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Beyond Excited



Welcome to my first article of 2020. I'm looking forward to another year of doing exciting things with the only format left unscathed by 2019. While we don't have a complete Theros: Beyond Death card list, I'm charging into building a deck like a guy about to make a Leroy Jenkins reference who doesn't know a lot of his readers were in grade school when that video was popular. Forget Careful Consideration, that's too Blue for someone who's this excited about getting a list down. The only colors that can match my enthusiasm and haste are Gruul and luckily Gruul got the goods.

The Magic card Gallia of the Endless Dance.

Like all of you, I'm sure, the first thing I did was type "Satyr" into Scryfall to see how many we have. The list is... not great. Highlights include a Black zombie Satyr, a slightly better Jackal Pup, a creature that will make all of our opponents' creatures unblockable if we control any forests in our Green deck and a five-mana Reclamation Sage. However, I also came across Willow Satyr, a creature I forgot all about but which I am absolutely putting into this deck.

Willow Satyr

Target Legend you say? Is it possible that will come into play in a game of EDH? The price tag on this card that is old enough to enjoy Xenagos' revels legally is high-ish but compared to other cards from Legends, it's pretty reasonable. Other people must have the same idea as me because Coolstuff is sold out of Mr Scumnus over here, but you're a resourceful bunch and I'm sure you'll track a copy down.

With so few Satyrs available and so fewer playable, the second ability on Gallia felt pretty worthless. I moved on to other cards, confident that we weren't going to get any Satyrs revealed in the coming weeks to make it worth it to go tribal Satyrs. But then, a powerful revelation came. Was it the revelation of a new Satyr? Nay, (do Satyrs say "neigh" like horses or am I assuming that because of the hoofs?) the revelation was me realizing that I don't care about a +1/+1 bonus to creatures no matter how many there are. I wouldn't build a Merfolk deck around Lord of Atlantis, but I will around Kumena because Kumena has other good abilities. Does Gallia have other good abilities? I almost stopped reading, but yes, you could say that.

Gallia rewards you for attacking with lots of creatures by giving you the chance to turn a random card in your hand into two new ones, which I hear is very good. You may pitch something you need and that's the kind of crazy chaos I like in a Magic card, but you're always getting one more card so you do get value. One problem? This only triggers once per attack, no matter how many times you manage to attack with lots of creatures. My solution to this problem is that if you can only pitch a card and replace it with two cards when you attack, we're just going to have to attack a lot.

Gruul is the perfect venue for such a deck. We already have Gruul combos like Hellkite Charger a Bear Umbra and generating a ton of mana with our Green cards makes repeatedly playing spells like Relentless Assault possible, not to mention channeling a ton of mana through Aggravated Assault. We're going to want a lot of tokens and Green can give us a lot of tokens because we need to go as wide as possible in case they have blockers. Breath of Fury really gives us inevitability if we can get through with a token reliably and we can even wrap the game up with Triumph of the Hordes if we're feeling spicy. If you're not into Triumph, let's not pretend Craterhoof Behemoth is any less adept at punching through and ending the game quickly. We could even give some new cards a shot, although I prefer Overrun effects that grant Trample.

The Magic card Klothys's Design.

Of the Satyrs that are not bad, Hedonist and Wayfinder both make me think we need to be aware of our Graveyard and how to possibly get things back from it if we can since we're going to be discarding at random and potentially milling good cards with Wayfinder. Voyaging Satyr is basically the only one I can even see being excited about granting Haste to, but this deck is about Gallia's third ability in any case. If we can keep from milling our good cards, pitching them to our card draw triggers and getting smothered by all of their blockers, we could have a nutso turn where we go ham and attack a bunch of times. To make this happen, we'll want some help from some cards that don't always see a ton of play.

War Cadence

"Bizarro Propaganda" is going to be a Godsend here. This is an incredibly effective card because unlike a player who wants to attack and can decide to use their resources to pursue that aim, a player who wants to block has to play less on their turn because of the threat of not being able to block. If you play Cadence and activate it on the same turn, players who tapped out will be defenseless. This is going to let a lot of creatures through, and if you have a player who can't defend themselves, you're going to be able to send the token with Breath of Fury on it right at them and be able to swing out at everyone else. While we're at it, here's another obscure enchantment that makes blocking a mess.

Goblin War Drums

This Gobbo drum circle is going to really give your opponents fits as they are forced to double up their blocking assignments, giving you an edge since you're forced to attack X other players on your big turn.

If we're going to end up pitching a lot of cards into the graveyard, I want to make sure we can get them back easily, benefit from them being there or both. I think I want a little bit more of a rich land mix than normal, which has become a common approach in Gruul decks for me. We can get those lands back easily, get landfall triggers when we do, and we can even get a benefit when we discard lands.

Turntimber Sower

Plant tokens seem small but anyone who has ever won a game where they attacked with 0/1 Plant tokens one turn and then attacked with 5/6 Plant tokens the next because they got enough counters on Beastmaster Ascension knows that even lowly 0/1 Plants are not to be underestimated. Get a bunch out and sac them to get lands back, or just play an Avenger of Zendikar and grow all of them. Omanth, Locus of Rage, Mina and Denn, Wildborn, Lotus Cobra - the possibilities for a land-rich deck are endless. We're going to want a lot of mana anyway for our big turn where we have to play a lot of Relentless Assault effects so playing and replaying extra lands fits with our strategy. Discarding a card at random is less painful when your hand is seven lands and a Relentless Assault and your deck is so thinned by your land searching that every extra card you draw with Gallia is pure gas. Digging down 2 cards every attack to find more cards to keep the party going is essential.

It seems incumbent on us to protect our hand from our own commander and one way we can do that is to set up a stack of Relentless Assault effects on top of the deck with Scroll Rack and draw them one at a time as you trigger Gallia. That way you don't accidentally pitch them. Games where we don't get that Scroll Rack life are going to be a random, chaotic mess and I'm here to tell you that is a good thing, actually. The more nuts things are the better, honestly. Part of how I like to build 75% is to keep the deck fair and fun by eliminating linearity. As much as this deck will always try to execute the same plan, how often that works out is going to be the random element and it should lead to some very fun games. When you get a Helm of the Host on a Combat Celebrant or Godo, things will go how they're going to go, but when you're trying to swing with a diminishing pile of Plants at three hostile players blocking like their lives depend on it, you're going to have a blast, win or lose.

Let's see what we come up with, list-wise.

Gallia till we Killya | Commander | Jason Alt

One card I was very sad to cut was Etali, Primal Hunger and if I can find a way to jam it back in here, I'm going to. Etali is a monster when you have a ton of additional attack phases and it's a very 75% thing to do, stealing their cards and using them against them. My concern was both for the high mana cost and it benefitting from our plan but not contributing to it. If you can find a cut to add it back in, I'd appreciate it but I don't see it, personally.

I also cut Centaur Vinecrasher and Crawling Sensation very late. If we didn't have to make a lot of room for the Relentless Assault infrastructure, I could see playing both. All I did was type "mtg enters the graveyard from anywhere" and look at interesting Green cards. That used to be a mostly Black ability but quite a few Green cards have it and it's very effective in a deck like this, but there isn't much room. I like Crawling Sensation a lot and hope it finds its way back into the deck.

I feel like we need a few more ways to mitigate pitching Relentless Assault effects. Luckily, we can add cards like Creeping Rennaissance and other spells that get back permanents to get Breath of Fury and Aggravated Assault. Not all of our effects are sorceries, so if we do pitch an enchantment or two, we should be able to get them back. I am having a hard time reconciling the cut to Etali while I have a monster like Greenwarden in the deck, so if I can just plan on getting an enchantment back rather than running clunky cards to get back Fury of the Horde, that's probably a win. I even found room for Road of Return which also gets a permanent, so maybe Sorceries are just going to get pitched occasionally.

This plays very similarly to a lot of Gruul landfall decks that don't have big, explosive turns, so they may not see it coming when you pretend you're Smashmouth and your creatures are the years. You can just literally be a Mina and Denn deck and get some advantage, trigger some landfall and attack with your creatures. I cut a lot of redundancy from that package like Rampaging Baloths and Akoum Hellkite but you can still function like that. If you keep accidentally pitching your infinite attack phase cards or never draw them, congratulations, you're almost and Omnath, Locus of Rage deck, so just go be that deck. Having this insidious World at War package hidden in a familiar-looking deck is a weapon, so feel free to wield it.

I like this list a lot and while we didn't get to benefit from the buff to Satyrs, I think the cards we're going to draw will more than make up for it. Remember, swinging with three 0/1 Plants to draw two cards and put 3 counters on Beastmaster Ascension is legit, easy to do early, doesn't ruffle a ton of feathers because it deals 0 damage and contributes to long-term planning. Pretend to be a generic Landfall deck for as long as you can and when you're ready to have a big turn, throw out a Savage Ventmaw, Bear Umbra, Nature's Will or Sword of Feast and Famine and have fun taking all of the attack phases, spending all of the mana and drawing all of the cards. There's no success like excess, so make every play excessive.

That's it for me. Do try and find me some cuts for Etali and Crawling Sensation and leave them and your other thoughts in the comment section below. That's all for this week. Until next time!

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