Hello and welcome back to A Seat at the Table, the column where I talk to you about Magic: The Gathering’s most popular format Commander!
We’re rounding out the last of the Dead Three God creatures in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate: Bhaal, Lord of Murder.
Let’s cover some fun, rad cards to pop into your Bhaal decks. But before that, let’s find out what Bhaal actually does.
Beginning with the text shared by all three Gods:
“As long as your life total is less than or equal to half your starting life total, Bhaal, Lord of Murder has indestructible.”
Already, not going to lie, at 5 mana value for a 4/4, Bhaal can be a Jund beater that wears equipment and Aura’s well enough to go in for the kill.
For Bhaal’s secondary effect, it says:
“Whenever another nontoken creature you control dies, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature and goad it.”
Now, we’re talking. This is wildly flexible, as you can buff your own creatures and goad them, making them the relentless beat sticks you need.
So what does Bhaal need? Non-token creatures to die. Whether the counters get placed on problematic creatures your opponents control to send them elsewhere, or stacked on Bhaal to get in for some boom-boom-pow, you will definitely need a fat stack of non-token creatures to hit the bin to make it happen.
I realized while writing this that there is no colloquial term for the re-animating ability most commonly seen on Skeleton creatures, so I’m lumping them here.
That said, one of my favourites in recent times, Death Tyrant, while expensive to reanimate, comes with a bunch of upsides considering your combat-focused Commander. Cards like Bloodghast, Bloodsoaked Champion, Falkenrath Forebear, Nether Traitor, Persistent Specimen, Tenacious Dead, and of course Reassembling Skeleton, all contribute to this plan nicely. Pair with death effects like Grim Haruspex, and a sacrifice outlet that nets mana, and you’ve got a stew going. Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker is slower, but triggers every end step, and as long as you don’t stack counters on your skellies, you’ll get them back without the mana investment. Even looping effects like Apprentice Necromancer and Doomed Necromancer make sure you’ve got a stream of death happening to appease Bhaal.
Blitz and a New Capenna Sure Thing
Blitz is unsurprisingly one of my favourite new mechanics. Henzie “Toolbox” Torre is popular for a reason. You get to draw off your creature dying, you get to smack fast, and you get a discount most times.
Some of you might have been confused why I didn’t mention Tenacious Underdog in the Skeleton effects section. Here’s why – Blitz! Toss Henzie into this deck if you’ve got lots of creatures with mana value 4 or greater. It’ll guarantee a death trigger and a card. I wouldn’t recommend adding Jaxis, the Troublemaker because Bhaal triggers off of non-tokens specifically. Double dip with Wave of Rats. Get top deck value out of Ziatora’s Envoy. Sneak cards from your opponents with Mezzio Mugger. Get rid of weenies with Night Clubber, make a Treasure, and draw a card with Riveteers Requisitioner, and make tokens off your four drops with Caldaia Guardian.
But the real sure thing from New Capenna is of course Riveteers Ascendancy! Instant speed sack outlets with the Ascendancy means you can go down the chain one link at a time per turn. So without further ado.
Sacrifice Outlets (The Right Kind)
This one feels obvious. You have to be in control of your creatures dying in this deck to really impact the board. Instant speed sacrifice outlets come in many forms and belong in this deck.
Altars like Phyrexian Altar, Ashnod’s Altar, and Altar of Dementia all get you something for your troubles. Even if it’s milling yourself into one of your skeleton effects or fuelling your graveyard for your Gravewaker or Riveteers Ascendancy.
Creatures like Viscera Seer or Carrion Feeder are cheap sack outlets that will allow you to goad that Hasty creature your opponent just put into play. Woe Strider is my top pick for this deck because not only is it a sacrifice outlet with a body and card selection, it’s can be Escaped back into play and that means it’s another non-token creature ready to die for Bhaal.
Finally, cards like Village Rites and Deadly Dispute don’t telegraph to your opponents that you can kill one of your creatures to send their haymaker elsewhere when they assume they have a clear path to you.
With the release of the Draconic Dissent precon deck this set, we’ve got a few cool Goad support cards. Death Kiss doubles the power of creatures attacking your opponents, turning that +1/+1 counter from Bhaal into +2/+2! Bothersome Quasit ensures that whatever gets goaded can’t chump block before the swing, and makes it so your opponents can get through with other goaded creatures. Baeloth Barrityl, Entertainer not only benefits you from goaded creatures dying in combat, but if you stack Bhaal’s counters onto him, soon enough all your opponents’ creatures will have to swing anywhere but in your direction.
Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant is an incredible source of card advantage, but be prepared to pack the life gain because you’ll be drained quick… but with Bhaal’s first ability, that’s not always bad!
Death Tyrant makes you Zombie tokens and Kardur, Doomscourge drains your opponents when creatures die in combat. Vengeful Ancestor makes goaded creatures hurt their controllers, Popular Entertainer lets you goad creatures when you deal combat damage to a player as long as Bhaal is out. Geode Rager lets you goad a squad on Landfall. Disrupt Decorum is the OG realness.
But my favourite of the bunch is Laurine, the Diversion. For two mana and sacrificing a creature, you goad any creature. But with Bhaal out, non-token creatures you sacrifice to this Human Rogue will goad two creatures. It’s a free for all… all but you!
Let Me Target You
Sometimes you have to goad a creature, but your opponents have creatures with Hexproof or have Lightning Greaves attached. Sometimes, you’ll play land into your Geode Rager and the opponent you really want to hurt has a Leyline of Sanctity out.
Let me introduce you to one of my favourite utility lands: Arcane Lighthouse. It won’t let you target players, but it will let you target creatures they thought were safe. Glaring Spotlight is a one mana artifact that lets you target creatures your opponents control as though they didn’t have Hexproof and has a “break in case of emergency” button to give your own creatures hex proof.
Go all out with Archetype of Endurance. No Hexproof for your opponents’ creatures, all Hexproof for yours. Bonds of Mortality for a green mana makes creatures your opponents control lose indestructible and Hexproof, while the absolute powerhouse Shadowspear does the same for all permanents your opponents control for one generic mana and comes down at one less mana value.
With all of these cards in each section, I reckon you can take this and run at your opponents with your new Bhaal deck charging at your enemies. Happy hunting!