Hello happy people! I hope that you are having an awesome day today! Today we are looking at a recently published Commander from D&D: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. My hope is that should be a good and fun deck for the win.
This is my fouth article around a leader from the set!
Who have I already built around?
- Volo, Guide to Monsters - Firstly, I grabbed and built a Simic deck around this unique Human and Wizard. Every creature in the deck has a unique creature type and I built it around my token Shapeshifter - Riptide Shapshifter who you can sacrifice for the perfect creature in this creature-based build. I hope you enjoy it!
- Minsc, Beloved Ranger - I loved the idea of a Giant Boo so much that I tossed together a fun ramp deck that wants a big X effect for your Minsc. I also tossed in a bunch of buddies in the vein of Minsc and Boo like Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves and his legendary token Voja or Jiang Yanggu and his buddy Mowu, Loyal Companion. Enjoy the flavor of making a buddy big to swing and win the game with!
- Nihiloor - Then I turned to this Esper Commander that wants you to steal and then swing for a lot of triggers with your stolen stuff! I tossed in a ton of cards like Desertion, Ray of Command and Preacher. Enjoy it here!
Since my last deck last week was about Esper Control Stealing, let's build the opposite today! How about Gruul Aggro?
Today we are building around Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll! As you can see, this Gnoll has a cheap 2/2 for 2 mana across the Gruul colors so he's a Bear and cheap for the cost. He has two abilities. The first is pack tactics. When you swing with Targ Nar, if you have attacked with a total power of 6 or more among all your stuff you will also pump your attacking team by +1/+0 for the turn. Then you can spend 4 mana to double the Gnoll's power and toughness for the turn. Do it once for a 6/4 after the swing's pump. Do it twice for a 12/8 that kills in three Commander Damage hits. Pretty good right? What else am I looking for in this brew?
- Pack Tactics - Pack tactics isn't just an ability word on Targ Nar, but it's also on more Gruul creatures. Let's add in some more. Let's also add in some attack and combat damage triggers.
- Creatures - Since I want to attack, let's lean into running more creatures.
- Cheap Stuff - Let's play with the cheaper side of life.
- Support - Let's run a bit of ramp for Targ Nar's ability, removal, and card drawing.
And that's it!
Now let's drill down into the cards that I am adding to Targ Nar!
Weird... there are only two Targ Nar's registered over at EDHREC.com thus far. Guess we'll be digging a different hole.
Did you see this common Goblin Shaman from Modern Horizons 2? It's pretty good here as well. You can drop it on the second turn and get a Grizzly Bear sized force. In a Gruul deck it's amazing as any spell in your deck can be reduced by that amount. This is the first time I've tossed it into a deck I built. Enjoy it!
Here are my three other pack tactics. The Goblin can swing and make another attacking Goblin that's 1/1 if you trigger the ability. It's another 2/2 for 2 mana and pretty tasty here. The Hunter is here to provide a beefy 4/4 for 5 mana, which is enough for pack tactics with just your leader and no other activations or dorks. Swing and then you can Fling a dork you control for damage to another dork. It also has a cool trample. Then the Pack Leader is a powerful 2-drop into a 3/3 Watchwolf. It's getting a lot of play in Standard. Much like Targ Nar you can activate it and this time turn it into a 5/3 trampler. Cool!
And then I added in some cards that have combat damage triggers. Check out this trio! The Druid can punch and then dig until you find a land, ramp you of said land, and then add to your damage. I also tossed in Centaur Omenreader with a different ramp when you punch. The Human Shaman can turn combat damage on your foe into impulsive card drawing which is likely to trigger twice with its double strike when you swing at an empty foe. Check out the Giant Shaman that is hard to block and a nasty 5/5 for four mana. When you punch you Naturalize a target they control. Pretty good right? And pretty easy for pack tactics!
I love Kogla here! On arrival to the battlefield, he will fight and kill most opposing dorks. When you swing you can break an artifact or enchantment, which is pretty good and another way to Naturalize over and over again. Unlike Sunder Shaman this one doesn't need to connect to trigger.
Have you seen this duo from the Commander set that released along with D&D? The former has trample and a 5/3 body for just four mana and that's pretty good for this team. Whenever any source you control deals damage to a foe that's five or more? You draw a card! Kogla? A big Targ Nar? The Champion himself? Enjoy him! And then we have the latter card, which is our only flyer. Flying, haste and seven mana for a 4/4. As it swings you make some mana equal to the power of attacking creatures, but you can't use that mana for Targ Nar's pump. Make a ton of mana out of nowhere and then dump your hand!
Have you seen Wulfgar of Icewind Dale? He's pretty sexy right? You can check out Jumbo Commander's take on this card here, which is a pretty good way to build around him. He will double your attack triggers so that's a double pack tactics or Klauth's mana or Kogla's destruction, and a lot more! Love him here!
Want more combat damage triggers? How about the Ohran duo? The Viper will draw you a card as it damages a foe and can keep foes from blocking your 1/3 thanks to pseudo-deathtouch that trades with anyone it deals combat damage to. Pretty nasty right? The Frostfang gives all your attackers deathtouch, including itself. The five-drop is pretty solid in that regard. As any creature you control deals combat damage to a foe you draw a card so it's a super Viper. And everything from Targ Nar to Wulfgar will draw those cards. I also tossed in Toski, Bearer of Secrets and Keeper of Fables to help with the combat damage card drawing.
Let's add in some tramplers with combat damage triggers. Neheb will likely deal damage to a foe. When this Zombie Minotaur Warrior does so, you can discard any number of cards and draw that number from your deck and make some mana equal to the discarded number. Pretty good card flow. The Hive will punch with its 6/6 trampling body and again, will likely punch a foe. As you do you deal that much damage, you'll also make that many 1/1 Insect tokens that can really ramp up your creature count quickly. It's pretty sexy here!
Here are some more combat damage triggers! The first one is a 2/2 2-drop and keeps up the pressure. You will have two options when you punch face and those include goading a creature they control or exiling a card from their library's top and then letting you cast it this turn, and you can use any mana you have to do so. Exile Swords to Plowshares? Tap a Mountain to cast it!
The second card is a powerful 4/3 for just three mana and will pack tactics with Targ Nar alone. When it deals combat damage to a foe you dig until you find a Garruk planeswalker (which we do have with Garruk, Primal Hunter making the cut) or a creature and then putting it into your hand. Nice card flow!
And then the third card was also printed in D&D and it's a 4/4 trampling haster that will exile cards from the graveyard and it will get bigger as you exile dorks and gain life as you don't. Just that 4/4 attacking out of nowhere is 2/3rds of your pack tactics and every other creature with that ability is at least rocking 2 power to get you home!
Let's turn away from combat damage and attack triggers.
Have you seen Eye of Vecna from the same set as Targ Nar? I've written about it extensively here. The "Too Long Didn't Read" summary is that this is a colorless, cheaper Phyrexian Arena that pays two life per card rather than one. As this is the only life loss in the deck, I felt a double pain Phyrexian Arena was worth it. It also replaces itself so if someone burns a Krosan Grip on it then you'll be up a card.
Have you seen Cursed Mirror? It's a pretty good Red artifact from the same set as Wulfgar. As you can see, this is a three-drop that taps for mana on arrival. As it arrives to the party it can become a copy of any creature you control and then swing and then at the end of the turn it stops being a copy. A free swing from a creature with an attack trigger or combat damage one out of nowhere is pretty good! A second Living Hive? Another Froghemoth? Pretty good stuff, right?
Let's toss in this classic Sword of X and Y duo from the first printing way back in Darksteel. As you can see, they have combat damage triggers and protection from two colors that will let them swing past 40% of creatures and loads of removal. Both give +2/+2 (good for pack tactics), and will net you two combat damage to a player triggers.
Fire and Ice is my favorite with a card draw and a Shock for two damage. Light and Shadow is my second favorite as you gain three life (good for Eye of Vecna going long) and Raise Dead a cool creature that died in combat. I only have this Sword and Timeless Witness and Eternal Witness bringing things back, so you won't care as much about graveyard removal. Note that Light and Shadow protect a creature against most creature removal like Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Vindicate, Utter End, Generous Gift, Terminate and Murder. Only burn and Chaos Warp can target the Light and Shadowed one as well as Pongify and similar effects. With the Swords on the same creature only Beast Within and Desert Twister are cracking that shield. And Targ Nar is going to love that!
All right let's head even more off the reservation with some more cards.
I mentioned earlier that the lone Dragon is my only flyer. That was intentional! All our main crew are on the ground. Inspired by that I added in Whirlwind, the Wrath of God for flyers. It's a mega-sweeper against many boards that you won't care at all about! I also tossed in Tornado Elemental to sweep the flying board of 6 damage when it arrives to the battlefield. If this 6/6 is blocked in combat? Send that combat damage to the opponent that blocked you! That means you'll still get triggers from the Swords of X and Y.
I almost didn't add I Aggravated Assault. Why? It's my lone enchantment. It was also my 63rd card and I wanted a 62/38 split of nonlands to lands. But it's just so synergetic here, right? How can you not run it and net all those combat damage triggers and attack triggers again and again? I know! I couldn't leave it out either!
Want to know why Zariel is here? It's for that +1. It will give the whole team haste and pump it up by 1 power. I love that ability in this deck as we don't have much haste here. I did a deep dive of her in my first Top Ten from the set (Where does she hit? Find out here). But basically she's a mono-Red Sarkhan Vol, which is better in some cases and worse in others. Her 0 is great here at making a token that you can attack or block attackers on the four planeswalkers I am running. Hey...I'm in Gruul! Let's toss in haste enablers in the original Sarkhan Vol and Samut, Tyrant Smasher as well!
Want to look at some lands?
How about Skarrg, the Rage Pits? Why is it here? Great question! It's here for that ability to tap for colorless mana! Mana rules! Nope...that's not it. It's here for that second ability, sorry. You can pump a dork up by +1/+1 and give said dork trample. A good example of a potential trampler? Something with combat damage like Avenging Druid, which also grows to a 2/4. How about Targ Nar at 3/3 with trample and 4/3 with his pack tactics triggers. You get it!
How about these two creature lands? The are pretty nifty as well. The Den can tap for mana and is better on the mana than Skarrg. When you want to you can spend 4 mana to turn this into a 3/2 Red Goblin and swing, and then when it swings it makes a 1/1 Golbin token that's attacking, so that's at least a 4/3 total across two bodies, and that's 6/3 with a Targ Nar trigger. The Ravine is also good for sorting mana as it taps for both of your colors. Spend 4 mana to animate it into a 3/3 Elemental that can swing and when it does it becomes a 4/4 and then a 5/5 on a future swing and so forth. It's in here for the attack trigger as well! They are so nice that I like them twice!
Let's do two more cards and call it.
Kediss isn't here to partner with another dork, but instead to push your Commander up a level. It is a 1/1 for 2 mana, which is a bit small for the deck but is fine considering. When your leader punches someone's face, all of the other faces get punched for the same damage. This cute uncommon is really strong in the right build, and with a self-growing leader this can be really strong.
Let's finish with Cazur! As you can see, he would normally partner with Ukkima, Stalking Shadow but he's not here for that! Nope, he's here for his mass combat damage trigger. Whenever a dork (including Cazur) deals combat damage to a foe you put a +1/+1 counter on the damaging dork, which will help it smash on later turns. Targ Nar on his first turn with pack tactics will punch as a 3/2. Then he'll be a 4/3. Note that if you double him now, you are starting with his new enhanced power, so he'll get more powerful more quickly. Just himself and Cazur will be pretty nasty combo. I like Cazur here a lot!
My deck went into a massively different place than the two builds over at EDHREC.com, but that's to be expected. Let's look at it!
Smashing with Targ Nar | Commander | Abe Sargent
- Commander (1)
- 1 Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll
- Creatures (41)
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Arni, Brokenbow
- 1 Avenging Druid
- 1 Battle-Cry Goblin
- 1 Cazur, Ruthless Stalker
- 1 Centaur Rootcaster
- 1 Dragonborn Champion
- 1 Etali, Primal Storm
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Flametongue Kavu
- 1 Foundation Breaker
- 1 Froghemoth
- 1 Garruk's Harbinger
- 1 Gnoll Hunter
- 1 Goblin Anarchomancer
- 1 Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
- 1 Hanweir Garrison
- 1 Hydra Omnivore
- 1 Inferno Titan
- 1 Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar
- 1 Keeper of Fables
- 1 Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient
- 1 Kogla, the Titan Ape
- 1 Living Hive
- 1 Lotus Cobra
- 1 Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion
- 1 Ohran Frostfang
- 1 Ohran Viper
- 1 Prophetic Flamespeaker
- 1 Questing Beast
- 1 Rampaging Baloths
- 1 Rapacious One
- 1 Reclamation Sage
- 1 Sunder Shaman
- 1 Tiger-Tribe Hunter
- 1 Timeless Witness
- 1 Tornado Elemental
- 1 Toski, Bearer of Secrets
- 1 Tuya Bearclaw
- 1 Werewolf Pack Leader
- 1 Wulfgar of Icewind Dale
- Planeswalkers (4)
- 1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
- 1 Samut, Tyrant Smasher
- 1 Sarkhan Vol
- 1 Zariel, Archduke of Avernus
- Enchantments (1)
- 1 Aggravated Assault
- Artifacts (9)
- 1 Arcane Signet
- 1 Cursed Mirror
- 1 Eye of Vecna
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Sword of Fire and Ice
- 1 Sword of Light and Shadow
- 1 Whispersilk Cloak
- Lands (37)
- 1 Access Tunnel
- 1 Bonders' Enclave
- 1 Castle Embereth
- 1 Castle Garenbrig
- 1 Cinder Glade
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Cragcrown Pathway
- 1 Den of the Bugbear
- 1 Evolving Wilds
- 1 Hanweir Battlements
- 1 Gruul Turf
- 1 Kessig Wolf Run
- 1 Raging Ravine
- 1 Rogue's Passage
- 1 Rootbound Crag
- 1 Sheltered Thicket
- 1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
- 1 Spire Garden
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Temple of Abandon
- 1 Terramorphic Expanse
- 8 Forest
- 8 Mountain
And there we are! I hope that you enjoyed my take of this Gruul Smasher! Anything in here that you liked or that I missed? Just let me know, and have an awesome day, week, month, year, and life!