Commanding Respect: Ulasht, the Hate Seed
What commander comes to mind when I say "saproling tokens" and "+1/+1 counters"? Dollars to donuts, I bet most of you would respond with, "Ghave, Guru of Spores". And you would be correct! Ghave is well-reputed as a saproling-and-counters-and-sacrifice combo engine just waiting to be revved up. However! You would also be correct if you responded, "Ulasht, the Hate Seed"! This being a column that highlights obscure commanders, we'll be examining the latter, Ghave's Hellion Hydra little sibling. Let's get to the list!
May Your Saprolings Go to Seed
Unlike Ghave, who enters the battlefield with a stock five +1/+1 counters, Ulasht is highly scalable, and wants us to flood the board with as many tokens as possible. To start my search, I looked at effects to produce tokens that are both red and green, because Ulasht will enter the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters per red-and-green creature. Regrettably, most of these effects range from "top-heavy" to "kind of bad", but I've included most of them in the interest of late-game Ulasht casts. The most traditionally "good" multicolored token producer is Xenagos, the Reveler, who majorly rewards us with mana for doing what our deck wants to do. Omnath, Locus of Rage and Dragon Broodmother are both on the mana-intensive side, but offer highly-repeatable token generation. Lastly, Revel of the Fallen God is out and out Bad, but this seems like one of the best possible homes for it and I couldn't resist.
The fact that Ulasht produces saprolings, and not any other type of token, is highly relevant when we look at all the saproling support from Magic's history. The Thallids are an entire subset of creatures who slowly build up to making saprolings, and often turn those tokens into additional effects. I've included a solid saproling / Thallid subtheme in our deck. Two of my favorite Thallids are Utopia Mycon and Psychotrope Thallid, as they provide two things that every deck needs: ramp and card advantage. We have numerous spells to flood the board with additional saprolings: Sprout Swarm is a one-card engine, Saproling Symbiosis doubles the size of our board (but in saprolings!), and Fungal Sprouting can do that (and more!) if we cast it right after our commander.
When building commader decks, one of my favorite things to do is build a "package" of related cards to deal with a wide variety of situations. Usually, packages are united by a card capable of tutoring (that is, searching our library for) all of the cards within that package. I spoke at length about this last article, with Trinket Mage (who searches for artifacts with converted mana cost 1 or less), Trophy Mage (who searches for artifacts with converted mana cost 3 exactly), and Vedalken Aethermage (who searches for wizards). Today, we're looking at another take on packages: the green creature toolbox. Our deck contains two of the most common search effects for such a toolbox: Green Sun's Zenith and Chord of Calling. (A cute additional option is Woodland Bellower, which I have elected not to use here.)
With their ability to find creatures of various sizes, Chord and GSZ are wondefully flexible. The bulk of our toolbox lives at three mana, and covers the primary elements I want out of a package: Eternal Witness for recursion, Reclamation Sage for artifact / enchantment removal, Wood Elves / Farhaven Elf for ramp, and Loaming Shaman for graveyard hate. (Casting Chord of Calling into a surprise Loaming Shaman is one of the most devastating things you can do to a reanimator deck.)
It's hard to come by card advantage on a monogreen creature, but this deck has room for a few. I've already mentioned Psychotrope Thallid for converting saprolings into card draw. For a big burst of draw, we can also fetch Skullmulcher and sacrifice some fodder. The top of our curve consists mostly of win conditions. Mycoloth is an army-in-a-can, and only needs one or two upkeep triggers to run away with a game. Craterhoof Behemoth is the archetypal tokens finisher, capable of turning a field of tiny creatures into a field of VERY ANGRY large creatures (great for sucker punches!)
Double or Nothing
When it comes to counters and tokens, we run into an awful lot of effects that don't just increase them, but double them. Commander staple Doubling Season, with its doubling of both tokens and counters, is an instant include in this deck. Its little brother Parallel Lives only doubles tokens, but with 20+ cards that produce tokens in addition to our commander, it's absolutely worth the slot. I have decided to leave Primal Vigor, the final enchantment in this family, out of the picture. An additional method of doubling tokens and +1/+1 counters would be nice, but I'm worried that our opponents may take better advantage of it as we attempt to build our killer Ulasht.
There are two instants under consideration for this category. I expect Solidarity of Heroes to be our primary method of surprise one-shotting a player with our large-turned-larger commander. Even outside combat circumstances, it's a nice ex post facto method of loading more counters onto Ulasht. The other instant, Second Harvest, will not be gracing this particular list. It is, in essence, a one-time Parallel Lives at instant speed: for four mana, we get a copy of each token we have. Potentially explosive, to be sure, but with most of our tokens being tiny 1/1 saprolings, I prefer more versatile effects like Saproling Symbiosis or Sprout Swarm.
Now that we've covered the deck's important themes and subthemes, let's run through the rest of our notable win conditions. With the sheer token-producing potential of our deck, we'll sometimes bowl over opponents by going wide, assisted by effects that buff our creatures (e.g. Thelonite Hermit, Verdeloth the Ancient, Bloodspore Thrinax).
Sometimes, we may use our tokens in a slightly different manner. Burn at the Stake turns each of our creatures into 3 damage, and it is not a tall order to have the 13+ creatures necessary to one-shot a player. If you should find an opponent open for attack, Thromok the Insatiable has a more efficient conversion of tokens-to-damage. Devouring seven tokens rewards us with a 49/49 creature, which pairs best with one of our haste-enablers: Lightning Greaves or Hanweir Battlements. For more options, consider pairing Thromok with the unblockability granted by Rogue's Passage, which also plays nicely with a giant Ulasht.
"Hate" is a Strong Word
Thank you for joining me on this Hellion Hydra adventure. Our downtrodden friend Ulasht has long been in Ghave's shadow: here's hoping he has his own time in the sun. Would you like to ask for more details on this deck? Perhaps you have obscure commanders to suggest for future Commanding Respect articles? You can check out my other articles on EDHrec.com here! Leave a comment down below, or track @Walking_Atlas down on Twitter. I'm always happy to talk Commander. And remember: you can command any deck you want, as long as you command respect.
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