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Casual Commander Nights: Heartless Gyruda


If you've ever seen me talk about some of my formative decks that I played in my tenure of competitive Magic, there's a few you might know I thoroughly enjoy. Onslaught block Elves inspired my love of Elves over the years. Affinity and its Tempered Steel variants in virtually every format gave me my first real taste of serious competitive play, and so on. There's one that I don't talk about quite as much, however. It's a deck I played for a short while on Magic Online just before the release of Dark Ascension. That deck was Heartless Summoning.

Heartless Summoning
Havengul Lich

In my article last week, I mused over the possibilities that the upcoming Double Masters might have in store for us. To help come up with ideas, I poured over the game's vast card pool on Magic Online when a card caught my eye: Havengul Lich. So, naturally, I took to Twitter on this one, because it made me think a bit.

This card was a huge standout when Dark Ascension dropped and a really sweet card in Commander. As such, it made me wonder why this card just sort of completely fell off the map. No one talks about it anymore and it doesn't really get a whole lot of love. Despite that, players were quick to chime in about different ways they liked to use Havengul Lich and one person brought up this:

This suddenly made me fondly remember my time playing Heartless Summoning. I never played the Perilous Myr version, but I played the heck out of the Rune-Scarred Demon and Clones version. I dug through some old results on MTGGoldfish and was able to pull up a list for you all to see:

This took me back to just dropping fattie after fattie for a cheap rate and then cloning them over and over. This list I pulled didn't seem to run Phantasmal Images, though I recall getting them for the deck eventually. I played this in dailies and casual games for a bit as I dipped my feet into the competitive environment prior to going all-in on Tempered Steel a few weeks later. It didn't win me too many games, but I loved it all the same.

This whole thread was suddenly making me nostalgic and wishing I could play old Standard environments once again. While I would still love to make that more of a reality eventually, for now I started thinking more in terms of my weekly Casual Commander Nights I play with my friends. Enter Gyruda, Doom of Depths.

Gyruda, Doom of Depths

I absolutely adore Gyruda. I've actually played a lot of the Bant Gyruda deck on MTG Arena, though the deck is obviously changing this week thanks to the rule change to companions. But you know what the companion rule doesn't change? Having the creature as your commander! The play patterns felt quite similar to the Heartless Summoning decks of yore, and Gyruda had already been getting a ton of attention thanks to its usefulness with Clones. As such, I found myself thinking: what if I took the Heartless Summoning approach to a deck with lots of fatties and lots of clones and smashed them together?

Behold, Heartless Gyruda:

Heartless Gyruda | Commander | Kendra Smith

Now, yes, I know there's only one copy of Heartless Summoning in here, but that's fine. I added a number of cards like the Medallions and some mana rocks to somewhat mimic what Heartless Summoning is supposed to do in cheapening your mana costs. It's a bit light on some of the more controlling elements from the Standard list of yesteryear, but that's fine. After all, this is casual EDH. We're here to have fun and just spit out some big dudes and go swinging!

Now, once again we typically hold our Casual Commander Night events online, so a number of the cards in this list aren't terribly accessible. Most people, after all, don't have copies of Bazaar of Baghdad, Underground Sea, or Mana Drain just lying around casually. Thankfully, for most of the higher end stuff they're easy fixes with swaps being as simple as a different land or a different counterspell.

The other great part is that where there's a ton of big, pricey fattie creatures in this list, there's a ton of flexibility in what you can actually run. Let's face it, cards like The Scarab God, Consecrated Sphinx, Grave Titan, Massacre Wurm, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, and more just aren't cheap cards. But that's totally cool when you have cards like the Primordial creatures from Gatecrash, the Cavaliers from Core Set 2020, and the Chancellors from New Phyrexia. There's a myriad of great options and my choices here are generally just some of the best of the best thanks to rental services on Magic Online.

Ultimately, the deck is pretty simple: charge out the fatties and send in the clones. If you're running a little slow getting going, you can even just clone your opponents' creatures instead to give the game more of a flow to it. Gyruda itself especially gets the ball rolling. While you might not look to really chain it for the win like you would in other formats, even just using it to land a big fatty works too. Even if you hit something you can't grab, there's still plenty of ways to reanimate it or else get a general copy of the card back in some manner.

I've played this deck once so far last week and had a grand ol' time with it, even if I didn't get to really see its full potential. As a result, I'm also playing it again this week to relive some gameplay I've loved from years' past. Sometimes you just have to find ways to re-experience things once again even when you can't do it how you actually want to. It's difficult to get someone to play old Standard formats, after all, but thankfully there's always Commander to scratch the itch when we need it.

Kendra Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: Kendra Smith

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