Hello folks! I hope you are having a safe day is our modern COVID-19 world! And I hope you are having some fun as well!
Are you feeling bored of Commander the normal way? Is it getting a little stale? Do you find yourself in a Commander trough with no way out? I hear you, and I have the answer!
What if you had to build around a randomly selected Commander using the EDHREC.com random leader button? What would you do? How would you build around it?
Enter this series which tries to step into the gap that this challenge represents. I could be building around anything. Literally! Is it legal in Commander? Then it's runnable!
Well... not exactly. There are a few provisios, and quid pro quos.
Here are my rules:
- If I have built around it in this challenge, it's not eligible for another go around the bidet.
- If I have built around it in another article it is also ineligible for running
- I reserve the right to accept an illegal Commander if it pushes me such as an Unstable one.
- If I get a heavily used leader, I reserve the right to pass and move on unless I have a unique take on said leader.
Ready? Let's do this to this!
Awesome! Bontu the Glorified! I know Bontu is a strong commander because I have a real-life build around Bontu that uses cards like Buried Alive, sacrifice engines like Attrition and creatures like Nether Shadow. I call it Commander Shadow, which is a good superhero or villain name by the by. I am vetoing Bontu the Glorified.
It's another mono-black leader that begins with the letter "B." I have never built a deck around Balthor! Balthor will recur all creatures of that color, and not just your own. You'll get your stuff back, and that's guaranteed if you aren't running any colorless creatures (I won't be) but that means around 40% of opposing ones are recur'able from your foes. Still, Magic is built around taking effects that affect everyone like Wrath of God or Armageddon and turning them into one-sided powerhouses.
Balthor Take Two is sitting at 106 decks registered over at EDHREC.com so that's not a very used leader, but should prove to be quite fun!
What do I want this deck to run?
- Minions. You might as well! This is a Minion lord after all! However, there are not that many good quality Minions out there. Everyone that's feasible and legal (Braids, Cabal Minion is banned) is here!
- Graveyard - Some graveyard cards like Buried Alive and Gravebreaker Lamia are key to ensuring a full bin for the Balthor'ing.
- Value - Cards like Nekrataal and Liliana's Specter and Phyrexian Rager. I want creatures with awesome triggers that we can load up for using repeatedly. The cards included in EDHREC.com for this build are all heavily focused on the graveyard heavy aspect of this brew with sacrifice options, recursion and graveyard abuse. I see this as more of a midrange deck that pushes card drawing and enters-the-battlefield triggers and such rather than a graveyard powerhouse. This isn't Bontu the Glorified take two. However, I do want my deck to be graveyard literate.
Let's do them in that order! Consider the power of a Minion like Bone Shredder here. Echo works well as you can ensure it's the graveyard for Balthoring. It's a 2/2 flyer with the commander out, which is solid for the mana investment and could be worth the upkeep if you aren't planning on losing Balthor anytime soon. It also works with the value side of the deck. Chainer, Dementia Master is a very different style of Minion, but his graveyard literacy works very nicely in this brew as well! Note that he'll exile the recurred creatures when he dies, but not when they die, so you can pull them out to chump block or for useful triggers and then see them die. Help ensure his survival with Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots!
Let's have a quick side conversation about the awesomeness of this on Balthor who self-exiles himself. Put this on Balthor. Self-exile it. Then it returns to play without any Commander Tax or mana needed! It's very strong in this build. I only wish it were a creature that worked on all your stuff so that I could loop it with Balthor!
One ability that I think works well in this brew is cycling. Cycle something early on turns 1-3 and then bring it back with a self-exiling Commander. You get the card and then you also get the body! This will let you get an expensive body like Scion of Darkness much earlier than normal. Undead Gladiator is probably my favorite as you can keep up the card flow turn after turn as long as you have the mana. And this deck? It'll have the mana...
I used the typical Mono-Black Cabal Coffers and similar tools for this brew as well. I have a large number of Swamps and tutors for Cabal Coffers with Expedition Map, and our normal suite of Black tutors should you care to do so. The only nonbasic Swamps I have are these two plus Phyrexian Arena, Volrath's Stronghold (essential in a brew like this), and Myriad Landscape. I also tossed in 2 mana sinks in Staff of Domination and Retrofitter Foundry. The latter can make fuel for your build and slides in nicely.
Similarly, to cycling I am running both useful evoke cards. You can drop them early and net their trigger and then bring them back permanently. And you net another trigger when you do so and load up on that enters-the-battlefield good stuff. Both Mournwhelk and Shriekmaw will do some reliable damage.
The last place I flesh out my deck is adding in a small but relevant number of self-sacrifice and graveyard cards like Entomb and Attrition. I also added in God-Eternal Bontu, who can turn any number of cards sacrificed into cards. Cast him while you have out Balthor and you can sacrifice every other dork you control including Bontu. (His shuffle trigger is a may effect) and then self-exile Balthor and get all those cards back! That was a big card advantage swing. I also tossed this in as an homage to Bontu the Glorified which I flipped out first.
All right, would you like to see the deck?
Here we go!
Balthor's Fun Run | Commander | Abe Sargent
- Commander (1)
- 1 Balthor the Defiled
- Creatures (37)
- 1 Archfiend of Ifnir
- 1 Avatar of Woe
- 1 Ayara, First of Locthwain
- 1 Bone Shredder
- 1 Burglar Rat
- 1 Cavalier of Night
- 1 Chainer, Dementia Master
- 1 Corpse Connoisseur
- 1 Crypt Ghast
- 1 Disciple of Bolas
- 1 Dread Presence
- 1 Faceless Butcher
- 1 Gloomdrifter
- 1 God-Eternal Bontu
- 1 Grave Titan
- 1 Gravebreaker Lamia
- 1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
- 1 Harvester of Souls
- 1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
- 1 K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth
- 1 Liliana's Shade
- 1 Liliana's Specter
- 1 Lurking Chupacabra
- 1 Mournwhelk
- 1 Murderous Rider
- 1 Nekrataal
- 1 Nirkana Revenant
- 1 Phyrexian Gargantua
- 1 Phyrexian Plaguelord
- 1 Phyrexian Rager
- 1 Scion of Darkness
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 1 Stinkweed Imp
- 1 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
- 1 Syr Konrad, the Grim
- 1 Twisted Abomination
- 1 Undead Gladiator
- Planeswalkers (3)
- 1 Liliana of the Dark Realms
- 1 Liliana, Death's Majesty
- 1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General
- Instants (1)
- 1 Entomb
- Enchantments (7)
- 1 Attrition
- 1 Black Market
- 1 Dictate of Erebos
- 1 Grave Pact
- 1 Kaya's Ghostform
- 1 Necromancy
- 1 Phyrexian Arena
- Artifacts (8)
- 1 Caged Sun
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Jet Medallion
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Retrofitter Foundry
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Staff of Domination
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
And there you have it! 100 cards of card for your consideration! What did you think of my deck? Anything in here that inspired your deck-building? Are you going to be dipping into the random Commander challenge? Or are you just inspired by the forgotten classic Balthor the Defiled? Let me know what you think about it in the comments below!
Random Commander Challenges
Did you enjoy today's deck and want to check out all the random chaos from the previous editions? Great! Here they are.
- For my first challenge, I hit on Random Gatherer Gwendlyn di Corci from the set that introduced legendary permanents. I create a discard-matters deck around her.
- I flip over one of the original Elder Dragon Legends that the format was initially named after - Arcades Sabboth. I decide to build around a non-Red and non-Black Dragon theme. Get ready!
- The Random Fairy Strikes Again! This time it lands on Toshiro Umezawa, one of the major protagonists of the Kamigawa Block storyline. Check out my spell-based fun time deck!
- My submission of the random button finds the vanilla The Lady of the Mountain. Inspired by one of the few Commander options legally printed as a common, I decide to create a Pauper EDH deck for you! Let me know what you think!
- I hit the random button and got Kefnet the Mindful. I turned him into a budget build for fewer than $33 as part of my Budget Commander series. Enjoy!
- Random Gatherer hits Nissa, Vastwood Seer for a fun, mono-Green Forests-matter deck! Check it out!
- This time, we hit 1-drop Vanilla Isamaru, Hound of Konda. What do I do with him? How about Isamaru Ultron? Let's give our pet some pants.
- Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle - This build wants to build a fun challenge around the historic recursions of Teshar's potential. You can check it out here.
- I randomly uncover Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind from way back and build a fun damage-matters and card-drawing matters build for your consideration! Let me know what you think!
- What happens when Gatherer give me Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner? I make one of the most fun EDH decks in this series, that's what! Check it out!
- I flip over Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient that loves to fork artifact abilities. Want to check out this odd take on Mono-Red artifacts?
- Gatherer gives me Selvala, Heart of the Wilds. I use it to build a fun power-matters synergetic build. Check it out!
- I randomly hit Lady Zhurong, and I decide to build a Mono-Green deck around her and her husband Meng Huo, Barbarian King. Check it out!
- I randomly open with Seasinger, and I decide to build around that rather than a legendary leader. Check out my Mono-Blue Merfolk deck!
- I use the EDHREC Random Commander option and dial up Anya, Merciless Angel, which is the wrong colors as she feels more Rakdos to me. I lean into fun times around dropping everyone's life! Wanna check it out?