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Commanding the ’Plasm, Part 2

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IT’S ALIIIIIVE! In the first part of “Commanding the ’Plasm,” we tied together mythology, science fiction/horror, and one of the most popular (and requested) Commanders from the summer’s release of preconstructed decks. Over the last couple of months, Monday Commander articles have been dedicated to rebuilding those preconstructed decks. We have taken the stock lists provided by the design folks at Wizards of the Coast and infused the lists with cards from Magic’s storied past in order to expand on a theme, make the decks more competitive, and generally ramp up the playability and fun of each deck. Among the first five reconstruction projects, a gub build was featured. Vorosh, the Hunter was selected as the target for a competitive rebuild. However, the forums and comments exploded with requests for The Mimeoplasm.

I hit the lab like a mad scientist, sketched out a couple hundred ideas, and began ordering cards for a new deck. The Mimeoplasm begs players to build around its ability, so I really wanted a deck that explored and expanded upon the theme of melding two dead creatures together and reanimating them into an oozing, living-dead masterpiece. The goal of our rebuild is to combine the size of a very large creature with the clever and game-altering ability of a second creature. The end result is a fantastic defiance of nature, or at least Magic design, that leaves you with a giant, threatening Frankenstein’s monster capable of inspiring fear in the hearts of multiple opponents.

Creature Lineup

Part 1 focused on populating the gub deck with all of the components necessary to meet our deck-building goal. We have a small number of creatures with very large bodies. While you can hard-cast a few of these fatties, they are specifically designed to be discarded or placed directly into the graveyard. After some additional research and play-testing, I have optimized the creature selections for the list.

Creatures with Enormous Power

We also balanced out this smaller number of fatties with creatures selected for their amazing abilities. Our aim is to splice the very best qualities available in our colors onto our Commander for maximum benefit, card advantage, and enhanced threat level. Let’s look through our top prospects:

Creatures with Cool Abilities

When we count The Mimeoplasm, the creature count tops twenty-three. The list of options provides playability and a key quality that makes the deck fun. The diverse abilities and seemingly endless number of creature combinations result in very different games over time. In one game, you might be threatening a kill with a 14/14 infecting Commander (melding Death's Shadow with Blighted Agent), while the very next game you are haunting the game with a 36/36 flying Commander that searches your deck for any card and puts it into your hand (Lord of Extinction spliced with Rune-Scarred Demon). The games play out differently if you are not forcing certain combinations.

Electrifying Your Monster

There are several engines that will drive a successful Mimeodeck. Our deck-building goals push us to abuse the graveyard. We want to be able to drop creatures into the grave and securely extract them when needed. I play in several Commander leagues. I have noticed that Commander players at large conventions, events like a Grand Prix, and during local, league play tend to skimp on the graveyard hate. When I began writing articles for GatheringMagic.com, I wrote an article on deck-building philosophy that included a deck-building shell for Commander players. The shell included two to three cards, at minimum, aimed at disrupting and eliminating opponents’ graveyards. There was pushback to the idea. Players don’t like (or forget?) to include would-be staples like Bojuka Bog, Scrabbling Claws, or Relic of Progenitus. Therefore, Commander decks that rely on graveyard manipulation and abuse can flourish.

I have a nearly unstoppable Dredge/Necrotic Ooze combo deck that rocks the multiplayer tables when players ignore the powerful graveyard options available in Magic. The Mimeoplasm deck will similarly thrive in an environment weak on graveyard disruption. As the metagame shifts, The Mimeoplasm will need to adapt slightly to survive.

Raiding the Best Cemetery

The Mimeoplasm rocks two of the very best colors for building and manipulating graveyards. Black is the obvious king of the grave, and several Green creatures and sorcery cards focus on recursion. The game plan promotes assembly of a great cemetery. We also want to recur and reuse some of our best cards. Let’s review some outstanding choices that will meet this deck-building imperative:

This grouping of cards can be used to place very specific cards from your deck or hand directly into the grave. While this is not an exhaustive list of cards that sport this feature, these are some of my personal favorites. Buried Alive is perhaps the best among the choices for our specific deck because you can simply assemble the perfect combination of creatures (one fatty and one clever card) to initiate your intelligent design. The Mimeoplasm setup can also be simple once you get the Survival of the Fittest engine running. You can pitch the Splice components to the graveyard while selecting utility creatures that might hit the battlefield.

I have played later-game scenarios in which Survival allowed me to pitch a Jokulmorder, searching a Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur. I was then able to pitch the Jin-Gitaxias for Eternal Witness. In the same turn, I simply paid for The Mimeoplasm’s return from the Command zone, making a nasty hybrid of fatty and Praetor. When an opposing player responded by playing Krosan Grip on my Survival, I felt a sense of relief. Next turn, I could simple restart my engine with my renewed hand and the security of the previously acquired Eternal Witness. I love decks with this type of playability and resilience.

Intuition makes the cut in this deck for somewhat obvious reasons. Not only can you search for immediate answers, you can also try to use the miniature Gifts Ungiven to populate your graveyard. You might pick three fatties that you don’t want to cast. You might pick a deadly trio of three cards that would all make suitable hybrids with existing cards in your graveyard, or you might simply search up three different removal spells or three lands in a crunch.

Dredge for a Better Graveyard

Players have a couple of lines of play that supplement the aforementioned choices. Some folks might prefer to mill their own cards into the proverbial drink (à la Tome Scour or Jace, Memory Adept), while others might choose to dredge. I have tinkered around with Jace, Memory Adept and think he deserves a place in our list. I love to splash planeswalkers into my Commander builds. They can be a different type of threat, and occasionally escape certain popular mass-removal cards. However, I am going to supplement the addition of the new Jace with some key cards sporting the Dredge mechanic.

These cards do a very nice job of building up a graveyard. Life from the Loam is excellent, both for graveyard-populating and also stabilizing a mana base that uses all available fetch lands. It also offers a bit of resilience to land-hating cards like Strip Mine. Here are some additional cards that supplement the Dredge theme:

Mesmeric Orb is a risky but very powerful choice for building the prefect cemetery. You can quickly become the center of attention in a multiplayer game. However, the risk is met with great reward. You are able to put five to eight cards into the graveyard rather early in the game. Aside from randomly disrupting opposing players, you start to assemble the necessary body parts that will make up your Frankenstein’s monster. Liliana Vess plays the role of tutor and can also target a single player with her discard ability. If you are stuck with a creature in hand that would be much better suited for the graveyard, Liliana can simply target you and provide an outlet for your setup. Careful Study will let you dig through your deck in search of goodies, also allowing you to bury desirable creatures in your graveyard.

At this point, we have thirty-five solid selections for our Mimeodeck. We have been shoving some great cards into our graveyard and really working on the theme with our Commander. However, the second benefit for placing cards in our graveyard (and naturally using resources throughout the game) is that our deck is built to reuse and recycle those “lost” resources. While some players are stuck simply playing cards once and only having cards in hand as a resource, we have gone Green (and Black). Recycling is not only a great way to preserve the Earth, but also an amazingly awesome way to contend during multiplayer games of Magic!

When I first started playing EDH, I explored a number of cards that would offer card advantage. With the help of some more experienced players and some testing, I fell in love with Restock. I believe that this is one of the most criminally underplayed g cards in Commander. It is basically a tutor that allows you to select two great cards. If you have a solid cemetery build, the graveyard can be an optimal place to select a couple of cards that can really impact the game. Restock’s baby brother, Regrowth is good enough to play, and both pair nicely with one of the most revered b cards of all time, Yawgmoth's Will.

I have written extensively on my favorite pairing of g creatures in Commander. Genesis gives decks the resilience they need to survive the mass amounts of removal and board-wiping found in multiplayer games. When paired with Eternal Witness, the green Bonnie and Clyde rob banks and ruin opposing players’ days. Just when your opponent believes he has answered a huge threat, these two pair up to run it back.

Fallen Heroes: Death from the Battlefield

While I relish tossing all my great creatures into the graveyard, sometimes a player has to actually play some of these creatures for defense or other benefits. However, we always have the option to martyr our ranks in hope of strategic advantage. If you have a Genesis in the graveyard, several great spells sleeping next to him, and an Eternal Witness on the battlefield, you might want to explore the usefulness of sacrificing your Witness via Phyrexian Tower or High Market so that she can be returned to your hand in your next upkeep. I love the idea of working through the ranks with a Birthing Pod activation. Imagine rolling up the curve as you play Blighted Agent, sacrifice for Eternal Witness, replacing her with Solemn Simulacrum, leading to Acidic Slime, into Consecrated Sphinx, into Rune-Scarred Demon. Over the course of a couple of turns, you could gain some amazing advantage.

Polishing Your Monster

We have hit forty-two cards and will begin refining the list with some finishing touches. This deck is all about putting together a very fun and complex puzzle. It takes some practice and can be aided through the inclusion of some utility cards. Let’s review some of the top picks for smoothing out the list, promoting playability, and adding some spicy fun.

Tutors

Each of these tutors will aid the deck’s functioning. I like Worldly Tutor in this build because it can help you assemble the final pieces needed for your graveyard prior to a Dredge trigger. Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor are so impressive that you can hardly pass them up. Mystical Tutor will allow you instant access to removal, Intuition, Life from the Loam, and other goodies.

Removal

Unless you are facing the Commander mirror (which is very rare), you might get to skimp a bit on the graveyard removal. I love Damnation and Decree of Pain as my large board-wipers, but always pack a Duplicant in case of an Iona, Shield of Emeria or other pesky creature that would be best removed from the game. We are light on artifacts in our build and can punish the artifact-heavy ramp decks with Creeping Corrosion. Spot removal in Krosan Grip is always good.

Card-Draw

We are in Blue, so we have some solid card-draw options. I mentioned Careful Study and would include Thirst for Knowledge and Breakthrough for similar reasons. Rhystic Study is a Blue staple, in my opinion. It always provides a great long-term supply of cards if unanswered. It can also be a nice resource if you are politically aligned with someone playing lots of spells.

Counters and Protection

Most of these cards are straightforward. We have some tricky free counterspells. I tend to pack Mana Drain if I have one available, but sometimes that is cost-prohibitive. Pithing Needle can be used for opposing planeswalkers and might be the perfect answer for the very little graveyard hate that you might face.

Ramp and Mana Production

Lands

Aside from the four important lands that were mentioned in the sections above, you have a wide-open field for the final thirty-one land slots in this deck. I strongly support packing in either dual lands and/or shock lands if you have them. A great number of our ramp cards specify “Forest” in the text. If you are searching for two Forests with Hunting Wilds, you can either grab two basic lands or Bayou and Breeding Pool. In addition, fetch lands synergize really well with Life from the Loam and also have the same mana-fixing benefit noted in this Hunting Wilds example.

Playing two of each basic land will make your other ramp cards functional. Some folks like to pay a lot of mana into an early Collective Voyage. If you play with those folks (or are that player), you might want to pack a few more basic lands. The lands from the preconstructed deck are fine. Just note that you want a good amount of gg early in the game and will eventually need a good mix of b and g. Blue is your lightest color and might be splashed through dual lands or simply receive lesser of your mana base distribution.

Thanks for all of the active involvement in the comments section. I hope this mad-scientist adventure spurred you to build your own deck with The Mimeoplasm. It is not a secret that gub are my favorite colors in Commander, and I hope that some of that love shines through in my articles. Enjoy your time deck-building and playing. See you next Monday.

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