The Gitrog Monster In Every Format

Bennie Smith’s amphibian addiction is out of hand! He has brews ready for whatever format you’d like, but they all feature one very large and increasingly famous monster!

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease April 2-3!

So my intention this week was to write about all the ideas I had bouncing around my head for using all these sweet Shadows over Innistrad preview cards in the new Standard. I’m still planning on doing that, but plans abruptly changed on the Wednesday morning we got a preview of a card that immediately snared my Golgari heart.

It was love at first sight. I knew that, for the next year or so of Standard, I’d be playing Golgari colors so I could play four copies of this beauty. Behold, from the depths of Lake Zhava, The Gitrog Monster!

Does anyone know how “Gitrog” is pronounced? I’ve been pronouncing it “Get” + “Rog” where the g in “Rog” is a soft g like a shortened version of the name Roger. But I could also see this pronounced as “Gee” with a hard g sound plus “Trog” which rhymes with frog, or maybe rhymes with Hoag(ie).

This is truly a stellar design, really embodying the Golgari flavor perfectly. It plays well with both landfall and dredge, and because it’s a legend we can build a Commander deck around it. If I ever get a chance to meet whoever was responsible for bringing The Gitrog Monster to my world, I will give them a hearty handshake and a hug if they don’t mind! I have to say my work productivity has dropped to all-time lows as I’ve been brainstorming all the cool things I want to do with this card. Let’s start with Standard.


It’s a little unfortunate that The Gitrog Monster enters the format at the same time we lose the fetchlands from Khans. That’s a very obvious synergy that The Gitrog Monster will certainly enjoy in other formats, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still take advantage of what this Frog Horror offers. There’s still landfall to take advantage of. Here’s a rough sketch of what might be possible in the new Standard:

Mina and Denn, Wildborn and The Gitrog Monster are two peas in a pod for this deck. They both let us play extra lands each turn to get multiple landfall triggers, so I’m playing a whopping 26 lands to keep the party going. Mina and Denn, Wildborn were obviously made for landfall, letting you pick up lands and play them again for an additional trigger, but the trample ability works perfectly alongside The Gitrog Monster’s deathtouch. I’m also hoping that Mina and Denn’s ability will help keep the new Shadow lands Foreboding Ruins and Game Trail drawn later able to enter the battlefield untapped.

It’s a little risky having too many cards that cost more than five mana in a deck with The Gitrog Monster, but I’m hoping that, with this many lands in the deck along with Deathcap Cultivator, we can get up to six mana to cast Chandra, Flamecaller. I’m excited about activating Chandra, Flamecaller’s zero ability with a couple of lands in hand and The Gitrog Monster on the battlefield. The Gitrog Monster’s triggered ability doesn’t care how lands end up in your graveyard, so if you pitch two lands to Chandra, you get to draw two extra cards.

This brings us to another deck featuring The Gitrog Monster I want to try out in the new Standard, giving this interesting card a try:

Sinister Concoction is a card dripping with flavor: a little bit of this, a little dash of that, mix it all up, and you get a deadly family recipe. It has a powerful effect—destroy any creature for a one-mana investment, and then a one-mana activation cost—but it has some additional costs that I think will make this something that only particular decks will be able to use. Obviously it’s not a bad madness outlet, and it can go a long way toward enabling delirium if there are enough payoff cards to push delirium into Constructed.

But if you pitch a land to its activation cost and mill a land off your library into the graveyard while The Gitrog Monster is on the battlefield, it’ll feel like you’re coming out way ahead when you blow this enchantment. Here’s the other deck:

Drownyard Temple is the obvious combo with The Gitrog Monster, letting you continue to develop your mana. Even though the deck’s curve stops at five for The Gitrog Monster, you’re still going to want plenty of mana around for late-game Den Protectors and eventually Macabre Waltz shenanigans. What’s also nice here: if you activate Hissing Quagmire to trade with a creature, The Gitrog Monster will compensate you with a free card. What a benevolent Frog God!

The Gitrog Monster really makes me want Life from the Loam, so let’s pivot over to Modern, shall we?


Older formats open up all sorts of interesting options for a deck featuring The Gitrog Monster, not least of which is Life from the Loam. The Gitrog Monster turbocharges the dredge mechanic; each time you put a land into the graveyard when you dredge, you get a draw trigger from The Gitrog Monster, which you can then use to trigger another dredge card in your graveyard. Just be careful you don’t deck yourself, since the card draw from The Gitrog Monster isn’t optional!

Life from the Loam is already a great card to fuel cards that discard for profit, like Pack Rat and Zombie Infestation; with The Gitrog Monster on the battlefield, each land you pitch to these effects turns into another draw trigger. That can add up to a lot of Zombies and Pack Rats!

Then there are cards with retrace, like Raven’s Crime. With The Gitrog Monster, you pitch a land to cast Raven’s Crime from your graveyard and you get to draw a card. How awesome is that?

Here’s a rough draft for a potential Modern deck, assuming we aren’t still paying homage to the super-fast Eldrazi menace:

Abrupt Decay is in here because Scavenging Ooze is still a thing and it’s the kind of thing that crimps your style quite a bit.

I thought about stretching into red mana for Molten Vortex or Seismic Assault, but that might be stretching too far… or not?


So what about Legacy? Seems to me that The Gitrog Monster would play really nicely alongside fetchlands, Wastelands, and Knight of the Reliquary, so let’s see what that might look like.

Just think! The turn you cast The Gitrog Monster, tap Knight of the Reliquary to sacrifice a Forest or Plains, get a fetchland to sacrifice and fetch up another land, and The Gitrog Monster pays you with two extra cards. I love Maverick, but it does seem to struggle a bit if your opponent is able to one-for-one your threats and refill their hand and you don’t draw the Sylvan Library.


And then there’s Commander, where we can do some really crazy things with The Gitrog Monster! Like doing our best Prosperous Bloom impression with The Gitrog Monster, Squandered Resources, and Skirge Familiar. Maybe we finish things off with a massive Death Cloud?

Here’s a juicy one: Greater Good! Sacrifice a large creature and draw some cards, discarding only three. For each of those three discards that’s a land, you get to draw a card to replace it.

The Gitrog Monster is a big beast with deathtouch, which is a bit of a throwaway ability on a creature this size… unless we give it trample. So I’m going to toss in Rancor, Loxodon Warhammer, Brawn, and Nylea, God of the Hunt.

Here are all the cool synergies with The Gitrog Monster I’ve squeezed into the deck:

Glacial Chasm: sacrifice a land, draw a card, and don’t take any damage.

Zuran Orb: sacrifice a land, gain two life, and draw a card.

Crop Rotation: fetch a land and draw a card.

Sylvan Safekeeper: sacrifice a land to protect The Gitrog Monster and draw a card.

Constant Mists: Fog, sacrifice a land to buy it back and draw a card.

Grimoire of the Dead: discard a land to charge it, draw a card.

Deadbridge Chant: mill over ten cards, draw a card for each land you flip over.

Wave of Vitriol: replace each of your nonbasic lands with basic lands and a card draw.

Worm Harvest: discard a land to make a bunch of Worm tokens and draw a card.

Slippery Karst, Tranquil Thicket, Barren Moor, Polluted Mire: cycle to draw a card and then draw another card.

Nantuko Cultivator: discard any number of land cards, put that many +1/+1 counters on creatures, and draw twice that many cards.

Oh, yes, and Titania, Protector of Argoth turns all those sacrificed lands into 5/3 Elementals along with the extra cards you draw from The Gitrog Monster.

I’m running a whopping 45 lands to keep The Gitrog Monster card-drawing party going. Here’s what I’ve got waiting for when I open my first copy of The Gitrog Monster:

Man, this is like the archetypical Golgari deck: we’ve got some dredge, we’ve got some landfall, we’ve got some retrace, we’ve got some “land matters,” and we’ve got death and destruction. In Commander I generally don’t like the fetchlands – Verdant Catacombs, etc. – and prefer the slow sacrifice lands like Panoramas that you can get mana from when you play them and hold off on sacrificing them until a better moment later on, but I think we want to sacrifice a lot of lands in this deck.

What do you think of The Gitrog Monster? Are you as excited to play with it as I am? What sort of deck ideas do you have for it across various formats?

If you’re on Twitter, make sure to check out #GitrogMonsterisms and add to the fun!

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, Visionary 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)

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease April 2-3!