The Kitchen Table: The Mogis Machine

Get inspired to build your own Commander deck as you read about how Abe Sargent built his latest list around new Born of the Gods card Mogis, God of Slaughter.

My Mogis deck runs Death Pits of Rath.

Do you ever wonder how hard it can be to begin a Magic article with a witty-enough question or phrase that will make readers interested in reading the rest of it? It’s difficult. So in today’s era of many Commander decks being built around the new deities from Born of the Gods, what makes my Mogis deck article important enough to read? It runs Death Pits of Rath!

Allow me to back up a little bit and set today’s stage.

Two years ago I decided to experiment with a little project. I would build 100 combo decks in ten weeks with my spare deck stock. The result was an incredible tour through all things combo. Today I still have three of the decks from this project built and ready to play. One of these combo decks was a creatureless deck built around the interaction of Aether Flash and Death Pits of Rath.*

You can obviously see the power there. Whenever a creature enters play, it takes two damage and is destroyed (without regenerating). Barring an unusual set of abilities (such as protection from red, an ability like Cho-Manno, or indestructible), every creature that enters play is going to leave it forthwith.

And that seemed a suitable shell to build around a God of Slaughter.

So with that preview out of the way, would you like to see my Mogis deck?

And that’s my paean to the God of Slaughter!

We have a few cards that obviously work with our established shell, Pestilence, Shriveling Rot, and such.  There are also some nasty cards here for Mogis, so let’s drill into them and see what’s to see.

I have never used the gross Exquisite Blood in a deck before, but Mogis is calling out for it. I intentionally chose not to include its combo twin (Sanguine Bond) that wins the game right there. That’s a bit too much. (If you prefer, toss it in; it’s your deck after all.) All life loss turns into life gain for you. Mogis’s two damage will turn into life lost when the life total moves, and thus the gaining begins.

Another trigger that works quite well with Mogis’ damage is Night Dealings. If you take damage from any of our sources, we’ll put a number of counters on the Dealings equal to the damage dealt. Often people misread this and think you just put on one counter each time you deal damage, but that’s not true. Smash someone for five damage and you’ll add five counters to the Dealings, which you can then pull off to tutor for stuff.  It’s a brilliant and essential way to harness Mogis to fuel to the rest of your deck as you fetch valuable permanents.

I thought about Furnace of Rath, but I didn’t like being hit for twice as much damage from attackers. Instead, I just went with the single-targeting nature of Curse of Bloodletting as well as Wound Reflection. They will enhance a lot of the qualities of this deck, from Mogis himself through cards like Dingus Staff to stuff like Pestilence and Pyrohemia.

The other aspect of Mogis is to sacrifice creatures, so check out cards like Dingus Staff. Can you say "ouch," boys and girls?

Both Vicious Shadows and Grave Betrayal are powerful tools in a deck like this. Set aside the Choice of Mogis for a minute. Just imagine that every time an opposing creature dies, you either:

A) Get it permanently under your control with a +1/+1 counter on it, and/or
B) Get to punch someone in the face with your best Sudden Impact impression.

Note that the Vicious Shadows trigger does not require you to punch the person who lost the creature. You can Sudden Impact any player when any creature dies (even your own, but we’re trying to minimize that here). Stormseeker John for five damage when Joan loses her Birds of Paradise.

Nobody will likely choose to sacrifice a creature to Mogis if you have one of these out, which pushes them towards triggers like Night Dealings and Wound Reflection.

Considering Death Pits of Rath, this deck has to add creatures that can survive removal. In B/R that means the creatures largely need to be indestructible. I could have added some of the self-protection creatures that red has, but they wouldn’t have worked against cards like Evincar’s Justice or Pestilence. So we are just rocking the indestructible block. We have all of the usual suspects. That’s okay though—the fewer creatures we run, the more fun stuff the decklist can use.

With such a small number of indestructible bodies that were legitimate choices, I added Dark Depths and Fated Return. Since the creature Returned gains indestructible (and can come from any graveyard), you can use it to get another indestructible creature for the team.

But that wasn’t enough, so I added some things that turn into creatures after arriving in play.  This enables the deck to run more creatures without having vulnerabilities to our cool stuff. (Well, mostly— we have one or two cards that’ll hurt our man lands and man artifacts, such as Caltrops.)

Considering the amount of removal this deck is tossing around, say hello to That Which Was Taken. We are going to indestructible up a lot of stuff. For further protection, we have Lightning Greaves and Swiftboot Boots. They’ll keep our indestructible guys from being targeted with exiling hate.  Haste is nice, but hexproof/shroud is what is needed. Mogis demands pants!

Obviously, everything this deck does is built around the shell. For example, we have X damage spells, like most decks. Instead of my normal choices, such as Fanning the Flames or Profane Command, I am going with things like Rolling Thunder, Fireball, and Comet Storm. I can use them to hit multiple creatures, which means I can clear them out with a Death Pits of Rath out. In fact, a Rolling Thunder on the horizon is a sign of the end times when fighting in the Death Pits. You can send one damage to every creature you want to kill and then the rest at someone’s face.

Another example is damage-based removal. Evincar’s Justice is brilliant here because it sweeps up all the small stuff outside of a Death Pits but kills everything inside of it. Buyback is awesome! I decided to keep away from other effects, such as Pyroclasm, because I had enough.  Justice is here!

I’m not going to go over every single interaction that’s built into the deck. You can read it well enough.

I do want to highlight some fun stuff though.

Black Market can fuel a lot of fun stuff. In addition to building up X spells like Exsanguinate, you can use it for Pestilence, Evincar’s Justice, Suffer the Past, Diabolic Revelation, and more. You can power out the Colossi or Ulamog and pull counters off Dark Depths. In my experience, people will rightly fear it, so expect it to get targeted bunches. That’s great—focus on it and not the vital cards. It distracts people!

Sorin Markov was initially added to the deck because he could gain life while shooting a creature, which is death with a Death Pits in play. But his resetting a life total at ten is potent with Mogis out. That’s a choice of death or death.

With a lot of life loss in the deck naturally via Mogis and his aforementioned tag-team partners, I wanted to push the deck with some bleeding effects, such as Subversion. I wanted extort, but we had zero noncreature options in black. Sorin gives one option, Subversion another, and Exsanguinate a third. Suffer the Past has three useful tricks—it takes out a graveyard at instant speed, it causes life loss, and you gain life. Mogis loves it. I wish I could fit in a few more bleeder effects, but our deck was running out of space.  I kept stuffing in card that both helped our theme and gave us other abilities (such as Staff of Nin drawing cards and shooting creatures).

And with that the deck came to an end. A few lands here and there finished things off.

I wanted to add Choice of Damnations for flavor, but I decided against it—it doesn’t suit the deck.

I wish I owned an extra copy of The Abyss. It would fit here perfectly. Gods of Slaughter like doing it over The Abyss.

I pulled Void for Into the Core (why bother killing creatures when the rest of the deck does so?). Other cards to consider might include non-indestructible bodies like Anger; Solemn Simulacrum; and Kokusho, the Evening Star. I also seriously considered Darksteel Garrison, and if I had more man lands, they would have made the cut. Maybe you want more tutoring to find the good stuff. (Increasing Ambition might be a nice addition.) Perhaps you want a bit more artifact removal. (Might I suggest Shattering Pulse?) Maybe the large number of artifacts leads you to want something like Trash for Treasure or Guardian Beast. And perhaps Skull of Orm is good enough to rock. Run Mind’s Eye!

And maybe you just want to go in another direction entirely. Perhaps there are cards in there that spark your own version of Mogis. That’s great! It’s your own deck and your own ideas. Feel encouraged to make your deck to fit your own card collection, metagame, and personal style. Run with the God of Slaughter.

Until later,
Abe Sargent

*It was deck #75, and you can read about it here.

**There is no "**" in the article. Mogis demands you read this. Mogis demands death.  Slaughter is his victual.