You Lika The Juice? Commander And Socializing At States

Bennie’s got the results of last week’s Standard poll and his States decklist, plus a Commander deck featuring Ghave, Guru of Spores!

In my column, I normally try to balance talking about Standard and talking about Commander because I enjoy both formats more or less equally, and this is a week I’d be focusing on Commander. However, with States this weekend I thought I’d spend a little time talking about what I plan on playing before moving on to the other stuff.

The 2011’s

Last week I presented three archetypes I was strongly considering running for States and asked for your input regarding which deck you thought I should play. Many of you responded, and I appreciate your feedback! Here are the results of that poll:

31.49% Scholar/Ooze

27.92% Medium Green

23.05% Heartless Creep

17.53% None of the Above

I rolled together the results for the two different styles of Scholar/Ooze and it took the lead, barely edging out Medium Green. Schooze Bob-Omb earned 18.18% of the vote, and 13.31% went with Schooze Pod. My heart and head tells me that the more heavily combo version of the deck is where I want to be, especially since the Birthing Pod decks appear to be just getting crushed in this metagame so far. In fact, I started wondering whether or not I should even include Birthing Pod in the deck at all! I included it in the Bob-Omb version mainly to help search up Necrotic Ooze or combo pieces and to give the deck a bit more redundancy, while also perhaps allowing opponents to think that the Pod was the central focus of the deck (which could lead to bad sideboarding). In playtesting the deck, Birthing Pod just felt clunky and awkward, especially when I had the Necrotic Ooze/Scholar engine going and drew into a Birthing Pod. But it seemed like a necessary evil…until I thought of the perfect replacement.

Forbidden Alchemy!

This card helps my deck do everything I want it to do. It digs for creatures I want, like Necrotic Ooze, and it puts creatures in the graveyard that have abilities I want to exploit with the Ooze. Because it’s instant speed, it lets me interact on my opponent’s turn, possibly picking a fight with a counterspell or surprising my opponent by giving my Ooze an ability they weren’t expecting. And going long, I can use it all over again.

Cutting the Pods made me further question whether I need green at all. The Viridian Emissaries are a very nice touch, but I wouldn’t say they are critical. The Skinshifters, however… I think they provide a vital role in the deck that makes it worth keeping green around. In the graveyard, it lets your Ooze survive a Dismember by turning into an 0/8 Plant, and it gives the Ooze evasion in the form of flying or trample in order to kill your opponent once the Ooze “goes large.” Trespassing Souleater can replace the Skinshifters on the evasion front, but I’m not sure losing the Dismember protection (and green utility) is worth going to a more stable manabase. At this point, here’s what the new version of the deck looks like.

The onesies and twosie are “pre-boarded” slots that should prove to be decent enough maindeck to randomly run across due to the digging available with Alchemy and the Scholar/Ooze engine. Tree of Redemption should be a royal pain to push through for creature decks and burn, and in the graveyard proves to be even more dangerous, considering how large you can make Necrotic Ooze. I’ll probably have a couple more in the sideboard. Cemetery Reaper can take the bite out of Unburial Rites and even put a damper on Moorland Haunt.

I’m actually pretty stoked about Hex Parasite. Not only is it nice to have a non-Human one-drop sometimes, but its ability has a fair number of targets in the current metagame: Gideon Jura, Liliana of the Veil, Karn Liberated, Koth of the Hammer, Elspeth Tirel, Garruk Relentless, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Jace, Memory Adept, Sphere of the Suns, Ratchet Bomb, Shrine of Burning Rage, Stormblood Berserker, Stromkirk Noble, Black Sun’s Zenith, Mikaeus, the Lunarch, Shrine of Loyal Legions, Champion of the Parish, and Gavony Township.

Also, you can target Phantasmal Image for a Phyrexian black mana to nuke it, whether or not it actually has any counters on it.

Sure, you probably won’t blow out the decks running these cards with Hex Parasite, but you just might be able to blunt their effectiveness long enough to put together the combo.

For the sideboard, outside of Tree of Redemption and Cemetery Reaper I’m considering these cards:

Mental Misstep: A Necrotic Ooze deck is obviously a graveyard-centric deck, and people are packing anti-graveyard hate for some of the other decks in the format—I can expect some of those cards to be brought in against me. This deck isn’t much of a glass cannon though, since each combo piece can actually just be played to the battlefield as a good creature in its own right. I’m not yet sure whether it would be correct to try and fight the graveyard hate, but if so then Mental Misstep seems like a good idea. What are your thoughts?

Memory’s Journey: I suspect this might be a very tech card for combating Snapcaster Mages and Unburial Rites. It can also possibly protect your own cards from graveyard-exiling effects.

Surgical Extraction: The stock graveyard hate card in case Memory’s Journey doesn’t pan out.

Phyrexian Metamorph: Geist of Saint Traft hits hard, even if I can nuke the equipment or enchantment with Beast Within and Metamorph can take him down. Plus there are other legends like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Sheoldred, Whispering One. Last but not least, it won’t often be bad to copy Wurmcoil Engines, Acidic Slimes, etc.

I’m definitely curious to hear your thoughts on the direction I’m taking the deck, so comment below or send me an email.

Now, I haven’t totally given up on the other two decks—I’ve just prioritized which ones I want to focus my testing on first. I was actually surprised at how evenly divided the vote was between the three deck choices, and if Schooze Bob-Omb doesn’t pan out then I’m going to test the other two. The success of Wolf Run Ramp in the StarCityGames.com Standard Open last weekend certainly has me feeling a lot less nervous about Medium Green, or some hybrid between that deck and Wolf Run Ramp.

On Friday, I plan on testing all day and into the evening, so hopefully I’ll be satisfied with whatever choice I end up sleeving for Saturday.


It’s been a while since I presented my own “from scratch” Commander decklists, and while I really enjoyed writing my “Unpacking Commander” deck series I know some readers asked me how I’d go about building around the new Commanders from the ground up. Two of the Commander decks I’ll have with me this weekend are built around Legends from the Commander product.

The one I’ll talk about today is Ghave, Guru of Spores. Now, when I first saw this guy I poked a little fun at him because, despite Magic actually having spore counters, Ghave doesn’t do anything with spores. So I find the inaccuracy of his title distracting. Nevertheless, he’s still a very fun and powerful Commander to build around.

When I was considering Ghave, I quickly realized that his color combination and affinity with +1/+1 counters made him the perfect general to house the Melira combo. Some of you might remember I dabbled with that combo in a mono-green deck with Melira as the Commander, and from the moment the game started I was constantly hard-targeted by opponents who were (justifiably) worried I might combo-kill the table at any point. That experience made we realize I probably needed to bury the combo within some other deck, which opened up potential color combinations. Going with white opened up the number of good Persist creatures I could include, while black offered up tutors to search up the final kill card. I wasn’t overly inspired by the thought of Teneb, the Harvester in such a deck…but then Wizards gave us Ghave and the stars aligned.

Here’s the build as it currently stands, with a few goodies from Innistrad.

Bennie Smith
Test deck on 10-16-2011
Magic Card Back

The combo: Melira, a persist creature (say, Kitchen Finks), and a sacrifice outlet such as Blasting Station. With Melira on the board, creatures with persist can never be permanently killed, which is pretty handy even if you can’t combo-kill the table. I particularly like Falkenrath Noble from Innistrad here—while it’s not “infinite” damage you can deal here, being able to sac a Woodfall Primus and bring it back into play over and over for however much mana you’ve got laying around would be pretty devastating.

Awesome utility: Green, white, and black offer fantastic opportunities for utility spells, and I’ve tried to cram as many of the best ones into this deck as I could: Aura Shards, Mortify, Putrefy, Maelstrom Pulse, Beast Within, Krosan Grip, Woodfall Primus…there are answers here!

Ghave goodies: This being a Ghave deck, I want to make sure to have lots of fun synergies built around him. Outside of the persist creatures, we’ve got Blade of the Bloodchief, Utopia Mycon, Contagion Clasp, Necrogenesis, Jade Mage, Pychotrope Thallid, Ajani Goldmane, Sporesower Thallid, Spike Weaver, Plaguemaw Beast, Verdant Embrace, Black Market, Nemata, Grove Guardian, Contagion Engine, and Mikaeus, the Lunarch. Either Sigil Captain or Juniper Order Ranger with a Ghave in play is really insane.

Of course, I built this deck with a certain number of filthy infinite-combo players that frequent my local Commander tables, but it would be pretty easy to pull out the infinite combo (Blasting Station) and still keep the powerful synergies intact, adding haymakers like Lord of Extinction to the mix.

What does your “from scratch” Ghave, Guru of Spores deck look like?

That’s it for this week. As always, I’m super-excited about States/Champs/The 2011’s. It’s the one big competitive tournament that I tend to do really well at, coming close to being repeat champion just two short years ago. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of friends, playing lots of Magic, and hopefully doing some partying with those friends and Magic cards late into the evening Saturday. If I don’t hurt myself too badly, I might even get up and play some Innistrad sealed for the PTQ on Sunday.

What are you sleeving up for States on Saturday?

Take care,


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback, ideas, and random thoughts. I’ve also created a Facebook page where I’ll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic, life, or anything else you want to talk about!

I’ve started a blog, it’s not Magic-related but you may find it fun to read and comment on. I update at least once a week so check on it often and let me know what you think! I recently revamped my blog header with a perfect drawing from the awesome MJ Scott, check it out!

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):

Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus: