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Commander Top 10: Kroxa, Titan Of Death’s Hunger

Bennie Smith posed himself a challenge: make a Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger deck that won’t draw other Commander players’ ire!

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, illustrated by Vincent Proce

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Last week I wrote up a Commander deck built around Siona, Captain of the Pyleas, which continues to be the #1 popular commander from Theros Beyond Death according to EDHREC.  So, what’s #2?  It may surprise you—I know it surprised me:

So why did this surprise me?  Well, Kroxa feels like it’s designed more for competitive formats for a couple of reasons.  First, the escape mechanic is something that’s tough for Commander players to buy into.  The graveyard is an easy resource to make good use of no matter what colors you might be playing, so exiling large chunks of cards to fuel escape consistently means being ready to mostly walk away from many of the graveyard synergies and cards that are proven great in Commander. 

Second, forcing everyone to discard cards in Commander isn’t very friendly.  At all.  The play pattern with a Kroxa deck means casting Kroxa on Turn 2 or 3, making all your opponents discard, and then at some point after Turn 4 paying the escape cost and casting Kroxa again, making all your opponents discard.  Assuming Kroxa survives, you’ll be attacking and then making each opponent discard again. It won’t be long before one or more of your opponents will have an empty hand and be living off the top of their deck, which frankly is a sucky place to be when playing Commander.

I imagine a lot of the players loading decklists that are being pulled into EDHREC are leaning hard on the discard strategies, and while that is certainly understandable, I’m not really thrilled about the sort of games that’s leading towards.  For me, Commander is at its best when everyone gets to play their game, and stripping everyone’s hand over and over interferes with that.

So for me, that presents a very interesting conundrum for building a fun deck for the way I prefer to play Commander.  For one thing, I think that I’m just going to lean almost exclusively on Kroxa as my only real source of forced discard, and I think I’m going to include ways to help my opponents recoup the cards so the discard doesn’t hamper their ability to participate in the game too much.

So, what’s the point of even playing Kroxa then?  Well, how about using opponents’ graveyards as a resource since we’ll be eating up our own graveyard with escape?

Let’s get cooking!

1. Waste Not

Waste Not is absolutely insane in decks that really lean hard into forcing opponents to discard en masse, especially with cards like Wheel of Fortune.  Even though I’m not planning on pushing hard in that direction, Waste Not is still going to provide nice value each time Kroxa enters the battlefield. 

I’m including some other cards that will take advantage of my opponent discarding cards:

Dire Fleet Daredevil is one of those high-variance cards that always seems to have no good targets whenever I’ve played it in Commander.  But with Kroxa forcing discards and me helping my opponents draw more cards, odds will be high to leverage Dire Fleet Daredevil into something awesome.

2. Pendant of Prosperity

This is a card I’ve been wanting to find a good home for since it debuted in Commander 2019.  You’d hate to waste a three-mana slot on a card that ends up doing nothing if the opponent you give it to never uses it, but if Kroxa’s discard is making it difficult for one opponent to find enough gas, maybe the odds are higher that they’ll actually use this? 

I’m also adding some other cards that will help keep the cards flowing, both for myself and my opponents:

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent is another card that I think the discard from Kroxa will help encourage people to use.  Custodi Lich and Coveted Jewel are cards that can keep cards flowing but also encourage opponents to attack so they can draw extra cards too, and if everyone is playing aggressively, then Kroxa’s damage trigger means more.

Speaking of Kroxa attacking, I really like Tome of Legends here since Kroxa is cheap to cast from the command zone, and relatively cheap to cast with escape.  That should translate to a steady stream of page counters and extra cards from the Tome.

3. Nezumi Graverobber

We talked about using our opponent’s graveyards as a resource—how about reanimation strategies?  I think this angle will be quite good since Kroxa will pressure the hands of our opponents, which means they’ll be more prone to discard a higher-cost creature in favor of cards they can cast earlier on.  If Nezumi Graverobber can run an opponent’s graveyard out of cards and flips into Nighteyes the Desecrator, you’ll be able to reanimate any creature for just five mana. 

I’m playing some other cards that play well with reanimation strategies:

Chainer, Nightmare Adept doesn’t get to dip into your opponent’s graveyard, but if there’s a good creature in your own graveyard that you’d rather not feed to Kroxa’s escape, you can trade a card in your hand to cast it.  Also, if Chainer is on the battlefield, Kroxa will have haste since casting it with escape means you won’t be casting it from your hand.

4. Altar of Dementia

Speaking of escape, we’ll want some ways to put five or more cards in our graveyard that don’t necessarily involve the regular flow of a game of Commander so we can regularly re-cast Kroxa from the graveyard.  One card that’s perfect for this is Altar of Dementia.  If you have this on the battlefield when you cast Kroxa from the command zone, you can put the sacrifice trigger on the stack and then sacrifice it to put six cards from your library into your graveyard—which will give you plenty of escape fodder.

Another option is cards with dredge:

Without green in our color identity the dredge options are fairly limited, but Stinkweed Imp is one of the good ones!  It has flying and makes a lethal blocker, and with dredge 5 it will fill the graveyard with exactly what we need to cast Kroxa with escape.

5. Squee, the Immortal

We’ll want to include other cards that we can use to help fuel Kroxa and one card that popped into my mind is Squee, the Immortal.  Squee can be discarded to the graveyard and then exiled to fuel escape, and then you can cast Squee from exile where it can chump block and then do it all over again.

Let’s add some other cards that can help fuel the graveyard or otherwise play nicely with the graveyard:

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve never seen Azra Oddsmaker before, but what a cool card for any deck that wants to attack and use your own graveyard for fuel!

And check out the crazy synergies with Syr Konrad, the Grim!  Kroxa’s discard trigger can trigger Konrad if they discard a creature, and when Kroxa escapes if you exile creatures to pay it will trigger Konrad.  All those triggers can add up to a lot of incidental damage.

6. Embercleave

Kroxa is already a good size but giving it double strike and trample really goes a long way towards killing someone with commander damage.  Even if you only get one mana discount, Embercleave is still worth the five mana, especially since an opponent is likely going to be tempted to put a small chump blocker in front of Kroxa. 

I’m going to include some other ways to enhance Kroxa:

Winding Canyons is already a great card for Commander decks that play a fair number of creatures, but it’s especially nice when your commander is so big as to put opponents off wanting to attack you.

7. Stunning Reversal

If you’ve been reading me the past four or five months, you may have noted that I’ve been a big advocate of red cards I collectively call “No Guts, No Glory!”  These are cards that have a powerful, discounted effect but make you lose at the end of your next turn.  Since we have access to black, we get also play a great card in conjunction with them—Stunning Reversal!  This gem from Battlebond erases your loss, sets your life at one, and draws you seven fresh cards—heck yeah!

We all know how powerful “take an extra turn after this one” is, and for just two mana at instant speed you can interject yourself ahead of another player’s turn if you think they’d otherwise be killing you.  Glorious End is slightly less obviously good, but sometimes just ending someone’s turn is the only way you can otherwise survive:  it cancels a huge alpha strike, it breaks up someone’s lethal combo in the middle of casting it, or prevents someone from hitting you with a huge amount of noncombat damage to take you out—it doesn’t matter: ending the turn stops it. 

Sundial of the Infinite is a fine loophole to get around the “you lose the game” trigger if you don’t have Stunning Reversal.  It’s also a neat way to get around Kroxa’s self-sacrificing trigger when cast from the command zone—put the sacrifice trigger on the stack, then the discard trigger goes on the stack, let that one resolve, and then activate Sundial to end your turn and then you don’t have to sacrifice it.

8. Steel Hellkite

Red and black can destroy a lot of things, but it does have some weakness towards dealing with enchantments.  That’s why I like Steel Hellkite, since it’s a colorless way to deal with whatever problem permanent you may need to handle.

I’ve included a bunch of other great ways to destroy things that need to be destroyed:

Life’s Finale is a nice backup to Damnation but I do like being able to fetch three huge creatures from target opponent’s library and put them in the graveyard so we can use a reanimation spell or effect on it.

9. Neheb, the Eternal

Kroxa’s discard trigger is likely going to result in one or more of your opponents losing three life, so each time that happens Neheb, the Eternal will provide you with three red mana during your postcombat main phase.  And that’s not even counting the damage we might afflict by attacking!

I’m including a bunch of other usual suspects when it comes to mana acceleration:

I like that Sword of the Animist plays nicely with the fact that we want to attack early and often with our commander, and I like that Black Market plays particularly well given that we’ll be self-sacrificing Kroxa at least a few times during a game.

10. Rakdos Charm

In addition to destroying things, we’ll want some other ways to interact with our opponents, and Rakdos Charm will surprise a lot of opponents.  Exiling a graveyard or destroying an artifact at instant speed is always going to be handy, but that third mode can punish someone who’s generated an obscene number of token creatures—you know the type.

Since your opponents will be incentivized to kill Kroxa before it can start attacking, cards like Miren and Westvale Abbey can cash it in for a nice effect if it’s going to be dying anyway.

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

Commander


Here’s how the curve looks, using the nifty graphing tool from Archidekt:

What do you think?  Are there any cards I’ve overlooked?  If you see any cards from Theros Beyond Death that should find a home here, let me know!

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! 

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