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Runo Stromkirk Rises from the Deep

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Hello happy people! Ready for the next Innistrad set, Crimson Vow? I hope so! Today is all about Dimir's potential love of the Deep Sea. Deep Sea love, as a deck concept, began with Simic back in the days of Kiora's debut online prior to her printing in real life, where you used Green to ramp up the mana and then dropped expensive creatures of the deep, like Krakens. I loved this idea so much that I spent an article creating a Commander deck that did that prior to her being printed in real life!

Now we have a new card from Crimson Vow that gives us a Dimir take on the core theme, that will remove ramp, but add some fun stuff that only Black can offer.

Who am I talking about?

Let's look!

Runo Stromkirk // Krothuss, Lord of the Deep

This is Runo Stromkirk // Krothuss, Lord of the Deep. As he arrives to the battlefield, you may reload one creature from your graveyard to the top of your library like a one-time Volrath's Stronghold. At the beginning of your upkeep, you can then look at the top card of your library. If it's a dork with a mana value of 6 or more, you can transform him into his Kraken Horror self. Note that the token you make when you attack does not die at the end of the turn, which is nasty. If you copied a Deep Sea creature like a Leviathan, then you'll net two of those that are attacking.

Now I can easily transform Runo on the fourth turn to swing as a 3/5. Just cycle a 6+ drop on turn 1-2, put it on top on turn three when you drop Runo, and then flip him and swing with a 3/5 on turn 4. But doing that doesn't trigger his attack trigger and won't for some time until you have a Deep Sea creature that is also attacking. That doesn't mean I won't run the cycling way of flipping him since it should work reliably, but it does mean that I see this more as a deck to get you the time you'll need to cast the big stuff, and then flip away.

Cheaper Ways of Casting Expensive Stuff: There are ways to get more expensive dorks into the graveyard to reload, like the aforementioned cycling or something like Mulldrifter's evoke that can be cast on the third turn and will be in the graveyard easily. I would be open to morphs as well if they played nicely but I doubt we'll find anything.

Lots of Creatures: Please note that if I load down my deck with too many non-Deep Sea stuff then we won't reliably be hitting a double trigger, but we will be getting a lot of value triggers. Another Solemn Simulacrum would be pretty nifty, as an example.

Creature Washing: Since we'll have loads of non-Deep Sea dorks here, we might as well have a way to wash them into a Deep Sea dork...

Haste: Since our double Clone-ing needs an attacking Deep Sea dork, we can get that a turn sooner with a bit of haste of dorks.

Protection: I'll lean into ways to keep from dying until we've set up like counters. I'll lean into creature-based answers where I can that will serve a double role where possible.

The good thing about this build is that am I am building this deck and writing this article, Runo isn't even showing up on EDHREC.com, so this won't be considering that at all. Ready? Let's do it to it!

Deep-Sea Kraken
Brinelin, the Moon Kraken

The first card that came to my mind in this build is the Kraken when I read Runo. I adore it a lot in multiplayer, since you remove a time counter from the Kraken after suspending it as your foes cast any spells. In a 4-player game I have swung with this on the furth turn.

As the format speeds up, and folks are more and more likely to be casting multiple spells over a full set of turns, it's more likely to get cast. I also love Brinelin here as well. I have built a Commander deck around Brinelin. Both Brinelin and Runo care about 6-mana cost stuff, although in different ways as Brinelin cares about you casting anything with a cost of 6 or more but Runo only triggers off a creature. We are leaning into the creature aspect more as a result. An unanswered Brinelin should net you tons of triggers over time for bouncery.

Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep

I also love this big, fat, Blue uncommon as well! It's awesome in Type Four, and I adore it here! It's a beefy 8/8 that can be kicked for just a pair of mana into a powerful, nasty tempo machine that bounces everything that is not a Deep Sea creature or a Merfolk. That's a lot of stuff for us here!

Spawning Kraken
Serpent of Yawning Depths

Let's also add in another pair of 6-drop 6/6s that care about Deep Sea stuff. When the first card is controlled, your combat damage from Deep Sea Stuff to a player will net you a 9/9 Kraken token which is Deep Sea for more shenanigans. They'll likely block with things they may not want to in order to stop that from happening. Good stuff! Have you seen the power of the second card? Your Deep Sea stuff can only be blocked by Deep Sea stuff! Pretty good! And when you control both? That will win the game quite quickly...

Wrexial, the Risen Deep
Gyruda, Doom of Depths

Let's look at another pair of legendary Kraken allowed in your Dimir Runo build since they add Black to your traditional Blue stuff. Wrexial is great card advantage engine. It features both islandwalk and swampwalk, which is a powerful duo of options. I tossed in Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to make sure you can walk anyone if you control it. When you punch a player's face, you can cast a free instant or sorcery from that player's graveyard and exile it. Good stuff!

Gyruda is also a great option as you see each player mill four cards on arrival to the battlefield. Then you can put a dork with an even cost onto the battlefield under your control, which is pretty good for the cause. It gives you fuel for your Runo ETB ability. It's also a nice 6/6 for 6 mana so you have a lot of power here!

Nemesis of Reason
Pearl Lake Ancient
Stormtide Leviathan

Let's turn to some Leviathans. The former Leviathan is a bit cheap at five mana and won't trigger Runo, but it is pretty good elsewhere. When this guy swings, you'll force the defender to mill a fat ten cards, which is pretty good in a lot of places. The latter Leviathan is a nasty force of game winning power. It flashes out and cannot be countered both of which can really punch a table around. You can return three lands to recur it, but that's a big price so that's unlikely to happen very often, only if you are about to kill someone with it. Or in a Simic landfall deck. Enjoy this pair!

Don't forget about the Stormtide, either. As you can see, it turns all lands into Islands, your foes as well, and will let you islandwalk them with several options in this brew, including this. When this nasty 8/8 is on the battlefield, only islandwalkers and flyers can swing. Pretty good, right? Right! Thanks!

Let's turn to the Octopus tribe next!

Lorthos, the Tidemaker
Elder Deep-Fiend

There aren't that many Commander-playable Octopus but I do enjoy this duo. Both are 8-drops that bring other stuff to the table. Lorthos can pay 8 mana when you swing and lock down 8 permanents for an extra turn. If you have the mana for Lorthos then you likely have the mana for the ability, and it's pretty good at ensuring your team hits.

Elder Deep-Fiend is a flashing 8-drop that can emerge for seven and you can sacrifice a creature to reload to your library and flip Runo. This will also drop the Fiend's cost to a better number. If you sacrifice a 6 drop to flip Runo with, it's just two to drop at instant speed. You can flash it out anytime and emerge it to sacrifice something about to die. Might I suggest exiling removal that is targeting a key creature like Swords to Plowshares? Its flash is really strong here as you can flash surprise, and it has a cast trigger to tap stuff down, so even if it is countered, you get a powerful threat. A pair of Octopuses! (Octopi?)

Draining Whelk
Voracious Greatshark

Let's turn to some counters. We are running 6 counters and this duo for a total of 8 ways to say "No." The Whelk is amazing here as it can flash out and counter a spell. It has flying and can easily punch above its weight. It gets bigger as you counter a more expensive card. I also love the Greatshark here! It's only a 5-drop and won't trigger Runo's transform, and you will only counter an artifact or a dork, not someone trying to kill your stuff with instants and sorceries. But...it's a Shark! It may not be one of the key four tribes, but it certainly is a flavor hit. How could I not run it here?

Speaking of cards I have to run, can you see why I am running Gonti, Lord of Luxury in this brew? I have creature-based card advantage like Mulldrifter and Sphinx of Uthuun, and this plays into that concept. They're not bad as a 2/3 deathtouch for 4 mana that can hold the fort while we wait for the biggest stuff to come online with deathtouch. And then you can trade up and reload it again with Runo or other effects we'll look at later. Then when it arrives to the battlefield you basically Impulse your foe's library and exile one face down and you can cast it so they're nice card flow as well as a body that trades up. If you swing with them along with Runo, it's not bad to copy although it will die due to being legendary, but the trigger will happen, and if you have washed Gonti into an Octopus then you'll get two triggers, and with their deathtouch they might get through with the attacking. I see Gonti as a nice tool in this build.

Let's turn to some fat cyclers.

Void Beckoner
Scion of Darkness

Check out these mono-Black 8-drops. The first is a great 8/8 deathtouch that is pretty sizeable! I like this fun uncommon because you can cycle it for a card and toss a deathtouch counter on something fun. You can net the cycling trigger to trade with something out of nowhere. It's also ideal to cycle, reload with Runo's ETB trigger, and then flip. The second is a powerful game-altering 6/6 trampler that wants to deal combat damage to a player. When it does? It can reanimate a creature from their graveyard to the battlefield under your control. Great! It can also cycle for the win.

River Serpent
Striped Riverwinder

When I searched Gatherer for creatures that were 6+ in cost, I was shocked when I saw that two were in my tribes! I have two Serpents tossed in here! The former is a nice 5/5 for 6 mana that can swing only when you have 5 or more cards in your graveyard, likely when you control Runo, right? Its cycling is really cheap and can be done as early as turn one, which should work for a turn three Runo, should that work for you, although you may want to wait. The latter is a nice hexproof 5/5 but it does cost an extra mana than you'd like so you may cycle it a lot. Good duo!

All right, let's move away from cyclers.

Maskwood Nexus
Xenograft

Let's turn to two of my three creature washers. The best is the Nexus. It's a 4-drop artifact that you can toss into any brew. All your stuff is every creature type so that means that all of your stuff is now a Kraken, Octopus, Serpent and a Leviathan! Then when you swing you can copy that dork twice, rather than once. You can also tap some mana and it to make a 2/2 dork that is also of the correct types as well. Good stuff! And then you can drop the 'Graft and then also choose a creature type on arrival. Your stuff will be Deep Sea like Octopus whether or not it actually is! Good stuff! I also tossed in Conspiracy to do the same thing.

I didn't want to waste too much space with haste enablers in my equipment section, so I settled for two that are iconic in the format - Boots and Greaves.

But what about Sword of Vengeance and Strider Harness? Both are 3-drops, and the Sword rocks a lot of keywords. I really like this on your transformed leader with his attack trigger and a bunch of things will like it as well since trample works well with some of the combat damage triggers and the soup will break face with some of the larger and beefier things we have to swing with. The Harness is a much cheaper one-mana to equip, but just adds +1/+1 to the haste instead of a kitchen soup of abilities and a better power boost. It's still my favorite common piece of equipment and haste is really important here as we only copy attacking stuff!

Kiora Bests the Sea God
Quest for Ula's Temple

I also am running five enchantments, and both are on theme. The Saga is a seven mana into an 8/8 Kraken token with hexproof, which is harder to interfere with but doesn't have the big creature synergies with Runo. On chapter II you can super Sleep a foe's stuff and tap them down for a long time and get in a nasty hit with your enbiggened stuff and Kraken token and keep your stuff untapped for blocking on the next turn. On the next chapter you can steal an opposing permanent like their best land (Cabal Coffers?) or their best planeswalker or their best dork. Good stuff!

The non-Saga is very different. You drop it as early as the first turn and then you don't get rewards immediately, but instead build up to them. You can look at the top card of your library each of your upkeeps. And then as you see a dork you can reveal it and Quest-ify the enchantment. Then, once you have done that three times, at the end of each (not just yours) turn you can toss a Deep Sea Dork from your hand onto the battlefield! Nasty stuff! Oh, and if you control Conspiracy too, then all creatures are that type even when they aren't on the battlefield, so you drop, for free anything from Consecrated Sphinx to Ravenous Chupacabra. That's pretty smoking.

Let's turn to some lands next!

Volrath's Stronghold
Witch's Cottage
Mortuary Mire

Our leader really needs ways to put creatures on top of the library for his attack trigger so that he can flip. Enter this trio of terror, which I love a lot here! As you can see, the first can tap and then put any dork onto the top of your library from your graveyard. It's nasty here and a powerful assault on nature. The Cottage might be a one-shot Stronghold if you enough Swamps, but even if not, it's still a Black land. The Mire will reload and also taps for Black and I also tossed in Bojuka Bog to clear out a problematic graveyard which...taps for Black mana!

Access Tunnel
Rogue's Passage

Can you see why this duo is here? We are attacking with our transformed leader a lot and getting nasty triggers, so we need to ensure that the trigger happens over and over again as that is the key crux of the brew. Enter these. Since he (it?) has 3 power, the Tunnel and Passage will both work on it. I also tossed in Whispersilk Cloak to play into this space as well. We have combat damage triggers like Scion of Darkness and Spawning Kraken that will massively push the board to your position that you want to get started. They are a good set of fun times. Get through with Runo's Aquarium!

Let's turn to two more cards and then we'll call it!

Geier Reach Sanitarium

I need ways to get creatures of size into my graveyard so that they can be reloaded to my library and then transform my Commander. My normal idea for this is cycling. But what if I haven't drawn any? What if someone just exiled the stuff in my graveyard and I need to flip Runo to keep up the pressure? Enter the Sanitarium! This fun land is here to draw and then discard the fatty in my hand and then we can jumpstart the process all over again if I was answered or for the first time if the fat cyclers are too elusive.

Mortuary

Here's another way to load up the library with beaters that can hit Runo. When a creature you own dies, you will put that creature onto the top of your library to draw again. You can trigger Runo and transform if its's big enough. If not, you'll just keep ensuring you draw gas. This also serves as graveyard removal insulation as your stuff won't be hiding there. However, this is not a "may" effect. If you lose something you don't want back, like Burnished Hart after all your basics are ramped out, then you are just stuck drawing it anyways. If you don't want to draw yet another creature and would prefer an answer like a counter, then this can hurt you. Just keep that in mind.

And there we are! Want to see my decklist? Sure thing!

Runo's Aqaurium | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there we go! I hope that you enjoyed today's deck. Anything in here that I missed? Just let me know!

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