I like to have something to be proud to write up when I build a deck for this column. And usually I am! I am half-decent at making these things, and I play Commander pretty well too. But Marath, Will of the Wild, seems to be stumping me. Maybe it’s just bad luck, since it’s hard to get a complete sense of an EDH deck unless you play it a fair bit, and I’ve only been able to take Marath out on three or four outings. But something about the deck just doesn’t seem to work, and I can’t quite figure out why.


It seems like it should work in theory. Marath has some interesting synergies with individual cards, and then cards like Primal Vigor amplify the themes of the deck. For example, Gyre Sage and Viridian Joiner both turn +1/+1 counters into mana. Ivy Lane Denizen means a 1/1 for one mana, forever. Wild Beastmaster turns them into Overrun, while Preyseizer Dragon and Hateflayer turn those counters into damage. Basilisk Collar makes all those damage sources (and Marath herself) into lethal pingers. Mayael’s Aria wins the game while buffing my team on the way there. Perilous Forays turns a +1/+1 counter and two mana into a Rampant Growth, and Fecundity turns two +1/+1 counters and two mana into a card. These are great symmetries, and they all have redundancy within the deck.


But, recognizing that some of my previous attempts at personalizing these precons have resulted in decks with insufficient enchantment removal, I made a point of adding in a fair bit of spot removal as well. Hull Breach, Pure and Simple, Vandalblast, and Wear and Tear are all excellent removal options, generally offering two for ones or flexibility to deal with all types of problem cards. I’d put a Doubling Season in there if I had a spare, but I’d honestly rather keep Ghave, Guru of Spores together than add a few percentage points to this unpleasant deck’s win percentage.


Because it’s possible that this is just bad luck! It seems like it should be so good, but I’ve been running up against control decks and they just keep wiping my board. Or clearing out my hand just as I’ve planned to do something. It’s a frustration. But the games have been so miserable that I’m not even sure I want to keep working on this. Ugh. I don’t know. Here’s the list:


Marath, Will of the Wild


Creatures and Walkers: Apocalypse Hydra; Avenger of Zendikar; Bane of Progress; Crowned Ceratok; Falkenrath Exterminator; Fertilid; Fleecemane Lion; Forgotten Ancient; Garruk Wildspeaker; Garruk, Primal Hunter; Garruk’s Packleader; Gruul Ragebeast; Gyre Sage; Hateflayer; Hundred-Handed One; Ivy Lane Denizen; Keeper of Progenitus; Krosan Tusker; Meglonoth; Mycoloth; Oracle of Mul Daya; Polis Crusher; Polukranos, World Eater; Preyseizer Dragon; Rampaging Baloths; Renegade Krasis; Stormbreath Dragon; Twilight Drover; Vigor; Viridian Joiner; Wild Beastmaster; Zhur-Taa Ancient

Artifacts and Enchantments: Basilisk Collar; Behemoth Sledge; Bow of Nylea; Chromatic Lantern; Contagion Clasp; Contagion Engine; Curse of Predation; Death’s Presence; Everflowing Chalice; Fecundity; Mayael’s Aria; Perilous Forays; Primal Vigor; Ring of Kalonia; Ring of Thune; Ring of Valkas; Rites of Flourishing; Sol Ring; Staff of Nin; Triumph of Ferocity; True Conviction; Warstorm Surge

Spells: Hull Breach; Pure and Simple; Tempt with Glory; Vandalblast; Wear and Tear

Lands: Boros Garrison; Boros Guildgate; Command Tower; Forest x10; Fungal Reaches; Gavony Township; Gruul Guildgate; Gruul Turf; Jungle Shrine; Kessig Wolf Run; Mosswort Bridge; Mountain x5; Opal Palace; Oran-Rief, the Vastwood; Plains x5; Rith’s Grove; Saltcrusted Steppe; Selesnya Guildgate; Selesnya Sanctuary; Skarrg, the Rage Pits; Slayers’ Stronghold; Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion; Temple of the False God


So I don’t know. Should I even keep tinkering here? No matter what, I need to put it aside for a week when I come back to talk about Nekusar, the Mindrazer… one of the decks that dominated Marath. Although, Nekusar actually housed several of the other precons, so maybe that’s not the best metric. Only time will tell.


Jess Stirba is a Brooklyn-based player who fell in love with Commander back when it was EDH. She also maintains a Pauper Cube, and is occasionally lured back to more competitive formats. She writes weekly on topics of interest to the Commander crowd.

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