Magic: The Gathering is a game of many formats, from the competitive Modern to booster draft Limited and the ever-popular Commander format, where almost any deck or strategy is viable. This format rewards creativity and resourcefulness, and the black-green color combination is adept at sacrificing its own cards and creatures to reap huge benefits. Meren of Clan Nel Toth is one example, and there is also the Gitrog Monster.
The Gitrog Monster is a legendary Frog Horror from the Shadows Over Innistrad block. Although it doesn’t see much play in Modern or Legacy, this land-hungry frog has made a name for itself in the Commander format. How can a player build a deck around Innistrad’s top amphibian?
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The Creatures of the Gitrog Monster’s Deck
The Gitrog Monster has three abilities that clearly define this deck’s strategy, revolving mainly around land cards, the graveyard and drawing extra cards to harvest some serious card advantage. Whether or not this Frog Horror is on the battlefield, the other creatures of this deck will keep fueling the graveyard.
Underrealm Lich is a fine start. It can effectively replace card draws with a graveyard-based Anticipate, and that will help the player draw what they need while stocking up their graveyard. It can also pay four life to protect itself from damage or destroy effects, too. Meanwhile, Stinkweed Imp and other creatures with dredge can rapidly fill up the graveyard to synergize with The Gitrog Monster, proving once again that the Golgari Swarm’s dredge ability is incredibly powerful. Other major dredge creatures include Golgari Thug and Golgari Grave-Troll.
Meanwhile, Ramunap Excavator is a notable creature from the Amonkhet block, acting like Crucible of Worlds on a 2/3 body. Sacrificing lands to The Gitrog Monster is no big deal when the player can get those lands right back from the graveyard, though this may make Ramunap Excavator a priority target for opponents. For the sake of mana ramp and lands, the player can add the likes of Satyr Wayfinder, Oracle of Mul Daya, Courser of Kruphix, Springbloom Druid and Azusa, Lost But Seeking to this deck. Landfall creatures like Rampaging Baloths are also a good choice. Another must-have is Ancient Greenwarden, a heavy hitter from Zendikar Rising. Not only is it huge, but it also allows the player to play lands from the graveyard, and it doubles all landfall triggers.
The Instants & Sorceries of the Gitrog Monster’s Deck
This deck loves lands and creatures, but players shouldn’t skimp on instants and sorceries. Many of those spells are highly effective in The Gitrog Monster’s deck, rapidly searching out land cards and reaping benefits from lands in play or in the graveyard. Realms Uncharted is balanced by putting two of the chosen lands into the graveyard, but in this deck, the player can access them all and seek out powerful and useful lands with impunity.
Ad Nauseam, the star of a certain Modern deck, can be played here to pay life and draw a lot of extra cards, with no upper limit. Worm Harvest, meanwhile, floods the board with disposable 1/1 Worm tokens to block enemy creatures or provide sacrifice fodder. Having retrace means this card can be cast several times, and discarding lands for retrace should be easy.
True to its colors, The Gitrog Monster’s spells also feature mana ramp and removal. Together, black and green can kill nearly anything, having access to spells such as Putrefy, Maelstrom Pulse, Abrupt Decay, Hero’s Downfall, Naturalize, Toxic Deluge, Casualties of War and Damnation. As for mana ramp, The Gitrog Monster can run Kodama’s Reach, Scapeshift, Farseek and Rampant Growth as desired. Tutor card such as Green Sun’s Zenith, Diabolic Intent and Diabolic Tutor are also relevant here.
The Other Spells of the Gitrog Monster’s Deck
A handful of artifacts, enchantments and Planeswalkers help round out The Gitrog Monster’s deck, starting with the ever-popular Horn of Greed, which is especially effective in this particular deck. Zuran Orb, Swiftfoot Boots and Expedition Map are also popular artifacts in this deck, aside from staple mana rocks such as Sol Ring, Golgari Signet and Arcane Signet.
As for enchantments, Exploration and Sylvan Library have cheap converted mana costs and work well to generate card advantage; Burgeoning can help too. The Mending of Dominaria is a five-drop that can stock up the graveyard and get creatures and lands back to the hand, and Zendikar’s Roil makes a 2/2 green Elemental creature token with each landfall trigger (or two tokens if Ancient Greenwarden is around). Ayula’s Influence and Phyrexian Arena are also worth considering.
Most variants of Nissa are usable in this deck, since they all focus on lands, except for the very first one (Nissa Revane). In particular, Nissa of Shadowed Boughs has a landfall trigger to get extra loyalty, and its +1 ability can turn extra lands into 3/3 creatures with menace and haste. Meanwhile, Nissa’s -5 will get a creature from the hand or graveyard onto the battlefield, and grant it two +1/+1 counters for extra strength. Having lots of lands on the battlefield makes this effect much more potent.
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