Description

The Definitive Varolz Protean Hulk Primer

"Literally worse Grenzo" -Kyle

"Varolz might miss all the key parts of good commanders" -Clay Puppington

"Varolz doesn't do so well in cedh" -Scruffy

"I honestly just don't see how Varolz is good tho" -Wafflecopter

"I don't think you can make Varolz competitive" -Ner0

Since Protean Hulk's unbanning, there have been numerous decks popping up trying to take advantage of the compact and powerful combos that it allows. The build that most people gravitated towards was the classic cephalid breakfast combo, which basically uses Protean Hulk to mill your deck with protection, then win after you've done that. These decks are very powerful, because their colour identities allow you to play Flash + Protean Hulk and allow you to fit Grand Abolisher into your Protean Hulk line, among other cards.

Does not have any of these things; What we do have however, is a sacrifice outlet in the command zone.

Due to the nature of Protean Hulk, you need to do two things, first, get hulk, and second, get it to the graveyard. Varolz eliminates half of this problem by always having a way to get hulk into the graveyard once it's on the board, due to his second ability. This means that the entire deck can be dedicated to just getting Protean Hulk onto the battlefield.

What Varolz Is

  • Creature-Based
  • Blisteringly Fast
  • Resilient for a combo deck
  • Straightforward, with a medium-high skill cap
  • Totally sick

What Varolz Isn't

  • A storm deck
  • A midrange deck
  • A stax deck
  • Consistently explosive
  • A deck for spellslingers
  • Flexible
Protean Hulk Is our win condition, yes, but what do we do once we've gotten it to die? The answer to that question is easy:

Note: Walking Ballista will not immediately die, even though it does not have any +1/+1 counters on it, because Mikaeus, the Unhallowed's ability will give it +1/+1

At this point, you may be asking "Well that might good and all, but to get to that combo you have to have a 7-mana creature AND Varolz out at the same time? That seems pretty difficult." And normally, you would be correct, but you may be forgetting that we are in Green and Black, the two colours that do unfair things involving creatures the best.

Being Unfair In Green Show

Being Unfair in Black Show

There are many, MANY lines to the win in this deck, but I'll try to write as many of them out as possible.

Lines To Get To Hulk Show

Sometimes, things are not perfect, or one of these lines will not get you there on its own, in that case, you may need to use an alternate line. This is a list of possible hulk piles that you may need to use. In order to use these piles, you will need to use Body Snatcher in order to get back your Protean Hulk and get to your win. Keep in mind, Body Snatcher 's first ability is NOT a replacement effect, it is a triggered ability, this means that while that ability is on the stack, you can sacrifice it and use its second ability to reanimate Protean Hulk, thereby bypassing the need to discard a creature.

Hulk Piles Show

Many people will tell you that Phyrexian Delver is the better card out of these two, and normally, that is true, it allows you to get a full 3rd hulk after getting Mikaeus out, due to the undying trigger, but this leaves two things that I find unsatisfactory, A. the fact that you can only get 1 CMC worth of creatures off of the first hulk if you are running Delver, which means you cannot combo if you have a combo piece in your hand or exile, and B. it loses you 7 life minimum, up to 14 life, on top of whatever you payed to reanimate the hulk in the first place. Body Snatcher on the other hand does not have either of these downsides, at the cost of having to be sacrificed before the first trigger resolves, and it cannot make a 3rd hulk, because it needs to be sacrificed to reanimate. Well, we don't really need the 3rd hulk if we can fit the extra 1 CMC of creatures into a hulk with it, and we have a sacrifice outlet in the command zone.

It's not very often you see an Ad Nauseam in hulk decks, or any reanimator decks at all for that matter, but it really does work, there are only 6 cards in the entire deck with >3 CMC, with one of those being Ad Nauseam itself. The average non-land CMC of the deck is at 1.64 at the time of writing, which means that doing the math of (68 nonlands * 1.64)/99 = 1.126, which means you are getting around 30 cards per Ad Nauseam, and since there are ways of winning off of hulk, even with a combo piece in your hand, it means that Ad Nauseam is very much worth it in the deck. This card is also the reason why taking damage and average CMC is such a big deal in the deck, because every point of damage taken is a card not drawn.

Even the fastest and most streamlined of combo decks need to have interaction in case things go awry. The interaction of choice for this deck comes in the form of the best board clear in cEDH and a green creature. Toxic Deluge is here to deal with hatebear decks and creature-based combo, and Scavenging Ooze is here to help against opposing graveyard strategies and to be another green creature to fuel Natural Order

This is my removal suite of choice, chosen primarily for their low CMC and effectiveness. Both Vendetta and Slaughter Pact are efficient answers to Linvala, Keeper of Silence, and pull double-duty as ways to kill your own Protean Hulk in a pinch. Abrupt Decay is a catch-all that is a superstar against blue decks. Nature's Claim Is a staple, but can also kill off Animate Dead and Dance of the Dead to indirectly get your Protean Hulk to the grave.

Crop Rotation

Some people do not like filter lands. I am not one of those people. In a deck where your dorks produce and you need for reanimation plays, this card is an all star.

In B/G, you do not have a tonne of ways to interact with the stack, so these cards are here to interact before anything even hits the stack. Use these cards to strip countermagic and hate before you combo. Targeted discard also pulls double-duty in reanimator decks, as they allow us to point them at ourselves to get reanimation targets out of our hands and into the grave, where we can get them to the board from much more efficiently.

Too expensive (Both CMC and $$$)

This deck very much wants a dork on turn 1, and they just aren't there, these get in the way of your Varolz turn, and don't provide enough mana to compensate you for the tempo lost on casting them.

These have been cut as a side-effect of not running Phyrexian Delver, as there is no way to fit them into a hulk line, and simply cost too much to reasonably be casting when you are winning the game, they also raise the aCMC for Ad Nauseam. Look for their replacements in Caustic Caterpillar and Golgari Thug

Beast Within is a great card, we all know it, but unfortunately, we are not stax, and we are not Selvala. It just costs too much for us to be happily casting, and the fact that it is 3cmc also hurts our Ad Nauseam, so as painful as it may be, we have to say goodbye for now to our good friend.

Stax effects really just aren't where you want to be with this deck, it never feels good to spend 2 mana on a card like this, when you could be furthering your own win condition. For this reason, I am also not playing stax effects, even if they don't affect the deck at all.

These have been considered, and some pilots may like to have the extra protection, however, in my experience, these are too much mana to be worth playing. Varolz consistently runs tight on mana requirements to win early, and he doesn't produce any more mana than what you have at the start of your combo. Even without these protection pieces, if you play correctly, and time your win and interaction properly, you should still be coming out on top.

These look good at first glance, but there are some major downsides; first, for high market, it doesn't produce coloured mana, which you really want in this deck, and it's not actually that great of a sac outlet, only being a once-per-turn and giving nothing in return, I'd much rather be playing a coloured source in it's place. Second, for tower, I would totally run the card, if only it produced coloured mana without having to sacrifice a creature. Again, you really want coloured mana, and typically, you're only going to have 1 non-Varolz creature at a time, which you need to bank for Pattern of Rebirth and Natural Order, otherwise they become dead cards.

I don't really need this in a 2 colour deck, I'd rather play a basic, and have more resilience against Blood Moon.

Actually a bit slow for the deck, if you're going turn 1 dork -> turn 2 varolz, it doesn't afford you much time or mana to actually use it efficiently, it does smooth out every turn after those, but those are going to be the key turns when you're looking to have action in your mulligans

I actually highly suggest both of these for potential budget builds or more midrange builds, but because this is a budgetless balls-to-the-wall build, I'd much rather be playing higher-powered draw like Ad Nauseam or Necropotence, or just be playing tutors instead. You are also looking to win before running out of gas becomes an issue generally, so they're not as good here as they are in a Doomsday deck, because they can't serve the dual-purpose of cracking a pile.

Strengths Show

Weaknesses Show

Updates

Added more Notable Exclusions

Comments

Brassmoose says... #1

If you manage to get hulk to go to yard without a sac out you can fetch phyrexian delver and a viscera seer/carrion feeder to hulk off

May 31, 2017 2:21 a.m.

AstralCodex says... #2

He doesn't need phyrexian delver - he has body snatcher in there already for that line.

June 2, 2017 12:33 a.m.

elfric says... #3

hey cool deck - finally a i find a golgari hulk list that looks tight at all cards.

regardless that i wouldn't know what to replace those with - but have you thought aboutPeat Bog or Blood Pet ?

they are not particular better than other cards but could add more overall ramp or be faster than maybe priest of titania or wall of roots.bog's strenght imo is being compact ramp. the more aggressive a deck needs to mulligan the more i like them as it can be like a land and a dork turn 1 in one card.pet's strength is in the niche scenario that you need to fetch mana in your hulk lines like caustic caterpillar.

another thing to consider is Abrupt Decay:

uncounterable and cmc2 but

Beast Within hits leyline of the void, linvala, elesh norn and maybe others that might disrupt you.

July 9, 2017 4:17 p.m.

sickrobot says... #4

Hey elfric, thanks for the feedback! On the subject of Peat Bog, I have considered adding in the charge lands (Hickory Woodlot as well), but recently, I have been running into numerous Blood Moon decks, and in those games, an extra swamp or forest makes all the difference. If your meta is different, I would suggest testing them out and seeing how they work for you. On Blood Pet, it has been itching for a spot for a while now, but there's just no card I would take out for it, you really need a critical mass of green creatures for Natural Order, and the deck is sitting just above that threshold. as for Beast Within, it is a great card, yes, but with access to black, there is cheaper creature removal such as Vendetta and Slaughter Pact to deal with Linvala, and due to how tight you will usually be running on mana, it just costs too much to make the cut.

July 9, 2017 4:29 p.m.

elfric says... #5

damn quick answer sickrobot.

the detail about Abrupt Decayimo is you pay the more to not make it not be a Natural State but more flexible. so i just thought beast is even more flex.

i see you are 100% spot on about the deck. cheers

July 9, 2017 4:48 p.m.

artichoker says... #6

Have you considered running Xantid Swarm for extra protection?

July 10, 2017 10:47 p.m.

sickrobot says... #7

Hey artichoker! I actually haven't really done much theorywork with Xantid Swarm or Hope of Ghirapur, althought I do have a reason for that. Generally, you are going to go turn 1 dork, turn 2 Varolz, turn 3 attempt a win. Trying to fit a 1 mana creature in on turns 1-2 can really hurt, and there's no way to give either haste in the deck, so they end up feeling very slow. Generally, the same spot that is filled by those can be filled by Autumn's Veil instead, which, while not a creature, has effective haste, as well as flash, so you can surprise blue players better. Thanks for the suggestion! They are definitely great cards, and have a spot in testing, they just don't make it into the deck right now.

July 10, 2017 11:19 p.m.

Hey, this deck looks really cool. I had a struggle on choosing either Jarad or Gitrog as my Golgari commander but this deck changed my choice. Also, do you have any budget recommendations for more expensive cards as I don't have the biggest wallet?

July 12, 2017 8:52 a.m.

sickrobot says... #9

Hey The_Llanowar_Elf, I've done a bit of playing around with budget versions of this deck, this is what I can recommend; For stuff like Bayou and any other expensive lands, I would replace them with Peat Bog and Hickory Woodlot first, then any after that with basics. For tutors, I would suggest trying to fit in more mana dorks that are not in the deck currently, such as Devoted Druid or Bloom Tender. Hope I could help.

July 12, 2017 4:04 p.m.

Thanks for the response, I appreciate it, it's always cool see new things in cedh scene.

July 12, 2017 4:44 p.m.

Grimfade says... #11

Heartless Summoning?

Works as your sac outlet for the ballista, makes hard casting hulk/mike a reality as well.

July 13, 2017 11:38 p.m.

Matrixxx999 says... #12

+1! The deck is beautiful!

Some suggestions:

  • High Market, Phyrexian Tower - extra sacrifice outlets, the Tower especially good, because it provides speed. I understand that you already have a decent sacrifice outlet in commander zone, but it always good to have another one in reserve.
  • Reflecting Pool
  • I guess you avoid using Sensei's Divining Top because you have Library in the deck? I would recommend to use it even if that's the reason.
  • Night's Whisper, Sign in Blood- decent draw spells for not running out of gas.

Hope it was helpful! I wish you good luck in making Varolz even more dangerous! :)

July 18, 2017 12:34 p.m.

sickrobot says... #13

Hey Matrixxx999, great to see someone taking interest in card choices! I'll run over my reasonings for my exclusion of those card choices real quick, and I'll add them to the notable exclusions as well.

High Market, Phyrexian Tower: These look good at first glance, but there are some major downsides; first, for high market, it doesn't produce coloured mana, which you really want in this deck, and it's not actually that great of a sac outlet, only being a once-per-turn and giving nothing in return, I'd much rather be playing a coloured source in it's place. Second, for tower, I would totally run the card, if only it produced coloured mana without having to sacrifice a creature. Again, you really want coloured mana, and typically, you're only going to have 1 non-Varolz creature at a time, which you need to bank for pattern of rebirth and natural order, otherwise they become dead cards.

Reflecting Pool: I don't really need this in a 2-c deck, I'd rather play a basic, and have more resilience against blood moon

Sensei's Divining Top: Actually a bit slow for the deck, if you're going turn 1 dork -> turn 2 varolz, it doesn't afford you much time or mana to actually use it efficiently, it does smooth out every turn after those, but those are going to be the key turns when you're looking to have action in your mulligans

Night's Whisper, Sign in Blood: I actually highly suggest both of these for potential budget builds or more midrange builds, but because this is a budgetless build, I'd much rather be playing higher-powered draw like ad naus or necropotence, or just be playing tutors instead. You are also looking to win before running out of gas becomes an issue generally, so they're not as good here as they are in a Doomsday deck, because they can't serve the dual-purpose of cracking a pile.

Hope I cleared up those card decisions a bit!

July 18, 2017 1:11 p.m.

Matrixxx999 says... #14

You explained everything very clearly, I got you're point. Your opinion was useful for me too, so thanks.

July 18, 2017 2:25 p.m.

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Date added 2 months
Last updated 1 week
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 1.64
Folders EDH, cEDH, Build and Try, EDH, CEDH, 8) Fresh Spice Friday Decks, Cool Decks, Take Note, Other folks' decks, Commander Notables, See all 16
Top rank #9 on 2017-07-16
Views 4199