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Death Becomes Grist


Hello happy people! I hope that you are having just an awesome-ly awesome day today! And week?! And month! And year! And life! And if not yet? I hope that today will be the beginning of a new era of awesome for you and yours!

Today we are looking at my fifth (and final) Commander deck built around a leader from Modern Horizons 2. Here are my previous four:

  1. First, I built around Yusri, Fortune's Flame! This deck is rife with cards that flip coins and care about flipping coins like Krark's Thumb and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom. It was awesome and you can check it out here!
  2. Secondly, I built around Carth the Lion and made a great Golgari Planeswalker Matters brew around said Lion. I ran cards like Grist, the Hunger Tide and Rings of Brighthearth. I also made sure to skip the EDHREC.com page to really build the deck all on my own. Want to check out Carth's Buddies Brew?
  3. Third, I created a deck around Aeve, Progenitor Ooze! This deck includes one copy of (almost) every mono-Green Ooze as well as cards that are good for storm like cantripping creatures and free spells like Mutagenic Growth and Lotus Petal. You can read the brew here!
  4. Fourthly, I looked at the epic-ly awesome Five Color leader Garth One-Eye. I chose to build a Five Color tap and untap build to enhance his tapping, and it features cards like Thousand-Year Elixir and Kiora's Follower. And Norritt! You can check this deep dive into all things tapping here!

Here's my card for today!

Grist, the Hunger Tide

Hello lady! I've talked about her before in two places. I wrote about her in my second Top Ten Cards List from Modern Horizons 2. I also already tossed her into a brew - Carth the Lion's planeswalker heavy brew mentioned above. She is one of the most unique planeswalkers ever printed! She's a creature in the Command Zone so you can run her as a Commander. She's also a dork in the graveyard for recursion, in the library for searching and loads more! You cannot counter her on the stack with traditional commonly played noncreature counters like Negate. I love her power and I was surprised that other writers didn't call her early.

Now, how to I build around her?

Here are my thoughts:

  • Golgari Friends - You could build a deck with a ton of fellow planeswalker and cards like The Chain Veil and proliferate cards like Karn's Bastion. The problem with this? I already built this deck with Carth.
  • Golgari Insect Tribe - I could build around her awesome +1 ability to make an Insect, self-mill a card, and if you hit an Insect, then you give her another loyalty, and repeat with another token and another self-mill, and if you hit another creature? According to Gatherer there are 150 legal Insects that we could use that are not Blue, Red, or White. However, I just dug into tribes with Aeve's Ooze loving brew. Do I want to do another?
  • Self-Tuck - A third way to build this deck is to drop Grist for three mana, and then lose it and then tuck it into your library and search it out with cards like Tooth and Nail and Green Sun's Zenith. This way you could get back your leader over and over again with things that are cheaper than Commander Tax. Cards like Soldevi Digger and Junktroller jump to my mind.

So, which one do I want to build around?

The tribal one seems the best, let's go pro-Insect! You might notice a few cards that care about the others though!

Where am I starting?

Patriarch's Bidding
Living Death
Twilight's Call

With this foursome! I am running mass creature reanimation since we are likely to self-mill a lot of stuff. The Bidding was added to Modern in the same set and is the best choice for this brew. You call a creature type like Insect, and everyone returns their Insects. They'll each get to call a type as well and they all get returned, but nothing else. It's always 100% return rate for you and yet not usually for your opponents, unless they also have a heavy tribal build.

Check out the Death! It destroys everything and returns everything that was in graveyards. Note that said death is an exile to your graveyard and gets around indestructible and hexproof. Pretty nice? The Call returns everything and can be cast as an instant for two more mana like Rout. It's really nasty here too. And don't forget Command the Dreadhorde! You can choose any number of dorks and planeswalkers that are in any graveyard. You'll get them under your control and lose life to the total of their casting costs. You can also kill Grist and then bring her back to the party with one of these. Pretty nice right?

All Hallow's Eve

But this? It's an amazing callback. For just four mana you cast this Reserve List sorcery which used to be errata'ed into an enchantment. Then you (basically) suspend it with two counters on the card. Two turns later it resolves and everything that was in graveyards for all players comes back! I love it here! In fact, I liked it so much that I picked up an Italian copy for $200.

Heirloom Blade

I don't have a lot of equipment, and we are missing the standard Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots to protect my Commander since she's a planeswalker. But I am running Heirloom Blade! This bad boy gives +3/+1 for just one mana to equip and three mana to drop it, not bad. When said equipped Insect dies you reveal cards from your library until you reveal an Insect and then you put the revealed card in your hand. Death Becomes Grist.

Now let's turn to some Insects!

Hornet Queen
Hornet Nest

Check out this Hornet faring duo! Hornet Queen is amazing as a 7-drop that brings four flying Insect tokens with deathtouch to trade up and muck up the skies. Plus, she trades up as well with deathtouch. I love her a lot! People fear these Hornets so much that they often won't swing at a Hornet Nest with a big creature like a 4/6 or a 5/5 knowing what will happen when you block and net a ton of Hornets that are angry from the dead Nest. Playing that sort of keep away is brilliant for us! This duo is powerful and flavorful!

Ant Queen
Bane of the Living
Broodhatch Nantuko

Check out this triumvirate of weird Insects that each does something differently. The Queen of the Ants is almost as good as Hornet Queen as she's a 5/5 for five mana which is on-curve, and you can invest two mana to make as many 1/1s as you have the mana. You can make one when someone swings at your face! The Living Bane is a sweeping removal you can morph up and sweep with giving you an on-theme sweeper in case things get out of hand. Giving stuff -X/-X will get around indestructible and there are no targets to worry about. You can just morph it up and get a 4/3 to kill someone that you blocked like a 2/4 Giant Spider. Don't sleep on that option. Much like Hornet Nest we have the Nantuko. It turns combat damage into Insects as well and you can morph it up as a surprise. I am also running Saber Ants that play into this theme.

Caustic Caterpillar
Heartstabber Mosquito
Nantuko Vigilante

There's also removal in Insects as well! The Caterpillar is a great one and can sacrifice to destroy an artifact or enchamtent. Pretty nice? It's great with my mass recurison spells as well as you can sacrifice it and then cast Twilight's Call et al. The Mosquito can be kicked to Murder target creature. Now that winds up being a seven-mana investment but with tag teamed with Green's ramp? That should work! The Vigilante is my third and final morph dork in the deck, which gives you a surprise. It can morph up for Naturalize mana and a Naturalize effect. There are other removal dorks here and there in the Insect tribe as well!

Hex Parasite
Kraul Harpooner

We've got more removal here! The Parasite is a favorite as it's pretty good in Commander and I run it in my Commander Cube as a Black colored artifact. I love it as a colorless 1-drop and then you can Howl from Beyond the Parasite. I really like this against opposing planeswalkers as you can pull off loyalty counters to fuel your best effort. It's also amazing against +1/+1 counter brews as well. You'll love it here. I also love the Harpooner here which can fight a flyer on arrival. It's already a 3/2 for two mana and gets the likely high undergrowth ability here and then you'll have the ability to kill most flyers, as you should get at least +3 or +4 from his ability in the middle of the game with Grist's +1 loyalty ability self-milling you and natural death as well. You can trade (look at the low butt) with big flyers like Consecrated Sphinx which I would really push around the block.

Xantid Swarm is a weird card that used to get played in older formats. It's only in 484 decks over at EDHREC.com and time has passed it by. You shouldn't do so though! It's pretty good. It's a Birds of Paradise that swaps tapping for any mana with swinging and forcing the swung to not be able to cast spells for the turn, so it removes interaction. Swing at the Blue player with counters and then drop now uncounterable things on your second main phase. Pretty nice right?

Deadbridge Goliath

Check out this beefy trio! Not every Insect is a 1/1 dork! I love the first card here as it is a solid on-curve 4-mana 5/5 that is good for the cause. After it dies or is milled by Grist, you can exile it and scavenge it and place a lot of counters on something to really push it past the point of no return. The second card is pretty good. It has shroud so folks cannot mess with its 6/1 body, and you can discard a card to bring it back from your graveyard to your hand. Might I suggest an extra land? If it's self-milled it can come back later. The third Insect is pretty nice as well as it gives you a 5/4 vigilance and trample body for 5 mana, which is great for the cause. And when it invariably dies, it comes back once with undying even better!

Grave-Shell Scarab

Remember this Golgari duo from the Ravnica: City of Guilds? Both play a nice role here. The Horror is a fun 6-mana 6/6 trampler that can dole out some damage. As creatures die, you can return them all to your hand at the end of the turn assuming that the 'crawler is still alive. It's a powerful card here! The Scarab adds two great things in addition to its nice 4/4 body. You can self-sacrifice it for a mana and draw a card which is great card flow in a deck. You can do so right before a big All Hallow's Eve resolves. You can also dredge it back to your hand for one card and replace a normal card draw. If it's self-milled by your leader it can come back and it helps with the general self-milling theme as well. Love it here!

Fog of Gnats
Nantuko Tracer

Check out this weird rarely played common pair. I love the Gnats here. Other than cards with Hornet in the title we don't have a lot of flyers in the Insect Swarm outside of weird cards like Killer Bees or Locust Swarm. But no worries! You can drop this as early as turn 2 and then block any flyers and keep your Fog around with the investment of a single Black mana! I talked earlier about self-tucking and we have an Insect that can play that role! If you let Grist head to your graveyard, and then you can drop the Tracer and place her on the bottom of your library and then you can cast Green Sun's Zenith or Tooth and Nail to bring her back. Although I prefer restocking a powerful spell like Living Death and then reshuffling with a fetch land or ramp spell. If your foe is abusing a card in the graveyard, you can send it back to their library to remove it as a threat. It plays a few roles here.

Quarry Beetle

Check out this Beetle! When it arrives, you can send a land to the battlefield from your graveyard. Normally this would be a fetch land. However, in this build with The Hunger Tide? You are going to self-mill a non-zero number of lands, so get one back! It's reverse ramp!

Thriss, Nantuko Primus

Thriss! Sounds like Grist right? Are they in love? I don't know about Grist as she probably keeps it on the downlow, but I know that I love Thriss! Right? Beefy legendary dork, can tap to give a giant boost to a given dork for just a single mana. Don't forget that you can block with a 5/5 Thriss, and then tap and make Thriss a 10/10 and likely kill any that dared come your (or Grist's) way. Love ya!

Now let's head into a different direction.

Endless Cockroaches
Brood of Cockroaches
Durable Coilbug

I want to follow the lead that my Insects lead me down. Fully three Insects have the ability so self-recur or self-return beyond dredge or Gigapede. The two Cockroaches can return after they have died to their owner's hand although the timing varies. And one causes you to lose a life. The Coilbug is a fine two-mana 2/2 and when it's in the graveyard you can invest mana and return it to your hand for another go. Good if it was self-milled. They are also good fodder for Grist' second ability her -2 to sacrifice a creature to Murder a creature or planeswalker. These led me to another Insect...

Nantuko Husk

This one! Check out the Husk! It can sacrifice a dork for no mana down and grow +2/+2 and is a commonly played sacrifice engine in casual builds. It's also a Zombie and an Insect. I really like the card here as we can sacrifice stuff before they are about to die to various things, and we should be going very wide with Grist.

Vampiric Rites
Birthing Pod
Phyrexian Altar

The Husk led me to this trinity to add in some sacrificing fun times. The Rites are my favorite of the three as you can turn sacrificing into cards (and life). Pretty good when you are going wide with a certain Grist and other cards. The Pod is great in a deck that has a deep number of creatures. You can sacrifice a token for a 1-drop and then a 1-drop for a 2-drop and so forth. Pretty sexy here! And then we have the Phyrexian Altar that can turn your extra dorks into mana a go go! Also, don't sleep on lands Grim Backwoods, High Market and Phyrexian Tower that also sacrifice for stuff, so all told we have 7 engines that are not Grist's -2 ability.

It of the Horrid Swarm
Distended Mindbender
Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

Doo these count as sacrifice engines? They can sacrifice once so maybe. I like them both here. They have cast triggers so even if they are countered, they net you a nice trigger. The Horrid Swarm is one of my favorite names in the game! Its base is an 8-mana 4/4 that brings two 1/1 Insects to the table, a bit behind the mana. But you can sacrifice a creature and reduce its cost by that that dork's mana cost. Three Insects for one card! And then the Mindbender is pretty nasty here as well! You get an 8-mana 5/5 that can get you up to two discards for one card, pretty good and card advantage. I like it as a sacrifice option as well.

Since we are sacrificing in 8 repeatable ways, why not toss in Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest? As you sacrifice your stuff it gets really big! It includes any permanent like fetch lands. Plus, it'll grow from things that your opponent's sacrifice as well! Pretty good here, right? Right!

Contagion Clasp
Contagion Engine

Again, I am not running very many pieces of equipment in this brew, but I had to run Skullclamp right? Right! It will turn a 1/1 Insect token into two cards for a single mana, and it will go on larger dorks before they get sacrificed for the cause for a single mana and draw two cards. The card flow is strong with this one!

And I did toss in a little proliferate here and there to help increase Grist. Each of the proliferate cards I tossed in can be used as creature removal, namely this duo that can kill with -1/-1 counters on opposing dorks and then proliferate away my friends, proliferate away!

Wrap in Vigor
Golgari Charm

Any deck that goes wide seeks ways to save the team from mass destruction. I tossed in Heroic Intervention and then looked for other ways to save the team here. Each of these instants will regenerate the entire team and that's great for mass removal like Day of Judgment, but not some effects that prevent regeneration like Wrath of God. They are great here, and the Golgari Charm doubles as removal for small fry although it'll kill your horde, so you want to be careful with it.

Now let's look at some lands!

Drownyard Temple
Forge of Heroes

Check out this duo! The Temple is here in case you self-mill it with Grist, then you can spend three mana to toss it to the battlefield all ready to tap for that colorless mana! The Forge is here to tap and add loyalty counters to Grist. We also have Karn's Bastion that can help with that loyalty countering.

Yavimaya Hollow

I didn't just want to run regeneration in my spells, but I also added two lands that net you that sweet ability as well! Check this out! Each will tap to regenerate a creature you control. The former one is free and taps to regenerate an Insect which is most of your build. The latter takes a mana to tap but it will regenerate anything you control, even a non-Insect! They can keep a chump blocking 1/1 Insect token out or help to keep alive something better like Nantuko Husk. Nice!

Volrath's Stronghold
Witch's Cottage
Blex, Vexing Pest // Search for Blex

How about these lands? Each will load a creature to the top of your library. The Stronghold will do it each turn and the Cottage will do it once on arrival if it's untapped. You can put an Insect on top of your library and then activate Grist's +1 and then get another +1 for sure and net at least two 1/1 Insects, maybe more plus two loyalty. You can also just draw the creature you reloaded and then keep up the pressure. It works in either case!

Check out Blex! Isn't he (she? they?) cute? I think so as well! The Vexing Pest of the version of this card is where it's at and you can give your Insect team +1/+1 but note that he is not an Insect, although I am running Maskwood Nexus so he could be! That card is not here for Junktroller or Blex, but instead here for the token making of an Insect, but it'll work as well!

Alright, let's look at two more cards and we'll call it!

Doubling Season

For most of the building of this deck Doubling Season was the only enchantment and I wound up with just three such enchantments - Grave Pact, Vampiric Rites and this. It's amazing here, not because of the work it does with Grist's loyalty, although that's awesome here, but because of what it does with her token making ability! As you get a few +1s off you'll make a ton more work! Plus all of the Hornet Queens and Scute Swarms and Ant Queens and It of the Horrid Swarms are loving you too!

Syr Konrad, the Grim

Check out this non-Insect! Look at Grist's ability again; you self-mill one card. Was it an Insect dork? Great! Self-mill one card again! Was it another Insect? Keep on going! If you control Syr Konrad at the same time, then each mill into a dork will deal 1 damage to each of your foes, so it becomes a nasty game-winning clock. You also net damage triggers when your creatures die as well, and that includes tokens dying to combat, mass sweepers like Earthquake, and sacrifice effects like Nantuko Husk. And you can activate him and mill everyone of a card and maybe hit more creatures for more recursion and more triggers of Konrad! It's awesome here!

And there we go! I hope that you enjoyed the deep dive into various cards which is around 3,800 total words! Now let's look at the decklist!

Death Becomes Grist | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there you have it! I hope that you enjoyed my look at this fun Insect brew! Anything I missed? Anything that you'd recommend? Anything you like? Just let me know!

Commander HQ: Decklists and Strategy for Modern Horizon 2's Legendary Creatures!

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