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By: jay85, Jay Nelson
Apr 19 2016 11:00am
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"Nephalia is home to many hard-shelled creatures of unusual size, the largest of which are
either avoided or worshipped." --flavor text from Silburlind Snapper

 

 Minus the "hard-shelled" part, the above quote may as well be describing The Gitrog Monster. It is a rather large toad worshipped by Nephalians who fed it sheep and humans to the point that nobody was left in the nearby village, or so the legend about this monster goes. Did you also know one time a woman killed her best friend after staring into its eyes? Yeah, it can control your mind simply by looking at you. Just some added flavor to go with The Gitrog Monster.

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 This thing is bigger than its mana cost, draws you extra cards, let's you play two lands a turn, and if I can't have Reach then I'll settle for Deathtouch. C'mon Wizards, frogs eat flying insects! All I'm saying, shoulda had Reach. But with that said, this girl is still a bad mama jama. Really the only thing remotely negative about The Gitrog Monster is that you have to sacrifice either it or a land on your upkeep. I mean, you do get to draw a card from sacrificing a land so it's not all bad, and there are some things that love lands in the graveyard.

 I've read some players suggest either Maverick or Nic Fit as possible archetypes for The Gitrog Monster, The main reason why people would want to include it in Maverick is because of the synergy between it and Knight of the Reliquary. On your upkeep you sac a land and Knight gets larger. Simple. Awesome. Why some suggest Nic Fit is because the deck ramps like crazy thanks to Veteran Explorer which means you'll be getting this frog out quickly and start dominating not only on the battlefield but also in card advantage. Some lists even run Glissa, the Traitor so The Gitrog Monster's Deathtouch plays a more important role here (though I don't see too many creatures living after attacking into or blocking a 6/6). Also sacrificing The Gitrog Monster to itself with Meren of Clan Nel Toth in play may not be a bad thing depending on the circumstance. Other than that, the reason for including The Gitrog Monster in these decks is because it is a fatty, and they love fatties.

 I'm not thinking about Maverick or Nic Fit, though. I got something else in mind, a deck that would just love to welcome a toad like this one.

 

 Sylvan Plug plays more along the lines of Maverick than Nic Fit. Where Maverick tries to slow down or even lock out its opponents with cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Mother of Runes, Sylvan Plug tries doing so with Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere and even Choke. We are, however, only running one Knight instead of the playset. I could see why some would think Plug is a bad deck for the monster simply because of that fact, except where we lose out on multiple Knight of the Reliquary we make up for it with other creatures that really care about lands in the 'yard. 

 photo Centaur Vinecrasher_zpsyohldxvq.png Titania, Protector of Argoth

 Centaur Vinecrasher can enter the battlefield as a measly 1/1 or, let's say, an 11/11! It all depends on how many lands are in both graveyards. The Gitrog Monster also enables Centaur Vinecrasher's second ability so you can recur it if need be.

 Titania, Protector of Argoth will return a land you had sacrificed to the battlefield upon resolution. So one possible scenario is on your upkeep you sac a land with The Gitrog Monster and draw a card. Then you cast Titania. She hits the battlefield and you return a Wasteland or a fetchland. Sac whichever one you picked up and draw another card, making a 5/3 Elemental along the way. I'd say that's a pretty nice turn, and together The Gitrog Monster and Titania, Protector of Argoth will be making 5/3's on every one of your turns until one is destroyed or you run out of lands, whichever comes first.

 Other than the great synergies between these cards Sylvan Plug has some other tricks up its sleeve. Sylvan Library teamed up with Courser of Kruphix allows you to effectively "draw" two cards so long as one of those cards is a land, and don't forget The Gitrog Monster allows you to play two lands a turn, so you could keep two lands on top and play both with the Courser.

 I could go on and on about Sylvan Plug but I'd much rather just get to the videos. If you are intrigued and want to learn more about this sweet, sweet deck then click here for my previous article on Sylvan Plug. I go into greater detail on everything including the sideboard. I can see some people would be a little confused about Kalonian Hydra and Spike Weaver or why in the heck Giant Solifuge is in here. If you want to learn how this entire deck ticks then you'll want to read that article. But if you already know about this deck and just want to see it and The Gitrog Monster in action then scroll on down!

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 Sylvan Plug vs. Elves

Sylvan Plug vs. Shardless BUG

Sylvan Plug vs. Grixis Delver

 These matches took place in a league event and I included them because they were the most exciting/enjoyable ones. I lost in round 3 and round 5, both against Miracles. Given more time I would have posted them as well but they were long, drawn out, boring games. I just didn't have the time nor ambition to edit and upload them (my internet is kind of slow so uploading vids onto Youtube takes me longer than it should). But other than the two match losses I feel Sylvan Plug still has game in Legacy. I wish I had gone up against Eldrazi because I'm interested to see how Plug fairs. My gut feeling is we would be too slow. Both decks have a ton of dead cards, namely for us Choke and Chalice of the Void. It doesn't get much better post sideboard, either. However, if we can stabilize then we got a pretty darn good shot at beating them, mostly because we have card filtering in Sylvan Library, card advantage in The Gitrog Monster, and if we don't draw into what we need we can just tutor for it with Green Sun's Zenith. The only problem is surviving long enough against such an explosive deck.

 I've learned a few things about The Gitrog Monster since playing with him. You draw a card if one or more lands hit your graveyard from anywhere. Yes, not just from the battlefield. So not only is casting Hymn to Tourach against you bad enough already thanks to Obstinate Baloth but if your opponent forces you to discard one or two lands, you'll at least nullify the Hymn's power a little bit by drawing a card. This also negates Liliana of the Veil's +1 ability. Discard a land, draw a card. Wonderful news.

 The other thing I learned is The Gitrog Monster and your own Karakas go well together. Remember it is Legendary and you can use Karakas to bounce it back to your hand in response to Swords to Plowshares. But remember it is Legendary and your opponent can use their Karakas to keep bouncing it back to your hand. Just something to consider when trying to decide which land to blow up with your Wasteland.

 Shadows over Innistrad didn't just give us Eternal players The Gitrog Monster to play with. There is at least one more...thing I'd like to take for a test drive so stay tuned for my next article. Until then thanks for reading and watching!