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Korvold, Fae-Cursed King


Landscape with Waterfall by Jacob Van Ruisdael (1660s).

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim by Joseph Meehan.

Today's deck is a look at one of the new Throne of Eldraine legendary creatures - Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. Korvold is actually found in one of the new Brawl decks that Wizards of the Coast is selling alongside the Throne of Eldraine boosters and planeswalker decks. Brawl is essentially 60-card Commander with only Standard cards allowed in your deck. It's not very surprising that Wizards is putting effort into promoting this format, and it also won't be very surprising if these decks sell like hotcakes. Commander players will want these cards, and any Brawl players out there will surely want them too.

Alela, Artful Provocateur
Chulane, Teller of Tales
Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale

There are great cards in these Brawl decks and great new legendary creatures that should be every bit as popular as the legendary creatures that you can find in Throne of Eldraine booster packs. Two of the cards shown above have the magic words "draw a card" on them and the third just packs 3 powerful keywords, an anthem affect and token generation.

We are going to see some busted decks come out of this expansion set but today's column isn't about breaking Alela, Chulane, or Syr Gwyn, it's about Korvold, Fae-Cursed King.

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King

Korvold is a legendary Dragon Noble with Flying. He costs five mana (2brg) and has a 4/4 body. When Korvold enters the battlefield or attacks, you have to sacrifice another permanent. Whenever you sacrifice a permanent you put a +1/+1 counter on Korvold. This card has the magic words "draw a card" attached to that last trigger as well.

Any card with a trigger that doesn't involve tapping and isn't restricted in some other way is a great target for being abused. Card draw is incredibly important in Commander and this deck is built to try to abuse that card draw trigger in every way possible.

Before I go any further I should admit something. This list is probably going to be one of the better lists you'll see in a Commanderruminations column, and that's in no small part because it's the brainchild of my daughter. I contributed in small ways, but this is largely her build.

Small Sacrifices

The first thing we looked at when putting together this list were ways to maximize the number of sacrifice triggers we'd be able to get in a given turn.

Bloodstained Mire
Strip Mine
Phyrexian Tower

One way we can do that is with lands that sacrifice themselves. Bloodstained Mire, Polluted Delta, and other fetch lands will give us a nice source of sacrifice triggers while letting us tutor up our shock lands. Lands that can destroy our opponents' lands are also great for this deck because they invariably require us to sacrifice a land. Strip Mine, Ghost Quarter, and Field of Ruin will all let us blow up a problem Gaea's Cradle, Cabal Coffers, or Maze of Ith that we need gone. Phyrexian Tower might not sacrifice itself but it will give us a way to sacrifice a creature and add two Black mana to our mana pool. We'll have a few other lands in the list that can sacrifice themselves or sacrifice creatures including High Market, Nurturing Peatland, and Prismatic Vista.

Having lands so frequently going to the graveyard makes this deck a great place to run Ramunap Excavator and Crucible of Worlds, so those two will fit right in. Assuming our graveyard doesn't get exiled at some point, we'll be happy to be able to play those lands back out of the yard later in the game.

Awakening Zone
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Orcish Lumberjack

If we're trying to load up on ways to get sacrifice triggers, Eldrazi Spawn generators are a pretty good option so Awakening Zone ought to put in some real work with Korvold. They can block, be sacrificed before damage, give Korvold his +1/+1 counter and give us a card. They produce mana when sacrificed, so ideally we'll be sacrificing them on our turn or to do something at instant speed. We might be hoping our opponents forget they are there so we can pop a bunch of them before damage when we're attacking, but it's just as likely that we'll use them in one of our main phases.

Sakura-Tribe Elder is a great example of a card that used to be something of a dead draw or at least a weak draw in the late game for most commanders, but with Korvold we'll be happy to get a land if "Steve" (Sakura-Tribe Elder's nickname) comes out before our commander, and we'll be even happier to get a land, a +1/+1 counter and a card if he comes out in the mid or late game.

Orcish Lumberjack might seem like an unassuming 1-drop with a weird ability and in the case of the Ice Age version, even weirder art, but this card can really generate value. In the late game you often have more lands than you have a use for, so being able to tap a forest for mana and then use Orcish Lumberjack to cut those trees down and add another THREE Red or Green mana can sometimes make the difference between being able to make a big play and coming up short.

Pitiless Plunderer
Dockside Extortionist
Curse of Opulence

Treasure tokens can also be sacrificed, so Pitiless Plunderer, Brass's Bounty, Curse of Opulence, Dockside Extortionist, Ruthless Knave, and Captain Lannery Storm can all generate Treasure tokens for us. Pitiless Plunderer is a particularly good fit for this deck, as you can sacrifice a creature, put a +1/+1 counter on Korvold, draw a card, generate a Treasure and then sacrifice that to get another counter and another card.

Sacrifice Fodder & Outlets

This deck is going to sacrifice creatures and other permanents in order to make Korvold bigger and draw cards. Sacrificing a permanent is even a cost of playing and attacking with our commander, so we'll want to have some ways to generate extra tokens.

Dreadhorde Invasion
Squirrel Nest

Bitterblossom will give us a 1/1 black Faerie Rogue creature token with flying on our upkeep. Dreadhorde Invasion will let us amass a Zombie Army creature token on our upkeep if we don't already have one. Squirrel Nest is an aura will let us tap the enchanted to make a squirrel. Who doesn't love squirrels?

It's worth noting that the way she recommended to evaluate token generators (at least for this deck) is by comparing the mana spent on them against the number of tokens that are generated. Mogg War Marshal creates three bodies at the cost of two mana. Sprouting Thrinax creates four bodies at the cost of three mana. Both are in today's list but there are better options.

Hangarback Walker
Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
Plague of Vermin

Hangarback Walker will create X+1 creatures including itself for XX mana, but can be grown over time so the potential long term benefit could be huge if you have the time and mana to pour into it and Hangarback doesn't wind up exiled to a Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, or even a Return to Dust. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher will make six 0/1 Kobolds of Kher Keep creature tokens when it's cast, and it can also work as a sacrifice outlet.

The most potentially explosive token generator in this list is Plague of Vermin. It might cost a hefty seven mana, but you can pay any amount of life to create 1/1 Black Rat creature tokens. Assuming you want to leave a little life to make sure you don't just die, this can reasonably be looked at as seven mana and something like 20 life for 20 creature tokens. If you're at the point where you just need bodies on the floor so you can dig for a wincon or finish off an opponent, it'll be a price worth paying.

You might not want your opponents to be able to get 1/1 Rats but they probably aren't prepared to turn those creatures into the kind of value that you're going to get with a deck specifically built to win games this way.

Ashnod's Altar
Goblin Bombardment
Spawning Pit

Ashnod's Altar, Phyrexian Altar, and Altar of Dementia are all in today's list and will all serve to let us flush creatures for more than just Korvold's benefit. Goblin Bombardment will let us sacrifice creatures to ping a creature or target. That might not seem like a big deal until we've got a key creature like Laboratory Maniac that we really need to kill. Spawning Pit will let us sacrifice a creature to put a charge counter on it, and for 1 mana will let us remove two charge counters to create a Spawn artifact creature token. That means we can squeeze a little extra value out of our sacrifice engine.

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame

This deck's only planeswalker is well worth mentioning, as it can provide two tokens on each of our turns that will sacrifice themselves in case we don't yet have one of our sac outlets on the field. Chandra, Acolyte of Flame can also give Flashback to one of our instant or sorcery spells if it is CMC 3 or less. Having access to ramp, removal or tutors can be helpful in the early game and huge in the mid-to-late game. It's a loyalty ability, so it isn't at instant speed, but it's flexibility that definitely shouldn't be overlooked.

How We Win

This deck should be able to surprise opponents with combat damage kills by sacrificing things to put +1/+1 counters on Korvold before damage. Korvold can fly, so there will often be opponents who simply don't have flying or reach blockers. This deck won't pack the punch of a true Voltron deck like Bruna, Light of Alabaster or Uril, the Miststalker, and probably won't have the combo potential of a Food Chain Prossh deck, so we'll want other ways to grind out a victory.

Blood Artist
Zulaport Cutthroat

Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat will both turn sacrificed creatures into life loss for our opponents and life gain for us. In a long game, incremental life gain can sometimes keep us in the game long enough to be able to outlast opponents who don't have a way to bounce back from early hits.

While my daughter tends to lean away from over-used wincons, there are a few combo finishes in this list. These are effective but hopefully not tired old wincons you see all the time. There's no "Mike & Trike" (Mikaeus, the Unhallowed / Triskelion) or Exquisite Blood / Sanguine Bond in today's list, but there are definitely Squirrels and Servos.

Squirrel Nest

With Earthcraft on the field and Squirrel Nest enchanting a land, you can create an infinitely wide army of 1/1 squirrels. If you have one of your many sac outlets on board, you can make Korvold arbitrarily large and if anyone boardwipes you can simply do it again after the wrath resolves.

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
Animation Module
Ashnod's Altar

This combo requires a little something to get it started. Sacrifice a permanent, put a +1/+1 counter on Korvold and draw a card. With Animation Module on the field you then pay one mana and create a 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature token. Sacrifice the Servo to Ashnod's Altar to make two mana. That puts another +1/+1 counter on Korvold, draws you another card and keeps the combo going. You're limited by the number of cards in your deck but you should be able to put as much of your deck into your hand as you like. You'll also be netting mana as you execute the combo so you should be able to play out your wincon whether it's a card in this list or something you've added to the deck to make it your own. Pitiless Plunderer and Phyrexian Altar can also work in place of Ashnod's Altar, but they won't let you gain any mana as you go.

The Decklist

As with my own lists, this will surely change over time if it sees actual play. My daughter doesn't play as often as she used to, but a fun, grindy list like this is just her style and I'm confident that if she were to get back into our casual or league meta she'd both play this deck with success and improve it over time.

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King | Commander | Stephen Johnson

I should definitely mention that her initial list had a long maybeboard. She was thinking of adding in a Nim Deathmantle combo as a way to close out games. Titania, Protector of Argoth, Tireless Tracker, and Dragon Broodmother along with a number of other creatures were all on the bubble and might easily have found their way into this first draft. The Treasure theme might have included Wily Goblin and Revel in Riches and the Eldrazi theme might have included Growth Spasm, Pawn of Ulamog and Emrakul's Hatcher, but those cards all wound up on the "maybe" list.

To some extent exactly which cards are in your list and which ones are left out doesn't matter that much. This build has a few cards that can't be replaced, but a lot of the main thrust of the sacrifice / value theme can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Just don't think you can drop out something like Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat and easily replace them.

Final Thoughts

I was really happy to be able to share this list with you today. I might be a little biased but have long considered my daughter every bit as good a player and deck-builder as I am, if not better. If you like the kind of deck that will grind out its victories and is designed to convert on-field resources into value and cards, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King is worth looking at and this list might be a good place to start.

I expect to be writing about more Throne of Eldraine cards in the coming weeks. If there is a legendary creature you'd like me to write about, please know that I'm actually quite happy to write about whatever you suggest in comments. I don't always find the best way to break a new Commander, but I've broken a few and I'm very happy to try my best to write about whatever you want. All you have to do is comment below. Seriously. Call my bluff. Tell me what you'd like to see in the coming weeks!

Earlier this year I wrote a column about building a deck using just the cards in a booster box. The set was Modern Horizons and the decks I was able to build weren't that great. It was still a fun experiment and I'm inclined to do it again with Throne of Eldraine. Since the box comes with Kenrith, the Returned King as a promo, I'm optimistic that I'll be able to build something playable this time around. I'm actually looking forward to it, now that I think about being able to include all five colors. The mana base will be dicey, as I'll be stuck with mostly basic lands, but I think it'll be fun to try this again.

That's all I've got for you today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!

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