Hello all you wonderful people and welcome back to Shattered Perceptions. Before we get into the article, I want to take a second to highlight the podcast The Brothers’ War, who did an episode around my Shattergang Brothers deck that I wrote about a few months ago. It was a really cool to get featured and they have a healthy backlog of episodes so far, so go check them out.

This week I return to my normal scope and talk about finding untapped potential in overlooked Commander gems through interesting generals. This week I’m primed to outline why I think current Standard powerhouse, The Scarab God, just might need some attention in Commander with a fun and unique build. This one might get a little spooky-scary, so my one regret was that I missed delivering this before Halloween, but at least it’s the same week.

The Scarab God

When the “Bolas Gods” were revealed, I was intrigued by how they acted a lot like the “traditional” Theros and Amonkhet Gods, but were durable in a new way that was especially potent in Commander. Right away I wanted to formulate some way to build around them for this column, but got a little disheartened by how quickly people were finding a “best build” for each. Thus far, everything I have seen published on our new Dimir overlord had revolved entirely around building the deck as a Zombie tribal dec; and while elements of that theme will seep into my skeleton, I would like to leverage the power of our general into something a little more off-beat.

The idea for this deck came from two places, one cascading into the other. Two weeks ago I was watching one of Saffron Olive’s “Much Abrew About Nothing” series with a Scarab God Pirates deck. While The Scarab God got played but rarely did much in game, it caused me return to that question of how I would build with this god in Commander. The Scarab God felt like Chainer, Dementia Master but without the drawback and an interesting way of looking at creatures. Pretty quickly I was brought back to a compliment I had received from my friend, Grayson, on my “Shattergang Eldrazi” deck, saying that I had built the deck to focus on the smaller Eldrazi and rather than the Titans.

In a post-Battle for Zendikar world there are a good handful of “smaller” Eldrazi that could be upgraded with more power and toughness by our general and still benefit from small traces of Zombie tribal. The added originality that this would be a deck where Spreading Plague would not be optimal and in fact very bad gave me the confidence to triumphantly march off to build a fresh and new Eldrazi deck!

True Cosmic Horror

Making a theme apparent in a singleton format often means dedicating a high threshold of deck slots to our theme to make it seen in every game. I think aiming for twenty cards in this case should suffice and be especially easy because, much like my philosophy in Shattergang Brothers, I want to showcase the creature type and not a specific effect. There’s no need to list of every Eldrazi I’m thinking of including, but here is some of the method to my madness.

The first few options that sold me on this deck idea were the upgradability of creatures like Bearer of Silence, Sky Scourer, Dimensional Infiltrator, and Mist Intruder as resurrection targets for reasonably-sized fliers. While that interaction was intriguing, it wasn’t until I looked at cards like Eldrazi Skyspawner, Incubator Drone, and Drowner of Hope that I realized that I could be rebuying more than just four power with each activation.

In the past I’ve spoken about my journey to find what would eventually become my Shattergang deck and how at one time Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge was a way to leverage Processors. This deck seems like a great way to interact with that subset of cards. Recurring Wasteland Strangler, Murk Strider, and Ulamog’s Nullifier at instant speed are all great tricks. Oracle of Dust works great once you’ve setup processing to allow us to rebuy our opponents’ creatures again, while also drawing cards, and Ulamog’s Despoiler can make up for the reduction in size when “eternalized” late in the game.

Even if we’re downgrading on size, Void Winnower still messes up board states and old school Eldrazi like It That Betrays or Pathrazer of Ulamog still have unique effects, along with the devastating Annihilator keyword.

Stapled Together

It is important to understand that the tokens created from our general are Zombies and nothing else (unlike cards with eternalize). So as much as I would love to be able to say my creatures are Zombie Eldrazi, unfortunately they will not be. Either way, I think we would be stupid to not play with at least some of the Zombie “lords” or anthems available to us. I would prioritize Undead Warchief, Lord of the Accursed, Liliana’s Mastery, and Diregraf Captain over most of the other “lords,” but the remaining deck slots may allow others to make the cut. I want to find room for Conspiracy, Arcane Adaptation, and Xenograft all set to Zombies in order to benefit off of Kindred Discovery and Rooftop Storm. In this way, we are aligning ourselves with some of the more cliche cards for this general, but not every deck will buck trends.

Another suite of staples I highly recommend is artifact ramp in the form of Darksteel Ingot, Astral Cornucopia, Sky Diamond, Charcoal Diamond, and Thran Dynamo. I prefer our artifacts make as much colored mana as possible, since we’ll need every bit of it once we’re looking to enable The Scarab God multiple times late in the game. Especially if you’re so inclined to include Paradox Engine.

Only The Worthy

To the uninitiated, The Scarab God is not our only way to “eternalize” creatures. We will also have God-Pharaoh’s Gift and Hour of Eternity to help convert our army to the undead. Since we are not going full Zombie Tribal, we’re going to want to look outside of both of our marquee tribes for a few more options before we move on to spells. Personally, I would be happy to have Mulldrifter, Shriekmaw, Nevermaker, and Slithermuse at the ready, maybe even fresh off evoking.

But if we want to get spicy with our picks that benefit from upgrades, here are some good ones. Unliving Psychopath has an unique ability that benefits from the conversion. Scion of Darkness is easy to get into a graveyard to recur. The forgettable Masked Gorgon, which becomes a quirky attacker and blocker once  eternalized. And then there’s blue fliers with protection, like Sea Sprite, and the mana-making Peregrine Drake, which can buy you a free God activation.

Digging deeper, we will also be looking for options from our opponents; so while our general will have to all the heavy lifting there, we can help to move that process along with spells like Windfall, Damnable Pact, Mind Grind, and Mind Funeral. This may finally be the deck where Shapeshifter’s Marrow can see some play as well, setting up our game plan while also being a Clone.

Wreaking Havoc

Armed with the methods to assemble an impressive army of the undead, we probably want to find a few ways to win, preferably in short order. In my research, I found this lovely evasion-enabling package: Graf Harvest, Cover of Darkness, Dirge of Dread, Dread Charge, Hideous Visage, Intimidation, and the ever-popular Profane Command.

If time comes to get your damage through and your opponent happens to have relevant blockers, you can leverage Ensnare, Icy Blast, Tempest Caller, or Blustersquall to strategically scoop up a surprise TKO. Or we can be proactive with Frozen Aether.

Lastly, I’m the worst about thinking about removal, but I remember it here. While many consider Cyclonic Rift an auto-include in any deck with blue, I don’t know that I would play it here. I believe priority should be on getting creatures into the graveyard through destroy, sacrifice, or -X/-X effects. As such I would prefer to have Toxic Deluge, Torment of Hailfire, Killing Wave, or Syphon Flesh in hand.

Going Horribly Awry

To close out, I want to briefly cover a few of the shortcomings of the deck as I see it. This may become a recurring feature of my deck skeleton articles going forward, just as an exercise in being realistic. Like any Scarab God deck, I believe this deck will have a sour time trying to work through graveyard hate—which Meren of Clan Nel Toth taught us is a requirement in many metagames. Even keeping in mind our general’s scry ability, I fear we cannot naturally keep the card advantage of a deck like Maren. So I think that we may fall prey to board stalls in which the creatures you’re “eternalizing” are just not going to be able to compete with with the rest of the table.

Oracle of Dust and Windfall are good, but I do think that special attention will need to be given to ensuring that we are able to keep a steady flow of cards coming in the event that our board gets wipes and we no longer have creatures to dig back up. Our deck could get mana hungry, so I want to stress that we need to use every mana intelligently and possibly win fast.

This deck has really sparked my imagination, especially since our general incentivises you to avoid creatures purely based on their power and toughness and look more at what they do once they are in play. From enter the battlefield effects to activated abilities, The Scarab God can really shift focus and make previously forgettable cards better in the new context. Quirky is just my overall play style and hopefully I am not alone in that.

When I first set out to build this deck, it piqued my interest and seemed like a fun idea for an article. But after all my research and time writing, I absolutely intend on building this deck and shattering expectations. If you happen to build this deck or have a different twist, hunt me down on Twitter. But until next time, thanks all and have a good week.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH, the story of Magic and the EDH community in his down time. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.
Pet Deck – Shattergang Eldrazi

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