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Attention

All further discussion of this deck will be moved to the following site, at the request of the cEDH deck database curators: click here

I will try my best to answer questions and update the build here as it changes, but the main primer will be moved to Moxfield. Thanks.

Acknowledgements

First off, I'd like to thank roguelikedev, ShaperSavant, and sickrobot for the immense amount of time and thought they have put in helping me improve Meren and arrive at this current list. It is the next evolution of roguelikedev's Honorbru list, sacrificing a little bit of speed for grind power. It is because of the help, insight, and testing of these three that I have arrived at this list. Special thanks to everyone in the Meren discord and Lerker as well for additional insights.

Meren Discord Link

Click here to access the competitive Meren discord.

I have always been a fan of Golgari midrange value strategies as well as reanimator decks, so Meren was a perfect fit for me. With the help of many friends, I was able to obtain the cards for a cEDH list modeled after roguelikedev's Honorbru Meren list. However, the meta began to change with the banning of Paradox Engine, and as a result I began to brew a list that is still able to threaten early wins in the style of Honorbru while maintaining grind power. I started gathering opinions, insights, and testing data and to see how we could balance speed and grind power. Shaper offered this off-the-wall brew which proved to be influential in the genesis of this version. From there, I ended up cutting all the clunky stax pieces that don't do much for the deck's gameplan and focusing on increasing average card quality.
Obviously Meren's main function is as a value/grind engine, and she is notorious for that in the casual commander scene. In the cEDH community, however, Meren decks are considered to be parastic off of other people's stax effects, and in many ways that assessment is correct. However, this is largely a result of the way she has been traditionally built. There isn't really a way to build a Meren deck that isn't parasitic at all, but I have tried to reduce it in this build by following roguelikedev's Honorbru model. Thus, this version of Meren is a deck that must be answered and can threaten wins as early as turn 3. This allows the deck to attempt an early win, then lean back on the raw grind power of Meren as the game goes on.

Pros

  • able to threaten early wins due to having access to Razaketh/Hulk lines; many staxier Meren lists lack this speed
  • can grind extremely well if your early win attempts are stopped
  • resilience to opposing stax
  • probably the only cEDH deck to make amazing use of Mindslicer as a stax piece
  • fringe commander that many don't take seriously

Cons

  • Golgari color identity
  • relies on interacting with the board rather than the stack
  • lack of sphere effects, cannot slow down the early game reliably (more on this later)
  • has light combo protection, but many times must rely on repeated win attempts
  • crumples under Rest in Peace, Cursed Totem, and Aven Mindcensor effects

A word about the deck philosophy, paraphrased from roguelikedev:

This Meren lost moves away from mana denial effects and other stax-like pieces such as Oppression to both improve the speed and improve the grind. Back in the old days of Honorbru Meren, it was far too common to slow the game to a crawl with effects like Trinisphere, Nether Void, and the like but not be able to capitalize. The fundamental problem is that the deck's most reliable grind tool, Meren herself, is 4 mana and you can't wait until she's out to drop the first stax piece or it's already way too late to slow down the game. Everyone is already established by the time you untap with Meren in play.

Honorless Meren deals with this problem by fighting fire with fire. Let them establish, then disestablish by wiping their dorks and/or blanking their rocks. This list is capable of drawing a ton of cards, including cards that draw cards, and can cast mostly small noncommittal threats so that your opponents are incentivized to hold their interaction for someone else's win condition.

When you say stax, most people think of cards like Trinisphere or Root Maze. The goal of stax, however, is simply to create a resource disparity and (in this deck, at least) you can achieve it with cards that look like removal. Turn 2 Trinisphere keeps many resources from being played, but something like double Minister of Pain triggers will take most of those resources off the battlefield. In addition, proactive interaction like Trinisphere gives up information - your opponents can do the math and shift their plans a turn or two into the future. Holding something like Minnister until they commit to the board keeps that information for yourself and lets you develop engines for a turn or two before answering.

Reactive answers like the ones this deck plays demand a bit more skill than the older, more staxxy builds of Meren. Instead of slamming interaction and falling asleep until your next turn, it's necessary to predict and prioritize to make the best of information advantage.

The deck contains two main combos: a Protean Hulk pile as well as a backup wincon that dodges most of the stax that stops the Hulk lines: Earthcraft+Squirrel Nest.

Protean Hulk pile

Once we get Protean Hulk's death trigger, grab Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Lesser Masticore, Disciple of the Vault, a sacrifice outlet (either Carrion Feeder or Viscera Seer), and Dryad Arbor because you can. Sacrifice Lesser Masticore to your sacrifice outlet and it will persist without a -1/-1 counter due to Melira, Sylvok Outcast. This will also trigger Disciple of the Vault, shooting an opponent for 1 life. Since Lesser Masticore comes back without a -1/-1 counter, you can sacrifice it as many times as you like in order to trigger Disciple of the Vault infinitely.

Protected Hulk Pile

Once we get Protean Hulk's death trigger, grab Body Snatcher, a sacrifice outlet such as Carrion Feeder or Viscera Seer, Sylvan Safekeeper, and Dryad Arbor. Respond to Body Snatcher's ETB ability by sacrificing it to your sac outlet, triggering its dies trigger which will target Protean Hulk in your graveyard. You can allow the ETB to resolve and choose not to discard anything since Body Snatcher is already exiled anyway. From here, proceed to the Hulk line above. The obvious advantage of this line is the presence of Sylvan Safekeeper which will allow you to protect your combo if you suspect people have interaction up, however this does have the downside of requiring 2 Protean Hulk triggers (which usually isn't an issue, but it can be every now and then).

Squirrelcraft Combo

This one's very simple, you just need Earthcraft + a basic land enchanted with Squirrel Nest. Tap the land for a 1/1 Squirrel, and use Earthcraft's ability to tap the Squirrel and untap the land enchanted with Squirrel Nest. Repeat to create infinite tapped 1/1 Squirrels. Note that this combo does not win immediately; as the Squirrels are tapped and summoning sick. However this combo has the huge benefit of dodging all the stax that stops the main Protean Hulk line such as Cursed Totem, Grafdigger's Cage, Rest in Peace, etc. but it does get stopped by anything that causes creatures to ETB tapped such as Blind Obedience, Authority of the Consuls, and Thalia, Heretic Cathar. In addition there are some funny things you can do with infinite squirrels in conjunction with other cards, like gain infinite life with Plunge into Darkness, emulate Vampiric Tutor with Viscera Seer, emulate a mix of Kuro, Pitlord and Yawgmoth's Bargain if you have Yawgmoth, Thran Physician out, make a very large Carrion Feeder, or make infinite green mana with Gaea's Cradle.

Razaketh, the Foulblooded is another way you can combo off - if you happen to have a reanimation spell without a way to sacrifice a creature, Razaketh can often be a better reanimation target than Protean Hulk, board state depending. With enough creatures or mana out, you can go for Earthcraft + Squirrel Nest immediately and generate a tutor engine bounded only by your life total, but it is far more common for Razaketh to be used as a bridge to the Hulk lines as Hulk lines win immediately. Special thanks to roguelikedev for being the progenitor of the Razaketh/Hulk lines.

Razaketh to Hulk lines

Life Line

Eternal Witness Line

Hybrid Line

Razaketh to Squirrelcraft lines

In the unfortunate situation that Hulk combo pieces have been exiled or are otherwise unavailable, you'll have to go for the Earthcraft/Squirrel Nest combo. The lines are numerous but here are just a few ways to do so with minimal resources. A note that for these lines, if you have extra mana or lands, the requirements get easier since the last few steps of some lines involve fetching 1 drops to untap enchanted lands to generate mana. Again, this is in no way an exhaustive list of all possible Razaketh to Squirrelcraft lines, just some examples.

Life Line, 3 lands

From here, you can either do this set of actions:

OR, do this set of interactions incase a Null Rod is down or something:

  • Sacrifice a tapped 1/1 land to Razaketh, the Foulblooded, searching for Utopia Sprawl
  • Tap your Forest to cast Utopia Sprawl on it, naming choosing black (0 floating, 0 untapped lands)
  • Tap Razaketh, the Foulblooded to untap your Forest, then tap it for mana (BG floating)
  • Sacrifice a 1/1 land to Razaketh, the Foulblooded, searching for any 1 black drop (you must pay attention to your green mana, as you must end with 1GG and an untapped basic land before finding Squirrel Nest), cast it (G mana floating)
  • Tap the creature you just cast via Earthcraft to untap your basic land, tap the land for 2 mana (BGG mana floating)
  • Sacrifice the 1 drop to Razaketh, the Foulblooded, searching for any 1 drop, cast it (BG or GG floating)
  • Tap the creature you just cast via Earthcraft to untap your basic land, tap the land for 2 mana (BBGG or BGGG floating)
  • Sacrifice the 1 drop to Razaketh, the Foulblooded, searching for another 1 drop, cast it, making sure to leave 1GG floating
  • Tap the creature you just cast via Earthcraft to untap your basic land (1GG floating)
  • Sacrifice the 1 drop to Razaketh, the Foulblooded, searching for Squirrel Nest, proceed to make infinite 1/1 tapped Squirrels and ending with an untapped basic land.

In either case:

Life Line, 5 lands

Manaless Earthcraft Line, 5 lands

You can also begin this line with Razaketh, the Foulblooded, 2 other creatures in play, 5 lands one of which must be basic, and >16 life (>18 life for infinite life with Plunge into Darkness).

In this case you will need to tutor Mana Crypt with that extra creature to complete the same chain outlined above. If you are unable to do so, you'll need to >18 life (>20 for infinite life with Plunge into Darkness) and instead tutor for Chrome Mox or Mox Diamond first depending on your hand and casting it, tapping that for G, sacrificing the second creature to find Life / Death, the continue with the above line. It will require 2 extra life compared to the Mana Crypt line since you'll need to tutor another 1-drop to get the requisite mana.

here are a couple of reasons I have chosen not to play these cards. They are resource disadvantage in a way, as they're not as easy to break parity on as most would think and I might have spent a whole turn casting it in the first place. In addition, this deck's win conditions are highly telegraphed if spread over multiple turns, making plays such as Entomb + Reanimate cost twice as much mana. Tax effects also slow down Razaketh lines, which is what gives this version of Meren increased consistency/speed as opposed to other staxier Meren lists. Most win conditions aren't stopped by taxing effects except non-Prossh Food Chain lists and Bomberman combos. Sacrificing Mindslicer is a very common play in this deck, and tax effects become useless once this has happened. In addition, we feel the metagame right now is overwhelmingly grindy and midrangey - we need to be able to at least try to race Gitrog and keep up with the value that Thrasios + Tymna produce. If opponents are prudent in holding up interaction through spheres, there will be fewer threats to interact with and they will eventually accrue more instants than you can win through. Golgari windows are tighter than for other color identities, we can’t protect our attempts against multiple counterspells. Finally, the existence of Flash in the format makes these effects dicey - they don't actually stop Flash Hulk combos and can make it hard for the rest of the table to interact with the Flash player.

Not the type of card this deck wants to play - I like this type of effect better in all-in combo decks such as Varolz, and on top of everything else they are both 4 mana. While a case can be made for Pattern of Rebirth since it fetches Razaketh, I decided that including more value engines would be better than this type of effect.

Again, not the deck for this effect. Our card quality is high enough that we don't need this effect to refuel; we are perfectly happy leaning on Meren and our other value engines (Skullclamp, Birthing Pod, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, etc.) to fuel our mid to late game.

The worst of the reanimation spells, this was cut to make space for more grind power.

The problem with this combo line is that it's stopped by Null Rod and that Mikaeus often gets stuck in hand. Having castable combo pieces is a very real merit in a deck that runs Earthcraft, Skullclamp, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician as it allows you to use them for things outside of the combo if need be. There are, however, pros to this line - it gives you access to a line that gives infinite ETBs of any creature in the deck (mentioned in the Honorbru Meren list) and is also more forgiving if you happen to lose pieces in your yard or exile.

Overall Nooze combos are harder to assemble, less reliable, and in the case of the Phyrexian Devourer versions, our average CMC is too low to reliably gun down the entire table.

Plaguecrafter on its own is enough, I didn't miss cutting these two.

The land doesn't do enough, and colorless mana sucks.

A versatile card that can be good during Razaketh lines; however the recursion isn't as needed in a deck with so much reanimation and a commander that already recurs things.

The presence of a two win conditions means that this card isn't as needed - it's often a dead draw and I wanted to increase card quality as much as possible in this list.

I don't like things that can come in tapped; Exotic Orchard is usually going to be better, but Blooming Marsh might still come back in.

These cards just don't do enough early enough. Contamination is easy to get out of with mana rocks, mana dorks, or black tutors. Oppression is simply too slow.

The signature card of this version of Meren (and roguelikedev's Honorbru Meren) that sets it apart from other Meren lists. Having access to Razaketh gives the deck another way to combo off that most other lists simply don't have, and the main reason why we don't want to be on tax effects in this deck.

Huge thanks to Shaper and Lerker for suggesting this combo, which many Meren lists don't have. It's a great backup wincon that dodges all the stax effects that stop the Hulk lines, and neither card is terrible on its own. Earthcraft turns 1 drops into free casts and is especially good with Wild Growth and Utopia Sprawl. Squirrel Nest gives you food for things like Yawgmoth, Thran Physician and Skullclamp and can also just be an endless source of blockers for Tymna.

A huge thanks to Shaper for suggesting this card. It does everything the deck wants to do and is an additional source of both removal and grind power. No idea how we missed this card.

This card is deceptively strong in Meren, as it provides amazing card selection and turns your topdeck tutors into Entomb.

I know I said that tax effects are not where we want to be, but this one is awesome as it breaks parity all by itself.

These were added to increase consistency - one of our goals in this list was to increase average card quality and balance speed with grind power. Adding more tutors accomplishes both of these goals.

Besides infinite experience counters, there are a lot of cool things you can do with these two cards depending on your sacrifice outlet and what you have out. If you have Viscera Seer you get to infinite scry which is basically just Vampiric Tutor, which you lets you find the last piece of the combo, Disciple of the Vault. If it's Carrion Feeder, you get an arbitrarily large zombie to swing with. If it's Yawgmoth, Thran Physician then you get a cross between Yawgmoth's Bargain and Kuro, Pitlord: pay 1 life to draw a card and put a -1/1 counter on something, bounded only by your life total. If you have Earthcraft with one of your sacrifice outlets out and a basic land, you also have infinite mana since Lesser Masticore persists untapped.

A fun little interaction. Attach clamp to Mindslicer, sacrifice it, and you can stack the triggers such that you draw after Mindslicer's dies trigger resolves, leaving you with two cards in hand.

Tee hee.

June 1, 2020: Cut Priest of Titania for Null Rod. There are a lot more Docksides around, as well as Breach combos. Null Rod is great against them.

May 6, 2020: Cut Nature's Claim for Destiny Spinner. With Flash gone, people are running fewer RiP/Cage effects, and I felt that Claim was the card to cut.

January 1, 2020: Cut Runic Armasaur for Ohran Frostfang. Armasaur wasn't pulling his weight and is a card that really needs to be drawn very early to have lasting impact. I also missed having a 5 drop to Birthing Pod into, and Frostfang is a great draw engine that fits that purpose.

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Date added 2 years
Last updated 2 months
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

10 - 0 Mythic Rares

47 - 0 Rares

22 - 0 Uncommons

12 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.00
Tokens 1/1 Squirrel, Experience
Folders Uncategorized, Current Commander Decks IRL, Saved Decks, Meren, Deck Ideas, CEDH, Interesting Decks, to try, Meren, Uncategorized, See all 43
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