Don’t Fight Fair

Green is OK at drawing cards. It’s certainly not the worst color for card drawing, but you can hardly say that Green is great at it. Blue is great at it and the fact that Concentrate is not played in Commander but Harmonize is played a lot should tell you that there is a large disparity in the way the two colors draw cards. Green isn’t as bad as White, which has to consider Land Tax and Tithe a form of card draw (not that Sram, Senior Edificer doesn’t draw all of the cards), or Red, which can draw a lot of cards but isn’t allowed to keep them. Flavor-wise it follows — Red gets questionable intel from questionable sources and it doesn’t always pan out, Black pays a price for its secrets, White treats money and knowledge as though they are synonymous by levying taxes which gives you more land and thins out your deck (and then there’s Sram), and while Blue prefers to read books in isolation which gives it myriad different card drawing tools in its arsenal, Green gets its knowledge from nature, and the more creatures the Green mage is surrounded by, the more it can learn. I mean, I think — I just made all of that up but it sounds right to me, but what do I know? I got like 8 questions wrong on the Great Designer Search exam (I nailed that one about the {B}{G} flier, though). With cards like Collective Unconscious and Regal Force and also cards like Rishkar’s Expertise and Soul’s Majesty, having a lot of creatures or one huge (and therefore old and wise, I guess?) creature allows a Green mage to tap into the collective minds and glean some of the wisdom of the natural world. At least that’s how it used to work.

Grothama, All-Devouring

Now Green mages can draw cards equal to how hard their creatures can punch their own creatures. It’s unorthodox and I can’t quite reconcile it, yet with my quaint idea of how each color deals with card drawing but this is a thing now and I want to take advantage. I want my creatures to punch Grothama super hard so I can draw cards. I want Grothama to punch my other creatures super hard, and for that to matter, too. I also don’t want to pay the commander tax on Grothama, so I want to find some more novel ways to get it to leave play than to just have it die. I also don’t want my opponents to draw any cards (unless they do something for me, in which case I’d love for them to have that option) so I want Grothama either tanky or indestructible to survive. In short, I want to have it all, and this goofy creature I initially didn’t like one bit could be the key. I mostly just want to spank this with a Mossbridge Troll and draw 25 cards so I can say I did that. How do we have it all?

Firstly, I want to keep Grothama from dying. That’s fairly easy because we can regenerate it with Asceticism, make it indestructible with Darksteel Plate or make it a huge tank with Empyrial Armor. I want Grothama to survive and I want my creatures to either survive or thank me for fighting Grothama with them. Also, I want to actually draw the cards, so I want Cloudstone Curio, Temur Sabertooth, and Erratic Portal to help Grothama leave play without forcing me to pay commander tax and letting me draw some cards. I won’t want to do this every time Grothama is fought, but a non-zero number of times so I can draw some cards seems appropriate. I want to fight but I don’t want to fight fair and I want to dump a ton of extra lands into play with cards like Horn of Greed and Burgeoning. I also don’t want to discard to hand size. Can we make all of this happen?

The first thing I need to do is find creatures of mine I want to fight. That’s tough but a few gatherer searches narrowed the pool for me. “Whenever dealt damage” was the first search I tried, and that turned up some juicy targets like Broodhatch Nantuko, Druid’s Call, Hornet Nest, Overgrown Armasaur, and Saber Ants. I ran across but almost didn’t run Stuffy Doll because I thought it had Defender but, nope, it definitely does not. That feels like cheating, almost. A suited-up Grothama slapping Stuffy Doll for 25 or 30 seems like a great proposition to me, especially if that same huge monster 1-shots another opponent by attacking them.

Finally, I want to put my own unique spin on the deck and that best way I know how to do that is to take advantage of that Cloudstone Curio package and play creatures with useful ETB effects. Reclamation Sage, Eternal Witness, Duplicant, even Uktabi Orangutan deserves a look. I don’t want to go full Voltron, so having creatures with useful abilities to get me value will go a long way. I hope to get a lot of my lands out, double my mana, and really go to town bouncing stuff. Drawing extra cards ought to really help with that. I think a list would look something like this.

Stuffy Doll
This is a fun, big-mana deck that’s going to draw us a lot of cards and hopefully deal them a lot of damage. This is typical of this series in that it’s a bit of a hybrid build and you can choose to take it in a few directions and will likely still have a 75% deck if you remember our building guidelines. I think there are a few fun ways to go with this build.

You could go full Voltron. This is a semi-Voltron build but some really deadly equipment and ways to make your creature trample could really focus it. You could conceivably dome 2 people by making Grothama large enough to KO one person and killing someone else with Stuffy Doll, which is hilarious. It may take two swings to get the person you Stuffy Doll, unless Grothama has like 40 power, but it could be worth it. I don’t often build decks where I win with Commander damage and that could be fun. Try Rancor, Quietus Spike, Nature’s Will, Empyrial Armor, some more swords and any amount of Standard Voltron staples and take out some of the cuter cards in the deck. I imagine lots of people will cut the Helix Pinnacle, which works better in a bigger mana build.

Big Mana is a great way to build this. Take out a second mortgage and get a Gaea’s Cradle and take advantage of their lands drops to keep your full grip empty of lands. Boundless Realms can thin the deck considerably and you can cut some of the less important non-basics to find room for more Snow-Covered Forests. Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger lends itself to a build like this and while that’s not the most 75% card ever printed, it’s probably OK here. We’re not fighting fair, after all. Big mana likes to play a lot of spells, so you will be able to bounce more creatures and replay them, so add more ETB creatures if you want to pursue that build.

If you want to be more of a “combo” deck, you can focus on creatures that fight Grothama, but I think I included just about everything I would for that build. The way to play this deck is try to get one or two solid connections early to draw a lot of cards, dump your hand onto the board and suit up bigger creatures and clobber people. If you use all of your mana to win with Helix Pinnacle, that’s cool. You should be able to draw enough cards to find Pinnacle and Earthcraft and then clobber a Saber Ants or something to get enough small creatures to generate the 100 mana you need.

I think of all of the hybrid builds I have tried, this is the closest to working every avenue we could pursue. I think the different aspects of the deck can be viewed as stages of victory — instead of being a combo, big mana or Voltron deck, we’re a deck that uses a combo to get big mana then suit up a creature, so all of the elements need to be present. If you want to load up more on one of the strategies, be careful not to cut something essential. I like this deck a lot and since I didn’t initially like the creature very much, I’m delighted that I had this much fun brewing. Thanks for reading, and if you’re in Vegas for the GP this weekend, come find me and challenge me to some Commander in person. I’ll be the one with the beard and black T-shirt. Until next time!

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