Adam_the_Mentat's picture
Oct 31 2013 10:07am
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Welcome to another edition of Commander Johnny Boosh! I have written numerous different kinds of articles for, but my absolute favorite has been my Winter Holiday Article. I put a lot of time, forethought, and creativity in that one. I figured why not revisit the subject of holiday specials, and Rocktober out one for Halloween. It just so happened that I also fit the holiday criteria into my current and only article series, about Commander. 

While approaching an article about Halloween for Commander, I was remiss to find that a couple of Vintage cards that scream Halloween weren't on Magic Online:

Frankenstein's MonsterSeason of the WitchWorms of the Earth

Granted, all of these cards are kind of convoluted and outdated, but part of the fun of making a themed deck is using weird, wonky, forgotten spells. Maybe when Vintage Masters drops in June of next year, good ol' Frankenstein's Monster will see online life, but I am pretty sure the MTGO community is clamoring for more duals, the Power Nine, more FoWs, and aren't really champing at the bit for +2/+0 counter coated creatures.

Next on the chopping block? The Bogbrew Witch trifecta from M2014 that, I find, simply does not work in a Commander deck. You really need multiple versions of the newt IMO, or otherwise you can find three more useful spells to go in your deck.

Bogbrew WitchBubbling CauldronFestering Newt

So instead of having a sort of innocuous Halloween themed Commander deck, I decided to craft a deck that took all of the creepiest, most disgusting, disturbing, horrific Magic Cards Wizards of the Coast has to offer up. By disgusting, I don't mean turn two Sinkhole, or a Painter's Servant / Grindstone; I mean stuff like Pulling Teeth.

Pulling Teeth. Look at it again. Did you shudder? I shuddered. 

So my Commander deck for Halloween pays homage to modern day horror films. Not the funsy horror flicks of old, like Creature of the Black Lagoon. If you want something that alludes to Boris Karloff and Bella Lagosi, I believe the whole of Innistrad already pulled that off.

I want my deck to be uncomfortable for you to hold all the cards in your hand you just drew. I want disturbing creepy stuff that reminds you of the Ring or Hostile or Saw. I want the inside of the serial killer's mind in Cell (such an obscure Jennifer Lopez movie reference) or the madness that Sam Neil's character experience is Event Horizon to resonate through your brains as you are playing the Horror-Terror-Mania that is this deck.

While I have included a few Halloween-themed staples like Headless Horseman and (All Hallows' Eve) that may not scare the candy corn outta your pants, the rest of the deck is intended to be disturbing-as-all-Hell's Caretaker.

I totally drew this, please don't steal it. Just ask me if you can use it somewhere. You can also find this design on my deviant art page.

So the first step was to pick a Commander that was freaky/creepy/scary and contained the colors that I wanted to use. I decided that most (read: not all) of the grotesque stuff happened in Black, and trickled nicely into Red and Green. '

Sadly no BRG commander choice fit the scary criteria. My next choice was:

Tymaret, the Murder King 

Tymaret, the Murder King wasn't chosen, even though that picture / guy / concept is pretty disturbing. Look at that guy, he's like Michael Myers from Halloween and Pinhead had a golden zombie baby, and that baby grew up to by Tymaret. I actually felt that Green was more heinous, ominous, and gross-creepy than Red. Don't get me wrong, Spinal Villain is darn creepy, but I found more Green than Red in the grotesquely Halloweenie category.

Does that shock some of you? I present evidence:

eaten by spiders

That's right, the title of this card is Eaten by Spiders. That is probably my greatest fear in life for goodness' sake. That is horrible. I don't care what kind of Imp or Demon is trapped in there. I don't care if that demon just stole a baby from a nearby village of kindhearted monks who are allowed to have babies, it should not be suffering this fate. Let's ZOOM in:

Now that's not to suggest that the presence of this one card in WOTC's card-bank means Green ousts Red's grotesque spot, but c'mon! This is horrible! Plus, green has a lot of spiders, which in and of themselves, is also darn horrific. Here is a helpful and reliable link to an article that explains why we are predisposed, evolutionarily, to fear them

In the end I settled with B/G-- didn't I just write an article about my Devotion to that? I think so! Anyway, Who did I chose?:

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave is pretty much the creepiest Commander I could find while having two colors and allowing versatility. Let's examine it. In its title, it says the Walking Grave. This is a magical graveyard or, at the very least, graveyard plot that has come to life.. well, unlife (it's a zombie). That's pretty messed up. It's got the creepy dual skull thing for a head, and it has the whole dead-treefolk-esque creepy arms, and--well, if it came at me I'd probably poop a little. Ok, mission accomplished: choose a Commander. Note: I have a couple different Skullbriar Commander decks, but this one is the horror-show-madness-inducing-disturbing-version.

 Cards I wish I could include, but can't due to Commander color limitations:

Sanity GnawersExorcistDungeon Geists
ClaustrophobiaSensory DeprivationPhyrexian Unlife

I already mentioned Spinal Villain because that thing is just creepytrons. Rats eating your face? Horrid. Exorcist: Reference to a classic horror movie & actual religious clergy always has the propensity to be terrifying; this guy looks like he smells like old milk and has bad breath and does bad touch. I wouldn't want to be alone with him, and I'm 31. Those Geists are like the black horrible geists in the Swayze-Crazy movie Ghost, plus they are obviously dragging a bound hapless individual to their doom. Being Buried Alive?; 'nuff said. Sewing your senses shut is classic Se7en-esque serial killer awfulness. If you aren't slightly creeped out by the Unlife, you probably are a serial killer-- you should get that checked.

The Deck:

Disturbing-Creepytrons-Magic; Commander
1 Lingering Tormentor
1 Spirit of the Night
1 Headless Horseman
1 Seizan, Perverter of Truth
1 Crypt Ghast
1 Abyssal Gatekeeper
1 Sengir Vampire
1 The Fallen
1 Village Cannibals
1 Kindercatch
1 Ghoultree
1 Lotleth Troll
1 Uncle Istvan
1 Grandmother Sengir
1 Gravecrawler
1 Thrull Surgeon
1 Fleshbag Marauder
1 Living Wall
1 Creepy Doll
1 Stuffy Doll
1 Black Cat
1 Hired Torturer
1 Delraich
1 Maggot Carrier
1 Brood of Cockroaches
1 Stingerfling Spider
1 Arachnus Spinner
1 Juvenile Gloomwidow
1 Deadly Recluse
1 Jungle Weaver
Blood Artist 
1 Brain Weevil
1 Mind Maggots
31 cards

Noncreature Spells
1 Buried Alive
1 Jar of Eyeballs
1 All Hallow's Eve
1 Phyrexian Splicer
1 Stitch Together
1 Grim Flowering
1 Grim Feast
1 Eaten By Spiders
1 Macabre Waltz
1 Tribute to Hunger
1 Grave Pact
1 Saproling Symbiosis
1 Pulling Teeth
1 Ad Nauseam
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Spinal Graft
1 Pestilence
1 Feast or Famine
1 Cannibalize
1 Sickening Shoal
1 Syphon Flesh
1 Terror
1 Necromancy
1 Scrabbling Claws
1 Grindclock
1 Maggot Therapy
1 Spider Spawning
1 Arachnus Web  
1 Strength of Night
1 Putrefy
30 cards

1 Woodland Cemetery
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Golgari Guildgate
1 Vesuva
1 Strip Mine
1 Wasteland
1 Meteor Crater
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Spawning Pool
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Blasted Landscape
1 Command Tower
1 City of Brass
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Unholy Grotto
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Barren Moor
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Slippery KArst
1 Polluted Mire
1 Maze of Ith
1 Bayou
36 cards

1 Skullbriar, the Walking Grave
1 cards
Feast or Famine


This time around-- for the Halloween Spooktacular, I'm going to break down every single card; card by card (Except lands), to explain its inclusion in the deck.

This deck's actual theme is graveyard recursion, though it goes about it without the standard tech those decks are used to. We go obscure here, in order to push the main theme of creepy as fudge. It runs a little clunky, but theme decks of that caliber allows you to use previously unused cards in order to stay on theme, and that can often be quite fun.

Let's take a look at what this deck holds.



Lingering Tormentor is first up on our list of Creepo-disgusting. First off, he looks like a maniac. He's coming at us with a Pickaxe-hammer, and he's a Spirit-- which in MTGO, means ghost! Crazy Tormenty Hammer-Wielding Ghost! NOW: Let's look at that flavor text: *Shudder*

The bogeyman doesn't disappear when you close your eyes.

Spirit of the Night has always been creepy looking; look at those nightmare-inducing teeth, Also he's a Demon Spirit AKA: a Demon ghost! No Thank You!

Sengir_Vampire.jpg   Headless_Horseman.jpg

First off, any creature, especially one labeled yet again "Demon Spirit," with a skull 8x the size of a regular skull for a head, with a creepy grin and dead soulless sockets for eyes is pants-wettingly scary enough, but throw the word pervert in his title, no matter where, and you got some serious creepy

The ghast over there is pretty creepy in it's own right-- it's a ghost haunting a tomb and it's got a creepy skullface and wispy, spirit-y robes. Now look closer. Yup floating creepo-faces. They could be just death masks from the crypt being all poltergeisted around the room, but either way-- no thank you.

The Hired Torturer over here is pretty freaking creepy looking. Scary. No one likes torture, he loves torture. He watches movie like Saw and Hostile on repeat. His instruments / Trade crafts seem pretty well used and bloody and gross.

The Fallen -- giving Magic Players the absolute heebie-jeebies since The Dark hit shelves.

 The Cannibals are looking down at you from your bed. You just woke up, and you are about to be eaten. That's some terror, right there. Something else gross? These guys would eat the Hired Torturer. Yum.

Kindercatch is a pretty spooky ghost creature in and of itself, but look-- it's dragging a bag with a hapless victim who is clawing at the ground hoping not to die. Also, read the flavor text. I'll wait a moment..... Yeah.

No Halloween is complete without a creepy treefolk. This one eats the dead, apparently, and then makes zombie-branches melded from their organics.

Regardless of the fact that it's a Mogg/Goblin, That creepy HR Giger-esque Thrull has cut open the back of it's head and skull and is going to town on it. Go ahead and stare it in your hand or on the battlefield and try not to get goosebumps at least once. 


That troll is gross as heck and eating tendons/ligaments/veins out of the leg of another humanoid creature, all while looking like Grendel from the animated Beowulf movie.

In general, we can all agree that zombies are scary, disgusting, and horrid. Zombies have a great history of being scary. The only thing I find creepier than fast zombies, are ones with their legs blown off while still crawling at you with determination to feat. I suppose I've played too much House of the Dead: Overkill.

Uncle Istvan is gonna murder the crap out of you with that axe.



Grandmother Sengir is also going to murder the crap out of you.

These two are maniac murder-happy insane woodspeople.


Big fat bloated Zombies with a lot of limbs have creeped me out since the days of yore when I played World of Warcraft and those fat bloated suckers roamed the hallowed halls of the Undercity.

Insect-Spider-Horrors with Human faces are just wrong. 


A Sarlac Pit with a row of faces above its gaping horror-maw all while having uberclaws that make Velicoraptors cry-- yeah, that's pretty scary.

The first Art director of WOTC who opened up Maddocks' Living Wall probably horked on him or herself. 

Living_Wall.jpg's got a photoplasty that sums it up. Creepy Dolls, are, well, creepy. No one likes them; they are horrible; they cause nightmares.

Also, picture each one of these going:

LA-LA. La-la-la. LA-LA. La-la-la.

Most of the time, cats are adorable. Sometimes, Cats want to eat your soul. This cat wants to eat your soul, steal your breath, slice your tummy open like a mouse, pull out your entrails and play with them like yarn.

A zombie covered in maggots. That's F#@%ed up, right there. 


Blood artist is so creepy and disturbing in so many ways. The point of view is from a fresh victim, probably killed for his/her blood for painting with, and also to be the subject of a rather true "Still life." There is another victim hanging upside down in the background, being drained of artist materials. He's looking at you with impartial and monstrous eyes. Here's a large version!

Cockroaches en masse are horrific, and terror-inducing. This card reminds me of one of the stories from Creepshow. Here's a Youtube clip from the Creepshow movie, which I'm referencing, entitled Death by Roaches.

Stingerfling_Spider_f.jpg Deadly_Recluse_f.jpg





Maggots are also horrible, and maggots spewing forth from your ear in a huge quantity makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

Brain Weevil looks innocent, but upon closer inspection, that horrid bug is rooting around in some poor schmuck's ear.

Staring at the Brain Weevil and Mind Maggots long enough, and you find yourself thinking about one of the grossest things Star Trek ever pulled. It's hard to take Star Trek, and add a moment as terrifying as this which is usually reserved for strict horror movies. Event Horizon was a horror flick set in Scifi, but done so on purpose. Star Trek isn't supposed to nuzzle the genre borders, but it rubs up against Event Horizon here. 

Noncreature Spells:


All Hallow's Eve was an automatic inclusion, regardless of scare-factor. No offense to Christopher Rush, I've seen some sick artwork from him, but what is this? Amateur Hour? Nothing scary about this-- but not putting it in a Halloween deck seems a sin.

A Jar full of Eyeballs? Creepy, scary, weird. Horrible.




That splicer is horrible. Alien abduction horrible. The victim is none-too-happy. *shudder*

Calling forth allusions to Frankenstein-- this horrible picture of an obvious crazy person enjoying the fudge outta sewing together a reanimated corpse is creepytown, USA.


Just something ominous and off about Grim Flowering-- it doesn't sit right with me, and creeped me out enough to warrant inclusion.

Again, Grim Feast has creeped me and most Magic Players out since Mirage. The duder doesn't even look undead, just like he should be chowing down on some buffalo wings only he's eating corpse meat, that isn't too fresh from the look of the wight-like thing behind him.


Tribute to Hunger is terrifying in that classic sense of a Vampire draining your blood until you are dead--and do not come back as a fellow vampire-- is downright horrifying.

Macabre Waltz -- it is not often that he guys in Tool see a piece of art and puke themselves, but I bet in the Waltz we have a winner. 

The Grim Reaper pointing at the grave telling you to get in it like Fat Bast@rd is telling a baby to get in his belly. All the versions of Grave Pact are pretty creepotrons. 

Saprolings have been portrayed numerous different ways from elegant to--well, Invasion style. I like to call this style Chest-burster style. It also harkens forth memories of Tremors. They are horrible, nasty, mean, disturbing-looking in Invasion. They are horror movie saprolings. The Symbiosis best illustrates their Invasion horror factor.




Just threw up a little in my mouth, again.


Nothing like messing with someone's spine in order to make you grit your teeth and close your eyes and hope this part is over soon. Now instead of fast-forwarding, you can just patiently stare at these cards in your hand until the right opportunity to cast them. You're welcome.

Volrath was a heck of a monster during that whole storyline, wasn't he?


The dude in Pestilence is not having his best day. More insect-related horrible horrors.



Every version of Feast or Famine is absolutely horrifying.

Cannibalize is already pretty messed up. The guy looks like a zombie, but zombies don't cannibalize per se' unless it's other zombies-- so now we realize this creepo is actually alive. Now, zoom your peepers in on his shield. Exactly.

Syphon Flesh is another visage of a bloated corpse covered in excess unctuous flesh, like Fleshbag Marauder, and it's just horrifying.  


The Tenth Edition Terror is totally awful. A dude whose skin is horking out his muscles whose muscles are horking out his skeleton. Yeeeeesh.




Necromancy -- disturbing Magic Players since Visions.

Something about a disembodied hand has always been pretty creepy to me. A zombified hand with a mind of it's own... I almost chose Severed Legion to represent this horror, but the Claws are more useful.


Grindclock. Let's look at that artwork in a bigger resolution. Pretty messed up.

 Arms covered in living maggots. Blarrrrgle-Wretch.


Strength of Night- from a magic perspective, there is an obvious zombie subtheme here, and this spell is pretty useful, for once. As for its art and scary-factor, totally looks like some wolves are about to nom your face, which is darn scary for sure. Now what wolves have to do with Zombies? Dunno. Maybe before Innistrad, the folks rocking the Apocalypse set associated Werewolves and Zombies?




Putrefy - whatever is going on with this dude, it looks positively horrible, and me-no-want.


Sickening Shoal - how freaking terrifying is having undead Piranha fly-swim around you and vomit on you? That is pants-pooping terror. 


In the lands department, I chose not to follow the whole terrifying and disturbing theme, and tried to round out the Recursion Magic-theme, keep in mind Halloween, and make a useful manabase. Cards with titles that include Graveyards and fengrafs and all manner of things went into the manabase to make it work.

Magic-Theme: Recursion:

While utilizing the central theme of disturbing creepy magic cards, an obvious magic theme emerged: Graveyard recursion. Discard and Mill is in small quantities in the deck, and can be used on yourself to recur creatures. A couple cards rely on creatures being in your graveyard (Spider Spawning, Ghoultree, Grim Flowering). There are plenty of cards to grab creatures back from your graveyard, and cards to make tokens to sacrifice, and cards that make your opponent sacrifice creatures. It's clunky, but it works. Your best bet is to find an opponent playing a slow-build and go toe-toe. Every play through is different. Grim Feast and Grave Pact go great together.


One final thought:

It's a total shame we couldn't include Gilder Bairn in this deck. Of any Magic the Gathering card ever printed, he is the surest and truest representation of a Trick-or-treater.

I hope you enjoyed my Spooktacular! If you haven't turned into a serial killer from staring at hands full of the most horrific magic cards printed, then I look forward to writing for you again dear reader! Enjoy your Halloween! 

Disclaimer: If this is published after Halloween, better late than never. 

Thanks for Reading!



adam_the_mentat -
atomicboosh - MTGO client

Happy Halloween!!