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What's Nemata with You?

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Hello awesome MTG aficionados! I hope that your day is going super well! Today I wanted to build a Commander deck around one of the newly debuted legendary leaders from Dominaria United, the second and now Golgari colored Nemata, Primeval Warden!

Let's look at my leader:

Nemata, Primeval Warden

This is our four-mana 3/4 that we are building around. Firstly, it has reach. That's fine on defense, but not if we want to swing with Commander Damage, so I am not thrilled with the keyword in Commander on your leader. If a foe's dork would die, you instead exile it, which is a great break on graveyard reuse of their dorks in a recurring or reanimation sense. Then you also make a 1/1 Saproling dork. Then you have two Saproling sacrifice abilities. Sacrifice one for one mana? Give your leader a +2/+2 bump for Commander Damage kill. Sacrifice two for two mana? Draw a card! It's decently popular with a good 220 decks over at EDHREC.com already.

As you can see, this wants to make Saprolings and then sacrifice them for cards with a powerful form of card flow and sacrifice in the Command Zone! Here is the key question...is this a Thallid deck? Introduced way back in the Fallen Empires set, they are a tribe of Funguses that get Spore counters in your upkeep that they turn into Saprolings every three turns. Most have sacrifice abilities for the token they make. Is this...that deck? I am ruling that this is not a Thallid brew.

Let's take a deep dive into some cards:

Key Saproling Makers

Nemata, Grove Guardian
Verdeloth the Ancient

Check out these pair of pre-Modern mono-Green Treefolk that cost six mana and are legendary rares! The former can churn three mana into and then make a 1/1 Saproling. Good stuff. Then you can sacrifice, for no mana down, one Saproling to pump the rest for a +1/+1 boost each. I love using this at the end of your foe's turn with your extra mana and then untap and keep on keeping on. The latter one is a 4/7 with kicker X that makes X Saprolings and pumps them and Treefolk by +1/+1 each! That works on your Commander and its fuel!

Slimefoot, the Stowaway
Fungal Rebirth

The gold card is a nice and popular 2/3 for three mana, and then you can spend 4 to make a Saproling at instant speed, which then can be used to drain. Like Nemata Take One this is great at churning mana into Saprolings and I also have Jade Mage here to do the same. The mono-Green also costs three for an instant that is a limited Regrowth effect, but if a creature died on any side you make a pair of Saprolings out of nowhere. That's a great way to keep yourself alive by making two chump blockers, drawing a card with your leader, or otherwise making fuel for the fire.

Sporemound
Sprout Swarm

The creature is a common 3/3 for five mana with landfall, make a 1/1 Saproling, which should be a lot of land here where most of my ramping is land based rather than mana rocks. The Swarm is also a common Saproling maker, in this case a two cost with buyback 3 so that's 5 mana to make one at instant speed and then it has convoke, so this is very powerful at the end of the foe's turn as you can tap out and tap your dorks and buy this back and then untap with your two or three new Saprolings and drop the cost of a future Swarm by two or three. Love this common pair loads!

Next up is a strong pair of enchantments: Fists of Ironwood and Verdant Embrace are here to put on Nemata for game-winning Commander Damage and synergies with the making of the tokens. The Fists are a card in a cycle of common enchantments form the first Ravnica set that had ETB abilities, one in each color. This one is a two-drop that gives the enchanted dork trample and then makes two 1/1 Saproling tokens for you to sacrifice for cards or triggers or just attacking and blocking. It's really synergetic with many different brews and then keeps up pressure. Don't forget that you can sacrifice Saprolings to give Nemata +2/+2 this turn and with the trample this gives that's a Commander Damage kill out of nowhere.

The Embrace gives +3/+3 which is a big clock with your Nemata and then also makes a Saproling every upkeep, not just yours, so in a four player game that is four free Saprolings in four upkeeps. It's also just strong for the attacking and blocking with the reach of your dork. This pair is nice here, right? I think so as well!

Sacrifice Engines

Vampiric Rites
Carnage Altar

Now let's turn to some non-Nemata sacrifice options. Let's turn just one Saproling into a card with this pair of uncommons. The one-drop costs two to activate and sacrifices one dork and then draw a card and gains you a life, don't sleep on that. This is my preferred sacrifice for cards since it's cheaper, gives you a life and only trades one Saproling for one card. The two drop is three to activate, sacrifice of one dork, and then no life gain, so it's worse, but doesn't require black mana to activate.

Fungal Plots is a two-drop uncommon enchantment that has two activations. The first, for two mana, will let you exile a dork from your graveyard to make a 1/1 Saproling and we are not running any recursion here. Then you can sacrifice two Saprolings, for no mana needed, for two life and two cards. That's better than your Commander since it's no mana down and gains you two life. Attrition is my favorite sacrifice engine here. How do you destroy your foe's things to make Saprolings? This will let you sacrifice a Saproling for a mana and destroy any non-Black dork, and then get the trigger for more fodder and another mana then so on until you are out of mana or they are out of nonblack dorks. Nasty power here...right?

Synergies and Win Cons

Doubling Season
Zulaport Cutthroat

I also am running some nice synergies. The first is a very expensive on the secondary market five-drop enchantment that doubles your token-making or counter-placing but I am not running any planeswalkers or spore counter givers here, just mass token making, but we need fodder for the masses, so I am running this as well as Parallel Lives. Check out the Cutthroat that will drain the table of life each time your dork would die. We also have Slimefoot, Blood Artist and Syr Konrad that can loop deaths into game winners but don't run more than one out there at a time.

Tendershoot Dryad
Sporecrown Thallid

Check out this pair of creature-based synergies. The Dryad is a five-drop 2/2 that is a bit behind the curve and that makes a 1/1 each upkeep just like Verdant Embrace that we already saw. That's two cards every four players upkeep with Nemata or Fungal Plots and that latter one doesn't cost mana and gains you four life. If you have the cities blessing, then your Saprolings will get a nasty +2/+2 bonus! The Fungus is a bear that also gives your (other) Fungi and Saprolings a +1/+1 bonus, nice right? Don't run more than one Anthem effect at a time unless you are able to close someone out.

Thelonite Hermit is a morphable dork, and then flip it for five mana make and make a quartet of 1/1 Saprolings. Then you can give them +1/+1 size as another Anthem on legs, but this is my only morph here, so it won't surprise anyone after they know your deck and see it once. This is basically a morph and pumper of the tokens it makes version of Deranged Hermit and unlike that it stays around without needing to spend 10 total mana with echo, but 8 divided up as you need and prefer, and the instant-able Anthem is pretty good as a combat trick.

Maskwood Nexus gives all of your stuff Treefolks, Saprolings, and Fungi for the pumping or sacrificing for cards. We do have a few ETB dorks and lords that are here that are not pumped by our Anthems, well, now they all are pumpable. This also taps for 3 to make a 2/2 with changeling so that's sacrificial with your effects since it is a Saproling. It's also Doubling Season-able.

Card Flow and Answers

Deadly Dispute
Moldervine Reclamation

Most of my card flow is obvious, but let's look at this pair. The Dispute is a two-cost instant that sacrifices a dork (or artifact like a Mana Rock) for two cards and a Treasure. I like doing this instantly to respond to targeted removal like an opposing Vindicate, Chaos Warp or Swords to Plowshares coming my stuff's way, or just to dig for my own answer, make triggers and loads more. The Reclamation will turn dying stuff of yours into cards and life. Nowhere does it read "non-token" so you can draw all of the cards when your precious Saprolings die. Don't forget to gain that life as well, just like Rites and Fungal Plots and death triggers from Slimefoot and Blood Artist and friends.

Tear Asunder
Mortality Spear

I am running a bunch of targeted removal like this recently printed pair. The Tear is a two-cost instant that exiles an opposing artifact or enchantment, so it's the same cost as Naturalize but with an exile option which is way better at shutting down recursive things like Mindslaver and Expedition Map with Academy Ruins. It can also be kicked four two mana to exile any non-land thing from your foe's Commander to their Elspeth, Sun's Champion to their Mind's Eye to their Consecrated Sphinx, and, again, exile matters here. The Spear destroys any non-land permanently at instant speed, and it's not impossible to get that two cost reduction. You really want to destroy dorks to trigger Nemata, and Tear is my only exile removal spell since I wanted one to answer an opposing indestructible card like Blightsteel Colossus, though we have other spot removal spells.

In Garruk's Wake
Fungal Infection

Since that's true, I am running two mass removal options. The Wake is a massive sorcery that destroys all opposing creatures and planeswalkers, so that's pretty massive here and leaves behind Nemata for all of those triggers. Massive. I also tossed in Plague Wind for the same cost, but it leaves behind planeswalkers. The Infection gives a dork -1/-1 that can kill loads of things like mana dorks such as Birds of Paradise and Ignoble Hierarch, hate dorks like Esper Sentinel and value dorks like Mother of Runes and Goblin Welder. Then you also make a 1/1 Saproling dork. This is a great combat trick, removal spell, token maker for card flow and load more! Love this pair loads!

Primaris Eliminator
Necron Deathmark

Check out these two five-costs from the Warhammer 40K Commander decks. The first is a bit small at 3/2 but can destroy an opposing dork on arrival to the battlefield or Infest a player to kill a bunch of their stuff. Either way that's triggers of your Commander. The second is a flashing 5/3 that destroys one dork and mills someone of three cards on arrival to the party. That can be massive card advantage by taking out one attacker and block-killing another 2/2. A flashing Nekrataal is massively good, and I also tossed in Ravenous Chupacabra since they can all three trigger Nemata and then get changeling with our Maskwood Nexus out for the sacrificing fun times.

Mana, Ramp, and Lands

Rogue's Passage
Sylvan Scrying

Let's turn to ramping and lands. Can you see why I tossed in the Passage? This can also turn a Nemata into an unblockable Commander Damage clock, and I also tossed in Access Tunnel since it starts with three power. All my ramp are two-mana sorceries like Rampant Growth and stones like Arcane Signet since they will give me a third turn Nemata. The Scrying is a tutor for any land from the Passage to a key land like Coffers or Urborg. I also am running Expedition Map to also tutor for the right land for the situation, like the next three...

Grim Backwoods
High Market
Phyrexian Tower

I added three sacrifice cards into my land count. The Grim land is a colorless tapper, arrives untapped, and can trade four mana plus tapping itself into a sacrifice and card draw. That's great card flow and sacrifice triggers for the win. The High land is a colorless tapper and arrives untapped and ready to go and just needs to tap to sac a dork for a life, another life gainer here. Nice. The life gain is mostly superfluous, it's here to be a free sacrifice tapper for triggers when someone is low in life or you need to draw a card with the Reclamation. The Phyrexian land also taps for colorless, arrives untapped, and taps for nothing to sacrifice a dork, this time for two B mana to use for cool things and net a mana over the main black we have.

Jaheira, Friend of the Forest
Undercellar Myconid

check out these mono-Green dorks from the same set. The rare is a 2/3 that makes your tokens tap for mana so that's a lot of ramp here with my mass Saproling token-making. The common will tap for any color of mana on a smaller 1/2 body. On arrival to the battlefield or when it dies, this makes a Saproling 1/1 token and it counts as a Fungus to give +1/+1 to from our Thallid Lord. Nice pair!

Crawling Barrens
Urza's Factory

I am making tons of mana with green's ramp, Black's Cabal land, Jaheira, and loads more, so I tossed in two mana sinks into my land base. The Barrens will tap for colorless and arrive untapped and activate for four mana, to place a pair of +1/+1 counters on it and then you can make it a dork too. Use it end of your foe's turn with your spare mana and then don't turn it into a dork, so it won't be targetable with Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt effects. Then you can make it a dork on a future turn to swing or block. The Factory also taps for colorless, arrives untapped, and then taps for 7 mana and makes a 2/2 token dork which is a Saproling with the Nexus, or just can be sacrificed to Attrition or Vampiric Rites or to chump block, or to double with Doubling Season effects. Nice pair!

Ready for the decklist?

Golgari Saproling | Commander | Abe Sargent

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There we are! What did you think of my decklist? How would you build your own deck? Just let me know, and have an awesome-tastic day!

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