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Classic Commander: Geth, Lord of the Vault


Over the course of the last year, Classic Commander decks have been among my favorites to write about. They're great ways for me to reflect on my days gone by with the game. Twenty-three years is a lot of history, after all, and there are many memories made with the game. These could be decks I've made in the past, legends I always loved and never got to make, or playstyles I always loved experimenting with.

In some cases, they're simply characters that I love and adore. Even outside of Classic Commander, I'm quick to gush about cards and characters that I've loved over the years. Heck, I wrote an entire piece laying out the lore of Kamahl, Jeska, and the Otaria books because of how I grew up with them. The whole Weatherlight crew is similar, same with Urza and Mishra, and so on. Being around for so long, I'm definitely attached to several characters, and it absolutely drives me to make decks around these characters. Case in point: Geth, Lord of the Vault.

Geth, Lord of the Vault

While my first Magic books were from the Odyssey and Onslaught books, and I also have some of my best memories with the books that followed: the Mirrodin block. I loved the escapades of Glissa, Slobad, and Bosh - the trio who go on their quest to stop Memnarch and rid Mirrodin of the evils that trouble it (we all know how that went). During the course of that trip, Glissa and Slobad find themselves in the Mephidross and end up confronting Geth - the lord of the Vault of Whispers - and defeat his vampire. Later, Geth would be beheaded by a servant-turned-vampire named Yert who would come to rule in his stead. He kept his head alive as a lich, aided Glissa's party in their quest, and then became one of the Mirari's guardians following Memnarch's defeat.

Admittedly, I don't have as much nostalgia over that latter part of that, but I've never forgotten reading about that first trip to the Mephidross with Glissa and Slobad and their encounter with Geth. I always remembered Geth fondly as a result, and so you can imagine my surprise when I saw him finally get a card of his own when Scars of Mirrodin came out. It was a perfect way to come back to the game following a hiatus, and it blew my mind that this character was now a Phyrexian. What's even better is that the card makes for an awesome Commander deck and was one I quickly couldn't resist building.

The honest truth is that you could probably just play Geth, some kill spells, and a ton of Swamps and get there. He's really the whole package in one card and you can quickly find games spiral out of control because of how much he takes over. In no time flat, you'll be reviving your opponents' creatures for your own machinations while continuing to mill them out, thereby finding yourself more fuel. If you don't kill them with their own creatures, then you'll just mill them to death. It's a simple deck to pilot, but sometimes it doesn't need to do anything especially flashy, but rather just be good and make for a fun experience. Well, a fun experience for the pilot, anyways.

Ultimately, though, you really should have a fleshed-out list, and that's what we have here. Because we're relying so heavily on opponents' graveyards, I sought to focus on two things: removal and reanimation. Starting with removal, there's tons of options here. You've got your typical one-shot kill spells like Doom Blade, Go for the Throat, Snuff Out, even Grasp of Darkness. There's mass removal as well with Damnation and Mutilate. One of my favorite angles, though, was to use a few creatures that could be used as repeat removal. Sure, Avatar of Woe - which plays excellently with Geth - and Visara the Dreadful do this well, but they cost a lot. Royal Assassin and Guul Draz Assassin will put in lots of work more quickly.

Snuff Out
Guul Draz Assassin
Hypnotic Specter

With regards to reanimation, the point here is twofold. Several reanimation spells target opponents' graveyards as well as your own, meaning they can be used to pull larger creatures for less mana than Geth would require. You don't get to mill doing it that way, but the tradeoff can be very much worth it. There's also a number of great reanimation targets as well that you can put into your graveyard yourself and cheat out quickly, giving you some sweet cards even if you don't go after your opponents' graveyards. You can even fuel both sides by using Dread Return's flashback to sacrifice opposing creatures you reanimated, reanimating your own creature, and then stealing the sacrificed creatures yet again.

You can also fuel graveyards with some discard effects. I put a handful in here, such as Nezumi Shortfang and Delirium Skeins. Simple and effective ways to make sure you get some things into the graveyard and get the ball rolling. If you get later in the game, you also get access to more powerful effects like Liliana Vess and Painful Quandary, and even Sword of Body and Mind. There's no shortage of ways to fill up the graveyards, and it can easily help juice up cards like Mortivore and Guiltfeeder in no time flat.

Liliana Vess
Nezumi Graverobber

Sometimes, though, you don't want cards to stay in your opponent's graveyards. Let's be real here: you don't exactly want to be milling, say, an opposing Sharuum the Hegemon deck willy nilly. They'll just get their own cards back that way. However, you don't want to run full exile effects like Leyline of the Void either, as they're a pretty big nonbo with Geth, as he can only target opposing graveyards. I included a couple one-shots if you need some fast mass graveyard removal in the form of Bojuka Bog and Ravenous Trap but beyond that I took a more nuanced approach. Both Withered Wretch and Nezumi Graverobber are great at targeted graveyard exiling and it works wonders. Heck, the latter can even be a repeat reanimation effect as well!

What you get in the end is a really sweet deck that plays in a lot of cool ways. It seems simple - and on paper it is - but it gets far more interesting the more cards you take from opponents' graveyards. Every deck plays different and you can wind up with synergies you might never have even thought possible. The versatility really makes this great as a Classic Commander list and one that you can take to modern Commander tables as well. I loved Geth as a kid and I love him today, and I'm sure you will if you try this deck out at your next Commander night.

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal

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