Spooky scary skeletons season! It’s horror time! It’s creepy movies and dark mystique and what we need now is to sit down and play a bunch of Magic: The Gathering, a game that has been periodically terrorised by fairies and goblins.
Let’s look at some horror-themed commander decks!
Five years ago (good GOD) I wrote two articles about different horror commanders you could use to make the heart of a spooky horrifying Commander deck that could be used for a halloween card game night. And that was 2018, so many years ago, and that means surely there are some more commanders printed since then, to revisit the idea.
How many commanders have been printed since then?
In case you don’t read these numbers well, when the last article was published, there were 786 potential commanders printed. Since then, 1,170 more have been printed, and isn’t that a number.
Anyway, point is, I’m sure I can belt out five more commanders to make for a spooky horror deck, based on something about this card makes it a good spooky horror card!
I’m going to present here, then, a set of four different commanders, one for each different partially-black colour pairs, that, hopefully, pull in different enough directions that they don’t all feel like they’re all the same deck playing with the same ideas.
BW: Burakos, Party Leader // Folk Hero Zombies
WUBRG order predicts we have to start here with a white base creature. The combination of Burakos and Folk Hero is pretty obvious – as long as you have both out, any time you cast a creature that shares a creature type with Burakos, you get to draw a card, as long as you’re only playing one a turn. Burakos is a Cleric, Wizard, Warrior and a Rogue and an Orc, which means any time you cast those, Burakos can get you a card, which is a steady ongoing source of cards.
Thing is, if you just look at black and white’s top edhrec cards, you’re going to see some bangers. You can build for lock pieces, with things like Grand Abolisher and Mother of Runes, or you can build for aggressive Aristocrats effects with Zulaport Cutthroat and friends. But know what else you can build for?
There are a lot of zombies that are clerics, wizards and warriors. Death Baron is a Wizard. So’s Undead Augur. Archghoul of Thraben is. Mikaeus, The Unhallowed is a cleric. Shepherd of Rot, Rotlung Reanimator, Corpse Harvester, Boneknitter, they’re all Clerics and Wizards. You can get some bodies out there, and then there are cards Death_Priest of Myrkul, Ratadrabik – some stuff that’s midsized, and that means you benefit from dumping cards out there. You can build a hell of a party with a lot of dead meat, you’ll draw lots of cards, and Burakos even makes it possible to score treasures if you can make him hard to block.
It’s black, it’s white, it’s a swarm with control and ways to reload!
UB: Umbris, Fear Manifest
Making a blue black deck out of just the coolest things you can find isn’t hard, and there’s already a lot of cards you can cast that exile things off your opponent’s deck. This is a feeling of horror, of macabre dreadfulness, but also, the trick is, you want to make Umbris big enough to start one-shotting opponents, and then you want to protect them. That means you’re not trying to exile whole libraries, you just want to be able to exile chunks. This means that instead of focusing on beating up people’s graveyards en masse, you can treat other people’s graveyards like they’re a resource, which adds Uchuulon to your options.
The thing is, Umbris cares about entering the battlefield, which means if you can protect Umbris with flicker effects, you’re going to get something out of them! Things that bring Umbris back from the dead? Also handy!
The best thing about this kind of deck is if you make basically a blue-black flicker deck, around horrors, you have this sort of jump-scare effect and you have a lot of cards that are really good at pushing your game forward, that are good at protecting you, but don’t leave the other players at the casual table panicked that you’re going to counter their creatures.
Don’t get me wrong, when you start chomping chunks off the top of people’s libraries, they are going to want you dead, but at least you have a sort of blue-black voltron deck whose backup plan is melting minds.
BR: Kardur, Doomscourge
Man, I want an alter of Kardur that just looks like he was airbrushed on a van.
Where Burakos’ folk story is trying to make a swarm deck that cares about hitting the board and Umbris wants to turtle up, a Kardur deck? You want to make a bunch of goad cards the backbone here. Kardur wants creatures attacking and blocking. Kardur wants people on the board crashing into each other, and Kardur’s creatures want to be part of that. It’s okay for you to kill off your stuff with Kardur, and you don’t even mind if they come back symmetrically.
Here’s my thinking: Black red Berserkers, built around tribal effects, including Patriarch’s Bidding. You don’t mind if your bidding gets a bunch of other people’s stuff back: You want that stuff back, you want it on the floor so you can get them to crash into one another again!
BG: Old Stickfingers
Okay, that’s three decks that aren’t just ‘more stuff Talen already was going to play,’ right?
Well, here’s Old Stickfingers.
Old Stickfingers is a card that, for, say, four mana, loads two creatures into your yard, and just creatures. Since Stickfingers leaves spells alone, it’s not a source of flashback or jumpstart spells, it’s just a way to get just creatures into your bin. That’s okay though, because there are some creatures that can do stuff from inside your graveyard.
Any given creature from your bin, if it has more than 1 power, is better on the board than supporting Old Stickfingers. Stickfingers is a kind of hydra as a commander, and it can ‘draw’ you like, X cards while it’s doing it, especially if you build with cards like Skyclave Shade, Ghastly Remains, Genesis, Loathsome Troll, Gigapede, Brawn – that kinda stuff can be part of an engine. Genesis is obviously the best one!
This can be hard to deal with in terms of gumming up the ground though. Like, cheap cards like Bloodsoaked Champion and Dread Wanderer, they can jump from your graveyard to the battlefield, but they don’t gum up the ground well. I like Hormagaunt Horde in this space a lot, too!
No, I guess not. Mask up and stay safe at your Magic: The Gathering halloween parties!