Hi everyone! Welcome back to another Commander Focus: Budget edition! I’m your host, Loxi, and today we’ll be bringing you the latest in fun and affordable deck techs. I’ll actually be starting a mini series-within-a-series (within…a series?) where we look at one of the less popular Commanders from each of the Warhammer 40,000 preconstructed decks and make them into a cool, unique, and budget friendly brew. I do want to make a quick note that these decks are going to just assume you’re buying singles if you want to build one of these, since for most of them they tend to have a different general strategy than the face Commanders.
Just to get my general quick note out of the way: for pricing, I don’t use Moxfield’s values since they don’t always use the cheapest options at times. I use the Mana Tithe Tool to calculate the cheapest decklist and use a 10-15% buffer of price variance, since not everyone can get the very cheapest version of a card at a given time.
For today, we’re going to take a look at one of the big baddies of The Ruinous Powers precon; Mortarion, Daemon Primarch.
Mortarion is super cool since he allows for a pretty unique playstyle: instead of focusing on gaining life, we want to focus on losing life! This will allow us to make a huge army of warriors and run through other players with our Menace Astartes tokens. That being said, we also don’t want to skimp on other effects that will help us gain life to counteract the crazy amount of life loss we’ll cause ourselves.
Our primary goal with this deck is to ramp out a whole bunch of mana, stick Mortarion on the board, and start chewing through our life total! From there, we can use our ramped mana to pay his ability cost and make a huge army to win through combat damage. We also have some other various life gain related win conditions as a backup plan. In addition we really want to focus on protecting our Commander; without him, the deck will struggle to run at full capacity.
You’ll like this deck if you enjoy:
- Beating down players with our token army (and a sweet Warrior subtheme!)
- High risk, high reward strategies
- A very unique playstyle which allows some cards you won’t often see at tables
Some drawbacks to consider while we build this deck include:
- A Commander centric playstyle, which means some cards might not be as useful if Mortarion isn’t on the field
- A somewhat janky card pool being such a niche strategy with only a single color
- We have a super mana heavy deck, since we have to consider accessing ways to lose life as well as having the mana to actually pay Mortarion’s activated effect
Next, I’ll break down the deck by sections based on what purpose the cards serve. Just because I don’t mention a card doesn’t mean it isn’t important, they just might not need as much discussion. Every deck should be adjusted to both your individual meta and playstyle, so if something works for you, go for it! Change things around as you see fit! Now, let’s get into the deck!
For our ramp package, we have 11 mana rocks as well as some other sources of mana acceleration or indirect ramp, such as Dark Ritual and Defiler of Flesh. We don’t run a particularly crazy amount of ramp, but this should allow us to statistically have great chances to have a minimum of one ramp spell in our opener.
Before we go into the other card types, I want to mention how anthem effects are absolute powerhouses in any token deck, but since we’re in black (and on a budget), we only have so many options. That being said, we get to use some really neat cards. Ascendant Evincar is like a mini black version of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Paragon of Open Graves buffs up our board and provides some cool tricky removal in combat. Raiders’ Spoils is also outstanding for us, since it provides card draw as well as a power buff for our Astartes.
For creatures, we run a really unique package. Since most of our token army comes from our Commander, most of our other creatures are best for utility or support. First we have our Extort creatures, which can help offset our life loss a bit. While Pontiff of Blight is a thematic win and spreads the love among our Chaos Marine army by giving them all Extort, I want to shout out Thrull Parasite, since it always provides utility through Extort but additionally can help deny Planeswalker ultimates and can hit all kinds of other counters off creatures.
We also have a variety of card draw, from Phyrexian Delver to Keen Duelist. Thrasher Brute & Mindblade Render help our Warrior theme by buffing our team and keeping our hand full of cards. Finally, we have the space to run some cool other utility that synergizes well, like Marshland Bloodcaster as a way to cheat out cards and save mana to fuel up our Commander.
(Editor’s Note: If you’re wondering why you can legally include cards with Extort in a mono black deck while there is a white mana symbol on the card, it’s because the symbol is in the reminder text for the ability, not in the actual rules text.)
Instants & Sorceries:
We can run a lot of incremental draw effects that cause life loss, such as Sign in Blood, since they allow us to have consistency as well as not being too dead of a draw late game. Aside from a pretty typical mono-black removal suite, we get some really fun goodies like Profane Transfusion: now THAT is a surprise for an unlucky opponent when you are running your life total low. Exsanguinate is a great way to heal up in a pinch (or just win the game if you have enough mana). Finally, we get some protection spells to give Mortarion indestructible/ bring him back to life as a way to round out a solid & reactive supporting package.
Here we have a fun backup win condition: why bring the Primarch of the Death Guard if you aren’t ready to have him bash some heads? Lashwrithe, Nightmare Lash, Pact Weapon, & Loxodon Warhammer all have great synergy on their own with our deck and let Mortarion get in for some sweet, sweet Commander damage.
Here we have some more protection (featuring one of my favorite budget cards: Soul Channeling), some more combat buffs for Morty and a bit of Lifelink in Eternal Thirst, and plenty of extra card advantage. Unspeakable Symbol is also a great life sink, since it can provide a really solid buff for both our Commander as well as our tokens when we want to sink a lot of life into it.
We round out with 36 lands (including MDFC’s). I want to specially mention Blast Zone. Since our tokens are 0 cost and our Commander is a 6 drop, we have a lot of wiggle room to be able to dunk on some of our opponent’s creatures without hitting anything too important on our side.
That’s the deck! Rounding out at a low-end cost of 49.70 USD at the time of building, Mortarion is a great Commander for a fun and unique playstyle you probably won’t find anywhere else. If you’re looking for any upgrades, the very first thing I’d go for would be some protections like Lightning Greaves or lifegain payoffs like Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose. Bolas’s Citadel would also be a warm welcome. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to showing off what I have brewing for next time!
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