Uncle Grenzo

Bennie Smith is as stoked about Conspiracy as the rest of us! In time for the set’s release, Bennie has some ideas about how to take Grenzo, Dungeon Warden for a wild ride!

[Wizards just announced they’re
taking nominations for the 2014 Community Cup
, so if you’re a fan and would like to see me go

I’d be beyond thrilled and honored to represent all the casually competitive Magic players out there and bring home the trophy for the Magic community]

Today is the day that Conspiracy drops and I am super-stoked! I’ve got the evening cleared and will be heading down to Collector’s Heaven tonight to jump
in a draft pod and experience the madness firsthand. They plan on doing Conspiracy drafts for the first three Fridays in June, and I’ll be there for the
first two reveling in the fun like a band of drunken satyrs.

I will be particularly excited if I get to open one of the new Legends from Conspiracy, all of which look to be fine additions to Commander. To celebrate
all the new decks we can build, I wanted to go ahead and sketch out a decklist for one of them. My man Abe Sargent got the jump on me with his take on the
awesome Marchesa, the Black Rose (check it out here), but
that’s okay-my eye was firmly on ol’ Uncle Grenzo. I recently recorded with the Commandercast guys ( Season 13, episode 7 Mo’ Deck Than You Need, check it
out) and they got my gears turning on Grenzo.

<div align=”center”><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Grenzo%2C%20Dungeon%20Warden”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/CNS/en/nonfoil/GrenzoDungeonWarden.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”

Just take a look at his art-this is one cool Goblin! That mischievous twinkle in his eye, you just know he’s seen and done just about everything and has a
story for every occasion.

But then you take a look at the rest of him and it’s just an avalanche of awesome. Two mana for a 2/2 Commander is perfectly acceptable on turn 2 if you
want to be aggressive, but basically at any point in the game, when you cast this fellow, whatever extra mana you’ve got lying around translates into +1/+1
counters. He scales for any point of the game, provided the Commander tax hasn’t gotten too outrageous.

But really, the icing on the Grenzo cake is that activated ability-wow! Even as one of the 99 in your deck, he can really do a lot of work enabling
graveyard strategies, but if he’s your numero uno and can build your whole deck around him… well things get super-cool.


<div align=”center”><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Cellar%20Door”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/ISD/en/nonfoil/CellarDoor.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”

“Dungeon Warden? Ha! You call this a
dungeon? My friend, it’s just an overgrown cellar. C’mon, I’ll show you…”

In Commander, the bottom of the library is typically the worse place in the world. Abilities that put permanents on the bottom of the library – often
called “tucking” – are often better than destroying them since there is so much graveyard manipulation. Outside of tutoring, the bottom of the library is a
prison with little hope of escape. Having your Commander put there is particularly horrifying, especially if you’ve built your whole deck around its
ability and led me to sometimes include the “tech” card Cellar Door from Innistrad if the group I’m with plays a lot of tuck effects (though usually
sacrifice effects are better).

Grenzo’s ability is like Cellar Door on steroids. Cellar Door taps on activation and may or may not yield a 2/2 zombie. Grenzo can use any available mana
lying around to activate multiple times and potentially put into play numerous creatures that could be bigger than 2/2.

The downside of Grenzo’s ability is that you typically don’t know what’s on the bottom of your library, so blind activations could yield you a couple lands
and a Sol Ring in the graveyard for your six mana. Of course, if you’re building an actual Grenzo deck, there’s every reason to include cards that give
insight to what’s lurking in the cellar of your library.

<div align=”center”><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Crystal%20Ball”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/M11/en/nonfoil/CrystalBall.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”
/></a><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Jar%20of%20Eyeballs”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/C13/en/nonfoil/JarOfEyeballs.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”
/></a><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Kaboom%21″><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/ONS/en/nonfoil/Kaboom.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”

The most obvious thing are cards with the scry ability, and the recent Theros block has a handful of those already fresh in our minds. Magic 2011 wasn’t
that long ago and included some scry cards as well. Viscera Seer, Witches’ Eye, Crystal Ball, Read the Bones, and Temple of Malice all fit perfectly.
Darksteel Pendant does a pretty good Crystal Ball impression. Jar of Eyeballs can turn a bunch of dead creatures into a really deep “scry” activation to
seriously stack the bottom of your deck. Another option is to have the creatures hit the graveyard, and then put them on the bottom of the library with
cards like Soldevi Digger, Reito Lantern, and Junk Troller. Hideaway lands like Spinerock Knoll only hide one card and put the rest conveniently on the
bottom of your library, potentially giving you all sorts of value with a few Grenzo activations. There are a few cards like that in red that have some
effect that also puts cards on the bottom of your library-Erratic Explosion, Goblin Machinist, Mindmoil and Kaboom! C’mon, you know you want to play a card
that has an exclamation point in its card title!

Possibility Storm and Teferi’s Puzzle Box often prove to be hugely disruptive for your opponents, putting key cards on the bottom of libraries, but those
goodies are readily accessible to Grenzo. Possibility Storm randomizes the cards put on the bottom of your library from its effect but you’ll at least know
what’s going down there and if it’s worth digging in the cellar for them.

The clash ability from Lorwyn block can put cards on the bottom of your deck for profit; there aren’t many of these that are too exciting for Commander but
Titan’s Revenge might be a decent reusable Fireball effect.

<div align=”center”><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Titan%27s%20Revenge”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/MOR/en/nonfoil/TitansRevenge.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”
/></a><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Aladdin%27s%20Lamp”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/4ED/en/nonfoil/AladdinLamp.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”

And lastly… Aladdin’s Lamp? Ten mana isn’t unheard of in Commander and if you get it into play you can do some real good work with it in a Grenzo deck!


<div align=”center”><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Mindless%20Automaton”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/TSP/en/nonfoil/MindlessAutomaton.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”
/></a><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Duplicant”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/ARC/en/nonfoil/Duplicant.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”
/></a><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Herald%20of%20Leshrac”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/CSP/en/nonfoil/HeraldOfLeshrac.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”

The easy thing to do with Grenzo is to stuff a deck with cheap goblins and use his ability to spew a bunch of them into play. If there’s a board wipe it’s
relatively easy to replay Grenzo and start rebuilding your board from the bottom of your deck. What I find more interesting though is to use Grenzo’s
ability to save a bunch of mana, by playing cards that have 2 or less power but cost more than two mana. Magic is stuffed full of creatures that come into
play with some number of +1/+1 counters to offset a low power and toughness. The first thought are the modular creatures from the first Mirrodin block,
which all have zero power and come into play with some number of +1/+1 counters. There are a few other such creatures like Workhorse, Mindless Automaton,
Clockwork Dragon and the brand new Goblin Ignition Team from Conspiracy. When looking for these sorts of creatures in the card databases, keep in mind some
of them have power and toughness that show up as “zero” in the search but are sometimes modified by other zones (cards in the graveyard, cards in hand,
etc.). For instance, if you activate a 2/2 Grenzo and you reveal a Mortivore on the bottom of your library, and there are more than 2 creatures in all
graveyards you won’t be able to put him into play because its power and toughness is set by the number of creatures in all graveyards. Nighthowler on the
other hand is specifically a 0/0 with a text box that says it gets +1/+1 for each creature in all graveyards. There’s a subtle but important difference

<div align=”center”><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Mortivore”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/CMD/en/nonfoil/Mortivore.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”
/></a><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Nighthowler”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/THS/en/nonfoil/Nighthowler.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”

There are some other high mana cost, high impact cards that have power of two or less we might want to consider: Triskelion, Pontiff of Blight, Netherborn
Phalanx, Duplicant, Pentavus, Triskelevus, and Herald of Leshrac.

Alright, so here’s what I’ve cooked up:

Notes on some other inclusions:

: I decided there were a handful of Goblins worth adding to the mix. Squee, Goblin Nabob is a fine perpetual chump blocker no matter whether he ends up in
the graveyard from play or from the cellar. Tuktuk the Explorer is just a 1/1 but when he dies he’s a much bigger 5/5. Siege-Gang Commander and Skirk Fire
Marshal are 2/2 goblins with some big effects attached to them. With the small Goblin theme I thought it would be worth adding Krenko, Mob Boss to the mix;
even though he’s a 3/3, there are plenty of ways in the deck to increase Grenzo’s power enough to dredge him out of the cellar.

: I went ahead and included most of the decent modular creatures, and along with other artifact creatures there should be plenty of targets for +1/+1
counters when they die. To extend that a bit I decided to include Ashnod’s Transmogrant and Liquimetal Coating since Grenzo might want in on some modular

: The more mana we’ve got lying around, the more activations we can get off Grenzo. Outside of the usual Sol Ring and Darksteel Ingot, I decided to add
Soulbright Flamekin, Braid of Fire, Black Market and Mana Geyser.

: Sometimes, we’re going to end up drawing some of the expensive monsters we’d rather have on the bottom of our deck for Grenzo to put into play. If we’ve
got a Reito Lantern in play and can get it into the graveyard, we can tuck it in the cellar for Grenzo shenanigans. Mindless Automaton can play the pitch
game, but so can Pack Rat. Also… it’s Pack Rat, and Pack Rat is sometimes just insane.

There are some cards I mentioned above that totally fit in the deck but ended up being cut for space and mana curve considerations. Are there other cards
or ideas you have for Grenzo?


Speaking of other ideas… I had another idea as I was finishing up the original Grenzo deck and searching for cards that stacked the bottom of your library.
That’s when I ran across Thrumming Stone. I pondered it for a moment in the original Grenzo deck idea but then passed on it… then it occurred to me that
Grenzo might be a great enabler for a Shadowborn Apostle deck! One problem I had with my previous Shadowborn Apostle deck was that I’d run out of
Shadowborn Apostles before I got six of them in play. Grenzo lets you potentially expand your hand into the cellar of your library in terms of searching
out more Apostles. Say you’ve got three Apostles in your opening hand, you draw another and play all four. If your deck is 40% of more Shadowborn Apostles,
then it shouldn’t take too many activations and draw steps to cobble together the six you need to get your demonic party started.

<div align=”center”><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Shadowborn%20Apostle”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/M14/en/nonfoil/ShadowbornApostle.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”
/></a><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com//cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Mana%20Echoes”><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/ONS/en/nonfoil/ManaEchoes.jpg” width=”null” height=”null” border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”

One card in particular that seems rather nuts in this deck is Mana Echoes… with a couple Apostles in play, each Grenzo hit from the bottom of the deck will
yield enough mana to keep going, until you eventually can put every Apostle in your deck into play. Imagining this sequence of plays led me to realize I
ought to add Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre to make sure I don’t accidentally deck myself, since if I’ve got every Apostle in play that means every non-Apostle
card not already in my hand or in play is in the graveyard.

Here’s how it looks:

I’m super-stoked about this take on a Shadowborn Apostle deck. And we’re just scratching the surface of what Grenzo can do. What about Grenzo as a Dredge
enabler? Unearth? Who knew at a glance that Grenzo, Dungeon Warden would turn out to be so darn cool?

Before I go, I have a shout-out to give… if you’re a Commander fan who lives within driving distance of North Charleston, South Carolina you might want to
check out the Commander Cup series kicking off at Green Dragon on June 14 th. The organizer for the event sent me a message that described it thus:

“South Carolina is starting a

eries where you play for a state trophy and the winner defends it quarterly. Store credit will also be awarded down to a certain placing depending on
turnout but we are expecting pretty big numbers.”

I know “tournament” Commander isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but locally, they have Commander tournaments at Richmond Comix every once in a while with sweet
Commander cards as prizes, and I’ve enjoyed them as a change of pace. Sometimes it’s fun to build and play a ruthless and powerful deck and smash it
against other decks like it. It generally it turns into mostly just a day for Commander fans to get together, and if you get eliminated from the main event
then you can join in the more casual Commander games that spring up in its wake. So I hope all my Commander fans in the Charleston area will be able to
make it out there to have some 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:

My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):

· 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)

Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus

· 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)