If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a huge fan of Commander. So, during the spoiler season of a new set I am always looking to see who the new legendary creatures are. Even though I haven’t been spending a lot on Magic of late, I still enjoy building theory building new decks. Imagine my surprise when I saw The Gitrog Monster. Now, I know I have already talked about this wonderful beast in an earlier article, but ever since I saw it spoiled I knew I had to build a deck around him.
The Meat and Potatoes
The Gitrog Monster does a lot of things that you want in a commander. It has a high power and toughness and deathtouch, so he’s a pretty good attacker and winning by commander damage is an actual win condition. The Gitrog Monster has an extremely useful ability that generates card advantage and another one that helps you ramp. Overall, it’s a commander that asks you to build around it.
There are two cards I immediately thought of when I saw The Gitrog Monster; Crucible of Worlds and Life from the Loam. Crucible of Worlds allows you to take advantage of the lands you have to sacrifice to the frog and Life from the Loam helps puts lands both into your graveyard and bring them back. Either way, Loam provides a large amount of card advantage in this deck. The next card that came to mind is Titania, Protector of Argoth. One of the newest commanders from the WotC commander products; Titania synergizes naturally with Gitrog sending a land to your graveyard each turn. Her ETB is also great for getting back lands for further use.
Lastly, when I saw that Gitrog doesn’t care where the land came from when it went to the graveyard I realized that both spellshapers and retrace would be really good in this deck. For those newer to Magic; spellshapers are creatures that have a tap ability that requires discarding a card to do something. In the case of Urborg Syphon-Mage his ability is similar to the spell Syphon Life. With the extra lands in this deck, spellshapers turn lands into cycle cards that have a useful ability tacked on.
Retrace was the next obvious choice. Especially Worm Harvest. With you naturally sending lands into your graveyard, Worm Harvest becomes a sweet way for you to build a token army. Incrementally, Worm Harvest will help you build a bigger and bigger creature pool. And, to an extent, this is true of your other Retrace spells. The later in the game, the better they are as you have more means to fill your hand with lands.
The Deck List
Because this deck centers around playing lands and sending them your graveyard, it was really important to me to run 40 lands total in this deck. Some obvious choices were Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and the various green/black dual lands. From there, I made sure to add various different fetch lands. Not only does this deck run Verdant Catacombs, Evolving Wilds, and Terramorphic Expanse but the deck also runs the likes of Myriad Landscape, Blighted Woodland, and Warped Landscape. While these lands other fetches aren’t the greatest, they still serve the purpose of helping you draw more cards once Gitrog is in play.
Speaking of drawing more cards, because of how The Gitrog Monster’s ability is worded it seemed really obvious to run the cycle lands. When The Gitrog Monster is in play, cycle lands grow in value since they’ll net you two cards instead of one. I also included lands like Strip Mine, Tectonic Edge, Ghost Quarter, and Dust Bowl to both deny my opponent mana as well as also draw me cards.
With a commander like The Gitrog Monster, I knew that creatures were probably going to take to the back burner. What I decided to do here is go with creatures that maximized the effectiveness of being a land heavy deck. One of the way I decided to achieve this was with the use of Spellshapers.
First introduced in the Mercadian Masques block, Spellshapers are creatures that allow you to cycle cards in your hand into classic spells. An example is Urborg Syphon-Mage, which turns any card in my hand into Syphon Soul. The upside to Spellshapers in a deck like this is that I can pitch excess lands to the ability and with Gitrog Monster I can draw a card as part of the upside.
Another mechanic that prevalent in this deck are creatures with Landfall; for obvious reasons. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen and Avenger of Zendikar are pretty heavy hitters and are primary win conditions. Ob Nixilis for his life drain and eventually haymaker status and Avenger of Zendikar for being an army in a can that gets bigger with each additional land that hits the table.
Before we move on, I want to highlight Titania, Protector of Argoth. A solid commander in her own right, Titania does a lot in a deck like this. When she ETBs she returns a land to our hand. And whenever a land goes into the graveyard from play, we get a 5/3 green Elemental creature token. While part of the trick of this deck is making use of pitching lands from our hands, we do have plenty of lands that sac and sac outlets for our lands. With Titania, we can make a sizable army.
Most of what you’ll find in this portion of the deck are the usual suspects when it comes to a land based deck. The card I want to bring some attention to is Squandered Resources. An enchantment from Visions; Squandered Resources allows you to sac a land to add one mana of any color that land produced. Combined with Crucible of Worlds and the various “play an additional land” effects in this deck, Squandered Resources can help the deck skyrocket in available mana and with Gitrog also be a source of massive card draw.
Your Planeswalkers in the deck are here to give the deck more consistent pressure since we are low on creatures that hit like bricks. To handle our opponents’ threats we have Plague Wind and Decree of Pain. For token generation we have Worm Harvest and Seed the Land. Constant Mists is one of our main stall tactics and Exsanginuate is one of our game enders.
This may not be THE most busted version of a The Gitrog Monster commander deck you will ever see. Heck, it may be one of THE worst ones in your opinion. And that’s great. The fun of Magic is not always just about winning. For players like myself, it is about seeing how well my creativity matches up against someone else’s creativity. So, if you want to take my creativity into battle and you like playing a couple of niche cards here and there, I think you’ll find “Unload the Toad” up to stuff.