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Commander Top 10: Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider

What is a Phyrexian doing on Kaldheim? Bennie Smith may not know, but he is happy to build a Commander deck around Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider anyway.

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, illustrated by Daarken

The legends of Kaldheim all do a fantastic job of conveying the Nordic flavor of the setting… except for one.  Somehow, the vile Phyrexian Praetor Vorinclex managed to journey to the world of Kaldheim, represented by a brand-new card design appropriately named Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider!

As a Commander fan, I have to say I’m thrilled that the new version of Vorinclex is much more format-friendly than the original version:

I would never, ever play the original Vorinclex in Commander since it flies in the face of the spirit of the format. Cutting everyone else’s mana in half while you double your mana is incredibly oppressive. 

The Monstrous Raider version is much more reasonable for Commander play. While it can negatively impact things your opponents are trying to do, knocking +1/+1 strategies down a peg or two is very much needed in Commander, so I consider that a big win for the format. And then of course there is the other paragraph, which doubles the number of counters you put on a permanent or player, which is big game when you build your deck to take advantage of that.  Half of Doubling Season that sits in your command zone?  Yes, please!

Oh, and let’s not forget, in addition to all that, it’s a 6/6 trampler with haste!

So how does one go about brewing up a deck with Vorinclex?  There are two very obvious paths, the first of which is to build a deck around +1/+1 counter strategies, of which there are no end of good cards for such a deck even in mono-green.  Just plug “+1/+1 counter” in your favorite card database and go wild. 

The other obvious path is playing a bunch of green and colorless planeswalkers; with Vorinclex on the battlefield, each one you cast will start with double its loyalty, and in many cases be able to ultimate immediately.

Just plug into your favorite deck database card type “planeswalker” and go wild—there are a whopping 28 planeswalkers you can choose from.

But if you know me, you know that going the obvious route isn’t really my thing. And that leads me to wonder: what other sorts of counters can we double up with our Phyrexian Praetor?

What, indeed – let’s get brewing!

1. Magistrate’s Scepter

One counter type that jumped out at me was charge counters, many of which are found on artifacts, and the best of the bunch – and the scariest – is Magistrate’s Scepter!  Normally you can assemble your own Time Warp by dumping twelve mana and four turns into the artifact, which gives your opponents plenty of time to draw artifact removal to make all that effort for naught.

With Vorinclex on the battlefield, you cut down to eight mana and three turns for your Time Warp, but you’ll have one extra charge counter left over so the next Time Warp is just four mana and two turns. All of this is pretty good but not necessarily backbreaking, but once you add in other charge counter shenanigans and maybe some proliferate, suddenly, you’re getting an extra turn every other turn or so.

I’ve put all sorts of sweet charge counter stuff into the deck:

Aether Vial Surge Node Coretapper Spawning Pit Power Conduit Sun Droplet Umezawa's Jitte Titan Forge Transmogrifying Wand Druids' Repository Lux Cannon Eternity Vessel

I particularly love Coretapper and Power Conduit, the latter of which can add charge counters or turn charge counters into +1/+1 counters.  With Vorinclex on the battlefield, you can even use Power Conduit to remove a charge counter from an artifact to add two charge counters to the artifact.

I love the possible line here where you cast Vorinclex, and then the following turn cast Eternity Vessel and put twice as many charge counters as you have life, and then play a land to get the landfall trigger. 

2. Sporesower Thallid

If it’s mono-green and we’re looking for weird counters, there’s nothing quite so funky as fungal spore counters!  A weird merging of charge counter artifacts and Thallids sounds just about perfect for Phyrexian Praetor scheming. Creatures with spore counters aren’t particularly powerful but they do have a wide variety of nifty abilities, including making Saproling tokens, but with Vorinclex on the battlefield that spore counter production gets kicked up a notch. 

Most of the Thallids are all about the same power level, but I’ll pick Sporesower Thallid as the slight leader here since it adds a spore counter on each Fungus you control, which means that all the other Fungus that produce spore counters will get two per upkeep, and with Vorinclex they will get a whopping four per upkeep.  Now we’re cooking with gas!

Thallid Utopia Mycon Elvish Farmer Fungal Bloom Spore Flower Vitaspore Thallid Psychotrope Thallid Thallid Germinator Thorn Thallid Savage Thallid Sporoloth Ancient

I’m including a bunch of other green cards that play well with spore counters. Each of them has fun little abilities we can certainly use to steal small advantages here and there.  Psychotrope Thallid in particular churns out a nice little card-drawing engine with your Saprolings.

3. Beastmaster Ascension

What about other counters?  Consider the quest counters on Beastmaster Ascension—giving all creatures you control +5/+5 is fantastic when you’re playing little Thallids that crank out Saprolings, and with Vorinclex on the battlefield you only need to attack with three other creatures to complete the quests. Beastmaster Ascension keeps accumulating counters each time you attack, so you can even bleed some of them off with Power Conduit to add charge counters or +1/+1 counters.

Tome of Legends Replicating Ring Jar of Eyeballs

I love getting extra page counters on Tome of Legends so I can keep drawing cards even if Vorinclex has been destroyed. Speeding up Replicating Ring’s night counters with Vorinclex is going to mean a huge mana bump ahead of time!  I find it funny that Vorinclex means each creature you control that dies puts four eyeball counters on Jar of Eyeballs, so that activated ability should mean a pretty deep dig for a great card.

4. Plaguemaw Beast

When I looked for other cards that cared about counters, proliferate jumped out to me. Plaguemaw Beast offers a reusable proliferate ability that doesn’t need mana and takes advantage of potentially numerous Saproling tokens.  Plus, it’s a card from Mirrodin Besieged and is well acquainted with Praetors.

Karn's Bastion The Ozolith Throne of Geth Evolution Sage Maulfist Revolutionary Pir, Imaginative Rascal Doubling Season Contagion Engine Planewide Celebration

Outside of proliferate cards, I also slammed Doubling Season into the deck, which also quite nicely boosts our Saproling production.  Pir, Imaginative Rascal does a lot of work too.  And I find it hilarious to think about The Ozolith capturing a bunch of spore counters when a battlefield sweeper kills your Thallids and then you get to pile them onto your next Thallid.

5. Grafted Exoskeleton

This wouldn’t be a proper Phyrexian Praetor deck if we didn’t include infect cards, and I’ve sprinkled a few in here.  Grafted Exoskeleton is a great card to equip to Saproling creatures, and with Vorinclex you get six poison counters or six -1/-1 counters when it connects.

Here are a few more infect goodies I’ve added to the mix:

Inkmoth Nexus Plague Myr Core Prowler

6. Trading Post

With a fair number of artifacts, I went hunting for cards that synergize with artifacts specifically, and quickly slammed one of my all-time favorites into the deck:  Trading Post!  Outside of making Goat tokens – I mean, who doesn’t love Goat tokens? – we can sacrifice an artifact to draw a card, and then sacrifice a Saproling to get the artifact back. 

Manifold Key Clock of Omens Ingenuity Engine

Since a lot of our artifact shenanigans are bound by tapping, I like having a few extra ways to untap our artifacts with Manifold Key and Clock of Omens.  Ingenuity Engine is an interesting card from Commander Legends that I’m interested in trying out in more artifact decks, so I found a spot here.  I know the baseline is to return the Engine to your hand to cast again to get the cascade trigger, but I also think it’ll be fun to sometimes bounce another artifact to your hand as a way to reset it.

7. Masked Vandal

Okay, now we get into the nuts-and-bolts Commander deck cards, and in this section are removal cards.  I really like the new card from Kaldheim Masked Vandal since it can exile an artifact or enchantment for the low, low price of exiling a creature card from your graveyard. Of note, since it has changeling, it counts as both a Fungus and a Saproling for potential shenanigans.

I’ve included a few other ways to take down permanents your opponents control:

Nature's Claim Return to Nature Broken Wings Force of Vigor

8. Skullclamp

Outside of Psychotrope Thallid, Tome of Legends, and Trading Post, I wanted some other ways to draw cards. Skullclamp is pretty much the gold standard even in decks that don’t have a steady diet of 1/1 Saprolings to clamp. 

Here are other ways to keep the cards flowing:

War Room Bonders' Enclave Tranquil Thicket Desert of the Indomitable Guardian Project Harmonize

9. Heroic Intervention

Outside of removal I like to have some other ways to interact with your opponents’ plans in the deck, and one I nearly always try to find room for is Heroic Intervention—whether it’s protecting your permanents from a battlefield sweeper or countering a targeted exile effect on a key card, this two-mana instant has your back.

Scavenger Grounds Soul-Guide Lantern Shadowspear

Scavenger Grounds and Soul-Guide Lantern put the brakes on graveyard abuse, and Shadowspear makes indestructible or hexproof threats much more manageable.

10. Castle Garenbrig

Last up is a suite of mana ramp spells; Vorinclex is a six-mana commander and that tax will add up quickly, so we’ll want plenty of ways to get ahead of the curve.  One slam-dunk inclusion is Castle Garenbrig, which taps for mana early or gives you an extra mana once you’ve got four other lands (unlike the overplayed bad card Temple of the False God).

Blighted Woodland Myriad Landscape Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx Sol Ring Nature's Lore Three Visits Skyshroud Claim

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


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 Kaldheim 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!  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.

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

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