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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Apr 04 2014 12:00pm
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All right, Gruul again!  Seems a little strange though, right?  Why go back to back with the Red and Green?  Well actually, I built this deck before the Borborygmos one that I showcased last week.  But that was during the week when replays were offline, so I didn't have an article.  But now I'm free to write about what I want, and here we are!

I love this guy!  Look at how happy he is!  Xenagos was the most recent god that I thought I would enjoy using the most.  The other guys were too reactive, or didn't do enough.  But Xenagos here is pure Gruul:  He wants you to attack with large dudes, and he wants that to happen every turn!  It works out even better when those guys have trample!  You can see how I might be a little bit underwhelmed with my Bobo deck last week after I spent the previous week smashing with huge monsters.

But first things first: I made a list of a bunch of tramplers, and...  I was pretty disappointed.  I was trying to find a bunch of good 4 and 5 mana tramplers and just wasn't that impressed.  Really, what I initially was looking at probably should have been more of a Stonebrow, Krosan Hero deck than anything else.  I ended up figuring out that what I really needed to do was come up with something just a little different, something that wasn't just casting well costed tramplers:  I needed to focus on cheating out really big fatties!  Specifically, I wanted to play with this guy:

worldspine wurm

That's right, I could use Sneak Attack to get the fat Wurm into play.  And with the huge amount of power out there, I could end up throwing him at someone using Fling!  And get a couple of wurms left over!  So ways to sacrifice the fat for fun and profit had to be in here as well.  Finally, since Xenagos triggers at the beginning of every upkeep, a couple of ways to get extra attack steps would he be helpful as well.  With all that and a little bit of ramp in mind, this is what I came up with:

Xenagos, God of Revels
A Commander Deck
1 Archetype of Aggression
1 Balefire Dragon
1 Bloodshot Cyclops
1 Boartusk Liege
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Deus of Calamity
1 Dragon Tyrant
1 Dragonmaster Outcast
1 Drumhunter
1 Duplicant
1 Elvish Piper
1 Eternal Witness
1 Genesis
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Malignus
1 Ogre Battledriver
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Putrefax
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Stalking Vengeance
1 Ulvenwald Tracker
1 Urabrask the Hidden
1 Vorapede
1 Wilderness Elemental
1 Wood Elves
1 Worldspine Wurm
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
30 cards

Other Spells
1 Grim Monolith
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Sol Ring
1 Mage Slayer
1 Aggravated Assault
1 Greater Good
1 Sneak Attack
1 Survival of the Fittest
1 Sylvan Library
1 Beast Within
1 Chaos Warp
1 Deglamer
1 Hunter's Insight
1 Momentous Fall
1 Nature's Claim
1 Savage Beating
1 Soul's Fire
1 Unravel the Aether
1 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
1 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Hull Breach
1 Hunter's Prowess
1 Natural Order
1 Nature's Lore
1 Relentless Assault
1 Three Visits
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Vandalblast
1 Wheel of Fortune
31 cards
1 Ancient Tomb
1 Arid Mesa
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Diamond Valley
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
11 Forest
1 Gruul Turf
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mosswort Bridge
7 Mountain
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Stomping Ground
1 Strip Mine
1 Taiga
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
38 cards

1 Xenagos, God of Revels
1 cards
xenagos, god of revels


I don't mention it in the Deck Tech video, but I wanted to give special thanks to my boy Neo for helping me out with this list.

Deck Tech

First things first, let's talk about the big threatening dudes I used in this deck, aside from the already mentioned Worldspine Wurm:

malignus dragon tyrant balefire dragon putrefax

(Dragon Tryant) is not a guy who needs to stick around long to do some serious damage, especially with Xenagos on the table.  Balefire Dragon is very effective in wiping out an opposing army.  Malignus and Putrefax can both be one hit kills.  I was expecting people to be annoyed by these cards, but no one seemed to mind either.  On top of that we have a bunch of midrange guys who can be real big like Deus of Calamity and Chameleon Colossus.

Sometimes you have these big fatties in your hand but no way to cast them.  That's why cards like Sneak Attack, Elvish Piper, (Garruk, Caller of Beast) and Tooth and Nail are all in the deck:  To help drop stuff right into play.  Sneak Attack is what really put me on the Fling idea.  Although I don't actually use Fling, I do have Soul's Fire and Bloodshot Cyclops, and Mage Slayer is actually pretty awesome as well.  Other ways to sacrifice your fat is through Greater Good, Diamond Valley and Momentous Fall.  Plus Stalking Vengeance really likes it when your big dudes die.

Taking advantage of the size of your guys is also a good way to draw cards.  Aside from the previously mentioned Greater Good, there's also Hunter's Insight and Hunter's ProwessDrumhunter doesn't draw a huge amount of cards, but in this deck it's basically a Phyrexian Arena that taps for mana.  The deck can draw stupid amounts of cards, and as such, Kozilek is in here to help make your library big again.  He also is good at beating down.

mage slayer hunter's insight archetype of aggression relentless assault

A couple of enablers are Ogre Battledriver and Urabrask.  Haste may not seem necessary in the deck, but these guys tap down opponents' blockers or give your dudes power boosts.  Archetype of Aggression, Nylea, Skarrg, the Rage Pits and the always fun Kessig Wolf Run give your dudes trample.

Finding the right mix of ramp was a little bit of an issue.  The deck was really heavy with cards that had a CMC of 3, but usually you want Cultivate and Kodama's Reach if your Commander costs 5 so you can play him on the 4th turn.  However in order to avoid the glut of cards that cost 3, I included artifact ramp like Mana Vault and Grim Monolith, on top of stuff like Rofellos.  Using little mana dudes like Wood Elves may seem silly, but they can hit hard if they're pumped with one of your many enablers. 

Finally we have 2 ways of getting an extra attack step:  Relentless Assault and Aggravated Assault.  Obviously both work well with Xenagos, with Relentless Assault being slightly better due to a higher surprise factor.  A card I considered but didn't quite make the cut was Seize the Day.  I like the artwork, and the card fits perfectly in the deck.  I'm still not 100% sure it shouldn't be in the deck.  It could definitely go in for Aggravated Assault if you want though.

seize the day

Strionic Resonator is another possibility for doubling up on Xenagos' ability as well.  Other than that, it has some of the same removal as the Borborygmos deck from last week.  Note, though, that the only board wipe is Oblivion Stone.  No Blasphemous Act here, but hopefully you can crush your opponents before they make a massive army.

The deck can unload massive amounts of damage out of nowhere.  You can think you're fine at 80 life, then be dead in 2 turns.  Sometimes it's a little slow to get off the ground but once you start smashing people will be frightened.  As they should be!

Game 1

Sneak Attack is pretty key here.  I start off a little slow, but Kresh busts out a lot of card draw, like Phyrexian Arena, Skullclamp and Bloodgift Demon.  Although Karametra and Melek play a few creatures Kresh is who I am worried about.  Luckily after playing Xenagos I'm able to Sneak Attack out Worldspine Wurm and drop Kresh to 5.  Next turn I Sneak Attack out Stalking Vengeance and Vorapede, then Natural Order the Vorapede to get my big Wurm back.  I use the Vengeance trigger to kill Kresh, and beat down on Melek.  One of my wurm tokens dies, and I use that Vengeance trigger to kill off Melek as well.

Karametra isn't going down easy, using White removal to get rid of my Vorapede and Worldspine Wurm permanently.  But I still have a wurm token and draw into Relentless Assault.  Despite having a couple of blockers, I'm able to make the token a 20/20, and Karametra can't handle the large trampler.

Game 2

I'm not trying to lay low on purpose in this game, but the early mana flood works out well.  Basically all I do in the first 8 turns is play lands, my Commander, and Wood Elves.  Meanwhile my opponents are busy laying threats and clearing the board occasionally.   Eventually Mayael has fun with Seedborn Muse.  She takes out Mogis early, then expends all her resources on taking out Treva, who can't hold off the onslaught despite having a Myojin of Cleansing Fire out.  I guess that's what happens when Mayael uses (Blasphemous) act with Stalking Vengeance and some fat dudes in play.

When the dust settles, I'm at 6 life with Xenagos and Nylea in play but no action in hand.  Mayael is at 77 life with no cards in hand and no creatures.  I draw into Bloodshot Cyclops first, then Greater Good the next turn.  The following turn Mayael is dead on the back of Sneak Attack and Dragon Tyrant.

Game 3

This was a strange game.  Endrek Sahr conceded when I blew up his turn 4 Phyrexian Arena.  Meanwhile, Verdeloth ramped into 8 saproling tokens while having Beastmaster Ascension. I was digging hard with Sylvan Library to find land, but luckily I had Xenagos out with Balefire Dragon in hand.  When I played the Dragon, Verdeloth conceded, noting that he didn't really have an answer.  People, even if you don't have an answer, you might want to play it out anyways.  One of the other people at the table might have one and handle things for you.

After that, it was just me and Melek.  Despite casting an Epic Experiment for 10 he wasn't able to handle my beatdown, especially after I cast Hunter's Prowess on the Dragon to draw a ton of cards.

So there you go, the Timmiest of Timmy decks!  Really, if you like smashing face with big dudes, then you should really try Xenagos out.  He's a ton of fun and being able to smash into the Red zone is something that I know I really enjoy.  The deck does have dead spots sometimes, as you can see in the videos, where you don't draw into a whole ton of action.  But I think that the good of the deck far outweighs the bad.  This is a deck that I plan on keeping and running in the future.

I hope you guys enjoyed the games.  No article next week, going on another vacation.  I'll try and be back by the end of the month.  Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com
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I don't think playing Wood by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 04/05/2014 - 07:00
Kumagoro42's picture

I don't think playing Wood Elves is silly in a ramp deck. Playing Llanowar Elves certainly is (in Commander in general). Wood Elves (and Yavimaya Dryad for redundancy) is one of the prime choices for ramping, since you spend only 2 mana (one is given back to you), fetch any color via dual, then are left with a very important body that you can do many things with like drawing 2 cards with Skullclamp, protect your crucial creature from an edict effect, equip a Sword or Jitte on it if you don't have anything else available, stop that Luminarch Ascension from getting online, chump block, and so on. Yavimaya Elder can't do any of these things without losing half its purpose, and it doesn't really ramp. I've so outgrown Yavimaya Elder in late years.

1) Why Kozilek over Ulamog? I see this choice sometimes but it usually strikes me as not wanting to go overboard in casual-friendly decks, while still wanting an Eldrazi for reshuffling purposes. You deck doesn't seem to pull any punches, though. It's something you could easily go to the final table with in SUNCOM. :)
2) Shouldn't it be better to use power-based card-drawing effects that don't require successful combat damage, like Garruk, Primal Hunter and Soul's Majesty?
3) Didn't you feel like you needed something to protect your Xenagos from Deglamer effects? I'm afraid to play with Gods as commanders for this very reason (I tried once, the God got Deglamered the turn I dropped it!)

1) Kozilek because it can by Leviathan at Sun, 04/06/2014 - 15:30
Leviathan's picture

1) Kozilek because it can draw cards. In this deck that's typically more important than the ability to blow things up with Ulamog. Also, the 1 mana makes a difference.

2) Primal Hunter and Soul's Majesty both cost 5 mana. Hunter's Insight is only 3, while Prowess gives a power/toughness boost that matters when Xenagos is in play. Primal Hunter might make the cut I guess, but I wouldn't play it over the other 2.

3) I did have a couple of games where Xenagos got tucked, but it wasn't a huge issue. I was still able to smash with big dudes. It wasn't as overwhelmingly powerful though. If I was really worried about it I could add something like Summoner's Pact or Green Sun's Zenith. But it wasn't as big an issue as you might think.