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>Why play The Scarab God?
This was originally a Gisa and Geralf zombie tribal deck. It also wasn’t even my deck to begin with; it belonged to the person I was dating at the time. They left me. The deck did not. The deck has evolved away from the tribal zombie aspect to some degree, and now focuses instead on The Scarab God’s activated ability. You will enjoy this deck if:
- You like zombies.
- You like playing creatures at instant-speed
- You like graveyard decks and mill strategies
- You like high-powered casual games
There are three main ways that people play The Scarab God.
- Zombie Tribal: This is by far the most common way. It prioritizes playing zombies and cards that buff zombies. It is arguable that either The Scarab God or Varina, Lich Queen are the best zombie tribal commanders.
- ”Control”: The version that I’m showcasing. Loses a bit of the tribal aspects in favor of using The Scarab God’s activated ability to respond to threats, or bring value creatures onto the board.
- Combo: Deck that pretty much completely drops the tribal aspect and focuses on using Scarab God's ability to recur combo pieces. The control aspect comes from traditional counterspells instead of by recurring creatures.
>Scarab God rulings
Scarab God has three really strong abilities. First one is pretty easy to understand. It drains your opponents a bit, and lets you scry. Keep in mind that the value of X is determined on resolution of the ability, so in response to it you can use Scarab God’s activated ability to get more zombies and scry a little deeper. This ability functions as both card advantage (scry 5 each turn is good) and a win-condition. Third ability is also pretty easy to understand. It’s a nice-self recursion that helps you to avoid commander tax.
Now let’s focus on that second ability. You might recognize it as being similar to the Eternalize ability from Hour of Devastation (seen on cards like Proven Combatant). There are some important differences though.
HOU Eternalize Scarab God’s “Eternalize” Can only be done at sorcery speed Can be done at instant speed Creature is a zombie in addition to it’s other types Creature is a straight zombie, no other types Token has no mana cost Mana cost is copied to token Creature is exiled as part of the cost of Eternalize Creature is exiled on resolution of ability
There are also some weird rulings with how layering works with this ability. For example, “Consuming Aberration’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in your opponents’ graveyards.” However, if you get The Scarab God to eternalize Consuming Aberration, it’s power and toughness will be 4/4, irrelevant of how many cards are in graveyards.
For the rest of this primer, I’ll be describing The Scarab God’s activated ability as “eternalizing” a creature.
I think this is the last deck I have where I can say “three lands, I’m good”. It makes deciding on whether to keep a hand or not really easy. While this deck runs mana ramp, it’s not a requirement as long as the rest of the hand is good. What you do want is a hand that has some early game plays. It can be mana ramp, a Cryptbreaker, Training Grounds, Sinister Concoction, Taigam’s Scheming, anything really. Don’t stress over it.
By turn 4 or 5 The Scarab God will be on the battlefield. Come the next turn you’ll be able to activate his eternalize ability. This deck averages a win on turn 8, but it’s very inconsistent. Every game with this deck is different. Here are some important things you should focus on.
>Increasing graveyard size
There are a couple wheel effects in this deck, and a lot of mill cards like Contingency Plan, Mesmeric Orb, and Altar of Dementia. More cards in graveyards means more creatures for Scarab God to target. There are even cards that mill/discard as a by-product of something else (Sinister Concoction). If ever there is an effect that says “Target player mills X cards” (like what you see with Altar of Dementia), the target should almost always be yourself. Your creatures are guaranteed to work well with Scarab God, while your opponents’ creatures will be a toss-up.
At this point you’re probably wondering why I keep writing “control” in quotations. The reason for this is that even though most everyone I know calls this deck a control deck, I don’t really think of The Scarab God like that. Control is difficult to do in commander, as you have three opponents. I’ve seen and played cEDH decks that can do it well, but nothing on the casual side of things. I prefer to call it a reactive deck or responsive deck, because that’s what it does more of.
As a general rule to playing reactively, leave mana open. Figure out how many eternalize activations you have, and then keep that mana open. It helps a lot to reorder your mana. “This Gilded Lotus and a swamp is one activation. The two other swamps and two islands is another." It’s pretty common for this deck to go from straight from draw step to end step when The Scarab God is on the battlefield. You have the option to play stuff at instant-speed on your opponent’s turns, so you can always wait until then.
Last tip is something you should do outside of game. Get your hands on some Eternalize tokens from Hour of Devastation. Things like Dreamstealer, Earthshaker Khenra, Resilient Khenra, and Champion of Wits (the other tokens are the incorrect size). Then take an exacto knife or box cutter and cut out the card name, picture, and text box. Take a marker or something and cross out the creature types of the token that don’t say zombie. Then put it in a penny sleeve (it’s fragile at this point). The end result is a token that you can overlay onto a card. So when you eternalize a creature, you can use this token to mark it. Trust me, it helps a lot.
>Scarab God targets
You should be constantly looking in your own graveyard when playing this deck. See what creatures you can use for removal. If an opponent plays a threatening creature is it better to eternalize Shriekmaw to get rid of it, Sower of Temptation to gain control of it, or is it best to just wait? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. I go into more detail about this in the single card discussion, but here is a quick overview of targets for a given situation.
Removal: Custodi Lich, Fleshbag Marauder, Hostage Taker, Meteor Golem, Noxious Ghoul, Plaguecrafter, Shriekmaw, Sower of Temptation.
Protection: Draining Whelk, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.
Wildcards: Chancellor of the Spires, Diluvian Primordial, Phantasmal Image.
Value plays: Consecrated Sphinx, Consuming Aberration, Cryptbreaker, Noosegraf Mob, Notion Thief, Sheoldred, Whispering One.
If ever there is a situation where there are no good things to eternalize, just grab something. Anything. If your opponent has a Torch Courier in their grave, grab that. At least then you have 1 more zombie, which is 1 scry deeper to finding a way to get more creatures in graveyards.
>Opponent’s creatures to look for
There are a lot of creatures that The Scarab God can’t use due to color restrictions, and other cards that aren’t worth running in the deck, but are worth eternalizing if they turn up in an opponent’s graveyard. Get used to saying “Can I see your graveyard?” a lot. In addition to constantly checking your graveyard, check your opponents' as well. Don’t forget that Chancellor of the Spires and Diluvian Primordial cast instants and sorceries, so look at those as well. You can also get an opponent’s commander thanks to Sower of Temptation and Phantasmal Image.
Deadeye Navigator: Let's you take advantage of your non-eternalized ETB creatures, and can help Scarab God dodge removal. Not in the deck because it's actual use is pretty minimal.
Dockside Extortionist: Net positive mana most of the time. Perfect for when you need just one more Scarab God activation.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite: It’s very obvious why this is a good choice.
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker: Good for copying a Fleshbag Marauder or Gray Merchant of Asphodel every turn. But even better, if someone is using a Kiki-Jiki, it means they also have one of it’s combo creatures (like Combat Celebrant). Keep milling that deck until you find it.
Mother of Runes/Giver of Runes: A good way of protecting The Scarab God. Even though you can often dodge the commander tax, it’s better if he just never leaves the battlefield.
Muldrotha, the Gravetide: One of the only ways that you’ll be able to re-cast that Training Grounds or Mesmeric Orb that got spitefully removed.
Nirkana Revenant: Crypt Ghast is in the deck, but Nirkana Revenant isn’t worth playing. Someone else’s however is.
Nyxbloom Ancient: Gives you more mana than you know what to do with. Super useful.
Reclamation Sage: You don’t have very good options for enchantment and artifact removal in blue-black. A Reclamation Sage in an opponent’s graveyard is a welcome sight.
Seedborn Muse: You will be eternalizing so many creatures if you can get a Seedborn Muse. Don’t expect your opponents to just let you keep it though.
Sliver Overlord: Grab this dude, then use it to steal all of that opponent’s slivers.
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger: Don’t feel bad for your opponent. They are the one who put this card in their deck.
Yarok, the Desecrated: Twice the ETBs is rather good. Not worth running Panharmonicon, but still good (explained in single card discussion).
>Winning the game
This is a very incremental deck. Incrementally bigger boardstate, incrementally more scry, incrementally more life drain. As such, I’ve sought to not include any infinite combos in this deck. Except for the infinite combo, which I’ll get to in a second.
Not kidding, the most common way to win with this deck is to just drain life with Scarab God’s first ability and deal combat damage. Scarab God is a 5/5 and the tokens are 4/4s. The damage adds up slowly, but it does add up. If you have Noosegraf Mob or Sheoldred, Whispering One you can have quite a few zombies out each turn. And if you play the reactive strategy and always have mana open, your opponents won’t be able to stop you, because you’ll always be able to deal with their threats.
When possible, try to avoid eternalizing Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Recur it using Sheoldred, Whispering One, Phyrexian Delver, or Victimize. That way you can sacrifice it and use it again. Remember: the tokens that Scarab God makes keep their mana symbols, so any black creatures will contribute to devotion. One of my common lines of play for a Gray Merchant win is to bring it back by eternalizing Phyrexian Delver (adds to devotion), sacrifice it with Plaguecrafter or Altar of Dementia or something else, and then bring it back again with either Mikaeus, the Unhallowed or Scarab God. If you were counting, that makes about 16 life drained. Thanks to Scarab God’s incremental drain that would have been happening throughout the game, your opponents should be finished after combat.
This one is really easy to do. When someone casts a wheel effect, be it your own or in response to an opponent, flash in Notion Thief. Your opponents discard their hand, don’t draw any cards, and then you draw all the cards they would have drawn. It’s crazy. Because you are the only person with a hand now, you kinda just win. Not guaranteed, but it is more than likely.
Everyone discards their hands. This puts your opponents in top-deck mode most of the time. You're fine though, because you can just play things from the graveyard with The Scarab God. This card doesn't win the game outright, but it puts you in such a strong position that you're likely going to win.
>Nexus of Fate “combo”
I put this card in the deck after the second time I had to win on my upkeep due to an empty library. Turns out, a Mesmeric Orb milling for 10 every turn and an Altar of Dementia that always targets you takes a toll. Nexus of Fate stops me from losing. As a side effect, it’s also the deck’s only infinite combo. See, if it’s the only card left in your library, you’re guaranteed to draw it, play it for an extra turn, and then draw it on your extra turn. Infinite extra turns.
>Good vs. bad matchups
Oddly enough, this deck does really well against other graveyard decks. Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Alesha, Who Smiles at Death have trouble because in response to them targeting a creature, The Scarab God can steal it from under them. I get the creature and they don’t. It just so happens that other graveyard decks like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Muldrotha, the Gravetide also happen to have really good creatures for me to take. The Scarab God also fairs well against decks that don’t have a lot of creatures. The targeted removal and group sacrifice cards in The Scarab God make it easy to keep those deck down. Lastly, decks that pretend to be control decks but-aren’t-really-control-decks tend to have trouble dealing with The Scarab God. Because he has self-recursion removing him isn’t a practical option. And then what are you going to remove, the Shriekmaw? It’s already done it’s job.
The bad matchup is, kinda obviously, grave hate. Fortunately, for reasons that escape me, very few people use grave hate. A Rest in Peace or Ground Seal absolutely wrecks this deck. They’re enchantments too, which is hard for this colour combination to remove. Tormod’s Crypt and Relic of Progenitus create annoying stand-off situations. Fortunately they can only be used once. The same can’t be said of Scavenging Ooze, which is a constant pain.
Bojuka Bog is still useless.
Another bad matchup is Darksteel Mutation effects (Kenrith’s Transformation, Imprisoned in the Moon). Because these are enchantments, they risk permanently shutting Scarab God down. Fortunately, thanks to the deck’s sacrifice effects and protection package, there are options for keeping The Scarab God safe.
>Single card discussion
There are a lot of cards that could go into this deck, and I have not tested all of them. I’ve noted which cards are currently being tested in italics.
Arcane Signet: Auto-include.
Chromatic Lantern: Gives access to all 5 colors. Useful for when you grab an opponent’s creature with an activated ability.
Crypt Ghast: Swamps tapping for double means you can get significantly more eternalize activations. Especially considering that Watery Grave, Sunken Hollow, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth are all in this deck.
Dark Ritual: I still can’t put my finger on it, but this small one-time boost is just what this deck needs. It gets Scarab God out sooner, it let’s you get an activation of Scarab God discounted, and it can be a surprise Sheoldred. Other one-shot ramp doesn’t work that well. There’s just something special about this one that I still haven’t figured out.
Dimir Signet: Auto-include.
Fellwar Stone: 2 CMC rocks are useful, and this one also gives your opponent’s colours, giving a benefit similar to Chromatic Lantern.
Gilded Lotus: Expensive, but it taps immediately, so it’s not totally useless. And it gives colored mana.
Jet Medallion: There are more black cards in this deck than blue. This card unfortunately loses it’s luster a few turns after Scarab God comes out.
Sol Ring: Auto-include.
Star Compass: Not as good as Arcane Signet or Fellwar Stone, but it does usually give you your colours.
Talisman of Dominance: Auto-include.
Worn Powerstone: Probably the worst ramp card in this deck. If you have a Mana Crypt, use a Mana Crypt.
Coldsteel Heart: Even Star Compass isn't that great (enters tapped), and this one can only give one colour.
Commander's Sphere: 3 mana is a bit much for mana ramp. Most 3 CMC ramp has to do something special.
Undead Warchief: Doesn't discount the Scarab God. Even though there are enough zombies to justify it's use, 4 mana is too much.
Ancient Excavation: Superb card. Draw 5 cards, discard the worst 5 (just as an example). Excellent way of getting a lot of creatures in your graveyard.
Cephalid Coliseum: It is very easy to reach threshold with this deck. A nice little draw/discard effect to help you out.
Consecrated Sphinx: This is one of the few cards that you should play on your turn, instead of at instant-speed. In a 4-player game, you will draw at least 7 cards per turn cycle. Amazing.
Cryptbreaker: Probably the best zombie in this deck. In the early game he can discard creatures for you, while building up a token presence. In the late game, he draws you cards. It’s perfect.
Eligeth, Crossroads Augur: Turning Scarab God's scry into draw seems really good, but I'm not sure if Eligeth is worth the card slot.
Fact or Fiction: Strangely enough, most people don’t know how to make a good pile against this deck. Too often, I see them put creatures in one pile, non-creatures in the other… which is the worst pile you can do. It’s obvious to just take the non-creatures and let the creatures go to grave. You can always eternalize them later.
Forgotten Creation: A personal wheel effect each turn? Yes please. Good for filling up that graveyard. As a bonus, it’s a zombie.
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur: This card looks like it could end games, but the restrictive mana cost means that it has to end up in the graveyard. We'll see how this goes.
Notion Thief: Crazy good card. Denies other people card draw, and gives it to you instead. Can also end the game if a wheel effect is cast.
Undead Augur: Minor draw ability, but it helps with boardwipe recovery. And it’s a zombie.
Whispering Madness: Play this for a new hand, cipher it to a creature, deal damage, then wheel again. Perfect for filling everyone’s graveyard with cards.
Windfall: Pretty standard wheel effect. Simple and effective at 3 mana.
Graveborn Muse: Gives really good card draw, but it subjects you to the same life loss each upkeep as your opponents. This deck plays from the graveyard mostly anyway, so it can afford to use safer draw options. If this deck was more combo-based it would be worth it.
Phyrexian Arena: One more card every turn is a small increase in draw power.
Rhystic Study: This gives a small increase in draw power. I don't know if you noticed but all the draw spells in the deck so far draw lots of cards, or have the benefit of being a creature. This is neither.
Custodi Lich: Monarch is always fun, and forcing a player to sacrifice creatures is useful. Sometimes the correct person to pick is yourself by the way (to sacrifice Gray Merchant of Asphodel). Finishing touch: Custodi Lich is a zombie.
Cyclonic Rift: It can be used as artifact/enchantment removal, or it can be a one-sided boardwipe. It being an instant means I can leave the mana open, giving the deck access to more options.
Draining Whelk: A counterspell you can access with The Scarab God. This thing also makes a formidable attacker.
Drown in the Loch: Currently under testing. With all the mill and discard effects in the deck it should work as dual-purpose counterspell and removal.
Expel from Orazca: Artifact and enchantment removal. For best results, pair it with either a discard effect or a mill effect.
Fleshbag Marauder: Decent sacrifice effect. And it’s a zombie, which has it’s relevance.
Hostage Taker: Blue-black doesn’t have a lot of options for artifact removal. This one is great though, because it also gives you the option to cast whatever you take hostage. She can also be used as a protection piece. If Scarab God (or some other creature you want to protect) is targeted with removal, use Hostage Taker to exile it, then sacrifice the Hostage Taker to get it back.
Meteor Golem: I will never call this a good card. Ever. But this deck is desperate for some form of enchantment destruction, so I had to get creative. At the very least, Meteor Golem can be eternalized.
Noxious Ghoul: This can function as a repeatable 1-sided boardwipe. Just be careful with it; The Scarab God is a non-zombie.
Opposition Agent: Stops tutoring. Useful against weaker combo decks.
Plaguecrafter: A Fleshbag Marauder that can also eliminate planeswalkers, or force someone to discard a card. Wonderful.
Shriekmaw: It’s kind of a shame that it doesn’t affect black creatures, but because it’s a creature it can be recurred with Scarab God for use a second time. If this card is in your hand, always evoke it.
Sinister Concoction: Here’s the weird inclusion. It seems like a lot of work to destroy a creature, but discarding a card and milling is more useful in this deck than most.
Stubborn Denial: 1-mana protective counterspell. Perfect.
Toxic Deluge: You will often pay 3 life, so that way your eternalized tokens and The Scarab God stay on the battlefield.
Tyrite Sanctum: Scarab God is already a god, so this should function as 5 mana protection. Actually... now that I say that out loud it doesn't sound that good. At least it's also a land so it doesn't take up a spell slot, I'll just have to see if it not tapping for any colours is worth it.
Victim of Night: A low-cost removal spell with a small restriction of targets. If ever something better comes along, I’ll use it.
Compelling Deterrence: There are just better removal options.
Grave Pact: There are a lot of sacrifice themes, but not enough to justify this card. I would use butcher of Malakir first anyway (because it's a creature).
Silumgar Sorcerer: Countering creature spells isn't as important as countering non-creature spells.
Ulamog's Nullifier: The card's use requires you to have eternalized two opponent's creatures already. More often than not, you'll be eternalizing your own stuff instead, which makes Ulamog's Nullifier unreliable.
Winds of Rebuke: A good substitute if you can't afford some of the other options. The mill on the side is very nice.
Awaken the Erstwhile: 5 mana to force everyone to discard their hands. Because you can still play from the graveyards, you’re the only one not in top-deck mode. This card wins games, but because it isn’t a creature, it can’t be used if it gets milled.
Altar of Dementia: If you have a creature that’s going to die anyway, you may as well sacrifice it to mill some cards. Works well with Gravecrawler. Can also protect The Scarab God from exile and Darksteel Mutation effects.
Consuming Aberration: Massive amount of mill, but unfortunately doesn’t mill yourself. Still really useful. And if you had cast it instead of eternalizing it, it gets super huge and can potentially one-shot a player.
Contingency Plan + Taigam’s Scheming: Surveil 5. Perfect for setting up your next couple turns.
Court of Cunning: The monarch is always a fun little mechanic, and this deck is surprisingly good at holding on to the monarch. For some reason people don't like attacking into 4/4 zombies and a 5/5 god.
Hedron Crab: A good mill effect if you get it in the early game. Little to no use late game.
Mesmeric Orb: The single best card in this deck. This thing fills up graveyards like there’s no tomorrow. Whenever you go to search for a card, the three choices are almost always this card, Training Grounds, or Nexus of Fate
Extract from Darkness: Too much mana for what it does. Because non-creatures in this deck get milled and can't be re-used, it's important for the high-cost ones to be really good.
Lich Lord of Unx: Instead of using that 4 mana to mill someone, you can just use it for a Scarab God activation instead.
Mindcrank: Not as good as Mesmeric Orb, but still mills a lot of cards. The downside is that it's only your opponents.
Mind Rake: Not terrible, but only good in the early game, and if you have two creatures to discard.
Syr Konrad, the Grim: Not very good mill, so he's better as a win-con. Even then, I would often have better targets to eternalize.
Undead Alchemist: If it didn't exile the creatures, it would be a maybe. But by exiling the creatures, it completely defeats the point of milling your opponents.
Demonic Tutor: Staple. Your primary targets are Mesmeric Orb, Training Grounds, and Nexus of Fate.
Sidisi, Undead Vizier: Recurable tutor that can get you anything. Nice.
Vile Entomber: Good for putting a useful creature into the grave. Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Mikaeus the Unhallowed, and Sphinx of the Second Sun are common targets.
Corpse Connoisseur: You’ll likely never unearth it when eternalize has the same mana cost. After that, Vile Entomber is just better.
Corpse Harvester: There aren't actually all that many zombies I would search for.
Vampiric Tutor: I haven't been able to get my hands on one, but it would go in the deck if I could get one.
Really not that many tribal cards left. These are the good ones, because they support The Scarab God's first ability.
Gravecrawler: This card is surprisingly useful. It acts as sac fodder for Sidisi, Undead Vizier and Fleshbag Marauder. It can mill lots of cards with Altar of Dementia. It can trigger Consuming Aberration multiple times. It’s all a bunch of small things, but these small things add up.
Noosegraf Mob: Gives lots of tokens. Pair it with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed to have a constant source of zombie tokens. Or just eternalize it. Either way, this card gets you lots of zombies so you can build up those scry and drain triggers.
Shepherd of Rot: It drains you too, but it’s a useful zombie at 2 mana.
Army of the Damned: Too much mana for what it does. Even though you can flashback it, the high mana cost means that you won't be able to effectively play the "control" strategy for a full turn cycle.
Death Baron: Giving most of your creatures deathtouch makes for a cool combat trick. Sadly, there are very few times that this is actually useful, as the tokens are already 4/4 creatures.
Diregraf Captain: Not a very good boost or good effect.
Diregraf Colossus: Occasionally gives a zombie token. Sure.
Endless Ranks of the Dead: Would it surprise you if I said it doesn't make enough zombies? For 4 mana it's better to just eternalize something.
Eternal Skylord: I would use Archetype of Imagination first, and even then flying isn't super important.
Gisa and Geralf: The mill effect is nice, as is the ability to cast zombies, but there are just better effects in this deck.
Gleaming Overseer: Same problem as Eternal Skylord; Menace isn't relevant.
Rise from the Tides: Gives a decent amount of zombies, but 6 mana is a lot for something that often gets milled.
Rooftop Storm: While useful, there were just too many times where there was a better play than this. It does make a combo with Gravecrawler and Altar of Dementia if that interests you.
Tormod, the Desecrator: The extra zombie whenever you eternalize one of your own cards is nice, but at four mana there will always be something better to play than Tormod.
Zombie Apocalypse: Only good if you have a big graveyard, and by that point this card was likely milled as well.
Academy Ruins: For some reason Mesmeric Orb is a vacuum for removal spells, and can also get milled through other effects. Academy Ruins gets it back.
Chancellor of the Spires: The before the game mill is great (shame it doesn’t mill yourself). It can also be used later to cast an opponent’s spell, which is super useful. Now if only there was a version of this card that would let me cast three cards. That would be awesome.
Diluvian Primordial: Would you look at that! Three cards! This card is amazing and will give you a huge advantage in the late game. There are so many cool things you can do. Cast a Teferi’s Protection and a Jokulhaups, because why not?
Gray Merchant of Asphodel: Getting high black devotion is surprisingly easy.
Loyal Subordinate: For 3 mana, it increases your opponent's life drain by 4 each turn.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed: Great form of protection, but sadly won’t save the tokens.
Nexus of Fate: This is on my list of “cards that should not exist”. To think that I only included this card to stop myself from getting milled. Since then it has been used for so much more.
Phyrexian Delver: Useful for bringing back things that you may need to eternalize later. Things like Shelodred and Mikaeus draw hate, so it’s good to have the option to eternalize later.
Sower of Temptation: Gain control of a commander. At instant speed thanks to The Scarab God.
Sphinx of the Second Sun: Really good effect, but that mana cost means that I have to eternalize it. Also seems like a priority target for removal. I'll have to do some more testing.
Tergrid, God of Fright: There are a lot of wheel and sacrifice effects in this deck. Tergrid is straight value, and she can easily be recurred. The lantern side will never be played.
Training Grounds: If Mesmeric Orb is the best card of this deck, Training Grounds is the second best. Effectively cutting Scarab God’s activation cost in half is just peachy.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: Colour fixes a little bit (black mana is slightly more important for this deck) and helps out with Crypt Ghast. There have been games where I have Crypt Ghast, Training Grounds, and Urborg, which means tapping one island can give me a Scarab God activation.
Victimize: Trade that Gravecrawler for two good creatures. It works phenomenally.
Dread Return: It was very rare that 3 creatures were worth sacrificing for 1.
Havengul Lich: I'm already playing The Scarab God. I already have access to mine and my opponent's creatures. Havengul Lich adds nothing to the deck.
Panharmonicon: Double the ETBs is useful, but with this card being a non-creature, it often gets milled and has no use. And spending the 4 mana on it instead of saving it for a Scarab God activation can bite you in the back.
Sheoldred, Whispering One: Great card. Recurs your creatures and forces your opponents to make some tough decisions. I'm currently testing out other high-cost creatures, but Sheoldred might go back in at some point.
Liliana, Death’s Majesty: Her first ability is a small mill effect that also gives a zombie token. Her second effect is also useful as an alternate recursion effect. Unfortunately, she can't be recurred if she gets milled, so I swapped her out for a creature.
>Cards to test
- Dreamborn Muse
- Emry, Lurker of the Loch
- Gravespawn Sovereign
- Grave Titan
- Paradox Haze
- Rot Hulk
- Sapphire Medallion
- Sword of Feast and Famine
> Upgrading to a combo deck
I have purposely tried to not include an infinite combo in this deck, but it is really easy to pull off. Just adding a few cards can give this deck some combo wins, but you'll have to ease up on the "control" aspect a bit.
Basalt Monolith + Mesmeric Orb: By far the easiest combo to use. You only need to insert 1 card, and Basalt Monolith is only a slightly dead card. For this combo, you tap Basalt Monolith and then spend the three colorless to untap the monolith, milling 1 card with Mesmeric Orb. Repeat until Nexus of Fate is the only card left in the library, and win with infinite extra turns. This combo can also use Aphetto Alchemist. It's more dead than basalt, but it can be eternalized.
Gravecrawler + Rooftop Storm + Sac outlet: Rooftop Storm is a bit of a dead card here. But this does make an infinite loop, with the sac outlet being the finisher (something like Altar of Dementia). Instead of Rooftop Storm you can use Phyrexian Altar, but then you need something else as the winning outlet (Bontu's Monument, for example).
Syr Konrad, the Grim + Mindcrank: This is a non-deterministic combo. These two cards form a loop, on the condition that each time Mindcrank mills cards, at least 1 is a creature. Unfortunately Konrad is a bit of a dead card.
Necrotic Ooze combo: I briefly mentioned this early on in the primer. He's how it works. Cast Buried Alive, putting Necrotic Ooze, Walking Ballista, and Phyrexian Devourer in grave. Bring Necrotic Ooze to the battlefield with either Scarab God or some other reanimation effect. You can now use Phyrexian Devourer's ability to exile your library and add a bunch of +1/+1 counters to Necrotic Ooze, and then use Walking Ballista's ability to shoot down all opponents. Notice how most of the cards in this combo are dead cards. There are better commanders to use this combo with.
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