When The Gitrog Monster was spoiled back in Shadows Over Innistrad set, the hype was relentless. Even if it wasn’t a very expensive card, I had to fight tooth and nail to get my hands on one. Once everybody had enough Gitrogs, they all scampered off to their deckbuilding workbench to build the Golgari combo Commander from hell.
Uh… yeah… somehow.
Turns out Mr. Toad is a bit too much of a wild ride for most deckbuilders to handle. You can’t just run him as Golgari goodstuff, either; his very presence on the board demands you build around him because he’s going to eat your land if you don’t. Sure, there’s obvious combos out there, but what, exactly, to do with our Hypnotoad?
We’ve seen gilded decklists like this one at 5ColorCombo. Now, that’s all well and good, but if you’ve got Bazaar of Baghdad (current price tag $745) lying around, you have better things to do with it than run it in a commander deck. The whole decklist at 5ColorCombo comes to $3214, and if you have that kind of money to sink into a Commander deck, in fact you are far too rich to play EDH with anybody but Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.
So I’ve gone on with my own Gitrog research, and have arrived at a much cozier price tag for a deck that, meh, sorta works for friendly multiplayer EDH with your chums. It typically goes off by about turn 7 to 9. If it gets wrecked, it still has a backup plan. It has multiple payloads. It’s happy to spend $20 for Demonic Tutor instead of $850 for Imperial Seal. It uses Birthing Pod – the 5ColorCombo list doesn’t because such a commoner’s card is far too gauche for the elitist highhats. Got your attention?
And that’s what I’ll present here and even open up for discussion: research. We’re going to not so much set out a definitive decklist as bat around some ideas.
Part 1: Combos
Our payloads are going to be how we finish the game:
That’s it, we have to find a way to either make infinite mana to pump into Exsanguinate, or infinitely sacrifice and recur creatures while dishing out damage from one of the other three payloads. And here’s the engine parts we will use to do that:
Ideally, we get Altar, Deathmantle, and Avenger of Zendikar out with any payload in hand and we can win easily. We have several other sacrifice / discard / and recursion engines going on in the deck, some of which can be used as ad-hoc engines on the fly. We could substitute any creature that brings an army of tokens with it, but Avenger of Zendikar does the most efficient job hands down, since our deck revolves around land drops anyway.
Part 2: Using Gitrog
Gitrog makes a marvelous draw engine; all we have to do is pitch land to him. So discard engines are our primary draw engines, as long as we’re pitching land…
- * Trading Post
- * Demonic Collusion
- * Zombie Infestation
- * Call the Bloodline
- * Undertaker
- * Pack Rat
See what we did there? While many decklists use something like Putrid Imp, I’m actually looking for discard engines that give something on the side. Here we’re making tokens, gaining life, or tutoring.
Dredge engines are also handy with Gitrog…
Dakmor Salvage is our most important land. Cherish it, we’re almost helpless without it.
One more theme that works well with Gitrog is lands that put themselves in the graveyard. I scoured around and it’s surprising how much I found beyond the obvious fetchlands…
Part 3: General engines
Like any Golgari deck, our chief strength is sending things to the graveyard for value, and getting them back for even more value…
Some of this is silly redundant you say? Yes, but it’s a necessary evil. You don’t want to be hurting for one piece and have the only copy in the graveyard and inaccessible when milled away with Dakmor Salvage. Even Junk Diver is useful for recurring Solemn Simulacrum or Burnished Hart.
Which reminds us: We’re going to need to do so much tutoring. Yep, all the engines in here exist solely to get us to the nearest tutor. I find Gitrog runs best with the following compliment:
Yeah, that’s a lot of tutoring! While we do have several plan Bs, we’re mainly building a combo deck. Notice that we’re almost done already, because the rest of the deck just has to be land! Notice that we also listed the same card in multiple lists several times, since some cards are multi-functional. The idea is not to provide a definitive decklist, but a kit of cards you can pick and choose from to add enough for each functionality.
And we barley have room for insuring answers to opponent threats, either! Most players will at least want a token copy or two of Beast Within, Song of the Dryads, or board wipes just for games getting out of hand. But chances are, this deck does terrible at trying to control the game. It just needs to goldfish its way to victory as a stunt deck, the one you bring out to wrap up game three in your playgroup’s session.
Gitrog is quite the testy toad, I’ve found. He doesn’t work like just any Golgari deck. You could conceivably just build BG goodstuff with some extra land recursion and let Gitrog sacrifice himself whenever he threatens to leave you landless, but then why run Gitrog at all? Jarad is more than happy to take the helm in BG goodstuff. When you run the toad, it’s all-in down the road!