General Knowledge: Muldrotha, the Gravetide
One of my favorite parts of Magic is the ability to make decks that reflect your experiences and Commander is an awesome way for that individual expression to happen. In competitive formats you may only have a couple of slots to innovate but in Commander you have 99 slots to choose from! That freedom comes at a price though, building a Commander deck can feel very overwhelming because of the sheer number of possibilities (just throwing cards in, this deck was over 160 cards). Brawl will help with some of this, given that it will have a smaller deck size and card pool, but it is important to start your deck off right before you go and spend all that hard earned money on cards you aren’t even going to use.
When it comes to building a Commander deck there are basically two schools of thought:
- Find a cool Commander and build the deck around them (these decks tend to play their commander a lot)
- Build the deck you want and then get a commander to fits into the colors (these decks tend to not really cast their commander)
I tend to get more excited by new commanders rather than themes, so we are going to take the former approach as we build a deck and practice for some of the techniques commonly used for putting together a Commander deck. Since Dominaria has a ton of legends, we are going to use the legendary creature that has me the most excited: Muldrotha, the Gravetide.
A good place to start with a commander is to first look at what the rough theme of the card is and what it wants us to do. For Muldrotha, that is playing permanent cards out of our graveyard, so our starting plan is: we want to put cards in the graveyard and then have the mana to play as many of them as possible. We also want to make sure to have a diverse amount of permanent types that way we don’t get stuck only being able to use Muldrotha’s ability once or twice. Lastly we need to be aware of the color identity of our commander; Muldrotha is Sultai (meaning green, blue, and black) so that means we can only have cards of those colors, or are colorless, in our deck. Luckily for us, there are plenty of ways in the Sultai colors to accomplish our plan.
*Quick Pause: We are going to be looking to play permanents out of our graveyard so it is worth noting that Creature, Artifact, Planeswalker, Enchantment, and Land are the permanent types.*
*Quick Pause 2 (Electric Boogaloo): Since we can only cast 1 card of each type from the graveyard each turn we want to play cards that are multiple types and get utility from our artifacts or enchantments since we will be running a lot of awesome creatures*
Cards like Golgari Grave-Troll and Zendikar Resurgent are going to be the bread and butter of our plan. Also, Muldrotha’s ability to play lands from the graveyard means fetchlands like Polluted Delta have extra value, though they can be cost prohibitive.
Since we have our plan it is time to start figuring out the cards we want to play. Jimmy and Josh over at the Command Zone have a good breakdown of the different categories of cards you want in your deck. While these are only guidelines, it is a really good place to start with a deck. Their guidelines are:
10-12 Enhancer (cards that make the plan better)
7-8 Enabler (cards that make the plan work)
10 Mana Ramp
10 Card Draw
5 Targeted Removal
5 Board Wipes
(If you do the math there are more than 99 cards here so we will need to have some overlap between our categories!)
The power of this style of deck building is that it will help us to organize our thoughts for the amount of cards we are playing. I had no idea my first pass on this deck was running 17 “Card Draw” effects and 16 “Enablers”. In most decks there is some amount of overlap in these categories, especially since we are going to be using our graveyard, so it is important to be flexible but seeing these numbers highlights the importance of being aware of what is in our deck. To illustrate how some cards blur categories: Golgari Grave-Troll will “enable” our plan of putting cards in our graveyard while also being a standalone threat once we get to the late game.
Let’s start walking through some cards in each category and talk about the types of things we want to be doing with this deck!
Here are some of our big threats of the deck that our opponents have to answer. Since we will be recurring our removal we should be able to put a good amount of creatures into our opponents graveyards for The Scarab God (which just got its own new format!). Consuming Aberration and Lord of Extinction are also huge beater for our opponents especially since the have to be exiled to be permanently removed from our deck.
Our Enhancers are going to help us to break Muldrotha’s ability. Do you have two creatures in your graveyard that you want but can only playone? Why not use your enchantment spell to get it back for a reduced cost with Necromancy or Animate Dead! We also have the ability to bestow from our graveyard as either our enchantment or our creature for the turn so Nighthowler can make any of our creatures a huge beater. Nighthowler also makes our commander huge and can lead to us sniping someone with commander damage out of nowhere!
These are the cards that will help our deck tick! Vessel of Nascency and Golgari Grave-Troll are great for getting us action and fuel for Muldotha’s ability. Building this deck has gotten me really hyped for the number of random enchantments that really help us out. Krosan Grip is one of the most important cards for graveyard strategies. We don’t want to get shut down by Rest in Peace or other graveyard hate.
So Mana Ramp is probably one of the most boring categories when it comes to deck building but is vital to actually playing the game. On top of trying to play cards from our graveyard we need to get to 6 mana to drop Muldrotha. I really like Expedition Map and Font of Fertility because they are cheap to get into play and should we not have another cool artifact or enchantment in the graveyard we can easily play them to get to take more lands out of our deck. Satyr Wayfinder will let us feed our graveyard as well as put a land into hand.
The ability to keep our plan moving forward is what makes or breaks decks. Having a good amount of card draw will keep us moving forward and help us reset when our opponents try to stop us. Baleful Strix and an amazing card and while it doesn’t go crazy in terms of card draw it does replace itself and allow us to hold back our opponents’ attackers, since for some reason don’t like their creatures dying. Mulldrifter is solid because it is a repeatable Divination out of our graveyard and then if we have nothing else to do with our mana if can be a flyer. Garruk, Primal Hunter is 5 mana draw 6 when Muldrotha is on the board.
Like we mentioned with ramp the ability to get cheap cards out of our graveyard is really important so we can use leftover mana. Executioner’s Capsule and Shriekmaw have restrictions on what they can hit but are cheap ways to answer a good amount of threats. I really like Song of the Dryads and Imprisoned in the Moon for this deck. The ability to have this weird type of removal repeatedly feels really strong. Does your opponent have a planeswalker that is about to ultimate? Nope it’s a forest!
Board Wipes are our “get out of jail free cards”. Pernicious Deed lets us choose how big we want to go while Phyrexian Scriptures allows us to take care of the majority of creatures and as we use it more and more we can save more of our own creatures. Cyclonic Rift isn’t anything special in this deck but it is still one of the best ways to set our opponents back or just win the game.
Lands is a pretty challenging part of building a deck as it is one of the most budget dependent intensive. If you are on a tight budget you can run more lands that enter play tapped, or more basics, but you can also go crazy with all of the fetches. If you don’t want to run the fetches I recommend the cycling lands are we will be able to draw a card with them then play the land out of the graveyard. Two of the lands I have highlighted will do something similar to what we have talked about above: Dakmor Salvage will put cards in the graveyard for us to use while Svogthos, the Restless Tomb will help close out games. Command Beacon is an amazing card with Muldrotha because it will give us the ability to continually play our Muldrotha without paying the Commander Tax.
Muldrotha is an amazing commander and I am looking forward to iterating on this deck for a long time. Wizards has proven that they love graveyard sets so as long as that philosophy continues we will continue to get amazing cards for this deck!
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