Army of the Damned
Create thirteen tapped 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens.
Flashback (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)
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|Commander / EDH||Legal|
|Commander: Rule 0||Legal|
Latest Decks as Commander
Army of the Damned Discussion
2 days ago
Ah, Dimir. Blue-black is where you come to turn an opponent’s soul these exact colors, sidestepping their defenses in order to slip a scalpel right in their feels. Combining the thematic terror of black with all the manipulations of blue, if you think about it, is one of the most disturbing, creepy tactics in magic. Forget psychological warfare: blue-black is about marinating the psyche of your opponent in anxiety, slow-roasting it over the fires of depression, lathering it in the sauce of their own inadequacy, and finally feeding them their own deliciously barbecued will to live. Think I'm exaggerating? Consider these titles. Glimpse the Unthinkable. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Freaking Brainbite!!!
If you think this comes from a place of dislike, think again. I have a deep affection for this nasty little mix. Making opponents flip their collective gourds in a sporting way makes me very, very happy. Today, we’ll be going over three primary themes of commanders who embody Dimir chicanery: Mill, Rogues, and Theft. As always, please bear in mind the point isn’t to discuss the competitive but rather to celebrate the thematic.
The magic equivalent of memory loss, mill suffers in commander: eating through 99 cards is a tall order, and opponents with an original eldrazi titan somewhere in there may well fetch you the worst insult of all and ignore you. There are ways around that, of course, but this is an inarguably uphill climb. Which, of course, makes for a delightful challenge the Dimir will gleefully help you meet. Just ask Nemesis of Reason. It’s very, very hard to protect one’s library, and there’s something truly horrible in watching all your goodies piff away without even hitting your hand.
If you’ve read this series through, you might remember that my oldest deck is mono-green. It’ll be no surprise to you, then, that when I was learning commander I lived in abject horror of Oona. Anyone running a mono-colored deck is going to feel targeted by this hideously nasty commander. Do you even need a strategy to play her, beyond ramp? Honestly, she rather plays herself: even outside her chosen prey, “Exile X” on a stick is very, very spicy, and when you’ve got your chosen prey they may well scoop when you play Kindred Discovery. Remember those eldrazi? Screw those eldrazi.
Hail the mighty poo beetle. No, it doesn’t actively mill, but HOLY BALLS OF ROLLING SHIT does it reward milling! There is a fine, fine pool of zombies in dimir colors, and when that palls you can make your own. I’ve never seen this played, but to be honest I don’t want to, especially since the mighty poo beetle will always be five mana… maybe I want to see this played. By me. Scry X? Bleed X? Army of the Damned, anyone?
Now this is general damage. This is also, in my opinion, a genuinely bad idea for those who aim for winning rather than fun. Seven mana for a 5/5 flyer who doesn’t actually do damage to opponents? Less than competitive, shall we say, but certainly neat and themey. Stuff like Dauthi Voidwalker or Leyline of the Void do nothing to undermine Szadek’s growing spree, and embiggening this already self-embiggening boi could make for a very, very scary board presence. And seeing this work, making this work, would be undeniably fun.
I say ‘rogues’ not as the creature type, but as the overall concept of sneaky sneaks sneaking off to perpetrate sneakiness. See Rogue Class or Dimir Cutpurse and you’ll get where I’m coming from. Dimir is the guild of spies and intrigue, so it’s no surprise that blue-black rewards the “Doink! Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk” playstyle. If your passion drives you toward little bodies that pilfer, plunder, or otherwise profit on the swing, look no further.
Zareth is an odd choice to be commander. He functionally has Ninjutsu, but unlike a certain upcoming favorite has no provision for command zones. If you like thinking around corners, there is actually a fair bit of support to be found. Run an aura theme, for instance, and stick Necromancer's Magemark on a spare dude. Or Phantom Wings on the man himself. Zareth will reward you, and as for the second half of his text, it’s a doozy. Mill/kill your opponent’s stuff, then steal it. Good times.
This is a heavily themed card, combining tribal, milling, and draw elements in a nice little vampiric package. Not quite the unpleasant beast that the original Anowon is, but still nice. Be sure to include Notorious Throng.
Instead of a profitable army of petty thugs, you may prefer just the one guy. For actual command damage, Szadek’s replacement has an inarguably better grasp of the job. Mill yourself. You know you can. Clone yourself an unblockable midget, then switch into a Phyrexian Dreadnought (or something similarly large but more affordable) before you tag them. This guy is an absurdly versatile toolkit. Just avoid jerks with Lignify. Hehehe…
We’ve talked thieves, now let’s talk actual yoink. Blue and black are the only colors with access to consistent, long-term swipage, and combining them inevitably brings you to a natural conclusion: why make a plan when you can steal someone else’s?
Keiga, the Tide Star called. She’s pressing charges on the grounds of copyright infringement. Dragon? Check. Six mana? Check. Theft? Big ol’ check. When combined with blink and a sac outlet, this big and greedy cheese can steal an army. And, if you do this to a super-friends player, maybe lose you a friendship.
This guy’s just neat, especially if there’s some cocky twit in your local meta who likes taking extra turns. Mill him a bit, then tag him. He’ll stop that right quick. Bonus points if you get somebody to make a custom version of this guy as a certain cosmic entity. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh, Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
Do you like Sen Triplets, but not artifacts, white, or being thrown out of playgroups? Xanathar doesn’t pilfer hands, but libraries are fair game. The utility of certain tutors is suddenly very, very much in the eye of the beholder (sorry, I had to). Run stuff like Thoughtpicker Witch, Painful Memories, or Sealed Fate, and enjoy your monopoly on topdecks… I kind of want this one too.
And, for my personal favorite...
My darling, dearest Yuriko. Readers know my love for Kamigawa, so imagine my roaring delight when this beauty was released. There are 346 rogues currently in print. There are only 22 ninjas, and not all of them are good, but even the piddliest ninja becomes horrifying when Yuriko is out (and thanks to ninjutsu, she’s ALWAYS out). There’s a weird imbalance encouraged here: lots of inexpensive bodies digging for absurdly expensive spells. At the worst, you draw some cards. At absolute best, you smack the table for eleven damage by revealing Temporal Trespass… which you then cast for three mana, you magnificent bastard.
That's it for this round. Thoughts and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed it, and will come back next week for Rakdos!
2 weeks ago
1 month ago
Scarab God is tough to build competitively especially if you're on a budget, and the good zombies are not very cheap anymore. It looks like you have a lot cards from Amonket and Hour of Devastation. I really love those sets personally but most of the zombies in them are pretty lackluster in commander. I would cut a whole lot of these guys especially 4+ CMC zombies.
I recommend adding a lot more card draw, mana ramp, and single target removal. 10-12 draw spells, 10-12 ramp spells, and 5-10 removal spells are recommended for most EDH decks. The best draw, ramp, and removal spells are not really budget friendly anymore since pretty much everyone is playing them. But, there a few sleepers out there that, in my opinion, are really powerful budget cards.
Card draw spells:
Necrologia is like a budget Ad Nauseam but you can only play it at your end step.
Read the Bones is a classic that let's you dig into your library.
Stinging Study gets you 5 cards in this deck.
Underworld Connections is like a budget Phyrexian Arena, and it can draw you an extra card each turn.
Village Rites gets you 2 cards for 1 mana and it's a 1 time use sacrifice outlet.
For mana ramp generally you want to go with 1 or 2 CMC mana rocks that enter untapped if you aren't playing green: Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Dimir Signet, Mind Stone, Liquimetal Torque, Thought Vessel, Prismatic Lens, and maybe an Ornithopter of Paradise, it's a decent mana dork. Add Talisman of Dominance if you want to pay $7 for one.
For Single Target Removal you want to stick to 2-3 CMC instant speed removal spells that can target as many different types of permanents as possible. A few cards I like are:
Feed the Swarm
Power Word Kill
Go for the Throat
Personally, I really like Imprisoned in the Moon and Oubliette. They decomission your opponent's Commander. And both cards ate cheap since they were recently reprinted.
Also Counterspell cards can be very powerful.
There are a lot more really great cards out there you can add, but I just wanted to list a few to get you started.
1 month ago
So quick question:
Deck looks great!!!
1 month ago
I play a commander deck built around The Scarab God, and I have a ton of great recommendations. There's a few really fun directions you can take this, but flooding the board with zombie tokens and making them really beefy is a good bet. Here's some decent budget options, since you say you don't buy many cards:
- Undead Augur is also cheap to cast, and gets you drawing a lot of cards very quickly.
- Zombie Lords like Diregraf Captain, Lord of the Accursed, Death Baron, and many more are staples for zombie decks, though getting more than a few can get expensive.
- Wonder gives you a zombie air force whenever it's in the graveyard.
- Liliana's Mastery gets you two tokens and buffs your zombies.
- Necromancer's Stockpile is a good way to draw cards and get tokens on the board, and if you pitch anything that can recur it's doesn't even have much of a downside.
For some cards that aren't budget, if you want to eventually buy/trade for some really good zombie cards, I've got you covered there too:
- Cryptbreaker is cheap to cast, and is fantastic for getting tokens out and drawing cards. Note that the second ability ignores summoning sickness.
- Diregraf Colossus gets you a token whenever you cast a zombie.
- Army of the Damned creates thirteen zombie tokens if you can get the mana, and then does it again.
- Rooftop Storm makes your zombies free to cast.
- Endless Ranks of the Dead is a diet version of Liliana, the Last Hope's ult.
Best of luck in your future zombie-fueled games!
3 months ago
This was hard, extremely so: this was very nearly sixteen commanders. Black is well-suited to stand alone, and there are so, so many good choices that I’ve developed a newfound respect for anyone who tries to top ten black. This is almost my favorite color, and while it may be limited in dealing with anything not a creature, graveyard, or a card in hand, good GOD can it deal. All the tutors, all the kill spells, creatures of the night, what music… Sorry, it’s easy to go full Dracula in this area of the pie. In summary, I’ve a lot more to say on this subject than the colors we’ve already covered. However, as always in this project, the point is to celebrate three thematic elements, not drool over all the ludicrous power in this necrotic slice of the pie. Today we’re limiting ourselves to three pervading archetypes: life, death, and graveyard manipulation.
White is a respectable powerhouse in this arena, but black takes center stage with undeniably better style. Whereas white just gains it, playing black means treating your life total as just one more resource to use, abuse, and exploit. Vampirism, folks, and not the glittery sort either. Cruel, properly thirsty vampirism, all about chugging opponents like cheap beer. And if you enjoy masochistic chicaneries that trade life for cards, removal, mana, and eventually victory, look no further.
This guy. This glorious, ludicrous guy. General damage? Check. Lifelink? Check. Game-warping mechanic? Great big ol’ hissing, honking, ball-biting check. A peak, high performance example of boom/bust gameplay. Just be sure to draw as many cards as you can and pray that you find quality lifegain to patch the holes you’ll be blowing in yourself.
Here’s the thing: in mono-black, whenever you gain life it’s at someone else’s expense. An effect that doubles said expense? Please and thank you. board wide Lifelink? Also yes. Throw down some grunts, swipe right, and watch your peanut gallery of jerks like the Blood Artist heckle opponents to death.
You know what’s a great defense, command damage notwithstanding? A huge life total. This is partly why red struggles in EDH: hard to beat down someone with piles of life and a few choice defensive options. In some ways it’s just as hard to vampire them to death. You know who doesn’t care? Erebos. Old Erebos is singularly unimpressed by new Heliod’s jank, and happy to sweeten the deal with reliable draw for a modest fee of mana and life.
The past few years have seen respectable creature removal cropping up even in blue and green. White has oodles of fantastic board wipes, and red can hose everything down with direct damage. But compared to black, they’re all posers. Shrinking creatures, sacrifice and discard are all primarily black stables. Toxic Deluge laughs at your indestructible legions. Grave Pact is amused by your shroud, and will bury you in it. This is the color of Go for the Throat, Diabolic Edict, and Tragic Slip. When black comes for your minions, you better have a mountain of solutions, otherwise the only way to save said minions is to take them off the field yourself.
Spoiler alert: three of the Kamigawa ascendants are going to feature in these articles, and Kuon is the meanest (since the blue one got banned, anyway). I speak from gleefully shameless experience here. For the low, low price of three creatures and a modest downpayment of another every turn, black sacrifice stax can be yours. Add fun things like Magus of the Abyss, Dread Return, and Fleshbag Marauder and all his rude, rude cousins. Trust me on this: Kuon is, if you’ll pardon the pun, enchantingly nasty.
Very few things like boardwipes. However, provided they’ve had a snack first, Yahenni likes them just fine. An affordable commander with a sac outlet (indestructibility on a stick :D) who actively rewards slaughtering anything that could block? Sold! Throw in Fallen Ideal. You won’t be sorry.
In my last article I referred to blue as the heavyweight champion of yoink, but that’s not to say there aren’t other colors in the ring. Forcing opponents to sacrifice creatures and discard cards are both black staples, and boy howdy does Tergrid reward such misbehavior (though the adorable Tinybones, Trinket Thief may be more a discard fiend's speed). If tokens aren’t in the local meta, this will change that.
Green shares a bit of this glory: there’s a pervasive theme in green of both exiling and returning cards to the hand from there. BUT… Black is still the unequivocal graveyard color, leaving the charge in both filling and emptying it, especially of creatures and onto the field. Bojuka Bog. Animate Dead. Living Death. Green may have some good tricks here, but few so dirty as an Entomb followed by Reanimate. So, so dirty. I saw it only once, but it was a turn two Terastodon. Once was enough.
Reanimator decks got you down? Here’s a bone, friends. Stealing your opponent’s guys is one thing. Exiling said guys when their owners wipe your stolen board is another. Chainer doesn’t like choices. Chainer likes it all. And Chainer, above all else, loves to break your opponent’s heads with their own toys.
Convinced I like Kamigawa yet? I used to play this janky beast in a standard spirit deck. These days, my thoughts run first to a big pile of Shadowborn Apostle and assorted demons, but that’s just the easy first on the list of tricksy things up Shirei’s sleeve. Again, Blood Artist and friends. Again, deeply unhappy opponents.
Here’s horror for you. Anyone who doesn’t admit to a healthy bout of nervousness when this guy hits the field is a liar (or playing Orbs of Warding). Coming or going, yours or theirs, killed or milled or discarded, if the graveyard is involved then the good syr gets his ping. Have yourself a time with any number of silly combos and tactics: your opponents are guaranteed a Tortured Existence.
And, for my personal favorite...
I ran Marrow-Gnawer for a time, but offloaded it when I realized that I was bored by the deck. A few years later I built Kuon, who quickly became infamous in my playgroup. However, aspects of the deck that I particularly enjoyed were better served when I switched to this villainous wench. With a decent draw effect (especially with Thornbite Staff) and an imminently breakable ping engine, Ayara is BRUTAL with proper support. Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder. Army of the Damned. And the game-winning monstrosity itself, Plague of Vermin. Revel in countless bodies to exploit as only black can and watch your opponents die of Ayara’s approval.
That's it for this round. Thoughts and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed it, and will come back next week for Red!
3 months ago
Would any of the zombie token spawners be helpful? There's a lot that just spit out hordes and hordes of zombies for you to sacrifice.
You might need some more creatures for Open the Graves to work, though recurring creatures like the Squees are pretty good to keep fueling it.
6 months ago
thank you for your comments! it's my first commander deck and your ideas are really helpful to make it make focused! I also got something with Kathril, Aspect Warper 's mechanic wrong, so i'm taking out Army of the Damned (i thought you'd create a +1/+1 counter for EACH creature I controll, but ANY apparently means just a single one).