Force of Will]], [[Brainstorm]], and [[Thassa’s Oracle]]. Knowing the top card of their library was [[Aether Vial]] I decided to cast the [[Brainstorm]]. This would put them in a situation to only be able to cast one [[Force of Will]] and be stuck with the cards they had. As long as I drew another color source, I would be able to use the [[Orim’s Chant]], and then have black and red mana.

Matchup Battles Breakfast- Image 5

My opponent just played their land and passed. I drew a [[Rite of Flame]] off the [[Mishra’s Bauble]] and then a [[Lotus Petal]] for my turn. With the opponent only being able to cast one copy of [[Force of Will]] they couldn’t counter the [[Orim’s Chant]] and something else. Those draws were just what I needed to cast [[Orim’s Chant]], [[Rite of Flame]], [[Dark Ritual]], and then [[Ad Nauseam]] to win the game.

Matchup Battles Breakfast- Image 6

Matchup Battles Breakfast- Image 7


Cephalid Breakfast is another deck in the format where we have to worry about a fast clock and great disruption. A deck that can win on turn two that plays [[Force of Will]] is a deck we have to worry about. Obviously, those are the best draws out of Cephalid Breakfast and don’t only come up, but with that potential it’s something to be worried about. Overall, I think this matchup is pretty favorable. Their average hand usually has a lot of disruption or a fast combo on the second turn, and rarely both. Beating one or the other is fairly easy. We can navigate through a couple counterspells or be faster than a turn two or three combo. Postboard it can be a lot trickier depending on their configuration, but we can expect a lot more disruption. I hope you enjoyed this article, can take some of the lessons learned, and apply them to your own playtesting.