Kristen takes us through her Massacre Girl EDH build. It’s a fun and frantic deck that makes big plays!

A good number of Commander players like to fill out their deck collection with representation from each color, guild, wedge, and shard. It’s a great goal, and a way to ensure you get to experience a lot of different types of Magic. For me that latter part is key: exploring different types of Magic. In this case, the variety for me is gameplay, and ensuring I can explore unique styles of play to keep each deck worthy of being in my roster.

One of the reasons I still haven’t built a mono-Blue deck is that I find that all of the unique things to do with a Blue deck can be done better by adding other colors; and not just marginally. Sure, adding White to a reanimator deck does give access to certain cards, but mono-Black can do this just fine on its own. With Blue, if I’m looking at anything outside of a Mill strategy, I find the order of magnitude at which a different color pairing improves the themes to be significant enough that I’d rather use my cards there. A good example is Izzet artifacts over mono-Blue artifacts. Access to Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, and Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice, among many other cards, is a significant upgrade.

I also kinda hate playing hard control in Commander. It’s not fun for other players, and the win conditions available in Blue aren’t too interactive; they just kinda happen.

So, when I decided to build my next deck, I evaluated what I had built up and what was missing from my collection:

Other decks have come and gone, but of the decks I currently had built, I was missing Mono Black. I was also missing a more “wipe the board” hard control style deck. Enter Massacre Girl.

Massacre Girl

One of my favorite things in Magic design is when flavor meets mechanics. Massacre Girl is a fantastic example of this; the way the ability works, the chaos grows and grows with each progressive creature that dies, culminating in a crescendo as the largest creature falls. It’s one of the more interesting board wipes I’ve seen for a while, and one I think deserves to see play in many Black decks that use tokens or aristocrats style gameplay.

When building a deck around Massacre Girl, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the board is unlikely to have creatures on it for long; so your own creatures either need to survive, have haste, or have an impactful enter-the-battlefield effect to be worth running. Second, if we’re wanting to wipe the board a lot, we need some ways to benefit from that occurrence. Finally, we need a way to eliminate players beyond poking them for four per turn with Massacre Girl—we haven’t got all night!

Of note, due to the updated rulings on how sending a Commander to the Command Zone works, they will now always trigger Massacre Girl when they are put into the Command Zone, as they make a short trip through the graveyard. Conversely, Grave Betrayal won’t get them back.

The Deck


Our main strategy with Massacre Girl is to take advantage of opponent’s creatures dying, by either reanimating them straight away, or letting the triggers feed our own payoff cards. Most of the damage we’ll do will be chip damage for the early to mid part of the game, with either a big combat swing or a combo/big mana finish if we need it or draw into it.


We can’t always rely on our opponents having small creatures to start Massacre chains, so providing the peons at the start of the chain is on us. Dusk Legion Zealot is a nice way to cantrip that sets up a massacre, while Reassembling Skeleton, Bloodghast, and Endless Cockroaches can keep coming back for more. Bitterblossom, Genesis Chamber, and Forbidden Orchard offer repeatable token production on non-creature permanents, which is perfect for what we want to accomplish.

We also have the likes of Clackbridge Troll and Grave Titan to make more tokens and hit pretty hard with, and Dowsing Dagger as a way to ramp and provide a side of veggies with our meat. Erratic Portal and Sanctum of Eternity allow us to bounce Massacre Girl back to hand to be recast for a cool five mana. In a deck that revolves around our Commander entering play, these two are super important, given we can’t really blink in Black.

Finally, Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni is a way to both reset Massacre Girl—through Ninjutsu—but also to reanimate whatever she dispatched the previous turn.


So, we’re wiping the slate clean as often as possible. How do we use that to our advantage? Well, first up, bringing the dead over to our side is a pretty good start. Thrilling Encore will bring back everything that died this turn into play under our control, while Grim Return can target just one creature for a little cheaper. I’m opting to use these end of turn effects rather than something like Minion’s Return, because bringing a creature back in the middle of a massacre chain might end up being fruitless, as you might well watch it die all over again.

Spoils of Blood is a fun card, and for a single Black, is a flexible way to make a potentially huge beat stick, essentially turning Massacre Girl into Phyrexian Rebirth. I’m running Command the Dreadhorde, but under full knowledge that Rise of the Dark Realms is nearly always better. My budget doesn’t stretch to that right now, and I’m hoping it’ll see a reprint soon. It’s also why I don’t have Massacre Wurm in the deck, but hopefully after Core Set 2021 drops, I will!

Rounding out our recursive payoffs are classic reanimator package spells: Reanimate, Mimic Vat, Animate Dead, and Geth, Lord of the Vault. The real reason to run Massacre Girl in the Command Zone, though, is Grave Betrayal. This enchantment returns creatures that die under our opponent’s control back to play with a +1/+1 counter under our control. It’s an end game piece, and one that’s always a blast to resolve.

Beyond just stealing creatures, we have other ways to benefit from our trail of destruction. Sangromancer helps us gain some life back, Black Market gives us mana, and Revel in Riches provides mana along with an alternate win condition. Erebos, Bleak-Hearted is similarly valuable, as he gives us a zero mana way to draw cards when our creatures die along with a way to push along the massacre by using his other ability.

Given the board gets wiped a lot, we need a way to save our creatures so that we can take advantage and push through combat damage. Ob Nixilis, Unshackled and Patron of the Vein both do this on their own, growing as creatures die, while providing strong value too. Outside of these, we have Blade of the Bloodchief, Eternal Thirst, and Sadistic Glee, which offer the +1/+1 counter effect to our other creatures. Simply slapping one of these onto another creature we have in play with toughness greater than one will leave behind one swole attacker.


Although we do have a board wipe in the Command Zone, we still need redundancy and flexibility. Toxic Deluge is one of the best boardwipes in Black, so it’s a snap include here. Decree of Pain can be cycled to give an instant speed mini-wrath, or a boost to Massacre Girl, or hard cast to refill our hand. Life’s Finale fills an opponent’s graveyard to fuel our reanimator spells, and Sudden Spoiling is a fantastic way to get rid of any abilities or huge toughness that might stop us from achieving our goals. It’s also just a great combat trick.

Waiting until after a wrath is usually the best time to cast a particular strong creature, so we need to be prepared for opponents doing just that. We’re taking full advantage of free spells Snuff Out and Deadly Rollick, with backup from Murderous Rider, Cavalier of Night, Ravenous Chupacabra, and Erebos’s Intervention, which are more than enough when combined with Patron of the Vein.

Getting Set Up

In order to fuel a deck that wants to play with big mana, we need to have a good engine. All of the greatest hits of Black draw are here, from Skullclamp to Harvester of Souls, Necropotence to Vilis, Broker of Blood. We’re also running Rankle, Master of Pranks and Dread Presence to take advantage of other aspects of deckbuilding. A hasty Rankle after Massacre Girl can carry on the devastation if we pick the sacrifice mode, and cracking Myriad Landscape or Burnished Hart instant speed to activate Dread Presence is a nice on-board trick. Speaking of on-board tricks, No Rest for the Wicked accompanies Phyrexian Reclamation to give us powerful recursion.

I’ve been waiting to use my Ikoria preview card Manascape Refractor in a deck, and this is a perfect deck to use it in! We’re already playing Bubbling Muck and Jet Medallion, so leaning heavily into the value we can get from our lands seems a natural thing to do.

Crucible of Worlds and Expedition Map help us get set up to ride the value train as we incorporate the best of Black mana generation: Cabal Coffers, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Lake of the Dead, and Deserted Temple. Having a second way to use activated abilities on the Refractor even lets us run lands like Temple of the False God because the payoff is worth the risk. One card I’m particularly fond of running here is Conqueror’s Galleon. This vehicle has a big butt, so has little danger of dying if Massacre Girl is somehow flickered. It flips into Conqueror’s Foothold, which lets us loot, draw cards, and even buy back cards from our graveyard. With a deck focused on big mana, I don’t see this being an unreasonable way to expect to keep things going.

One upgrade I’ve considered is switching to snow-covered Swamps, which will give us Scrying Sheets, and the ability to use Dead of Winter as a second Toxic Deluge. It’s not necessary, but is a nice tweak to aim for one day.

Ending the Game

Despite us having a strong strategy that can provide big tempo swings, there will be games where things aren’t as straightforward. Gray Merchant of Asphodel is in the deck to provide a great buffer to our life total, which can be particularly relevant with all of the ways we have to use life to pay for effects. It’s also a win condition in its own right when combined with Erratic Portal or reanimation.

Beyond that, we run two ways to finish the game. The first is a classic Torment of Hailfire, which, combined with our many ways to produce bundles of black mana, can ensure we can achieve victory. The other is a more combo focused route. We’re running the Bloodchief Ascension/Mindcrank combo. When the Bloodchief Ascension is online, all we need to do to mill out an opponent is to ensure they discard a card, lose life, or lose a creature, and the combo will start and keep rolling indefinitely. The two halves of the combo are good enough on their own in the deck, and my decision to not run any tutors was primarily for keeping variance in how the deck performs. If you want to lean into this combo, feel free to add some tutors!

In Closing

Massacre Girl is a super fun way to play Commander. Having a wrath in the Command Zone is always an exciting prospect, and combining that with many cards that see little play elsewhere is a cool payoff. The deck has plenty of lines, and takes full advantage of Manascape Refractor, one of the best cards to come out of Commander 2020.

There’s a couple of cards I’m considering trying out in the deck: Bastion of Remembrance seems like a top-tier drain effect, which persists through board wipes thanks to its enchantment typing, and Dredge the Mire seems like the perfect choice card to give opponents. They’ll be forced to either give you smaller bodies that enable your strategy, or to avoid doing so, and give you stronger bodies that you can beat down with. I don’t see it ever being anything but great value for four mana. The deck is super hungry on slots, though, and is open to customization.

If you enjoyed today’s article, or have some great picks for cards I missed, let me know on Twitter to continue the discussion.

Based in the UK, Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.