Welcome to another edition of A Seat at the Table, the column where I pick a commander and discuss a few cards that I’d slot into the 99.
This week, with Dominaria United officially releasing, I have decided to pick one of the legends that got my heart racing. Is it a fancy new mythic? Is it a rare that rips?
Nope. This commander is a new uncommon legend and that means you’ll be able to find plenty of copies to go around for this new and interesting deck leader.
For 1BRR, Garna, Bloodfist of Keld is a 4/3 Legendary Human Berserker. Let’s check out the textbox:
“Whenever another creature you control dies, draw a card if it was attacking. Otherwise, Garna, Bloodfist of Keld deals 1 damage to each opponent.”
There’s lots to love about a commander who rewards you for your creatures dying. The added tension of when they die is what makes this so good. The combat step is wild and complicated. Swing with creatures that will die, your opponents face either taking damage or giving you card draw. If you have a big enough board, a wrath effect can significantly harm your opponents. It must be noted that Garna does not count herself. With that in mind, here we go!
Sacrifice outlets are ways to have your creatures die on your own terms. I mentioned that the combat step is wild – it is possible to attack, deal damage, and then before leaving the combat step, having your creatures that just swung die for sweet card draw if that’s what you need. Sack outlets allow you to that have agency and control over your board. Sacrifice outlets like Ashnod’s Altar and Phyrexian Altar are mainstays in a sacrifice player’s arsenal. Goblin Bombardment allows you to ping while your creatures hit your graveyard when you want them to. Viscera Seer provides a Scry 1 per sacrifice. Carrion Feeder gets beefed up when you feed the zombie. Altar of Dementia provides you with the option to mill yourself or your opponents. With self-mill, you can pack the deck with recursive effects. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician can weaken or outright kill your opponents’ creatures while drawing you a card on top of whatever you choose to do with Garna.
Of course, there are cards like Plumb the Forbidden that allow you to sacrifice any number of creatures you control to draw a card and lose a life for each one. Don’t forget to pack some payoffs like…
When creatures die or you sacrifice permanents, you want to have things that trigger for more advantage. Mayhem Devil and Juri, Master of the Revue trigger specifically on sacrificing, but stuff like Zulaport Cutthroat and Bastion of Remembrance will trigger when your creatures die, draining each opponent. Have your opponents get hurt on the way in with Impact Tremors and Purphoros, God of the Forge. The Meathook Massacre and Agent of the Iron Throne are enchantments that ping your opponents when your creatures die. Liliana, Dreadhorde General fills your hand up so you can either double up on your draws when attacking creatures die or so you can get the best of both worlds in Garna’s triggers. One of my favourite cards is Vicious Shadows. Any creature dies, you decide which player gets hit for their hand size. Games go pretty quick when you’re nugging players for seven damage a death.
You’re going to need creatures to sacrifice. I suggest token makers. Ophiomancer and a sacrifice outlet means a clock on your opponents when each snake hits them for damage. Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia only triggers once on your turn, but at two mana, that’s not bad. Besides, the decayed zombie tokens sacrifice themselves at the end of combat turning into cards in hand. Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder provides you with 1/1 Thrulls equal to the mana value of the creature you just cast. Because you can sacrifice creatures at instant speed in this deck (very likely), as long as you cast creatures with less than seven mana value and sacrificed all your Thrulls, you’re going to be churning out the tokens. Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools can generate tokens or sacrifice creatures to draw two cards. Genuinely underrated planeswalker.
Death Tyrant will turn your attacking creatures dying for card draw into more tokens. If they kill blocking creatures too, hey! More tokens! Plus, you can return Death Tyrant to play from the graveyard, an ability that is super fun and useful in this deck. As a matter of fact…
Token generators are fantastic for this strategy, but good old fashioned reanimation and skeleton effects are great too. The new Squee, Dubious Monarch can be pseudo-Escaped from your graveyard and creates a token on attack. Nether Traitor costs just one black mana to return to play when a creature you control dies. Bloodsoaked Champion and Reassembling Skeleton come back pretty cheap, too. Phyrexian Reclamation returns creature cards back to your hand from the graveyard. Chainer, Nightmare Adept skips your hand and lets you cast your creatures from your graveyard directly.
Fiery Emancipation is a stand-in for all damage doubling cards like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and Gratuitous Violence. While Gratuitous Violence won’t double your Impact Tremors, it will double Garna’s one damage pings.
Attach Basilisk Collar to Garna or pop Whip of Erebos into place and you’re looking at gaining three life for each of your creatures dying when they’re not attacking. Whip can also return some pretty important creatures for you to add to the beatdown.
Lyzolda, the Blood Witch has been one of my favourite commander decks for a few years. I love having a sacrifice outlet in the command zone, and I love that the colours of creatures I sacrifice matter. I love this deck. Garna, Bloodfist of Keld is the first time I’ve considered swapping commanders of that deck, but I know I’ll keep Lyzolda in the 99 if I make the swap. I might do something like roll dice and decide between Lyzolda, Tymaret, the Murder King, and Garna! Keep things fresh!
That does it for Garna. Who are you looking forward to building from Dominaria United? Let me know and I’ll write something up.
Welcome to another edition of A Seat at the Table! Let’s talk about another recently spoiled commander for Dominaria United – Ramirez DePietro, Pillager! Last time we saw Ramirez, it was as Ghost of Ramirez DePietro, a partner commander from Commander Legends. The first Ramirez DePietro was a six mana 4/3 with First Strike. Now, we get a 4/3 for four mana and a whole lot more text. Let’s check out the text box:
“When Ramirez DePietro, Pillager enters the battlefield, you lose 2 life and create two Treasure tokens.
Whenever one of more Pirates you control deal combat damage to a player, exile the top card of that player’s library. You may cast that card for as long as it remains exiled.”
That’s a whole bunch of value for four mana. This pirate lord that turns your whole ship of pirates into spectres and saboteurs. Remember, you may cast the cards exiled with Ramirez – not play. You can’t play lands. Remember that!
Let’s talk about cards to include in your RDP decks.
These are two of my favourite cards to see hit the battlefield. Enters the battlefield effects are so much fun and having a deck full of Sailor of Means, Shipwreck Looter, and Rishadan Footpad means you’re going to want to double dip on these effects a bunch. Conjurer’s Closet and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling allow you to blink your creatures, which at a baseline means that if your commander is out, you’re making two treasures a turn.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the creatures that blink with these two cards must be ones you control BUT they return under YOUR control! So if you play a creature with Ramirez’s second ability – let’s say an Eternal Witness – blink with Thassa or the Closet, you get EWit again. Easy peasy inclusions!
Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator is another pirate from Commander Legends that wants you to play pirates. In fact, Ramirez and Malcolm share the oracle text “Whenever one of more Pirates you control deal”! Notice how it doesn’t go on to say combat damage, so if something comes up that allows you to ping with your pirates, that will be relevant. But a Scryfall search reveals there aren’t really noncombat ways of dealing damage to your opponents that change the source to the creatures. Either way, Malcolm allows you to swing at three opponents and make three treasures. With Ramirez out, that means for each pirate that connects, you’re getting a card from that player’s library and a Treasure to mana fix and ramp.
Remember: Ramirez doesn’t say that you can pay mana of any colour to play the exiled cards.
Let’s face it – there aren’t a ton of pirates that are worth your time, and in Dimir there are so many more fun options for attackers. Plenty of unblockable creatures. Hell, Maskwood Nexus and Black Market Connections can make Captain N’ghathrod a part of the 99 and make that work.
I’m looking forward to building this deck and playing with everybody else’s deck.
What do these Commander Legends creatures have in common? They’re amazing blue pirates that only get better with ol’ RDP!
Amphin Mutineer is like a Reality Shift on the stick with triple flashback. Encore this bad boy out and exile problematic creatures. If they block, they’re just trading their 4/3 tokens for your 3/3 tokens. That’s not a bad trade for getting rid of an opponent’s Delina, Wild Mage or Oracle of Mul Daya. If the Mutineer tokens get through, that’s another three exiled cards from your opponents’ libraries.
Trove Tracker is great early and great late. Just keep swinging Double T into opponents and you’ll get value. Drop this turn three, then turn four you get your commander out, swing at someone and get a card! If this dies, you get a card! Late game, you get to encore Trove Tracker and the floor is three cards. The ceiling? Six cards! Tell me this bad boy isn’t going to shine.
Merchant Raiders taps down creatures for as long as they remain on board. Play out a pirate and help your other pirates get through to pillage your opponents’ libraries. I feel like this card is damn all star.
You need to do yourself a kindness and get some mass evasion in your Ramirez decks. Wonder in the yard gives your board flying, and Filth gives them swampwalk and basically unblockable if you’ve got an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth out. With Vela the Night-Clad out, you get some incidental chip damage on your opponents when your pirates bounce or hit the yard, but most importantly she makes them only blockable by creatures that share their colours or artifact creatures.
The priciest of these effects is Cover of Darkness – for two mana, you select a creature type (oh, I don’t know, Pirates?) and those creatures get fear. That does mean that ALL pirates get fear, not just yours. Slam this down and only black and artifact creatures can block pirates.
This is the only way in Dimir colours to create pirate tokens. When this guy attacks and you control a nontoken pirate (like your commander), you can pay 2 to make a 2/2 token pirate with menace – Hey! More evasion! You need more pirates to keep the value train going so include this sick dude with amazing facial hair in your RDP list.
(Here’s an extra flavourful inclusion – Coastal Piracy. Bonus! Fun!)
One of my favourite Dimir commanders ever, Araumi of the Dead Tide is an incredible creature. Encore is a fantastic mechanic and while there’s so much recursion in the colours, giving pirates encore means that you can probably nab three cards from your opponents. Turn your Burdened Aerialist, Corsair Captain, and Sailor of Means into potential draw threes for three cards in your graveyard. Encore out Hostage Taker in the late game with enough mana to cast things, or just use the Hostage Takers as a means to clear a path to hit your opponents and get the tops of their libraries with Ramirez.
I really hope you enjoyed this article. Ramirez DePietro, Pillager and Tor Wauki the Younger got me really pumped for this new set!
If there’s a commander you want me to write up, give me a shout on twitter: @mikecarrozza! Thanks for reading.
It is time to return to the Nexus! Dominaria United brings us back to the world of Nico Bolas and Numera as we face off against new monsters and men alike!
In this Magic: The Gathering homecoming, we are set to encounter some long lost friends. Be prepared to see some familiar faces, such as Lilianna Vess, Jaya Ballard, and Jared Carthalion! But don’t think that it will only be allies out in the wilds of Dominaria. Some lost, forgotten villains may only be hiding in the shadows…
While some old faces will most certainly appear, that does not mean that we will be rehashing old ground. There are new dangers and new heroes in Dominaria as well. Not only should we be keeping an eye out for Phyrexians, but others have been making plays for power. It’s time for the heroes of the land to once again unite, and fight together under a single banner.
Dominaria United will include 281 cards in the set, with over 40 legendary creatures included. There will also be special stained glass land cards for your to collect for your next deck!
Dominaria United comes out on September 9th, 2022! Pre-order your pre-release box at Three Kings Loot here!
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