Funk Soul Hoarder

Kothophed, Soul Hoarder is not supposed to be a warm and cuddly hug deck, and Bennie Smith takes that fact to heart as he builds a cruel and heartless Commander deck to match his new demonic overlord!

Magic Origins brought some really cool legends for us to build Commander decks around and this week I want to look at Liliana’s demonic tormenter Kothophed, Soul Hoarder. Besides just being a big ole flying Demon that can beat down, Kothophed’s triggered abilities provide a nice card advantage engine so long as we can afford to take the life hit. Starting at 40 life gives us considerable buffer to translate life loss into cards drawn, but since the trigger isn’t a may ability we’ll need to ensure our life total remains high in case a massive board wipe would put some potentially lethal triggers on the stack as opponents’ creatures are put into their graveyards.

Offsetting The Life Loss

Bloodchief Ascension, Profane Memento, Deathgreeter, Ivory Tower, Prism Ring, Basilisk Collar, Blood Artist, Demon’s Horn, Shadows of the Past, Spoils of Evil, Staff of the Death Magus, Sangromancer, Alhammarret’s Archive; Kokusho, the Evening Star; Exsanguinate

I decided to really lean hard on offsetting the life loss because if you’re dead you can’t really use all those extra cards. One card in particular really jumps out as perfect for this sort of lose life/draw cards engine: the classic Ivory Tower, which has been doing good work in this regard since Necropotence was printed. I originally included Venser’s Journal as well, but I ended up getting a little bloated at five mana and cut it even though the “no maximum hand size” clause was very tempting. Bloodchief Ascension takes a little bit of work to get online, but once you’ve got three quest counters it works in perfect tandem with Kothophed — an opponent’s permanent is destroyed, you lose a life and draw a card from Kothophed, and then Bloodchief Ascension gains you 2 life and makes that player lose 2 life. Now that’s the kind of sweet deal I want from my Demons! Profane Memento isn’t as amazing as Bloodchief Ascension but it doesn’t need to jump through any hoops to bring online, and it too totally offsets any Kothophed life loss that might otherwise trouble us in our card-drawing endeavors.

Plus, Profane Memento just looks sweet! I’ve been itching to put it in a deck for a while just so I can gaze at Franz Vohwinkel’s masterpiece. It’s the kind of thing I’d like a framed print of but it might worry any relatives that come by the house.

Like Profane Memento, our Deathgreeter, Blood Artist and Sangromancer can give us back some life from dying creatures to fuel Right Said Kothophed’s trigger. If you figure cards drawn translates into more spells cast, Demon’s Horn, Staff of the Death Magus and the new Prism Ring all help build back that resource. Basilisk Collar is just a fantastic piece of equipment where the lifelink can really help out, while Spoils of Evil is a classic that got so much better when manaburn went away. Kokusho, the Evening Star and Exsanguinate are multiplayer powerhouses that do a fantastic job of padding your life total at the expense of everyone else’s, and are sure to bring gleeful cackles to demonic hearts everywhere.

Two new cards from Magic Origins slot in nicely here. Alhammarret’s Archive is an obvious Commander stand-out, yet it’s not something that goes in every Commander deck despite being an artifact. However, it fits perfectly here, doubling the numerous ways I’ve got to gain life while also doubling the beneficial aspect of Kothophed’s trigger. I also like Shadows of the Past since you can stack its scry trigger with Kothophed’s draw trigger in such a way to improve the quality of your draws. Also, if you happen to have four or more creatures in the graveyard, you can start using the activated ability to drain and gain life.

Killing Stuff

Tragic Slip, Malicious Affliction, Gate to Phyrexia, Fleshbag Marauder, Merciless Executioner, Hero’s Downfall, Oblivion Stone, Stronghold Assassin, Toxic Deluge, Damnation, Grave Pact, Desecration Demon, Slaughter, Dictate of Erebos, Archfiend of Depravity, Massacre Wurm; Sheoldred, Whispering One; In Garruk’s Wake

While the normal ebb and flow of a multiplayer game tends to end up with permanents in play going to the graveyard quite often, we certainly want to be able to pull the trigger on that ourselves when we need to. Lucky for us Kothophed is black, a color which has been graced with lots and lots of ways to kill stuff and I’ve included a lot of it here. In particular I like having Gate to Phyrexia to give us a way to destroy an artifact, and that too will get us a card off of Kothophed. I usually shy away from playing Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos in my black Commander decks because they can create board states where some opponents can’t participate anymore, but since the Commander of this deck is an actual Demon I figured it’s expected that the deck be evil and nasty. If they can draw out Disenchant effects from my opponents then perhaps my life-gaining enchantments and artifacts will stick around longer.

I like that Desecration Demon can put additional pressure on opponents when Kothophed is in play since sacrificing something to tap it down will draw me a card. I’m hoping limited sweepers like Archfiend of Depravity and Massacre Wurm keep other people’s sacrificial fodder to a minimum.


Bloodsoaked Champion, Reassembling Skeletons, Bloodghast, Nether Traitor, Ogre Slumlord

Speaking of sacrificial fodder, what good Demon deck wouldn’t have good cards to sacrifice for fun and profit? Whether it’s to feed Stronghold Assassin or Gate to Phyrexia or as a card-drawing engine for Skullclamp, cards like Reassembling Skeleton and Bloodghast are there to do the trick. I love that you can attack with Bloodsoaked Champion then equip it with Skullclamp to draw two cards and then, since it attacked itself, use its Raid ability to keep playing it (and equipping it with Skullclamp) as many times as you want with however much mana you have lying around.

Ogre Slumlord is a card I’ve taken a second look at recently as a potential multiplayer powerhouse, especially in conjunction with Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos. You get a 1/1 black Rat token whenever any other nontoken creature dies, no matter which player controls it, so one of your creatures dying with a Grave Pact in play can translate into 3-4 free Rats that each have deathtouch so long as the Slumlord is out there. Any giant board wipes that clear the battlefield can leave you with an army of 1/1 Rats when the dust clears. That’s a lot of potential fodder for shenanigans.

Discarding For Profit

Pack Rat, Zombie Infestation, Trading Post, Mindless Automaton, Skirge Familiar; Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Okay, so Kothophed is drawing you a lot of cards… now what? The first answer is, play a lot of spells! But sometimes you’re going to find yourself drawing more cards than you can play or keep in your hand (assuming you haven’t run across Reliquary Tower yet). Skirge Familiar is a classic way to turn excess cards in hand into mana to cast the more important spells in your hand — and if you’re discarding things like Nether Traitor, all the better. Zombie Infestation can turn any pair of excess cards into 2/2 Zombie tokens. With enough mana you can churn out copies of Pack Rat like it was 2014 Standard all over again. Mindless Automaton is a good way to store excess cards as +1/+1 counters on the creature that you can cash out again later at a 50% rate. The amazing Trading Post slices, dices and folds your laundry, but sometimes you might just need to toss one of the extra cards you’ve draw and recoup four life if Kothophed triggers have you dangerously low.

With all the card drawing and potential discarding, we likely want an Eldrazi titans in the mix in order to shuffle our graveyard back into our library so we don’t end up decking ourselves – remember, Kothophed’s triggered ability doesn’t have a “may” in the text and clever opponents may try and force you to lose that way. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre is a pretty good insurance policy against that sort of unintended end to the fun.

Liliana, Heretical Healer

From a flavor perspective it would be a sin not to have a Liliana Vess presence somewhere in my Kothophed deck, and while Demons are fine with sin I didn’t want a total flavor fail on my hands. I looked at the various Planeswalker options and ultimately decided on her creature incarnation. With a fair bit of creature sacrificing going on already I figured she’d get to flip pretty easy, and as a planeswalker forcing other players to discard cards while Kothophed is feeding me cards is a good way to get ahead of the game. That ultimate is pretty bonkers too if I can somehow ramp up to it.

Tombstone Stairwell

It may be utter insanity to put this card in the deck, but I can’t resist the temptation. Each Tombspawn token created by Tombstone Stairwell is owned by the player who gets them, and at the end of each turn those tokens die and briefly hit the graveyard before going poof… and also set off Kothophed triggers! I imagine only playing this card under very special circumstances — namely, with some way to offset the life loss like Deathgreeter and some way to discard Ulamog from your hand with no mana activation like Zombie Infestation or Skirge Familiar so you don’t deck yourself. Also keep in mind that some opponents might make a whole lot of hasty zombies during their upkeep and send them to attack you! If you’ve got the buffers in place so Tombstone Stairwell and Kothophed doesn’t kill you, think of all the fun things you can do — how about Blood Artist? Ah, what a lovely tapestry there!

Black Market

Just an all-around all-star Commander card, Black Market will do some serious heavy lifting in this deck, especially if you subsequently play Tombstone Stairwell! Another card that has become so much better without manaburn.

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

Another all-around all-star Commander Card, not only hosing other people for searching their libraries – and if they sacrifice a creature, Kothophed draws you a card — but with all the creatures dying he can really load up on the +1/+1 counters. Hey, it’s another crazy combo with Tombstone Stairwell!

Patron of the Nezumi

Between Pack Rat and Ogre Slumlord, it’s entirely possible you can swing this card in at instant speed with the Rat Offering ability and really provoke an unpleasant surprise for your opponents. And look, yet another crazy combo with Tombstone Stairwell! Maybe I’m not as insane to play that card in this deck as I thought…

Alright, so here’s how the deck looks right now:


Like with many black decks I was tempted to include Dark Depths and Vampire Hexmage but I decided that I’d rather focus on weird, dangerous, and more obscure card interactions in the spirit of treacherous Demons and their plans within plans. Are there any other cards you think belong in this list? Do you have any questions about any other choices?

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visonary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)