Prepping for Commander Challenge – Beyond Vampires

The Chef is in the house!

Sometimes a bunch of silly ideas just come together. When Commander 19 came out, I wasn’t super-excited about any of the new Commander options. I wrote a review of the set, and ended up taking a closer look at some of the new options than I did the first time. Grismold was one of those that jumped out and asked to be built in some fashion.

Why did this jump out? Trolls do that…

Grismold seemed fun for some reason. I like trying to figure out why doing something that seems questionable will be good. Why would I ever want to give my opponents plants? Well, there’s my reasons, which I’ll get to in a moment, but first I want to share how the internet sees this guy. We (the inquisitive search-engine-using Commander consumerbase) use sites like EDHREC to datamine deckbuilding sites like Archidekt (the one I use) and show what cards are most common in what decks. This can be an awesome system, because you get to see what cards have made the cut in these decks. But you usually get to see the most cutthroat stuff people are doing with your Commander. What does the internet do with Grismold?

Ah, my plants!

Yup, they kill all the plants. Right away. It’s terrible. I love plants. They want to have this out when it happens…

Ah, your plants!

And other nasty stuff. The EDHREC page is here, if you’re interested. One thing they missed is this…

Ah, everyone’s plants!

…Which is hopefully too symmetrical for anyone to play. But someone might. Not me, though. I’m doing something a little different with Grismold.

This is my pre-Commander Challenge lunch. Not really. I often have fries and coffee.

Now I’m not going to tell anybody what to eat, but it’s a good idea to eat some amount of Plants. There’s a craze over Plant-based burger patties lately, including the Beyond Burger. I had one at an A&W. It was okay. I enjoyed eating it, but it wasn’t substantial enough for me. Something about the Beyond Meat craze reminded me of Grismold, giving everyone Plants. I want to give Plants.

Not sure you want to make a salad out of this.

When I first looked at Grismold, I did think about how I could leverage him for value, and my mind immediately went to this…

I’m craving… plants?

And then, because it’s my mind, it went to this…


That’s Count Duckula. I watched him after school when I was a kid. He’s a vegetarian Vampire, despite the best efforts of his vassals, Igor and Nanny. Could I really build a deck around the silly concept of plant-eating vampires?

I guess there’s no killing these weeds. Maybe with a tomato stake.

Yes. Yes I could. Not only can I, it scratches an itch I’ve had for ages and ages. I like Vampires to some degree. I think the sparkly ones are too much, and the foppish ones can be a bit of a drag, and the thoughtless killing machines are mostly there for splatter. I’m also not on board with what Edgar Markov does. It seems linear and all-in, and I’m less interested in the 1-drop efficient Vampires than some others.

The Homelands designers get a pat on the back whenever someone plays one of their cards seriously, and I’m trying to get it to double digit pats.

Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Baron Sengir. One of 1995’s most hotly anticipated villains. On the Reserved List and everything with his wacky +2/+2 counters. When he was printed, he didn’t count as a Vampire. Now he’s been changed to only regenerate other Vampires, because a derpy 5/5 8-drop that regenerates itself is totally excessive. I love Magic. Playing the Baron meant playing low power and slow cards. How on earth do you play something like this seriously in any traditional Vampire deck? Well you don’t. You’re missing something. Something we can only get from green.

I just discovered this recently. Love it!

Ramp. Have Vamps ever had ramp? There’s no Golgari vampires I know of, though a new Sultai Vampire came out this year, Rayami, First of the Fallen. I’m not a fan.

I still don’t think this is good. Prove me wrong, somebody!

Anyway, pairing the huge black flying Vampires with the green ramp needed to cast them might just work. I decided to use a lot of my cool black and green lands, too. And then finished it off with a lot of powerful answers. The result is here. I get my silly Veggie Vamps concept, but it should be playable, and my interaction should keep me in a lot of games.

One of the great answers.

I’m a little concerned about being targeted because someone has seen a degenerate Grismold deck, but that’s always a danger. You just have to roll with it. Being in green helps, as you can at least get your mana going.

I haven’t played this a lot. It can be really good, or really nothing.

I’m planning on doing some special tokens, depicting some terrified vegetables, to give to my opponents. And I’m going to try and play up the Grismold as Chef angle if I can. That might defuse some hate, as I’m pretty midrange.

I’m playing this in case Grismold gets killed on sight more than a few times.

What’s my payoff, other than scratching my itch to play a bunch of big fun Vampires? Well, I have some cool tech cards and some cool trope cards, both of which play well in the Commander Challenge format, where votes matter more than kills.

I should count the cards I draw from this. I bet it’s a lot.

I’m running fairly typical stuff like the above, as well as Black Market for big mana, and Idol of Oblivion to draw cards for making tokens.

So great. I probably just need to get a few of these.

I have lots of cool sacrifice outlets, and they’re almost all stapled to lands. I love High Market and Phyrexian Tower, and I’m excited to play more of Miren, the Moaning Well and City of Shadows.

This could get big in a hurry.

I’m also excited about testing Primal Growth, another recent discovery, and Throne of Eldraine recursion spell, Once and Future.

I think I knew about this, I just dismissed it.
I think this is going to be amazing.

Trespasser’s Curse is an obvious piece of tech I can slam onto whoever attacks me first, if I draw it early. It’s an Amonkhet curse, but I can spin it for Vampires. I might need to work on my cartoon Vampire voice. Bleh!

Who’s that in my burial crypt?

Retribution of the Ancients might be a workhorse removal spell. At a cost of B, it seems like a slam dunk.

Vampires like +1/+1 counters too.

Some of the Vampires I get to run are pretty cool, like Bloodtracker, Fiend of the Shadows, and Shauku, Endbringer (now a Vampire).

Not just for Mairsil decks anymore!

I have a cool Unlimited Sengir Vampire that really takes me back.

One of my childhood friends terrorized my early Magic days with one of these.

On the plant side of things, I’m running Floral Spuzzem. Summon Spuzzem? I will.

Yeah, what?

I’m also running Thelonite Monk, which can combine my Plants with troublesome Mazes of Ith and such to make lovely Forests. I might do a fun token.

Plant more trees.

I have some ‘hunger’ cards with Ancient Craving and Grim Feast, that also do great work in the deck.

Ew, don’t eat that. You’ll get zombie.

But the real reason I’m playing this is in these three cards…

Make Vampires.
Make more Vampires!
Make all the Vampires!

I want to turn my Plants into Vampires. That’s it. That’s the game plan here. I’m going to do tokens, as I said, of frightened vegetables. I’m also going to pack some of vegetable tokens that are fanged and confident. Ideally I tap them with the Captivating Vampire and take yours.

Mine now!

All told, I’ve got a whole lot of silly premises here, but they’re bound by great mana and strong answers. I have an actual finish of flying beaters, too, so I can win some games. I think this will be mad fun, and I hope my opponents will enjoy it too. How will I do? Tune in late Saturday or sometime Sunday to find out. I hope I see you at the Challenge, and thanks for reading!


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