Creative Commander Deck Design: The Scarab God
- Kristof Prinz
Commander is about fun, not about winning. Same for deck design—the goal is entertainment, not maximizing power. So how about we impose another restriction? This Scarab God deck is based on creatures with abilities that trigger when they enter the battlefield and built on the premise to include nothing but permanents!
Hello again! Since my last Commander article was well received, I'd like to show off another of my favorite decks. Among my current pool of decks it's the one I've had for the longest time.
The General Idea
I don't want to repeat myself too much. If you are interested in my general approach to building Commander decks, read this article!
I might rehash some information, but I won't complain about the universality of Sol Ring for another paragraph. My The Scarab God deck is built under several restrictions, which leads to some more creative card choices and some less straighforward deck design. The restrictions I set for myself were: no combos, no instants or sorceries, and as few non-creatures as feasible. The third one isn't a hard limit, as you can see in the decklist.
I generally don't love two-card-combos and similar things in Commander. By playing The Scarab God, you'll often have access to your opponents cards anyway, which will lead to the odd combo becoming available by accident. I wanted to use creatures for the jobs that usually go to instants and sorceries, both because it made me look at some rather weird cards and because that also has some mild synergies with the commander. This also ties in to the third restriction. I only run four non-creature, non-mana-source cards, and they're all effects that synergize a lot with the overall theme but don't really have alternatives in the realm of creatures.
Before we go into too much detail, let me give you the full list.
The Mana Base
This one is easy. The deck includes 32 lands that are just there for producing mana and then two cyclel ands and a copy of Geier Reach Sanitarium as a discard outlet that also mitigates flood a little.
The lands are complemented by a good few mana rocks as the commander can be quite hungry for mana, so feeding it seems only reasonable. Most interesting among them is probably Victory Chimes, which occasionally gives you two Scarab God activations when you'd otherwise only have one in spots where you have six other mana sources available.
The Game Plan
You're playing somewhat of a control deck. In the first couple turns you usually try to hit your land drops and play a mana rock or two. Then you're generally interested in jamming whatever creatures you have in hand, which often trade for spells or creatures your opponents try to use. Then you cast your commander, hopefully with four mana available so that you can immediately activate its abilty. When you're winning, it's mostly on the back of a bunch of 4/4s that also disrupt your opponents' strategies.
The Types of Cards
A lot of the deck is creatures, but those obviously have different roles to fill. Let's go over a couple of them.
About twelve creatures are mostly tasked with answering problematic permanents. Because blue-black does not usually tend to answer artifacts and enchantments very well, a bunch of those come in the form of bounce like Riftwing Cloudskate. Some are slightly overcosted but at least deal with anything for good, like Meteor Golem and Agent of Treachery. Costing a little too much is a problem that is often mitigated by reanimating them with The Scarab God instead of casting them regulary.
About eight creatures give an advantage while not dealing with opposing threats, for example Mulldrifter. You don't need too many of these as The Scarab God on its own is already a pretty good engine for card advantage.
Eight creatures deal with objects on the stack, split between actual countermagic like Draining Whelk, less hard countermagic like Venser, Shaper Savant, and Misdirection-type effects. Spellskite and Mizzium Meddler excel at protecting your commander.
The rest of the creatures include some oddballs: two Clones, Peregrine Drake and friends that untap lands when they enter the battlefield, a couple that give you access to more lands like Dreamscape Artist (this one doubles as a discard outlet), and a bunch of less categorizable things like Perplexing Chimera.
The last main group of cards are the noncreature things, which are to get extra use out of Scarab God's abilities or your creatures' enter-the-battlefield triggers or to make some life gain available. The last component gets complemented by Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Torgaar, Famine Incarnate, ensuring that damage you take is not necessarily permanent.
Tips & Tricks
First, there are two Eldrazi in the deck that have the creature type Processor. These can put creatures you exiled with The Scarab God back into your opponents' graveyards so you have them available as targets for the God's ability again.
Secondly, the way The Scarab God works in your upkeep, you can use its activated ability in response to the triggered ability to scry deeper into your library and have your opponents lose more life.
If you have any suggestions or questions regarding my card choices, please feel free to leave a comment!
As this is my last article for Cardmarket for the foreseeable future, I wanted to say some words. First of all, working with Cardmarket was a pleasure. They made it pretty easy for me to write what I wanted to write about, and that was was great. Me "retiring" from writing is mostly because of me just not playing much Magic anymore, otherwise I'd love to continue. However, I feel like writing about Magic when you're not as engaged as I was before is almost a little dishonest. I wanted to share my joy about formats and decks with you and that's something I can't really do anymore. But again, it was cool to get to write for Cardmarket, and I'd not want to miss the work with them as part of my Magic career.
I'm still a sponsored player, so once we get GPs again, you'll probably find me there in a Cardmarket shirt or hoodie. I am looking forward to some competitive paper Magic again!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.