For the time that silver-bordered cards are legal in Commander, it makes a measure of sense to build a few decks with cool Un-cards in them, especially given that there are a few playable but not broken commanders. The one which is right up my alley is Grusilda, Monster Masher (and all props to Bobby “Boris” Pickett). The single thing about Unstable which I want most to do is assemble some Contraptions, so we’ll do a mash-up (please forgive me for getting @LSV on you there) of the two for maximum Un-ness.
Making silver-bordered cards legal in the format, even for a short time, has been one of the most controversial things we’ve ever done. We certainly knew going in that there would be a segment of the player base that simply didn’t like it. We also knew that there’d be a portion who absolutely loved it.
Commander is intended as the format for the folks who want something other than their normal tournament scene; this decision was intended to speak directly to them. Normally, many of them are met with a firm “no, sorry, they’re illegal” when they ask outside their groups if they can play them. For this short period of time, the answer will be yes. Sure, there are some broken silver-bordered cards—yet, as I always say, the secret of this format is in not breaking it. There’s no player who wants to be super-degenerate with silver bordered cards who isn’t already super-degenerate with black-bordered ones. That’s a player issue, not a card issue. We’re definitely targeting the format’s die-hard fans.
Speaking of being a fan of things, I’m a fan of graveyards. This Grusilda, Monster Masher deck puts things in graveyards and uses them. That’s the big juicy burger of this deck; assembling Contraptions is the French fries (with mayonnaise, thank you, Hellman’s/Best Foods if you have it). Let’s tuck in our napkins and see what’s on the plate:
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Zombie Master
- 1 Lord of the Pit
- 1 Balthor the Defiled
- 1 Bone Shredder
- 1 Minion of Leshrac
- 1 Dross Harvester
- 1 Corpse Harvester
- 1 B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster)
- 1 Millikin
- 1 Steamflogger Boss
- 1 Death Baron
- 1 Jhessian Zombies
- 1 Anathemancer
- 1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
- 1 Bloodgift Demon
- 1 Harvester of Souls
- 1 Malignus
- 1 Blood Artist
- 1 Disciple of Bolas
- 1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
- 1 Erebos, God of the Dead
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Grenzo, Dungeon Warden
- 1 Smothering Abomination
- 1 Cryptbreaker
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 1 Combustible Gearhulk
- 1 Steamflogger of the Month
- 1 Infinity Elemental
- 1 Wrench-Rigger
- 1 Steady-Handed Mook
- 1 Overt Operative
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Goblin Bombardment
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Oversold Cemetery
- 1 Decree of Pain
- 1 No Mercy
- 1 Wayfarer's Bauble
- 1 Cranial Plating
- 1 Black Market
- 1 Infernal Genesis
- 1 Phyrexian Altar
- 1 Rakdos Signet
- 1 Damnation
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Chain Reaction
- 1 Exsanguinate
- 1 Warstorm Surge
- 1 Blasphemous Act
- 1 Rakdos Cluestone
- 1 Rise of the Dark Realms
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Palace Siege
- 1 Deadly Tempest
- 1 Conqueror's Galleon
- 1 Thaumatic Compass
- 1 Summon the Pack
- 1 Work a Double
- 1 Over My Dead Bodies
Both halves of B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster) are in there, of course. And here’s the contraption deck:
Fifteen is the minimum for a Contraption deck; I went to twenty because there will be quite a bit of assemblage going on here—especially adding the two which assemble other ones. You’ll also see that the deck takes on a Zombie sub-theme, mostly to go along with Over My Dead Bodies. There is some argument to go with an equipment or enchantment subtheme as well, since Grusilda gives equipped and enchanted creatures menace, but I didn’t want to dilute what we’re doing here. Both the equipment and enchantment angles are worth exploring, although I suspect the latter would be tricky due to the B/R color identity. My only regret with the deck is that I can’t also play Graveyard Busybody, but you just can’t have everything. Let me explain my choices on the cards which did make it:
Anathemancer: One of my favorite cards of all time, it goes right with the Zombie theme and can kill greedy players.
Big Furry Monster (Left) and Big Furry Monster (Right): If we’re stitching together stuff, both halves of B.F.M. have to be in the deck. Getting them into the graveyard might be tricky, but there are ways to get there.
Blood Artist: Creatures will live and die, and we’ll drain you for it.
Bloodgift Demon: A fine individual card meant to up the card draw angle.
Bone Shredder: In addition to murdering creatures, it’s a Minion—the importance of which will become apparent shortly.
Burnished Hart: Some land ramp in creature form—meaning we can get it back with some of our recursion.
Combustible Gearhulk: Whether those cards are in my hand or in my graveyard damaging your face, I’m okay.
Corpse Harvester: I’ve loved this card in my Zombie decks since it came out; the land search part is especially tasty. Pro play is to have Bone Shredder’s echo trigger go on the stack and then sacrifice it to Corpse Harvester.
Cryptbreaker: The perfect start to the engine of getting stuff into my graveyard, once the engine is running it gets cards. And life is meaningless.
Death Baron: There aren’t any Skeletons, but there are enough Zombies.
Disciple of Bolas: Obviously, sacrificing BFM or Infinity Elemental is the wrong call.
Dross Harvester: I love when people ask “What’s that?” and think that it’s terrible, and then, after the game is over, head to the counter at the game store and buy one.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel: One of the reasons that life is meaningless is the big gain back from Gary.
Harvester of Souls: Again, creatures will die. The B/R mage is happy to profit from it.
Infinity Elemental: It will be hilarious and I will accept my beatings if, when I cast Disciple of Bolas, someone kills all my creatures except Infinity Elemental.
Jhessian Zombies: I can’t ever imagine casting it, but it will get its attacks in nonetheless.
Lord of the Pit: I started a little Demon sub-theme as well, and this one just stayed around.
Malignus: This one might well get chewed up by Disciple of Bolas if it’s not going to be able to kill someone. One of the reasons I like the card is that second sentence, which makes it immune to Fogs.
Millikin: More of the graveyard engine in mana rock form.
Minion of Leshrac: Another Minion (I should probably get someone to draw a pile of Minion tokens for the deck), it’s a sacrifice outlet, a beating, and some creature control all in one.
Noxious Gearhulk: I’ve played with this card frequently since it came out, and it’s a strong single-card strategy.
Overt Operative: The first of the Riggers, not the last.
Smothering Abomination: Another one which I can’t help but always want to play, it combos nicely with Dross Harvester.
Solemn Simulacrum: I can’t imagine that it’s not first pick in every Commander Rotisserie Draft in which it’s allowed. Speaking of which, the next time we do one, I think we’ll first draft a list of 100 cards which are not allowed to be chosen—obviously it’s less daggery if we don’t first choose our Commanders.
Steady-Handed Mook: Gets an early Contraption, provides some nice defense with deathtouch.
Steamflogger Boss: You really can’t play Riggers without playing the original.
Steamflogger of the Month: This one is why I upped the Contraption count to twenty; I don’t want to run out of Contraptions.
Wrench-Rigger: Assembling something Turn 1 seems like the full win.
Zombie Master: It’s there for the Swampwalk to go with Over My Dead Bodies. Interestingly enough, you can’t regenerate your in-the-graveyard Zombies with this, since permanents only exist on the battlefield (Rule 110).
Balthor the Defiled: Finally, the Minion plan revealed! While Balthor is on the battlefield, all those Minions we’ll be creating are bigger. Then, if the graveyard gets stuffed enough, we’ll bring them all back. Let’s just hope no one is ready with Gather Specimens.
Erebos, God of the Dead: Card draw, no lifegain for everyone else, and will almost always be active.
Grenzo, Dungeon Warden: Grenzo could easily be the commander of this deck, although I’d probably want to up the mana production some.
Sheoldred, Whispering One: Kind of Plan B, since it takes creatures out of my graveyard.
Cranial Plating: With all the Contraptions and whatnot, it seemed like this would be kind of cool. My first thought for equipment was Basilisk Collar so I could gain infinity life, but who wants to do that?
Commander’s Sphere: I will be thoroughly disappointed in the people who decide which cards get turned into foils until this is at the top of their list.
Conqueror’s Galleon: It’s all about getting the Conqueror’s Foothold, which gives some options including looting for two mana. Looting, of course, gets cards that I want into the graveyard.
Darksteel Ingot: B/R mana rock of the first order.
Eldrazi Monument: I’ll be firing off some destruction spells, so having my creatures indestructible is the finest of ideas. The sacrifice clause makes Smothering Abomination even spicier, and if I can get an engine going with one of the enchantments, even better.
Phyrexian Altar: I like sacrifice outlets because people will keep trying to steal your stuff. And, of course, to make mana.
Rakdos Signet: Another mana rock for perhaps the weakest of two-color combinations as far as mana production goes (although W/R probably has a good argument).
Rakdos Cluestone: Ditto.
Sol Ring: Someone, somewhere, suggested the idea of banning Sol Ring during the time that silver-bordered cards are legal to troll the cEDH players. Making Un-cards legal was enough.
Thaumatic Compass: Some land smoothing, and then build-your-own Maze of Ith (which can produce mana in a pinch).
Wayfarer’s Bauble: The B/R ramp spell!
Black Market: Some of the things in the middle of the deck are kind of expensive, so casting two a turn instead of one caught my interest. Black Market is why I put Exsanguinate into the deck.
Goblin Bombardment: The best of all creature sacrifice outlets, it pairs quite nicely with. . .
Infernal Genesis: More Minions! Plus, you know, more stuff in the yard.
No Mercy: I know I tell folks to make sure they play their Fogs (and eat their vegetables and stay in school). No Mercy is more of a rattlesnake than a Fog, but it accomplishes some of the same ends—mostly keeping stuff off your grill.
Over My Dead Bodies: The wheel around which the rest of the deck revolves. I’m aware it’s not going to work as often or as well as I hope, but it will be fun when it does. I thought about including cards like Windfall and Wheel of Fortune, but I’d like my graveyard to be hefty, not anyone else’s.
Oversold Cemetery: Part one of the Regrowth engine.
Palace Siege: And part two.
Warstorm Surge: Two words: Infinity Elemental.
Blasphemous Act: Most of the sorceries are about blowing up creatures. Somewhat nicer if mine are indestructible (see Eldrazi Monument, above), but not a requirement.
Chain Reaction: Ditto.
Damnation: Tritto, which isn’t a word, but should be. [Copy Editor’s Note: It’s also the last name of an opera composer who taught the much more famous Bellini.]
Deadly Tempest: Still waiting for the dream of following someone’s Storm Herd with this.
Decree of Pain: But definitely not this.
Exsanguinate: We’ll see if I ever actually get Exsanguinate plus Black Market to work. I think all the folks in my group know that Black Market is one you should blow up at first opportunity.
Rise of the Dark Realms: This was actually In Garruk’s Wake in the draft, but I think I already have enough destruction, and bringing the Dark Realms to life seems like a way better choice.
Summon the Pack: There’s a 50/50 chance the following will happen: I draw this card and realize that I’m at home and the only booster packs available are in sealed boxes that I don’t want to open. Obviously Legions is the right call, since you’ll get fifteen hits—and it also has some choice Zombies. I suppose I should plan for this and always have a booster on hand. If I’m in the game shop, the only real call is for the other players in the game to decide on which booster I have to buy. Let’s hope they don’t have any Fallen Empires.
Work a Double: Seems good for four mana.
Liliana, Death’s Majesty: Nearly all the Liliana cards could go into the deck. This one is there because it’s the most Zombie lord-ish.
The land suite is what you would expect. Highlights include Bojuka Bog for troublesome graveyards and Rakdos Carnarium to bounce it and do it all over again. The other two big hitters are the heavy mana-producers, Cabal Coffers and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. The lands which Conqueror’s Galleon and Thaumatic Compass become (Conqueror’s Foothold and Spires of Orazca, respectively) are significant mid- to late-game cards.
The deck will be fun to play and, if nothing else, different. I’ve specifically chosen Un-cards which I think are reasonably playable without being bonkers or irritating. And if my local group doesn’t like the idea of the cards after the next announcement passes (signs point to them being okay with it), I still have the foundations of a deck. There are only about ten of them (plus the Contraptions), so the move to all black borders should be easy.
I’ll reiterate the point that there is close to zero chance that we allow silver-bordered cards to be legal in Commander after 15 January. It’s not an experiment. It’s not a trial. It’s just a little holiday gift to the fans of the format. We do, however, hope that it opens eyes of some people who are initially resistant to Un-cards to the fact that a few selected cards might be good fun to let into your local games.
This week’s Deck Without Comment is Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers.
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Myojin of Seeing Winds
- 1 Phelddagrif
- 1 Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
- 1 Sunscape Battlemage
- 1 Kiyomaro, First to Stand
- 1 Soramaro, First to Dream
- 1 Coiling Oracle
- 1 Trygon Predator
- 1 Mulldrifter
- 1 Overbeing of Myth
- 1 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Skyward Eye Prophets
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- 1 Psychosis Crawler
- 1 Sturmgeist
- 1 Windreader Sphinx
- 1 Chasm Skulker
- 1 Stormsurge Kraken
- 1 Sage of Ancient Lore
- 1 Hermit of the Natterknolls
- 1 Ulvenwald Observer
- 1 Kefnet the Mindful
- 1 Nimble Obstructionist
- 1 Nezahal, Primal Tide
- 1 Brushland
- 5 Forest
- 6 Plains
- 1 Adarkar Wastes
- 5 Island
- 1 Tundra
- 1 Savannah
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Krosan Verge
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Azorius Chancery
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Ghost Quarter
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 Nimbus Maze
- 1 Seaside Citadel
- 1 Reliquary Tower
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Sunpetal Grove
- 1 Celestial Colonnade
- 1 Sejiri Steppe
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Homeward Path
- 1 Prairie Stream
- 1 Fortified Village
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Ground Seal
- 1 Final Judgment
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Aura of Silence
- 1 Rampant Growth
- 1 Mirari's Wake
- 1 Skyshroud Claim
- 1 Keep Watch
- 1 Far Wanderings
- 1 Equal Treatment
- 1 Privileged Position
- 1 Cytoshape
- 1 Krosan Grip
- 1 Akroma's Memorial
- 1 Austere Command
- 1 Explore
- 1 Momentous Fall
- 1 Recurring Insight
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Blue Sun's Zenith
- 1 Martyr's Bond
- 1 Cyclonic Rift
- 1 Unexpected Results
- 1 Profound Journey
- 1 Seasons Past
- 1 Paradoxical Outcome
- 1 Rishkar's Expertise
- 1 The Immortal Sun
- 1 Kumena's Awakening
- 1 Estrid's Invocation
- 1 Myth Unbound
- 1 Ever-Watching Threshold
Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:
Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers; Kresh Into the Red Zone; Halloween with Karador; Dreaming of Intet; You Did This to Yourself.
THE CHROMATIC PROJECT
Heliod, God of Enchantments; Thassa, God of Merfolk; Erebos and the Halls Of The Dead; Forge of Purphoros; Nylea of the Woodland Realm; Karn Evil No. 9.
Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever.
Shards and Wedges
Adun’s Toolbox; Angry, Angry Dinos; Animar’s Swarm; Ikra and Kydele; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke’s Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith’s Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn.
Yidris: Money for Nothing, Cards for Free; Saskia Unyielding; Breya Reshaped.
Tana and Kydele; Kynaios and Tiro; Ikra and Kydele.
THE DO-OVER PROJECT
Animar Do-Over; Glissa Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus Do-Over; Kresh Do-Over; Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over; Lord of Tresserhorn Do-Over; Mimeoplasm Do-Over; Phelddagrif Do-Over; Rith Do-Over; Ruhan Do-Over.
If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”