Adam_the_Mentat's picture
Sep 24 2013 9:01am
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Heads up, this is a long intro.

How's it going folks? This is Boosh here, and as always, I profess much love for the Johnny Magic Players.  You may know me from my original article series back in 2011 entitled most indubitably Boosh's Deck Box of Tricks. I then went on a brief hiatus-- the reason being that my wife was pregnant and we discovered black mold in our otherwise hip apartment-above-a-bar. We had to move quick and the unborn fetus that is now my beloved son Calvin required I sell my collection for the security at the new place. But-- don't put away those tiny violins yet folks, there's more.

After about 8 months of being utterly Magic-less in a life that had always been filled with Magic, I slowly reorganized finances and wrote articles for this very site, and began collecting anew. I had a series titled: Boosh's Budget Builds which focused on my recollecting and building, Johnny style, on a very limited budget. We are talking five - eight dollar decks.

Finding myself finally having an above average collection after about a year, I started to branch out in terms of article themes, making a joke-holiday article and several reviews (for johnnies) on new sets released. I was just about to formally remove myself from the constraints of budgeted builds when disaster struck in Boosh's life again.

The work-a-day economic world is a cruel bitterheart witch. I lost my job and found myself trying to scrape together rent. Coincidentally I had begun to realize when I log in to MTGO, I don't really ever play classic/modern/standard. My main purposes for logging in were the fringe format Rainbow Stairwell and the very popular Commander. I find Commander the most appealing because its format genuinely fits nicely into a Johnny Mindset.  In any event I felt like I needed to earn some cash and also realized I hardly ever need 4 of a card. There are exceptions of course; classic decks I couldn't part with or tribal concoctions I couldn't disperse--but ultimately as I said, I realized Commander is my true love.

Mourn not my lost card collection. I retain great staples like some of the Swords, and stuff like Damnation and Earthcraft and Sylvan Library, and boatloads of great cards(I did sell my Primeval Titans; after all he's banned in Commander) and now my time spent playing Magic is far more focused and thus, since I have a 16-month old and so little free time, more fun for me.

So I mean no disrespect to any other formats, nor any other prolific writers on PureMTGO that focus their works on Commander, but I'm going to try my crack at it for a while. Some of these commanders you may have read about previously-- but each planeswalker builds their arcane tome of spells differently, and you may just get something new out of my article-- even if it's only entertainment.

I proudly present the first entry into my new article series: Commander Johnny Boosh.

My first article is dedicated to, as of this article printing, my favorite commander in the history of Commander. Varolz, the Scar-Striped.

If you hadn't already noticed his striking similarity, visually, to Blanka from the Street Fighter videogame series-- well, now you that you've seen the above graphic, you can't un-see him vibro-lightning-ing the hell out of Chun-li while Ehonda's arm detaches and reattaches magically a million times a second.

Anywho, let's start with the deck list.

Varolz, the Face-Stabber

1 Memnite
1 Phyrexian Dreadnought
1 Triskelion
1 Corpsejack Menace
1 Crowned Ceratok
1 Dawntreader Elk
1 Death's Shadow
1 Desecration Demon
1 Endless Wurm
1 Fertilid
1 Force of Savagery
1 Grinning Demon
1 Groundbreaker
1 Gurzigost
1 Hidden Horror
1 Hunted Horror
1 Hunted Troll
1 Lotleth Troll
1 Oona's Blackguard
1 Phyrexian Negator
1 Primordial Hydra
1 Ravaging Riftwurm
1 Spectral Force
1 Spike Feeder
1 Spike Weaver
1 Spined Fluke
1 Spiritmonger
1 Waning Wurm
1 Skullbriar, the Walking Grave
1 Phyrexian Soulgorger
30 cards

Other Spells
1 Altar of Dementia
1 Golgari Signet
1 Sol Ring
1 Trading Post
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Squirrel Nest 
1 Earthcraft
1 Fecundity
1 Grave Pact
1 Greater Good
1 Sylvan Library
1 Zombie Infestation
1 Rancor
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Beast Within
1 Doubling Season
1 Dark Ritual
1 Entomb
1 Momentous Fall
1 Murder
1 Putrefy
1 Liliana Vess
1 Vraska the Unseen
1 Bramblecrush
1 Buried Alive
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Harmonize
1 Imperial Seal
1 Jarad's Orders
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Riding the Dilu Horse
1 Soul's Majesty
1 Concordant Crossroads
33 cards

1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Command Tower
1 Diamond Valley
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Khalni Garden
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Maze of Ith
1 Springjack Pasture
1 Tainted Wood
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple of the False God
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Vesuva
1 Vivid Grove
1 Woodland Cemetery
1 Golgari Guildgate
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
1 Yavimaya Hollow
36 cards

1 Varolz, the Scar-Striped
1 cards
Phyrexian Dreadnought

Central Theme: Scavenge outta some cheap CMC creatures. Beat Opponent's face in.

So I've played this as one-on-one and multiplayer, and honestly the Vs. duels are really where this guy shines. This deck is really one of those Commander decks that rely heavily on its commander to make the deck work. A lot of the non-commander creatures are useless and are really only graveyard fodder to be scavenged, and if someone Hinders, Condemns, Banishing Strokes, or casts any other staple-way of hosing a commander for the long haul-- you are in for a rough game,

Ah-- but if the deck runs smoothly and Varolz is left unscathed, or, at least, able to be cast back from the Command zone, then you can have a ton of fun. I'm going to say some preliminary deck notes / fundamental breakdowns.

  • Buried Alive and Entomb are your friends. I briefly contemplated adding in Corpse Connoisseur, but he never made the final cut. 
  • Discard your lousy creatures (lousy for the battlefield but apt justice-in-a-bottle for the scavenge-minded) through various ways in order to fill your graveyard with scavenge-worthy creatures and reap cool benefits.
  • If you have to hardcast something like the ol' dreadnought, it's sometimes awesome to right away be able to sacrifice it to a Diamond Valley or Greater Good. In fact thats one of the awesome combos right there: cast the dready for 1; sac for 12 cards and discard three of 'em-- probably more scavenge-worthy noncastable cards like Hunted Troll, etc.
  • This deck has a mini-mini subtheme of black/green creatures that can regenerate.
  • This deck, even without Varolz's Scavenge ability, gets great usage out Doubling Season and Corpsejack Menace.
  • I included a few cards that are actually useless to scavenge (they are 0/0s), but are awesome to be recipients of a scavenged creature's counters. Spike Feeder for example, loves a scavenged Death's Shadow, potentially gaining you 26 life.
  • I originally included a Dryad Arbor because I thought it could be a quick +1/+1 counter for a scavenge cost of zero. Everytime I've done that in the MTGO client, it's bugged out and not given me the counter or crashed the game. I have sent in a bug report and screen shots to the appropriate place, but have opted not to include her in the build even though I love the new artwork.
  • The build presented really is geared more towards duels, and if I were to update it for multiplayer, I'd put in Death's Presence. It's a big mana investment-- and big mana investment cards are suited for a lengthy multiplayer long-haul game. It's fun because cards like the Dreadnought net you 12 counters for going to the graveyard (after you don't sac the needed creatures) and then you can Scavenge it for 12 more. I've personally played this deck a lot of times and have tweaked it a million times more. At one point I did have this in the deck and did manage to pull off exactly what I just wrote. The problem was getting this deck to roll quickly and getting the mana resources needed to play and stay in the game, and so cards had to be cut-- and this CMC6 sucka' had to go.

Let's do a deck breakdown.


Creatures You Want to Scavenge

  • Memnite - a 1/1 for CMC0 is useful anyway, but it's great to be able to slap a counter on a creature for a Scavenge of 0. He's great to have around to sacrifice to Varolz to keep Varolz alive.
  • Phyrexian Dreadnought - one of the sweetest backbones of the deck, this is 12 Scavenge counters for one mana. If you put him out and don't have creatures to sacrifice, you can cast Momentous Fall on him, or sacrifice him to Greater Good or Altar of Dementia.
  • Dawntreader Elk  - this is a great card for this deck, better than a Sakura. It's a 2/2 for CMC2, which means you get 2 counters for 2 mana, a good deal by any standards, and you can sacrifice him to grab a land putting him in your graveyard to Scavenge.
  • Death's Shadow - this is the other heavy hitter: 13 counters for one mana.
  • Endless Wurm - 9 +1/+1 counters for the cost of five mana is a great deal. 
  • Force of Savagery - This one is 8 counters for three mana.
  • Grinning Demon - six counters for four mana. I like to make sure I'm still getting a bargain for my mana's worth. This card can be an early game beater as well-- so, double useful.
  • Groundbreaker - Another 6 counters for three mana.
  • Hidden Horror - 4 +1/+1 counters for three mana, but you might be able to cast it for three by discarding a creature you only planned on Scavenging anyway.
  • Hunted Horror - 7 counter / 2 mana.
  • Hunted Troll  - 8 counters / 3 mana
  • Phyrexian Negator - 5 counters for 3 mana.
  • Ravaging Riftwurm - 6 counters / 3 mana.
  • Spectral Force - 8 counters for 5 mana, but you could have a good creature on yoru hands if your opponent is playing black.
  • Spined Fluke - 5 counters for 3 mana, but it could be a great creature to add scavenged counters to, since it regenerates. Just sacrifice that Memnite and just you wait and see.
  • Waning Wurm - 7 counters / 4 mana.
  • Phyrexian Soulgorger  - 8 counters / 3 mana.

Creatures that you Definitely Want to give Scavenged Counters to:

  • Varolz, the Scar-Striped - A beefy Commander that gets through ends the game quicker than his beefy subordinates. Follow this up with a Riding the Dilu Horse and you've got a fairly unblockable Commander who keeps growing due to Scavenge.
  • Triskelion - Why not slap 13 counters on him after sac'ing a Death's Shadow, and then pinging your opponent's face for 13? Downside: He's 0/0 and not scavenge-able.
  • Lotleth Troll - His discard ability is genius in this deck, and he has trample and regenerate so loading him with counters is even scarier for your opponent. If you had to scavenge him, you'd get two counters for two mana which is still pretty good. Overall it's like he and Varolz are BFFL trolls FOREVER.
  • Gurzigost - This is a wonky, wonky card-- and perhaps a weird inclusion in the deck, but let's review him. If you discard a card to him to make his Rhox ability trigger-- this is useful in two ways: 1. You can discard a creature card, like Hunted Horror, which you can then Scavenge. 2. You can load him up with scavenged counters, and knowing he'll deal damage to your opponent no matter what, swing in for a huge face-punch. His requirement that you slap two cards from your graveyard on the bottom of your library can also be quite useful. If you mill yourself with Altar of Dementia to get more cards in your graveyard to scavenge, than this ability can put the cards you didn't want in the graveyard, like a self-milled Lotleth Troll or a Sol Ring back into your library for potential grabbing later. There's also all sort of staple black/green cards in here. I have no doubt you'll be casting Dark Ritual and Abrupt Decay and Putrefy and this guy can get these cards back in your deck-- especially if you are self-milling yourself with the Altar and creatures like Phyrexian Dreadnought, you'll cycle through your deck quicker and the Gurzigost can keep you in cards. Also, he's 6 counters for a scavenge of five mana, if he's in your graveyard.
  • Fertilid - Stack scavenged counters on him to readily fill your battlefield with basic lands. He's 0/0 and not scavenge-able.
  • Spike Feeder - Slap scavenged counters on this spike, gain more life. Again, he's a 0/0 though.
  • Spike Weaver - Slap scavenged counters on this spike, fog a ton more times. Again, he's a 0/0 though.
  • Skullbriar, the Walking Grave - This guy was a late inclusion in the build, but he's actually pretty awesome for many reasons. He gets counters on his own, so, if you have out a Corpsejack Menace or Doubling Season that's already awesome. Now, the fact that his counters don't leave him is pretty awesome in this deck. Scavenge a bunch of stuff onto him and if he dies and you can recur him, it's great. The best part about the fact his counters don't leave him when he's in your graveyard is you can potentially scavenge him for two mana and get a boatload of counters in the process. Example: You scavenge a Phyrexian Soulgorger and pop 8 counters on Skullbriar, he's now 9/9. He's murdered, somehow, and now he's 9/9 in your graveyard-- scavenge him for 2 and pop 9 counters on your Varolz.
  • Primordial Hydra - how great is it to pop a mess of counters on a guy that naturally doubles his own counters? Again, he's 0/0 and useless to scavenge, though.
  • Spiritmonger - a beefy powerhouse that regenerates, he's great to throw counters on and he can give himself more counters by doing damage to creatures. He's just an all around good card anyway, and he can pop 6 counters on another creature if you scavenge him for five mana.

The Rest o' the Creatures

  • Corpsejack Menace - How is this not the most awesome friggin' frakkin' five-cent rare for this deck? Also 4 counters for 4 mana = scavenge.
  • Crowned Ceratok - When your Varolz or your Memnite has like 20 extra counters on it, you are darn sure gonna want trample. Also 4 counters for 4 mana = scavenge 
  • Desecration Demon - This guy is kind of a Grinning Demon in that he's 6 counters for a 4 scavenge cost, but he's more than that. When he gets his own counters it's because folks are sacrificing their creatures. If you are also rocking some Grave Pact action eventually they can't sacrifice and he is a huge threat. Also, early game, if your opponents have little to no creatures, again, he's an intimidating beater. He may be one of the creatures you want to pump with scavenge counters, depending upon the game state.
  • Oona's Blackguard - Mean as heck.


Mana Romp / Card Draw

Sol Ring, Dark Ritual, Golgari Signet, Earthcraft, Sylvan Library, Fecundity, Greater Good, Momentous Fall, Harmonize, Soul's Majesty;
First 3? Self-explanatory. Earthcraft is so incredibly useful, always. It's saved my bacon by helping me avoid mana-screw so. many. times. You should already know why Sylvan Library is amazing. Fecundity, still, to this day, one of my all time favorite magic cards. Fits in this deck nicely because you might sacrifice a goat to Varolz, or a Dreadnought to an Altar of Dementia, or an Endless Wurm that you just Momentous Fall'ed and booya, Fecundity gives you that extra card-draw. Greater Good - again, amazing! Especially for this deck. Sacrifice a Dreadnought, get 12 cards; discard three cards as it's after-effect? -- discard Hidden Horror, Spined Fluke, Hunted Troll and bam! Scavenge utility. The last 3? Self-explanatory

Staple Utility:

Abrupt Decay, Beast Within, Murder, Putrefy, Vraska the Unseen, Bramblecrush, Maelstrom Pulse;
I'm not going to insult either one of us by wasting time explaining why these are in the deck.


Imperial Seal, Demonic Tutor, Jarad's Orders, Buried Alive, Entomb, Liliana Vess;
Again same dealy. Except I wanna say that sweet Liliana can totally be used to make yourself discard that Hunted Troll.

The Rest of the Rest.

Concordant Crossroads - Let's face it, a long of your creatures in this deck are crap. Crappity crap-crap crap. Like Endless Wurm? Unless you get the fabled Rancor combo going, it's crap. But.... if it has haste, and can swing for 9 on the turn it's cast for 5 mana, then it's slightly less crap, isn't it? I know this card gives all creature haste, but it's worth it most of the time.
Altar of Dementia - This is great; Mill your opponents or mill yourself for scavenge materials by sacrificing all manner of said crappy, scavenge-able creatures. 
Doubling Season - This deck has a lot of counters and tokens flopping out onto the battlefield. Flop-- now there's two.
Trading Post - This is great for two of its four abilities. I mean, in a pinch or right circumstance you may use the other two, but this artifact is primarily to discard scavenge-able creatures for 4 life a pop, or to make Goats for all manner of reasons that one might need a Goat for.
Squirrel Nest - Squirrels! Squirrels and Goats? Squirrels and Goats! (Sacrifice these to Varolz so he stays alive a lot more).
Lightning Greaves - Haste, as spoken of in the crossroads above, is awesome and needed for the crap creatures. Shroud is also useful. We all know this equipment is quintessential in Commander.
Grave Pact - We sure are sacrificing a lot of Goats and Squirrels.
Zombie Infestation - Discard 4 crappy creatures for two zombies and a lot of potential for scavenge.
Rancor - Varolz + scavenged Hunted Horror + this + a Goat you can sacrifice = Beefy Commander combat fun.
Riding the Dilu Horse - Why wouldn't you play this card?


Bah, I hate talking about lands. Lands are lands. I can't afford a Twilight Mire or Bayou or they'd be in there. Maze of Ith is always the bomb, I loves it. Springjack Pasture pairs exceedingly well with Trading Post and Fecundity. Diamond Valley + Miren, the Moaning Well are more ways to capitalize on that Phyrexian Dreadnought...

So that's the deck. Now, here's some Stuff you can do with it, and I have pulled off in games...

In conclusion, I find this deck pretty darn fun, yet surprisingly competitive. It's ever-growing and ever-changing, I tweak it constantly, but so far, this is the best build I've managed to play with.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy Varolz and make this deck your own!


adam_the_mentat -
atomicboosh - MTGO client


First of all, the fact that by Leviathan at Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:37
Leviathan's picture

First of all, the fact that you used a picture of DJ Lance Rock in your article automatically gives you 5 fireballs. And you have him saying his catch phrase at the end of the episode too! My kids have outgrown Yo Gabba Gabba, but I do remember those days.

Blanka has been interesting. I've only seen it be successful in multiplayer once, and he wasn't really the focus of the deck at all. I can see how he'd be better in 1v1 though. Fun stuff.