Hello and welcome to A Seat at the Table, the column where I pick a commander and talk about what I’d include in the 99. This week, a new card from the March of the Machine preview and coming to us in April. A mythic team-up card featuring two beloved characters from Innistrad. This week, it’s time to brew Thalia and The Gitrog Monster. Let’s see what they can do.
Thalia and The Gitrog Monster combine their colour identities and become an Abzan 4/4 legendary creature Human Frog Horror for 1WBG. Their textbox is very enticing.
“First strike, deathtouch
You may play an additional land on each of your turns.
Creatures and nonbasic lands your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped.
Whenever Thalia and The Gitrog Monster attacks, sacrifice a creature or land, then draw a card.”
Hot damn, now that’s a textbox! Here are things to remember:
- First strike and deathtouch means that you’ll likely be able to attack into anything without worrying about it. The combination of these two abilities might as well mean unblockable except by indestructible or first/double strike creatures.
- There’s an Exploration on this commander! Make sure to pack your deck full of lands, so you can keep playing more and more.
- Your opponents’ creatures and nonbasic lands come into play tapped, which means that your commander remains difficult to block. It also means land bases using few basic lands will have a hard time with the tempo set back. All their nonbasics are taplands!
- Whenever Tee and The Frog go swinging, you must sacrifice a creature or a land then draw a card. This is not optional.
Let’s get into some cards.
1) Crucibles / Explorations
Crucible of Worlds is the first instance of a static ability that allows you to play lands from your graveyard. A three mana artifact that says, cleanly, “You may play lands from your graveyard.” What an incredible line of text. Simple. Having these effects while your commander allows you to play additional lands means that you can keep a fetch land parade running.
Since its printing, we have seen more iterations on this idea. Ramunap Excavator is often called Crucible on legs. Conduit of Worlds is a green four-mana version of Crucible with some added upside in the event you want to replay a nonland permanent from your graveyard as your one spell on your turn. Ancient Greenwarden is a big beefy Crucible that doubles your Landfall triggers. Perennial Behemoth is a five mana Crucible with Unearth GG in case you need a Crucible for a single turn – although I think Behemoth is better suited as a second to Crucible of Worlds in five colour decks. Zask, Skittering Swarmlord is a new Insect lord legend who also lets you play lands (and Insects) from your graveyard.
One of the most interesting and flexible effects of this sort is Serra Paragon. Sure, you’ll lose the cards to exile if they leave the battlefield again, but it’s a small price to pay for the flexibility on this Angel.
There are a bunch of cards that let you play additional lands per turn. The sneakiest one is Kodama of the East Tree. If you play a land from your hand, you can put another into play. If you play a Sakura-Tribe Elder, you can put a land into play. This card is monster busted!
Why am I only highlighting one of the team-up’s original cards? Because The Gitrog Monster is one of the most busted legends out there.
Every time a land goes to your graveyard – whether they were milled, sacrificed, tutored to your graveyard, discarded, destroyed – you draw a card.
If you control The Gitrog Monster and your commander, sacrificing a land to their attack trigger nets you two cards and you have three lands to play for the turn. Pair this land density with Braids, Arisen Nightmare and you’ll likely be drawing even more cards because opponents won’t want to sacrifice lands!
Fetch lands of all types. Fetch lands like Windswept Heath are a staple of Landfall decks because it’s essentially double dipping on triggers. However, cards like Krosan Verge and Myriad Landscape will leave you up on lands.
One land in particular makes me excited to brew around it: Flagstones of Trokair. By sacrificing Flagstones of Trokair, you then get to tutor up a Plains to the battlefield. Not a basic Plains, any Plains. Go get your Triome, your shock lands, your Kaldheim common snow duals, your Battle lands, your DMU common lands, Mistveil Plains, and Idyllic Grange. You can also still just go get your basics. Either way, when you think you’re down a land, you’re up a land!
4) Landfall / Augur of Autumn / Courser of Kruphix
Landfall is an extremely popular strategy. Just by searching Landfall on EDHREC in these colours, you’ll find insane cards like Lotus Cobra, which gives you a mana when a land enters, or Tireless Provisioner which gives you your choice of Treasure, Clue, or Food to create when a land comes into play (you’ll mostly make Treasures, if I had to guess). You’ll also find Retreat to Hagra, a three mana modal black enchantment that will likely mostly be used to drain your opponents when you have lands enter. Emeria’s Shepherd and Trove Warden are great recursion pieces while Admonition Angel clears the way and Ob Nixilis, the Fallen chips away at your opponents’ life totals.
I highly recommend Courser of Kruphix, Augur of Autumn, and Oracle of Mul Daya to effectively extend your hand size by one. Playing stuff from your library and getting a peek at what’s next can really set you up for your game plan.
There’s one last facet of the Landfall strategy I want to cover and that’s…
Making Tokens with your lands! Felidar Retreat, Scute Swarm, Maja, Bretagard Protector, Zendikar’s Roil, and Emeria Angel all focus on making smaller tokens when your lands hit the field while Rampaging Baloths, Titania, Nature’s Force, and Greensleeves, Maro-Sorcerer make bigger ones. Titania, Protector of Argoth makes big creatures when your lands go to the graveyard instead while Avenger of Zendikar makes Plants equal to how many lands you have while pumping those Plants when more lands come under your control.
Having a token doubler like Doubling Season or Parallel Lives is great in this kind of deck, especially if they double as ramp thanks to Cryptolith Rite or if they’re straight up Forests because of Awaken the Woods or Staff of Titania. Throw in Teysa Karlov to gain a ton of life and keep your tokens on defence too, and you’ve got a very scary game position.
That’ll do it for this edition of A Seat at the Table! Let me know who else you’d like covered @mikecarrozza on Twitter and Instagram!