Since Jarad Golgari Lich Lord is already available in Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari for us to scavenge for Commander I figure why not go ahead and work on building a deck around him for Commander? While Jarad is technically part of Return to Ravnica he doesn't seem overly dependent on goodies from that set to be good so I feel confident we can build a kick-ass deck around him from what we currently have. Later once we get our mitts on Return to Ravnica I'm sure there will be some spicy new cards we'll want to sprinkle in.
Let's take a look at this monster:
Legendary Creature — Zombie Elf 2/2 BBGG (4)
Jarad Golgari Lich Lord gets +1/+1 for each creature card in your graveyard.
1BG Sacrifice another creature: Each opponent loses life equal to the sacrificed creature's power.
That's a lot of text we can take advantage of when building our Commander deck. Let's break it down.
In My Tribe
Legendary Creature — Zombie Elf
First off Jarad comes from two of the most pushed and supported creature types in the history of Magic so if you want to build a tribal deck around either creature type Jarad can slot right in to either one. If you want to build a Zombie deck Jarad gives you access to all sorts of green utility that other Zombie legends deny you. If you want to build an Elf deck Jarad fits well into the green and black nature of Elves post-Lorwyn block. With either tribe you're going to be playing a lot of creatures which feeds two of Jarad's abilities perfectly.
It's pretty easy to flesh out a mono-Zombie or mono-Elf deck by searching for the appropriate creature types in a card database but that's not what I'm going to do today. However I might want to take advantage of some tribal synergies so below are some tribal cards that will still be decent even if you're not full-blown tribal:
- Zombie – Unholy Grotto Gravecrawler Shepherd of Rot Death Baron Lord of the Undead Zombie Trailblazer Graveborn Muse Vengeful Dead Corpse Harvester Noxious Ghoul
- Elf – Priest of Titania Prowess of the Fair Wirewood Herald Elvish Archdruid Ezuri Renegade Leader Imperious Perfect Skyshroud Poacher
Jarad Golgari Lich Lord gets +1/+1 for each creature card in your graveyard
At first glance Jarad looks like a four-drop 2/2…but he's rarely going to be as small as his base stats. He's a 2/1 with a Lhurgoyf stapled to his hide so there is strong incentive for a Jarad deck to load up the graveyard with creatures. Since we're going to lean that way anyway we might as well consider other cards that similarly benefit:
- Team Lhurgoyf – Svogthos the Restless Tomb Splinterfright Lhurgoyf Mortivore Bonehoard Tombstone Stairwell Kessig Cagebreakers Lord of Extinction Revenant Avatar of Woe
So how do we get creatures into the graveyard outside of the normal attrition that occurs during the course of the game? Hey were' talking about Golgari here and before there was scavenge…
- … There was Dredge – Golgari Thug Life from the Loam Stinkweed Imp Golgari Grave-Troll Grave-Shell Scarab
Of course one sure-fire way a Jarad deck will have in getting creatures into the graveyard is sacrificing them to Jarad's ability but it would probably behoove us to add some other sacrifice with benefits cards:
- Shared Sacrifice – Greater Good Survival of the Fittest Grim Backwoods Phyrexian Tower Miren the Moaning Well Corpse Connoisseur Diamond Valley
Feel My Pain
1BG Sacrifice another creature: Each opponent loses life equal to the sacrificed creature's power
Speaking of Jarad's special sacrifice ability we'll want to make sure we've got plenty of willing and ready victims to feed to Jarad and other sacrifice effects.
- We Who Are About To Die – Strangleroot Geist Vorapede Woodfall Primus Brawn Filth Ashen Ghoul Genesis Weatherseed Treefolk Mikaeus the Unhallowed
Every time we use Jarad's ability and put the creature in the graveyard we should eulogize him by saying "He went to Jarad." C'mon it's funny because it's so bad!
I think it's pretty safe to assume we're going to have creatures dying quite often and if so it might be nice to take advantage of all the death.
- In My Time of Dying – Thornbite Staff Dross Harvester Nim Deathmantle Deathrender Savra Queen of the Golgari Pattern of Rebirth Black Market Cauldron of Souls Harvester of Souls Blade of the Bloodchief Skullclamp Sylvok Lifestaff Fecundity Golgari Germination Jar of Eyeballs Pawn of Ulamog Gutter Grime
Can't Keep a Good Card Down
While the first few abilities are splashy and exciting it's the last ability that really makes Jarad subtly awesome. The reason why the commander mechanic of this format is so awesome is because our deck's commander is the most consistently available card in our deck. Barring disasters like having your Commander tucked to the bottom or shuffled into your deck you can always move the card to the command zone rather than the graveyard or exile.
However sometimes the "commander tax" that racks up each time you take advantage of this can become rather prohibitive. That's what makes Jarad's ability a super-nice added redundancy…and yet it too demands a rather hefty tax as well eating up two land drops. Thankfully there are quite a few ways we can use to blunt or nullify the demands of Jarad's last ability:
- Tend the Land – Exploration Explore Gaea's Touch Azusa Lost but Seeking Rites of Flourishing Oracle of Mul Day Groundskeeper Life from the Loam Crucible of Worlds Tilling Treefolk
If we wanted to we could even dip into cards to take advantage of the lands going in and out of the graveyard (landfall Terravore Worm Harvest) but I think we probably already have enough moving parts to make a tight little deck at this point. So after picking the cards that look the most powerful and fun and paying attention to the mana curve here's what I've pulled together:
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Avatar of Woe
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Battlefield Scrounger
- 1 Bloodghast
- 1 Brawn
- 1 Disciple of Bolas
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Filth
- 1 Golgari Grave-Troll
- 1 Golgari Thug
- 1 Grave-Shell Scarab
- 1 Graveborn Muse
- 1 Gravecrawler
- 1 Groundskeeper
- 1 Harvester of Souls
- 1 Imperious Perfect
- 1 Lord of Extinction
- 1 Massacre Wurm
- 1 Mortivore
- 1 Mossbridge Troll
- 1 Priest of Titania
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Splinterfright
- 1 Stinkweed Imp
- 1 Strangleroot Geist
- 1 Terastodon
- 1 Weatherseed Treefolk
- 1 Zombie Trailblazer
- 1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
- 1 Glissa, the Traitor
- 1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
- 1 Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
- 1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
- 1 Savra, Queen of the Golgari
- 13 Forest
- 8 Swamp
- 1 Barren Moor
- 1 Bayou
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Diamond Valley
- 1 Gilt-Leaf Palace
- 1 Golgari Rot Farm
- 1 Grim Backwoods
- 1 Maze of Ith
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Svogthos, the Restless Tomb
- 1 Tranquil Thicket
- 1 Twilight Mire
- 1 Unholy Grotto
- 1 Woodland Cemetery
- 1 Gaea's Cradle
- 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- 1 Miren, the Moaning Well
- 1 Phyrexian Tower
- 1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
- 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
- 1 Volrath's Stronghold
- 1 Bonehoard
- 1 Crucible Of Worlds
- 1 Deathrender
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Oblivion Stone
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Sylvok Lifestaff
- 1 Black Market
- 1 Exploration
- 1 Gaea's Touch
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Oversold Cemetery
- 1 Perilous Forays
- 1 Rancor
- 1 Rites of Flourishing
- 1 Damnation
- 1 Life from the Loam
- 1 Maelstrom Pulse
- 1 Prowess of the Fair
One thing I want to make sure I have in the deck is a way to give Jarad evasion. While his sacrifice ability is going to provide a fair share of wins sometimes people go nuts with life gain and you've got to dish out the 21 points of commander combat damage to kill someone. With five creatures in the graveyard Jarad can kill in three hits so cards like Rancor Filth and Shizo Death's Storehouse become quite helpful. I'll probably want a few more but we'll see how this runs.
One thing I love about this deck is just how deadly we can make Jarad's activated ability. For instance take a look at Mossbridge Troll—you can easily give it +20/+20 to make it a 25/25 maybe equip it with Bonehoard… That's a gigantic loss of life across the board. Late game Lord of Extinction can be positively huge!
A few other things:
- Bloodghast + Perilous Forays – Ever since Sam Black unleashed this Spikey combo on the Commander format I always keep this in mind for any deck that can support black and green. This deck in particular wants to get a lot of lands into play anyway so it fits perfectly.
- Glissa the Traitor – While it might seem like I throw Glissa into any deck I only added her here late in the process once I realized that I still have a fair number of artifacts in the deck (including Oblivion Stone!). Plus she's also a Zombie Elf!
- Greater Good + Weatherseed Treefolk – I've been rocking this classic combination around multiplayer tables for years; don't forget to mix in Rancor for two extra cards!
- Greater Good + Deathrender / Nim Deathmantle – I call these combinations "new classics" and really enjoy putting them in decks where they work nicely particularly alongside undying.
- Battlefield Scrounger – There's a very real danger of leaning too hard on your graveyard and getting blown out by graveyard removal…so much so that I'm strongly considering Witchbane Orb to help with the problem. In the meantime I'm looking to Battlefield Scrounger to save some critical cards in a pinch as well as provide a way to cycle back noncreature spells into the deck that might have gotten milled by dredging.
So what do you think? What does your Jarad Golgari Lich Lord Commander deck look like? Let me know in the forums!
Also I've got decks for me and my roommate Chuck to play at the StarCityGames.com Classic Series Standard tournament right here in Richmond this weekend and I'll be tweeting updates throughout the day. Wish us luck and hopefully I'll have some good stories to recount next week as the old Standard winds down!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback ideas and random thoughts. I've also created a Facebook page where I'll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic life or anything else you want to talk about!
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format building your first deck or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements Randomness Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy Griefing Staples Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Nefarox Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)
- Yeva Nature's Herald (living at instant speed)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Riku of Two Reflections (steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts)
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda Host of Herons (Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)
- Niv-Mizzet the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Ghave Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
- Grimgrin Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)