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Going Golgari With Storrev, Devkarin Lich

War of the Spark brought Bennie Smith lots of Commander goodies, including a Golgari general who uses the graveyard but won’t draw heat! See how he built around Storrev, Devkarin Lich!

How’s your Commander deck brewing coming along with War of the Spark goodies? I got my hands on a few things I wanted for Commander from my Prerelease pack, and I picked up a few things from the booth at SCG Richmond this past weekend. That included a couple of copies of this gem right here:

I think this is going to be a great card in the 99 of all sorts of Commander decks, but I also think it makes for a fantastic Golgari commander. In fact, I think it’s going to be the best of the graveyard-centric commanders we have available. Not the most powerful, but I think it’s going to lead to the most fun games. So many of the other graveyard-centric commanders are basically engine cards that require opponents to have graveyard hate early and often to keep the deck from steamrolling all the opposition, and turns the game into Archenemy whether you want to play that way or not. It’s why I don’t really play those cards much anymore despite being a Golgari mage through and through.

Storrev’s graveyard ability is tied to combat damage, so you have to get down and dirty attacking and dealing with potential blockers. It’s also a single trigger (unless you squeeze in ways to double that), so you’re just getting back one card. Plus, it comes back to your hand, so you then still have to cast it. It’s potent incremental advantage that’s not backbreaking, so when you’re playing Storrev, you’re not going to freak out all of your opponents. Also, it’s not like your entire strategy is tied into filling your graveyard, so the deck isn’t going to crumble in the face of graveyard hate that’s played early and often.

What I think makes Storrev’s graveyard trigger ability unique is that you can get back planeswalkers as well as creatures. Planeswalkers tend to generate a lot of attention in Commander and with good reason—they offer up powerful, reusable effects and many of them have ultimate abilities that are backbreaking if not downright game-winning. So planeswalkers get destroyed a lot. Thus, I decided to play a lot of planeswalkers and to use Storrev’s ability to blunt my opponents’ efforts at removing them.

Let’s get brewing!

Planeswalkers

I was actually surprised at how many other planeswalkers I could have included in the deck that I left on the sidelines, but the bench for Golgari colors is quite deep. I like a lot of the old-school planeswalkers here, but I’m particularly excited about the planeswalkers from War of the Spark with static abilities. Liliana, Dreadhorde General is a powerhouse card that’s going to shake up multiple formats including Commander, and I can’t wait to draw lots of cards from her static ability. I love that Vivien, Champion of the Wilds gives you the ability to cast your creatures as though they had flash, and I truly love the bluff potential of the -2 ability. Vraska, Swarm’s Eminence works quite nicely with Basilisk Collar, and I expect Storrev to get a few +1/+1 counters along the way.

I’m not entirely sure I’m going to have enough actual Forests in the deck to make full use of the static ability of Nissa, Who Shakes the World, but I figure, even if you get to double the mana from only three or four lands, that’s still a heck of a mana ramp.

Planeswalker Goodies

If we’re going to play a bunch of planeswalkers, it probably behooves us to play cards that do nice things with planeswalkers. Since we’ve got green, Doubling Season is certainly a slam dunk, and we’ll want to have room for The Chain Veil too. Then of course we can make use of good proliferate cards like Plaguemaw Beast and the brand-new powerhouses Evolution Sage, Karn’s Bastion and Pollenbright Druid.

Storrev Boost

I’ll include some ways to boost up Storrev. The deathtouch from Basilisk Collar works great with Storrev’s trample ability, letting you punch through any size defender to get the trigger. Fireshrieker gives Storrev double strike so you can get two triggers from Storrev. Blackblade Reforged can give a truly terrifying boost in the later stages of the game, and combined with Storrev’s trample can be potentially game-ending with commander damage.

Mana Ramp

Storrev is relatively cheap for a commander at four mana, but that doesn’t mean we won’t use all the mana ramp we can get. Storrev’s ability demands combat damage and bad things can happen to creatures when they get in combat, so commander tax is going to add up. I particularly like creature-based mana ramp in a Storrev deck with Sakura-Tribe Elder and Solemn Simulacrum. I’m also a fan of the new card Deathsprout, which both ramps and kills a creature.

Card Drawing/Selection

There is no end to good card drawing in Golgari and I’m including some of the best ones here. Like the mana ramp section, I’m particularly fond of creature-based card advantage like Elvish Visionary, Eternal Witness, and Gonti, Lord of Luxury.

Bolas’s Citadel is a messed-up Magic card, and I played some games with it this weekend in a Standard deck with a heavy explore package. Our own Sheldon Menery mentioned in his War of the Spark Commander review that the Rules Committee is keeping an eye on this card, so you’ll probably want to get in your reps with the card while you can. But if you play it with Sensei’s Divining Top, you’re asking for all the eye rolls and dirty looks you’ll be getting, because nobody likes a Yawgmoth’s Bargain in Commander.

Removal

In Commander we always want to pack plenty of removal, and Golgari gives us tons of options. Again, we’ll want plenty of it tied to creatures we can potentially bring back with Storrev, so cards like Big Game Hunter, Acidic Slime and Noxious Gearhulk are great for this. I also really like Vampire Hexmage here as a planeswalker assassin. I fully expect War of the Spark to juice up the planeswalker population in Commander decks generally, so it’s good to have some answers; The Elderspell is particularly good for this since I’m playing so many of them myself. The odds go way up that I can get a game-winning ultimate with it.

I have high hopes for Casualties of War and can’t wait to see the sort of carnage you can wreck for just six mana!

Grixis Good Stuff

There are plenty of other generally good cards to round out the deck. Vampire Hexmage may be a stone-cold planeswalker killer, but it’s also a pretty nice combination with Dark Depths. Avenger of Zendikar and Hornet Queen are great cards that get even more absurd in a deck that already wants Doubling Season. I really love the new Gods from War of the Spark and am more than happy to run both of the ones that fit in Golgari. I really like the potential card-draw ability of God-Eternal Bontu, which is why I’m including some recursive creatures with Bloodsoaked Champion and Reassembling Skeleton. You can also sacrifice a utility creature to bring back with Storrev’s ability.

Sweet deck! But wait, there are too many cards. I’ll start by looking at our mana curve:

Converted Mana Cost

Number of Cards

1

6

2

16

3

15

4

13 + commander

5

11

6

9

7+ / X

4

75 total cards plus 38 lands equals thirteen cards too many, so we need to make some cuts! Let’s see what we can trim, starting with the top of our curve.

I’m a big fan of Ulvenwald Hydra, but playing lots of planeswalkers tends to crowd out other cards that would normally make the cut. I certainly have some juicy land targets to go get with Hydra, but ultimately decided I liked the other six-mana cards more. Biogenic Ooze is a nice card, but again gets crowded out by all the planeswalkers. In fact, I’m even having to cut a few of the many planeswalkers too, starting with Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath. We have a lot of ways to potentially fire off a planeswalker ultimate and this one’s ultimate isn’t as huge as others.

A few more planeswalkers get cut with both of the four mana Garruk’s not looking as some of the other cards we have at four mana. But we still have Garruk, Apex Predator to carry on the name! I do like Bloom Hulk, but it seems the weakest of the proliferate cards, so I think it’s a safe cut.

The two three-mana Nissas are fine cards, but I think they’re okay cuts here. Commander’s Sphere is fine and all, but I’m leaning more on two-mana ramp spells to enable a Turn 3 Storrev. Wayward Swordtooth would be better in a deck that had more lands and raw card draw, so I think it’s a safe cut.

For the last three cuts I went to our two-mana slots, of which I had sixteen to start. I have plenty of ways to kill creatures in the deck, so Kraul Harpooner seemed a little extraneous. Riftsweeper is a nice-have rather than a must-have. I was torn between Bonds of Mortality and Scavenging Ooze for the very last cut, but because I have Agent of Erebos, I decided to cut Scavenging Ooze. Bonds of Mortality can solve problems that just about no other problem can, and it doesn’t even cost you a card to cast it.

Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:

Storrev, Devkarin Lich
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 05-06-2019
Commander


What do you think? Are there any cards I’ve overlooked? And if you see any new cards from War of the Spark that should find a home here, let me know!

Oh, by the way, I got a token card included in the next series of Star City Games Personality Tokens, available starting May 3rd!

I am thrilled and honored to get my mug immortalized on this awesome Matrix-inspired token card. Go check out this link to find out how you can get your hands on some! And if you’re able to come attend the Commander Celebration at SCG CON in June, you’ll get to come play me and see some of these tokens in action as I make copies of sweet creatures.

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter! I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!

Deck Database

Below I’ve got links to decks I’ve written about going back to January 2017. If you want to read the associated article, just put “Bennie Smith” and the commander name into Google and it should pop right up. I’ve written a lot about Commander — and Magic in general — so if you want to explore further, the Star City Games article archives have my articles all the way back to January 2000!

Commander Compare & Contrast

Zedruu, the Greathearted with Emma Handy

Nahiri, the Lithomancer with Anthony Alongi

Feldon of the Third Path with The Professor

Commander Strategy

Why You Should Commander Like Me

Let’s Talk About Lands

Who Should I Attack?

Targeted Removal in Commander

War of the Spark

Nicol Bolas Tribal, Feather, the Redeemed, Massacre Girl, Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion

Ravnica Allegiance

The Haunt of Hightower, Teysa Karlov, Prime Speaker Vannifar, Rakdos, the Showstopper, Nikya of the Old Ways, Lavinia, Azorius Renegade, Judith, the Scourge Diva

SCG CON Winter 2018

Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow, Grothama, All-Devouring; Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis; Feldon of the Third Path; Ramos, Dragon Engine; Inalla, Archmage Ritualist; Prossh, Skyraider of Kher; Brago, King Eternal

Ultimate Masters

Garna, the Bloodflame

Guilds of Ravnica

Niv Mizzet, Parun, Emmara, Soul of the Accord, Lazav, the Multifarious (decklist in the comments), Tajic, Legion’s Edge, Etrata, the Silencer, Izoni, Thousand-Eyed

Commander 2018

Aminatou, the Fateshifter, Xantcha, Sleeper Agent, Lord Windgrace, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer

Core Set 2019

Sai, Master Thopterist, Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma, Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire, Chromium, the Mutable

Battlebond

Grothama, All-Devouring

Dominaria

Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle, Grand Warlord Radha, Arvad the Cursed, Muldrotha, the Grave Tide, Slimefoot, the Stowaway, Yargle, Glutton of Urborg, Squee, the Immortal, Firesong and Sunspeaker, Jodah, Archmage Eternal, Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker

Masters 25

Hanna, Ship’s Navigator

Rivals of Ixalan

Azor, the Lawbringer, Etali, Primal Storm, Nezahal, Primal Tide, Zacama, Primal Calamity, Tetzimoc, Primal Death, Zetalpa, Primal Dawn, Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Unstable

Grusilda, Monster Masher, Dr. Julius Jumblemorph

Ixalan

Vona, Butcher of Magan, Tishana, Voice of Thunder, Admiral Beckett Brass, Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Commander 2017

Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith, Inalla, Archmage Ritualist, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami, Mairsil, the Pretender, Taigam, Ojutai Master

Hour of Devastation

Razaketh, the Foulblooded, Zur, the Enchanter (Mummy’s Curse), Djeru, With Eyes Open, The Locust God, Karona, False God (All the Deserts), Nicol Bolas, Neheb, the Eternal

Amonkhet

Oketra the True, Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun, Atogatog (Cartouches & Trials), Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, Samut, Voice of Dissent, Rhonas the Indomitable, Hazoret the Fervent

Kaladesh Block

Yahenni, Undying Partisan, Nicol Bolas, Child of Alara (Five-Color Energy), Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, Sram, Senior Edificer

Commander 2016

Breya, Etherium Shaper, Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, Tymna the Weaver // Ravos, Soultender

Other Commander Decks

Thada Adel, Acquisitor, The Ultimate Golgari Deck, Anafenza, the Foremost (shutting down shenanigans), Momir Vig, Simic Visionary (no green creatures), Kytheon, Hero of Akros (Tribal Gideon), Tasigur, the Golden Fang