by Phoenix Desertsong, Old School Duelist
If any Magic the Gathering deck archetype was boosted more than Humans by the Avacyn Restored set, it would be Angels. Being that the premier card of the set Avacyn, Angel of Hope is an Angel, this should have probably been an obvious consideration of Wizards of the Coast Research & Development. It couldn’t be overlooked that once relatively unplayable Angel cards suddenly have a bit more value because of this set. In particular, Requiem Angel is very glad Avacyn is now free of the Helvault!
(See, something good did come out of that awful mythic rare from Dark Ascension!)
Requiem Angel is a 5/5 flyer with a six mana casting cost (5 colorless, 1 White) with a decent effect. Whenever another non-Spirit creature you control dies, you put a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying onto the board. For 6 mana, this is OK. She gets better alongside Herald of War, also from Avacyn Restored, who can reduce the casting costs of your Angels for each +1/+1 counter on the Herald. This means you can cast Requiem Angel for as little as one mana, not that it would happen often. Requiem Angel was a neat card, but she never really saw Standard play, which shouldn’t be too surprising due to her position on the mana curve.
Requiem Angel in Commander / EDH
Interestingly enough, Angel Tribal Commander decks, such as Sephara, Sky’s Blade, aren’t the key home for Requiem Angel. Rather, she’s great in the Commander decks that can best take advantage of the Spirit tokens she creates. Notably, unlike a lot of creatures who generate tokens when other creatures die, Requiem Angel doesn’t care if those creatures are tokens or not, which is a major plus in decks who basically thrive off of their token generation.
No Commander has recruited her as much as Teysa Karlov, whose ability to copy triggered abilities and give creature tokens vigilance and lifelink makes Requiem Angel an obvious include. Her predecessor from Guildpact, Teysa, Orzhov Scion, has also recruited Requiem Angel to create the 3 white creatures she can sacrifice in order to exile a target creature.
For quite some time, Ghave, Guru of Spores was the Commander she was paired with most. This seems a strange pairing until you consider that Ghave decks produce a lot of tokens, especially Saprolings. So, when any of those Saprolings die, especially when sacrificed using Ghave’s ability, you get a Spirit token.
Another Commander who takes advantage of Requiem Angel is Jazal Goldmane. This makes sense since Jazal can boost the flying Spirit tokens the Angel creates. It makes even more sense when you consider Requiem Angel was re-printed in the same Commander 2014 deck as Jazal.
Token-happy commanders such as Thalisse, Reverent Medium, Emmara Tandris, and Darien, King of Kjeldor also co-opt her services on more than a few occasions. While she’s hardly any sort of token deck staple, Requiem Angel is a good one to have around for those Commanders who can maximize her abilities.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Magic: the Gathering has many cards that do similar things, and Bitter Feud is one such card that acts as a sort of redundancy for existing cards. To be fair, Bitter Feud is one exclusive card from the Commander 2014: Built from Scratch deck that took time to find some love love. Its effect is essentially the same as Furnace of Rath and Dictate of the Twin Gods, doubling damage done to players and permanents.
The difference with Bitter Feud is that it designates two players, so that in a multiplayer environment, it would only affect two players. The cool thing about this, obviously, is that in a multiplayer setting, you need not be affected by the effects of the doubled damage.
You could make the argument that Furnace of Rath and Dictate of the Twin Gods are enough for this sort of effect. In EDH, however, having redundancy is important when you only have one copy of each card that isn't a basic land. In a one-on-one setting, it's understandable that Bitter Feud would indeed be a bit too redundant, as if you have all three of these on the board, you're increasing damage by eight whole times, which is a bit much perhaps.
As far as decks that actually have played Bitter Feud with any regularity, unsurprisingly Heartless Hidetsugu tops the list. Since his ability deals damage equal to half of each player's life total (rounded down), his deck absolutely loves any damage-doubling effect. Queen Marchesa decks have begun to include this card, too. Mathas, Fiend Seeker is another Commander that's taken this Enchantment into his arsenal, as well.
Bitter Feud is definitely a fun card in that it essentially puts two players into a life-and-death struggle. In 1v1 Commander, this is a particularly interesting card to consider, as long as the deck playing it can deal damage very quickly. It's a well-designed card for multiplayer Commander politics, and can be a deadly weapon in 1v1 Commander when deployed correctly.
While aggressive burn lists aren't extremely popular in the Commander format, they do exist. If ending games quickly by doubling damage is something you want to do, then Bitter Feud is definitely worth a look to play alongside other damage-doublers such as Furnace of Rath, Dictate of the Twin Gods, and the like.
by Richard Rowell, Gaming Successfully
Commander's Sphere is an excellent little mana rock first printed in Commander 2014. It was included in each of the 5 pre-constructed decks. It’s a mana rock that costs 3 colorless mana to cast and supplies one mana of any color in your Commander’s color identity. You can also choose to sacrifice it to draw a card.
Despite being a card that can work in any Commander deck, typically the Sphere has been used in mono-colored or two-color Commander decks. It’s most popular in red decks, but works in any non-green deck that needs another source of mana ramp that can replace itself with a card draw when it’s no longer needed. The Sphere is also particularly good in Daretti, Scrap Savant decks and any other decks that can easily recur it after sacrificing it to draw a card.
Despite being only a common, Commander’s Sphere has become the most sought after card from the Commander 2014 decks. It’s joined by Arcane Lighthouse and Myriad Landscape as the three most popular cards from the set, and those two lands have become staples in many Commander decks. Deceptively simple cards like this are why the Commander product design teams have been able to introduce such useful staples into the format. The Landscape and Lighthouse have seen their supplies dry up in a hurry as they are useful in such a wide array of decks.
With the four-color decks of Commander 2016, it was decided to reprint it. This is great news for players who may not have wanted to pick it up as a $2 common, since it is a card high in demand and not many remain on the open market from the Commander 2014 decks. The Sphere should be a staple in four-color Commander decks going forward, as the mana fixing will even be more important than in the one and two color decks it currently sees play in.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
With the looming announcement of the Magic the Gathering Commander 2016 spoilers, a little Green enchantment called Song of the Dryads spiked in price. It was originally printed in the Green deck "Guided by Nature."
This Aura is an extremely popular Commander card, listed in over 9300 decks according to EDHREC. Turning any permanent into a basic Forest is pretty mean for only 3 mana. It's essentially removal for any permanent on the table that's giving you a hard time.
Is it really a $10+ card, though? It's been $5 for a little while. Then there was the massive buyout with one copy left listed for $10,000, because someone was apparently being funny. It stayed around $12 for a couple of days as the dust settled and no one really bought any copies above $6 on TCGPlayer, according to the Market Price.
With new copies incoming from the Commander Anthology in June 2017, Song of the Dryads would settle in price return to around $5 or less again before slowly growing again for a long time. There's definitely demand for this card, as pretty much any Green deck might want this. It's actually better than Beast Within, in my opinion, and why not play both?
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
It's been a hot debate in the EDH / Commander community for some time whether to allow planeswalker cards as commanders. Some playgroups have allowed them in addition to the traditional legendary creatures as potential generals for quite some time. There's now also precedent for planeswalkers as commanders since there are in fact 5 planeswalkers specifically designed to be commanders.
Printed in the Commander 2014 preconstructed decks, each of the five have seen some play as commanders. But just how good have they proven to be? Can they give us some idea how other planeswalkers may prove to be as field generals?
Daretti, Scrap Savant
Commander in in 140+ decks (EDHREC)
Key cards: Goblin Welder, Scrap Mastery, Myr Battlesphere, Kuldotha Forgemaster
In the 99: Seen in 400+ decks. Staple in Feldon of the Third Path, Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer, and Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Daretti is far and away the best of the five commander 2014 planeswalkers when it comes to being a boss. Not only are Daretti decks extremely competitive with about 80-90 percent of lists being similar, but he's very strong in a lot of other artifact commander decks as one of the 99 as well. He will not stay 3 or 4 dollars for long as he will only get better with each passing set.
Grade: A (Commander), A (in the 99). He’s solid through and through.
Nahiri the Lithomancer
Commander in 70+ decks (EDHREC)
Key cards: Puresteel Paladin, Stonehewer Giant, Argentum Armor, Masterwork of Ingenuity, Kemba Kha Regent
In the 99: Seen in 400+ decks. Staple in Kytheon Hero of Akros. Key contributor in Kemba and Eight and a Half Tails
Like Daretti, Nahiri has a strong identity as a Commander. Whereas Daretti is a savant of scraps, Nahiri is a master of equipment. It's actually a wonder that she hasn't been adopted by more Kemba players, actually. Perhaps the strongest point against her as a Commander is she needs one of her 99 to dole out the damage most of the time, although the Kor tokens she creates can do a lot of work.
She probably isn't seeing all of the 99 play she should and is probably being overlooked as a commander. There are just so many good white commanders but she should get more attention.
Grade: B (Commander), B (in the 99). She’s a really good planeswalker as long as you use plenty of equipment, which narrows her playability, but she’s really good at what she does.
Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury
Commander in 50+ decks
Key Cards: Priest of Titania, Elvish Archdruid, Ezuri Renegade Leader, Imperious Perfect, Joraga Warcaller
In the 99: Seen in about 500 decks. Staple in Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen and Nissa Vastwood Seer. Key contributor in Yeva, Ezuri, Yisan, Titania and Seton
Somewhat predictably, Elf Tribal is pretty much what to expect from Freyalise. She's really strong as a key contributor to a wide variety of mono green decks, as well. Yes, she makes elf mana dorks, but she can pick off annoying artifacts or enchantments and also draw you a ton of cards. She may be the best balanced of the Commander 2014 five based on the fact that her abilities don't force you to play one specific deck, although Elves are convenient. If you play mono green, most likely you can use her. Like Nahiri, she probably could stand to see even more play in the future as more players realize just how much card advantage she can create for you.
Grade: A- (Commander), A- (In the 99). One of the better mono-green planeswalkers you can run in the format.
Teferi, Temporal Archmage
Commander in ~40 decks
Key cards: Thran Dynamo, Tezzeret the Seeker, Tamiyo the Moon Sage, The Chain Veil
In the 99: Seen in 500+ decks. Key contributor in Stitcher Geralf, Teferi Mage of Zhalfir, and Lorthos the Tidemaker
Having an ultimate that provides loyalty abilities on an opponent’s turn seems really broken. This is a great ability to stack with The Chain Veil; the Magic 2015 artifact actually lets you play them twice in a turn. In a four player game, that means 4 loyalty abilities played before you untap again. However. it seems that Tezzeret the Seeker and Tamiyo are the only two walkers that really take full advantage of Teferi’s extra activation. As a commander, he pretty much allows for a mono blue control deck that can do some fun things late game with his two best planeswalker buddies. Obviously, he gets better the more planeswalkers that get printed but The Chain Veil seems better suited on average to get that job done. He's much better as a member of the 99.
Grade: C (Commander), B- (In the 99). He’s passable as a Commander, and a bit better in the 99 where he can help activate many other walkers.
Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath
Commander in 25+ decks
Key cards: Bloodgift Demon, Archfiend of Depravity, Ob Nixilis Unshackled, Ghoulcaller Gisa
In the 99: Seen in about 400 decks. Key contributor in Liliana Heretical Healer, Ob Nixilis Unshackled, and Kothophed Soul Hoarder
The recent influx of awesome mono black commanders has made Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath the least adopted of the 5 mono colored commander 2014 walkers as a leader. His ultimate is pretty awesome, though. Still, he seems better suited as one of the 99. He'll have 99 competition with his Battle for Zendikar counterpart, Ob Nixilis Reignited, though. I still like the Black Oath incarnation long term, though. But if you don't build up to his sacrifice for value emblem, his true potential is difficult to realize. Most Commander players turned to his friend the Ghoulcaller Gisa as the more formidable commander and it seems they chose correctly. Still a good walker, though, who can offer great utility.
Grade: C (Commander), B (in the 99). A balanced walker with a cool emblem that doesn’t scream build around me but complements a great many other Commander strategies.
Overall, it seems Wizards went four for five in creating planeswalkers that have become key contributors in the format. Only Teferi appears to have been a miss, but he has his spots where he can make cool things happen. Two became really strong archetypal commanders with one becoming a format mainstay. Then, Freyalise was just really well balanced and is currently the most valuable of the five.
What looking at these five would seem to suggest is that the power level of walkers in the command zone could prove to be fairly high. It's fun to build around loyalty abilities and properly protected the ultimates can definitely happen.
Next time we'll take a look at the Magic Origins flip walkers, who while they are technically legendary creatures on the surface, can give us further insight into planeswalkers as commanders. Spoiler: they are already really popular.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Impact Resonance is a card exclusive to the Commander 2014: Built from Scratch deck that was released in November of 2014. That deck is full of some other very powerful cards such as Daretti, Scrap Savant, Dualcaster Mage, and others. So, it's easy to overlook a card like this that could potentially change the tide of a game out of nowhere.
For 1R (1 red mana, 1 colorless mana), Impact Resonance is an Instant spell that allows you to deal X damage to any number of target creatures. In this case, X is the greatest amount of damage dealt by a source to a permanent or player this turn. In a multiplayer format like Commander where plenty of damage is being dealt all the time, playing a card like this to take out any number of problem creatures can be highly useful. The damage doesn't have to even be caused by you in the first place. With this card, you could have really powerful mass removal in your hands.
So if this card can be so destructive at such a low mana cost, why does no one play it? Truthfully, there are many cards like this that in theory are quite good. But in the current Commander meta, Impact Resonance is a bit too situational to be given a deck slot where it would be used consistently. It's a well-designed card, but while it's a really sweet trick, it just isn't going to impact games often enough to be worth it. It's more of a cheap trick, although it can make for some major game changes. This obviously is why it was designed in the first place.
The only popular Commander who would seem to want this sort of effect is Heartless Hidetsugu, who is notorious for his extremely damaging ability. His ability deals damage to half of each player's life total (rounded down). This card would be a nice way to clear the board of creatures that may pose a problem to the Heartless Hidetsugu player. It's not an auto-include, but in playgroups that like creature-heavy decks, I can see it being a useful "tech" card.
What do you think of Impact Resonance?
Magic the Gathering - Ghoulcaller Gisa & Stitcher Geralf Part 3 - Ghoulcaller Gisa
by David Rowell, Contributing Writer
Ghoulcaller Gisa is definitely the better of the two zombie masters.
To recap what she does:
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard
B, tap, Sacrifice another creature: Put X 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield, where X is the sacrificed creature’s power.
I’m also a fan of her flavor text; it’s actually a quote straight from the Uncharted Realms talking about her and her brother.
“Geralf, must you always whine? I agreed to nothing. I’ll raise ghouls anytime I wish.”
It’s pretty obvious that she wants to be surrounded by a horde of zombies – the flavor of throwing a monster to the zombies to call forth more zombies is pretty solid in my books. Mechanically, mono-black doesn’t mind getting a swarm of monsters – black is used to getting tokens at the cost of lives. The only real downside to her ability is having to tap along with having a mana cost. She’s also rather high on the curve at 3BB – meaning she’ll get expensive fast if she gets killed a lot.
As far as mono-black zombies in Commander are concerned, however, Ghoulcaller Gisa is probably going to be our best bet when she comes out. Geth, Lord of the Vault and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed are probably our best bets aside from her – but we’ll be playing them too.
Geth, Lord of the Vault is a solid zombie. A 5/5 Legendary Zombie with intimidate for 4BB is pretty decent, and his ability is pretty solid.
XB: Put target artifact or creature card with converted mana cost X from an opponent’s graveyard onto the battlefield under your control tapped. Then that player puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
As Gisa won’t always be in play, we’ll need a way to get cool cards into play. By hitting an opponent to grab something small, we get to start filling up their graveyard for other shenanigans that we’ll be doing soon.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is the first lord our deck gets to see – it gives all of our non-humans (so not our Commander, but everything else) +1/+1 and undying. While undying doesn’t effect our zombie tokens, it gives the majority of our creatures another layer of protection.
Before that, we need to make our little zombie tokens as strong as possible – and why not play all of the zombie lords?
Cemetery Reaper is a 2/2 Zombie lord for 1BB that gives our other zombies +1/+1; but he’s cool and has another ability, too. For 2B, tap, and exile a creature from a graveyard, we can make a 2/2 black zombie creature token. Geth, Lord of the Vault, while he wants to be able to pull stuff out of the graveyard, can help fill the graveyard in order to make creatures for Cemetery Reaper to animate. But that’s only the beginning of the lords.
Death Baron is one of the more expensive zombie lords, sitting around 12 dollars. But he’s solid. At 1BB for a 2/2, he doesn’t differ too much from Cemetery Reaper. He gives both Zombies and Skeletons +1/+1, which also makes him the only skeleton lords in the game, too. But he also gives each of those creatures deathtouch, which is fantastic due to the smaller size of his zombie companions.
Lord of the Undead is one of the strongest zombie lords by far – and is also pretty pricey around 9 dollars. Yet again a 2/2 for 1BB that gives other zombies +1/+1, he also has a pretty cool ability. For 1B tap, you can return a zombie card from your graveyard to your hand. Sadly there’s no zombie tribal spells, so he’s only going to be grabbing creatures back – or changeling cards, but they’re not prominent in black.
Undead Warchief is probably the coolest of the lords. For 2BB, we get a 1/1. Pretty lame for 4 mana. But he also makes your zombie spells cost 1 less to cast, which is pretty cool. The only real downside is that our Commander is a Human Wizard rather than a zombie. He also gives all of our zombies, himself included, +2/+1, which is pretty solid. That at least brings him up to a 3/2 for 2BB, which is much more reasonable.
Lastly, Zombie Master is the first zombie lord – at 1BB for a 2/3 rather than a 2/2. Instead of giving a power boost, he gives all zombies swampwalk and Regenerate for B. The only real downside with this is that it works for all zombies, not just yours. If you’re facing something like Thraximundar, you should probably avoid casting your Zombie Master. Filth, on the other hand, gives just your creatures swampwalk. We’ll explain later why this swampwalk is important, but it’s also nice to have a horde of unblockable zombies. In addition to the lords, we’ve got a few more things that give us boosts.
In addition to being mana doublers, Caged Sun and Gauntlet of Power also give all creatures of the chosen color +1/+1. As all of our zombies are black, this easily gives us even more power on our zombies.
Obelisk of Urd on the other hand takes advantage of having a lot of tokens by having convoke and giving the chosen creature type +2/+2 – easily making our zombies twice their original size. Hall of Triumph is for all of your black creatures and is pretty solid too at only a 3 drop. Coat of Arms is the classic tribal support card, but it’s a risky play against other tribal decks.
Between all of these lords and buffs, the 2/2 zombie tokens that Gisa makes get much larger- but how are we going to get those tokens when we have to sacrifice creatures?
Well, Gravecrawler is probably the best possible option.
As a constantly recastable 2/1 Zombie, he’s perfect for Gisa’s goals. You can play him for B, sacrifice him for another B to get 2 or more 2/2 zombies to replace him, and then you can just replay him for another B. But the fantastic thing is that our zombie lords significantly increase the number of creatures we get, as it changes how big our sacrificed zombie is. The rest of the time, however, it’s generally fine to sacrifice other zombie tokens to increase the general number of zombie tokens you have.
But what else makes tokens?
Army of the Damned and Endless Ranks of the Dead were both really cool zombie token cards from Innistrad block that never saw standard play – but I think have a place here. Army of the Damned already sees play due to 5BBB not being as hard to hit in Commander, and being a win condition on it’s own. Endless Ranks of the Dead is less played due to not doing anything the turn it comes into play – but here it can do a little bit more due to how slow the format is and how many zombies you’ll have on board. Grave Titan is a cool dude, though – even though he isn’t a zombie himself, he brings 2 2/2s with him, and every time he swings he makes two more.
Tombstone Stairwell is one of the few “Enchant World” cards in the game, and it’s fairly playable. At 2BB, during each upkeep, each player gets a 2/2 “Tombspawn” black zombie token with haste for each creature in their graveyard. However, it has a cumulative upkeep of 1B.
As a reminder of cumulative upkeep:
At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.
Now, whenever Tombstone Stairwell is destroyed or the turn ends, all the tokens are destroyed and cannot be regenerated. The only real downside is that everyone gets these tokens – but you’re likely going to have a larger graveyard than most of the other players, and your zombies are going to be larger than theirs. One fun trick is that you can also keep the zombies if they’re indestructible – though black doesn’t have much to do so with.
Now, what else does black like doing? Well, encouraging us to play more black!
These two are additional mana doublers in the form of creatures. Crypt Ghast gives us a pretty relevant Extort trigger, too – when we’re recasting Gravecrawler a ton of times, being able to drain people out and keep your life total up. Nirkana Revenant does the same thing as Crypt Ghast, but also has the ability to pump itself +1/+1 per black you pay into it. With Filth in the graveyard and a swamp under an opponent’s control, you can completely blow a player out of the game.
Extraplanar Lens is another mana doubler, but it does come at the cost of exiling one of your basic lands to imprint onto it. I wouldn’t say this is an auto-include, but it’s a strong option for this deck.
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Cabal Coffers are the two big mana producers of this deck. Each of them have you tap 2 mana into them to get a larger amount of mana out. Nykthos pulls a ton of mana equal to your devotion to black (in the case of this deck at least), while Cabal Coffers gives you mana equal to the number of swamps you control.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth serves a few purposes here. One, it allows Cabal Coffers to tap for black equal to the lands you control rather than just the swamps. Two, it makes all of your opponent’s lands swamps – so you can hit any player with swampwalk – at least, as long as they control at least one land.
Phyrexian Altar is one of the biggest combo cards in all of Commander. There’s very few things that don’t combo with this card. The main thing for this deck is this and Gravecrawler.
As Gravecrawler only costs B and can be sacrificed to Phyrexian Altar for B, meaning you can sacrifice it to recast itself as long as you control another zombie, giving you an infinite sacrifice outlet. Meaning, cards like Blood Artist turn into win conditions.
Those and a few other cards create the skeleton list we see below:
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Lord of the Undead
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Liliana of Dark Realms
Army of the Damned
Victim of Night
Dictate of Erebos
Endless Ranks of the Dead
Coat of Arms
Gauntlet of Power
Hall of Triumph
Obelisk of Urd
Whip of Erebos
Cavern of Souls
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
What do you guys anticipate seeing with Gisa? And of course, if I forgot anything, feel free to mention it! I’m always open to ideas.
Until next time,
- SolemnParty (David Rowell)
Magic the Gathering - Ghoulcaller Gisa & Stitcher Geralf Part 2 - Stitcher Geralf
by David Rowell, Contributing Writer
As per WUBRG order, I’ll be talking about Stitcher Geralf before talking about Ghoulcaller Gisa - but before I get to that, I need to apologize about this article, as Stitcher Geralf is kinda lame as a mono-blue Commander. But anyway, moving on.
I’ll go over him once over just for recollection’s sake.
For this deck, our Commander is a 5 drop – 3UU for a 3/4 Legendary Human Wizard. Not fantastic stats, but not bad either. His ability reads as follows:
2U, tap: Each play puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.Exile up to two creature cards put into graveyards this way. Put an X/X blue zombie creature token onto the battlefield, where X is the total power of the cards exiled this way.
As I said before, having the effect of hitting all players gives him a lot more versatility than Ambassador Laquatus, though one thing I forgot to mention is that Laquatus has more range than Geralf does due to the fact that Ambassador Laquatus doesn’t have to tap for his ability.
As far as his ability is concerned, he fits flavorfully with the rest of his Skaabs from Innistrad – putting your deck in the graveyard to feed your other Skaabs, Essentially the same as his mono-blue creations, which all either mill you to make it easier to cast some of your other Skaabs, or they require creatures to be exiled from your graveyard as additional casting costs.
Based on flavor reasons, the blue Zombies in Innistrad block have to interact with your graveyard, which does conflict with our new Geralf – but that was probably due to Limited reasons that would have pushed a different archetype in draft. These creatures are well costed, especially for mono-blue not caring about that double blue cost all that much. I think the flying is really important, especially with Skaab Ruinator being recastable out of the graveyard as a 5/6 flyer for 1UU.
As for self-mill, the lower costed 1/4 for 2U on Armored Skaab for self-mill 4 is solid. and Geralf’s Mindcrusher is a 5/5 for 4UU that mills target player 5, and has undying so he can do twice. The self-mill is generally just to cast the above creatures.
The main problem with creating a Geralf deck is that it’s very difficult to build it as zombie tribal – there’s very few in just blue.
Undead Alchemist is probably one of the best of these mono-Blue zombies for this deck. At 3U for a 4/2 zombie, he’s well costed for his 4/2 stats, and his ability is impressive. Any time one of your Zombies would deal combat damage to a player, that player mills that many cards from the top of their library instead. In addition, any time a creature is put into an opponent’s graveyard from anywhere, you get a 2/2 black Zombie creature token onto the battlefield. It synergizes well with other mill that you’ll be doing, giving you more Zombies to do more damage with. It also turns the zombies made by Stitcher Geralf into gigantic milling machines if your opponents don’t have anything to block with.
These are more are what I recommend for the list, and I’ll post the rest of my recommendations in the Skeleton List below.
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Spin into Myth
Elixir of Immortality
Gauntlet of Power
Sensei’s Divining Top
Jace, Memory Adept
Jace, the Living Guildpact
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Cavern of Souls
Nythos, Shrine to Nyx
The majority of this list is flavorful, but focuses on a few combos. As a Johnny, I have no choice but to play mono-blue with a few combos that I just can’t help but love. The main problem I had in building this deck was trying to find a niche for him that I liked – he doesn’t do a whole lot as a commander, and he is a terrible Zombie commander due to the fact that there are very few mono-blue zombies. Most of the good blue Zombies are black and blue. We’ll get to a list for that soon, though.
Stitcher Geralf is the center of the deck. His abilities are what the deck is mostly built around, from both a flavor and mechanic point of view. His army of skaabs are built from the corpses he can rummage together – stitched together to create monstrosities. The ones he makes on his own card, however, is from any graveyard, when things are being exiled from the top of all player’s libraries. The skeleton list I have here doesn’t play a lot of creatures – mainly because it’s a skeleton list. The “big stuff” that you would play is up to you, whether it be eldrazi or krakens. The main combo for this deck is Palinchron with any of the mana doublers in the deck, or Peregrine Drake with Deadeye Navigator, to get infinite mana. You can find these combos here, as it’s a very common combo in Commander.
This combo enables us to use Deadeye Navigator with any of our zombies that make us mill cards from the top of our library to completely empty our decks.
Then, we win the game by attempting to draw a card with an empty library with Laboratory Maniac in play. Laboratory Maniac replaces the state-based action of losing with winning, instead – which is always fun, and it’s difficult to prevent without killing Laboratory Maniac. You can help prevent that by playing Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir to prevent your opponent from interfering during your turn., or to play Laboratory Maniac at instant speed to help sneak him in.
Aside from the combo, having infinite mana lets you play every card in your deck regardless and find a way to win that way.
With infinite mana and Intruder Alarm in play, we can continuously make zombies with Geralf’s ability, as long as we hit at least one creature per mill from Geralf. As a creature enters off of Geralf’s ability, the Intruder Alarm will trigger and untap all creatures in play. Fatestitcher with this combo also lets you tap every permanent your opponent’s control, which is always a good option. The rest of the time, Fatestitcher gives you the ability to untap Stitcher Geralf, or to tap down an opposing blocker for any reason.
The next article will be much easier to write, seeing as black has much, much better Zombie support, and Gisa will be a lot of fun to mess around with.
Until next time.
-SolemnParty (David Rowell)
Magic the Gathering - Ghoulcaller Gisa & Stitcher Geralf Part 1 - Innistrad Storyline
by David Rowell, Contributing Writer
As soon as Gisa was announced, I knew to expect this guy in blue – so today, I’ll be doing double duty and talking about both Stitcher Geralf and Ghoulcaller Gisa – but I’ll be starting with their story.
Little is known of their actual origins – Geralf and Gisa are brother and sister, and are cousins to Mikaeus, the Lunarch.
They were essentially two sides of a coin – Geralf embodied the blue aspect of Innistrad’s zombies by being a mad scientist, stitching corpses together to his own ends, while Gisa was a necromancer, just animating the bodies to torment the living.
The flavor of the UB zombie tribe was the flavor of all kind of zombies. The blue aspect was that of Frankenstein – beings stitched together from corpses and given life through lightning or magic. These zombies tend to be stronger and more intelligent as the stitcher can stitch together only the best materials if they so wish. The black aspect was that of the more modern zombies – the slow, shambling zombies of Dawn of the Dead that just exist to kill the living and wipe out the living.
In fact, before the siege of Thraben, they simply played games, called the Moorland Necrowars. They waged their necromantic armies against each other to see who the better ruler of undead was. Seeing as there were no deaths (well, aside from necessity to make the zombies and skaabs) these really were practically games. Of course, any living humans in the way would be turned into more corpses for their games, and these corpses wouldn’t just be a part of these games,
Together, they agreed to take down one of the few sanctuaries for living human kind – Thraben. They created Grimgrin, a giant zombie the height of two men that easily took down the gates of Thraben himself. Their goal was to conquer the city and to kill Mikaeus, the Lunarch – so that Geralf could become the ruler of Thraben itself.
Granted, this plan failed. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben managed to rally her forces and fight back the undead overcoming the city. Sadly, Mikaeus, the Lunarch was still killed by Geralf – but the city was in no state for him to take for himself. At this point, he met Liliana Vess, who showed great interest in the corpse of the Lunarch. Being a necromancer, we can already assume where that led.
But enough of that. Let’s talk about the cards.
Stitcher Geralf is a 3/4 Legendary Human Wizard for 3UU. Solid typing, stats, and costing. 3UU is a little on the high side for a commander, but his deck doesn’t need to revolve around him. His ability is unique, but similar to Gisa’s. for 2U and tap, everyone mills 3, and then you can exile up to two creature cards milled this way to stitch together a zombie, whose power and toughness are X, where X is the total power exiled this way.
One advantage to this ability is due to the nature of the ability, you can exile Eldrazi with the ability before they are able to shuffle back into the library. Over all, Geralf is a pretty solid mill commander – I’d say he’s strictly better than Ambassador Laquatus as he hits all players (though it includes you, so it isn’t always fantastic) and he gives you a zombie theme, too.
From a flavor standpoint, I really like the fact he literally stitches the Zombie tokens together from the creatures that are milled with his ability. It captures his Frankenstein vibe really well. The only problem I have is that he is mono-blue – there are so few mono-blue zombies that a zombie tribal deck with him as a Commander isn’t very good – he works well alongside his sister, though.
Ghoulcaller Gisa was announced before her brother, and I like her a little bit more.
For 3BB, you get a 3/4 Legendary Human Wizard – same stats as her brother, she’s just black instead of blue. Her ability is also pretty decent, like her brothers. For B, tap, sacrifice a creature, you get X 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens each to the power of the sacrificed creature.
Again, I love the flavor of this card. She just wants as many zombies as possible to overwhelm humanity, rather than stitching less, stronger zombies together.
She actually works very well with her brother – he makes a huge zombie with his ability, and then Gisa breaks his huge zombie down into a ton of 2/2 zombies. I’m not exactly sure how two things stitched together give rise to a whole ton of things not stitched together, but I”m not going to complain about synergy.
Next time, I’ll be talking about their own decks – Geralf is first due to WUBRG order. Then, Gisa, and then I’ll be talking about using the two of them together in a third deck, which you can probably guess the commander of.
Until next time,
-SolemnParty (David Rowell)
by Phoenix Desertsong, The Prose Machine
As a female Magic player, I was truly saddened at the passing of our beloved Elspeth Tirel in the conclusion of the Theros story-line. While I'm certainly a fan of Nissa Revane, who may be more than a little too elvish for me, there is no other female planeswalker that I have truly bonded with over the years that I've been playing Magic.
As I started around the time of Lorwyn, I am very familiar with Chandra Nalaar and Liliana Vess. But while I certainly love Chandra's style and Liliana's abilities in her various incarnations, no female planeswalker has ever screamed out to me the way that Elspeth Tirel did as a true champion.
But with the new Commander 2014 decks now available to us, I finally get to play with who became my favorite planeswalker ever upon her spoiling. That is, our good old friend the Stoneforge Mystic: Nahiri, the Lithomancer.
The five planeswalkers that are featured in Commander 2014 are each able to be used as your Commander. This obviously could lead to quite the shenanigans. While I will very much likely go into greater depth about the friends joining Nahiri in her quest to become a powerful White Commander, Nahiri herself will be the primary focus of my musings here today.
Let's take a look at her loyalty-based abilities, shall we?
Her +2: Put a 1/1 white Kor Soldier creature token onto the battlefield. You may attach an Equipment you control to it.
This is an extremely solid ability. Nahiri begins her sojourn on your battlefield with 3 loyalty counters, so being able to gain 2 loyalty counters right away to bring her to 5 is very useful. Also, not only do you get a creature token that counts as a Kor and a Soldier, you also get to attach any stray Equipment you have lying about to that token. With the sort of deck that Nahiri will be commanding - as she is indeed the Stoneforge Mystic - you can imagine that equipments will be plentiful in your arsenal.
Her - 2: You may put an Equipment card from your hand or graveyard onto the battlefield.
Who doesn't love to recycle? I know that I do, being one of the greatest advocates for reuse, upcycling, et al in my "real" life. It's tricky to put her down to only 1 loyalty if you decide to use this ability right off the bat. It's likely you'll have other ways to recur your Equipments, but not necessarily directly onto the battlefield. Being able to choose from your hand or graveyard and place that choice directly onto the battlefield is very powerful. But as your Commander, I would think it unwise to depend on this particular abilities. I would only use it in dire circumstances, or if Nahiri is supplementing your deck, rather than Commanding it.
Finally her ultimate! -10: Put a colorless Equipment artifact token named Stoneforged Blade onto the battlefield. It has indestructible, “Equipped creature gets +5/+5 and has double strike,” and equip 0
Yes, that says equip 0. You can equip the Stoneforged Blade to any creature for free. Who doesn't want to give somebody +5/+5 and double strike. It will take time to build up to this ultimate ability, of course, but not only is that an extremely broken Equipment, but it is also indestructible. The only way you can deal with it is to exile it.
Overall, Nahiri is a pretty wicked planeswalker even at a casting cost of 5 mana (3WW). SHe is heavily equipment-based, of course, but that's why I love her so much. I've always loved equipment. Her +2 combines beautifully with cards like Skullclamp, which will kill your token but net you two cards from your deck. Just use that a few times, go for her ultimate ability and go to town with your best creature. I love Nahiri, and while she may not be my Commander on many occasions, her flavor, my love of artifacts (especially Equipments) and her amazing beauty will make her a Planeswalker that will forever remain close to my heart.
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