My unboxing experience of “Plunder the Graves” is similar to the last Commander deck I unboxed and reviewed, “Call the Spirits.” I tried filming the sleeving…but failed at that miserably. So, here is my review of the deck, post-opening. I didn’t get far, so I reassembled the cards into the deck as they came. But I did take pictures. (I have lost the backside of the box pic, though.)
You get this when you open the box. I just threw away the rules reference card and the little tray. The box is a nice box for storing cards, but it is too small to hold this deck when sleeved. I think it’s an odd choice to use purple and black on the box. But it looks cool! Below are some pictures of the guide to playing this deck.
Is this deck as good as “Call the Spirits?” Keep reading…
Here are the tokens. They are two sided…so flipping them, you get…
This deck makes heavy use of the tokens. It is good to see all of these included.
First, we get a lot of “utility” style creatures. You just don’t play a graveyard deck without some of these. Eternal Witness is an absolute staple in basically every green Commander deck. Satyr Wayfinder and Sakura Tribe Elder are as well. And most black commander deck’s I’ve seen include Shriekmaw and Pharexian Rager.
The only card here I haven’t ever seen, (I don’t think) is Skullwinder. (I looked it up. This is the first printing.) You get a creature from your graveyard, and get to give an opponent a card back…”group hug.”
These five cards are good utility. All of them except for Acidic Slime were printed just for this set. Banshee of the Dread Choir and Caller of the Pack have “Myriad,” an ability that creates a copy of the attacking card tapped and attacking each opponent. (This discourages “group hug.”) Thief of Blood is removal, he takes every counter and turns them into +1/+1. This targets loyalty counters on Planeswalkers, charge counters, or any other counters on the battlefield. This kills many creatures, whose power and toughness are tied to counters.
The Great Oak Guardian is a big creature with reach that can be flashed in. Printed for Commander, and only good for Commander.
Not too many artifacts in this deck. The ever present Sol Ring. A reprint of Skullcap and Lightning Greaves. (I love the flavor text on Lightning Greaves!) Golgari Signet, and the new mana rock, Thought Vessel.
Some more utility cards. I am a big fan of Diabolic Servitude, and now own a copy of each printing! Altar’s Reap is a fun card. Go ahead and chump block away! Then play Altar’s Reap and draw two cards. Sick! Purify, Grisly Salvage, and Golgari Charm are all very flavorful green/black utility cards, with Golgari Charm being a star. Mulch is some good ramp, and Tribute to the Wild is a new card. “Each opponent sacrifices an artifact or creature.”
Now for our legendary creatures. Since I didn’t show you the unboxing, here is the oversized card for the commander that this deck was made for. Mere of the Clan Nel Toth. She’s good! Each time one of your creatures dies, be it a token or a “real” creature, and Meren is on the battlefield, YOU get an experience counter. Experience counters work like Poison counters…there is no way to make you get rid of them. In this deck, they let you return creatures either to your hand or to the graveyard. In a “reanimator” strategy like we have in this deck, Meren is super powerful.
Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest is another new general. Anytime someone sacrifices a permanent, all of YOUR creatures get a +1/+1 counter. As good as Meren is, I can’t wait to try out Mazirek! Just think…how many ways do people sacrifice their permanents…(fetch lands, sac outlets, payment requirements, triggered abilities, and on and on.) And Commander makes combing off by sacrificing things really work. With Mazirek on the battlefield, all of your guys can become immense quickly.
And then there’s Jarrad, Golgari Lich Lord. I always liked him in the Ravnica block. But he is also a value commander at two blacks and two greens, probably going to be huge. And you can use him to really hurt your opponents, who Doom Blade your Terastodon…just sac him to Jarrad’s ability on his way to the graveyard, and drain them. The other thing about Jarrad, he can avoid being put into the command zone. He is easy to get back out of the graveyard if you can sacrifice a Swamp and a Forest.
It is amazing how many rare’s the Wizards include in these Commander sets!
Scourge of the Nel Toth…you had me at “Zombie Dragon.” Eldrazi Monument…lets make everything fly and have indestructible!
(This may be the “money card” of the future.)
Great to see one of the most underrated cards ever. Lotleth Troll. I love this guy! You get to ditch creature cards from your hand to beef him up with +1/+1 counters and kill their attacker. At INSTANT SPEED! and if you have a spare black, you can regenerate him! You have a way to discard creatures to your graveyard, create a fatty, and remove their creatures. Incredible card!
Dread Summons…you can make yourself and you opponents mill. And all of the creatures that made it into the the graveyard net you a zombie!
(2/2 zombie tokens. Great blockers and bodies to sacrifice. Which gets you experience counters….)
These cards are amazing. Bonehoard is a living weapon that cares about the number of creatures in ALL graveyards. Eater of Hope….a big flying demon with awesome relevant abilities! Verdant Force…you get a 1/1 sapling at each upkeep. Terastodon….just give them a few green elephants instead of Isochron Scepters, Cavern of Souls or whatever other mess they have out!
A couple of rare lands. It is especially good to see High Market reprinted here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Grim Backwoods. Both lands let you sacrifice creatures reliably. Extractor Demon is just good.
I’ve had the chance to play Victimize…it’s fun. Spider Spawning can really scare you opponent with flyers. Barter in Blood…one of the ways to make your opponent sacrifice their creatures. Rise from the grave…incredible. I haven’t had the chance to play Primal Growth yet, but I think it is a beautiful card…I can’t wait to play it!
Of course we get some basic lands….
And then some utility lands.
I said it before, and say it now. Tainted Wood should be legal in Modern. Every other land here is except Command Tower, (but it would have no use anyway…)
PLAYING THE DECK
I forgot how much I enjoy playing black/green! I have played this strategy to some success back in the Return to Ravnica block.
My matches so far have worked best when I have chumps early game. Loading the graveyard is a good choice in this deck.
In my first game, (Against Derevi, Empyreal Tactitian) , I was forced to ditch Lotleth Troll. I was disappointed, to say the least. But not too bad, because I got him back within five turns, and got to ditch Verdant Force and Terastadon. And I took a pointer from the Graveborn deck, and put Diabolique Servitude on Terastadon, and it was GG for me when I cast Overwhelming Stampede!
I played it against the Defeat a God challenge deck. As usual, Xenagos and his army of satyrs got me down to an almost game over life total. But then the deck’s ability to create tokens saved my bacon. And 2/2 zombies are just the correct power and toughness to die when blocking, netting experience counters and letting you return basically any card you want from the graveyard to the battlefield. The SpartanNerd might not be all that smart…all of this didn’t occur to me until it happened…..
The third and most recent match was a three-player game against Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and Nahiri, the Lithomancer. A pretty striking contrast to Oloro…Plunder the Graves has almost NO WAY to gain life. (And that is just about all Oloro does.) But this deck has answers to Nahiri. To start with, Golgari Charm just puts 1/1 chumps out of business. And the deck has plenty of targeted removal spells for anything problematic. Unfortunately, there are almost ZERO chump flyers in this deck.
Basically, it came down to Emeria the Sky Ruin is better at reanimating things, so Nahiri can get a Stoneforged Blade out, … And so it took its first loss.
I don’t see much here. High Market? nope. TCGplayer has Meren of the Clan Nel Toth at around $10. So all around, you get a good value if you paid MSRP $35.
This deck is fun. No question. I love playing re-animator, and black green is a good combination for that strategy.
Could it be improved? Oh yes. Entomb would be insane. Hero’s Downfall. Raven’s crime? Life from the Loam? Treasured Find? All of these could improve the deck. And could have been reprinted…The wizards missed a chance. Maybe they didn’t want to put all the good reanimators in one deck? The new Liliana would also work really well here.
So I’m going to rate “Plunder the Graves” a 4/5. It’s fun enough to get this rating. I really like Meren! But it could have been improved from THIS reanimators point of view.
The SpartanNerd rates Magic the Gathering Commander 2015 “Plunder the Graves” a 4/5. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!