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Aug 20 2015 11:00am
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It's funny because slaughter usually isn't a laughing matter.

Hiya everyone, thanks for joining me for another edition of Commander Johnny-Boosh.

Today, we're focusing on yet another god from Theros. I've covered Erebos and Nylea, though those decks are entirely different these days (I'll have to revisit them), Karametra, Kruphix, Phenax, and a Christmas-themed Xenagos deck prior to this article's deck offering, so, with Mogis, I've covered 7 of the 15 gods-- nearly half!

Mogis' deck build actually takes inspiration from both my Animar article, and my various combo deck articles that feature the sweet combo of:

Animar factors in because that deck is decidedly all creatures while this deck is essentially no creatures at all. It's the Nega-Animar, or, I guess, the Neganimar.

So, pull up a seat, put on something to get you in the mood to be malicious, like a vampire cape or Loki's helmet. Invoke Voldemart, eat some black licorace, read five minutes of Reddit, or throw Mace Windu out a window, because we are heading down the spiral of Evil!


Stuffy Doll 
Erebos, God of the Dead 
Solemn Simulacrum 

Other Spells 
Sol Ring 
Mana Crypt 
Aether Flash 
Smash to Smithereens 
Spreading Plague 
Tainted Aether 
Spiteful Visions 
Dark Suspicions 
Price of Glory 
Sulfuric Vortex 
Seething Song 
Dark Ritual 
Dingus Staff 
Polluted Bonds 
Venser's Journal 
All Is Dust 
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon 
Rolling Earthquake 
Karn Liberated 
Exquisite Blood 
Painful Quandary 
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Famine

Other Spells 
Spine of Ish Sah 
Unstable Obelisk 
Pristine Talisman 
Forsaken Wastes 
Palace Siege 
1 Languish
Bloodchief Ascension 
Ankh of Mishra 
Hero's Downfall 
Demonic Tutor 
Vampiric Tutor 
Imperial Seal 
1 Black Sun's Zenith
1 Rolling Temblor
1 Incendiary Command
Death Pits of Rath 
Smoldering Tar 
Underworld Dreams 
Phyrexian Arena 
Faithless Looting 
Tormenting Voice 
1 Sensei's Divining Top
Lethal Vapors 
Curse of Bloodletting 
Curse of Death's Hold 

Blood Crypt 
Shadowblood Ridge 
Bloodstained Mire 
Dragonskull Summit 
Graven Cairns 
City of Brass 
Command Tower 
Reflecting Pool 
Rakdos Carnarium 
Rakdos Guildgate 
Akoum Refuge 
Shivan Gorge 
Strip Mine 
Ghost Quarter 
Encroaching Wastes 
Thespian's Stage 
Mouth of Ronom 
Snow-Covered Swamp 
Snow-Covered Mountain
Tectonic Edge  
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx 
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 
Sulfurous Springs 

So this deck started out with the premise that I wanted to make a Mogis deck I was very satisfied with. Straight forward, right? Trouble is, as we often find when we truly want to create something, I kept getting stuck. The deck would turn into a boring old recursion themed Rakdos deck, or maybe a Timmy-Johnny-Spike all-over-the-place black and red deck with no true theme.

As I was hunting through cards to start a Mogis build over, again, for the zillionith time, I suddenly remembered to pay attention to my Bloodchief Ascension. Adding this one-drop Enchantment to the deck really makes Mogis shine, when they are in conjunction 'txit one another. Either you sacrifice something if you can, or, you take two damage, which fuels the Ascension, ultimately leading to a lot more damage coming in the future. The Ascension also provides a key component to the deck: potential life game. As this deck evolves/evolved, a lot of spells damage both players, which means any life you can gain to widen the life gap is key. Ascension is in, so what does that mean? It means Mindcrank goes in too. This is an infino-win-wincon, but it also pairs nicely with just Mogis' damage-dealing.

After figuring out the first two cards of the build, before setting foot into further territory, I put in some Rakdos Commander staples: Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Phyrexian Arena, Necropotence, the trio of tutors: Imperial Seal, Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor, and the Triumvirate of Colorless Stapes: Karn, Ugin, All is Dust. It's good to get these slots out of the way sometimes.

I then began attempting to put in creatures, but I wasn't feeling it yet, so I figured I'd work more on spells. Thus, I began thinking about the Ascension and Mogis, and began figuring out I wanted to do a lot of continuous, small bits of damage over the course of the game. This got me thinking about the Aether Flash & Caltrops with Death Pits of Rath combo, which, not to put too fine a point on it, is quite possibly my favorite Magic the Gathering combo of all time. I featured this combo in an article previously, back in 2012, in a deck I dubbed No Survival!, but I've been playing the combo since Death Pits and Aether Flash and Caltrops all existed. I figured I could add in this beloved combo to Mogis, if I chose to basically avoid creatures, which led me to the Neganimar line of thinking. Honestly, since this has been a part of the deck, I can't begin to tell you how many times I've tutored for part of the combo.

So, now, as I'm deck-building, I'm simultaneously trying to wrap my brain around three concepts: Continuous small bits of damage, preventing opponents' creatures from sticking around / attacking / dealing damage, and consciously avoiding putting creatures in my deck.

So for continuous damage, I slapped in Sulfuric Vortex, Impatience, Spellshock, Subversion, Dark Suspicions, Polluted Bonds, Ankh of Mishra, Spiteful Visions, Dingus Staff (a card I just discovered I should have loved since Weatherlight, but now I'm making up for lost time), Palace Siege, Underworld Dreams, Smoldering Tar (Which can also be sacrificed to hose an individual creature with toughness four or less), Painful Quandary, and Shivan Gorge.

For creature sweepers and removal, I added in Damnation, a staple when playing black, and Languish, a new staple when playing black. Since I'm not playing many, if any, creatures, Spreading Plague fits nicely and has already proven its worth when facing monocolored opponents. Lethal Vapors is also a fun way to keep hosing creatures. Void also made the cut, as I've loved it since it came to be, and it can be used to hose a revealed card in an opponent's hand, or any creatures or artifacts causing you grief-- sometimes taking out numerous ones. Rolling Earthquake is a strictly better Earthquake, in decks where it is legal. Famine is a controlled earthquake. Rolling Temblor is a flashbackable Pyroclasm. Black Sun's Zenith destructos by adding -1/-1 counters, something very useful if pitted against Indestructible creatures, or for knocking creatures down some notches so things like Smoldering Tar can finish the job. Curse of Death's Hold keeps toughness-1 critters out of your concerns. For individual removal spells, we have: Mizzium Mortars (which can be used to take out a lot of creatures), Spine of Ish Sah, Smash to Smithereens, Unstable Obelisk, Dreadbore, Terminate, Hero's Downfall, and Mouth of Ronom, for those apt times sacrificing is so much more useful than destroying (Shroud, Hexproof, Indestructible, etc). Don't forget the aforementioned Tar, Ugin, Karn and Dust spells. Incendiary Command is beautiful because it gives choices, and all those choices are friggin' great in this deck build.

Now our slots are filling up, and we only have a few more things to cover. First, the paltry few creatures: Stuffy Doll, Erebos and Solemn Simulacrum. The Golem is in here for a landgrab in a deck that requires colorless landgrabs. I chose Simulacrum because if all of my tricks are hosed, he's a warm (mechanical) body, and if he's cast and instantly hosed, like, by an Aether Flash, it nets you a land and a card draw. Stuffy was popped in for a few reasons. I've already spoken in a long-long-long-ago article about how it survives the chaos of the Flash/Caltrops/Pits, and in this deck those added tricks might net some extra damage. If your opponent has hexproof somehow, or you need to, you can Mortars or Tar the Stuffy; It takes it and gives it out from Famine and the Earthquake, and survives Damnation. It's a great permablocker, if your opponent manages to stick any creatures he/she also has to contend with this awful blocker, and then, of course, it can ping itself to add damage to your opponent's dome. Erebos and Mogis work well together. Erebos is epic just as an enchantment, drawing you cards and preventing opponent life-gain. But, look at all the permanents in this deck, most of the non-colorless ones have a lot of mana symbols in their costs and Devotion is usually easily met. Mogis and Erebos pick up the slack of the continuous small damage, because once they are online due to devotion, they are indestructible beaters who usually have very little creature opposition to deal with.  

We're almost there! Let's talk about the rest o' the rest. For added card draw, I thought I'd add in some of red's discard-but-quick card draw, because it helps us sift for what we need, at a small mana investment. Faithless Looting, Tormenting Voice, and originally I had in Wild Guess-- but it's RR cost coupled with how much better Sensei's Divining Top is, made me pick said Top over it.Browbeat also fits in smashingly. By all means take the damage. Maybe I have out Curse of Bloodletting and you need to decide if you want ten damage, or, allow me to grab three cards.

Tainted Aether and Price of Glory make for some tough choices. Do I want to hose a land, and cast this? Seething and Ritual are strictly more mana options. Forsaken Wastes nets a fiver of lifeloss, or a continued no-gain effect. 

Finally, some more lifegain options. Venser's Journal, as I'll speak about shortly, is a deck MVP. Pristine Talisman is just life gain and mana advantage in one, and Exquisite Blood is perfect in this deck.

This deck suffers from a few kryptonite matchups. I did horrible against Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. Everything cost more, which hindered me a lot more than other decks I've played, and the repeated counterspells, bounce, and white removal was too much for me. If Avacyn hits the board, it also screws me, because being indestructible essentially nullifies most of the "keep opposing creatures at bay" combos I have in here. That's what brought me to include Black Sun's Zenith). I wish Humility wasn't white. 
I have a game I want to discuss, but it has no accompanying screenshot. My Windows 7 crashed, hard, like its name was Launchpad. At the time I had Photoshop open with the screenshot, but hadn't saved it. I had to reinstall everything, including Magic, which erased my "My games" section of "Account," so I couldn't even dig one out that way. Anyway--
In this particular matchup, I was facing someone playing a Darien deck, which was also tribal Soldiers. On turn four he had out a ton of soldiers, which I Languished. On turn five, he had out 3 more soldiers, which I had to Damnation. After that, well-- on turn three I got out a Caltrops, but on turn six I cast a Death Pits of Rath. So now my opponent could accrue as many soldiers as he wanted, he just couldn't attack with them. He was playing monowhite, so I know permanent removal, especially artifact and enchantment, was bound to come up eventually, or, heck, he might drop Avacyn. I had out a Karn Liberated, and a Venser's Journal, but not many cards in my hand. I wound up with 18 loyalty on my Karn, just 86ing cards from my opponent's hand, but never scoring a permanent that way. By this point, my opponent had a massive army, just waiting behind my barrier of Deadly, death-dealing Caltrops, and I knew the proverbial powder keg was about to blow any second-- so I did a bold move: I exiled my own Journal, then the very next turn I restarted the game. My opponent was amenable to the chicanery, but we started over and I had out a Venser's Journal before playing my first turn. My life totaled 98 before my opponent shut down the Journal, and I had out the trifecta-combo of Pits, Caltrops, Aether Flash now, as well as Dingus Staff and Stuffy Doll. Mogis came online after dropping an Underworld Dreams and a Subversion, and I just took him down from there.
Now on to the picture evidence:

This screenshot really makes me smile, because it's very rare for me to shut down a Krenko deck. I put out Aether Flash on turn 4 because I knew he was gonna start Krenkoing out 1/1 gobbos that I needed to stop. Turn 5 saw Mogis, and from there the Blood and the Pits, solidifying that no new creatures could enter the battlefield. After axing his Commander, with a devoted Mogis about to beat face and no hope of casting another creature, concession was swift.

This illustrates one of my favorite synergies: Necropotence, and Venser's Journal. Necro for as much as I want, since I have no max handsize, and then gain it all back? Yes, please. I also love Exquisite Blood with just good ol' Mogis attacks, because I often find opponent's don't realize when a creature smacks them the life is gained. In this game, to keep my opponent down, you can see by the graveyard I've used a crapton of removal.

For this shot, I was grabbing it from a replay, but the replay ended before the final turn played out. I wound up using the Obelisk in fast effect to my opponent trying to equip the Titan with the plate. The Titan died, and he had taken two from Mogis and two from the Dingus Staff, leaving him at 7. When he passed, I used my stage and copied my maze again, giving me THREE mazes in a Commander game (can you see why I'm bummed I can't get the final screenshot??), while my opponent also had a copied Maze. For a one-on-one game, there sure are a lot of Maze copies. I passed, and he took 2 again from Mogis, leaving him at 5, and he conceded.

Since we got to talking about Animar, All-in Creatures, and since it is the antithesis of the Mogis deck, and because I rarely--if ever, revisit my decks, let's have a gander at my current Animar, All-in Creatures build!

Harbinger of the Hunt 
Solemn Simulacrum 
Steel Hellkite 
Wurmcoil Engine 
Destructor Dragon 
Soul of the Harvest 
Stormsurge Kraken 
1 Woodland Bellower
Primal Surge 
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood 
Shaman of the Great Hunt 
Icefall Regent 
Clever Impersonator 
Consecrated Sphinx 
Rimescale Dragon 
Polukranos, World Eater 
Fierce Empath 
Heartwood Storyteller 
Eternal Witness 
Urabrask the Hidden 
Rattleclaw Mystic 
Lotus Cobra 
Edric, Spymaster of Trest 
Balefire Dragon 
Etherium-Horn Sorcerer 
Bloodbraid Elf 
Shardless Agent 
Imperial Recruiter 
Stormcaller of Keranos 

Brutalizer Exarch 
Dawntreader Elk 
Sakura-Tribe Elder 
Silkwing Scout 
Birds of Paradise 
Treasure Mage 
Wood Elves 
Burnished Hart 
Pilgrim's Eye 
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary 
Platinum Angel 
Platinum Emperion 
Scuttling Doom Engine 
Ruric Thar, the Unbowed 
Woodfall Primus 
Acidic Slime 
Flametongue Kavu 
Bogardan Hellkite 
Progenitor Mimic 
Inferno Titan 
Soul of Shandalar 
Kruphix, God of Horizons 
Crater Elemental 
Coiling Oracle 
Farhaven Elf 
Prophet of Kruphix 
Xenagos, God of Revels 
Thassa, God of the Sea 
Surrak Dragonclaw 
Keiga, the Tide Star 
Azusa, Lost but Seeking 
Oracle of Mul Daya

Breeding Pool 
Command Tower 
Encroaching Wastes 
Strip Mine 
Kessig Wolf Run 
Snow-Covered Island 
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Forest 
Steam Vents 
Maze of Ith 
Volcanic Island 
Tropical Island 
Wooded Foothills 
Stomping Ground 
Ancient Tomb 
Ancient Ziggurat 
Thawing Glaciers 
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea 
Gaea's Cradle 
Tectonic Edge 

Check out that list! Shardless Agent, Bloodbraid Elf, Birds of Paradise, Surrak, Imperial Recruiter, Stormcaller of Keranos, Woodland Bellower... just some of the new additions to the deck. Check out the old deck, and let me know in the comments if you like the changes!

Thanks for joining me again, and reading as I indulge in horrible atrocities with Mogis!

Did I miss anything you would've included? Lemme know in the comments below, or maybe shoot me a message in Twitter: @CmdrJohnnyBoosh.

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The trifecta of Caltrops, by Paul Leicht at Thu, 08/20/2015 - 13:47
Paul Leicht's picture

The trifecta of Caltrops, Aether Flash and Deathpits is very clever. How to kill such a deck?? I am guessing the only really good answer to this set up is holding that Austere Command and or Fracturing Gust until everything is laid out properly and then go to town.

But it does seem funny from the Mogis side of things. Erebos in particular is a sweet touch though I was thinking that any indestructible creature would be pretty insane in such a deck. Probably wouldn't be worth it but playing a Jund Commander for primordial ooze would be lots of fun. As always your presentation is tops. I am not even sure I'd want to have my old articles compared to yours for presentation. You certainly have found a unique and interesting style for writing and I am glad that you've taken up the commander slack left by Leviathan (though your building and play styles are vastly different.) Keep them coming.