Last week I turned my attention to the legends of Jumpstart, in particular the cool design of this cycle:
What I think is neat about this design is that it gives you a choice—you can simply play a monocolored (or mostly monocolored) build of each of these decks, or go ahead and make a more balanced two-color build thanks to the hybrid mana in the text box. This offers a lot of flexibility for players depending on their access to multicolored lands and the breadth of their collection. Last week I wrote up a really cool Dimir decklist built around Kels, Fight Fixer and this week I continue the fight theme with Neyith of the Dire Hunt!
Outside of her triggered abilities, Neyith doesn’t have all that much going on—a 3/3 for four mana isn’t going to stop the presses. But those triggered abilities are definitely something exciting to build around!
We’re Magic players, we love drawing cards, so that first triggered ability is incredibly welcome! Creature combat is a relatively common occurrence in Commander so, assuming you can attack with at least one creature your opponent won’t want to take damage from, it should be easy to draw some extra cards here.
Luckily for us, Neyith’s second ability can force the defending player to block the creature even if your opponent would rather just take the hit. This can be particularly useful if your opponent only has one creature in play and it’s a creature you want to get rid of.
But let’s take another look at that ability: if you pay the three mana, you double target creature’s power until the end of turn. Doubling power can lead to some crazy things in a game of Commander, so we’ll want to keep an eye out for cards that will nicely take advantage of that.
Now let’s circle back to that first ability—not only do you get to draw a card when one or more creatures you control become blocked, but it also triggers when one or more creatures you control fight. Fight! Such a cool way to tie creature removal into having creatures that can effectively get in a fight with the creature you want to take down. We’ve definitely got plenty of options these days for adding great fight cards to our deck, and as more sets come out and more fight cards come out this will get better and better.
Before we dig into our Top 10 list, let’s take a peek at some rule clarifications on Neyith from the Jumpstart release notes that are relevant to our interests:
If an effect says “each creature fights,” Neyith is only going to trigger once.
So, no sinking a whole bunch of mana to double, double and double the double. That’s okay—just the one double is going to do some great things for us.
If the target creature has menace, two creatures must block it if able.
The defending player, not you, chooses which creature blocks the target creature.
If there’s a cost associated with blocking the target creature, the defending player isn’t forced to pay that cost, so it doesn’t have to be blocked in that case either.
Some things to keep in mind when resolving that triggered ability to force a block and choosing who to attack.
Let’s get brewing!
1. Brash Taunter
I think the most exciting fight card to come out in a long time is Brash Taunter. An indestructible Mogg Maniac that can tap to fight any creature is big game, but what’s particularly awesome about Brash Taunter is that you can fight your own creatures. Say you’ve got a large attacker; you double its power and force someone to block it. Neyith will draw you a card from the block, but then—assuming the creature lives—you could fight it with Brash Taunter and deal that damage straight to any player you want to. That can potentially be some big-time damage! Plus, you get to draw a card from the fight trigger.
I’ve included plenty of other fight cards too, with a heavy focus on reusable effects, but one-shot spells are fine too because they will replace themselves with Neyith on the battlefield.
Gargos, Vicious Watcher is awesome because any time one of your creatures is targeted with a spell – say, Pit Fight – Gargos gets to fight and draws you a card too!
What’s fun about Setessan Tactics, even though it’s a single spell, is how it’s potentially giving multiple creatures the ability to tap and fight, so once you’ve resolved the spell, you can tap each creature one after the other and get to draw multiple cards from Neyith.
I usually try to find room for a Mirrorpool in my one- and two-color decks just on principle because copying one of your creatures at instant speed can be big game, but using it to copy a fight spell can cash in a land for an extra card draw from Neyith.
2. Xenagos, God of Revels
Okay, when looking for ways to really leverage Neyith’s power doubling ability, one of the first cards I thought about was Xenagos, God of Revels. Its ability triggers at the beginning of your combat too, so you can stack your triggers to double the power with Neyith first, and then let Xenagos boost the power and toughness of the creature by its power. So even if the creature is Neyith, which is just a 3/3, you’ll end up with a 12/9.
I’m including some other cards that help boost that power:
Living the dream of doubling a creature’s power with Neyith and giving it double strike and trample with Embercleave is some heady stuff, but let’s keep in mind the timing of all involved: Neyith doubles the power at the beginning of combat, before attackers are declared, while Embercleave’s cost reduction only applies after you’ve declared your attackers. Still, that’s all going to end up with some impressive damage even if the starting power of the creature is modest.
3. Power Matrix
Speaking of trample, I’d like to find some other ways to add trample to the equation so that we can both mow down a blocking creature and still wreak havoc on our opponent’s life total. This has me dusting off Power Matrix!
This nearly forgotten artifact from Mercadian Masques taps to give target creature +1/+1 and flying, first strike, and trample until end of turn. If you want to double the effectiveness of the power boost, tap it before Neyith’s trigger. Or if you want to force the block of a creature without flying, you can tap Power Matrix after blocks are declared.
Keep in mind too that Power Matrix can target any creature, including your opponent’s if they’re attacking someone other than yourself. Teamwork!
I’m including a few more trample-bestowing goodies to my list too:
4. Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar
Okay, so I’ve made some examples showing how Neyith’s ability and a little help can make even a modest creature like Neyith into quite the threat, but hang on—we are playing Gruul here, and Gruul gives us access to creatures of impressive size, and for my money few are as impressive and downright scary as Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar.
Given green’s ability to ramp its lands, Multani can hit the battlefield ahead of schedule and still be of size! Even at the bare minimum six lands you’ve used to cast Multani, Neyith can double that to twelve power – and Multani naturally has trample! That’s going to mow down most blockers and still punch in hard for a lot of damage, and even if Multani dies in combat it has built in recursion to get it back from the graveyard.
I’ve included a nice stable of hard-hitting creatures that are eager to rumble into the red zone:
It’s worth noting that the ability of Grothama, All-Devouring to let any attackers fight Grothama will only net you one card from Neyith since all the fights will trigger and resolve in the same stack. But the size of Grothama and the free fight ability still totally make it worth it. Seriously, what better target for Brash Taunter’s fight ability than a 10/8 Wurm?
5. The Great Henge
Everyone knows how awesome The Great Henge is, but with the ability to double power built right into our commander, we should be able to cast The Great Henge for just two green mana on the regular.
Even though Neyith provides a nice source of extra card draw, I’m still including a fair number of other cards that can provide card advantage:
Having Radha, Heart of Keld and Vizier of the Menagerie in the same deck kind of feels like cheating. What’s particularly nice is that you can use Neyith’s card draw trigger to help manage the top of your deck to get maximum leverage for both of their abilities.
6. Hornet Nest
Your opponent has a huge Lord of Extinction; you’ve got a Hornet Nest. Let’s fight! How about a giant horde of 1/1 Insects with flying and deathtouch? I mean at a bare minimum you can use your Brash Taunter to poke the Nest to produce one deathtouch Insect each turn.
Deathtouch is a nice way to ensure that Neyith’s pseudo-Lure effect will generally kill any blocker, so let’s lean into that a little bit:
Yavimaya Hollow lets us regenerate our deathtouch creature to fight another day, though honestly regenerating Hornet Nest from a huge fight is just going to feel like the best. Good luck to your opponents trying to get through those nasty blockers!
7. Thicket Basilisk
In the beginning of Magic, way before the fight mechanic came about, green used cards like Lure to “force a fight” from our opponents’ creatures, and the combo with Lure was Thicket Basilisk. Deathtouch is nice, but Thicket Basilisk’s text box is better—it triggers from blocking or being blocked, so even if the creature it’s combating has first strike that kills the Basilisk before it can deal combat damage, the Basilisk’s trigger will still kill it. Depending on your opponent’s defenses, sometimes this will be the perfect target for Neyith’s ability.
I’ve included a few other creatures with the same sort of ability:
I was going to include Lure just to have the combo available, but then I remembered Tempting Licid, which is a creature that can become a Lure and then drop off before the blocked creature dies so you can use it again.
8. Neheb, the Eternal
Neyith’s ability does cost three mana up front, which can put a limit on the spells you can cast later in the turn. That’s why I made room for Neheb, the Eternal, which can net you potentially a large amount of mana post-combat to cast spells. Neheb’s Afflict ability also makes it a decent recipient of Neyith’s ability; as an 8/6 it should be able to be blocked and kill something and your opponent will still lose three life.
I’m including a bunch of other mana ramp cards in the deck:
These are especially important in this deck since Neyith’s fight and blocking triggers should keep the cards flowing and you’ll want the mana to take advantage of the extra cards you draw.
Nature’s Will serves a similar function to Neheb, potentially giving us extra mana post-combat after we’ve invested mana into Neyith’s ability.
9. Kogla, the Titan Ape
We’ve got a lot of creature removal covered with our fight spells, but I want to include other forms of removal too. Lucky for us one of the best destroyers of artifacts and enchantments happens to be attached to a huge Ape that fights when it hits the battlefield!
Kogla’s seven power is a great stat to double with Neyith, and if we can boost that with trample or double strike along the way? That’s some serious beatdown!
I’m also including some of what you’d expect to see:
One way our opponent can stop our fighting and attacking fun is by protecting their creatures with hexproof or indestructible, so Shadowspear to the rescue! Not to mention giving the equipped creature +1/+1, trample and lifelink – all of which is very relevant to our interests!
I’m including some other ways to interact with our opponents’ dastardly plans:
Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Thicket Basilisk
- 1 Sylvan Basilisk
- 1 Tangle Asp
- 1 Tempting Licid
- 1 Wilderness Elemental
- 1 Soulbright Flamekin
- 1 Joraga Treespeaker
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Ulvenwald Tracker
- 1 Xenagos, God of Revels
- 1 Hornet Nest
- 1 Tireless Tracker
- 1 Vizier of the Menagerie
- 1 Rhonas the Indomitable
- 1 Neheb, the Eternal
- 1 Ripjaw Raptor
- 1 Wayward Swordtooth
- 1 Golden Guardian
- 1 Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar
- 1 Grothama, All-Devouring
- 1 Gruul Spellbreaker
- 1 Gargos, Vicious Watcher
- 1 Ohran Frostfang
- 1 Thorn Mammoth
- 1 Questing Beast
- 1 Kogla, the Titan Ape
- 1 Brash Taunter
- 1 Radha, Heart of Keld
- 9 Forest
- 1 Mountain
- 1 Arena
- 1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
- 1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
- 1 Yavimaya Hollow
- 1 Tranquil Thicket
- 1 Forgotten Cave
- 1 Dust Bowl
- 1 Gruul Turf
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Mosswort Bridge
- 1 Spinerock Knoll
- 1 Fire-Lit Thicket
- 1 Rootbound Crag
- 1 Raging Ravine
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Kessig Wolf Run
- 1 Temple of Abandon
- 1 Myriad Landscape
- 1 Arcane Lighthouse
- 1 Cinder Glade
- 1 Blighted Woodland
- 1 Mirrorpool
- 1 Sheltered Thicket
- 1 Desert of the Indomitable
- 1 Desert of the Fervent
- 1 Scavenger Grounds
- 1 Endless Sands
- 1 Spire Garden
- 1 Castle Garenbrig
- 1 Rancor
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Berserk
- 1 Nature's Will
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Nature's Lore
- 1 Power Matrix
- 1 Hull Breach
- 1 Farseek
- 1 Basilisk Collar
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Blasphemous Act
- 1 Prey Upon
- 1 Vandalblast
- 1 Pit Fight
- 1 Setessan Tactics
- 1 Lifecrafter's Bestiary
- 1 Heroic Intervention
- 1 Pounce
- 1 Blackblade Reforged
- 1 Guardian Project
- 1 Rhythm of the Wild
- 1 Cindervines
- 1 Savage Swipe
- 1 Force of Vigor
- 1 Embercleave
- 1 The Great Henge
- 1 Shadowspear
- 1 Primal Might
- 1 Garruk's Uprising
Here’s how the deck looks graphically, thanks to our friends at Archidekt:
What do you think? Are there any cards I’ve overlooked? If you see any new cards from Core Set 2021 or Jumpstart that should find a home here, let me know!
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