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Grusilda Really Brings Things Together

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Welcome back to Week Two of Unmander month! The plan for this article was to put together a Grusilda, Monster Masher deck. I'd looked at the card in the past and felt like I had a pretty good handle on it. The whole point of the card is to get two creatures out of the graveyard and slam them together into something more powerful than its parts. Easy, right? Not as easy as you would think!

The options for Grusilda are so plentiful it is hard to narrow it down. Most of us picture taking two big creatures and just mashing them together. A 9/9 with flying, lifelink, and deathtouch that puts 2 zombie tokens when it enters the battlefield, puts two more zombies onto the battlefield and forces a player to discard a card when it attacks, and gets a +1/+1 counter whenever a card is put into an opponent's graveyard from anywhere* for just the five mana activation cost sounds awesome! I'm sure each of you could come up with a fun combination of high end monsters to put together into a combination. This created a bit of paralysis for me. The options are everywhere and I wasn't sure how to decide.

I reached out to Twitter for suggestions and got some great ideas!

I started putting the deck together and realized it has some issues I would have spotted right away if I'd just broken down the commander like I normally do. Given that, let's break down Grusilda and watch as you spot the problems.

Grusilda is a five-mana 4/4 creature. Being a 4/4 commander is usually pretty solid. It survives plenty of splash damage and forces opponents to have a way to kill it. The first concern is the mana cost. Five mana is doable, but having to pay seven or nine mana when an opponent kills it is going to be tough. You are going to want to have a LOT of mana to make the deck run.

The activated ability costs five mana and requires you to tap Grusilda. There are two concerns here. Having to tap Grusilda means that you either can't activate her when she enters the battlefield, or you have to have a way to give her haste. It also means that you are going to have to have the five mana to do it. Your opponents can see what is in graveyards just as well as you can. They can see if there is anything they need to worry about just like you can. You need to be able to use the ability right away, so there is some fear that you may need ten mana to activate it once.

Those are restrictions that we can work around. What starts getting tougher is dealing with your deck when you load up creatures you want to put together. While Grave Titan/The Haunt of Hightower sounds good, loading the deck with creatures that cost six or more means that you are really relying on Grusilda to make that happen. It also means that you have fewer and fewer options for the early game. I want this to work, and for that to happen, I need to be alive for the end game! This was when I saw this tweet and everything.

The key to a Grusilda deck is to include only three or four big splashy creatures. The rest of your creatures should be ways to make other creatures even more spectacular! Warchief Giant is a great example. Picture pairing the Warchief with any creature that has an enter the battlefield ability! The new single creature would have haste and myriad, meaning that it can attack the turn you make it, and it will make multiple copies of itself that are attacking opponents. A creature as basic as Solemn Simulacrum paired with the Warchief yields three 7/5 creatures each attacking an opponent, netting you two tapped basic lands (assuming a four-player game). And if any of your opponents kill the Warchief Simulacrum, you'll be drawing cards too! This works with an opponent's Sakura Tribe-Elder and other creature cards that regularly show up.

While myriad is one option, creatures with persist or undying also offer some improvement. Murderous Redcap paired with any creature means more than just two damage is dealt and the creature comes back. And if you happen to have a creature with persist and another with undying in your graveyard, it just loops endlessly.

Note: A part of me believed that the combination creature would separate on dying, but Mark Rosewater, the Rules Manager for all Un- cards, says otherwise! https://markrosewater.tumblr.com/post/168526426208/how-does-persist-or-undying-work-with-combined

The true joy of this is that I'm not trying to build creatures based on the creatures in my deck alone (although I'm prepared to do that). What I really want to do is go after my opponent's graveyards! I want a chance to pair up my utility creatures with their powerful cards to create all new monstrosities every game! The whole point of Grusilda is to see all new creatures, and this deck aims to do that!

Given all of that, this is the deck I finally decided upon:

Grusilda Mashes More Than Potatoes | Commander | Bruce Richard


The Big Guys

Necropolis Regent, Dragon Tyrant, Massacre Wurm, and the Combustible Gearhulk are a few of the big ugly creatures for the deck. With a deck like Grusilda, these cards will likely be rotating out of the deck for something else big and ugly in the not too distant future. Keeping the deck constantly changing just makes good sense. I want to see new stuff, and this subset of cards can be moved in and out without affecting the overall play of the deck too negatively.

The Utility Guys

I've already talked about many of the cards in this category, so I won't rehash it here too much. I've really pushed the Double Strike aspect as a way to double damage. Dauthi Horror also makes an appearance as black's way to make a creature unblockable.

Ramp

The usual suspects are all here, along with a couple of bonus cards. I included Chromatic Lantern, Fellwar Stone, and a handful of cards that make treasure as a way to activate abilities on any creatures I might borrow from my opponent's graveyards. I'm particularly excited about Revel in Riches and Neheb, the Eternal, but for practical reasons, I suspect Dockside Extortionist and Solemn Simulacrum are going to be the all-stars.

Draw

My card draw choices are all across the board. This is mostly because I want to see what works in this deck and what doesn't. Azra Bladeseeker, Skyscanner, and Blade Juggler draw cards when they enter the battlefield. I'm hoping to see that happen more than once with Grusilda guiding the troops. Disciple of Bolas does the same thing, but on a much grander scale!

Combustible Gearhulk should be fun in this deck. Opponents are left with a miserable option of giving you three cards, or giving you creatures in your graveyard and taking damage. Since they know you are playing Grusilda, you know they'll be wondering just how much damage they are going to have to take!

Rankle, Master of Pranks should be a great card for the deck. Rankle fills graveyards and draws cards. The Faerie Rogue adds flying and haste to a combined creature as well, so things just get better and better there as well!

Finally, this might be the most interesting card for the deck. Xantcha, Sleeper Agent gives you repeated card draw. Giving it combined with another creature to an opponent just sounds delightful! Mixing it with Hound of Griselbrand promises to make Xantcha a gift that just keeps on giving!

Cards to Graveyard

I chose Buried Alive and nothing else here. I have a lot of ways to destroy creatures and since my hope is to abuse my opponent's graveyard, I didn't push this too much. There is a real good chance that as soon as I get to cast B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster), I'll pull out all three cards, but we'll see just how full the graveyards can get.

Mass Removal

Those who read my articles regularly know that I don't tend to run a lot of mass removal, but I included it here. I want graveyards full of creatures and this is a great way to make that happen. I don't have a Damnation, so that didn't make the cut, but Toxic Deluge and Last One Standing did. I threw in a few creatures that make a mess of the board as well.

This deck is a work in progress, and likely that will never change. I'll constantly be tweaking the number of draw and ramp spells, changing the creatures and spells, until I find what I feel is the optimal mix to activate Grusilda as early and as often as possible. And that is really the joy of a commander like Grusilda. This is a deck that is definitely not on rails. You can eschew my build and focus on loading the graveyard with miserable creatures that combo into "I win." You can focus on Grusilda's first ability and run plenty of auras and equipment, using her combining ability as a last resort. Unmander month is yours to enjoy!

Bruce Richard

@manaburned

*Grave Titan and The Haunt of Hightower.

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