Ever since the first time I saw The Gitrog Monster, I wanted to find something special to do with it. There was an electricity about all the pieces coming together to make something better than anything I could have anticipated coming out of Shadows of Innistrad block. In the past I had been a big fan of Borborygmos Enraged a.k.a. “the Mr. Burns deck” as it colloquially became known to me through Canada’s The Eh Team. It had always been one of my favorite decks to have around when I wanted to change up my play pattern at the weekly Commander night. But with Gitrog, this new direction seemed like a stellar offshoot of the deck, making me consider building a second Jund deck in less than a year.

As time worn on, I just never got around to building the deck. The stack of cards I had been collecting as promising additions to the deck did survive the move between houses, though. It wasn’t until my write-up of the enemy-colored legends of Dominaria that it really stuck me that this deck might have grown beyond Jund. What if I embraced the power of Tatyova, Benthic Druid and moved from three colors to four, possibly headed up by someone like Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder? My plan this week is to do just that: a secret Gitrog Monster deck. The kind of deck I was theorizing was nothing new to me—plenty of decks don’t use their generals as their main motive of attack—but few will opt to add so many colors without good reason.

While The Gitrog Monster is the main pillar of our deck, the other pillars are Borborygmos Enraged and Tatyova, as they interact with lands as a form of card advantage. Much of the heart of this deck is going to come from the Borborygmos Enraged deck that I had crafted, having a higher ratio of lands than most decks—around 45 to 50—and a high amount of cards that can move lands from my library to my hand, graveyard, or battlefield. This is poised to be an article unlike most I have done before, because we’re not going to be relying on the Command Zone to retrieve our central theme for our deck.

Refacing Mr. Burns

One of the more meaningful changes to this deck as a spiritual successor to the Borborygmos Enraged deck is that it is moving from spells that strictly put cards into our hand—Seek the Horizon or Tilling Treefolk—in favor of spells like Rampant Growth and Farseek that put them directly into play. But I do think we will be able to keep Rowen in the deck because we will have an awful lot of basic lands in this deck, even with four colors.

In streamlining the deck away from Borborygmos we are able to move cards like Howling Mine and Font of Mythos out in favor of being Gitrog-centric with Tatyova for card draw instead. I was admittedly a little unsure if I wanted to dilute the magic that is Borborygmos beyond adding black for The Gitrog Monster. But when it came time to consider blue, I realized I could fulfill one of my biggest wish list items: comboing him with both Treasure Hunt and Meloku, the Clouded Mirror. With shenanigans like that hiding somewhere in the deck, I was completely on board.

One of things that stunted the development of Jund version of this deck was trying to figure out exactly what Gitrog would bring to this deck and how badly it would upend what was already established. Black meant Dakmor Salvage, which wasn’t going to win games on its own, but it did mean that Creeping Renaissance could be easier to set up for maximum land recursion. My searches also lead me to Scorched Earth and Wildfire, helping me to realize just how lucrative of an addition red was for The Gitrog Monster.

What really begins to put this strategy over the top is that Gitrog would now have access to Omnath, Locus of Rage. Meaning that every turn not only will we be drawing cards, but we should be generating tokens. As exciting as I am by the printing of Tatyova, we do not gain much in this dynamic shift of deck construction. We get access Mina and Denn, Wildborn making the deck more consistent then if Tatyova was just our general and we were settling for Oracle of Mul Daya and Courser of Kruphix. But the silver lining truly is the extra life we can employ paired with Greed or Erebos, God of the Dead, something we just wouldn’t have had in any other deck.

Learning from the Experts

This deck takes a lot of cues from the five color Nekusar deck that Josh Lee Kwai championed on both The Command Zone and an episode of Game Knights. In relistening to the episode profiling this deck, it was odd to me how little Josh employed tutors to find his general. I am not the biggest fan of using a high saturation of tutors, but I think they have a place in the game. Lord knows I use Rampant Growth in most decks and more niche tutors like Goblin Matron in decks that toolbox for goblins. But for this deck, I would employ tutors like Diabolic Tutor, Final Parting, and maybe something unconventional like Riptide Shapeshifter to find our in-deck “generals.”

Keeping in mind that Josh’s deck revolved around card advantage not existing when that deck was at the table, our deck will push us to draw cards when we play a land, sacrifice a land, or discard one from our hand. I’m not too worried about going much further beyond that.

Route to Victory

As I see it, the main objective of this deck will be to get Gitrog and Mr. Burns center stage and use the Seismic Assault ability on the giant in combination with the card draw produced by Gitrog to finish off the game at a moment’s notice. But we’re not going to reach this state on good will alone.

Our early game should concentrate getting our copies of Firebrand Ranger, Llanowar Scout, Skyshroud Ranger, and Walking Atlas into play so that we can cheat as many lands as possible into play both to ramp up to our main win condition and even after as we try to use more and more mana. This will all peak with Mina and Denn, Tatyova, and/or Rites of Flourishing in play. Our engine now at full charge, we dig for our main two combo pieces. In the grand scheme of things, this deck has the potential to do highly consistent as the main pillars of the deck are built around damage and card draw.

Since we will be moving along an axis that most decks simply aren’t prepared to interact with, we can get a lot of mileage out of cards built to bt symmetrical that simply aren’t in this context. Storm Cauldron works for us because not only is it moving our lands back to our hand to use as free Lightning Bolt, it’s also giving us more lands to play in order to draw off Tatyova, Benthic Druid. Any mill card with Gitrog in play is a going to net us some card draw and we can prevent decking ourselves by employing Bow of Nylea and Loaming Shaman to recycle our graveyard.

Winning seems like an inevitability once we have either Mr. Burns or Gitrog in play. With the aforementioned Meloku fueling our hand with lands while also producing tokens, we can very easily win on the damage front. But with Gitrog being able to pair Altar of the Brood with Jace’s Erasure and Sphinx’s Tutelage, any method we take to draw cards becomes a mill strategy against our second or third opponent at the table. Lastly, while we will not be as animating lands like the Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis deck I’ve previously talked about, using single turn animation spells like Sylan Awakening or Rude Awakening could possibly be our Plan E in this deck.

In many ways I know that I am writing a lot about this deck existing in the most magical of Christmasland situations, but I feel that elements not meant to connect together under normal circumstances really have a chance to be something special. Much like the Jodah, Archmage Eternal deck that I featured last week, this deck has been gnawing at my interest for the last month or so. I have a feeling that the right answer is somewhere out there and just waiting for me to find it.

Unconventional takes like this are always hard to pin on the first try. Heck, I don’t know that I figured it out on the sixth try. But I’m very excited to see where this goes, and just like last week I believe I will probably be doing a rundown of completed decks that I have featured on this column very soon. Let me pass the mic back to my audience: how crazy of an idea is this? How excited are you to try this deck for yourself? All these questions and more I would love to hear feedback on. Until next time, thanks all.

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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