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Commander & Change — The Gitrog Monster


This spoiler season has been a blast. It almost seems Shadows over Innistrad was built with Commander as much in mind as Standard; we have a few great legendary creatures and a solid ton of new playables. Cards like Descend upon the Sinful are exactly the kind of Wrath of God effects we want in Commander: They may cost a bit more, but we are able to exile everything (so it’s really gone), and most of the time, we’ll wind up the only one with a creature at the end. Also, is it possible for me to express how unbelievably cool Triskaidekaphobia is? I will be jamming a stack with that card in mind. A winner-takes-all combo deck in which everyone dies because they’re all at exactly 13 sounds awesome. There has to be a way to pair it with Heartless Hidetsugu to knock everyone down quickly.

In the meantime, though, I thought it would be fun to do one more different thing before we return to our journey through the seven deadly sins. As long as we’re going to keep playing around, we’ll forget the budget once more (though this one is a bit more budget-conscious than the last one). One legendary hopped out as me as soon as I saw it.

The Gitrog Monster

The fun thing is that there are a lot of ways to take this guy. Should we build an aggressive deck that brings him out quickly and slips him through for massive damage? How about a B/G control deck, answering everything and winning in some weird way? A commander that draws us an extra card and lets us play an extra land each turn—not to mention being bigger than it should for its mana cost—gives us plenty of choice. So where does my brain go? Dedicated combo, of course!

“Whaaaa . . . ?” you may ask, reasonably. We haven’t done a dedicated combo deck in the series for a while, though, and there are a bunch of fun ones in this color combination. Also, they’re all kill-everyone-at-the-table combos (except for one, I guess, but we’ll get to that), so it’s not as though we’re going to make some poor player sit around not doing anything. Finally, as tempting as it is, we’re not going to run any tutors. We can draw a lot of cards, so we’re going to force ourselves to draw into one of our combos. That keeps us from doing the same thing every game, and it makes it a bit more challenging because we have to be looking for various pieces. Let’s see how it all comes together.

The Gitrog Monster ? Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

  • Commander (0)

This is strange, I know. Remember, we’re dedicated combo here.

First off, we have fifty-three lands. That’s a ton, but we are able to play an extra one with our commander on board; plus, we have to sacrifice one every turn, so we want to make sure we have plenty. A suite of dual lands (all reasonably priced!) join with a bunch of lands that bin themselves—they become cantrips with our commander out, so Blighted Woodland means two lands and a card, which is way better than just two lands. Even things like Ebon Stronghold and Cabal Pit, which aren’t normally good enough in Commander, become worth it because of the card they give us. Terrain Generator helps us bring enough lands out to play our stuff. Reliquary Tower and Thought Vessel both give us no maximum hand size, which could become important, and we have a few land-fetchers, including Harrow, which gives us two lands and a card for our troubles. Burgeoning and Exploration both let us cheat extra lands into play.

We’re going to draw by binning lands. The Monster is going to draw us an extra card every turn with its sacrifice trigger. Then, we have a number of ways to put lands into the graveyard—we can sacrifice them with Sylvan Safekeeper or discard them with Putrid Imp. Heck, if we have a handful of lands, Trespasser il-Vec basically serves as our own little Wheel of Fortune, except the dude now has shadow and can attack with Loxodon Warhammer or whatever. Fun! We should have little problem getting through a good chunk of our deck once we bring our commander out. It’s also nice because this is a deck with which it’s very safe to keep seven-land hands! Oh, and Merciless Resolve seems tailor-made for this deck—we draw three cards for 3 mana, sacrificing a land in the process.

Loxodon Warhammer
The Gitrog Monster, at 6/6, is a reasonable threat, so as a last-ditch attempt if all combos fail, we can always attack with it. Loxodon Warhammer is here to make it a bit more formidable, and Whispersilk Cloak and Rogue's Passage both let it sneak by. Other than that, though, we’re really not going to threaten the table. Oracle of Mul Daya just looks to be a way to play more lands. It’s certainly not a big threat.

Answers, too, are a bit thin on the ground. We want stocked graveyards (more on that later), so we’re not running any graveyard hate. We have a Life's Finale so we can put even more creatures in ’yards and a Black Sun's Zenith in part because it makes it so we won’t deck ourselves, but also because it kills a lot of really obnoxious things. Murderous Compulsion is new, and it is nice because we can discard it to something like Zombie Infestation and still gain the effect. Putrefy is great all-around removal in this color pair. Garruk, Apex Predator is here, too, for a few reasons. First, people panic when they see him. They’ll freak out and attack him till he’s dead, which is great because it means they’re not killing us while we’re busy drawing our deck. Second, he kills stuff good and dead. Third, if we actually do manage to get him to ultimate, The Gitrog Monster kills in two hits. Woodfall Primus destroys things, but really we’re not going to worry about what anyone else is doing. We’re going to durdle around until we can kill everybody in one go.

And that brings us to our win conditions. We have a few, so let’s go through them.


  • Quillspike, Devoted Druid, and Rite of Consumption or Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord With Quillspike and Devoted Druid on the battlefield, we can tap the Druid for g. Put a -1/-1 counter on to untap the Druid; then, remove the counter and use the g to give Quillspike +3/+3. Rinse and repeat. This makes an infinitely large Quillspike. Fling it at one player with Rite of Consumption or, better, sacrifice it to Jarad to kill everyone.
  • Lord of Extinction and Rite of Consumption or Jarad — This is the same deal, except Lord of Extinction is normally huge without any work. Centaur Garden can make him a touch bigger if necessary.
  • Phyrexian Devourer and Jarad — Do the same again, except this is a bit trickier. Exile cards from the top until Devourer reaches power 7 or greater. Then, with the sacrifice trigger on the stack, keep exiling cards until it’s big enough to kill everyone. Fling it with Jarad and gg.
  • Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Triskelion This is sort of a classic, but just in case, it works like this: Mike makes Trike a 2/2, and Trike comes in with 3 +1/+1 counters. Shoot 1 damage, removing one counter, at someone, and the remaining two at itself, killing Trike. Mike causes Trike to undie, so Trike comes back as a 2/2 with four +1/+1 counters. Now shoot 2 damage at someone and 2 more at Trike, killing it again. It causes infinite damage and kills the table.
  • Necrotic Ooze (battlefield) and Phyrexian Devourer or Triskelion in the graveyard — This one is cool because we can discard a couple of the parts and then play the Ooze to win suddenly. We flip a card with the Devour-Ooze and then shoot a bunch of damage around with the Triskel-Ooze. Note the Ooze works with most of the rest of the two-creature combos as well, as long as they’re in the ’yard.
  • Mikaeus, Woodfall Primus, and Greater Good This one’s a bit less cool, but it can normally end the game. Mike cancels out Woodfall Primus’s persist counter, so we can blow up everyone’s lands and basically draw our deck, which should bring us to another one of our combos. Just make sure there’s enough mana on board to pull one off—at this point, we probably want to dig for, or Regrow, Triskelion to end the game.
  • Zombie Infestation All by itself, there’s a chance it could go off, and it would be hilarious if it worked. Discard two lands at the end of our opponent’s turn to make a dude and draw two cards. If enough cards are lands, we could make enough zombies at end of turn to attack for a win. That would be epic.

Praetor's Counsel
So we draw cards and cycle lands until we draw into one of our combos—then, we go for it. We have a few ways to bring some things back: Regrowth, Eternal Witness, and Praetor's Counsel specifically. We have a Life from the Loam to bring some lands back, just in case, and honestly, milling our self isn’t the end of the world.

We probably want Crucible of Worlds, but this one works fine without it. To me, this is a once-a-month deck, so I don’t think I’d want to devote a Crucible to it. There’s an argument for the cycle lands (they’d draw two cards!), but it was already falling low on basics, which we want to search for and have to discard or sacrifice.

It also would be a lot more reliable with Jarad's Orders and other tutors. There’s something fun, though, and harmless about a deck like this one. We’re not locking the board down or keeping anyone from doing that player’s thing. Instead, we durdle and cycle through a bunch of our deck. Then, we win out of nowhere, and everyone gets to shuffle up and play another one after everyone figures out how the combo worked. It should earn some serious style points, and no one feels that it was oppressive—just surprising.

How would you build The Gitrog Monster? And what did I miss? I’m always impressed with what people suggest—being part of a community makes us all better, no?

Sacrifice and discard lands to draw cards. Who would have thought?

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