Zombies are a classic fantasy creature. Shambling, undead corpses brought to life by a Necromancer to be smelly and gross and ruin your whole village for fun (fun for the Necromancer, the zombies feel nothing). Wizards has printed a lot of great zombies over the years and a lot of great synergistic Commanders to go with them. Cards such as Gravecrawler, Rooftop Storm, and commanders that synergize with zombies like Varina, Lich Queen, and Ghoulcaller Gisa.
I don’t like zombies. I think they are boring as far as fantasy creatures go. Just smelly and shambling. Apart from that I don’t usually enjoy the go-wide or mill playstyles that Mono-Black, Dimir, or Esper zombies tend to go for, but this is different. This is not one of those cards and DEFINITELY not one of those commanders. This is Tymaret, the Burger King.
He is my favorite commander and nothing can change my mind. He should be your favorite commander too. Look at him! He’s having a great time and he’s the king of murder! There simply isn’t a card with a better vibe in the entire Magic library. Ever since I discovered him I made it my mission to break him. To make one of the most expensive decks that I could out of, arguably, one of the worst commanders in the game.
Let’s start by breaking him down. His cost: BR. REALLY CHEAP. That’s great in Commander. If he dies you don’t have to hurt too bad to cast him again, but you probably won’t be casting him again. Let’s keep going.
His type line: Legendary Creature – Zombie Warrior. Keyword ZOMBIE. We’ll discuss why this is EXTREMELY important later in the article.
His stat line: 2/2. Unremarkable and not at all important for the rest of the article. A 2/2 for 2 is pretty decent value though, so he’s got that going for him.
Finally, his activated abilities:
“1R, Sacrifice a creature: Tymaret, the Murder King deals 2 damage to target player.”
“1B, Sacrifice a creature: Return Tymaret from your graveyard to your hand.”
This is straight fire. My man is a sac outlet on the field AND in grave. Not only that, but he can COMPLETELY DODGE COMMANDER TAX. You have a sac outlet on demand ALL THE TIME. Granted it’s not free to sacrifice, but the utility is still there. You don’t care about the 2 damage he deals. It’s the death trigger that he causes that you care about.
Now you might be thinking “Rocco, I think I know where this might be going.”, and I say to you, dear reader: yeah you probably do. There is no rug to pull out from under you. This is an aristocrats deck. It isn’t exactly a “top-tier” strategy, but this deck can certainly give your friend’s decks a run for their money.
So you may be asking, “Why not just use Judith, the Scourge Diva? She does all the damage on death triggers in your command zone!” We went over this already, TYMARET IS A SAC OUTLET IN GRAVE. Do you get it yet? I’m not gonna say it again.
This brings me to the next star of the deck. I mentioned him earlier. That’s right. It’s Gravecrawler BABY.
Look at go! Crawlin’ around like a little weirdo. Remember earlier when I made an emphasis on Tymaret being a Zombie? Yeah Gravecrawler is why. Tymaret is a sac outlet in your command zone AND makes Gravecrawler live from your command zone. He’s so cheap and easy to use too! Just use your mana to make him die and then use your mana again to make him come back! That might seem useless, but it’s not useless if you have a Sifter of Skulls or Pawn of Ulamog giving you a free Eldrazi Scion token every time Gravecrawler kicks the bucket.
Now that we’ve discussed the main conceit of the deck, have a Gravecrawler enabler in the command zone who is also a sac outlet, let’s move on to the win conditions.
Look, it’s an aristocrat deck. Clearly I’m trying to win with death triggers. However, because Gravecrawler is such a cool and funky boy, I can ALSO win with ETB triggers! Now that’s pretty cool! So how do we do this? Can we go infinite? The answer may surprise you. We can! Enter Phyrexian Altar. Are you surprised yet? How about Purphoros, God of the Forge, and Impact Tremors and Blood Artist and…and…Oh you’re not surprised? I guess those are pretty standard ways to win when you can abuse a Phyrexian Altar.
This is the main way the deck wins. I built in redundancies for the triggers with cards like Judith, the Scourge Diva and Mayhem Devil. Plenty of cards for redundancies to Phyrexian Altar in Viscera Seer, Vampiric Rites, and Goblin Bombardment to deal damage while you sac. While it’s less of a sac outlet and more of a draw engine, you also have Skullclamp, which if you have Sifter of Skulls or Pawn of Ulamog out, you can draw 2 cards every time you kill Gravecrawler.
SECURING THE WIN
The deck is full of tutors to facilitate acquiring the pieces to win, it is a part-Black deck after all. The all stars are Sidisi, Undead Vizier and Diabolic Intent. They act as an easy set up for your very obvious Phyrexian Altar tutor, so if you already have Gravecrawler on the field, then you can start to pop off immediately. After that you have the classics like Diabolic Tutor, Demonic Tutor, Entomb, and Buried Alive if you need to dump your enablers to grave. Which brings me to the enabler redundancy.
Gravecrawler is quite obviously the best creature to run for this strategy. At B and not having any restrictions on revival any player worth their salt is going to make sure it gets exiled somehow. This is why we are running multiple other weird little men to self-revive. The next best thing we can get our hands on here is Bloodghast. General only useful for one death trigger or ETB trigger per turn, Bloodghast is absolutely free to revive from grave. You may want to hold off on your Evolving Wilds searches to enable extra triggers of this boy. Bloodghast is the reason, apart from needing to tutor lands, we are running Armillary Sphere. Making sure you have two possible Bloodghast triggers in hand can help hold off your opponents for a couple of turns as you try to construct your win-con. The next three all fill the same role for the same cost: Tenacious Dead, Gutterbones, and my personal favorite Reassembling Skeleton.
All 3 of these revive themselves for 1B. Tenacious Dead and Gutterbones end up being less useful than Reassembling Skeleton in most cases, as Gutterbones returns to your hand instead of the battlefield (which means you have to cast him again and can therefore be countered), and Tenacious Dead can only be revived as a response to his own death. So, this leaves Reassembling Skeleton as the expensive reviver that can stand to wait for the right amount of mana to come back.
Now for the truly awful part of the deck. The part of the deck that will most likely piss off all of your friends.
It’s a sacrifice based deck. Did you think I wasn’t going to go here? This is how you win if you can’t get to your actual win conditions for some reason, or Phyrexian Altar gets blown up. You must simply keep your opponent’s boards empty while you hit with small creatures or do chip damage from sacrifice effects and death triggers. Let’s start with the important ones: Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos. These are the ones you want at all times. By virtue of being enchantments they will stick around for a while. By virtue of being Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos, your opponents will wish they were playing Green or White.
Assuming you don’t have these on the field on turn 5 (you gotta play on curve), you have friends to help you. Fleshbag Marauder, Plaguecrafter, and Merciless Executioner will help you keep those pesky opposing creatures off the field.
Tymaret is the Murder King and why should the murder be for your creatures alone? In 1983 Metallica said “Kill ‘Em All” and so should you! Honestly, if your opponents have any creatures at any point, then you’re doing your job wrong.
MANA RAMP and SACRIFICIAL FODDER
To wrap up let’s discuss some of the fodder and ramp in the deck. We are of course running the classic Sol Ring and because we are playing Rakdos deck we are running [Rakdos Signet]. I have not updated this deck since Arcane Signet received over one million reprints, but that is definitely a card to add to the deck. We also have sac outlets that also act as mana ramp. Priest of Forgotten Gods will act as a sac outlet and ramp at the same time. You can also opt to add Phyrexian Tower to the deck for another sac outlet and a land that doesn’t tap for colored mana unless you sac something.
Looking for something to sac to trigger a Grave Pact, but don’t have a good reviver on the field? Look no further than Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder. Stay on top of killing those Thrulls and you can make sacrifice fodder forever!
LET’S KILL THIS
That’s all I have to say about the deck and it’s tech. The rest of this deck is mostly Black and Red goodstuff. I adore this deck. It’s one of my biggest jokes I get to play on my friends, mostly because of the overall cost of the deck compared to the relative weakness of the commander.
Here is the deck list. Tymaret, the Serial Killer: