|Commander / EDH||Legal|
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|Dark Ascension (DKA)||Rare|
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Creature — Zombie
Geralf's Messenger enters the battlefield tapped.
When Geralf's Messenger enters the battlefield, target opponent loses 2 life.
Undying (When this creature dies, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a +1/+1 counter on it.)
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Geralf's Messenger Discussion
1 week ago
The first thing I'll say is that with 21 lands, you probably can't expect to get the mana to launch Army of the Damned or a really powerful Mind Grind or Torment of Hailfire. Well, at least without Organ Harvest, of which you're only sporting one copy. (If you don't play with teammates, or if you don't play with silver-bordered cards, you might replace it with Culling the Weak.) For reference, the math on Army of the Damned is that about 1/3 of your cards are lands = 8/24, meaning you need to survive to turn 17-18 (have seen a total of 24 cards between your opening hand and your draws each turn) to hit that 8th land. That’s a long time in a Magic game.
Second, Mind Grind, while fun, is questionable here, since none of your other cards will mill your opponent. Many people play with 4 copies of many of their cards, so milling them might not cut them off from their game plan unless you mill them so much they might die. And for that, you would need more support for the mill plan or a LOT more mana. (This is possible, but a big change. Look for cards like Glimpse the Unthinkable and Mind Funeral. Otherwise, I'd cut it for cards that affect board-state or life-totals.)
Third, your overall game plan appears to be to stall in the early game for more powerful plays late, since your low cost cards are generally defensive. This means you'll want more lands in your deck so that you don't stumble on your way to those big plays. I'd remove Coral Atoll and put in four Dimir Aqueducts. It's not the ideal play, but it's cheap and there's a lot of upside if your opponent doesn't Ghost Quarter it or something. Anyways, that will take you up to 24 lands AND increase your average mana output a little more, letting you rely on 4CMC, 5CMC, and 6CMC plays to dominate the game.
Finally, on to individual cards:
Kraken Hatchling, Mausoleum Wanderer, Pharika's Chosen, and Will-o'-the-Wisp are all fine defensive one-drops, but they all do something a little different. Thornbow Archer is a little more aggressive than the rest of your deck wants, so maybe drop it and pick your favorite of those first four and add a second.
Fogwalker is okay on defense, though it's not the best two-drop out there. I'm not a fan of Olivia's Dragon, especially outside of madness/reanimator decks. Rancid Rats just doesn't offer enough oomph for the mana (skulk is not typically a very useful ability). Graf Rats is bad unless you have Midnight Scavengers, so it's really about how much you personally want to meld them. Ultimately, I'd rather replace them with better blockers like Wall of Tears, Wall of Souls, Contraband Kingpin, Dragon's Eye Savants, Gifted Aetherborn, or the absolute top-tier Baleful Strix. Other value options include Omenspeaker, Sigiled Starfish, and Augur of Bolas. Other fun options here are Surge Mare, Riptide Mangler, Lazav, the Multifarious, Fathom Feeder, and Ludevic's Test Subject Flip. Choose your favorites. Alternately, spot-removal like Doom Blade, Victim of Night, Cast Down, Go for the Throat, and sometimes Dimir Charm are pretty effective.
Wharf Infiltrator can be good sometimes. You can leave it in for fun or replace it.
Eternal Scourge has its uses, but I don't think this deck is optimized for it. Ideally you'd want a few things that can exile it from graveyard or hand, such as Gurmag Angler, Soulflayer, Tombstalker, Scavenging Ooze, Grim Lavamancer), Azor's Gateway Flip (from hand), or the most hilarious option, Serum Powder. As it stands, it's just difficult to kill outside of combat, like a bad shroud or hexproof. Honestly, I don't think you need a 3/3 to be immune to removal. Replace with a finisher, which I'll discuss in a bit. Alternately, one of my favorite defensive 3CMC creatures is Graveblade Marauder, since its offensive capabilities can rapidly increase.
Markov Crusader isn't actually very good even in the rare case when you do have another vampire, and you only have one other one. Compare to 4CMC utility wunderkind Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, 5CMC finishers (like Archfiend of Depravity, Glyph Keeper, Ob Nixilis, the Fallen, Vengeful Pharaoh, and maybe even Serra Sphinx), and 6CMC game-winners (like Noxious Gearhulk, Dread, Kokusho, the Evening Star, Wurmcoil Engine, Grave Titan, or even Vengeant Vampire, though that last one is much worse than the others). Sure, none do exactly what Markov Crusader does, but some are close and they all have incredible upsides. Even something like Shriekmaw might ultimately gain you more life by just killing something outright, plus it's super-flexible. Heck, Soul Ransom and Mind Control are strong cards too, at least against creature decks. Anyways, Markov Crusader is a card to replace.
Midnight Scavengers is okay, especially if you have a lot of disposable deathtouchers to bring back, but it still doesn't compare favorably to the above finishers unless you really want to meld it with Graf Rats. Remember, doing things you want to do is an important part of MTG. But if you don't care to meld, I'd look to replace it.
Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is fine. In most cases it doesn't compare favorably to the 6CMC critters above, but it has its uses. If you've got a lot of little deathtouchers (Pharika's Chosen, Typhoid Rats, Dire Fleet Poisoner, it can grow really out of hand. Also, Field of Ruin forces a library search.
Elder Deep Fiend is fine. Usually you play it in a deck that has plenty of creatures you don't mind (or are better off) sacrificing (for example, Priest of the Blood Rite, Relentless Dead, Doomed Dissenter, Stormbound Geist/Geralf's Messenger), then you emerge it early and tap down lands. That's not really your plan here, so it's probably not the best choice. Some good choices for replacements are above, but within the category of emerge creatures, I think Distended Mindbender fits your deck better.
Organ Harvest is a powerful card, but has some drawbacks. Most importantly, a lot of people don't play with or against silver-bordered cards. They're not legal in any official tournaments. Tournament legal variations are Dark Ritual, Culling the Weak, and Ashnod's Altar. Other than that, it's a card that is useless in many situations and completely changes what you're able to do when you actually can make use of it, and that can be awkward from a strategy perspective. If you don't have creatures, you can't cast it. If you don't have a big spell in your hand, you don't need to cast it and you'd rather have almost any other card. So it wants your deck to be full of disposable creatures and big spells, like an emerge deck or a zombie deck really making use of Army of the Damned and From Under the Floorboards. But for the most part that is not this deck, so unless you want to build around the card, I'd remove it, either replacing it with Dark Ritual which is always useful when drawn early, or something else that's cheap and effective: Dead Weight, Apathy, Doom Blade, Pharika's Chosen, or whatever.
Sorcerous Sight is worse than Peek and Gitaxian Probe, but I don't think any of those are particularly good in your deck. If you want to know what's in your opponent's hand, play Telepathy. Otherwise, there's better card draw: Preordain and Ponder are the best cheap spells, but it might be worth spending more mana for more effect with Sign in Blood or Chart a Course.
Cemetery Recruitment isn't particularly good with so few zombies. You can add more zombies, or switch to Ghoulcaller's Chant/Find / Finality/Recover/Disturbed Burial/Death Denied to simulate the effect, or just do card advantage the old-fashioned way, with stuff like Sign in Blood/Consult the Necrosages/Read the Bones/Notion Rain/Secrets of the Golden City. Alternately, shred your opponent's hand (and lose friends) with Hymn to Tourach or punch your opponent for cards with Shadowmage Infiltrator. If you're committed to bringing creatures back from the dead, look to Zombify, Extract from Darkness, or Isareth the Awakener, which can randomly run away with the game if your opponent doesn't have an answer. The most efficient reanimation spell is Unburial Rites, but you'd need to splash white for it to be better than the above options.
Contingency Plan doesn't actually net you any cards in hand; you just control what you are going to draw later. Since you're not very graveyard-focused, there's little benefit. The more flexible version is Dimir Charm, and the more powerful version is Lim-Dul's Vault. If you want to stack the top of your deck for 2CMC without wasting a card to do it, there's Diabolic Vision, but the 1CMC Preordain and Ponder are worthy as well. Alternately, raw card advantage is an option. Any of the options I've already listed are fine, but here are some more: Chemister's Insight, Foresee, Deep Analysis.
Mind Grind attacks on an irrelevant axis. Recommend replacing it with a finisher unless you add more mill. If you want a non-creature finisher, Ob Nixilis Reignited is pretty cool. If you just want something that can't get Murdered, there's Sphinx of Jwar Isle.
Torment of Hailfire is possibly workable if you go to 24 lands with Dimir Aqueducts. X=3 is pretty much the bare minimum, and if they have cards in hand even that might not be enough. This is a possible swap for a finisher, as above.
Army of the Damned is hard to cast at 8CMC. Recommend replacing it with a cheaper finisher unless you're all about Organ Harvest.
Apathy is pretty decent at 1CMC. Probably not as good as just casting Doom Blade/Go for the Throat to kill the thing, but definitely more interesting and fun. It can stay in, though swapping it for something more reliable is technically the correct decision.
Strange Augmentation is bad in your deck. While +3/+3 for 1CMC is fine in a very aggressive deck, that doesn't seem like your game plan. Ideally, your finishers are big enough to win without the extra P/T. If they're not, these could be replaced with kill spells to make sure they are.
Tormod's Crypt is useless unless you frequently play against graveyard-based decks. Even then, with only one in the deck, you're in bad shape. I'd swap it for Relic of Progenitus or Sentinel Totem if you really need graveyard hate. If a creature is reliable against those graveyard decks, Deadeye Tracker, Nezumi Graverobber, or Withered Wretch can do some work. Agent of Erebos is another option. If the only things you need to exile are creatures, then Cemetery Reaper, Dimir Doppelganger, and the powerful Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet are options. Otherwise, cheap kill spells, counterspells, or even more expensive exiling removal (e.g. Sever the Bloodline, Silence the Believers) are options. Phyrexian Scriptures is another card I'll mention, just 'cause it does lots of stuff.
Nevinyrral's Disk is pretty good. Go ahead and keep that in there.
Gridlock is okay, but it's basically a Darkness you can use aggressively. I think Sleep is generally better at that. Alternately, if you want a mass-defense spell, Yahenni's Expertise, Languish, and Damnation are the go-to sweepers.
Outwit is way too narrow; most decks don't target players. (The primary exceptions are burn and mill, so if you play against them a lot, it might be fine.) If you want a dollar-cost-effective counterspell in that slot, play Counterspell or MAYBE Dimir Charm for flexibility.
Murder is fine. (Card-wise, not morally!) Technically Hero's Downfall is better if you can get one.
Liliana Vess is fine, but she's a little slow. I'm not sure whether she's better or worse in this deck than Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, Ob Nixilis Reignited, Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath, or even Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. My inclination is that those are stronger as you increase the median quality of the cards in your deck (making Vess's -2 less important).
Here's one inexpensive, somewhat-boring take:
2x Glyph Keeper
1x Liliana Vess
2x Dimir Charm
2x Doom Blade
2x Agony Warp
3x Notion Rain
That's just one take on the general strategy. Ultimately, (I think) you're playing Dimir Midrange, and so you're looking for about 40% (24) lands, 30% (18) things that keep you alive until you have 4-6 mana, 20% (12) things that kill your opponent and are themselves hard to kill, and 10% (6) things that put you ahead on cards just in case you're not drawing the right part of your deck.
1 month ago
Update: Put Fleshbag Marauder back in for Geralf's Messenger. Messenger just couldn’t hang. Added Grim Tutor and cut Altar of the Brood. I like the altar, but I don’t really care about other people’s yards, I definitely don’t care about milling, and most games Chainer doesn’t even come out to abuse it.
2 months ago
A few changes I would suggest to improve your win ratio would be to drop the flood the board game plan and instead keep your resilient creatures like Pack Rat and Geralf's Messenger while replacing the rest with interaction such as removal like Fatal Push. this will allow you to play a more controlling approach and build a sticky board state until you can capitolize on landing a Gary.
2 months ago
I feel like there are a couple of nice combos that you already have most of the pieces for but are just missing one or two cards that would work well in the deck as non-combo pieces anyway.
Adding Nim Deathmantle would give you:
- Infinite sacs, recursion: Phyrexian Altar + Nim Deathmantle + Priest of Gix
- Infinite sacs, recursion, black mana: Ashnod's Altar + Nim Deathmantle + Priest of Gix
- Infinite sacs, recursion, life drain: Ashnod's Altar + Nim Deathmantle + Geralf's Messenger
- Infinite sacs, recursion, tokens and colorless mana: Ashnod's Altar + Nim Deathmantle + Abhorrent Overlord/Wurmcoil Engine
- Infinite sacs, recursion, life drain/gain: Chainer, Dementia Master + Phyrexian Altar + Abhorrent Overlord/Wurmcoil Engine + Blood Artist
2 months ago
Have you considered Trading Post, Geralf's Messenger, Puppeteer Clique, Cauldron of Souls? I really like undying/persist in this deck. There is also Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, but price is a factor with him.
2 months ago
So, just to give some context from where my advice stems: I've played Ghave for 6 years now and it's easily one of my favorite decks. I play full-on combo Ghave, but I used to play fair token overrun Ghave. My deck list is here if you need a reference for any combos I mention today: Ghave: Baby Makin' and Alimony
Ghave works as a fantastic token generation engine, where 1 mana = 1 token. You don't normally get that much benefit out of your token producers, with basically all of the saproling makers take so many turns that they're too slow to overrun efficiently. Things like Mazirek are great if you have doublers down, but Cathars' Crusade is missing and it requires you jump through fewer hoops- make 1 token, make everything but 1 creature on your side of the board huge. Cathars' Crusade is one of the best cards in the archetype, I strongly suggest running it.
In similar vein, Ivy Lane Denizen, Bloodspore Thrinax, Juniper Order Ranger, among other cards, also go infinite with Ashnod's Altar for infinite mana and tokens (you make 1 token, get a new counter. Pay another to remove that counter, make a new token, obtaining another counter. Sac the first creature to get your 2 mana back and have a new token. Repeat this for infinite colorless mana, and because you have infinite colorless mana and 1 mana = 1 token, you now have infinite tokens), not to mention the aforementioned cards are just good in the deck because they let you generate tokens more efficiently.
Undying creatures are also phenomenal at producing Saproling tokens with Ghave. While not saprolings themselves, you'll be able to produce tons of them efficiently using cards like Young Wolf, Butcher Ghoul, Geralf's Messenger, and the like. Again, Ashnod's Altar + any of those + Ghave = infinite tokens too (you sac the Undying creature for mana in this loop, then pay 1 of the 2 mana you get to remove the counter from it, resetting the Undying creature).
For fair Ghave, there's nothing better than Seedborn Muse. Ivorytusk Fortress isn't bad, but Muse untaps all of your lands which lets you make more tokens on opponents turns, effectively becoming a Gaea's Cradle if you have a counters source on field (because if you have 5 mana, you obtain 15 extra tokens if you have 3 opponents. Not to mention you can cast instants on opposing turns as well).
Growing Rites of Itlimoc Flip should probably be in here as well. It's not a bad card at all, and it and Cryptolith Rite can help you make absurd amounts of mana so you can go from 10 tokens to 20, then to 40, then to 80 in just a couple of turns without even needing Doubling Season.
I recommend cutting the following for some of the above cards:
Life and Limb is just worse Cryptolith Rite, now, in that it lets your opponents board wipe your lands. Cryptolith lets your tokens tap for any color of mana at half the mana cost, so it seems like a reasonable swap without the downside of losing lands to a Wrath of God.
Dark Heart of the Wood isn't great, especially without Life and Limb. Cutting that for Growing Rites or any of the aforementioned cards would help a lot. I don't feel it necessary to run all of Gravity Well, Raking Canopy, and Downdraft. I'd at least cut Downdraft. Druidic Satchel isn't the greatest, and practically any card above will make tokens better.
Flash Foliage should probably be Beast Within or Anguished Unmaking, as blocking a big creature once isn't that great, but being able to remove literally any troublesome permanent (and 3/3 beasts aren't a big deal) or being able to exile a troublesome nonland permanent is pretty awesome.
Anyway, hope this helps. I tried not recommending you cut any of your spore counter guys because they're probably your theme, but the above cards will definitely help you along quite well, so try to squeeze them in where you can (and small confession: I have a bit of a soft spot for Thallid, Sporesower Thallid, and Sporoloth Ancient. One of my first Magic decks was a spore counters deck using all of those guys from Time Spiral block + Opposition to lock my opponents down, lol). On the subject of opposition, though, maybe Glare of Subdual might be a card you like to swap out Flash Foliage for? If you regularly have the most creatures at the table, just tap everybody down so no one gets to attack but you. That's always fun.
Anyway, I'm out, have fun!
2 months ago
Thick_Tentacles, definitely fits with the theme of the deck, and might be a good replacement for Go for the Throat if I want to land more devotion. I'll have to do some play testing, since it will fight for that 3cmc slot with Geralf's Messenger.
2 months ago
Prized Amalgam was there as a nice treat for reviving other cards like with Gravecrawler, Relentless Dead or with Havengul Lich's ability. It also triggers off of the undying ability that Mikaeus, the Unhallowed gives and Geralf's Messenger has. It's always nice to get a free 3/3 for sac fodder or for blocking if I have Amulet of Vigor in play.