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Insider: Speculating on Nethroi, Apex of Death

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Today, I will continue my current trend of focusing on speculation targets for upcoming legendary creatures. In this case, we are veering off of Commander 2020 and to Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths.

While Nethroi, Apex of Death has very reasonable stats, the key to this card is obviously the Mutate trigger. While the Commander format has long been one with a lot of graveyard based strategies, rarely do we get such a nice tri-colored commander with a mass reanimate ability. Now, it is important to keep in mind that the Commander tax DOES apply to the Mutate cost, so using it repeatedly will get more expensive. So the final question: what is the ideal collection of creatures to get back with power 10 or less in total and how do you best get them in the yard?

Filling the Graveyard


I have been big on Morality Shift ever since Syr Conrad, the Grimm was spoiled and it's amazing in this deck as well, essentially acting as a mass tutor setting up a perfect Nethroi, Apex of Death. When I first mentioned it Morality Shift was a bulk rare which has since quadrupled in price to a little over $2 each. This is a very unique card with only the single printing in Judgment, so it's price ceiling remains relatively high. I think most Nethroi, Apex of Death decks will want to run this card.


Thanks to the recent reprint in Ultimate Masters, Buried Alive lost around 50% of its value. While I don't know if it will ever recover, as it would likely take avoiding a reprint for 3 or 4 years to gain back that ground, there are a lot of options with this card. There were two foil copies included in the Graveborn premium deck, but it appears that all copies save the Weatherlight version have the newer Odyssey artwork, so if I were going to pick up copies of this card I'd go with the Weatherlight version. The upside is obviously pretty limited though. If you can get copies at buylist prices, it's probably a good call to get an extra playset or two.

Highlights of the 99



The most obvious combo is the Mike and Trike combo we typically see in a lot of B/X Reanimator Commander decks. The Ultimate Masters reprint of Mikaeus, the Unhallowed dropped his value by 33%. The price has been slowly gaining, which shows good solid long term demand, and as both his printings have been at mythic rare, there aren't nearly as many of them out there as one might think. Interestingly enough Triskelion was also recently reprinted in the mystery booster boxes and is sitting at almost bulk rare status. I think the price ceiling on Triskelion isn't all that high thanks in part to so many printings, but there is minimal risk in acquiring them at their current price.

That one isn't anything new and when I saw Nethroi, Apex of Death my mind immediately jumped to Protean Hulk combos, but there is one major difference. Hulk cares about converted mana cost, which pretty much every creature has; whereas, Nethroi cares about the creature's power. There are numerous creatures whose power is 0 in the graveyard which means they are all freebies as 10+0+0+0=10. This means that if you play a lot of these types of creatures you can actually use Nethroi, Apex of Death as a repeatable mass reanimation spell for value over and over. So lets look at a few good choices for nice 0/0 creatures that enter with counters.


I'm honestly amazed that this is a bulk rare. It's only printings have been in Conspiracy and in Commander 2016. It often enters the battlefield bigger than a 15/15 and it can search for any land in your deck. Foil versions, of which your only option is Conspiracy, are sitting at around $3, which also makes for a good speculation target. The biggest risk I see with this one is that it's green, so it has to dodge not only the upcoming "green Commander" supplemental product printing but also the draft able Commander product and it's only mass printing was in a set designed around drafting, still the buy-in is so cheap that your risk is minimal. Realm Seekers also happens to be good in a lot of other Commander decks so demand won't be limited to Nethroi decks.


Ghave, Guru of Spores managed to hold a $6 price tag for over 2 years until the Commander 2016 reprint and Commander Anthology Volume II reprint dropped his price to $2 or less. I bring all this up because his abilities can be very relevant in this style of deck and he can combo with persist and undying creatures and Ashnod's Altar which is a staple in most reanimation based combo decks. Ghave used to be a very popular commander on his own, which means the price floor is somewhat elevated compared to other cards.


As you are likely not going to be able to reanimate all the creatures in your yard with Nethroi, having a 10/10 or bigger Golgari Grave-Troll that can easily regenerate a few times (with it still being one of the biggest creatures on the battlefield) seems like a good include. While I doubt it will find it's way back off the banned list, as it warped the Modern format around it during its tenure, it would obviously spike again were it was uncaged.


Since Commander 2016, we have seen WoTC try a different variant of the partner mechanic, with Commander 2016 partners proving that the original version may have been a bit too powerful. Because of that, I doubt we will see this card reprinted in anything besides Commander Anthology printings, which likely limits the supply. Reyhan, Last of the Abzan plays extremely well in a deck that plays a lot of 0/0 creatures that enter with counters, as there are many creatures like Fertilid that one can remove +1/+1 counters from to gain an advantage.

Honorable Mentions


One of my pet cards, Spike Weaver is a fantastic repeatable fog that can make it's way back to the graveyard on it's own or combo with previously mentioned cards that move +1/+1 counters around to lock down decks that require attacking to win. It also helps that it only has 2 printings, Exodus and Battle Royale; both of which are more than 20 years old.


Somberwald Sage is a fantastic mana-dork in creature heavy decks. It allows you to jump up from 3 to 6 mana on turn 4 even if you don't hit a land drop. It has a single printing in Avacyn Restored and while not truly a bulk rare, it's a sub $3 rare so the buy-in is low.


This legacy storm sideboard card used to be a little under $4 prior to it's Eternal Masters reprint that tanked the price to near bulk. While its ability only affects one player, it is often a great repeatable Silence against the player most likely to disrupt you if your planning to combo off, all you have to do is attack with it and wait until after combat to go off.

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