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Building Tuya Bearclaw in Commander


Hello folks! I hope that you are having an awesome day and keeping yourself safe in our modern COVID-19 world! Over the last month I have been taking time and doing a deep dive in this column into a Commander deck being built around a multicolored leader from Commander Legends. This is my fifth such article for you. And this is likely my most lethal... wanna see?

Here are my previous ones:

Today an uncommon Gruul legend caught my eye!

Which one?

Tuya Bearclaw

Building Tuya Bearclaw in Commander

Tuya Bearclaw did! You'll note that as she swings, she grows in relation to the power of another dork, which will help her scale nicely as the game goes on. On the seventh turn, for example, you can swing with bigger potential dorks than on the fourth when she's likely to swing the first time after dropping on turn three. What card leapt to my mind?

Phyrexian Dreadnought! It's an old-school card that requires a sacrifice before staying on the battlefield. Would it work in this build? As you can see, it's cheap enough to come down prior to Tuya swinging. It can combine powers into one beefy punch for Tuya which will kill in two Commander hits given the 14/14 body you'd get. It's pretty nasty, but you'll pay for it! Now, could you sneak it out? If you flashed it with Tuya's attack trigger on the stack you'd have to resolve the Dreadnought first, and then it'll die without the sacrifices so there is no need to run flash giving effects here. However, it is better in this build as you want the deck to grow tall, not wide, so if your biggest creature pre-Dreadnought was 5/5 then Tuya would only get +5/+5, but if you sacrificed a few smaller dorks on arrival she's now a game winner. Nasty right?

However, there is another alternative to sacrificing pure dorks...

Illusionary Mask

You could run Illusionary Mask. It's a powerful 2-drop. Its abilities have changed radically since printing. Here is the current Oracle text:

X: You may choose a creature card in your hand whose mana cost could be paid by some amount of, or all of, the mana you spent on Variable Colorless. If you do, you may cast that card face down as a 2/2 creature spell without paying its mana cost. If the creature that spell becomes as it resolves has not been turned face up and would assign or deal damage, be dealt damage, or become tapped, instead it's turned face up and assigns or deals damage, is dealt damage, or becomes tapped. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.

It's pretty wordy, but here are the basic rules of the Mask: You can invest X or more for a dork where it's is casting cost (by spending more you can hide its actual cost). This lets you cast creatures with colors with any colors of mana, and this is an activation cost, so it plays into artifact enabling mana a well as bypassing traditional counters. It arrives as a face-down creature. This will avoid the nasty enters-the-battlefield trigger of the Dreadnought. Once flipped up, you'll net a nasty 12/12 trampler for a single mana. For example, imagine this set of turns.

  • turn one: Land
  • turn two: Land, Mask
  • turn three: Land, Tuya
  • turn four: Land, Activate Mask, drop Dreadnought, swing with Tuya
  • turn five, Land, Swing with Tuya and Dreadnought

Nasty right? And that was without any ramp! I think you might win that game...

I want to find other dorks that will work well with this trifecta in Gruul.

And these cards will count for that build.

  • Big Dorks - I want big fat cheap dorks like the Dreadnought.
  • Unblockable - Cards that will ensure that Tuya is able to connect with foes like Rogue's Passage and Whispersilk Cloak.
  • Haste - Tuya really, really, needs haste. The big beats of cards like Phyrexian Dreadnought will also benefit from it.
  • Power Matters - Gruul has a number high power matters cards out there and is in the colors of cards like Ilysian Caryatid or Garruk's Packleader.
  • Support - Finally, don't forget support cards like ramp, removal, and card drawing!

Let's get started with big dorks.

Phyrexian Soulgorger
Cosmic Larva

These two big giant dorks work really well with Tuya and the Mask. You can drop Tuya on turn three, and then them on turn four and swing with a 9/9 or 10/10 Tuya, which is pretty sweet. During your upkeep you can get them once, and then you can get in another big hit! However, if you like, you can drop them for three (or more) colorless mana after Tuya and then swing for 4. Then on the next turn you won't have to pay their nasty upkeep trigger. Swing with both and you have a giant Tuya and one of these nasty creatures swinging for a lot of damage. Then you can either let it die or get one more hit the following turn which is lethal for Tuya.

The Hunted Troll cycle from Ravnica gives you an undercosted dork but with the disadvantage that said dork will give some tokens to a foe when it arrives to the party. Use it politically to make friends in multiplayer! Or to gang up on the best player. However if you drop these with a Mask, they won't trigger their token giving ability so they are just undercosted! Cool right?


Gigantosaurus is everything this deck needs. A 10-power five-drop that will allow Tuya to kill in two hits? It's pretty saucy, right? The big issue here is its casting cost, that means it's likely coming down on a later turn...but don't forget the Mask! If you control the Mask then you can drop this for five mana of any color. That helps to ensure that your Dinosaur is coming down as soon as you have five mana no matter the colors (or lack thereof).

Want another big drop? Ghalta, Primal Hunger will drop its big giant Dreadnought sized body for a big giant price. Drop it the main phase after combat so you'll have the large pumped Tuya already out and this should be really cheap. Just a Flametongue Kavu and a 6/6 Tuya will give you a 10-mana discount making this cost just one more mana than Phyrexian Dreadnought. If you can get this out precombat you have a 14/14 Tuya, which might just win you that game.

Zilortha, Strength Incarnate
Shivan Wurm

Both bad Gruul boys have a lot of power and are lower on the curve than Gigantosaurus but don't need a Mask. Zilortha, Strength Incarnate is basically a 7/7 for five mana with the valuable trample and will give you a swinging 9/9 Tuya - pretty cool. ZIlortha's ability will help bodies like Hunted Troll and the next dork below be harder to kill. The Wurm can self-bounce a dork like Eternal Witness Flametongue Kavu, or Acidic Slime. If you don't want to self-bounce on arrival, then Illusionary Mask can drop it face-down instead.

Grothama, All-Devouring

Hello Grothama, All-Devouring fans! Like Gigantosaurus, this provides a five-drop with 10 power and two Tuya hits for death! Note that your foes can swing and then fight and kill off Grothama and then draw some cards, so it's a bit of a gamble. However, that's not how you play it! This is!

  • Control Tuya.
  • Drop your fifth mana source.
  • Cast Grothama.
  • Swing with 12/12 Tuya and fight Grothama.
  • Kill Grothama and draw 12 cards.
  • I think you might win that game!

Or take a deep dive into Mossbridge Troll, or as I like to call him, "One-Hit Larry." Why do I call him that? Simple! Tap a Gigantosaurus, or a Ghalta, or a Cosmic Larva and three other power from support dorks and give yourself a 25/25 Troll. When you swing with Tuya, you now have a 27/27 leader, which will kill anyone with a single hit. You can also swing with One Hit Larry at someone else and really push the board around as well. Drop the Troll on the first main phase, tap some stuff, and kill with Commander Damage out of nowhere!

All right, let's leave behind the giant stuff for some other cards...

Feldon of the Third Path

Take another look at Feldon of the Third Path. Many of your dorks are going to die. It'll just happen and it's sad when it does. You can tap Feldon and some mana and then copy the nastiest one as a token and swing with it. I have a deck deep with 37 non-Commander dorks in here and you can use Feldon to animate and copy and you can go deep. Feldon also works with folks like Phyrexian Soulgorger. Drop the Soulgorger, swing with a 10/10 Tuya. Then don't upkeep it, and it'll die. That's sad I know. Then use Feldon to copy the Soulgorger and swing with both the copy and Tuya for a lot of damage, and you can keep on doing this. Nasty, right?

We need haste. Badly! Sarkhan Vol can give the entire team haste with his +1 and also give a little Gaea's Anthem for the turn as well! You can also use his -2 to steal a dork for a turn and swing with it. If you have a board with just Tuya? You can steal and get a bigger Commander. You can also steal a bigger dork than you control and punch with a bigger Tuya!

Note that pump works here twice as much. If you are swinging with the creature that you use to pump Tuya then you get a Giant Growth's +3/+3 for the dork and another equal boost for Tuya! I have added in Vines of Vastwood and Stonewood Invocation to finish off foes, saving a key dork with size, or saving a key dork from targeted removal. They have multiple uses.

Xenagos, God of Revels

Similarly, check out Xenagos, God of Revels. Is it the beginning of combat? Great! Something is getting haste and a doubled power. Imagine you just dropped Flametongue Kavu. Swing with it and your leader. The Kavu has haste and becomes an 8/6 and Tuya is a 10/10. Nasty! And once Xenagos is creature, you get a reliable 6/6 boost to Tuya.

Another way to get a double boost is the nasty Kessig Wolf Run. It also gives your leader trample, which is pretty useful in case you just want to win with her over some blockers, so it has multiple uses based on what is happening at the board state.

Garruk's Uprising
The Great Henge

Don't forget that we wanted some support for bigger creatures, and we have it. Garruk's Uprising and The Great Henge to add to our card flow. The Uprising also gives the team trample, which is good for things like Tuya, Mossbridge Troll and Gigantosaurus. The Henge will mana ramp you, gain you life, and put counters on your nontokens and thus give you a double pump with Tuya. Cast after combat with a big Tuya and it's pretty cheap. Don't forget something like Spellbreaker Behemoth, which helps the team out loads. We have a few of these in our deck!

Doesn't this feel like a perfect build for Rhonas? Rhonas the Indomitable can swing and block with the best of them if you have a decent sized dork out. Even without it, he's a creature and you can get a +5/+5 boost to Tuya by swinging after you drop him. He can also grant power boosts and trample, and thus double boost Tuya and a friend or help force through a non-trampler. But the God-Eternal Rhonas? It can kill in one hit! They are already big, and now they are double sized! You might be able to kill the entire table with creature damage, and if some1-drops a Fog, you won't have exposed yourself to a counterattack as gave your stuff vigilance. Nasty right?

Fiery Emancipation

Let's look at one more card before we call it, okay? Okay! This is Fiery Emancipation, and as you can see, it'll triple our damage. A smash with a 7/7 Tuya that was pumped by Rhonas? Take 21 and die from Commander damage in one hit. If you swing with a 14/14 Tuya after Ghalta arrives? You are dealing 42 damage which is enough to kill someone even without Commander damage!

Want to see my decklist? Sure thing!

Tuya Bearclaw EDH | Commander | Abe Sargent

There you go! You'll note synergies in here like cycling dorks that are big (Krosan Tusker et all), the one-hit kill out of nowhere of Colossification and loads more.

This is a deep well and you could add in cards like Drumhunter; Surrak, the Hunt Caller; Inscription of Abundance; Arena; Magus of the Arena; and loads more!

I hope you enjoyed my take on Tuya! Anything in here that I missed or that you were inspired by? Anything in here that you are taking away? Just let me know!

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