Commander Deep Dive: Grolnok, The Omnivore

New MTG set Innistrad: Crimson Vow is full of Vampires, so of course Bennie Smith is all-in on…a Frog? Get ideas for building a Commander deck around Grolnok, the Omnivore.

Grolnok, the Omnivore, illustrated by Simon Dominic

Innistrad: Crimson Vow previews are in full swing, and as usual we have all sorts of amazing goodies for Commander.  It’s not a leap to say that one card immediately jumped out at me from the first day of previews:  Grolnok, the Omnivore!

Grolnok, the Omnivore

Simic legends got some interesting designs in the latest Innistrad sets!  Between Slogurk, the Overslime from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and now Grolnok, we have some cool choices outside of “ramp, draw cards, and ramp some more.” Though make no mistake—Grolnok’s ability can “draw” a lot of cards, but access to those cards require Grolnok to be on the battlefield, so wily opponents can shut down that down at strategic moments. Which I actually think makes this a really nice design rather than just pure, raw card draw in cards like Tatyova, Benthic Druid and Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait.

Grolnok actually has a lot going on, so let’s break it down.

Whenever a Frog you control attacks, mill three cards.

Can’t say that I’ve ever thought about Frog tribal before, but here we are. With Grolnok on the battlefield, milling yourself effectively means exiling any permanents milled in this way with a croak counter that you can play from exile, so long as you control Grolnok. It’s notable that only permanents enter exile this way, so any instant or sorcery cards will hit the graveyard if you have use for them.

Whenever a permanent card is put into your graveyard from your library, exile it with a croak counter on it.

So, if Grolnok or a Frog you control attacks you mill cards, and permanents go into exile with croak counters, giving you an extended “hand” of cards to work with so long as Grolnok is hanging around.  There are a bunch of other cards and effects in the Simic color combination that let you self-mill, so we’ll want to keep an eye out for those.  There are also cards that take cards from your library and put them into the graveyard that aren’t explicitly milling, so we’ll want to consider those as well.

You may play lands and cast spells from among cards you own in exile with croak counters on them.

When playing the deck, I would place a priority on playing cards with croak counters whenever I could.  You never know when something unfortunate might happen to Grolnok and then you’ll have to wait until you cast Grolnok again.

All right, let’s hop to it!


Spore Frog Plaxcaster Frogling Froghemoth Galloping Lizrog Omnibian Haze Frog Species Gorger Crocanura Jade Avenger Trollbred Guardian Anurid Scavenger

The list of actual Frog creatures is relatively shallow but there are a lot of fun ones. My favorite is recent Adventures in the Forgotten Realms all-star Froghemoth, which can grow out of hand with enough graveyard fodder to chow down on. I also have a foil Jade Avenger that I was holding onto for any Samurai themes that might show up in Kamigawa: Neon Destiny next year, but it might have found a tribal home right here with Grolnok. And who doesn’t want to just say “Galloping Lizrog” out loud?

Anurid Scavenger has been errata’d to being a Frog Beast, so it fits into the tribe while also playing nicely with the self-milling themes in case some non-permanent cards get milled that you’d like back in your library.

Lastly, let’s just say returning Haze Frog to your hand during your upkeep with Species Gorger is just clean living.


Faceless Haven Realmwalker Universal Automaton Masked Vandal Chameleon Colossus Amoeboid Changeling Mothdust Changeling Bloodline Pretender Moritte of the Frost Shapesharer Woodland Changeling Webweaver Changeling Guardian Gladewalker Mistwalker The Bears of Littjara Changeling Titan

It doesn’t take long before the members of the Frog tribe descend into Sealed Deck chaff, but luckily for our amphibious ambitions, Simic gives us a slew of Shapeshifters with the changeling ability to round out the tribe. I particularly like Realmwalker here since it gives you some control over the top of your library, and you can use Grolnok’s Frog attack trigger to “reset” the top of your library during your turn.

Chameleon Colossus and Changeling Titan provide the beatdown, and I like Changeling Titan’s champion ability to tuck away one of your creatures to help you immediately recover from a battlefield sweeper.

Frog Flavor

Rapid Hybridization Frogify Polymorphist's Jest Turn to Frog Croaking Counterpart Mercurial Transformation

Simic has a lot of Polymorph-style spells that transform creatures into other creatures, and a bunch of them turn creatures into Frogs, so if we’re in full Flavor Town let’s include a handful of them!  I particularly like Croaking Counterpart, which is at its best copying a creature your opponent controls that has an awesome enters-the-battlefield trigger to make up for its rather puny 1/1 Froggy body. I’m thinking something like Esper Sentinel, Dockside Extortionist, Avenger of Zendikar, Solemn Simulacrum… or maybe a Craterhoof Behemoth that you didn’t die to thanks to a Frog Fog!

Tribal Support

Path of Ancestry Cavern of Souls Heirloom Blade Kindred Discovery Reflections of Littjara Metallic Mimic Vanquisher's Banner Herald's Horn Door of Destinies Kindred Summons Stoneforge Masterwork

Going full Frog tribal, we’ll want all sorts of tribal support cards. Heirloom Blade lets little Frogs hit way over their weight class and provides a replacement Frog when it dies. I really like Reflections of Littjara for making a copy of each Frog you cast, building a solid battlefield presence without overcommitting cards.

Vanquisher’s Banner, Herald’s Horn, and of course Kindred Discovery are excellent tribal support cards, but I think if we’re leaning harder into Grolnok’s self-mill ability, we can probably cut these from our final list in favor of more Grolnok shenanigans.


Traumatize Altar of Dementia Thought Scour Mental Note Bond of Insight Psychic Spiral Jace's Erasure Increasing Confusion Drown in Dreams Millikin Deranged Assistant Codex Shredder Life from the Loam Moldervine Cloak

Since mill has become a keyword, it’s pretty easy to plug that into your favorite card database program and spit out all manner of ways to self-mill.  In particular the ones that are actual permanents are most valuable since they can be exiled with croak counters by Grolnok: Altar of Dementia, Codex Shredder, and Jace’s Erasure. Though let’s not neglect the powerful spells like Traumatize and Psychic Spiral that can potentially exile a ton of cards with croak counters, as well as the cheap value spells like Thought Scour and Mental Note.

I’d like to also suggest a couple of dredge cards: Life from the Loam and Moldervine Cloak. If they end up in the graveyard while you have Grolnok on the battlefield, dredge one back to mill some cards into croaky exile!  And don’t overlook the utility of slapping Moldervine Cloak on Grolnok and rumbling into the red zone with a 6/6 beatstick.

Library to Graveyard

Fact or Fiction Search for Azcanta Intuition Realms Uncharted Gifts Ungiven Kamahl's Druidic Vow Mulch Curate Strategic Planning Winding Way See the Unwritten Epiphany at the Drownyard Tunnel Vision Oath of Druids Curse of Unbinding Otherworldly Gaze Mental Note Grapple with the Past

There are also a lot of spells and effects that take cards directly from the library and put them into the graveyard without milling, and we’ll want to consider some of those too.  Just imagine a Fact or Fiction with Grolnok on the battlefield—just take the pile with an instant or sorcery, and any permanents in the non-chosen pile get tucked away into exile with croak counters.

Intuition, Gifts Ungiven and Realms Uncharted are even more bonkers, since you can just get three or four permanents and have access to all of them with Grolnok. Just make sure you have a plan when you cast them, so you don’t spend way too much time and leave everyone else in a holding pattern waiting for the spell to resolve.

I’d most definitely find room for Search for Azcanta and Oath of Druids since they’re permanents.

Play Extra Lands

Exploration Explore Urban Evolution Summer Bloom Druid Class Scale the Heights

Grolnok lets you play any land cards with croak counters, so cards that let us play extra lands during our turn are going to yield some nice dividends, particularly permanents like Exploration and Druid Class.

Shuffle Graveyard into Library

Midnight Clock Blessed Respite Perpetual Timepiece Clear the Mind Learn from the Past Stream of Thought Elixir of Immortality The Mending of Dominaria

Depending on how hard we lean into using and abusing Grolnok’s abilities it occurs to me that we might some ways to shuffle cards from the graveyard back into our library, so we don’t accidentally deck ourselves.  Unless we want to make Laboratory Maniac an honorary Frog?  Perpetual Timepiece is the perfect card for this since it’s a permanent, it can be used to self-mill for a while, and then eventually you can exile it to shuffle any number of cards in your graveyard back into the library. But I also like Elixir of Immortality too since it shuffles itself back into the graveyard too for another go-’round.

Single Card Spotlight

I wanted to mention a few other cards that don’t really fit into the above groupings.

Desecrated Tomb

The interesting thing about Grolnok’s ability is that the permanents actually hit the graveyard before going into exile, so whenever one or more creatures croak into exile, you can get a Bat from Desecrated Tomb. Since Frogs aren’t well-known for flying, having some air defense might be wise.

Force of Negation Force of Vigor

Lastly, if we’re using our mana to play cards from exile, I imagine our hands will be well-stocked with cards that we aren’t currently using and could certainly pitch to take advantage of free spells like Force of Negation and Force of Vigor.

So, what do you think of Grolnok, the Omnivore? Is there anything you would play with it that I didn’t mention above?

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

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