Lyzolda’s Bomb Tomb

Last week, I shared some of the highs and lows of my Magical adventures in the great state of New Jersey. While I can just as easily play Commander in the confines of the greatest city on earth, I get a little thrill when I hop in the car and drive only to see familiar faces with new commanders at the helm, eager to do battle. It is something that unites us: the ability to traverse state lines to have a shared experience not too different than the one we can have at the dining-room table. Magic is more than just collecting cards—it is gathering experiences. Commander exemplifies this in that there is always something new, something different, to fill the senses. Each new set brings an exponential number of options for something the world has yet to see, and these games give us all the chance for true discovery. The frontiers are vast, and the horizons are endless (though punctuated every three months or so).

These sensations, in part, are what draw me to Commander. I build decks that try to embody the characteristics of the legendary creature (or potentially Planeswalker) leading the battle. My Muzzio, Visionary Architect deck is about constructing the grandest contraption while my Xenagos, God of Revels deck is about the chaos of living off the top. I am working toward a Marrow-Gnawer deck that evokes the constricting fear of the bubonic blague. Lyzolda, the Blood Witch is meant to elicit feelings of fear. While Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper is the chief of my shambling Zombie horde, Lyzolda commands all manner of creatures from the underworld. And when she summons them, they explode from that realm directly onto the battlefield.

For reference, here is my Lyzolda deck:

Lyzolda, the Blood Witch — Commander | Alex Ullman

Commander (1)
Creatures (45)
Planeswalkers (1)
Spells (16)
Lands (37)
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Like so many of my decks that use Swamps, this deck grew from my desire to get the most out of creatures dying. After I started playing Commander regularly, I was drawn to Lyzolda, the Blood Witch due to her ability to convert expended resources into new cards. Sure, if I wanted to sacrifice something red, I could get a free Shock, but the goal was always to send some number of undead minions to their untimely end only to retrieve them later, all for the sake of netting a single card.

The deck took shape from Lyzolda. As a commander that only requires 3 mana, she has a fairly efficient cost-to-power ratio; I have ended at least one game by dealing 21 damage with her, and it was quite an enjoyable moment. While attractive, that is not the attribute of Lyzolda that led me to connect with the Blood Witch. I wanted her around to summon minions and then stab them through the heart in order to achieve her ends.

Gifts That Keep Giving

Tymaret, the Murder King
Bloodghast, Bloodsoaked Champion, Krovikan Horror, Nether Traitor, Reassembling Skeleton, and Tymaret, the Murder King: These creatures represent a relentless rush of card advantage. They willingly prostrate themselves to Lyzolda, giving their unlife to further her cause. This corp doesn’t mind since they can come back with such ease. These five can shrug the mortal coil on or off with the same ease as some can shrug their shoulders.

The cream of this crop includes Bloodsoaked Champion and Reassembling Skeleton. With these two on board (and in one case an appropriate raid trigger), every 4 mana becomes a new card. In the latter stages of the game, this engine allows the deck to pull ahead in pure resources. When combined with the elements of this deck that care about things dying, well, each iteration is simply another virtual spell.

Krovikan Horror is a fun piece of tech I picked up from my compatriot Carlos. Not only does the Horror help creatures into their true homes, it can keep coming back for more. The extra bookkeeping required to maintain a graveyard order is absolutely worth this little engine that kills.

Tymaret, the Murder King represents a strong second to Lyzolda as a potential leader for this menagerie. In fact, there have been times when I let the Witch take a rest and put Tymaret in charge. Those days are different, as this deck thrives with the extra cards from its intended commander, but Tymaret provides a more reliable source of damage as so few of the creatures present are red.

Free Spells

Grave Pact
Lyzolda is not cruel—she does not demand her servants die for no reason. Sure, she gives them a good incentive, but much of the magic at her fingertips turns their deaths into approximations of potent sorcery. Grave Pact provides a free Innocent Blood effect and is known to cause quite a bit of destruction and chaos at Commander tables. Reaper from the Abyss accomplishes a similar goal, if on a more targeted scale. Grim Haruspex and Harvester of Souls allow Lyzolda to gain a little more out of each death.

These two creatures are the ones that help keep the engine moving forward. Lyzolda can trigger deaths, but these two allow those that would die from more natural causes to still contribute to the fight. The Blood Witch does not get tucked often, but when it does, these two minions do good work in digging me toward the person who is really in charge.
Skirsdag High Priest turns dead creatures into Demons (with a little help), and Disciple of Griselbrand keeps me alive. I’ve discussed my love for these two before, so I won’t go into too much detail. However, do not underestimate these two 1-power behemoths.

Finally, Blood Artist, Falkenrath Noble, and Rage Thrower convert each dying gasp into damage. When creatures are dying en masse, it is easy for these little stings and Shocks to add up. It is hard to describe the pure joy you achieve when you flash in a Rage Thrower thanks to Winding Canyons when your opponent confidently casts his or her board sweeper. No small part of that happiness comes from watching that player’s face warp in agony as he or she realizes what has just happened.

Mean Things

I tend to avoid including I-win combos. I find they create rather boring games. Lyzolda, however, is an exception of sorts. I have included the rather brutal package of Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Mephidross Vampire teaming up with Triskelion or Deathbringer Thoctar. Take one from column A and another from column B, and you have a machine gun that can take down just about any army. I have avoided running direct tutors for these creatures instead using cards Buried Alive and Corpse Connoisseur to weave these cards together if warranted. Even with those tutors, an additional card like Phyrexian Reclamation is required to materialize the carnage.


I bought a foil copy of Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded on a whim for this deck. I have a soft spot for the Planeswalker and his sense of style. I also loved the idea of Tibalt’s plus-one ability actually working toward a positive end in this deck. Since the graveyard here acts as an extension of the hand, the random discard is barely a downside. Early in the game, I will hold back the Fiend-Blooded one to make sure I do not accidentally pitch away needed resources.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded
Dawn of the Dead

The Boom Tomb

There are a few cards that actually make things explode from the graveyard. Rescue from the Underworld is best used to rebuy two enters-the-battlefield effects, but it is also useful for saving a creature that would otherwise be targeted. Dawn of the Dead is best with an active sacrifice outlet on the table, allowing any creature returned to be buried again for retrieval in the future.

My favorite card for this effect, however, might just be Cauldron Dance. This wordy uncommon from Invasion is a bloodbath waiting to happen. This one spell can generate a ton of advantage either by rebuying a Shriekmaw or by cheating something expensive into play, only for it to come back again in few turns. The Dance can only be cast during combat, but it does not have to be your combat phase, making it a potentially powerful political pawn. Every time I draw Cauldron Dance, I can barely contain my excitement because I just know something wonderful is about to happen.


Unstable Obelisk
Now that I have my hands on cards from Commander (2014 Edition), I have a feeling I am going to be making some changes. First up is Overseer of the Damned. This giant 187 creature will almost certainly take the spot of Big Game Hunter, making each subsequent death for Lyzolda’s enemies even better for her—she always needs more fodder for her rituals after all.

Talisman of Indulgence is a fine card, but it is likely to be replaced by Unstable Obelisk. Being Rakdos, Lyzolda has problems handling enchantments, and the Obelisk can certainly help in that department.

Finally, Necromantic Selection will be taking the slot of Black Sun’s Zenith. The new board wipe seems tailor-made for this deck and its propensity for raising minions from their freshly packed plots. Who cares that it gets exiled? Lyzolda don’t!

Lyzolda’s is one of my favorite decks to play at the moment. While, on the surface, it can appear to be a chaotic conflux of cards moving from zone to zone, it operates as a well-oiled machine. With so many redundancies and ways to extract value from the deaths of its own forces, Lyzolda is a force for reckoning at a Commander table.

And besides, who is going to take a deck that runs Tibalt seriously?

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