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A quick note before we get started this week: you can find some horrific car puns (see what I did there?) about using Innistrad's mechanics in Commander in last week's article here.
A few months ago the Commander Rules Committee unbanned Worldgorger Dragon, stating that since there were lots of other unbanned two card combos besides [card Worldgorger Dragon]Dragon[/card]-Animate Dead there was no reason to keep it on the list. A portion of the community objected to this, believing that whereas High Tide and Palinchron both have non-combo applications, [card Worldgorger Dragon]Worldgorger[/card] has none.
That's just not true.
The only problem was that, for a while, I couldn't find any either. Sure, you could use him as the worst Ghostway in history, but I was looking for a deck that would actually want to play him. After all, it's probably not worth risking all of your permanents on the chance that nobody has removal for an expensive, two-card Ghostway.
In a seemingly unrelated note I've been playing a lot of Type IV recently, and have had the luck to find myself controlling Hellcarver Demon on three occasions (we play with a one spell cast from hand per turn variant). The card is a blast to play, but it's only feasible because you don't lose all of your mana when you hit with it in Type IV. Still, I decided to see if I could make use of the Demon in a hundred card concoction. At some point after finding another copy of Crucible of Worlds for the deck, it hit me. Worldgorger Dragon can save all of my permanents! Sure I need twelve mana at least three of which is black and three of which is red, but floating mana and casting Dragon into Demon would make Malfegor proud. With renewed vigor I went to magiccards.info and began searching.
Limited Time Warranty
I had some idea how I might go about making use of Demon already, so the first step was to figure out how to keep it from losing me the game. Just like in Type IV, I want to keep my mana after [card Hellcarver Demon]carving up hell[/card]:
Of course, that mana would be more useful if I still had a hand.
And, what the heck, nonland permanents are cool too.
I went a little bit overboard on keeping stuff around; at that point I might as well just not attack! Still, some resilience is good, especially in the land department. On that note, it looks like this deck is going to have to be five colors to get the benefits of Teferi's Realm, Second Sunrise, and Worldgorger Dragon, all in a deck with [card Hellcarver Demon]Hellcarver[/card].
So what are we actually looking to cast? [card Kozilek, Butcher of Truth]Kozilek[/card] and [card Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre]Ulamog[/card] look appealing at first, but with all of the [card Momentary Blink]blinking[/card] effects that we already have, creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities are going to give us more utility. Since we're five colors anyway, we get our pick of the litter. While I'm not planning to run zero beneficial creatures, since Hellcarver takes everything away answers will be the more powerful advantage engines here.
So we have ways to mitigate [card Hellcarver Demon]Hellcarver[/card]'s drawback, and awesome spells to cast off of his ability. What more do we need? More abuse of course! Who wants a meager one trigger per turn? We could use [card Double Cleave]Double strike[/card] or [card World at War]extra combat phases[/card] for more triggers, but why not go for [card Savage Beating]both[/card]? There is of course the small issue that these negate the benefits of some of our mitigation measures, and frankly we didn't end up with enough ways to save our lands anyway. If only there was a way to find recovery methods or threats as appropriate.
You learn something new every day draw! Top of library tutors are ludicrous here: you can find the necessary pieces to start carving, put awesome spells on top to cast, or even set up fail-safes through multiple demon triggers (Personal Tutor for Cruel Tutor, then cast it off of the first trigger of a [card Hellcarver Demon]Hellcarver[/card] [card World at War]at War[/card] to find Second Sunrise). That said, they pose an enormous threat to the deck's future. The more tutors I include, the more likely games are to go the exact same way. Even in my [card The Mimeoplasm]Mimeoplasm[/card] deck, which runs zero ways to search a library, games can get repetitive just from drawing too many cards. Before we get any further into this, lets take a look at a complete deck list:
The Devil's Carpenter
As you can see, this build of the deck has a small number of of cool spells to 'Cascade' into and relies on tutors to get some advantage out of [card Hellcarver Demon]the Carpenter[/card] without losing its board position to it. That's not the only way to do it. I was talking to my younger brother when making some of the final cuts to the list, and he contended that the deck would be more fun if it wasn't so meticulously planned out. The above build should almost always have access to Hellcarver and a way to save its board, but what if we looked to maximize the upside of the Demon's ability rather than trying to mitigate its downside?
This deck is really all in. Usually you'll just scoop to a post-Carving [card Wrath of God]Wrath[/card], and I certainly wouldn't advise playing it at a small gathering, but if you're at a shop and can move on to something else after losing, this deck should be exciting to play. The only nonrandom element is the assortment of tutors, but I made sure not to include any of the top-of-library options. The only consistent part of the deck is finding [card Hellcarver Demon]Hellcarver[/card], and the mana to cast him. I'm not sure which route to go down, but I hope that this article has gotten you thinking about building around cards other than Legends in your Commander decks, and I'll let you know what I learn from testing.
See you next week,
@JulesRobins on twitter
3 thoughts on “The Devil’s Carpenter”
No Trench Gorger, huh? Seems like hitting six spells every time is a big game.
I originally had him in the second list, but decided that I wanted everything to be an immediate threat or answer. That said, he'd be near the top of the list of things to put back in, and maybe should go in already. Hmm… Thanks for the thoughts!
Dimensional Breach was also another Worldgorger replacement, but I thought it might be too annoying for my opponents.