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By: Adam_the_Mentat, THE WOTC TOOK MY BABY AWAY
Jul 02 2015 11:00am
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CJB: Kickin' it Power 2 or less. Weenie Brigade.


Hey everyone, thanks for stopping in for another article!

I previewed that this article was to come, teased it-- if you will, in my Feldon article. I had a ton of fun with Feldon, and he's been an excellent inclusion in so many decks. Let's face it, Commander is casual. It can be competitive, but its singleton format coupled with the antics you can produce with a repeatedly-recastable legendary (now with added Tuck protection-- coming to an MTGO nearest to you, HOPEFULLY) allows for a lot of weird inclusions in your deck you may not think are viable in any other format, no matter how casual you make it. Such is the affinity I have for Feldon; he goes great in a ton of Commander decks, but will never be slapped into a Legacy deck the same way a Kiki-Jiki or Containment Priest might.

Two decks that absolutely love Feldon, that I have been playing a lot lately, are Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, and Grenzo, Dungeon Warden. My original intent was to include both in one article... but unlike the Feldon article which had room for two iterations of decks with him at the helm, Grenzo, whom I love ever so slightly more than Alesha, has too much to talk about, so he gets a whole article about him.

So let's get down to it, shall we?


Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Creatures 
Viscera Seer 
1 Goretusk Firebeast
Junktroller 
Agent of Erebos 
Torch Fiend 
Feldon of the Third Path 
Acidic Sliver 
Crater Elemental 
Savage Firecat 
Terra Ravager 
Bone Shredder 
Dragonmaster Outcast 
Goblin Settler 
King Macar, the Gold-Cursed
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker 
Siege-Gang Commander 
Purphoros, God of the Forge 
1 Hellhole Rats 
Avalanche Riders 
Ghitu Slinger 
Entomber Exarch 
Burnished Hart 
Stuffy Doll 
Dragon Whisperer 
Duplicant 
Fulminator Mage 
Magmasaur 
Mindclaw Shaman 
Murderous Redcap 
Solemn Simulacrum
Blood Artist 
31 cards

Other Spells 
Conjurer's Bauble 
Crystal Ball 
Darksteel Pendant 
Goblin Charbelcher 
Jar of Eyeballs 
Reito Lantern 
Tel-Jilad Stylus 
Vessel of Endless Rest 
Witches' Eye 
Fated Conflagration 
Lash Out 
Magma Jet 
Riddle of Lightning 
Bolt of Keranos 
Hoarder's Greed 
Read the Bones 
Revive the Fallen 
Titan's Revenge 
Damnation 
Elixir of Immortality 
Sol Ring 
Mana Crypt 
Wake the Dead 
Demonic Tutor 
Imperial Seal 
Vampiric Tutor 
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon 
Karn Liberated 
All Is Dust 
Dreadbore 
Hero's Downfall 
31 cards

Lands 
Spinerock Knoll 
Temple of Malice 
Bojuka Bog 
Mishra's Workshop 
Maze of Ith 
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 
Buried Ruin 
Graven Cairns 
Flamekin Village 
High Market 
Thespian's Stage 
Miren, the Moaning Well 
Haunted Fengraf 
Shadowblood Ridge 
Dragonskull Summit 
Bloodstained Mire 
Blood Crypt 
Badlands 
Command Tower 
Opal Palace 
Reflecting Pool 
Swamp 
Mountain 
Strip Mine 
Ghost Quarter 
Encroaching Wastes 
Dust Bowl 
Howltooth Hollow 
Vesuva 
Tectonic Edge
37 cards

Tel-Jilad Stylus
Conjurer's Bauble
Howltooth Hollow

Grenzo's a Johnny's dream come true. A viable Commander that can cheat things into play and you need to build the deck so that that bottom matters just as much as the top of your library. His build-around-me is a lot less intimidating once you really realize how many options you have in black, red and colorless to manipulate the bottom of your library-- which we'll get better into in the exposition of the deck build shortly. Though intimidating to try and figure out at first, especially cut off from blue's library manipulative chicanery, the pieces of his deck fall together nicely and fluidly. See, the whole thing here-- the thing that speaks to my GOSH DARN JOHNNY SOUL, is that you wind up manipulating your library to draw all your noncreature stuff all while putting your creatures on the bottom, to slap them onto the field for two mana.

The other great thing about Grenzo is you can play him numerous ways. Maybe you want a whole bunch of flashback spells in your graveyard, so you use him to get stuff into your graveyard rather than use him to cheat things into play. Maybe you cast him for his two mana, and put things into your graveyard like Wurmcoil Engine and Inferno Titan and enough stuff to cast a worthwhile Living Death. Maybe you want to bank on cheating huge things into play so you only cast him with a bunch of counters on him or enchant him with a Shiv's Embrace then equip him with some swords.

I chose the fast n' dirty, easy-sleazy method. All of my minions, save Purphoros, God of the Forge are power two or less. So you can cast Grenzo for two mana and immediately start using him. He's hosed? cast him for four CMC--he's worth it. Have extra mana? Slap him out as a 5/5 anyway... he'll be harder to kill and hit for more.

 

Scrying is becoming more and more prevalent in the game, as confirmed by Maro's mothership article. Scrying is pretty easy to find on viable cards, in all colors. Scry is PERFECT for a Grenzo deck, because it's usually found on spells that are pretty decent anyway, such as burn spells, and they have the added bonus of manipulating your deck so you can put exactly what you want on the top AND bottom.

  • Crystal Ball: Crystal Ball is beautiful in this deck, and it's the only time you'll ever see me pontificating its usefulness over Sensei's Divining Top. With a Ball out alongside Grenzo, for one mana you have a pretty decent chance of getting something on the bottom of your library that can be Grenzo'd.
  • Witches' Eye: Not quite as powerful as the Crystal Ball, but any way to Scry in this deck is useful. This equipment can be slapped on Grenzo-- especially if he is only 2/2, or something like Blood Artist... but the best target for this equipment is King Macar, the Gold-Cursed!
  • Viscera Seer: A vital component to the deck, when you can get the Seer rockin'. It's 1/1, so can be slapped out with Grenzo if it has been properly put on the bottom via one of the deck's tricks; With tokens from Kiki or Feldon, the Seer is perfect. With Reito Lantern, or Junktroller or a one-time thing like Conjurer's Bauble, you can sacrifice a useful Power-2-or-less creature with it, then re-bottom said useful creature and Grenzo it back out. You can even sacrifice it to itself if you need to, and there have certainly been times where I sacrificed my entire board to it to avoid a Merciless Eviction or heading-to-the-graveyard Child of Alara.
  • Riddle of Lightning: One of my favorite cards from Future Sight, that got reprinted in Theros (and upped in rarity). The Scry 3 function is awesome, and it can be used to burn an opponent's face or help take out a creature or planeswalker. Good stuff. Fills two niches: Burn, and bottom-of-the-deck manipulation.
  • Magma Jet, Fated ConflagrationBolt of Keranos: More scrying coupled with more burn/removal, all at Instant speed = very great inclusions.
  • Read the Bones: Besides burn-Scry spells, this spell is quite possibly the best Scry addition we could have. Card advantage, and bottom-of-the-deck manipulation
  • Temple of Malice: Obvious Scry land inclusion is obvious.

Clash, besides sharing its name with one of my favorite bands from youth until forever (listen, I know there's no "the" in there, just go with it), from the Lorwyn-Morningtide block has its merits in this deck as well. Because you can put the card you reveal on the bottom of your library, it makes all of these cards pull double duty. Sure, your Avalanche Riders may have been revealed to your opponent, but you are just gonna pay two colorless to slap it out asap anyway.

  • Hoarder's Greed: Much like Read the Bones, this is an epic card advantage and potential Grenzo'ing card. Winning Clashes means filling your hand and stacking your bottom.
  • Titan's Revenge: More burn = more removal. Winning the Clash means more chances to burn. Lash Out is even more burn, and more clashing.
  • Revive the Fallen: Sometimes there's no Junktroller around and you need an old-fashioned graveyard recursion spell. Sometimes Grenzo's been cast 4 times and this time you'd rather let him die, use your Revive, and cast him for only BR again.

 

Hideaway, is essentially: Exile a card you may never, ever get to play (but there's a small possibility you will) then stack three cards on the bottom of your library, for potential Grenzoing, all for the low cost of a land drop. For the record, as in, let the record um, record, that all of the Lorwyn Hideaway lands are named such that I feel like they surround Hogwarts and Harry and his friends are up to shenanigans. Harry Potter and the Howltooth Hollow! Harry Potter and the Mystery of Spinerock Knoll!

There are a multitude of ways to manipulate this deck, but they don't all have handy keywords like Hideaway, Clash, or Scry. Let's look at 'em.

  • Darksteel Pendant: Absolutely perfect in this deck, it should read: One, tap, Scry 1. I'm still not sure why it wasn't templated that way. What's great about it is its indestructibility. I've played this deck so much, that I can say I've faced mass destruction from (Austere's Command) to Planar Cleansing to Creeping Corrosion to Nevinyrral's Disk. Grenzo can be recast, and it's nice when the Pendant is still around waiting for him. 
  • Tel-Jilad Stylus: A great card that I use all the time in my Zirilan of the Claw deck. When you have out a Murderous Redcap or a Solemn Simulacrum, it's an epic combo to slap them on the bottom and then cheat 'em out with Grenzo.
  • Goblin Charbelcher: So, so, so glad I invested in this card for this deck. I've had one off and on, but purchased this specifically for the deck a month ago. It's epic damage-dealing coupled with bottom manipulation.
  • Jar of Eyeballs: Probably the most useful this card has ever been for me in a deck.
  • Reito LanternJunktrollerConjurer's BaubleVessel of Endless Rest are all ways to manipulate cards from in your graveyard, to the bottom of your deck. Junktroller has the added ability of being able to be put out via Grenzo, and its 0/6 stats help block bigger threats than a battlefield of power-2-or-less'es usually can, while the Bauble gives you a card draw and the Vessel helps fix mana.

  • Goretusk Firebeast: Repeated, through Johnny shenanigans (Read: any creature here with a trigger can be too) 4 damage to an opponent's face, and a 2/2 body.
  • Agent of Erebos: Bojuka Bog in a 2/2 body.
  • Torch Fiend: Artifact hate.
  • Feldon of the Third Path: Further Graveyard manipulation and chicanery. See the Play Testin' section for more info.
  • Acidic Sliver: Another way to score 2 damage to an opponent or a creature.
  • Blood Artist: Kiki tokens; Feldon tokens; Viscera Seer sacrifices: These add up, and gain you life advantage.
  • Crater Elemental: Four damage to a creature, another 0/6 blocker (like Junktroller) and potential to be a beater.
  • Savage Firecat: Though seemingly a weird inclusion, you can Grenzo this for 2, and it is 7/7 trample. You can attack with it, then tap your lands for mana-- and when it becomes 1/1, almost to die, you can Tel-jilad Stylus it, or, if it dies, Reito Lantern it or something.
  • Terra Ravager: This card is woefully underrated, and I had no idea until I popped it in this deck on a whim. It becomes a threat, fast.
  • Bone Shredder: Creature removal. :)
  • Dragonmaster Outcast: The deck has a supreme lack of big creatures, but the Outcast can help bring some 5/5 dragons that fly onto the field.
  • Goblin Settler: Land hate.
  • King Macar, the Gold-Cursed: Pair this with Witches' Eye. C'mon! What are you doing with your life? 
  • Burnished Hart: Land ramping, which, well, you can Reito Lantern or Conjurer's Bauble, etc.
  • Solemn Simulacrum: Love seeing a Feldon or Kiki token, loves to be Stylus'ed, etc. Land Rampotrons the Second.
  • Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker: Yaaaaaay for this being 2/2 and thus thematically fitting!
  • Siege-Gang Commander: Four bodies for a Grenzo-two-colorless-activation is epic.
  • Hellhole Rats: I'm not sold on this inclusion, I'm not going to lie to ya'll. I've alternately tried Clone Shell and Crypt Rats here instead. Sometimes this works out for more damage and a hasty Rat to attack with, and sometimes it's just a Grizzly Bears.
  • Avalanche Riders: Land Hate.
  • Ghitu Slinger: Another two damage to either a creature or player (and thus Planeswalker). I opted for this and the aforementioned Acidic Sliver over things like Corrupt Eunuchs or Fire Imp because I wanted the option of noncreature damage.
  • Entomber Exarch: A twofer-choice; This guy can either be a Raise Dead or a discard outlet. Sometimes just seeing your opponent's hand is this guy's benefit.
  • Stuffy Doll: If you didn't think I was going to put this in here, you don't know me very well. Two mana for this card is far better than 5. And, with an aggressive Power-2 weenies win-con, having it as a blocker is key. 
  • Dragon Whisperer: More humans wishing they wuz dragons. This card can net you some damage via combat, with some evasion, or it can drop dragon tokens to help offset the weaker creatures that make up the bulk of the deck.
  • Duplicant: Amazing removal card is amazing AND 2/4 stats.
  • Fulminator Mage: Did I mention Land Hate?
  • Magmasaur: a 5/5 (well 4/4 kinda, unless you have haste) for 2 mana, with an-almost-Inferno effect built in, to abuse.
  • Mindclaw Shaman: I'm sure you can gather how awesome this card is to Kiki, Feldon, Stylus, etc, et al.
  • Murderous Redcap: More of that 2 damage stuff.



You know it, you love it: Batman's Utility Belt. The Utility Cards you need to include that don't fit thematically, but still need to be in the deck for it to not suck competitively, as casual as Commander is.

Now, of course, there are definitely Lands in here that produce mana, and there's Maze of Ith, which I put into every Commander build, but there's also some seriously cool Land interactions (Beyond the Temple-Scry land and the Hideaways).

  • Mishra's Workshop: A lot of artifacts in this deck. Sometimes it's a dead draw; or sometimes it can help put out a Crystal Ball, or even a Stuffy Doll on turn one.
  • Buried Ruin: Again, a lot of artifacts. We might need one back.
  • Flamekin Village: Besides Feldon, this is my favorite card from the 2014 Red Commander set. Haste-granting on a land? Awesome.
  • High MarketMiren, the Moaning Well: Just extra ways to sacrifice creatures should the need arise.
  • Haunted Fengraf Again, old fashioned graveyard recursion.
  • Opal Palace: I mention this because Grenzo is hosed often and he can be cast without paying any X to achieve the combo of the deck, so using this land helps beef him more often than you might suspect.

Now, I did some photoshopping to fit all the pertinent information from this screenshot into an image I could put in this article, but I didn't change any of the gameplay information. That's too much effort for an article, when I have three-year-old runnin' abouts, attacking my cat and grabbing my hand as I photoshop. Anywho, this screenshot shows Turn 6 of a Commander game, in which I have Grenzo rocking hard: He's fished out King Midas and I've got said Inspired ruler equipped with Witches' Eye: the dream Theros combo. Opponent has six lands, so my 0/4 attacks as a 6/4. My opponent is playing Talrand, and is relying on counters to shut down my game and amp up his drakes. With my current board presence, I don't need to cast anything. I can scry to activate Grenzo, and also shut down a drake with the King. I also have a powerful beater. With a handful of useless counters, my opponent conceded.

Though small, this battlefield shows a pretty damning presence and combo. For this setup, I can sacrifice any of these creatures to Viscera Seer, then put it on the bottom of my library with Junktroller and pop it back out with Grenzo. I had been using this combo to systematically Duplicant my opponent's board, all while being able to Scry 2/2 creature threats to the bottom and then Grenzo them. With my opponent's board hosed, My King can attack and the inspired activates every upkeep, effectively shutting down their ability to play creatures-- and of course, that's on top of the ability to abuse Duplicant like I have been. Three threats in creature form would have to be put out all at once, and even then, I have the Siege-Gang Commander's ability on board to sacrifice goblins to damage creatures too. Since I've cleared the board of opposing threats, I was free to recur Siegey and keep plopping out goblin tokens, which for two mana, are shocks waiting to happen.  I don't yet have six lands, but as soon as I do the Outcast gets on board for dragon token fun, and as you can see I just cast Feldon-- which means I could now plop out the Siege-Gang Commander, sacrifice it to Scry 1, put out a token of it with Feldon, then Junktroll it, then Grenzo it. My opponent conceded.

This is here to illustrate that by the start of my turn four's upkeep, I already had out 5 mana (about to play that Dust Bowl too), My commander at 4/4. and a big ol' kitty. On turn one, I Imperial Seal'ed for the Mana Crypt. Turn two, I put out Grenzo for X=2, so he came out 4/4. I didn't have to do this, but  I had nothing better to do with my mana. Turn three, I Read the Bones, which included Scry 2, and put the Savage Firecat on the bottom of my library, and used Grenzo to put it out. After I took this screen shot, my opponent conceded.

Sorry this one is so squished, but here's another example of a great board presence. I used Mindclaw Shaman to steal my opponent's Time Warp, then used my Stylus to put it on the bottom, and Grenzo'ed it out again, stealing Oona's Grace. I also have out the vaunted Crystal Ball, which helps me manipulate my deck, and as you can see I have plenty of answers and fun stuff in my hand.

Stuffy_Doll.jpgMagmasaur.jpg

I wish I could've gotten a screenshot of this one, but I wasn't fast enough and couldn't find it in my played games tab for replays. In any event, I had out the Stuffy which was mostly detracting my opponent from attacking, when I Grenzo'ed out the Magamasaur. When it came to be my turn, I let the 'saur die, and it did 5 to everything, wiping the board. It did 5 to me, and 5 to my opponent, but it also did % to my stuffy, which I got to redirect to a Tamiyo. Luckily, I also had out a Reito Lantern, so I just slapped it on the bottom of my library, and Grenzo'ed it back out after recasting Grenzo. Again, another concession.

Of course, I have no screenshots here of when my deck went horribly awry, or I was manascrewed, but I can tell you I have about a 75% win rate with this deck, after playing well over a hundred games since I created it.; and the best part, it's FUN to pilot.


 

For closing thoughts, all I can really say is I really love this deck. So much, I want to compile it in paper for casual gaming night at my place, now that some of my magic-paper-playin'-friends have moved closer.

I'm still playing with the makeup of the build. Should I add Darksteel Plate to help mitigate Grenzo's deaths, even those by my hands with Damnation or Magmasaur? Does it need more card-draw? What other Power-2-or-less creatures should I pop in? One thing's for sure, I'm going to keep editing it until it feels just right, but as-is, it's already mostly there.

If you have any suggestions for me, please contact me via Twitter @CmdrJohnnyBoosh, or leave a comment down below.

Thanks so much for reading!

3 Comments

I enjoyed this! It's too bad by CottonRhetoric at Thu, 07/02/2015 - 14:02
CottonRhetoric's picture
5

I enjoyed this! It's too bad there aren't more cards that care about what's on the bottom of your library. (Or are there? I couldn't find any after a few quick searches.)

Thanks Man! by Adam_the_Mentat at Thu, 07/02/2015 - 15:43
Adam_the_Mentat's picture

I really scoured the databases for bottom-caring cards. There's some other Scry stuff in red and black, thought only a handful of cards, but they weren't good enough to include in the build. I'm hoping some new scry stuff comes out that eventually makes it even better :)

There are some cards that put by Paul Leicht at Thu, 07/02/2015 - 18:30
Paul Leicht's picture
5

There are some cards that put cards on the bottom of their owners library but they tend to be blue or white. Great article as always Adam. I have a soft spot for Grenzo.