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Commanding Old Rutstein!


Hello happy people! Today I am taking a Commander deep dive at the latest stuff getting spoiler from a new set, in this case, Crimson Vow. Today we are heading into Golgari territory!

Before that, though, I already have done a deck for you.

I created a deck around Runo Stromkirk // Krothuss, Lord of the Deep. When I built it, it hadn't been added to EDHREC.com, but in the first week there are already 120 decks built around it! People love him as much as I do! I built around the flavor of copying the Deep Sea tribe and have natural good entries there like Deep-Sea Kraken, flipping him reliably with expensive cycling creatures like Scion of Darkness, adding in creatures that have triggers you'd love to get twice such as Aethersnipe, and then some tribe washing like Conspiracy. You can find this awesome deck here.

And who am I building around this week?

Old Rutstein

I really enjoy the idea of building around a Peasant, don't you? This 3-drop 1/4 is very reliable to cast early as well as after removal with commander tax in a Green deck. As he arrives to the battlefield (or at the beginning of your upkeep) you mill a card. Was it a land? Treasure! Was it a dork? 1/1 Insect! Was it something else? Blood! Pretty nice and you'll always get something from the milled card. Milling is good as it's a fun way to fill up your graveyard with goodies, and the various tokens you get when you do are pretty important. Note that since every one of these options make a token, let's lean into that!

We want to build up a deck that cares about graveyards, tokens, and other synergies with the Rutstein! The good thing about him is that there are only 8 decks over at EDHREC.com as of the writing of this article, so there isn't a big consensus as to how to build around him from the community. The basic direction it's taking is Golgari Aristocrats. We are playing in a very different space with a tokens matter theme and some graveyard synergies.


Druidic Satchel is the first card that appeared to my mind when I read Old Rutstein. Just like our leader can generate three useful triggers from what gets milled, an activation of the Satchel can give you three possible solid entries as well. Was the revealed card a land? Great! Here's your ramped land. Was it a dork? Awesome, now you have a 1/1 Saproling token! Was it something else? Here's your life gain! Good stuff!

Augur of Autumn
Vizier of the Menagerie
Courser of Kruphix

The idea of playing cards from the top of your library seemed like an awesome idea, enter this trio. The first was printed just last set in Midnight Hunt. You can look at your top card any time, and play it if it's a land. Then if you have coven, you'll get to be able to cast creatures as well. It's got a power of 2 and your Commander a 1 so you'll have two already when you control both and are just one away from the covening. The second card will, again, let you look at the top card of your library and you can cast it if it's a dork. You can also mana wash colors for casting dorks. Then the third card reveals the top card rather than lets you look at it, and you can play it if it's a land. When lands arrive to your battlefield you can gain a life as well. Note that all three give you library knowledge so you can know how to plan for Ol' Rusty's mill. Good trio!

Tireless Tracker
Tireless Provisioner

Since we are making Treasures and/or Blood already, I figured it would make sense to add these two landfall buddies. The Tracker is a powerful option in Commander that will create a Clue token when a land arrives to the battlefield under your control. As you sacrifice those Clues, you can increase the size of the Tracker. Then the Provisioner was recently printed. With it out, you can landfall into a Food or Treasure token. I like it a lot here. It's good stuff!

Briarbridge Tracker

I really like the idea of investigating in this build, so I tossed in another card from Midnight Hunt, this 3-drop 2/3 with vigilance. When you control any token, it turns into a 4/3, rather likely in this build with just one mill of Ol' Rusty. You make a Clue on arrival to help with that mad card flow. Good stuff!

Sensei's Divining Top
Sylvan Library

Check out this pair's power in this brew! Since our leader only mills the top card of your library for his token-making ability, you'll want to make sure that the right thing triggers that you need. Need a 1/1 Insect? Sure thing, just activate the Top and then organize your library and put a dork on top. Need to draw a creature instead? Put the dork second from the top, mill the land/other card, and then draw the card and keep on going. The Library can draw you three cards and then put them back on your library for the reload next turn. Draw the creature, put the land if you don't need it at the two-spot, and then the sorcery/instant you need at the three spot. I also tossed in Mirri's Guile for a similar effect in these colors. Good stuff!

Doubling Season
Parallel Lives
Primal Vigor

Since this deck really cares about making tokens of various types, I tossed in this trio. The first card is a key enchantment in this brew. Any trigger of Rutstein is doubled here. Double Blood? Double Insects? Double Treasure? You got it! You can also double other token makers like Clues and Food that we've seen above, or the Saproling from the Satchel. Good stuff! Then the second card can also double your tokens, which is pretty nifty as well. It has less heat as the Season is often a must kill in a lot of decks, although not here. The third card is a powerful token maker that also benefits your foes, and thus is less likely to get heat and may stick the landing. Good trilogy of token doubling power!

Diregraf Rebirth
Timeless Witness

Since we are really milling ourselves with our Commander (at an admittedly slow pace), this pair is strong here! The Rebirth can be cast to Resurrection a creature from your graveyard to the battlefield and then you can flash it back again! If you milled it, make a Blood token, and then you can still flash it back for a first go around the bin. The Witness is an awesome Eternal Witness variant that also can be "flashbacked" from your graveyard with eternalize to net a second trigger, and here, you get value from it, even if it's milled. Good pair!

For card draw, check out Deadly Dispute. You can sacrifice a Blood token to draw two cards and make a Treasure. You can also sacrifice a Treasure you made, and it basically replaces itself. It's also an instant so you can sacrifice something targeted for removal and then draw two cards. Good stuff!

Fain, the Broker
Trading Post

The multi-ability Satchel and Rutstein also lent me into running Fain and his Post. Fain is awesome here. He'll tap to sacrifice a dork and toss some counters on a dork. Then you can tap him to remove a +1/+1 counter from your dork to churn out a Treasure. Then you can sacrifice an artifact to churn out a 2/1 flying Inking. And you can untap him for 4 mana and keep on. It's here for that ability to sacrifice Blood and friends like Food for 2/1 flyers, and if you have a token doubler then that's two 2/1 flyers. Good stuff!

And then with mana you can churn him into a nasty powerhouse, and I am running Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. The Post can tap for four things and also has massive versatility just like Fain. You can discard and gain four life. You can pay a life and churn out a 0/1 Goat. You can sacrifice a dork to reconstruct an artifact. You can sacrifice an artifact for a card. Might I suggest sacrificing a Food, Blood, or Treasure? You can also bring back key artifacts like a dead Skullclamp or Sensei's Divining Top by sacrificing a token dork. You can also churn out 0/1 Goats with the doubling ability. Both are very versatile!

Bloodcrazed Socialite
Falkenrath Forebear

Blood token support is in Rakdos colors in Crimson Vow, but we do have some options in mono-Black that I tossed in. The former Vampire is a 4-mana menace 3/3 with light evasion, which is fine. This common will net you a Blood token on arrival to the battlefield as well as being able to sacrifice a Blood token to give him a power boost to 5/5. The latter rare Vampire is a flying 3/1 that cannot block for three mana. As this evasive threat deals combat damage to a player, you generate a Blood token. Then you can sacrifice two Bloods to return this from your graveyard to the battlefield in case it dies or is milled by Ol' Rusty. I also tossed in Access Tunnel and Rogue's Passage to make sure we can connect with Blood tokens by this Vampire. Enjoy the pair!

Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
Vraska, Golgari Queen

I am only running two planeswalkers. Vivien is here for that static ability to cast creatures at instant speed. She's awesome here. Don't sleep on that vigilance and reach for a turn for +1 either. It's really strong here in multiplayer where you can keep a creature back for blocking while also taking an attack of opportunity. Her -2 to dig three and maybe find dorks is nice and you can get a new set of options to mill from with your Sensei's Divining Top and fellow friends. Vraska is here for that +2 to sacrifice any permanent for gaining a life and drawing a card. You'll have tons of Blood, Treasures, and maybe some Food to give her. You'll also have token dorks like 0/1 Goats and 1/1 Insects in case those are all answered. You can -3 her to Desert Twister a cheaper non-land permanent, so don't forget about it. Good pair!

Orbs of Warding
Witchbane Orb

Can you see why this pair is here? We need ways to shut down opposing graveyard removal from smashing us out of existence. I have a few ways to handle removal. Most graveyard removal targets the player, like Bokuja Bog. With hexproof, you cannot be targeted by commonly played graveyard removal. The Warding one acts as a pseudo-Pillow Fort card as you'll take 1 less from creatures that smash you. The Witchbane one will destroy all Curses on arrival to the battlefield that are attached to you, which is key when you are dealing with a big Curse theme last set. Both lend you hexproof as well to help against removal or other weird things.

Another way to handle it? Less reliance on the graveyard for goodies. I am not running highly played cards from Old Rutstein's EDHREC.com page like Old Stickfingers whose size is set by the creature count in your graveyard. We are running fewer of these feast or famine effects to deal with things like Relic of Progenitus and Scavenger Grounds that are pretty commonly played out there.

Old Gnawbone

I really want to make some Treasures, as you can see here. I also like the idea of running another "Old" in this deck as well, right? When one of your dorks deals damage to a player, you'll net that many Treasures! This thing can ramp away, and when it smashes face, you'll get 7 Treasures, 14 with a doubling effect! Nasty rampage! A 7/7 flyer for 7 mana is a good on-curve option, and with Rutstein Treasures and Green's ramp you should easily get that amount. See also - Rogue's Passage and Access Tunnel for smaller dorks take two.

Grim Hireling

This Tiefling Rogue is a 4-drop 3/2 which is a bit small on the size, but it makes up for it! Did a creature of yours smash another's face? Make two Treasure! You can sacrifice Treasures to -X/-X a dork for the turn, which can kill a ton of dorks if you have just one token doubling effect out at the same time. This one will net 4 Treasures per hit, and your leader 2 each time. That's 6 per turn you could easily be getting from just this pair. -X/-X gets around indestructible. I love it here.

Academy Manufactor

This deck was built around Academy Manufactor. This three mana 1/3 is easy to cast, and you'll want to bring it back if it dies to something like Trading Post. When you would make a Clue, Food, or....Treasure baby you'll get the other two. That's a powerhouse of tokenage. Consider this with a token doubler - that's one land mill trigger from your leader and now you have two each of Clues, Treasures, and Foods. Nasty! And since we have ways of making Food here and there as well as Clues from a few options and Treasure from other places, this is key. This is my thesis artifact.

Pitiless Plunderer
Prosperous Innkeeper
Skullport Merchant

Wow do I have a Trilogy of Treasure-Loving Terror for your consideration. The Human Pirate will net you a Treasure Token each time another creature you control dies. That includes tokens like your Insect. It's a fine 1/4 body that is heavily played in Commander. The Halfling Citizen will make you a Treasure token when it arrives to greet you at the Inn's door. When other dorks, including tokens, join the team, you gain a life. Nice!

Also note the Dwarf Citizen. I wish they were Peasants. It's a 3-drop 1/4 that arrives with a Treasure. You can spend two mana to sacrifice a dork or a Treasure for a card any time you want to. It's a great mana sink in case you find yourself loaded with Treasures from a doubling effect. I love it a lot here as it will give you massive card drawing over time as your Treasures are now basically Clues.

Feasting Troll King
Gluttonous Troll

Now let's turn to some Food makers. When you cast the Troll King from your hand, you can make three Food Tokens and it's a nice size 7/6 vigilance and trample powerhouse. If you have a token doubler you just made six Food. And then after it dies you can bring it back by sacrificing the three food that you made on arrival to the battlefield (if you cast it from your hand). If it was milled, you can recur it from Food from other sources. The other Troll is a 3/3 trampler for four mana, a bit small for Commander. When it arrives to the battlefield you'll net some Food equal to your foes, so in a four way game that's three Foods. That's enough for another go of the Troll King. Or a ton of life. You can spend two mana, sacrifice a nonland permanent, and pump up the other Troll a ton. Sacrifice Food, Blood, Treasures and Clues for the win. If its unblocked (Access Tunnel, Rogue's Passage can help) you can easily pump this to a 17/17 or bigger with your ramped mana. It also has pseudo-vasion in trample. Good duo!

Living Death
Twilight's Call

I am not running a ton of ways to bring stuff back to play defense against graveyard removal, just these two. The former is a powerhouse from way back in Tempest. It will simultaneously swap all in-play creatures with all graveyard creatures of all players. That's really strong if you have a nice fat graveyard from Ol' Rusty's milling or from dying stuff. You can play into it and when timed right, this is nasty. It also serves as a better Damnation since the in-play stuff is exiled first, so that you cannot save them with indestructible effects like Heroic Intervention. Even if the graveyards are answered, it'll still act as a Wrath effect.

The latter will only bring back all creatures from all graveyards and you can time that right for a nasty surprise. I adore it as a mass recursion spell for everyone at the end of someone's turn with the extra mana cost, and then you can untap and swing with your stuff first. If someone tries to blow up your goodies with a mass graveyard removal effect, you can use this is response to bring them back instead. Good stuff!

And now let's turn to lands!

Crypt of Agadeem

Can you see why the former land is here? I hope so! Our tokens made from the leader are Insects, after all, so you can tap this and regenerate one all day long. Then we have the latter land. Normally I find it to be a bit disappointing as you need a fat graveyard of dorks to make mana. If you have three dorks or fewer than this is worse than a Swamp, but here I think it's worth the shot!

Treasure Vault
Gingerbread Cabin

I am shocked that the Vault is not on the EDHREC.com page since it seems like an obvious place to add it. It's a great mana sink for the brew. You can sacrifice it when you have a bunch of mana from lands and rocks alike. It works well with Splendid Reclamation. I really enjoy it here in this deck, since you could easily double it. It's strong here. Check out the Cabin. It's here to maybe, just maybe, make you a Food as well if arrives untapped. Unlikely I know, but we are running Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth in here so there's a shot of it. Good duo!

Volrath's Stronghold
Crawling Barrens

Can you see why the Stronghold is here? It's also criminally missing from the EDHREC.com page. You can tap it to put a dork on top your library to mill with Ol' Rusty and then make a 1/1 Insect token with. It's very powerful here. It can also put the best creature you milled (or that died) on your library after your mill trigger to draw and play. The Barrens is here to be a nasty mana sink. Did you make 14 Treasure Tokens with a smash from Old Gnawbone? Did someone try and sweep the board with something like Akroma's Vengeance that will destroy them? Spend it on the Barrens and grow it. Note that becoming a dork is a may ability so you won't turn it into a dork to die to the mass removal spell. I like it in here a lot!

Now let's turn from lands (sorta)

Treasure Map

Why is this double-faced card here? I love the tap ability of this 2-drop as you can scry 1 at the end of a foe's turn to see if you want to mill that card with Ol' Rusty. Then if not you can tuck and try again on your upkeep with the mill trigger on the stack. You only get this ability three times, and then you make three Treasures and have the Cove. The Cove will tap to sacrifice a Treasure for a card, and with the Treasures it makes as well as the rest of the team, it's pretty nifty here.

Pointed Discussion
Wedding Security

Check out this pair of more Blood-matters stuff. The Discussion is two cards drawn, two life lost, and a Blood made which is good for sacrifices, card flow, and Blood-matters stuff. I also tossed in the Food making Foreboding Fruit card flow card as well. Then we have the Security, a 5-drop 4/4 that will sacrifice a Blood when it swings for a +1/+1 counter and a card drawn. Nice! And then you can pull that counter off with a tapping Fain.

Kamber, the Plunderer

Have you seen this powerful potential leader in Black from the Commander set of Crimson Vow? It's very powerful here. Four mana, 3/4 with lifelink is good. And then as anything dies (tokens and other stuff) you'll make a Blood token. Nasty here, right? I think so as well!

Crawling Infestation

Have you seen this card? It's a 3-drop enchantment in Green that, during your upkeep, may mill two cards from your graveyard. If a creature hit your graveyard from anywhere this turn, you can make a 1/1 Insect. Note that this only works once. If you control your leader as well, then resolve it first. Hit a dork? Then you'll make a token from each and skip past its mill. If you have a sacrifice creature like Burnished Hart, you can skip the mill as well and just keep up the pressure. Otherwise, mill and get at least one Insect this turn from the Infestation. Good stuff!

Syr Konrad, the Grim

You can win the game with these mill triggers! Each will force your foes to lose a life when a creature hits your graveyard from any library. The Demon Dog is a nice sized 6/6 that can mill three cards on arrival to really push this deck around. Note that Dreadhound will also trigger when something dies like a fat Zulaport Cutthroat, but it's here for the first ability. The Human Knight will also trigger when something dies as well as hitting the graveyard from anywhere else, like the stack after being countered or the exile zone. You can also mill a card for each player for 2 mana each time, which can deck someone who has been a bit greedy with the card draw. Enjoy this pair!

Voldaren Bloodcaster // Bloodbat Summoner

Have you seen this transform Blood-lover from Crimson Vow? I hope so! On arrival you have a nice 2/1 flyer. As it, or other non-token dorks you control die, you make a Blood token, which is pretty good for the team! When you make a Blood token, if you have 5 or more, then flip this to the 3/3 flyer that can turn a Blood token into 2/2 Bats with flying. Pretty beatery, right?

Turn the Earth

This is my final answer to graveyard removal. If someone has targeted key stuff in your graveyard for removal, just cast this instant and shuffle up to three cards from your graveyard into your library. Gain 2 life. You can also do that again later, or if it was milled with flashback. Need to restock more than three cards in response to a nasty removal spell? No problem! Cast, resolve, and then recast and re-resolve. Enjoy the power of this instant!

And there we go! Want to see the deck? I hope so!

Old Rutstein | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there we go, so what did you think of my build? Anything in here that I missed? Just let me know and have an awesome day!

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