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Strixhaven Standard Set Review with Ali Aintrazi
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Being Mean with Sarulf, Realm Eater

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DO NOT PLAY THIS DECK

My friends will tell you, I can be a real jerk at a Commander table. I build a lot of decks, and I play a lot of different styles, but I have to decide to build something 75% or kind or funny. My instinct, though I often work against it, is to build something really, really mean.

It's the reason my first deck was Anowon, the Ruin Sage Mono-Black Vampires, which basically didn't let anyone have any creatures. That deck morphed into Sheoldred, Whispering One, which didn't let anyone have anything. It's also the reason my Meren of Clan Nel Toth deck is banned at my table. Unfortunately, I absolutely love making it so other people can't play Magic. And not in a Blue, counter-all-your-things permission kind of way. In a Golgari, take-away-all-your-toys kind of way.

Today is going to be one of those days. We're going to look at two ways to build around a new Legend from Kaldheim. One of them will be very, very mean. The other, despite minimal changes, will be even meaner. Let's see how we can ruin everyone's day with Sarulf, Realm Eater.

Sarulf, Realm Eater

We're going to lean hard into Sarulf's second ability with our build. We want to put counters on Sarulf so we can remove them and exile everyone's stuff. In order to do that, we're going to make them sacrifice things. Basically, any time anyone tries to make a permanent, we're going to make them get rid of it. If they don't play anything, we'll just keep playing lands until we can win the game.

We have the standard 40 lands. (A quick aside: I see decks every week with 34 lands. Seriously? This is insane. I know I'm in the minority here, but I assure you, I'm right. Try building your decks with 40 lands, and you'll see. Your draws will be smoother, your plays easier, and your decks stronger.) We have a few ways to grab some extra lands, but it shouldn't be too big a deal. We've got a good mix of spells at lower casting costs, and really we're only doing two things, so all the spells do effectively the same thing. We won't need to ramp very much.

The two things we're doing is forcing people to sacrifice their stuff and making tokens. In this case, the majority of the tokens we're going to make are Eldrazi Spawn and Eldrazi Scion tokens, but I suppose the kinds of tokens made don't really matter. We want them for a few reasons, too. First, we need sacrifice fodder, and these guys are cheap and easy to sacrifice. Second, we want blockers in case the world gets a little out of hand before we're able to lock it down again. And finally, we may eventually want the extra mana.

The other spells force players to sacrifice things. Mostly creatures, mind you, but occasionally other stuff. We're going to make people sacrifice all their stuff, all the time. Play a creature? Sac it. We do this with Fleshbag Maurader, we do this with Innocent Blood, we do this with Dictate of Erebos. (That's another thing about the Eldrazi: they sacrifice themselves, so we can sacrifice them for mana with Grave Pact or Dictate of Erebos on the 'field and force everyone else to sacrifice too!)

The Eldrazi creators almost all come with additional abilities, so we have some random other stuff we can do, but that's mostly secondary to the token creators.

Then, as we force sacrifices, we stick counters on Sarulf, which we can then remove to exile mana rocks or any other annoying things that may slip through our sacrifice shield.

Finally, we have two more batches of cards to care about. We have seven tutors. I put in the cheap ones that don't cost as much as a car, plus my favorites of the more expensive ones, but feel free to slot in whichever ones you want (or, if you hate tutors but want to play a really mean deck like this one anyway, replace them with card draw like Sign in Blood or Harmonize). These are helpful to find a Grave Pact effect (having one of those on the 'field is really helpful), to dig out a specific sacrifice card (like Szat's Will if someone has something huge and something small, or Tribute to the Wild if there's a nasty enchantment out or something), or to find one of our two win conditions, assuming we're ready to try to win the game.

The last two are our win-cons. We've got Exsaguinate and Torment of Hailfire. Both x spells, both annoying as all get out, both overused win-conditions in Black decks, and both extremely effective. Once we have enough lands and Eldrazi to do enough damage to kill everyone (or make Torment of Hailfire happen enough times to kill everyone), we pay the mana and win the game.

See? I told you it was mean.

Sarulf, Realm Eater | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper


This deck will be no fun to play against. It'll take forever, it'll be a lot of passing turns, and a whole bunch of people will be looking at you with angry faces. Plus, they'll talk about you, not even behind your back - right there, they'll talk openly about how horrible a person you are, and will actively plot your demise (and not necessarily just in the game).

BUT.

If you're the kind of person who really loves to make tables suffer. If you're visiting a shop out of state and don't care what any of these people think of you. If you just want to troll a table. If you really, really hate the social contract and just want everyone to have a miserable time, make the following two changes to this deck.

Remove:

And replace those two cards with:

The idea here is rather than win the game, we will stall it in the worst way possible. We force sacrifices, we exile lots of permanents, and we generally make for the least fun kind of game possible, and then, instead of going for the win, we play out our two pieces of Equipment, equip them both, and attack, destroying EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE GAME. All lands, all creatures, all artifacts, everything goes. We're left with a Sword of Doom and, if we're lucky, some extra mana from our Eldrazi Scions, but it won't matter. Everyone will hate you, no one will be having a good time, and there will be no chance for anyone to crawl back. You can sit back and know you were responsible for ruining several people's evenings, and when they ask you how you're going to win, you can honestly say "I can't. There's no win condition." Then just don't concede, and you'll probably win to everyone else dropping out of the chat or leaving the room in a huff, as well as blocking you on social media and deleting you from their phones.

Let's make the comments section of this article a dropping point for the least fun games of Commander you've ever played. Tell us your story!

And do yourself and the world a favor. Don't play this deck. Please.

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