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Scarab God "Control" (EDH / Commander)

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>Why play The Scarab God?

This was originally a Gisa and Geralf zombie tribal deck. 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.

>Starting hands

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.

>Playing reactively

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. I will respond with The Scarab God's eternalize ability when needed, but I will not focus on resource denial like other control decks.

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.

Image Image

>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 Ertai Resurrected 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, Ertai Resurrected, Fleshbag Marauder, Hostage Taker, Meteor Golem, Noxious Ghoul, Plaguecrafter, Sower of Temptation.
Protection: Chancellor of the Spires, Diluvian Primordial, Draining Whelk, Ertai Reurrected, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, Overcharged Amalgam.
Specific use: Notion Thief, Opposition Agent.
If it's the end step before your turn and you still have mana open: Cleaver Skaab, Consecrated Sphinx, Consuming Aberration, Crypt Ghast, Cryptbreaker, Forgotten Creation, Noosegraf Mob, Sphinx of the Second Sun, Tergrid, God of Fright, Vile Entomber.

If ever there is a situation where there are no good things to eternalize, just grab something. Anything. If your opponent has a Loyal Apprentice 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.

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.
Drannith Magistrate: Asymmetrical stax pieces are always good. Esper Sentinel is another one you'll see often.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite: It’s very obvious why this is a good choice.
Eternal Witness: There are hardly any ways to get artifacts back in this deck, and no way to get enchantments back. Eternal Witness can facilitate some interesting plays.
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.
Ravenous Chupacabra: This is a pretty bad removal spell, but at least you'll be able to take advantage of your opponent's bad decisions.
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.
Shalai, Voice of Plenty: If someone uses removal of one of your creatures, you can eternalize this one to protect your board.
Sliver Overlord: Grab this dude, then use it to steal all of that opponent’s slivers.
Sun Titan: Gives some good value recursion. Not as high priority as some of the other things you'll have.
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.

>Incremental Drain

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 you can have quite a few zombies out each turn, but just using The Scarab God's ability to make zombie tokens will be enough. If you play the reactive strategy well 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.

>Gray Merchant of Asphodel

When possible, try to avoid eternalizing Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Recur it using Phyrexian Delver or Victimize. That way you can sacrifice it and use it again. Only eternalize it if it will win the game. 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, not including the other black permanents you will have on the battlefield. Thanks to Scarab God’s incremental drain that would have been happening throughout the game, your opponents should be finished after combat.

>Notion Thief

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.

>Awaken the Erstwhile

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. Then you win with Scarab God's life drain.

>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 Meteor Golem? 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. Dauthi Voidwalker causes some issues, but you still have access to the cards already in grave and it's easily removed. 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.

>Mana Ramp

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.
Noble's Purse: Not as good as Arcane Signet or Fellwar Stone, but the treasures can accumulate to help cast bigger spells.
Sol Ring: Auto-include.
Talisman of Dominance: Auto-include.

Notable exclusions

Charmed Pendant: It's pretty flavorful for this deck, providing both mill and ramp, but the 4 mana upfront is an issue.
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.

>Card Draw

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: Very good card draw. It doesn't give any immediate benefit, but it's good to eternalize on the end step before your turn.
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.
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. There is also another downside. If an opponent has removal in their hand they will definitely use it on Jin, as it's a "use it or lose it" situation. 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.

Notable exclusions

Eligeth, Crossroads Augur: Turning Scarab God's scry into draw is really good. Not as good as Consecrated Sphinx though.
Graveborn Muse: Gives really good card draw, but it subjects you to the same life loss each upkeep as your opponents. With this card Scarab God's lifedrain is no longer a win-condition. 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 decent increase in draw power, but not enough. I don't know if you noticed but all the draw spells in the deck so far draw lots of cards, put cards into the graveyard as a by-product of their effect, or have the benefit of being a creature. This is none of those.


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: With all the mill and discard effects in the deck it works as a dual-purpose counterspell and removal.
Ertai Resurrected: Removal and a counterspell on a creature. Perfect for this deck. If only there was a way for him to sacrifice himself like Shriekmaw or Overcharged Amalgam.
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.
Overcharged Amalgam: Perfect counterspell on a creature. Wonderful for this deck.
Plaguecrafter: A Fleshbag Marauder that can also eliminate planeswalkers, or force someone to discard a card. Beautiful.
Resculpt: So you know how blue historically doesn't really have access to creature removal or artifact on it's section of the colour pie? Well blue doesn't care about your colour pie and has efficient low-cost removal anyway. Rant over. Still gonna use this card because it's good.
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.
Sower of Temptation: Gain control of a commander. At instant speed thanks to The Scarab God.
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.

Notable exclusions

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).
Infernal Grasp: It's not bad, it's just that Resculpt is better.
Kindred Dominance: Very important flaw with this card; The Scarab God isn't a zombie. By destroying my commander (after paying 7 mana) I'm unable to play the "control" aspect of the deck for a full turn cycle.
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. I took this out as Ertai Resurrected was just a good replacement.
Silumgar Sorcerer: Countering creature spells isn't as important as countering non-creature spells.
Tyrite Sanctum: Scarab God is already a god, so this should function as 5 mana protection. Once you say that out loud it doesn't sound that good. I found the colorless to be a too steep downside, and opted for Plaza of Heroes instead. At least it's a land so it doesn't take up a spell slot.
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.


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.
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.
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. Be sure to bin any creatures that you see.
Hedron Crab: A good mill effect if you get it in the early game. You're unlikely to eternalize it though.
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

Notable exclusions

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. Unfortunately, the mill wasn't good enough, but I'm looking to swap this card back in.
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.
Ruin Crab: It was either this card or Hedron Crab, and it was a tough choice. In the end, I decided that milling myself is more important than milling my opponents.
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.

Notable exclusions

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 all that many zombies I would search for, oddly enough. I'd rather that they go into my graveyard than hand. The massive amounts of mill effects means that I'll likely find them eventually.
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.

>Tribal Effects

Really not that many tribal cards left. These are the good ones, because they support The Scarab God's first ability.

Cleaver Skaab: This should help with reusing the creatures with enter the battlefield abilities, or help valuable creatures dodge removal. Unfortunately, it doesn't give an immediate benefit to coming out, so it might stay in my graveyard or hand for a while.
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 or Noosegraf Mob 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.

Notable exclusions

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.
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.
Sphinx of the Second Sun: Really good effect, but that mana cost means that I have to eternalize it. The description is a little deceptive. You get the extra beginning phase after the main phase and right before the end step. This more or less acts as an extra turn effect for this deck. It is a high-priority target for removal, but I tend to get at least one good use out of it. Sometimes that's all I need to win. This is a very good card.
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.

Notable exclusions

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.
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.
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.
Saw in Half: It might help out the same way Cleaver Skaab does, but this is a one-time affair. There are times where it will be useful, but it's a pretty narrow range.
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.
Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth: No lie, I've considered using it. Every so often I eternalize an opponent's Caustic Caterpillar or Fertilid, and in those situations, green mana helps. But in every other situation green mana is a hindrance.

>Cards to test

> 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. A lot of these combos cause you to mill your entire deck, whereupon you can win with either Nexus of Fate or Thassa's Oracle.

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 you have no library. This combo can also use Aphetto Alchemist. It's more dead than basalt, but it can be eternalized.

Mirror-Mad Phantasm: Another really easy combo to set up. Eternalize the phantom then use it's effect to mill yourself entirely.

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.

Fleet Swallower + Fraying Sanity: Curse yourself with Fraying Sanity, and then attack with Fleet Swallower, milling your entire library. You now have infinite extra turns with Nexus of Fate.

Thassa's Oracle + Leveler: Exile your entire library, and then win. This one's easy to understand, but both of these cards are dead cards on their own.

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.


This deck appears to be legal in EDH / Commander.

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