One commander candidate stood out to me when I first pulled The Lost Caverns of Ixalan with my friends. This Legendary Creature is not a Merfolk, Pirate, Dinosaur, or Vampire like all the other powerful decks. No, The Mycotyrant is a fungus, one of the underrepresented creature types printed this time around.
It’s a commander that boasts strong board presence potential and the trample to see it through. This graveyard king uses a mechanic new to Magic the Gathering, called “descend”. This term means a lot of different things from card to card, however, in The Mycotyrants’ case it refers to “each time a permanent card is put into your graveyard from anywhere." This deck is going to work on milling into a leverage win by forcing irremovable board states and swinging with a ton of Fungi.
The first line introduces “Trample,” followed by “The Mycotyrant’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of creatures you control that are Fungi and/or Saprolings.” While Fungi is a recent addition, Saprolings have been around for some time. It’s tempting to build a typical Saproling deck, but our true strategy unfolds in the last bit of The Mycotyrant’s abilities: “At the beginning of your end step, create X 1/1 black fungus creature tokens with ‘This creature can’t block,’ where X is the number of times you descended this turn.” The Mycotyrant has the potential to generate an abundance of tokens, requiring us to throw our library into the graveyard. No need to stress, however — Golgari has our back and we’ll mill ourselves into a well-deserved victory.
Turning that milestone
Let’s break this deck down into steps. The first step that we want to do after getting out The Mycotyrant is to establish our mill engine. Since our commander is going to trigger off of permanent cards, we want to make as many of these effects as possible be creatures, enchantments, or artifacts.
Here are some good ways to descend consistently at every turn:
- Scion of Halaster
- A great conditional mill that’s only going to throw away cards while your commander is out, which is going to get you some added value when your commander is not on your board.
- Cemetery Tampering
- Allows you to play a fun surprise later on with its Hideaway ability and keeps you milling three cards each turn, which is better than most enchantments.
- Crawling Infestation
- This allows you to mill two cards a turn and then create a 1/1 insect that can block. This will only further feed into our leverage strategy which we’ll explore later.
- Nyx Weaver
- A great creature that mills two each turn, acts as a blocker against flying enemies, and sacrifices to return something to your hand.
- Sivriss, Nightmare Speaker
- This card is more for enjoyment value! For each opponent, you get to mill a card, and then they face the choice of paying 3 life or allowing you to bounce the card back into your hand. Wiser opponents realize that whether they let you have it, you’re still playing from your graveyard. This card takes advantage of triggers from Syr Konrad, The Grim, enhancing even further its effectiveness.
More ways to throw that deck away
The best way to showcase this deck is by providing a few examples of the card types. Hopefully, these examples give you an idea of our approach to consistently generating Fungi.
Mill cards that have always made my opponents second-guess attacking me are some of my favorites, particularly those with Dredge.
Dredge states that if you draw a card on your turn, you can instead mill a certain amount of cards and return the dredge creature to your hand from the graveyard. Stinkweed Imp is a flying creature with a deathtouch, providing great protection and mill when you finally use it to protect yourself. I also recommend Golgari Thug, Golgari Grave-Troll, Shambling Shell, and Darkblast. These cards do nicely when paired with a sacrifice outlet that allows you to draw a card such as Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.
There is a host of single-use mill cards I encourage players to avoid as much as possible. Why? Our goal is to include permanents in our deck, but there is value in certain cards such as Mulch, Wasteful Harvest, and the new In the Presence of Ages. These cards allow us to mill a few cards, speeding up the discovery of our lands or other engine pieces. However, this approach comes with a gamble, as there’s a risk of accidentally milling them away, in which case we must accept the loss.
Protecting the fungus forest
As the milling is now in high gear, our Fungi army expands, collectively elevating the power of our commander to enormous levels. The only worry that we have thus far is not drawing our mill cards.
In these scenarios, it's unlikely that the casual player will include any tutors and will have to rely on mill appearing later, unfortunately. The player could throw in some card draw — a Phyrexian Arena or Sylvan Library, for example. It might hurt — okay, it does hurt, but that’s just the Golgari way of life now that you’re playing it. As your Fungi token stack grows, everyone at the table is eyeing it, thinking of how satisfying your scoop is going to be. Now is the perfect moment to turn board wipe scenarios in your favor. Here are a few strategies to make your opponents think twice about using their Time Wipes:
- Blood Artist
- A connoisseur of war crimes, Blood Artist delivers the pain. Swing with all of your Fungi and even if they block, shoot the damage through anyway.
- Grave Pact
- Nadier’s Nightblade
- This card ensures that if anyone blocks your Fungi, the entire table hurts.
- Mirkwood Bats
- Not only do you get the same protection as you would get from Nadier’s Nightblade, you also get to damage the table every time you make a Fungi. The damage will be tremendous. This will get removed as soon as you play it, most likely, but sometimes you get lucky.
The theme is simple: release the Fungi and swing while making it less than ideal for your opponents to either block or board wipe. You want to be careful that the White player is gonna pull a Farewell on you. There’s just not much anyone can do about that except beg the Blue player to have a Counterspell ready.
The heroes rise again
Now let's propose a scenario where you cannot get big enough. Somebody wisely wipes your board before you can take everyone out. Getting all of those Fungi out took so many turns, and rebuilding must be fast.
We have one important tool at our disposal in these dire situations: our 40-60 card graveyard we just spent all game building. Keep one or two of these in your hand in case something tragic happens to your fungus farm because they're going to become key to your comeback:
- Unseal the Necropolis
- There are a great deal of stellar graveyard return cards out there. This card brings two creatures back to your hand while also feeding your commander, who is probably just coming back from the dead.
- Rise of the Witch King
- Bringing something right back to the battlefield is an incredible move, and if everyone is now recasting their commanders, there’s potential to make them all sacrifice them here as well. Great sorcery for bringing back something nice for the home stretch.
- Conduit of Worlds
- Rebuilding will be pretty slow, but now you can play one land and one permanent from your graveyard every turn as if it were your hand.
- Noxious Revival
- Do not even wait for your turn. After the board wipe, pay 2 life and throw your engine piece right back on top of your library. Please remember when doing this to avoid accidentally milling it.
We are bringing stuff back! So what exactly are we bringing back? This is where you can be creative with the design. I like to put in some cards that scale based on graveyard size, like Old Stickfingers, Kessig Cagebreakers, and Nighthowler. However, you can play your Sheoldred, Whispering One, Glissa Sunslayer, or whatever type of nasty stuff you like to win games with. I prefer to keep a Mortal Combat close for these situations, mostly because I believe it rewards all the descending we accomplished.
More war crimes
We can win games with this, however I have some cherries to put on top if there’s some extra room in the deck.
- Parallel Lives
- Only one thing that’s better than turn one Sol Ring, and that’s seeing the word ‘twice’ on a card.
- Champion of Lambholt
- Sometimes it’s nice to skip the whole leverage strategy and swing for unblockable lethal damage.
- Verdant Force
- These extra Saprolings really add up, and these can block!
- Skyfisher Spider
- The removal is really nice to have during certain moments, but that life gain when it’s time to block is going to feel fantastic if this card comes out closer to the end of the game.
A fungoid finale
That’s The Mycotyrant. I’ve already made my deck which features the same cards and strategies that we’ve talked about, which I’ll link here for everyone’s browsing pleasure.
I wish that The Lost Caverns of Ixalan printed more cards that fed into this theme, however, I’m glad that we got the commander out of it at least. This will not reach Gitrog Monster levels of play (although you could easily put The Mycotyrant into a Gitrog Monster deck). However, it’s become one of my favorite decks to bring to a pod lately. I hope you all found a commander to build in this set as well. Happy building!
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