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Multiplayer Madness III – The God of the Graves

Hey everybody!

This is Kuchisama again, hoping to delight you with another fun multiplayer deck!
Last time, we looked at my Impromptu Raid / Worldspine Wurm deck, being a bit on the aggro side. Today, we’ll head out into control territory.

But first, something I’d like to talk about a bit.

Commander – The Social Contract

Last Tuesday, in the course of our usual Magic evening we have every week, something happened that sparked a discussion. Let me set the stage for you:

It’s a three-player Commander game, and our generals are Crosis, the Purger, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary and Xenagos, God of Revels, with me playing the last one. It so happens that the Crosis player gets off to a fantastic start with Sol Ring and Rakdos Keyrune while Momir keeps drawing lands that can only produce colorless mana as well as cards that require at least two colored mana. He even flashes us Overbeing of Myth! And I? I am stuck on three lands for turn after turn, all the while being mocked by the Drumhunter in my hand. I am then hit by a channeled Ghost-Lit Stalker and basically have to dump all but two cards. Crosis has meanwhile added Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius to the board and draws large amounts of cards. At last, I draw Evolution Charm which would allow me to FINALLY participate in the game – and then it gets countered…

Evolution Charm gets Countered!?I had been waiting for a fourth land or a ramp spell for so long that this was a low blow, causing me to exclaim: “If you really counter that, I’ll concede.” This resulted in a few minutes of discussion which sadly didn’t lead to a clear solution. My point was: I wasn’t having fun so far and was now expecting even more turns where I could do nothing but draw a card and be done. In any other format, I wouldn’t have said anything, but in Commander where mana is everything due to mana costs being higher on average because of the higher starting life total, this action was something I would never have done myself.

In defense of the Crosis player, I have to concede that he has probably not read as many articles about Commander as I have and might not be as familiar with the so-called Social Contract, a gentlemen’s agreement which is supposed to ensure that everybody has fun during a Commander game, stating that you should refrain from actions that would prevent that. In addition, I am fully aware of the fact that this Social Contract is subject to interpretation. After all, one of my favorite Magic cards ever is Magister Sphinx, a card that is frowned upon by many other players.

So, what do you think about this? Would you have countered my Evolution Charm if you had been in the Crosis player’s place? Or can you understand why I reacted the way I did? Let’s hear your opinion in the comments section!

Alright, with that out of the way, on to the actual topic of this article, a new multiplayer deck!

Damaging Only ONE Opponent? Lame!

Multiplayer Madness - Purphoros God of the ForgeSo, whenever a new set comes out, I usually take a look at the individual cards and decide which ones might be interesting or powerful enough to include in multiplayer decks. With Theros, one card in particular stuck out to me: Purphoros, God of the Forge. And I bet I wasn’t the only one who went: “Whoa, what the hell?!”

There is one phase that always makes me smile when it comes to multiplayer Magic, and this phrase is “each opponent”. Our divine smith here has it in his rules box, thus granting each creature that enters the battlefield under your control the ability to Shock all opposing players. The more opponents, the more damage! Imagine: You are playing in a 4 players game, meaning you have three opponents. Basically, if you control a Purphoros, every creature you cast deals 6 damage upon entering the battlefield. For free. The downside is of course that the red God may put a huge target on your head as you cannot choose who you deal the damage to. So as soon as you lay down Purphoros, God of the Forge, the whole table knows that you are their enemy. Period.
The only mollifying aspect might be that 2 damage doesn’t sound all that much. So there is a sliver of hope that you won’t get ganged up on. Don’t count on it though.

The obvious way to go with Purphoros? Have as many creatures as possible enter the battlefield under your control! Or as often as possible. So, without further ado, here is the deck in all its glory:

Okay, what exactly is going on here?

Synergy with our Main Win Condition

In general, the deck looks quite straightforward although there are a few synergies I would like to point out.
First of all, the deck’s main win condition is Purphoros, God of the Forge, which is kind of funny as I basically play only two different red cards here and both are responsible for a very high damage potential. Please note that this is intentional. I don’t want Purphoros to die so I don’t plan on triggering his devotion at all in order to minimize the risk. If he became a creature, that would open the gates for a flood of removal, such as Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile or Hallowed Burial. Sorry, can’t have that!

Multiplayer Madness - Mimic VatTo apply the God’s abilities to the fullest, I have included a few token producers, namely Grave Titan, Lingering Souls and Martial Coup. There is also Mimic Vat for repeatable creature production. While his damage dealing effect is extremely powerful, don’t forget that Purphoros, God of the Forge can also pump your creatures for a large-scale attack. The red God is even better in team formats – just imagine casting a Grave Titan in 2HG with Purphoros, God of the Forge on the table. That’s 12 damage for the opposing team. A Martial Coup with X=5 in the same situation? 20 damage right there, my friends!
There are a few cards that might confuse you, for example In the Web of War. But think about it: A Martial Coup for 7 or more is very nice when you control an In the Web of War, resulting in an empty board on your opponents’ side(s) as well as at least five 3/1 hasters heading their way. Or what if you have an active Mimic Vat with an imprinted Grave Titan? Suddenly, the two Zombie tokens the Titan brings along upon entering the battlefield each get a bonus of +2/+0 and can immediately attack alongside their 8/6 master! It’s not all that unusual to wipe the board with Day of Judgment, activate Mimic Vat and attack for 16 damage. Now just add a Purphoros, God of the Forge and say goodnight to your opponents!

Day of Judgment plays an important role and has more functions than is obvious at first glance. There is of course its usual task of destroying enemy creatures. You want to survive, your early game isn’t all that strong, so being able to wipe the board as of turn 4 is a good thing. But look at the details here: Day of Judgment also allows you to get any creature on the battlefield under your Mimic Vat while at the same time clearing the way in case you decide to produce a token and go on the offensive. If you control a Grave Titan, this is a very powerful play. Everything dies, the giant ends up under the Vat, then jumps out of it again (immediately if you have the mana) and proceeds to beat someone over the head — while ALSO generating four Zombies. In terms of power on the battlefield, this means: opponents 0, you 14. Could be worse, don’t you think?

Oh, and don’t forget that Purphoros is indestructible…

Alternative Game Plan

So, what about Empyrial Plate? I’ll have to admit that the two copies of this card don’t advance your divine game plan. However, I don’t really like putting all of my eggs in one basket, so this is my concession to try and win even if the rest doesn’t work out that well. Furthermore, an early Vampire Nighthawk or Spirit token courtesy of Lingering Souls equipped with this can definitely bring the pain. And then there is the fact that the equip cost is very low, which means that you can usually equip the creature that jumps out of your Mimic Vat for additional damage. Still, I can see myself playing something else in their slots.

Lingering Souls with Purphoros Token DeckSince I already mentioned it: Lingering Souls fulfills quite an important task in this deck. Early on, it provides blockers, quite a lot of them actually. Later, it deals up to 8 damage via Purphoros, God of the Forge or up to 12 with the help of In the Web of War. So Lingering Souls shows its versatile nature here. It was actually one of my main reasons for adding Black to the deck!
Solemn Simulacrum is also deceptively powerful but there really isn’t anything I could say about it that isn’t obvious. It ramps, provides a body, and draws a card. Having this under a Mimic Vat for a few turns should easily pull you ahead. Just don’t forget that you won’t draw a card when a Solemn Simulacrum token is exiled at the end of turn. This is a terminological thing: getting exiled isn’t the same as dying and thus does not trigger “When blablabla dies” effects. So you would have to find another way to get the card. Uhm, how about combat? Even if your opponent doesn’t assign any blockers, that’s fine. Your little Simulacrum just dealt damage! Hooray!

The last card to discuss is Phyrexian Arena. Or not. I mean, it’s card draw. Good card draw. And it works well with the Empyrial Plates. What else can I say?

The lands look all over the place, and well, yeah, they are. I basically rummaged through my binder and took out cards that looked like they could work. The Temples are there for additional card selection, Lavaclaw Reaches can hit hard after a sweeper, and Miren, the Moaning Well will provide you with large boosts of life, in particular if you manage to regularly sacrifice larger Mimic Vat tokens. The singleton Orzhov Basilica can reset your Vivid lands as well as get you another scry out of the Temples. The rest of the lands is supposed to handle color fixing for you.

Token Substitutes

If you want to add other cards or don’t like some of my choices, feel free to change whatever you want! There are so many possibilities, so many cards to choose from that play incredibly well with the God of the Forge that you always end up having to make a few painful decisions.

Increasing Devotion Tokens KickedFor me, some of the other cards that didn’t make the cut but would also be cool with Purphoros, God of the Forge: Increasing Devotion (especially when cast with flahback), all versions of Elspeth, Blade Splicer, Cloudgoat Ranger, Bloodline Keeper, Myr Battlesphere, Heliod, God of the Sun or Mobilization, or even Orochi Hatchery and Thopter Assembly. Combine token-producing ETB effects with Ghostway if you have a Purphoros on the battlefield for additional fun!
By adding Green, you would gain access to so many suitable cards that I want to point out only a few of them here: Ghave, Guru of Spores for repeated massive amounts of damage (similar to Pentavus but cheaper), Awakening Zone, Fresh Meat, Garruk Wildspeaker, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Feed the Pack, Mycoloth, Parallel Lives etc. The list goes on and on. There are a lot of token producers out there, so feel free to choose whatever you want!

Well, that was fun! Purphoros, God of the Forge is an insanely powerful multiplayer card, and this certainly wasn’t the last deck I built around him. There’s more of him to come in the future, that’s for sure.

It won’t be a Commander deck, though. I already had one with him at the helm, and man, that was stupid. First of all, being restricted to mono-red is definitely not where I want to be in Commander as I really don’t like Red’s limitations. Secondly, Purphoros is kind of obvious and really puts a target on your head. And lastly, you have to play a lot of subpar cards that are only ever good with Purphoros, God of the Forge on the battlefield. If he gets tucked (shuffled into your library, that is), you’re basically screwed. Needless to say, that deck of mine doesn’t exist anymore.

As a supporter though, the divine smith really shines, especially in token decks. Add him to Rith, the Awakener, Marath, Will of the Wild or Sliver Queen for lots of damage. But even in a deck that is not based on token production, he’s not all that bad. Consider this: even if you cast only five other creatures after Purphoros, God of the Forge, that is still 10 damage to each of your opponents. For only ! Sounds good to me.

So, do you have a Purphoros deck? Which cards do you like to combine him with? Or do you think he’s boring? Fire away in the comments!




August 05, 2014: I’ve finally removed the two Empyrial Plates because they weren’t really doing much, and replaced them with two Orzhov Signets as I’ve found the deck to be more mana-hungry than I thought.


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  1. Great article Kuchisama! Enjoyed the read. I have a couple of responses, so I will make two posts, ok?

    RE: the Social Contract here is what I would have done. NOTE: All responses assume this is a CASUAL environment. In a POD of multiplayer competitive Commander with prizes on the line, all bets are “usually” off.

    As the Crosis player there is no way I would ever counter a spell that is simply aimed at helping the third player out of a mana hosed game. Heck, I have even been known to let players pitch a couple of cards and grab a land for their hand or put it on top of their library. Some of my favorite EDH/Commander stories involve the player that started off mana hosed, was left alone, and then came back to win the game.

    In your position, I would have been frustrated with the counterspell, but I would not concede. I would rather take up a personal “vendetta” against the Crosis player until I felt justified. Of course, my vendetta would still be “all in good fun”. At the point I felt I had made my point, I would exclaim, “Now we’re Even”, grab us both a beer and continue on with my neutral game plan. 🙂

    1. Yeah, that personal vendetta thing might be an alternative. However, without mana, it would have been on the smaller scale for me… 😉
      Btw, what you argued is exactly why I threatened to concede: I also would never ever do that in this setting. Had it been a normal 60-cards Free-for-All game or 2HG or whatever, I would never have reacted the way I did. But in Commander?
      Then again, the Crosis player admitted he wanted to force a quick win as Momir was basically as screwed as I was. So in this respect, I can actually understand the path he took.
      I wouldn’t have done it myself though.

  2. I am sad to hear that you no longer have your Purphoros Commander Deck together. 🙁 My Purphoros EDH Deck, is one of my favorite decks to play. You are right on cue though, Purphoros will paint a target on your head, but sometimes the thrill comes in the challenge of playing it and becoming the archenemy.

    I have also found a few ways around Red’s weaknesses in commander and although Red is still one of my least favorite colors, I finally have an understanding of what it can do.

    If I ever want a “quick game” of Commander, I usually grab Purphoros. 🙂

    1. Ha, funny that you mention it: I am currently planning an article on the Archenemy product, and Purphoros might or might not put in an appearance there… 🙂

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