Magic Commander Deck Of The Week: Relentless Rats With Garth One-Eye

A Relentless Rats Commander MTG deck doesn’t have to be mono-black! Bennie Smith’s Commander Deck of the Week goes five colors with Garth One-Eye.

Garth One-Eye
Garth One-Eye, illustrated by Micah Epstein

Way back in the day, I had a mono-black Relentless Rats Commander deck, with Marrow-Gnawer at the helm.

Relentless Rats

I loved the way Relentless Rats broke the “one per deck” rule that usually applies in Commander, and it was a pretty straightforward deck, perfect for when you didn’t want to think too hard and just goof around with your friends. I wrote about teaching my son to play Magic using that deck back in 2013, and you can check that out below.

Since then, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has been releasing cards slowly with similar rule-breaking card text, allowing players to play however many copies of the card they want in their decks.

Rat Colony Dragon's Approach Shadowborn Apostle

Persistent Petitioners Slime Against Humanity

Rat Colony is an interesting spin on Relentless Rats; while Relentless Rats just cares about other cards specifically called Relentless Rats, Rat Colony just cares about Rat cards period, opening up the possibility of playing other good Rat cards in the deck. I loved Shadowborn Apostles and eventually built a Commander deck around them. Slime Against Humanity seems like a cool card to build a deck around, but at nearly $3 a pop, I’m not yet committed to buying enough of them.

Enter Garth

When Modern Horizons 2 came out and I saw Garth One-Eye, I thought it was a really cool card! I loved its built-in utility, where you could tap it to make a copy of six different options: Disenchant if you needed to blow up an artifact or enchantment; Braingeyser if you needed to draw extra cards; Terror if you needed to kill a creature; Shivan Dragon if you wanted a big monster in the sky; Regrowth to get back a key card from your graveyard; and finally Black Lotus if you needed a rush of free mana.

Garth One-Eye

I ended up finding Unlimited versions of all of these to stand for which card I was casting, except of course Black Lotus.

Sometime around then I was thinking about my Relentless Rats deck, and lamenting at how stale it felt, and how frustrating it was to play sometimes when faced with enchantments or other cards mono-black has issues dealing with, and it occurred to me that Garth One-Eye was the perfect answer. It offers six card options you can reasonably expect to have access to, since they are attached to your commander, which frees up space in your deck for all those Relentless Rats. Having access to all five colors also means access to some sweet card advantage engines that help ensure I’ll always have a couple of copies of Relentless Rats to deploy to the battlefield.

So, I converted my mono-black deck to a five-color Relentless Rats deck with Garth One-Eye at the helm, and nicknamed Garth “The Pied Piper” for being the Human leader of a bunch of Rats. Let’s dig into my current version of the deck!

Relentless Rats

Relentless Rats

In my mono-black version, I ran 40 copies of Relentless Rats, but in this version, I’m running 30 copies instead to free up some room for other cards, including those that will keep my hand stocked. I’ve got a fair number of foil copies of Relentless Rats, mostly so I have the opportunity to say, “Rats, foiled again!” during gameplay.

Relentless Rats Shenanigans

Thrumming Stone Echoing Return Bloodbond March

Thrumming Stone has been paired with Relentless Rats from the beginning, and even though I’m running fewer copies of Relentless Rats and have a greater chance of missing on the ripple ability, it’s still worth the slot. Echoing Return, also from Modern Horizons 2, was the perfect card for a deck like this with numerous copies of a single creature card.

Bloodbond March was one of the first cards I wanted to pair with Relentless Rats once I went with Garth as the commander; it’s a fantastic way to recover from a battlefield sweeper that’s destroyed your army of Rats, assuming you have a copy in your hand to deploy.

Typal Support

Swarmyard Patriarch's Bidding Kindred Discovery

Kindred Discovery was another card I desperately wanted with Relentless Rats once all five colors were available to me. Getting that double blue can be a challenge sometimes, but it’s worth the effort and the card slot; playing it with a few Relentless Rats on the battlefield ready to attack can instantly fuel your hand with more gas. Patriarch’s Bidding is a black typal staple.

Swarmyard has been in the deck since the mono-black days, but I have to admit I might end up cutting it because it can sometimes get in the way of trying to cast Garth due to only being able to tap for colorless mana.

Card Draw

Barren Moor Castle Locthwain Skullclamp Insatiable Avarice Pact of the Serpent Painful Truths Guardian Project Moldervine Reclamation

Even though Garth has access to Braingeyser, I’ve found that I still need card draw for the early parts of the game where I’m developing my mana and deploying the first copies of Relentless Rats. Painful Truths is powerful when you have access to two other colors in addition to black, and the new Insatiable Avarice is another draw-three with potential tutor upside with enough extra mana. Pact of the Serpent can be painful but usually worth it because Relentless Rats doesn’t usually go lethally wide; I also love its potential for killing another player that’s gone wide with token creatures and is at low enough life.


Reality Shift Go for the Throat Golgari Charm Anguished Unmaking Sylvan Reclamation Overwhelming Forces

In addition to Garth’s Terror and Disenchant, I’ve got a few other removal options. Golgari Charm just always overperforms when I draw it, killing a problem enchantment like Smothering Tithe, or taking out a horde of 1/1 tokens. Even the mass regenerate can be helpful against some battlefield sweepers like Blasphemous Act.

I just opened a copy of Overwhelming Forces in Outlaws of Thunder Junction and decided to put it here.  I kind of like that it targets one player, whoever has been “popping off” the most, without wrecking everyone else’s battlefield, and the card draw aspect is extremely welcome. It is rather expensive, but I do have access to a Black Lotus if I need some extra mana!


Bojuka Bog Shadowspear Soul-Guide Lantern Arcane Denial Negate Ready Gimli's Reckless Might

I put a precious Shadowspear in here for the lifegain and the ability to punch damage through by giving a large Relentless Rats trample, and its ability to turn off hexproof and indestructible for my opponents is always clutch. I really like both modes of Ready, especially if I have enough mana to fuse and get all the benefits!

Gimli’s Reckless Might is a card I love slotting in decks, the haste is great for later stages of the game when each Rat is progressively bigger, and the ability to fight something with the attack trigger is a great way to get some free removal. Living the dream is having Gimli’s Reckless Might on the battlefield when you cast Bloodbond March and a Relentless Rats to get all your Rats back from the graveyard.

Mana Ramp/Color Fixing

Sol Ring Arcane Signet Farseek Chromatic Lantern Darksteel Ingot Coalition Relic Spelunking

Color fixing is more important than mana ramp per se, but Chromatic Lantern does both! I also recently added Spelunking to help with all the color-fixing lands I run that enter the battlefield tapped.

Opulent Palace Indatha Triome Zagoth Triome Crumbling Necropolis Savage Lands Sandsteppe Citadel Savai Triome Arcane Sanctum Nomad Outpost

My rule of thumb was to run all the three-color lands that I had handy that included black among the options so that I could ensure I’d always be able to cast Relentless Rats.

Cascading Cataracts Path of Ancestry Exotic Orchard Command Tower Reflecting Pool Cactus Preserve

Command Tower and Path of Ancestry will provide all five colors, and in most Commander pods Exotic Orchard will at least provide three or more colors. Cascading Cataracts can turn any five mana into one of each color mana so that I can cast Garth One-Eye. Reflecting Pool is a workhorse in a five-color deck, so I’m even running the Desert version Cactus Preserve, even though it enters the battlefield tapped.

Overgrown Tomb Woodland Cemetery

I wanted to run a few extra green mana sources to help cast an early Farseek, so I made room for Overgrown Tomb and Woodland Cemetery.

The Deck

Okay, here’s the full decklist!

Here are the deck stats from our friends at Archidekt:

So, what other cards go great with Relentless Rats might I have missed including here?  Do you like Garth leading the Rat charge, or would you pick a different five-color commander?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and start conversations about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl, and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews.  

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!



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