Since Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord is already available in Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari for us to scavenge for Commander, I figure why not go ahead and work on building a deck around him for Commander? While Jarad is technically part of Return to Ravnica, he doesn’t seem overly dependent on goodies from that set to be good, so I feel confident we can build a kick-ass deck around him from what we currently have. Later, once we get our mitts on Return to Ravnica, I’m sure there will be some spicy new cards we’ll want to sprinkle in.
Let’s take a look at this monster:
Legendary Creature â€” Zombie Elf 2/2, BBGG (4)
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord gets +1/+1 for each creature card in your graveyard.
1BG, Sacrifice another creature: Each opponent loses life equal to the sacrificed creature’s power.
Sacrifice a Swamp and a Forest: Return Jarad from your graveyard to your hand.
That’s a lot of text we can take advantage of when building our Commander deck. Let’s break it down.
In My Tribe
Legendary Creature â€” Zombie Elf
First off, Jarad comes from two of the most pushed and supported creature types in the history of Magic, so if you want to build a tribal deck around either creature type Jarad can slot right in to either one. If you want to build a Zombie deck, Jarad gives you access to all sorts of green utility that other Zombie legends deny you. If you want to build an Elf deck, Jarad fits well into the green and black nature of Elves post-Lorwyn block. With either tribe, you’re going to be playing a lot of creatures, which feeds two of Jarad’s abilities perfectly.
It’s pretty easy to flesh out a mono-Zombie or mono-Elf deck by searching for the appropriate creature types in a card database, but that’s not what I’m going to do today. However, I might want to take advantage of some tribal synergies, so below are some tribal cards that will still be decent even if you’re not full-blown tribal:
- Zombie — Unholy Grotto, Gravecrawler, Shepherd of Rot, Death Baron, Lord of the Undead, Zombie Trailblazer, Graveborn Muse, Vengeful Dead, Corpse Harvester, Noxious Ghoul
- Elf — Priest of Titania, Prowess of the Fair, Wirewood Herald, Elvish Archdruid, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Imperious Perfect, Skyshroud Poacher
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord gets +1/+1 for each creature card in your graveyard
At first glance Jarad looks like a four-drop 2/2…but he’s rarely going to be as small as his base stats. He’s a 2/1 with a Lhurgoyf stapled to his hide, so there is strong incentive for a Jarad deck to load up the graveyard with creatures. Since we’re going to lean that way anyway, we might as well consider other cards that similarly benefit:
- Team Lhurgoyf — Svogthos, the Restless Tomb, Splinterfright, Lhurgoyf, Mortivore, Bonehoard, Tombstone Stairwell, Kessig Cagebreakers, Lord of Extinction, Revenant, Avatar of Woe
So how do we get creatures into the graveyard outside of the normal attrition that occurs during the course of the game? Hey, were’ talking about Golgari here, and before there was scavenge…
- … There was Dredge — Golgari Thug, Life from the Loam, Stinkweed Imp, Golgari Grave-Troll, Grave-Shell Scarab
Of course, one sure-fire way a Jarad deck will have in getting creatures into the graveyard is sacrificing them to Jarad’s ability, but it would probably behoove us to add some other sacrifice with benefits cards:
- Shared Sacrifice — Greater Good, Survival of the Fittest, Grim Backwoods, Phyrexian Tower, Miren, the Moaning Well, Corpse Connoisseur, Diamond Valley
Feel My Pain
1BG, Sacrifice another creature: Each opponent loses life equal to the sacrificed creature’s power
Speaking of Jarad’s special sacrifice ability, we’ll want to make sure we’ve got plenty of willing and ready victims to feed to Jarad and other sacrifice effects.
- We Who Are About To Die — Strangleroot Geist, Vorapede, Woodfall Primus, Brawn, Filth, Ashen Ghoul, Genesis, Weatherseed Treefolk, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
These are great creatures that either die twice (undying, persist), are happy in the graveyard (Brawn and Filth), or can pop back from graveyard to do it all again.
Every time we use Jarad’s ability and put the creature in the graveyard, we should eulogize him by saying, “He went to Jarad.” C’mon, it’s funny because it’s so bad!
I think it’s pretty safe to assume we’re going to have creatures dying quite often, and if so it might be nice to take advantage of all the death.
- In My Time of Dying — Thornbite Staff, Dross Harvester, Nim Deathmantle, Deathrender, Savra, Queen of the Golgari, Pattern of Rebirth, Black Market, Cauldron of Souls, Harvester of Souls, Blade of the Bloodchief, Skullclamp, Sylvok Lifestaff, Fecundity, Golgari Germination, Jar of Eyeballs, Pawn of Ulamog, Gutter Grime
Can’t Keep a Good Card Down
Sacrifice a Swamp and a Forest: Return Jarad from your graveyard to your hand
While the first few abilities are splashy and exciting, it’s the last ability that really makes Jarad subtly awesome. The reason why the commander mechanic of this format is so awesome is because our deck’s commander is the most consistently available card in our deck. Barring disasters like having your Commander tucked to the bottom or shuffled into your deck, you can always move the card to the command zone rather than the graveyard or exile.
However, sometimes the “commander tax” that racks up each time you take advantage of this can become rather prohibitive. That’s what makes Jarad’s ability a super-nice added redundancy…and yet it too demands a rather hefty tax as well, eating up two land drops. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways we can use to blunt or nullify the demands of Jarad’s last ability:Â
- Tend the Land — Exploration, Explore, Gaea’s Touch, Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Rites of Flourishing, Oracle of Mul Day, Groundskeeper, Life from the Loam, Crucible of Worlds, Tilling Treefolk
If we wanted to, we could even dip into cards to take advantage of the lands going in and out of the graveyard (landfall, Terravore, Worm Harvest), but I think we probably already have enough moving parts to make a tight little deck at this point. So after picking the cards that look the most powerful and fun and paying attention to the mana curve, here’s what I’ve pulled together:
- 1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
- 1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
- 1 Avatar of Woe
- 1 Priest of Titania
- 1 Weatherseed Treefolk
- 1 Mortivore
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Graveborn Muse
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Groundskeeper
- 1 Filth
- 1 Brawn
- 1 Battlefield Scrounger
- 1 Zombie Trailblazer
- 1 Golgari Grave-Troll
- 1 Golgari Thug
- 1 Grave-Shell Scarab
- 1 Savra, Queen of the Golgari
- 1 Stinkweed Imp
- 1 Imperious Perfect
- 1 Mossbridge Troll
- 1 Lord of Extinction
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Bloodghast
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Terastodon
- 1 Glissa, the Traitor
- 1 Massacre Wurm
- 1 Splinterfright
- 1 Gravecrawler
- 1 Strangleroot Geist
- 1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
- 1 Harvester of Souls
- 1 Disciple of Bolas
- 1 Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
- 13 Forest
- 1 Gaea's Cradle
- 1 Volrath's Stronghold
- 8 Swamp
- 1 Bayou
- 1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
- 1 Unholy Grotto
- 1 Phyrexian Tower
- 1 Maze of Ith
- 1 Tranquil Thicket
- 1 Barren Moor
- 1 Diamond Valley
- 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- 1 Miren, the Moaning Well
- 1 Golgari Rot Farm
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Svogthos, the Restless Tomb
- 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
- 1 Gilt-Leaf Palace
- 1 Twilight Mire
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Woodland Cemetery
- 1 Grim Backwoods
- 1 Rancor
- 1 Exploration
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Oversold Cemetery
- 1 Crucible of Worlds
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Oblivion Stone
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Gaea's Touch
- 1 Black Market
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Life from the Loam
- 1 Perilous Forays
- 1 Damnation
- 1 Rites of Flourishing
- 1 Deathrender
- 1 Prowess of the Fair
- 1 Maelstrom Pulse
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Sylvok Lifestaff
- 1 Bonehoard
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
One thing I want to make sure I have in the deck is a way to give Jarad evasion. While his sacrifice ability is going to provide a fair share of wins, sometimes people go nuts with life gain and you’ve got to dish out the 21 points of commander combat damage to kill someone. With five creatures in the graveyard, Jarad can kill in three hits so cards like Rancor, Filth, and Shizo, Death’s Storehouse become quite helpful. I’ll probably want a few more, but we’ll see how this runs.
One thing I love about this deck is just how deadly we can make Jarad’s activated ability. For instance, take a look at Mossbridge Trollâ€”you can easily give it +20/+20 to make it a 25/25, maybe equip it with Bonehoard… That’s a gigantic loss of life across the board. Late game Lord of Extinction can be positively huge!
A few other things:
- Bloodghast + Perilous Forays — Ever since Sam Black unleashed this Spikey combo on the Commander format, I always keep this in mind for any deck that can support black and green. This deck in particular wants to get a lot of lands into play anyway, so it fits perfectly.
- Glissa, the Traitor — While it might seem like I throw Glissa into any deck, I only added her here late in the process once I realized that I still have a fair number of artifacts in the deck (including Oblivion Stone!). Plus, she’s also a Zombie Elf!
- Greater Good + Weatherseed Treefolk — I’ve been rocking this classic combination around multiplayer tables for years; don’t forget to mix in Rancor for two extra cards!
- Greater Good + Deathrender / Nim Deathmantle — I call these combinations “new classics” and really enjoy putting them in decks where they work nicely, particularly alongside undying.
- Battlefield Scrounger — There’s a very real danger of leaning too hard on your graveyard and getting blown out by graveyard removal…so much so that I’m strongly considering Witchbane Orb to help with the problem. In the meantime, I’m looking to Battlefield Scrounger to save some critical cards in a pinch as well as provide a way to cycle back noncreature spells into the deck that might have gotten milled by dredging.
So what do you think? What does your Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord Commander deck look like? Let me know in the forums!
Also, I’ve got decks for me and my roommate Chuck to play at the StarCityGames.com Classic Series Standard tournament right here in Richmond this weekend, and I’ll be tweeting updates throughout the day. Wish us luck, and hopefully I’ll have some good stories to recount next week as the old Standard winds down!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback, ideas, and random thoughts. I’ve also created a Facebook page where I’ll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic, life, or anything else you want to talk about!
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 Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3Â (Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)
- Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Riku of Two Reflections (steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts)
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda, Host of Herons (Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)
- Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Ghave, Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa, the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
- Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia, Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira, Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda, Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh, the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra, Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril, the Miststalker (my “more competitive” deck)