Magic: The Gathering is in the process of releasing its 82nd expansion set, Throne of Eldraine, to players of the famed beloved card game. In fact, they’ve already released in on their software interface, Magic: The Gathering: Arena! The set will release on October 4th of this year, with prerelease events beginning tomorrow, September 27th and lasting through the 29th.
Coinciding with the Throne of Eldraine general set release, conveniently enough, is the release of Magic‘s four first Brawl decks to tie-in with the set. The decks each revolve around a specific Commander specially made for each deck and not obtainable in booster packs (besides, quite possibly, Collector’s Edition packs of Throne of Eldraine, but that’s a luxury for another storytime). Because formats with a Standard card pool aren’t my area of expertise or my market, however, the series of deck techs I’m presently working on won’t revolve around Brawl. I know, I know, disappointing. However, in Brawl’s stead, I’m working on Commander (proper) deck techs for each of the Commanders released within the Brawl decks. They’re geared for Brawl which is an inherently lower-powered format than Commander, so I want to not pull punches as a counterpoint to the inherent relative weakness of the Commanders. That’s my secret, by the way; always compensate for what you don’t have with what you can have.
Anyway, my choice of Commander for this deck tech, having done up Kenrith, the Returned King just last Thursday and Chulane, Teller of Tales a mere two days ago (September 24th), is Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. Korvold is a very weird choice of Commander for Jund (black-red-green) decks, as there are so many better options for decks which revolve around sacrificing permanents, and especially in those colors. I figure that it’s best to look at this Commander, in all his sacrificial glory, like I will with all other Commanders in this series. That is to say, by comparing it to a stronger Commander within its archetype. In the case, I want to look at Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire.
As I mentioned, the deck is a sacrifice-matters deck in Jund colors, which is oddly typical as of late. To such an extent, we have a full suite of sacrifice-matters cards. A few cards like Wasteland and Strip Mine are missing – not for power level reasons, but because the land-destruction archetype is remarkably mean. It doesn’t hurt to play Strip Mine but it hurts to play it multiple times from the graveyard. And speaking of which…
Crucible of Worlds (and Ramunap Excavator) – This deck is filled with ways to sacrifice lands – some good (like fetches of all sorts), some bad (Korvold himself) – and you need to make sure you are relatively able to stabilize after sacrificing permanents en masse. Crucible and Excavator are both included for redundancy, and they do just that.
Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire – I would be remiss to make a deck based on Vaevictis Asmadi without including the man (dragon? Dragon-man?) himself. He is remarkably fearsome on the attack and lends himself well to the theme and strategy of this deck. Cards like Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest also benefit from the Dire’s sacrificial barrage. Which brings me to my next point…
Payouts of the Grave Pact variety (including Dictate of Erebos and Butcher of Malakir) – Symmetrical death is super-crucial to the longevity and inevitable victory of this deck in Commander games. I have to make honorable mention in one-shot effects of creatures such as Fleshbag Marauder, Merciless Executioner, Plaguecrafter, and Slum Reaper because those are very helpful as well, and even better with said symmetrical death effects.
Meren of Clan Nel Toth – This creature is to other creatures as Crucible of Worlds is to lands. Meren provides remarkable value if you’re losing creatures and she sees that. Reanimator effects are amazing in decks which see things die on a regular basis. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed also is practically a reanimator card himself and deserves an honorable mention here as well (especially for his breaking of cards like Murderous Redcap and Woodfall Primus alongside any sacrifice-on-demand outlet – those are too numerous to list in here!). Finally, there’s…
Scapeshift – This card is here primarily to buff Korvold up to immense proportions, readying him for an attack that should feasibly kill opponents via commander damage. Sacrifice all of your lands – upwards of 18, less if you have seen more than 18 in your hand, graveyard, exile, or battlefield – and then Korvold becomes at the very least a 23/23 beater (he entered play gaining a counter from the initial sacrifice!) and a 24/24 on the next attack. Since 21 damage is the magic number to defeat opponents via commander damage, Korvold has claimed a victim – on to the next one! Scapeshift is made all the more disgusting with the inclusion of Field of the Dead – more Zombie bodies on-board means more sacrificial fodder for King Korvold!
Budget Considerations and Conclusion
This deck does run the best of the best as far as lands are concerned. Taiga and Bayou, for example, are remarkably expensive cards which provide marginal benefit to your mana base, but the marginal value at a minimal cost in-game is worth the expense for many players. However, if you’re not one of those players who have endless budgets for magical cardstock rectangles, consider your alternatives. It’s generally better to have lands that can be untapped conditionally by choice than conditionally by state, so check lands are not the best cards you can have. Filter lands like Fire-Lit Thicket can replace Taiga, and additional pain-lands like Sulfurous Springs can replace Badlands (Llanowar Wastes is already in the deck, so keep that in mind).
Overall, this deck, which I have, yet again, not been able to playtest, looks like it’s one tough cookie. There are probably a good number of ways you can use Korvold, Fae-Cursed King in Commander, including Food and Treasure strategies. However, I’m certain that if you bring this Commander deck to your next Magic: The Gathering game night, you’ll be winning left and right. Enjoy your reign, and if you have any success stories with this deck, don’t hesitate to comment!