One Deck, Two Directions: G/B Edition!

Bennie Smith showed us how to splice our Commander 2015 precons last week, and he’s got plenty more in store for the Plunder the Graves variety! See him work his favorite two-color combo into two distinct Commander monsters!

I’m going to be going over each of the Commander 2015 precon decks and walk through how we can use the cards in the deck as a base to build a deck around each of the two new legends. Last week, I went over the Izzet deck Seize Control with Mizzix of the Izmagnus and Arjun, the Shifting Flame, so if you dig U/R in Commander go check it out. This week I take on my very favorite color combination, G/B, and our two new Golgari commanders found in the Plunder the Graves deck.

As I was going through the list I was pleasantly surprised at the very large number of cards that can easily port over to a more focused and powered up version built around either Meren of Clan Nel Toth or Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest, including many cards I’ll want in both decks. Let’s talk about those first: Sol Ring, Skullclamp, Golgari Signet, Lightning Greaves, Thought Vessel, Tribute to the Wild, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Putrefy, Eternal Witness, Skullwinder, Bonehoard, Corpse Augur, Wretched Confluence, Indrik Stomphowler, Acidic Slime, Pathbreaker Ibex, Great Oak Guardian, Butcher of Malakir.

Green is a very popular color in Commander because it has so many great utility spells, and Plunder the Graves has quite a few of them. Many are attached to bodies making them at the least two-for-ones (barring sweepers), so we’ll easily want Eternal Witness, Indrik Stomphowler and Acidic Slime along with new kid on the political block Skullwinder. The two new black cards Corpse Augur and Wretched Confluence easily slot into most any deck sporting the color. I’m not sure if you’re played against Pathbreaker Ibex, but it offers very close to the beating potential of Craterhoof Behemoth for a little less mana, and I want it in most of my green decks. I’m also a big fan of Great Oak Guardian despite the slight flavor weirdness of having an instant speed Treefolk—I love that you can use its triggered ability for an opponent’s benefit if the politics are right. Butcher of Malakir is a potent high end creature that sits very comfortably in the Venn diagram intersection between Meren and Mazirek.

Okay, so these are the common cards that start us on our journey, but now we’re at a fork in the road. The first path leads us to the last of Clan Nel Toth and the shaman’s quest to topple all the cairns of Jund.

Path 1: Meren of Clan Nel Toth

What does the card Meren of Clan Nel Toth want? It brings to mind the maegi Mirri Maz Duur from Game of Thrones telling Daenerys, “Only death can pay for life.” Meren’s triggered ability to accumulate experience comes from your own creatures dying, and her end of turn triggered ability to bring back creatures from your graveyard becomes more powerful the more experience you’ve accumulated. Lucky for us, black and green have no shortage of ways of killing off our own creatures to rack up experience, as well as plenty of great creatures we’d want to bring back from the dead. We can find quite a few of these cards within Plunder the Graves. In fact, including the common cards we listed below we can port over a whopping 33 spells, leaving us just 29 more cards to round out the non-land portion of the deck!

Sacrifice for Profit

Plunder the Graves: Skullclamp, Victimize, Primal Growth; Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord; Eldrazi Monument, Mycoloth, Champion of Stray Souls, Scourge of Nel Toth

New additions: Elvish Skysweeper, Innocent Blood, Viscera Seer, Vampiric Rites, Bloodghast, Reassembling Skeleton, Evolutionary Leap, Ashnod’s Altar, Fleshbag Marauder, Merciless Executioner, Sylvok Replica, Birthing Pod, Dimir House Guard, Disciple of Bolas, Helm of Possession, Necrotic Ooze; Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed; Perilous Forays, Ghoulcaller Gisa; Kagemaro, First to Suffer; Plaguemaw Beast

The first order of business in a Meren deck is to have your own creatures die, preferably while Meren is in play so you can gain experience. Plunder the Graves has a fair number of avenues to accomplish this, but green and black offer up so many more. Two new enchantments, Vampiric Rites and Evolutionary Leap, are perfect fits here. I like Dimir House Guard since you can transmute it to search up a four mana spell – say, Birthing Pod – and then get it back later with Meren and it becomes a sacrifice outlet. Plaguemaw Beast does good work here both by sacrificing creatures to proliferate, and letting you gain experience both in activating and in resolving proliferate.

One of my all-time favorites, Necrotic Ooze jumps in the list as a fantastic target for Meren’s reanimation since she can only reanimate one creature per turn. Necrotic Ooze can be a virtual copy of all the self-sacrificing creatures already in the graveyard, depending on what the situation at hand demands, and it only requires four experience counters for a direct reanimate.


Plunder the Graves: Tribute to the Wild, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Satyr Wayfinder, Viridian Emissary, Putrefy, Eternal Witness, Skullwinder, Corpse Augur, Shriekmaw, Indrik Stomphowler, Acidic Slime, Pathbreaker Ibex, Great Oak Guardian, Cloudthresher, Caller of the Pack, Terastodon

New additions: Go for the Throat, Bone Shredder, Catacomb Sifter, Pawn of Ulamog, Deathreap Ritual

We’ll want to round out the deck with more utility creatures that are worth bringing back from the graveyard. There’s a bunch of them already in Plunder the Graves, but I also wanted to add in Bone Shredder for pinpoint removal that can send itself to the graveyard by not paying echo. Catacomb Sifter brings along an Eldrazi Scion that can sacrifice and die on demand, and with all the dying going on we’re bound to get a lot of mileage from the scry trigger. Pawn of Ulamog can take advantage of all the dying by making Eldrazi Spawn, which can also sacrifice and die on demand.

Other cards

Plunder the Graves: Sol Ring, Golgari Signet, Lightning Greaves, Thought Vessel, Bonehoard, Wretched Confluence, Butcher of Malakir

New additions: Tragic Slip, Malicious Affliction, Skirsdag High Priest

To finish things out I figured it would be extremely easy to trigger morbid in this deck, so Tragic Slip, Malicious Affliction, and Skirsdag High Priest seemed like natural inclusions.

Here’s what I cooked up for our journey’s end down this path:

Meren of Clan Nel Toth
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 12-18-2015
Magic Card Back

The other fork in the path leads to far below the streets of Ravnica, where we find the Golgari Swarm’s Kraul Death Priest, Mazirek.

Path 2: Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

This legend is also focused on dying, but it’s a particular sort of dying—rather than wanting your own creatures to die, Mazirek wants creatures your opponents control to die. Not just any death, but specifically it needs to be sacrificed, and in fact Mazirek loves it when not just creatures but any sort of permanent is sacrificed. Your opponent’s sacrifice is food for your Swarm, so you’ll want to have at least some number of creatures to catch Mazirek’s +1/+1 counters, and if we can find additional value out of +1/+1 counters other than just being huge, then all’s the better.

Their Pain is your Gain

Plunder the Graves: Tribute to the Wild, Barter in Blood

New additions: Innocent Blood, Abyssal Gatekeeper, Smallpox, Fleshbag Marauder, Merciless Executioner, Pox, Smokestack, Consuming Vapors, Grave Pact, Dictate of Erebos, Syphon Flesh, Reign of the Pit, Butcher of Malakir; Sheoldred, Whispering One; Wave of Vitriol, Curse of the Cabal, Death Cloud

Plunder the Graves only scratches the surface of the “everybody sacrifices stuff” theme, but they are two good ones: Tribute to the Wild and Barter in Blood will provide a lot of fantastic Mazirek triggers. Digging into the card database though, we can find a ton more ways to have your opponents sacrificing left and right. The rock star of the deck has got to be Wave of Vitriol, an incredibly powerful card that I haven’t found many homes for since I tend to play a lot of artifacts, enchantments, and non-basic lands in my green decks. At some point I’m going to build an Argoth-flavored Titania deck that’s built to constantly blow up artifacts, enchantments, and non-basic lands, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on that yet. Lucky for me, Mazirek gives a perfect home for the Wave, which in a typical game of Commander should provide a Craterhoof Behemoth-level power and toughness boost to your army. On a slightly smaller scale we can achieve similar results with Smallpox, Pox, and Death Cloud, though those spells will eat into our own army.


Plunder the Graves: Skullclamp, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Wall of Blossoms, Korozda Guildmage, Putrefy, Eternal Witness, Skullwinder, Bonehoard, Corpse Augur, Centaur Vinecrasher, Bloodspore Thrinax, Wretched Confluence, Indrik Stomphowler, Acidic Slime, Vulturous Zombie, Pathbreaker Ibex

New additions: Phyrexian Reclamation, Rancor, Go for the Throat, Hangarback Walker, Gyre Sage, Sylvan Library, Tanglewire, Champion of Lambholt, Fertilid, Brawn, Mindless Automaton, Spike Weaver, Kalonian Hydra, Black Market, Verdant Confluence

Outside of cards that directly involve forcing opponents to sacrifice we’ve got a fair number of cards from Plunder the Graves that “play nice” with the theme. I particularly like Korozda Guildmage, which can turn a large creature – maybe one that’s accumulated some +1/+1 counters – and turn them into a bunch of 1/1 Saprolings that can be used to buffer your real creature cards from things like Pox, and also providing more bodies to add +1/+1 counters to. Bloodspore Thrinax can turn a few earlier hits of +1/+1 counters and add them to any future creatures of yours that come into play.

Centaur Vinecrasher is a very narrow card that certainly doesn’t slot into just any green deck, but with all the ways you have in the deck to force land sacrificing he’s always going to keep popping back to your hand and will be quite a threat in the lategame.

I like that Gyre Sage and Black Market can turn all those creatures dying into more mana for you, something that can be important when throwing around cards like Pox.

Rancor may look a little weird, but not only does it help push through damage with creatures that may have a stack of +1/+1 counters but it’s something you can feed to Smokestack without really losing cards.

Other cards

Plunder the Graves: Sol Ring, Golgari Signet, Lightning Greaves, Thought Vessel, Lotleth Troll, Great Oak Guardian

New additions: Mana Vault, Darksteel Ingot, Commander’s Sphere

Mazirek isn’t expensive, but it’s not cheap either so I wanted to ensure I had a fair amount of mana acceleration in the deck, especially since it’s liable to have a pretty big target on its head. Lotleth Troll comes in Plunder the Graves and makes an excellent receptacle for extra +1/+1 counters.

Here’s what I cooked up for our journey’s end down this path:

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 12-18-2015
Magic Card Back

I added in some creature-lands to the manabase since they tend to be more resilient +1/+1 counter receptacles than normal squishy creatures.

What do you think of these two directions for the Plunder the Graves precon? How would you do things differently? If you have any questions about any of my card choices, please feel free to ask.

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)