MTG Commander Deck Of The Week: Strax, Sontaran Nurse

Doctor Who Commander MTG card Strax, Sontaran Nurse has Bennie Smith ready to fight! Check out his latest Commander Deck of the Week.

Strax, Sontaran Nurse
Strax, Sontaran Nurse, illustrated by John Tedrick

When I had narrowed down the list of potential subjects for this week’s deep dive to a handful of non-Doctor characters from the Doctor Who Commander decks, I ran them by my partner Wendy.  She’s a fan of the new Doctor Who and has shown me a handful of episodes that have helped me understand the gist of this wild and wooly British sci-fi show. None of the episodes I’d seen featured the character of Strax, but she was indeed familiar with what Matt Smith’s Doctor referred to as “a psychotic potato dwarf” and pulled up a delightful compilation video to get me up to speed called “Strax being the best Doctor Who character for eight minutes straight.”

While I was still very curious about Strax, Sontaran Nurse purely as a Commander card, it was fun to watch the video and see the character in action.

Strax, Sontaran Nurse

One Strax quote in particular cracked me up:

“Enviable spleen, well done!”

Clerical Errors

Hilariously, Strax is a Cleric but doesn’t mechanically feel like a Cleric at all. Instead, it seems to like to fight, punching through damage with trample, and since it has vigilance, it can block as well. But that’s not all!  Check out the Grenade! ability – for two mana you can tap it, sacrifice an artifact, and fight a creature, but you’ve got to randomly choose a player before you get to choose one of the creatures they control to fight. I guess grenade throwing isn’t very accurate, huh? 

And, also hilariously, the ability says “player” rather than “opponent”, so you could potentially have to fight one of your own creatures other than Strax. In a full Commander pod the odds are in your favor, but as opponents fall, the ability becomes more risky. You can mitigate the risk by playing some creatures that you wouldn’t mind fighting if it comes down to that, which includes one of my all-time favorite Magic cards. 

The Glory of Battle ability rewards your commander for all the various forms of melee your potato dwarf engages in, giving Strax a +1/+1 counter each time it deals damage to a creature. Given that Strax starts off as a 5/5 and has trample, it can quickly grow in size to become quite the menace!

All of this made this legend just way too much fun for me not to build a Commander deck around, and once I got my hands on some of the Doctor Who Commander cards, I whipped this deck together. At the time of this writing, it’s untested, but I cannot wait to battle with it at my earliest opportunity.  Let’s take a look under the hood:

Biting and Fighting

Ram Through Bite Down Cosmic Hunger Master's Rebuke Blackblade Reforged Neyith of the Dire Hunt

While Strax’s built-in fight ability is random, I added in other ways for Strax to deal damage to other creatures in a more reliable way, tapping into green’s “bite” spells like the flavorful Cosmic Hunger and Bite Down. Ram Through is awesome with a commander with trample that can grow in size, and we can make Strax even bigger when equipped with Blackblade Reforged. Neyith of the Dire Hunt provides card advantage from activating Strax’s fight ability or if your opponent blocks your creatures, and has a sweet triggered ability that double Strax’s power and force an opponent to block. Strax equipped with Blackblade Reforged and having its power doubled by Neyith can end up making Strax capable of killing in one shot with commander damage. 

Artifacts to Sacrifice

Wizard's Rockets Lembas Ichor Wellspring Servo Schematic The One Ring Solemn Simulacrum Spine of Ish Sah

While I don’t necessarily think I’ll be spinning the wheel on Strax’s grenade ability every possible turn – I imagine I’ll generally wait until I have a creature I don’t mind fighting if my random roll goes wrong – I did seek out some artifacts I wouldn’t mind sacrificing. 

Ichor Wellspring seemed like the perfect inclusion, providing a card draw when it enters the battlefield and one when it’s put into the graveyard from the battlefield. Servo Schematic is similar, providing you with a 1/1 Servo each time, and since Servos are artifacts, they can be sacrificed as well. I don’t typically run Solemn Simulacrum in green decks, since green has other ways to ramp and color-fix, but it just seems too good not to run here.  Spine of Ish Sah is a curve-topper that doesn’t make the cut much these days, but since it can be so easily reused by my commander, I’m giving it a whirl. 

I’ve had a copy of The One Ring that I’ve been trying to figure out which deck to put it in for a while, and as I was pulling cards for Strax, I realized this was perfect. The One Ring is powerful, but its drawback can become problematic if your life total gets too low; in this deck, however, Strax can get rid of it for you if it becomes too much of a burden. 

Making Artifact Tokens

Mines of Moria Bloodforged Battle-Axe Tireless Provisioner Tireless Tracker

Treasures would be another source of artifacts, but to be honest, I’m a bit tired of all the Treasure cards there are these days, so other than Mines of Moria, I went looking for other sources of artifact tokens. One I’m really excited about is Bloodforged Battle-Axe, which is an excellent piece of power-pumping Equipment for Strax. Since Strax has trample, odds are pretty good that you’ll make a token copy of Bloodforged Battle-Axe.  You can then either equip the copy to a creature, or throw it as a grenade and fight something.

Untap Strax

Sting, the Glinting Dagger Elmar, Ulvenwald Informant Akki Battle Squad

In the unlikely event that you’ll want to activate Strax’s fight ability more than once per turn, I’m including a few ways to untap Strax. I’ve been looking for a place to put Sting, the Glinting Dagger and this seems perfect, since it will untap the equipped creature at the beginning of every combat, not just your own. Elmar, Ulvenwald Informant not only untaps a creature when you cast your second spell in a turn, it investigates too, which provides an artifact for grenade throwing. 

Akki Battle Squad is here mostly as a way to get extra attack steps, but don’t overlook the untap ability for extra fights.

Fighting Myself

Hornet Nest Donna Noble Saber Ants Brash Taunter Stuffy Doll Vigor

I’d like to have at least one creature of my own on the battlefield I’d be happy to fight if the die roll comes up that way, and one of my all-time favorite Magic cards, Brash Taunter, was the first on the list. The slightly less cool Stuffy Doll is here too, and if the opponent you initially chose with it has left the game, you can always sacrifice it as a grenade. Hornet Nest is an absolute banger, kicking out a swarm of flying deathtouch Insects when it takes damage, while Saber Ants produces less deadly but still appreciated Insect tokens — and a measure of nostalgia, since they were in the sideboard of my State Championship deck many years ago!

Vigor is some technology I ported over from my Grothama, All-Devouring Commander deck, and it can grow Strax to massive size very, very quickly. Lastly, new card Donna Noble definitely earns a slot with her soulbond ability, which means that any time damage is dealt to her or a creature she’s bonded to (Strax), she deals that damage to an opponent’s life total. Donna can also pick up a Blackblade Reforged and beat down when necessary.

Gain Deathtouch

Bow of Nylea Ohran Frostfang

Since Strax has trample, I decided to put two cards that give my creatures deathtouch into the mix. Since one point of damage is lethal with deathtouch, all the rest of Strax’s power can push through to an opponent’s life total. 

Card Draw

Bonders' Enclave Tome of Legends Up the Beanstalk Toski, Bearer of Secrets Guardian Project Harmonize

In addition to Ohran Frostfang, I wanted to have other ways to keep the cards flowing, and since I have a commander that costs five mana, the new hotness Up the Beanstalk earned a slot. 


Vandalblast Haywire Mite Hull Breach Atraxa's Fall Beast Within Chaos Warp Kibo, Uktabi Prince Kogla and Yidaro Blasphemous Act

You’ve got to have removal spells, and I’ve got a lot of the best ones in Gruul right here. While biting and fighting should snipe off creatures here and there, I did make room for Beast Within and Chaos Warp to take care of more problematic creatures in a pinch, or other permanents. And I absolutely adore having Blasphemous Act in a deck with Brash Taunter and Stuffy Doll!


Demolition Field Mirrorpool Witch's Clinic Barrow-Blade Vexing Shusher Hajar, Loyal Bodyguard Rhythm of the Wild Halana and Alena, Partners Xenagos, God of Revels

Witch’s Clinic does decent work in a lot of Commander decks, but I think it’s going to be a rock star here, since Strax is going to be attacking, blocking, and fighting at every opportunity. Barrow-Blade is great for an attacking deck that might need to attack into creatures with deathtouch or indestructible. And I’m really going to enjoy the haste and growth potential for Strax with Halana and Alena, Partners and Xenagos, God of Revels.

Mana Ramp

Blighted Woodland Sol Ring Joraga Treespeaker Goblin Anarchomancer Shadow in the Warp Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea Cultivate Kodama's Reach Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

Since my commander has a bit higher mana value, I chose my mana ramp options to better cast more expensive spells, like Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea and Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma. I’m excited to try out Shadow in the Warp, which can shave two mana off the first creature you cast in a turn, but also dings your opponents for the first noncreature spell they cast each turn.

Doctor Who Flavor

Memory Worm Sonic Screwdriver The Foretold Soldier Last Night Together Bigger on the Inside

I picked out some Doctor Who Commander cards that seemed fun too, though Memory Worm doesn’t really fit in with what the deck is doing. However, in that video clip I mentioned above, one of the funniest gags with Strax involved the Memory Worm, so in honor of that, I slotted it in.

The Deck

Okay, here’s the full decklist!

Here are the deck stats from our friends at Archidekt:

What must-have cards might I have missed including here?  Any cool Doctor Who flavor cards that absolutely must go with Strax?

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!