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Commander Chop Shop - Grimgrin

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Howdy, everyone! It’s been quite a while since I’ve written, and I must say that I’ve missed it. I like writing about Commander, and I really enjoy tormenting Debbie with typos and spelling errors! [Editor’s note: True story.] Commander sure has grown since I took my hiatus, and the site has gone through a few changes as well. Needless to say, there are now many more Commander writers, and it would be silly to think I could just slide back into my old role. Lucky for us, I embrace change! Trick approached me with a neat idea for an article series, and I accepted. Let’s talk details!

Each week, I will be taking a Commander deck and a budget (both sent in by readers) and modifying the deck by adding things, but only within that budget. It’s like a Deck Doctor, but for a format people enjoy! (Snarky comments aside, I think it will be a great chance to be more interactive and really give back to the community.) Without further ado, let’s talk about this week’s deck.

This week, we’ll be working on a Grimgrin, Corpse-Born deck, submitted by the one and only Trick! Our budget for this tune-up will be $50, meaning we’ll need to be a little creative with our fixes, but that’s okay. We need to make sure we get the most bang for our buck. Before we start making changes, here is the list that Trick submitted:

[cardlist]

[Commander]

1 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

[/Commander]

[Creatures]

1 Cemetery Puca

1 Cemetery Reaper

1 Consecrated Sphinx

1 Evil Twin

1 Frost Titan

1 Ghoulraiser

1 Glen Elendra Liege

1 Golgari Thug

1 Grave Titan

1 Gravedigger

1 Mass of Ghouls

1 Mortivore

1 Necrotic Ooze

1 Phyrexian Infiltrator

1 Reassembling Skeleton

1 Shriekmaw

1 Skirsdag High Priest

1 Soulless One

1 Unbreathing Horde

1 Undead Warchief

1 Undertaker

1 Vampire Nighthawk

1 Vengeful Pharaoh

1 Sheoldred, Whispering One

[/Creatures]

[Planeswalkers]

1 Jace Beleren

1 Liliana of the Veil

[/Planeswalkers]

[Spells]

1 Cackling Counterpart

1 Diabolic Edict

1 Doom Blade

1 Evacuation

1 Footbottom Feast

1 Forbidden Alchemy

1 Grim Harvest

1 Hideous End

1 Terror

1 Ashen Powder

1 Beseech the Queen

1 Call to the Netherworld

1 Death's Duet

1 Decree of Pain

1 Demonic Collusion

1 Empty the Catacombs

1 Ghoulcaller's Chant

1 Grim Discovery

1 Profane Command

1 Recover

1 Shattered Crypt

1 Sign in Blood

1 Back From the Brink

1 Bad Moon

1 Bridge from Below

1 Confiscate

1 Control Magic

1 Helm of the Ghastlord

1 Mortuary

1 Quest for the Gravelord

1 Rooftop Storm

1 Sadistic Glee

1 Cellar Door

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Dimir Signet

1 Drake-Skull Cameo

1 Elixir of Immortality

1 Mistvein Borderpost

[/Spells]

[Lands]

1 Barren Moor

1 Crypt of Agadeem

1 Dakmor Salvage

1 Drowned Catacomb

1 Esper Panorama

1 Ghost Quarter

1 Grixis Panorama

1 Jwar Isle Refuge

1 Lonely Sandbar

1 Reflecting Pool

1 Secluded Glen

1 Shimmering Grotto

1 Strip Mine

1 Terramorphic Expanse

1 Vivid Creek

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

The first thing we notice is that there are no basic lands. That’s fine; I’m going to count basic lands as zero cost. In all honesty, most experienced players are more than happy to donate lands to get newer players started. However, something like Snow-Covered basics will need to have a price attached. As odd as it sounds, those lands are harder and harder to find, and the Coldsnap ones are starting to fetch a nontrivial price!

By my count, we have sixty-five cards, including Grimgrin, and fifteen lands. That means we need to cut a few things and bump up our land count. If we added twenty basics, that would take us to thirty-five lands, which still feels a little light. I’d like to go to thirty-seven or so, and there are a few other cards that won’t quite make the final hundred. Let’s start with the pruning!

I’m not prone to hyperbole, but at the average Commander table, the amount of removal can only be counted in aleph notation. This means that most creature enchantments just ask your opponents, “Uh, hey, I’m going to tap out and let you two-for-one me—is that cool? Great, let’s run it!” We need to cut some of these creature enchantments. This means that Sadistic Glee and Helm of the Ghastlord are going to the bench. I’m going to cut Mortuary and Back from the Brink as well. Mortuary just sets us back, and there are other ways to get uses out of our dudes. Back from the Brink is a one-shot Clone, something we can do without for right now. While we’re on an enchantment-hacking spree, let’s cut Quest for the Gravelord. The effect of putting a big body into play isn’t worth the fact that it doesn’t do much for us late-game.

Let’s replace these cuts with some better enchantments! Oversold Cemetery serves an awesome purpose while still letting us get some of our cheeky enters-the-battlefield effects back! All this without needing to lose a draw. Unholy Grotto serves to put creatures back on top of our deck, only we can dictate the pace. I wanted this to be Volrath's Stronghold, but that card is absurd, and we’re on a budget here!

These latest changes actually give us a good part of what we wanted. We were hoping to get extra land into the deck, and the Grotto serves that purpose wonderfully. This means we have a slot for land and a slot to mess with still floating around! We can certainly revisit that slot in a little bit; first, I want to visit our artifacts section.

There are two pieces of acceleration here that I’m not really a fan of, the first being Mistvein Borderpost. The Borderpost is a little too slow to cast on turn three, and I almost never want to play it on turn one. There are too many effects that just blow us out if it doesn’t stick around. The second piece is Drake-Skull Cameo. Again, the Cameo costs quite a bit for what it does, and just doesn’t quite get the job done. In their places, I would like to run Coldsteel Heart, which will smooth our mana, and Mind Stone, which is another 2-drop accelerant that even lets us draw a card! Remember that extra card slot we had floating around? Well, we’re going to fill it with another accelerant: Coalition Relic. The Relic is a little slow, but the payoff and jump in casting cost is well worth the wait!

Let’s talk some about the instants/sorceries. There are a few cards that are dedicated to getting creatures back. I like that, but I like it better when we get them back directly onto the battlefield. We’re going to do a little shuffling around here. Gone are Footbottom Feast, Evacuation, Ghoulcaller's Chant, and Empty the Catacombs. In their places, we are putting Liliana Vess, Living Death, Twilight's Call, and Balthor the Defiled. I like me some effects that return stuff to play for murderousness, and that’s precisely what we have now. Even better, two of those effects happen at instant speed, meaning sure death for your opponent. I know that they’re bringing guys back, too, but we have a contingency plan for that! Just wait and see . . . 

There are a few cards that we can put in the deck as strict upgrades. The first is Death Denied over Shattered Crypt. It’s the same effect, but instant-speed and doesn’t cost you life! Seems like a win to me. The next is Read the Runes. If we want to fill up our graveyard, we definitely want a great outlet like this. A card like Recover, while good, is just outclassed by something this saucy. Last, I want to replace Call to the Netherworld with another card-advantage engine, and I think Grave Defiler is just the way to go. It’s rare for us to whiff on all four cards, and sometimes we really hit big! Finally, Death's Duet gets us back two creatures, something we’re already rich with. Instead, I’d like to run one of the most fun cards in the set, Army of the Damned. THAT’S LIKE A MILLION ZOMBIES. Your opponents can just deal with it.

So, some of our other cards aren’t quite my cup of tea. I’d like more creatures; we’re an aggro deck! I’m cutting Terror and Ashen Powder for Noxious Ghoul and Gloomdrifter. Both of those cards really hammer your opponent for having creatures come into play off of Living Death and Twilight's Call. Nothing quite like one-sided instant-speed Wrath of God to get your Zombies in the red zone!

Let’s look at our list with a few other changes, followed by the prices of the new cards:

[cardlist]

[Commander]

1 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

[/Commander]

[Creatures]

1 Cemetery Puca

1 Cemetery Reaper

1 Consecrated Sphinx

1 Death Baron

1 Evil Twin

1 Fleshbag Marauder

1 Ghoulraiser

1 Gloomdrifter

1 Golgari Thug

1 Grave Defiler

1 Grave Titan

1 Graveborn Muse

1 Gravedigger

1 Gravespawn Sovereign

1 Lich Lord of Unx

1 Lord of the Undead

1 Mortivore

1 Nantuko Husk

1 Necrotic Ooze

1 Noxious Ghoul

1 Phyrexian Infiltrator

1 Reassembling Skeleton

1 Shepherd of Rot

1 Shriekmaw

1 Skirsdag High Priest

1 Soulless One

1 Unbreathing Horde

1 Undead Alchemist

1 Undead Warchief

1 Zombie Master

1 Balthor the Defiled

1 Sheoldred, Whispering One

[/Creatures]

[Planeswalkers]

1 Jace Beleren

1 Liliana of the Veil

1 Liliana Vess

[/Planeswalkers]

[Spells]

1 Cackling Counterpart

1 Death Denied

1 Diabolic Edict

1 Doom Blade

1 Forbidden Alchemy

1 Grim Harvest

1 Read the Runes

1 Army of the Damned

1 Beseech the Queen

1 Decree of Pain

1 Demonic Collusion

1 Grim Discovery

1 Living Death

1 Profane Command

1 Rite of Replication

1 Sign in Blood

1 Twilight's Call

1 Bridge from Below

1 Confiscate

1 Oversold Cemetery

1 Rooftop Storm

1 Cellar Door

1 Coalition Relic

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Dimir Signet

1 Mind Stone

1 Coldsteel Heart

[/Spells]

[Lands]

12 Swamp

9 Island

1 Barren Moor

1 Crypt of Agadeem

1 Dakmor Salvage

1 Drowned Catacomb

1 Esper Panorama

1 Ghost Quarter

1 Grixis Panorama

1 Jwar Isle Refuge

1 Lonely Sandbar

1 Reflecting Pool

1 Secluded Glen

1 Shimmering Grotto

1 Strip Mine

1 Terramorphic Expanse

1 Unholy Grotto

1 Vivid Creek

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

New Cards

1 Death Baron $12.00 1 Liliana Vess $5.00
1 Army of the Damned $4.00 1 Lord of the Undead $4.00
1 Unholy Grotto $4.00 1 Oversold Cemetery $3.00
1 Coalition Relic $2.50 1 Zombie Master $2.25
1 Living Death $1.50 1 Balthor the Defiled $1.00
1 Lich Lord of Unx $0.75 1 Coldsteel Heart $0.50
1 Gravespawn Sovereign $0.50 1 Mind Stone $0.50
1 Twilight's Call $0.50 1 Gloomdrifter $0.25
1 Grave Defiler $0.25 1 Graveborn Muse $0.25
1 Read the Runes $0.25 1 Rite of Replication $0.25
1 Undead Alchemist $0.25 1 Death Denied $0.10
1 Fleshbag Marauder $0.10 1 Nantuko Husk $0.10
1 Noxious Ghoul $0.10 1 Shepherd of Rot $0.10
Total $44.00

As you can see, we’ve made a lot of changes and still managed to stay under budget! Certainly there are a few things we can change, but I think we have a real beater of a deck now and one that I’d be proud to sleeve up, assuming I can find enough Zombie tokens, of course. I can’t wait to hear from you and remember to start sending me some decks for us to discuss. Until next time, this is Ben McDole, giving you a hundred reasons to play Magic!

Side note: Death Baron was really $12. That’s silly.


Send Ben Your Deck! This series relies on your submissions for Ben to go all Gregory House on. If you'd like to see your deck in the line up email them to edhsubmissions@gmail.com. Along with your deck be sure to give Ben an idea of how much you're willing to spend on these changes.

Please understand that not every submission can or will be used on Commander Chop Shop, but we aim to get to as many of you as we can!

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