So I waffled for a while on emailing you as usually you are working with people who love their decks and are now having a crisis of faith with regards to their current card choices and I as you can see from the general am simply trying to work out a deck with a great general that looks like a lot of fun and allows me to pummel people to death with Saprolings.
See I started in the before time in the long long ago so I was around for when Fallen Empires came out... And yes I made a Thallid deck. I mean with cards as OP as Thallid Devourer and Feral Thallid how could I not make one? Now though I am jaded and grumpy. I pretty much only play EDH (yes it is EDH not Commander) with my friends (groups of 3-5 people including myself). Some of them are recovering MTG addicts so I invariably make decks for them and pick up cards they particularly want as honestly I am okay with dropping a little cash to have some fun with friends...
Which brings me back to Ghave... I love this guy; he lets me ignore creatures without trample or flying; he has neat tricks... and I cannot stress this enough: I get to maul people with Saprolings which is awesome! What is not awesome however is as I have access to most any card I want... this deck is already starting to look like other decks of the W or B or G flavor as there are some cards I can't pass on because they are "that good."
Here is the deck as it stands:
Good ETB creature but in a world of Saprolings and Aura Shards is it needed?
Problem solver; I love this girl but she ends up in all my decks that can run her... but honestly how can one not use a Vindicate on a 5/5 flier...?
Not a Saproling but still spews out the green critters... But again it is a card I am too tempted to run in every deck that can cast it.
Good ETB creature but in a world of Saprolings and Aura Shards is it needed?
Potential removal sac outlet makes Saprolings seems good.
Alternate win condition if I run up against Constant Mists etc.; then again it's pointless if they have an Eldrazi so maybe it goes?
Acceleration +1/+1 counters seems okay.
No need for me to sing the praises of this one... but again... does deck have green? Does it have Genesis? Both of these answers should be yes or no.
Cute with Ghave mildly silly with Doubling Season.
It's a Tusker.... Comments pretty much in line with the ones I had on Genesis.
Acceleration great with Sylvan can be fetched with Green Sun's Zenith
Furthering the "I killed you with Saprolings" cause.
I have a foil one... Okay that is crap justification as I have a foil lots of things but it seems good with Ghave and seems downright stupid with Doubling Season.
Card draw off Saprolings sac outlet; as I can't really run Greater Good it seems like a good plan.
He's good... but he goes in all my decks...
He's awesome gets back Ghave if I want to skip the 2CMC cost increase gets back Spike Weaver and a bunch of other guys... but again I run him a lot.
Make lots of 1/1s... check run Sigil Captain... check.
I love this creepy Spider... thing great with Ghave great in general.
Speeding up the Saproling agenda.
Speeding up the Saproling agenda.
Yep... more Saprolings.
See comments for Creakwood Liege.
Because I can produce green mana.
Legendary Creature (8)
Seems good with Verdant Force and co... Though I wonder if it is pushing the boundaries of Wheaton's Law.
Seems good run it a lot stops Rith decks makes Saprolings silly.
Pretty much out of clever things (least moderately clever things) to say about things that make Saprolings.
She is great combos with Ghave and a lot of the deck.
Hurts them helps me but not really on theme.
See Liege comments.
See Nemata Comment
Sac outlet flying beater and removal... but not overly theme-y.
Nothing much to say about the artifacts...
Removal sac outlet all around fantastic card.
Fantastic with tokens.
The main reason I really wanted to make this deck; this plus Ghave makes me giggle like a schoolgirl... though if you want a less creepy image "cackle manically" can be substituted instead.
I never see this card played; seems solid seems on theme as I can lock down big threats with a token.
Another Wheaton's law card... but... it's just so darn good.
I bet you had to look this up... I love this card; it's goofy and usually nets me a pile of life.... and no one ever plays it as it is a "bad rare" from Mirage.
See Grave Pact
GY hate and makes me little green friends.
So versatile and good I can't imagine not running it.
Card draw at a pittance.
Another "oh look I should pull it out with my other every-green-deck-ever-gets-it cards."
Good in every format ever.
Another card I bet you had to look up and another card I love; it looks like a bunch of fun with Ghave too.
Does everything I want a bomby sorcery to do leaves my tokens around kills enchantments artifacts or blows up the world... hard not to run it.
I love me some bomby sorceries... and this is one of them; it and Plague Wind simply change everything when cast.
On the fence on this... it's good but... eh... I dunno. It seems like something I should run but it does not really sing to me.
I hear it's pretty good.
My creatures getting tucked is sort of not the end of the world but usually the same can't be said for other people.
Yup... I hear Plague Wind is good may as well run two.
Who would've thought Saprolings carried the black death?
Cute card cheap card draw (five cards for five mana and five life); also if I have the mana can pop out some rather large flying creature(s) if Doubling Season is out.
So many Saprolings.
Just a great card.
Seems good especially as I can move around the counters with Ghave or my men get huge with Doubling Season.
Makes white Saprolings? Okay I can't really justify her beyond wanting to ultimate her.
Works great with my token theme.
Only thing better than Saproling death squads is trampling Saproling death squads.
Legendary Land (4)
Is this even the right deck for it? It seems just like a fantastic card.
Basic Land (9)
Some quick math will show a few problems... to be exact... eight of them... as I am at 108 cards. You may have also noticed a few cards missing:
I have these cards... well aside from Idyllic Tutor but I was trying to avoid running them... Some because I always run them—see Tutor/Witness—and others because of laziness and an indecisive personality... I have gone through like five different themes on this deck. They all seem cool and they all try to make it in (at one point I was and still am considering adding enchantresses in here as I have a ton of enchantments)... Bottom line is I am lost... I have a deck with cool stuff that could be a lot of fun but it is currently stuck in between three different versions. It is missing cards it really should be running but are not in there as I am making an attempt at breaking from my comfort zone...
Cost is not really an issue though about the only cards left I could buy would be Grim Tutor. The group I play with is competitive but not to the point where Jhoira is suspending Ulamog then obliterating; we tend to avoid Geddon effects or Blood Moon. We like being able to have fun interactive hard-fought games... Man this email is a mess... Hopefully my rambling makes sense to you and hopefully I will hear back from you.
I've decided to choose you for this next week's upcoming article and just had a follow-up question for you: what direction do you want to take the deck? What elements of play do you want to focus on as a deck's strength? Before I can offer any advice I have to get a better sense of what you see as Ghave's possible strengths and how you want to play the deck out—be it controlling full of combo-riffic card interactions or more of a beatdown deck—before I can try and help.
Wow sorry about the delay. Was not actually expecting a response. :D
Anyway as far as "what direction do you want to take the deck? What elements of play do you want to focus on as a deck's strength?" I think the deck's strength is simply the versatility and fun behind Ghave. He can either make a mound of Saprolings which is sort of what I was doing with my deck and he can also do some silly things with previously limited +1/+1 counter creatures. Back in the day having a Spike Weaver out was tough to deal with but with Ghave supplying things it seems like it would be even worse. Also cards like Mycoloth(which I had forgotten about in my first list) seem like they could produce some pretty darn amusing interactions with Ghave.
It also has a mild political aspect as I can give other people's creatures a +1/+1 counter to allow a persist body to come back a second time etc. It's a first-world problem to have I guess... too many cards; too many options :/
My favorite cards I have in deck are by far Doubling Season Ghave and some of the odd enchantments (Grim Feast and Unspeakable Symbol leaping to mind). So I think I probably want to go combo-rific beatdown if at all possible though that does not mean I want Animar/Grinning Ignus level of combo... as really the only person having fun at that table is the person playing it... and even then for only the first five min. Feel free to ask any other questions sir and thank you again!
So I hate to disappoint you but I didn't have to look any of your cards up; I have the misfortune at this point of having spent more than half of my life now playing this game and have something of an encyclopedic memory when it comes to these delightful colored scraps of cardboard. And since my memory is strongly visual I can even usually see the card art when I think about one and since Magic cards have pictures I find it much easier to remember any of the 11000+ Magic cards than to remember some of the 110-or-so chemical elements I presumably spent my college education learning about. Not only did I know Grim Feast but I remembered just how delicious he seemed to think that arm was.
Fortunately this means I'm perfectly happy to put this waste of memory space to the benefit of my readership and everyone who writes in since it means I can dredge up some forgotten gems of my own to suggest for decks. Now enough about me... let's talk about you or if you'd rather about Ghave.
Ghave is a lot of pure power in one very aggressive package since he is a 5/5 for five mana that is just chock full of combat tricks and spare creatures for you to take advantage of. I like a lot of where you're going with Ghave but I think you'll benefit the most by focusing on a mode of play and following through with that focus in your design. It's entirely true that you're adding more 'things in these colors that I like' instead of 'things that will work well in this deck' and that is a tough hump to get over because you love all of these favorite cards for a reason. But when you're just drawing off a list of your favorite things you'll notice that list is pretty long and easily overflows the ninety-nine card slots you actually have. I found I had exactly that same problem trying to work on a Damia deck that happened to have all my favorite black and green cards in it plus an entire mono-blue deck's worth of cards I wanted to still play when I took my Memnarch deck apart to build with the new commanders now available to us. You've overflowed by nine cards in your list above and another eight you feel are obvious additions giving us 116 to pare down from and that means a sharp knife indeed.
Usually I'll try to shave a little at the mana-base but since you're focusing on making strong plays on-curve it's very important that you make your early land drops since you will likely have a lot fewer cards to back you out of a shortage than other commander decks might no Kodama's Reach or Cultivate to solve your problems in one shot if only you can manage to get to three mana. I would normally try and fix your mana a bit nonetheless but considering it had everything I considered important save for one or two teensy little things you're doing great there you even remembered the Krosan Verge that too often goes forgotten because it's a weird old card. With all the bouncelands and the easy-to-cycle Onslaught lands you've already taken all of my best tricks and put them to work so there won't be much I can shift around here unless something just doesn't work with a change to your other cards. Spoilers: there is one and it's Serra's Sanctum.
The plan of action then is to pare it down to only cards that really work very well with Ghave active and support your aggressive plans. We can't just build a beatdown curve and build in token creature / +1/+1 synergies and call it a day though. What I find I add most often to the decks that are submitted to me are robust ways to recover from the sorts of positions you can expect to find yourself facing in a world with Oblivion Stone and other mass sweepers commonly showing up by the bucketful in the format's control decks. It's highly important to stay relevant even after board wipes start to come down and while Ghave does that very well almost by himself he'll have an easier time with more cards in your hand and a few recursion effects to help you catch back up when your board is kicked over.
Focusing on being a synergistic beatdown deck then led me to the following strips:
Eldrazi Monument – Great before a board wipe terrible after one. I don't think pure token swarm is the best way to attack this problem so I'm taking out most of the cards that go for that with just the brute-force method.
Slate of Ancestry – There are better ways to draw cards and this will take more time to get moving than it seems to be worth to me. Sure it can take advantage of the number of tokens you're able to produce but it's only good when things are working well enough already and I am not a fan of purely fair-weather friends.
Karn Liberated – I don't favor planeswalkers “just because.” Sure Karn's great. He seems like a boatload of fun in Commander and if you happen to have your Doubling Season he can play the role of Upheaval a card so good they had to ban it. But capable as you are of defending against nonflying creatures you're not really building a defensive deck so Karn gets the axe for being too hard to utilize well against anything more determined to kill it than a stiff breeze.
Elspeth Tirel – I know she makes tokens so that's on-theme but unlike Elspeth Knight-Errant she's not pure upside. I don't think you want any sides of her really besides her ultimate and like Karn it can be difficult to keep her in play to do the job you want her to do without trying to control the entire table. 'Being the control deck' is not the focus you were shooting for so a lot of things that are better in controlling decks will get cut.
Garruk Wildspeaker – Only getting cut because I think you are better served playing the new Garruk instead of the old and having the planeswalkers you do play be able to generate immediately relevant effects at a profit is to your benefit. Garruk's ultimate sounds great with your token army but it's easy to stop if someone doesn't want you to do that and the Garruk that makes creatures as a plus instead of a minus and happens to add more card drawing to your deck is more useful to you than the one that might sometimes end the game. 'Doing your thing' will lead to the game ending naturally enough so you don't have to get flashy to do it.
Austere Command – Almost got a pass since you can keep your tokens or just use it to destroy artifacts and enchantments but the role of sweepers in your deck should not be nearly as present as it is since you're the one who wants to have the creatures and thus not the one who should be trying to kill them all.
Genesis Wave – Added for 'good card' status not specifically because you can do a lot with it. You're not a control deck so you aren't planning to hold it till turn twenty and you don't have a lot of mana-ramp going on so you won't be able to make big Waves more quickly than is reasonable. It's a fair card at best in your deck and being misapplied here so I'm cutting it not to disrespect it but because it is not going to live up to the potential you're expecting here.
Green Sun's Zenith – Nothing is compelling me to include it over just good creatures instead and having a limited group of options to choose from that notably excludes many of your best creatures takes it off the table for me.
Saproling Symbiosis – Doubling a massive board won't actually do much since more-winning is still winning according to Charlie Sheen and when it's underperforming it'll do so drastically. On-theme I know but not enough so I don't think to really get me excited.
Grim Feast – I know and I'm sorry. I want to find it a good home too I really do but that good home is a green-black control deck that will routinely wipe the board and really appreciate the life boost. I have a very specific replacement in mind for this one though and one that's a harder worker since it will focus on your ability to trigger it at-will instead of the fickle fates of the opponent's having creatures die.
Privileged Position – It's not things that individually target that I worry about and so granting shroud to your permanents is not the solution I am seeking to those problems. Non-targeted mass removal is the common means of stopping you in your tracks and thus has to be the one you design around outlasting.
Sterling Grove Serra's Sanctum – I don't think the enchantment theme is really going to work for this deck so the things that focus on that overmuch will have to get pared down. You still end up with several enchantments after the cuts I want to make and you're the right colors to consider Debtors' Knell and Lurking Predators when we build things back up again but it'd make more sense to add other tutors before Sterling Grove and the design as it ends up will not support enough enchantments to make it worthwhile to keep Sterling Grove in play just to protect them. And at the rate we're going you'll be hard-pressed to make Serra's Sanctum better than basic Plains so it's an open slot in your manabase as well.
Sylvan Library – Just kidding. You should be adding Sensei's Divining Top before you add your Sylvan Library to your green deck and since there's no Top I wanted to joke about cutting it... and see how many people yelled at me for it. It's in but a deck with real dual lands in it shouldn't be skimping on its Sensei's Divining Top it looks like you plumb forgot about it when you were putting your favorite cards together.
Unspeakable Symbol – Another one that makes me sad to cut but it's just not very efficient at its job of putting something useful into play for Ghave to work with. Ajani Goldmane is absolutely brilliant at this task you'd think Unspeakable Symbol's mana cost of zero would convince me but even starting with 40 life this runs down far too quickly for my liking and I don't want to focus on life-gain just to make this work. Some more ways to do it that happen to involve spending mana will have to suffice.
Extractor Demon – There are better ways to follow through that are also on-theme. This one's cute but not really effective since you don't really use your own graveyard and can expect an Eldrazi to stop you from milling any of your opponents out.
Knight of the Reliquary – Not on-theme as you noted and not synergistic in any beatdown sense either. I like that it can get Krosan Verge and profit you on mana pretty cheaply but not enough to give it the slot to do so.
Krosan Tusker – This is a slow mana-fixer and weak card advantage on a creature you're never really going to be tempted to put into play nine times out of ten. I see someone you omitted that will do this better and will be suggesting it instead since it does that job more powerfully and provides a beatdown body as well in the early game to help get momentum going.
Reveillark – Another 'good stuff' addition. Sure Reveillark is awesome and most of your Thallids and plenty of your other creatures fit under his umbrella. But you're not really taking advantage of it and I would rather build in something with more synergy with your deck and Commander first so Reveillark will be benched here.
Braids Cabal Minion – Sure you can sacrifice a saproling at a much lower price than anyone who has to sacrifice a real permanent but this isn't on-theme or even really something you can capitalize on. Nine times out of ten this won't do much to justify its inclusion and that tenth time it'll make the game unfun because it sets back the flow of play too easily and too early so I say skip it.
Of the other eight you penciled in only Demonic Tutor and Eternal Witness seem to be too good to exclude. Overwhelming Stampede Overrun and Coat of Arms all focus on converting token creatures into a rush kill while I feel that having your deck working on all cylinders will lead to a win naturally enough based on synergy and Ghave's pure power. It sounds to me like you enjoy winning a good game based on your own decisions both in deckbuilding and over the course of a well-fought game so you shouldn't be playing cards that can steal a game out from under the opponent when you can focus more on good games and good play. No one writes me to say they want to play Grim Feast then really pats themselves on the back for beating their opponents with a rush Overrun. Enlightened Tutor and Idyllic Tutor fit in the enchantment theme that I suspect is being put to better use in other decks you love already and and would be added only after Vampiric anyway. Vampiric Tutor I'll keep in mind but it's not an auto-include so we've cut that extra eight down to just two that want to be included and we'll see where things go from here.
Of course not every card left in so far is going to definitely make it into the final deck but I want to see the Saproling theme furthered alongside the rest of what I would try and see you accomplish before cutting into any of that. Not counting the Witness and Demonic we're at 84 cards leaving the removed land as a blank slot to be filled instead of assuming I can cut it and replace it with something else. And now that we've taken things down from the over-full hundred and eight we get to chase the enjoyable pleasure of suggesting new additions instead of killing our darlings.
Building things back up from there I'll note my slight change to your mana-base and then put your creatures on a mana curve to see where things are at because the hallmark of a beatdown deck in any format—even 99-card singleton formats—is making reasonably good plays on every critical turn of the game and while Commander pushes things further back along the mana curve away from one-drops and more towards four- and six-drops you still want to establish a good series of plays out of most hands while you're busy doing everything else you otherwise allocated all of those resources for.
Thawing Glaciers is added just for its application as pure card advantage; beatdown decks don't want to have to spend extra cards on building up their mana as you're well aware with your bouncelands and Temple of the False God already and you are going to have profitable things to do with extra mana if it's made available. Even with less than ten basics in the deck Thawing Glaciers is well worth the addition because even if it runs dry very quickly for a Thaw it's still a Thaw. If you get two lands out of it without hurting your curve it's done its job and much more likely is that you'll be able to squeeze four or five lands out of it before it might run out of targets. Each time you use it you've drawn an extra card even if that card was 'just' a land and a free resource is well worth having. Grasslands is added as the next best fetchland available in addition to the ones you already have – you've limited yourself to just the entirely on-color fetchlands from Onslaught and Zendikar but in addition to the Krosan Verge that happens to be awesome in green/white decks there's another purely on-color option with the original Mirage sac-lands.
I'd also strongly advocate for the addition of Winding Canyons as well to your deck but worry about telling you to add too many lands that can be rough on your colored mana in the early game and it's much less important in a beatdown deck than it would be with a controlling build. That said I think you'll get more mileage out of a Winding Canyons than out of some of your other utility lands and would definitely have included it before a Kor Haven made it into the list. I've found I tend to build a whole lot of recursion and card advantage into my decks to the point where Volrath's Stronghold doesn't have an ability I actually ever use so it may very well be that this best-beloved legendary land may serve you better as a Winding Canyons but I won't ask you to kill one of your favorites just to play one of mine.
The first two additions are easy for sheer power purposes—they're ones you wanted to make anyway because every deck of the appropriate color finds it very profitable to include them. Welcome to the team Eternal Witness and Demonic Tutor! While we're at it we'll call it even and throw in your format-standard Sensei's Divining Top because pretty much every Commander deck that exists without a Top would be better with a Top in it... and I'm only waffling because I like to leave myself the puzzle of trying to figure out what deck wouldn't and coming up with 'something with Null Rod and Damping Matrix to prey on everyone else's soft spots and just because I've never seen anyone try it doesn't mean there is no answer. That leaves us just eleven slots to work with and now we have to figure things out on a mana curve.
1cc: Protean Hydra (sort of?)
2cc: Deathspore Thallid
8cc: Verdant Force
This is actually very light on the early drops a little light on the three-drops and then hits its stride right from four up to seven. I'll try to add some cheap drops then to lower this curve but some of the additions I want to make the most are in the middle of that curve so there's not much we can do about it. Out of the list of cards I most wanted to add while I was mulling over your problem then I looked at them in mana-cost order and will be using that to decide which ones I actually suggest you add. Cheap creatures need to be given preferential treatment here to accomplish what you're trying to achieve so I'll try to pad that a little before just bloating the middle some more.
Selesnya Guildmage – You of course still want to be able to boost your team's stats but this way happens to fill the deck out just better than something like Eldrazi Monument would because it's a thinking man's tool instead of just a blunt object and can create an army by itself in addition to pumping one. Selesnya Guildmage is an army in a box all by itself just add mana.
Golgari Guildmage – Part of a solid recursion theme and just able to create pure profit for you: you can generate +1/+1 counters at-will and your commander turns +1/+1 counters into 1/1 creatures which Golgari Guildmage can then feast upon and turn into dead creatures. He's solid early and good with a whole lot of mana to work with just like his fellow wizard up above and the best beatdown creatures are the ones that are on-curve but still good whenever you draw them.
Scavenging Ooze – Another two-drop this time one that can grow his own size to scrap with more expensive creatures while also providing a bit of utility. Ooze defends against graveyard recursion very readily and can give you a slight hint of life-gain back after I took so much of it out of your deck already plus another way to generate +1/+1 counters that you can then use to your profit however you see fit.
Yavimaya Elder – My nomination for the replacement of your Krosan Tusker just for being flat out more powerful at the appointed task. Yavimaya Elder happens to also be able to beat down a little not that this should be happening all that much but it should be happening at least once when he's drawn on-curve.
Savra Queen of the Golgari – My nomination for the replacement of your Grim Feast based on the fact that she can gain you the life off of your creatures dying instead of theirs and thus is at least something you can control. With Savra in play alongside Ghave you now have the ability to spend mana to gain life directly and can keep yourself ahead of danger between the ability to block nonflying creatures and the incidental life-gain that happens as you're doing it. You won't be emulating Grave Pact with her very often but you do have the ability to trigger the life gain so easily it hurts and all while just doing what you normally want to do anyway.
Ant Queen – Another way to build an army out of just one piece of cardboard and in your deck Ant Queen will just prove to be a must-kill creature as she will rapidly turn things over to 'completely out of hand.' Excellent food for Ghave to work with and a highly efficient beatdown creature in her own right besides.
Puppeteer Clique – Nothing to do with your token theme but the sheer disgusting things you can do with Puppeteer Clique and Ghave if you simply try called it immediately to mind. I am envisioning game states where your Puppeteer Clique steals some ridiculous creature like Primeval Titan over and over again using Ghave to trigger Persist and the stolen creature to remove that pesky -1/-1 counter. “Spend mana do something awesome!" is a great chain to have available especially when one of the two cards is your Commander and thus easy to rely upon and the sheer awesomeness of Puppeteer Clique's potential in this deck can close a game out in its own right. The creature you steal doesn't even have to be that good you can 'just' muck up combat or get powerful attacks with it and get a ton out of the card by reusing it but we play a lot of creatures like Solemn Simulacrum and Sower of Temptation in Commander all of which do nasty things with this combo active.
Twilight Shepherd – Another persist creature and this one is able to help protect you from board sweepers while also being awesome with Ghave. With Twilight Shepherd in play a board sweeper just puts a -1/-1 counter on it and returns all of your other creatures to your hand and so long as Ghave is put into play before the next sweeper hits all you have to do to repeat this is pay a mana and sacrifice any of your creatures (it's okay you'll still get them back). Part beater part combo and part recursion engine and all awesome.
Just like that most of the available slots have been eaten and we've cut a lot of spells and not-a-lot-of-creatures but filled every slot so far with a creature card. The last three then I've biased towards spells trying to give you some more creature control to make up for the fact that I looked at your sweepers and cut them all. It's not that I am against creatures dying I just don't want yours to die not voluntarily at least. I'll make exception for Decree of Pain since we all know that's actually just an awesome card drawing spell that happens to masquerade as a sweeper spell but I much prefer things that make the opponent's creatures vanish while leaving your own.
Hex – “Exactly six creatures" may be more than all of your opponents have for you to target but if that's the case the awkward text on this card can be made up for in Saproling tokens while doing the job you wanted done with your sweepers in the first place. In this case what's more likely is that you hit the things that need to be hit leave most of the rest and still profit greatly from neutralizing the most important threats without touching your own.
Contagion Engine – With time and a bit of mana Contagion Engine will decimate exactly one specific opponent's creatures leaving your own undamaged by the so-called sweeper. However there's more! Proliferate works with all your Thallids to increase the spore count all of your planeswalkers' loyalty and all of the +1/+1 counter themes running throughout the deck that is agreed can be easily converted into other resources quite readily. So it's doing double duty as a backup Doubling Season as it's trying to erode an opposing board position an admirable task indeed given just what Doubling Season can do for you.
Garruk Primal Hunter – Able to serve as card drawing if that's what you fancy making it more interesting to me than 'just' adding Harmonize to the deck and like Elspeth this version of Garruk is an 'all-upsides' planeswalker for generating token creatures. The Overrun was nice but as I said not necessary to generate a win just happened to be an easy way to do it and this Garruk's ability to bury an opponent beneath a mighty weight of 6/6 token creatures can just as easily replicate that same effect if you want it to. But in the meantime the difference is this: add one green mana get your Beast token as a +1 instead of a -1... or as I like to think of it “have your cake and eat it too." This Garruk is better for what you're trying to accomplish than the original one is it's just that it seems like a weird and somehow off-putting card that is difficult to get a hold of so it isn't getting valued properly quite yet.
Having made it up to 99 again from our previous 115 it's worth noting that the Saproling sub-theme while adorable is taken as a matter of course to be the weakest part of the deck. So I'm going to have a look at everything else I was considering adding and seeing what stacks up as tempting enough to dig into the remainder that had previously been left untouched and if nothing else it gives you a list of cards that I thought deserved consideration beyond the ones noted already if you want to make any more substitutions on your own.
I'm hesitant to add another eight-mana creature and of the sixes it seems pretty clear that Primeval Titan gets added before Primordial Sage but I thought that Primordial Sage deserves mention ever since I forgot it existed when building my Animar deck last week. One of the players who saw my deck in its sort-of-going-off phase asked if the Sage was in there and I was sad to say that it was not and that reminder happens to go very nicely with a deck as chock-full of creatures as this one is looking to be. But you wanted this to be a deck with its own individual character instead of just a mish-mash of all the best cards in all three of your colors so I shall resist the urge to jam in Seedborn Muse 'because it's awesome' or cram in Lurking Predators because 'no green deck should go without one.'
I really really want to fit Twilight Drover into the deck and unlike all of these other cards it's super synergistic with the rest of what you have going on and can actually tempt me to substitute out of your Thallid-base to remove the Thallid who is doing the least work already for you. The Thallid I identified as your weakest link was unfortunately Deathspore Thallid making me all the more glad that I added a few other two-drops before cutting what had previously been your only one and I'd swap out Deathspore Thallid for Twilight Drover as another way to profit massively with Ghave in play. Juggling +1/+1 counters into sacrificed token creatures just puts more +1/+1 counters onto Twilight Drover and that's something you'd otherwise be doing just to block or will naturally expect to happen with some regularity over the course of the game. Add some more mana to the mix and Twilight Drover can turn one counter into two tokens another way to profit with Ghave active that happens to give you something quite meaningful to do when you don't as Twilight Drover can mimic Ghave's ability to block continuously in a pinch as well.
I will note one fact that I find somewhat curious though given that I recently jumped so hard onto the Sheoldred bandwagon that she's taken Ob-Nixilis's place at the helm of my mono-black deck and point out that Sheoldred Whispering One is a little bit weaker than would be expected in this deck since as a creature herself she is very vulnerable to board sweepers... the exact class of card you'd want to use her to counteract. The extra bit of removal is nice but not going to do all that much for you since you don't have a lot of creature removal and Debtors' Knell in the slot currently given to Sheoldred would greatly ease your recovery from board sweepers with a level of surety that a creature card simply does not have. Creatures die that's Commander if it has power and toughness it'll probably jump to the graveyard at some point in time. Debtors' Knell doesn't have as many abilities and will never attack for lethal but it will always do the job you task it with and giving up Sheoldred's advantages does give you access to creatures out of the opponents' graveyards as well. That leads me to make one last substitution before accepting that some 'good' cards happened to not make the cut and don't have to in order for the deck to function synergistically and at a reasonably high power level.
This gives us the following final decklist:
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Angel of Despair
- 1 Ant Queen
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Creakwood Liege
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Fertilid
- 1 Genesis
- 1 Golgari Guildmage
- 1 Juniper Order Ranger
- 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Pallid Mycoderm
- 1 Protean Hydra
- 1 Psychotrope Thallid
- 1 Puppeteer Clique
- 1 Regal Force
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Selesnya Guildmage
- 1 Sigil Captain
- 1 Spike Weaver
- 1 Sporesower Thallid
- 1 Sporoloth Ancient
- 1 Thelonite Hermit
- 1 Twilight Drover
- 1 Twilight Shepherd
- 1 Verdant Force
- 1 Wilt-Leaf Liege
- 1 Wood Elves
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Nemata, Grove Guardian
- 1 Savra, Queen of the Golgari
- 1 Tolsimir Wolfblood
- 1 Verdeloth the Ancient
- 1 Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
- 3 Forest
- 2 Plains
- 3 Swamp
- 1 Barren Moor
- 1 Bayou
- 1 Bojuka Bog
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Godless Shrine
- 1 Golgari Rot Farm
- 1 Grasslands
- 1 Krosan Verge
- 1 Marsh Flats
- 1 Mosswort Bridge
- 1 Murmuring Bosk
- 1 Orzhov Basilica
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Savannah
- 1 Scrubland
- 1 Secluded Steppe
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 1 Stirring Wildwood
- 1 Strip Mine
- 1 Sunpetal Grove
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Thawing Glaciers
- 1 Tranquil Thicket
- 1 Verdant Catacombs
- 1 Wasteland
- 1 Windswept Heath
- 1 Gaea's Cradle
- 1 Volrath's Stronghold
- 1 Yavimaya Hollow
- 1 Contagion Engine
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Attrition
- 1 Aura Shards
- 1 Debtors' Knell
- 1 Doubling Season
- 1 Glare of Subdual
- 1 Grave Pact
- 1 Martyr's Bond
- 1 Necrogenesis
- 1 Oblivion Ring
- 1 Phyrexian Arena
- 1 Survival of the Fittest
- 1 Sylvan Library
- 1 Eladamri's Call
- 1 Krosan Grip
- 1 Decree of Pain
- 1 Demonic Tutor
- 1 Hex
- 1 Plague Wind
- 1 Promise of Power
As always for your participation today as per usual with my columns there will be a $20 coupon for you to spend here at the StarCityGames.com online store and since at least one of the expensive cards mentioned is probably in at least one of your existing Commander decks the only truly expensive things are an M12 Planeswalker that you may very well have been wanting to get anyway at some point and one of the cards out of the Commander decks that is being chased by Legacy players. If you cracked a Garruk at the Prerelease this weekend and had picked up the Commander decks and already own a Sensei's Divining Top somewhere the $20 coupon just happens to cover all of the rest. Admittedly that's a lot of ifs but I see three original dual lands and you'd said you were not opposed to a little investing to get the Commander cards you want to play with and I am pretty sure the hefty price tag on Garruk will have been worth it the first time he disgorges a dozen Wurm tokens in the general direction of your soon-to-be-dead opponents.
|Savra Queen of the Golgari||$0.99|
|Sensei's Divining Top||$14.99|
|Garruk Primal Hunter||$29.99|
I do hope you will forgive me for cutting two of your favorite cards. Unspeakable Symbol and Grim Feast interact very nicely with each other after all when you have all the life in the world it doesn't matter how much you over-pay for a +1/+1 counter so long as it's not mana you have to spend on it. That shell however does not fit on a beatdown deck that sort of life gain begs for a controlling stance to the game and thus would work not with Ghave but some other commander – even with Ghave putting those counters to exceptionally good use. I don't like pulling cards anyone has listed as their favorites out of a deck but I try to give my honest advice which in this case is that those favorite cards may be best used in another deck and some new favorite cards will prove themselves to you soon enough. You mentioned playing politics with +1/+1 counters on other people's Persist creatures and I expect a Puppeteer Clique to call your own will earn a new home as a favorite to supplant those I've asked you to set aside for now.
-- Sean McKeown
-- s_mckeown @ hotmail.com
Want to submit a deck for consideration to 99 Problems? We're always accepting deck submission to consider for use in a future article likeStefan's Thraximundar deck or Mike's Doran the SiegeTower deck. Only one deck submission will be chosen per article but being selected for the next edition of 99 Problems includes not just deck advice but also a $20 coupon to the StarCityGames.com Store!
Email Sean a deck submission using this link here!